Saturday, December 21, 2013

GTA V vs GTA IV ICEnhancer vs the NSA

OK, so I finally got my gaming PC setup, and while its not a state-of-the-art system (Im using DDR2 for christsake), the final upgrades got me to the point where I was brave enough to try out the infamous ICEnhancer mod for GTA IV. This mod has been around for quite sometime, and the reason its not more popular is that you need a supercomputer from the future to play it at any reasonable FPS. The ICEnhancer mod is poorly optimized, buggy, and will sometimes crash or freeze for no reason, in addition to being an absolute system hog. I have a Q9550 clocked @ 3.6ghz, 8GB DDR2, and an ATI 7970 with a healthy overclock, and even with what is a fairly powerful system, Im still only managing 20-30 FPS in most outdoor areas - and thats with some config tweaks to the mod and optimizations to GTA IV like reducing the traffic and draw distance.

Why you might ask, would anyone go thru such trouble? Take a look at the video above if you havent already. This mod, and Metro Last Light, which Im currently playing through, are what the real next generation of gaming are like. You all can have your PSONE and XBOX5 callofdutycallofdutycallofduty motion control consoles. Im sure that they are great products to sell and watching The Today Show *Now With Achievements is a truly scintillating experience. Yeah, while Im pretty sure that eventually the NSA will be scanning the contents of my apartment via Kinect sometime in the future, right now, if those people "watching the watchers" want to watch my cat lick the area where they cut off his balls (those spooks are creeps man), if they want to case the place to see if Im harboring "terrorists" (lol) to attempt a possible drone strike (yes we kill people now without due process, The Constitution is like soooooo 18th century man), they are going to have to do so in person (I have a futon).

Or... via my cellphone. Or laptop. Telescope. Periscope. Nanodrones. Whatever. Cause my gaming rig doesnt have camera, only a mic for me to scream obscenities laced tirades into about my opponents playing wrong and winning, and a new mechanical keyboard for insta-ragequitting Starcraft 2. Listen, just because Im paranoid, doesnt mean they arent watching, right?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Burning Lap

This is the video that a few people have been talking about of a "lap record" for Manhattan. If you havent seen the video, you arent missing much, because this isnt even close to the real record. For starters, the driver is not what you would call a racing class driver and takes bizarre, amateurish lines. Probably more importantly, it looks like it was done around 10-11pm at night, not 4:30am which is the only suitable, safe time for such a stunt. There were way too many cars on the road to do anything approaching a burning lap. The guy got arrested after the video made the news, and now cops want to try to confiscate his car to try to discourage anyone from trying to "beat his time" (lol).

Street racing is pretty much dead here in NYC, and although I do appreciate the effort and tribute to those who made previous videos, lets just say the real Manhattan lap record probably wont ever be published in a video or talked about on the evening news. The real record is well under 20 minutes, and I think if you had a true supercar with a pro level driver, and it could easily be done in under 15 minutes. I cant even imagine what sort of time a lunatic on a superbike like GhostRider could do.

353kmh is well over 200mph. Hey, you only live once :-)

Monday, November 11, 2013

GTAV Invisibilty Glitch

Bond, I dont know how you did it. But what... the... fuck! LOL Rockstar QA Testing!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hotline Miami and Dinosaur Jr

So I finally got Hotline Miami. Despite months of urging from friends and everyone I know proclaiming it one of the best indie games in years, I kind of resisted. Despite the fact that the game has my name written on the box - twitchy retro styled arcadey twin stick shooter/melee stealth action game with some sort of post-modern story and a truly epic soundtrack of electronic music, I didnt buy it. I probably played the demo 4-5 times. Finally, the game became free on PS Plus this month so with nothing to lose but time, I downloaded it, and oh man has it clicked. And yes, I agree with you Ubercrunch, the soundtrack is indeed 5 stars.

I recall the time I first heard Dinosaur Jr. It was at a friends house in high school and we had been drinking a lot. "What is this shit? It sounds fucking horrible..." Yet my friend Alex kept playing it, and after a great deal of struggling and resistance, I finally came around to Dino and eventually they became one of my favorite bands of all time. Sometimes, repetition is necessary, even if its against your own will. Sometimes, even despite all the evidence telling you that you should like something, some part of you resists it with all of your being. Sometimes, you are just wrong - it just takes time to figure these things out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Starring Chuck Norris...


As a couple of you may have noticed, I rarely get on Xbox Live anymore. I miss the hell out of spending time online with you guys, but, unfortunately, this is how it's going to be from here on out.

I love gaming and that's not going to change. Last week I played the Battefield 4 beta on PC, Ni No Kuni on PS3, and even broke out some retro PS1 games on an emulator (Jumping Flash!). But one of my problems is that my time for gaming is usually very sporadic and happens in very short intervals because of work, family (kid #3 on the way - holy crap!), friends, other hobbies, etc. Another is that by the time most of you are online, I'm usually exhausted and ready to get horizontal. Even if I have the juice to stay up, I know that my kids will be up at 7am ready to conquer the universe. I used to push myself to stay up and deal with the repercussions, but it makes for a terrible next day and isn't fair to my kids to have to deal with grumpy zombie-dad.

The last year of my life has also seen a dramatic change to a different lifestyle altogether that has made significant improvements to my outlook on absolutely everything, which in turn has made me a better father/husband/friend/human and it's not something I want to lose. Instead of feeling like crap on Saturday morning, I'm usually up at 6:30am negotiating rough trails through a forest preserve on my Kona, running a few miles through downtown Chicago, or pushing through dead-lifts and power-cleans at the gym. In many ways, this new lifestyle is my new obsession; it's my new videogames. I know this sounds cheesy and I promise I'm not turning into a meat-headed douche-bag, but it's something that keeps me interested, motivated, and excited about life.

I may jump on LIVE occasionally and be lucky enough to see you guys online for a game or two, but more often than not you will not hear from me for weeks or months at a time. To most of you this probably doesn't matter considering that this is already the case, but I just wanted the few of you to know that it mattered to ME to acknowledge it and tell you that although I may be missing in action, I still love games, miss all of you, and haven't forgotten our golden years of Xbox Live glory.

Mike / MDSFX / MD Galaxy

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Two Great Writers Reflect on GTA V

Ubercrunch (aka Chris Byrd) has been working on a piece about GTA V and Thomas Pynchon for Al Jazeera for a while and today it was published on their website. If you dont know who Thomas Pynchon is, he is one of the most important American writers of the last 50 years and he just released his new book, Bleeding Edge, on the same day that GTA V came out. Uber found this coincidence fascinating and decided to write a piece about the two works. Highly recommended, you can read it right here:

Should Thomas Pynchon Play GTA V? - Al

Another friend and fellow New Yorker, who you might remember from his days as an IGN writer, Michael Thomsen, also recently wrote a piece about GTA V and our modern Surveillance State for the New Republic, which is very insightful and also highly recommended:

Videogames Are Making Us Too Comfortable With The Modern Surveillance State - New

Saturday, September 28, 2013

GTA V: BMX Style

My favorite parts of San Andreas were the BMX bike and the Stunt Plane, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when GTA IV featured neither. Rockstar apparently realized that an important part of a sandbox game is actually giving people some toys to play with, and they have righted the ship (and then some) with GTA V. Im having some wild visions in my head of a multiplayer game with stunt planes flying upsidedown under bridges and BMX bikes dropping onto them and flipping off while C4 charges explode oil tankers above and cars do burnout drift donuts around dancing throngs of people firing AK47s in the air.

The online potential is insane. Who needs an Xbox One when we have GTA Online?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Phil Collins - I Dont Care Anymore

As a Phil Collins fan, I was pretty surprised to hear this song featured prominently in GTA V. Not only is Phil Collins considered uncool by a certain segment of the population, but the song's slow tempo and unique production style dont exactly scream soundtrack material. However, Rockstar used the track brilliantly to elaborate on Michael's character, his dissatisfaction with life and his disconnection with his family. Nothing should surprise me when it comes to Rockstar, but GTA V has done so several times already.

You might think that this song is also referring to my attitude towards this blog, but thats not the case. The lack of updates is the result of both moving, and trying to setup my new place, and my laptop nearly dying. Well, only the keyboard, but it was enough to virtually get me off the internet for about a week. My new place still has a lot of work to do, and during this time Ive had Payday 2, Splinter Cell Blacklist and now GTA V to thank for their amazing ability to enable my procrastination to reach new levels. Its not that I dont care, Im just distracted and lazy - and thats when Im not playing poker 40-50 hours a week. Its just me being a human being. If you guys ever want to post something here during my lulls, please feel free to.

Overall Im not sure what the future of gaming holds for me, I mean theoretically I will probably buy another game console eventually but right now I just cant get the internal hype meter to budge at all. Of course, eventually some console exclusive arcade style game will be released which I just have to play (Resogun looks great), but these days I find myself happy to turn to my backlog of older games and systems. The 360/PS3 generation has a great case for being the best generation of gaming ever, as it certainly lasted the longest. Sure, I always want more fidelity and higher framerates, but it seems that as soon as new consoles are released, developers chase their tail by trying to up the textures, animations and physics to the point where they are happy achieving 30 frames per second at any resolution.

So, basically Im at a point where I dont care about graphics. I mean, I never have really, but everyone can appreciate a nice spectacle. Metro Last Light and FFXIV Reborn look amazing on PC, but thats not the reason to play them. I bought an Ouya. It still doesnt have enough games but Im trying to support it. The graphics are just not the point there. I still play on my Wii, in glorious 480p. I still fire up the old Xbox 1 (not Xbox One) and get enjoyment out of Burnout 3 and MechAssault. The 8 and 16 bit consoles will be on hiatus for a while as I made the difficult decision to scrap my 3 CRT TVs in the move, as the space they take up is ridiculous and Im at the point where explaining why I own them to normal people has become a bit of an embarrassment and certainly tiresome.

But life moves on. Im trying to make changes that are positive and explore some new directions. One of them might be taking a break from gaming for a bit, to focus on other things. But not yet. Not when the greatest game console ever - the Xbox 360 - is in the last waning days of its spectacular life, and certainly not when a game which may redefine what we expect out of videogames is squeezing every last bit of life out of it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Divekick Impressions

This game is freaking hilarious. MD got it for me on Steam, and now that Ive messed around with it a bunch, I can say its definitely one of my favorite fighting games. You know when you have a joke match in Street Fighter, with like Vega and El Fuerte having a shrieking gymnastics battle or Hakan and E Honda having an oily grunting competition? Thats this entire game. "Joke Match: The Game"

Why make a real fighting game when you can make a joke one, where each character only has a single, super-overpowered one hit kill move, and if you repeatedly pwn your opponent a "fraud detection" warning system goes off? Contrary to the GT guys, one of my favorite parts of the game is the excitable Asian announcer who calls the game "DivekickUUUAAAHH!!!"

No, its no Spartacus Legends (in Bond's words "The Greatest Game of All Time").

But it is damn fun!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Payday 2 Impressions

So after the disaster that was Bond's attempt at securing a copy of Payday 2 for Xbox 360 on Friday (Gamestop only stocked preorders, everywhere else was sold out), we finally managed to get on last night and log some serious hours with the game. Cliff Notes: buy this game ($40). It has some rough edges, and essentially no offline/single player component, but this game is riotously, I daresay criminally, fun. After only one session I can state with confidence that its one of the most fun coop games Ive ever played.

The progression in this game is slow. As in, dont worry about getting the game a week late, because its a long road to climb to a fully spec'd out character and the difference between a Level 20 and Level 2 (out of 50) character is still quite small - mostly a few class based perks and weapons upgrades. I think, 5 hours into the game, I was still using the default weapons and had no body armor simply because I couldnt afford them. Yes, this is a grinders game for sure.

I had the feeling, several times when playing this last night, that the game is oddly Japanese is some ways. The super-grindey progression, the story, uh, I dont even know what the story is but the characters are awesome, its arcadey and twitchy in its gunplay (think L4D/Counterstrike), it has a whole stealth component which is like an impossible version of Metal Gear, which finally brings me to the the fact that this game is balls-ass hard and totally unforgiving of your stupid mistakes. Over and over again, we would have that feeling of "We got this, piece of cake" about halfway through the mission only to be screaming into the mic 5 minutes later: "Im down, they're everywhere! Save yourself, take the loot and run man!"

Overkill Software did a great job with the difficulty of the game - you can play the missions on default difficulty, which is pretty do-able, or Hard, Very Hard, or Overkill (1, 2, or 3 yellow stars respectively). We managed to complete a few missions on Overkill last night, and every single one of them came down to us reaching the escape van on our last, dying breath.

There are basic generic heist missions which have a base rating of 1-4 white stars, and the yellow difficulty stars stack on top of those. So while taking on a 1 star generic mission on Overkill, for a total of 4 stars, isnt totally impossible, taking on the higher tier story missions with a base rating of 5+ stars on anything higher than Hard requires absolute precision and consummate teamwork to have any chance of survival. But trust me, you need to play most missions on Hard or higher, because it increases your EXP and payout immensely - progression almost grinds to a halt if you play at the default difficulty.

We played one of the unique "story" missions last night, which was a multi-day heist (SPOILER ALERT): On day one, we had to steal or destroy a cache of weapons - simple enough, save for the fact that carrying the highly valuable weapons to steal them slows you down to a crawl that would make Cliffy B cry for his momma, and there are 6 weapons cases to carry while being shot to hell by guards, - another twist which seemed to me a total throwback to Japanese games of yore. Brutal, but not impossible, we managed it. On day two however, we had to break into the FBI offices and steal a server. Sounds simple enough right? Hahahaha. It might have been, except...

You can stealth this mission entirely, but stealth in this game is just insane. We actually managed to get up to the server room undetected, but we couldnt find the keycard so we had to break in using the drill, and were discovered. The server is located behind no less than 3 heavily armored doors which require drilling or C4 (which we havent unlocked). After maybe 20 minutes of drilling and defending an onslaught of cops, FBI agents, SWAT teams and super-heavyduty combat soldiers, with our ammo running low, we grabbed the server, healed up, and made a break for it. The combat got even more intense as we made out way out to the van across the street, with snipers taking aim at our heads and cops flanking us from every direction. Somehow we managed to dodge most of the sniper fire and made it to the van with just a fraction of health left. "Sick! We did it!" I shouted out into my 360 headset. Only, the mission didnt end. Somehow, in deploying the medical pack before our departure, I put the server down, and forgot it. The SWAT teams converged around our van, and everything grew dark. FISSION MAILED. And that was only day 2 of a 3 day heist.

Payday 2 runs admirably on the Xbox 360, but it does have some pretty serious screen tearing and occasional slowdown, although the slowdown is fairly minor and never borderline gamebreaking with regard to input latency/playability like I have seen in other titles such as Ninja Gaiden 2 or Gears 3's Horde mode. However, beyond these flaws, Overkill has done a solid job of porting over their game from the PC to an 8 year old console. The fact that it even runs at all on the 360 is a technical marvel - helped by the fact that its made using the also-aging Source engine and several advanced graphical features arent present at all in the 360 version. Yes, there is ridiculous clipping, sometimes laughable AI, missing animations, strangely absent customization, a need for more missions, and other flaws which betray a significant lack of polish and indicate a rushed job to get this game out before the behemoth that is GTA V is released. But those flaws cant hold this game down, the core mechanics are just too good, and the game is just too much fun to be ruined by myriad, yet minor flaws.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

GTA Online Trailer

Apparently GTA V's online mode is an "evolving, persistent world" - almost an MMO.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shadowrun Returns Impressions

So Ive been playing Shadowrun Returns, and although its a type of game we dont really see much of anymore, its quite enjoyable if you go in with the right mindset and expectations. If you are a fan of the writers Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, or are familiar with classic isometric RPG games from the 1990s PC and SNES/Genesis era (like the original Fallout or Shadowrun), or if you ever played tabletop RPGs, you will love this game. It is by no means a masterpiece or anything revolutionary, but more of a testament to an older style of RP/storytelling games which died out with the advent of true 3D gaming.

The writing is excellent, and the fully realized setting and main campaign story "Dead Mans Switch" are the reason to play this game (today - many OEM and fan-made expansions will be forthcoming). In this all too realistic near-future "fantasy" setting, corporations are the main superpowers of the world, surpassing goverments or military dictatorships, and independently contracted "Shadowrunners" carry out the nefarious corporate deeds which help them achieve world domination:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Madeon TECHNICOLOR Teaser Video

Makes me want to drop Molly and party for 50 hours straight. Comes out Aug 3rd.

Monday, July 29, 2013

motdef: Ride to Hell Retribution

When they called this game Ride to Hell, they weren't kidding. Beyond broken.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Broforce and Divekick Get Greenlit for Steam


DIVEKICK: (this was from a stream so it's a bit choppy)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

GTA V Official Gameplay Trailer

Switch characters at any time. Customization. Countless heists. Epic scale. Wow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Phil Ivey: 5bet Bluffing

There is no such thing as 5bet bluffing in No Limit Holdem. There is 3betting light (to counter aggressive raisers) and 4bet bluffs to counter those who 3bet light, but those are mostly plays you see heads up, rarely if ever in a full ring game. When someone 5bets, even HU, its always a monster. Always: JJ, QQ, KK, AA, AK, and maybe TT or AQsuited are the hands that people 5bet with (usually an all in). The math is such that you cant ever bluff preflop as a 5bet because its usually an all in or at least pot committing yourself, and risking an all in vs a 4bet when you have a weak hand which could be a 9-1 underdog is just too risky. 5bet bluffing in a ring game with 5+ players is just, its fucking suicidal.

But then, then there is Phil Ivey. When you know your opponent cant call, because you can look into their soul and see they have nothing, all the math and game theory goes out the window. Thats Phil Ivey's game in a nutshell. He just knows what you have, so what he has doesnt matter. Its part of the game that can't be taught and what separates the best players in the world from The Best Player in the world.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Craziest Pizza I Ever Ate

There is no Ukranian pizza in NYC. But if you goto Joe's on Carmine and 6th Ave, one of the best slice spots in the city, he will make anything for you. My friend wanted a special pie from her homeland, so we brought a couple special ingredients and he made us a unique Ukranian style pizza. Chicken, pineapple, mushrooms, corn, extra cheese, and most importantly, the cheese must be placed ON TOP of the toppings, not under it. The taste is hard to describe, but it was amazing.

The owner, Joe, was so taken with our request that he accepted our offer of tasting a slice. In NYC, anything is possible, even the craziest pizza they invented on the other side of the world. We ate it on the grass in Washington Square Park with a bottle of Chardonnay, watching the sunset on a warm summer night.

99% of the time I get pizza plain or with 1 topping but hey, You Only Live Once.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ouya Gets Mixed Reviews - A Work In Progress

Im not sure how much you guys know about the Ouya, but its a tiny little $99 console gaming device that runs on the Android operating system. It was crowd funded via Kickstarted and finally launched this summer. Unfortunately, the early reviews have been mixed at best, however a lot of the reviewers are overlooking the very best aspect of the console - emulation of classic consoles like the NES, Genesis, NEOGEO, N64 and PS1 in a sweet little form factor.

Basically the main issue a lot of reviewers are having is the lack of quality titles at launch, and the long and short of it is, the Ouya doesnt have a"killer app:" no Halo or Infinity Blade equivalent that just makes you say wow. But it does support emulators, and apparently they work beautifully from anything like the C64/Atari2600 era all the way up to the N64/PS1. A certain gamer named  md galaxy will also be pleased to learn that it also supports MAME (which emulates arcade games) and SCUMM (which emulates classic PC games).

Now, while the Ouya is in its infancy, and will undoubtably see a huge surge in indie development and support from bigger companies like SquareEnix and Namco Bandai, the level of competition is going to go through the roof in 2014. It has been leaked that Google themselves are developing an Android based console, and as we all know, when Google sinks its teeth into something, its like a pitbull eating a Baconator.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to Uninstall McAfee Antivirus

One of the very best videos I have ever seen or posted. Yes, thats John McAfee.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Microsoft Removes Xbox One DRM

Today Microsoft pulled a complete 180 on their DRM policy for Xbox One. Here's an excerpt taken from Don Mattrick's statement:
"An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.
In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions."
It is a little shocking to see them play follow the leader, but at least they listened to all of the feedback. Note that last line. Xbox One just became region-free. Now if only it was $399 without the kinect...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Payday 2 Gameplay Trailer

This coop game looks amazing, imagine a cross between L4D and Reservoir Dogs.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sony Wins, And It Aint Even Close

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. I wont be buying an Xbox One. Period.

UPDATE from Umo:
On the E3 late night livestream last night Adam Boyes, the Sony
Exec on the right who devised that video explains the background behind it and
also how the #PS4NoDRM campaign that sprung up after the Xbox announcement
was noticed by the top brass and helped cement their policies. He also brought a
surprise gift for them to examine.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


So today Rafa won his 8th French Open title - his 12th Grand Slam overall. I dont think anyone can say they are surprised that he beat fellow countryman David Ferrer in the final; the match was all but a coronation. But Id like to toss out something that I havent heard anyone mention yet.

Rafael Nadal is the 2nd greatest tennis player of all time.

With all due respect to Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe - none of those guys would even be in the top 3 of todays ATP tour. The level of play is so much higher now than it was even 10 years ago.

Nadal is only 27. Is it possible he could take a shot at Federer's record and become the greatest of all time? My head says no way, never gonna happen with Djokovic lurking, and those cranky knees which are always an issue.

But my heart says that anything is possible.

All I know is, its a great time to be a tennis fan.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Xbox One Region Locked?

In a statement to Digital Trends, a Microsoft rep confirmed that the Xbox One would be region locked in some capacity: “Similar to the movie and music industry, games must meet country-specific regulatory guidelines before they are cleared for sale.” What this means isnt entirely clear and Microsoft has declined to elaborate. Im pretty sure they wouldnt do something so stupid as to region lock all of Xbox Live, but it seems that all games will be region locked in some capacity.

Whether that means just NTFS vs PAL like we have now, or something much more sinister is yet to be determined. If Microsoft were to decree that all games for the Xbox One cannot support cross region play, that would be the tipping point that would cause me to absolutely not buy the console. What they should do is mandate that while all games are sold as region specific, cross region play must be supported. As it stands now, this decision is usually left to the developer, but this often leads to the huge mistake of a region locked game you cannot play across the pond.

Furthermore, especially for older games, having the ability to play with people from around the world is essential. Sure, when Virtua Tennis 3 was brand spanking new, it could have been supported by a community of just American players. But now, some 6 years after it was released, it simply would not still have an online community at all were it not for inter-region play. There is a certain threshold of minimum number of players for online games, and once it falls below that, a tipping point is reached and the remaining player base just gives up on ever trying to find a match and all online play evaporates.

Finally, its pretty cool that Bond and I get to play VT3 doubles against teams not just in the USA, but the entire world. Playing with gamers from Japan, Korea, France, Spain, and the UK makes online play for VT3 so much more rewarding, because it makes the overall quality of play so much higher - even if the connection quality isnt always quite as great as we would like it to be. "Let, first service" is commonly heard when the game lags. But the players deal with it, give back a point if necessary, and play on.

So please Microsoft, let us gamers deal with the bits of lag, and play on if we want to. It should be our right as gamers to determine if a match is too laggy to play - not the right of a developer, publisher, or console manufacturer.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Xbox One Reveal

This picture reminds me of the classic Reggie Fils Amis "Gamecube - Sorry!" 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Welcome to Tangiers

This indie stealth game is working with a super cool surrealist aesthetic. Its cited influences and inspirations are: Thief (PC game), Man Ray (artist), Throbbing Gristle (band), Cabaret Voltaire (band), William Burroughs (writer), J.G. Ballard (writer), and the eastern European Dada movement.

Not coming until 2014 and PC only, but I'll guarantee the devs at least one sale.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leaked Star Wars Battlefront Gameplay Video

Leaked Battlefront III Footage by All-Games-Beta

BF3 alphaNov from Blue_Monkey on Vimeo

Apparently this game was cancelled or is being totally remade now, but after Disney purchased Lucasarts they completely shut down all new videogame production. Its amazing to me how they can get so far into development of what looks like a totally playable and fun game, only to decide that they "want to go in another direction" and toss all these assets and the hard work of the programmers and testers in the garbage. Ive heard of development hell, but I think where the Star Wars Battlefront franchise is concerned, this is a fate far worse than falling into a boiling pit of lava.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Splinter Cell Blacklist: Spies vs Mercs Trailer

4v4 Spies vs Mercs? Holy shit is all I can say. Bond, what are you going to do when I fly a mini-drone up in those shadows? You can run, and then you can hide, but when you finally get to that last data terminal, look behind you. Just like at the end of this trailer, Im going to be standing right there. You better have one last trick up your sleeve, cause my gun is aimed at your head and my finger is on the trigger.

Between Splinter Cell Blacklist,Watchdogs, GTA V, Rainbow 6 Patriots, and The Last of Us, who even needs a new generation of consoles? Seriously, how could any launch lineup top that? They are gonna need a new Burnout game on Day 1 if they want me to buy one, otherwise I can easily see holding off until 2014. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New GTA V Trailers

A day late and a dollar short, but here are the hilarious and epic new GTA V trailers everyone is talking about. The tone is more GTA III/San Andreas style hijinx than GTA IV, and this is all using the in game engine and cameras which look amazing for being done on our ancient consoles. Im still hoping for a Brucie cameo.

Friday, April 26, 2013

AVGN: Ikari Warriors

Ikari Warriors is one of those NES games I never got to see the ending of as a kid. In fact, until seeing this AVGN video I never even knew there was a 4th stage - as kids we just assumed that the 3rd stage was the end. In fact, once or twice I think my friend and I actually made it all the way to the end of the 3rd stage and killed the undead boss, only to get stuck because we didnt know that you had to bomb the floor repeatedly to advance - a preposterous design decision if there ever was one.

Ikari Warriors is a game that I played a ton of in its day, but going back to it now, I have to say that its truly awful. Compared to the NES version of Contra, which is actually better than its arcade counterpart, Ikari Warriors didnt make the transition to home consoles well - the controls are borked and the graphics are putrid. Ikari Warriors 2 and 3 are much better, but still dont quite hold up as well as Contra, which in my opinion is the best action game made for the NES and remains highly playable to this day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Insane Bitcoin Rollercoaster Ride

Apologies to my online gaming friends as my extended absence from gaming and blogging was somewhat unexpected. But Ive been on one of the craziest rollercoaster rides of my life in the past couple months. As many of you know, I got interested in Bitcoins last year, and started buying them for around $10-12 each on - just because the entire concept of a decentralized cryptocurrency fascinated me. But soon enough I realized that there was an entire online economy based around them - and most importantly you could play poker with them!

It didnt take long for me to head on over to Seals With Clubs and start playing. I deposited 7 Bitcoins - at the time 7 Bitcoins had a combined value of roughly $100USD. I was just happy to be able to play online again and playing for superlow stakes with monopoly money was a fine form of entertainment. But then... then some crazy shit happened. Pretty much in unison, I started winning on Seals With Clubs at an incredible clip, and the value of Bitcoins started to skyrocket. My bankroll on SWC doubled, then tripled, then doubled again (I was using a very aggressive bankroll management strategy), and Bitcoins went up in value to $20, then $30, $40, and before I knew it they were worth $100 each. Then $150. Then $200! $250!!!

Soon I had almost 200 Bitcoins in my Seals With Clubs account, and I was playing against the website's in house pros and rich Bitcoin investors who could afford to play at the highest stakes: 25-50 and 50-100 (Buy-in of 5 or 10BTC respectively). I had gone from a $100 investment, playing for fun, to having a $50,000 bankroll in the span of a couple of months. As you could imagine, I could barely contain my enthusiasm for Bitcoins and was grinding online for several hours a day - and sometimes putting in 24-36 hour weekend sessions fueled by epic quantities of Adderall, cappucino, and Monster Energy ReHab.

I also became extremely interested in the process of Bitcoin creation known as mining. Bitcoins are generated by computers running a proof of work algorithm based on SHA256, which is a resource intensive process that utilizes a computers GPU (graphics processor) for parallel processing. I had a pretty powerful GPU because Im a PC gamer so I tried it out, and low and behold, after a couple days of hashing for a pool, my computer had generated a fraction of a bitcoin. Cool! So I bought another graphics card, and doubled my hashrate.

Then I thought, well, Im good at building computers and its been a while since I made one, and it looks like it could pay for itself in a matter of months if I choose the right components - several high end GPUs bought used on ebay and a cheap motherboard, RAM and CPU - no case required. Then I started buying used machines on Craigslist and jamming ATI 6950s in them, and before I knew it I had 6 mining rigs and a maze of power supply wires, extension cables, PCIE extenders, and ATX leads all over the floor of my place. I took some of my profits and preordered several custom, high end ASIC Bitcoin mining machines from a shady company known as Butterfly Labs (no, they still havent shipped yet). The whole notion of mining some digital currency seemed like something out of William Gibson novel and was utterly fascinating to me - and still is.

So I was accumulating Bitcoins through playing poker and mining, and although I did cash out a few thousand dollars worth through Coinbase, for the most part I had made up my mind to let it ride. This is gambling terminology for leaving your winnings on the table and doubling down your bets. Go Big or Go Home. This is how I play poker, and this was my approach to investing in Bitcoins. And it was working in both areas - spectacularly.

Until, the Great Bitcoin Crash of 2013. You see, there had previously been a big Bitcoin crash. Back in 2011, there were a couple of very well publicized pieces (particularly the one by trumpeting Bitcoins which sent the value from $2 to $30 almost overnight, but shortly thereafter a few major Bitcoin related companies and exchanges were hacked, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of coins. This resulted in a major loss of confidence in the currency itself, panic set in, and the value plummeted back down to $2. Bitcoin itself hadnt been hacked, but the difference to the common investor was inconsequential.

It took over a year for the price to go back up to around $10. And this time, the fundamentals were better. There was a whole economy based on Bitcoins by late 2012. You could actually buy things with them. You could cash them out to $USD almost instantly. The number of google searches for Bitcoin had gone up exponentially. There was a real awareness and excitement about Bitcoins this time around, and they had gone from something only esoteric computer geeks knew about to something you might see in the chat of World of Warcraft or a piece by a financial journal about emerging markets. It was different now.

But then... BOOOOOOOM!!! All at once, a few people started taking profits around $250-270, and so many people started creating accounts and logging into the #1 exchange, Mt. Gox, that it actually crashed completely. Then they restarted it, but with so many people trying to log in and check the prices, their balances, and trade back and forth with the $USD, it created a huge amount of lag which rendered all trading almost impossible. Panic set in, and soon everyone started selling. The price plummeted. As I watched in realtime in absolute horror, the price of Bitcoins fell from $270 to $60 in a matter of hours. Over 75% of the value of my investment had evaporated. Im still up overall because I bought in so cheap - but ask any poker player - when you rack out winning a dozen big blinds after being up half a dozen buyins - it sure doesnt feel like winning. During last week, my luck in poker also turned for the worse, and I lost about 30% of my bankroll in just a few nightmarish sessions where every turn and river card was the worst possible card in the deck. 

So that brings me to where I am now. The price has since recovered a little bit, as of this writing, its a little bit under $90, and really I have absolutely nothing to complain about or bad to say about this whole experience other than it has been just a totally insane rollercoaster. Ive always looked at my Bitcoin investments as a freeroll - something which costs nothing or almost nothing - where you can only win and never lose. If the value ever drops to $0 I can always sell my mining rigs for parts and use my 6950s and 7950s to play Battlefield 3 with (which it looks absolutely amazing on running at 60FPS/1900x1200). The tens of thousands of hands I played on Seals, well, I enjoy poker and I first got back into it 7 years ago through a love of strategy gaming and playing for fun with my friends on Xbox Live. Poker taught me to love gambling - not the other way around. I joined Seals to play for fun in the first place, so nothing lost there.

So I know by now you are probably wondering, Chronic, should I buy some Bitcoins?  Should I get into mining or poker on SWC? Well my advice is this. Only invest what time and money you are perfectly comfortable with losing. If you look at the whole thing as a freeroll in this way - Bitcoins could one day become very, very valuable, or be worth nothing - you are investing responsibly. Do I think buying at $100 or mining at the current difficulty is worth it? Yes, but only if the money you invest is an amount that doesnt mean that much to you. It is a high risk, high reward proposition, but if you have libertarian leanings like myself, the whole experience of creating and using a digital currency outside of the scope of any corporation or government entity is extremely rewarding - if not always profitable.


Just as a postscript, speaking of non-profitability, check out this Bitcoin miner made from a Nintendo Entertainment System! The Bitcoin community is pretty amazing - its a group of highly intelligent, tech savvy non-conformists who share a common distaste for fiat currency. If you want to learn more about Bitcoins, I highly recommend you create an account on the Bitcoin Talk Forums and start browsing around. Just be careful about what to believe and who to trust - use your head, and its an incredible resource.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Fighting Game That Even Max Would Enjoy


This is Divekick. This actually started out as a joke based on the discussions of how powerful divekicks were in fighting games and how using divekicks is all you needed to do to win. Divekick is controlled by only 2 buttons. You don't even use a joystick/d-pad. 2 buttons, period. One button makes you jump, the other makes you kick. That's it.

This game is just too funny for me to pass up. We have to check this out. This will be coming out later this year on XBLA, PSN, and PC.

EDIT: Apparently, Microsoft is a pain in the ass and this game is not coming to Xbox in any form :(

MARCH 29th UPDATE by umo: The developers had the game on the Giantbomb livestream last night and you can see Seth Killian playing it as well as lots of smack talk. Dave Lang of Iron Galaxy who publish it is good friends with the Giantbomb crew so he's down for the craziness of playing the game with a Rock Band drum controller.

Watch on TwitchTV

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bioshock Infinite Mega Deal

I'm seeing some good deals for Bioshock Infinite on the PC, maybe with the chaos of Sim City and the disappointment of the Aliens game people have been reluctant to put as many orders in for this over the last few weeks.

I feel this one in particular needs your attention. As it's single player anyway there's more reason not to get it on the 360. For the UK at  it's £23.99 for 4 games. Bioshock Infitite (with the Industrial Revolution pre-order flash game and bonuses), Bioshock 1, A choice of 5 games (Civ 5, Mafia II, Bioshock 2, Darkness 2 or Spec Ops: The Line) plus XCOM, one of last years most highly rated games. Not sure of the exact dollar price but I believe in the US you also get $15 store credit too.

Steam have almost the same offer but a little more expensive, it seems GMG added XCOM to the bundle as a response to Steam including it, it makes it a superb deal though. They are all steam keys too I believe and work with a 360 controller (except Civ 5 I guess)

I picked the Mafia II bundle, but might not make use of it so I could use it for Steam trading in the future. No shortage of gaming for a while now.

Referral link: which adds £2 to yours and my account if you aren't already registered and decide to buy from them

Oh, and here's a bonus Beetlejuice rollercoaster from Minecraft on the 360.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

8-Must Not - Poker Poetry

8-Must Not

Here I sit, broke as hell - 
guess I didnt play to well:
 Raised it up with just an eight
 should have known that wouldn't rate
 Someone raised it up again
 I was lost, I knew it then
 But still I called, my "all in" play 
and tried to figure out a way 
Player one had taken two 
not a really vital clue 
Player two had taken one 
after opening under the gun 
Two players on my right took three 
and now that brings it up to me 
I stood pat with my 8-low 
which had hooked me from word "go" 
Now came time for the declare 
silently I said a prayer 
I went low and three others went high 
a bead of sweat dropped in my eye 
Half the pot looked almost real 
but then the opener swung a wheel


This is a poem written by my friend Artie in 1974 after a rough night of 5 card draw hi-low declare. He kept a printed copy for almost 40 years and gave it to me so I could put it on the internet for posterity. People dont play draw poker much at all these days, let alone hi-low with a declare, but this poem serves as a reminder that these games were once very popular. Being dealt an 8 low is a fairly strong starting hand, and with 3 players in the hand declaring for the hi half of the pot and only one declaring hi-low, getting scooped by a wheel is the very definition of a bad beat. Artie would know about bad beats - hes been playing poker for more years than most players today have been alive.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Cave Shooting Collection

Cave is releasing their entire Japanese Xbox 360 library in one big collector's box with all games, soundtracks, superplay DVDs, and every single piece of DLC EVER for $275 USD on March 28th:

A) 10 Soundtrack CDs
Deathsmiles IIX
Mushihimesama Futari ver 1.5
Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu ver 1.5
Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu Black Label
Muchi Muchi Pork!
Pink Sweets
Espgaluda II Black Label
Akai Katana


B)7 Superplay DVDs
Deathsmiles Official DVD
Mushihimesama Futari Official DVD (Booklet included)
Mushihimesama Futari Black Label X Deathsmiles Mega Black Label Official DVD
Espgaluda II Official DVD (Booklet included)
Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu Official DVD
Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu Black Label Official DVD
Akai Katana Shin Official DVD


C)9 Game DVDs
Deathsmiles IIX
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5
Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu Ver 1.5
Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu Black Label
Espgaluda II
Muchi Muchi Pork & Pink Sweets
Akai Katana Shin


D)1 DLC install disc
-Includes all gamer icons, premium themes, extra game modes for every game. 100% complete.


E)1 download code for Guwange from XBLA

F)All manuals of all of the games bound into one large book 

The only things missing from the list? Ketsui and Daioujou because of licensing issues. It's only available through Amazon Japan and they do not ship to the US, so you'd have to call on a friend in Japan to grab one for you.

EDIT: PS - Don't forget about Saidaioujou coming to 360 in May!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Very Special Message From Kaz Hirai

I just received a personal email from none other than Sony's own president and most public figure, Kaz Hirai. In a remarkable display of humble and frank words, Mr Hirai went right to the point:

"Chronic, Im here to promise you that the PS4 wont suck. Although with the PS3 you displayed bravery and true loyalty to our PS brand by purchasing an enormous $700 dust magnet with a laughable 20GB HDD and no launch titles to speak of, we acknowledge the epic failure that the PS3 launch was and aim to make the PS4's launch not quite as disastrous. It took us years to attain the basic features and high sales numbers of the Xbox 360, (and even then we are still considered 2nd class), so we felt we needed to bring out the PS4 right now, TODAY to show you how serious and committed we are at Sony to the Playstation brand. We won't be beaten to the punch again by some whiteboys from Seattle who think they are slick. Hell no. We might be hemorrhaging millions on the Vita, but we maxed out all our Bank of Tokyo credit cards and really put a lot of work and money (mostly money) into developing the PS4. It is going to be better! I am sure of it.

Sure, you might remember the PS3 launch with our hollow, empty promises of 60FPS with native 1080P for every game, the 6 years of development it took to finally release GT5, the truly spectacular debacle that PS Home is, or the fact that we allowed Russian hackers to steal your user credentials and download naked pictures of you from your PS3 HDD. We are truly sorry about that. But we know you will forgive us, Chronic, because we know you are a real Sony fan. We know that you will be thrilled about exciting, new features, like Amazon Video and Netflix Instant coming to the PS4, or exciting, all new games like Killzone, God of War, Little Big Planet, Infamous, and Gran Turismo - which while they likely wont be available for launch, should be coming anytime in the next few dozen months or so.

There are some great features we cant fully talk about yet - like "True Game Security" - which prevents anyone from ever stealing your games and playing them on their system. THAT wont be possible on the PS4, haha!!! The only person who can ever play your games is you Chronic, on your own PS4 console. This represents a true breakthrough in user game security, because we know the only person who deserves to play the great products we create is the very first person who buys them. I'd love to tell you more, but I have a press conference to go to. Thanks, and give all your blog readers a big high five from Kaz!!!"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Retro 2013: Russian Spectrums and Nomad Souls

Thinking of the imminent PS4 launch I happened to be looking back at "Omikron - The Nomad Soul" on the Dreamcast, which I only just realised was Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream's first game. They are rumoured to be announcing something at the launch.

Probably not a sequel to this, but it was a really atmospheric game. From the intro you see above, it broke the 4th wall from the start and asked you to give them your soul just to begin playing. And you thought having to sign up to an EA/Ubisoft account was bad?

While looking I ended up finding some videos from the ZX Spectrum (Timex Sinclair in America) which was one of the very first home computers. It was a games driven device but once you had one, you could start programming your own stuff too and 'poke' around to see the innards of games.

In Russia and Eastern Europe the Spectrum obsession never really died and people would retro-fit all kinds of crazy stuff to run on them, so we get things like this:

Just a demo of what is possible, not the full game. The reason I've posted it though is the music, also the music on the Spectrum 128k version of Wolfenstein 3D is equally awesome.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

GT Antichamber Review

Rather than waste your time by posting an Aliens: Colonial Marines review (cliff notes: it blows monkey chunks), I am posting GT's review of a game I havent played yet but will shortly: Antichamber. This is a Portal like 3D puzzle/platforming game for the PC with a spartan, yet visually compelling graphical style and brain twisting game mechanics. The game has scored very highly on Metacritic and it has tons of people playing it now on Steam. My advice is rather than wait for it to go on sale next December, plop down $20 now and support the guy who spent years of his life making this totally unique experience.

The development started out as an accident: "The developer, Alexander Bruce, hit upon the idea when making a rookie coding error while making [another game]. The error resulted in a geometry far more abstract than a 2-D plane. Bruce said in a 2011 interview with Kotaku that 'the game started off as being all about geometry...I needed to find a way to represent that [non-physical geometry] to I needed to work out why we would need this non-physical geometry in the world and it took me a couple years but after combining geometry and space and perception, I realized that the real reason that this game is interesting and is working is because it's about psychology.'" - from the Antichamber Wikipedia page

Thursday, February 7, 2013

PS4 & Xbox 720 To Launch with Exclusive Racers

"Exclusive next-gen racing games could be set to launch with PS4 and Xbox 720, along with a new project from Killzone devs Guerilla Games to be revealed at Sony’s PlayStation Meeting event on February 20. The rumour suggests a team of ex-Bizarre developers – the studio behind Activision racer Blur – has been picked up by Sony’s Evolution Studios to make a next-gen PS4 racer similar to Project Gotham Racing.

The team is said to include Ged Talbot, lead designer of Blur and several PGR games. The rumour comes from STFUandPlay and a Polygon author posting on NeoGaf. It also states several members of the now-closed Studio Liverpool studio (of WipEout fame) have also joined Evolution to work on the game.

This title is said to be similar in style to Xbox series Project Gotham Racing. The team had allegedly wanted to make it part of the Gran Turismo series (like Forza Horizon), but Sony Japan refused. Internally, the title is being referred to as Europe’s biggest racing game in a decade – and is set to be shown off alongside a new title from Guerilla Games. Microsoft also has plans for a Project Gotham Racing 5 for Xbox 720’s launch, helmed by ex-Bizarre and Criterion developers."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ken Block's Gymkhana Five

Some of the best and most bat shit crazy driving you will ever see in your entire life. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Seals With Clubs - Good Time

So Im sure some of you have seen the Seals With Clubs banner on the side and bottom of my blog, and wondered whats up. Well, before you watch the above promo video, which is hilarious, you should check out the site and read up a bit on Bitcoins (if you dont already know what they are). In short, Bitcoins are a digital currency or commodity which are unique in 3 ways: Its open source software, its decentralized via peer to peer networking, and its secured via the public-private key method of cryptography. Basically, what that means, technically speaking, is that that Bitcoins are some dope ass shit.

One of the myriad ways that Bitcoins are awesome is that they are unregulated in the USA, and because transferring them doesnt involve any banks or governments of any kind, you can do all sorts of awesome things with Bitcoins - like gamble with them. And if you are going to gamble, please ladies and gentlemen, play poker - a great game full of strategy and nuance - not some mindless shit like craps, roulette or slot machines - at which are you destined to eventually lose. If you have never played poker or are a beginner, try reading some of the links in this post on 2+2 (that forum is one of the best on the internet about any subject).

I have been playing on this Bitcoin poker website, Seals With Clubs, for about a month now, and its great. Is it as good as Pokerstars? No, its not even remotely close. But as resident of the USA, home of the (sorta) FREE and land of the (kinda) BRAVE, I cant play for real money on Pokerstars because the UIGEA limits banks from processing gambling transactions. The SWC software is browser/flash based, the number of players at off-peak times is low, and the stakes are relatively small, but the action is amazing and its a fun way for you to earn some extra dough off of your bitcoin investment before the price of a Bitcoin reaches $100 (it will take years, and some swings, but my faith in the USD/Fed/Treasury is not very high).

SWC has true freerolls every hour, so even if you have no bitcoins, and no poker skills, you can get a stake from literally nothing and take some free shots. Very cool, however, even better, if you join through the link in my blog and use my screen name "chronicdog" when you sign up, I will send you a few hundred Seals Chips to get you started (roughly the equivalent of $5). Grind your way to the top - I will be waiting there to greet you with a cold beer and some fistpumps!

Also SWC has an Android app! Gamble while you ramble. Sweet.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Skrillex - Bangarang

Say what you will about dubstep. Its an acquired taste. But the dance moves? Sick.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Razer Arcade Stick

Just over one year ago, I spotted a thread on the SRK forums posted by Team Razer, the PC peripheral manufacturer. They were working to produce their first arcade stick for 360 and showed off a teaser video (above) of an early prototype that opened up with the press of a button. For modders or anyone who ever has had to replace parts, this was a dream. No more lengthy disassembling of your stick just for a 2-minute joystick swap, no more concerns about wearing out the plastic where the hardware threaded into the case that was never meant for dis-assembly, no more screwdrivers.

Another bonus is storage. Cables and spare parts could fit inside the case with easy access. It actually comes with an extra joystick bat-top inside as well as a cable compartment. These compartments can be easily removed if you don't wish to use them. All wiring is clearly labeled and neatly managed. They also gave the inside bottom surface of the case a honeycomb pattern to screw into for anyone adding second or third PCBs for multi-console support. It has all the usual features you would expect like button lock-out and turbo. It comes with a very nice and very thick plexiglass top panel, making it very easy to customize it by adding your own artwork underneath and also has a durable layer of high-friction padding on the bottom.
One year later they announced that they would be sending 200 near-final beta units (images above and below) to select individuals within the fighting game community around the world, mainly top players and well-known modders, for feedback before final production. I had been following the thread throughout the year and had been holding off on buying any of the new sticks, impatiently waiting for this one. After making a few posts in the forum expressing my general interest in the product, one of the lucky 200 beta members emailed me saying that he didn't even own a 360 and would be glad to sell me their unused, unopened Razer Arcade Stick. $150 and 4 days later and it was sitting in my living room.
Here's a peek at mine (below) after I replaced the Sanwa JLF joystick with a snappy Seimitsu LS32, removed the Microsoft-mandatory colored buttons, and removed their artwork, exposing the black powder-coated metal panel underneath.
This is a very solid stick with a sleek and simple design and fantastic features. There's nothing else I could possibly want in an arcade stick (cup holder?). It will be released sometime in 2013, but Razer hasn't gotten any more specific on the release date or, more importantly, the price. My best guess at MSRP is a MINIMUM of $180, up to $250. Not cheap, I know, but for arcade stick junkies like myself that play and own just about every fighter and STG out there, it's practically irresistible.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gametrailers Game of The Year 2012

I didnt play any of them, because apparently Halo 4 didnt make the cut. Surprising.