Friday, August 31, 2007
More Bioshock musings
First of all, Tim is brilliant with the gaming humor. Between him and Penny Arcade, everyone else should just stop writing gaming comics.
I’ve been playing C&C3 in order to decompress from the Bioshock experience. The story was so deep that I want to think about it before I play through again. Now, either I’m so brilliant, or the writing and design were that good, because virtually all the elements, motivations and themes discussed in this interview with Ken Levine (warning, massive spoilers) were things I either wrote about already, or definitely thought while playing.
I suspect it’s the creators and not my genius. Although, as you well know, I am a genius. At something. One day I might even find out what.
Here’s something that I guess some players aren’t picking up on: You, the main character, are genetically engineered from Ryan. You have to be in order to make the Bathysphere keys and the bot shutdown systems work. Remember the lower wharf? Atlas told you that the system was keyed to Ryan, but anyone in his family could make it work. Until you get to the end, you can assume that you are just a distant relative or something, but once you know the secret, when Atlas/Fontaine spills the beans, you realize that Ryan, for all intents and purposes, is your father, and you just bashed his head in with a putter. And he damn well demanded that you do it.
That’s just one of the three bajillion layers of intriguing story this game contains. No, it’s not a revolutionary evolution of the first person shooter. It’s just well and truly written with depth...no pun intended. I hope that the success of Bioshock will make other game designers go out on a limb and try some real stories with a real narrative. I also appreciated that very limited use of cutscenes in Bioshock. You are teh story. You act out the story. Almost every moment is spent doing something, not just sitting back and watching a ten minute, badly-acted scene play out. Like...well, Command & Conquer 3. Grace Park and Jennifer Morrison may be nice to look at, but they certainly didn’t bother to act in the cutscenes. And Michael Ironside is simply horrible. I haven’t played the Nod side yet, so I don’t know how Tricia Helfer does, but I’m not expecting it to be very good.
Cutscenes suck. Bioshock has almost none. Good choice.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Stuff. And things.
- Would you like to see someone turn themselves from a normal person into a freak? Someone who isn’t Jenna Jameson, that is? Well, here you go (neither link is really safe for work). By the way, I don’t call Jenna a freak because she had her massive jubblies reduced to pre-implant status. I call her a freak for what she has done (through surgery) to her face and skin and body and just oh my God what a national tragedy she’s turned out to be.
- I haven’t been mentioning the whole diet/exercise issue lately because I’m just chugging along. I’ve settled into a pound-to-two-pounds a week loss. My workouts have increased in intensity and my back pain is much lower than it used to be. There are days when my right elbow (arthritis) hurts a lot more than my back.
- Anyone want a box of Molto Tanzania Peaberry coffee pods? I didn’t realize I bought two, and I will not suffer through another one. I also have a full box of Baronet French Vanilla pods you can have if you’re interested. I’ll mail them to you. It’s either that or I throw them out.
- Bioshock has managed to piss me off but good. SPOILERS AHEAD!
OK, so a long time ago, back in the days of the Playstation, when there was no PS1 or 2 or 3, just Playstation, I played one of the Final Fantasy games. I don’t remember which one. One night I played it for about 10 hours straight. Whereupon I came to some event for which I needed a special item. Said item was passed up about 6 and a half hours earlier and now UNATTAINABLE. Without this item I could not proceed. And there was no way to go back and get it that didn’t take another ten hours.
I never played another Final Fantasy game again. That shit pisses me RIGHT off.
Well, Bioshock has a moment like that. It happens in the wharf area.
So you’re bopping around the Upper and Lower Wharf, and the guy in your ear says “Go see this dude at the fishery. My fams is all in a hidden sub in the basement of that place.” Only when you get there, the cranky prick at the door doesn’t want to let you in quite yet until you do him a solid...he don’t trust you. You need to go collect a research camera for him, and then take pictures of three spider splicers. One is located in the Upper Wharf, one in the post office and one in the bar area. Well, in traipsing around the Upper Wharf I find a room with a broken window. I step through, jump down onto a tin roof, then another, then some boxes, then the floor. To find myself trapped on the other side of a locked gate with no way of getting back to the Upper Wharf. Your character can’t jump very high, and against all pretense of physics, or bioengineered ability, cannot use his hands to climb. PISS-POOR GAME DESIGN. I should not be allowed to lock myself out of an area that I need to be in. If I can, there should be a hard-but-do-able way to get back. I have to take these pictures or I don’t advance. Period. Now I can’t. Since I was saving over the same save point, I lost the ability to backtrack before I went out the window. I was, to put it simply, screwed.
So I started from the end of the previous level. Which sucks. I will not walk through that window until I have photographed the god-damned spider splicer in this area, you can bet on that.
The rest of the game is so good that I am not going to put it down forever, but I am sorely disappointed in this kind of glaring flaw.
Scratch everything I wrote. I’m the idiot. I found a room that I did not see before, that led to another, and lo and behold, the spider splicer came after me. I photographed it and then killed it, and when I eventually backtracked to the blocked area, it was open. My humble apologies, Mr. Ken Levine. I apologize for doubting your level design. :)
- Lastly, I thought this was hysterical:
Posted by JimK at 03:45 PM on August 23, 2007
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Categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Xbox 360, Celebridiots, Personal
Tags: Bioshock Xbox 360 gaming diet Jenna Jameson Sabrina Sabrok
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
A coupe of hours with Bioshock (for Xbox 360)
Random thoughts on Bioshock so far (with one spoiler):
- Not *exactly* as cinematic a feel as the demo, but that is understandable. The story needs to play out over the course of the 20-plus hours it will take you to play through. Plasmids don’t come as fast, you are forced to deal with the balance issues, use money, pay the price for bad hacking, get at least two bots on your side, beat a Big Daddy, make a game-altering decision about the Little Sisters…
OK, given all of that maybe it is as cinematic. I was using the wrong term. It is paced differently, that’s all. Even so, I feel like I have experienced a full game already and I’ve not even left the medical pavilion yet!
- The game looks great on the 360. I can only imagine what a PC running a top video card can do with this.
- The aiming system is pretty good, for a 360 FPS. I’m not a Halo player, I prefer third-person shooters, but this works.
- Telekinesis is cool. The way the game teaches you to use it is really organic, not hokey like so many games and their training methods. See, one of the docs is clearly a big tennis player, and there’s a hallway with trophy cases...and a ball launcher. I think you see where this is going. :)
- The atmosphere is absolutely creepy. In some places it’s downright sinister and gruesome, with a high gore factor. Mostly it’s just depressingly, hauntingly decayed and beautiful, a monument to the dream of self-governance without interfere from massive egos and the rule of a state. You can feel the results of failure all around you. You can hear the cries of anguish and anger from what is left of the citizenry as the runaway science of bio-engineering abilities into their bodies eats away at what is left of them. And you are running around doing exactly the same thing. It’s definitely a Hitchcockian ticking bomb thing, loaded with suspense. In case you’re not following me, Hitchcock believed that showing you a scene with two men at a table having a coffee, then seeing a bomb blow them up is shock, but that’s not how you build suspense. If you really want to build suspense and keep people on the edge of panic, tell the audience that the bomb is there, and have the two men act as if nothing is happening. The whole time they chat and sip coffee, you’re thinking “OH MY GOD THERE IS A BOMB UNDER THE TABLE! RUN!”
Well, the whole time I am eagerly grabbing the ability to upgrade my DNA, I know that it will drive me insane and eventually kill me via a horrible, painful death. Unless...maybe I’m the only person in Rapture who can survive the process? Hope springs eternal.
- SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!
- Regarding the big choice you have to make: You can rescue Little Sisters or choose to “harvest” them. Exactly how it sounds. Harvesting kills, rescuing turns them good...or so we think, so far. Rescuing results in the creator of the Little Sisters promising you a big reward, but it means less ADAM, the magic juice that allows you to do stuff and is “the thing that runs Rapture.” Harvesting means you piss her off, but get a lot more ADAM. I’ve chosen to play it by helping the Little Sisters, as I suspect it will be turned around on me later and I am curious to see what happens. I’ll play it the other way when I play through again on a harder setting.
So far? Best FPS I’ve played in a long, long time.
Friday, August 17, 2007
You may have noticed my absence…
...all three of you that read this blog. It’s been a tough week around here, and on top of that I just didn’t feel like blogging anything.
In the larger sense you may have noticed my political content dwindling away. I’m fed up, and how many times can I write the same thing? I hate reading blogs that repeat the same political crap day in and day out. Every story comes back to one of two boogey-men - Bush or Clinton. Sometimes it’s Rove or Pelosi. I’m so sick of it. I have a limited amount of “political capital” to spend before I need to get silly or look at boobs. These past few months it has been spent on Moore, health care and Cuba. Not to mention the fact that worrying about a presidential race this early has driven me, and most other people who are getting tired of it, insane.
I realize that there are some people who are obsessed with being angry at every perceived injustice by the government, they other side, people on their side and so forth. Some folks seem to have an infinite well of angst and bile from which to draw, and can turn any story into a political rant against whosoever it is they hate this month. I don’t. Besides, most of ‘em can’t think unless someone else tells them what opinion to have. If the “uberbloggers” and political rags stopped publishing tomorrow, half the political bloggers on the intertubes wouldn’t know what sock to put on first without direction. I’m fed up with it all. Right, left, center, you can all fuck off until next summer. I am out of caring, and the caring store is fresh out of refills.
I’d rather write 3000 bitterly sarcastic words about Bret Michaels than one more fucking blog post bemoaning the state of our Union. Because it’s a hell of a lot more fucking fun. Of course, you just know I will be bemoaning the state of our Union again...because I can’t help it. So everything I just wrote is total bullshit.
See, it’s my consistency that keeps you coming back. I just know it.
On the diet/weight loss front: Holding even. OK, truth is I re-gained almost a pound, which seems like it shouldn’t be measurable on a lump as big as me, but it’s reading the same every day, so...it must be there. I’ve actually stayed under 1700 calories a day on average this week, so it’s not the food intake. I’ve not been sleeping well at all due to a miscalculation in my BiPAP (a miscalculation I made), and this week it has caught up to me. I have been noticing that I am more and more physically exhausted both before and after a workout. This week it got to the point where I had to lighten up on what I was doing because I simply couldn’t move my arms. I wasn’t in pain, I was just completely exhausted. I’ve slept better the last couple of nights, and I will be going to the pool to try to do another quarter-mile this evening, so we’ll see if things have improved. Although I gotta say, I’m feeling both exhausted and dizzy right now, so...yeah, that means caffeine. Mmm...coffee. Only not this coffee, about which I will write tomorrow.
So anyway, I will make a bigger effort on all fronts next week. Let’s just call this a really shitty vacation. One where I didn’t go anywhere and no relaxation was accomplished at all. And I had to have my cell phone replaced again, as the front screen went dead. Again. Just like it did twice on the previous model I owned. Is LG making these things out of gossamer? What the fuck?
Oh! You know what I did accomplish? Shooting a -26 at Pebble Beach in three rounds. In Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘07, of course. It’s not like I would actually walk a golf course and do that for real. That would involve both going somewhere and the day star, plus his cousin Fresh Air. We don’t do that here. Fresh air and sun are for boy scouts and migrant farm workers. We simulate. I swear to God, I will volunteer for the Matrix when the Robot Day Of Atonement comes. Anyway, that;s a pretty good score, I think. You may begin worshiping me whenever it is convenient for you.
Lastly...BIOSHOCK! Oh my GOD! Has a game every promised such a deep (no pun intended) story with such creep-tacular elements and cool retro-steampunk action? The answer, in case you are curious, is no. The demo is so awesome I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. I haven’t paid full price for any Xbox 360 game since Crackdown. I ordered Bioshock with no care for the price. It’s beautiful, fairly easy to control, has amazing amounts of creep factor, and to top it all off, seems to be telling a truly film-worthy story in a cinematic way that no other game to date has been able to pull off. I’m really interested in playing not just to see what weird and wonderful powers the plasmids will give me, but also to know what happens next in the story. I am really interested in this story. It’s basically the story of a man, sick of governments of all kinds, who attempts to create a libertarian paradise under the sea, only his ego and domineering ways turn it into a combination of a morality-free science experiment-plus-social free-for-all and a dictatorship. You, the player, come in as the last remnants of Rapture, the underwater city, are coming down around your ears and the citizens - what is left of them - have mutated into...something else. Much of the story is told in the details strewn around the world, like protest signs, newspapers, film clips that play on screens, etc. As someone who appreciates libertarian philosophy but believes that it must be limited or it will result in chaos, I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the story. It seems to have been written to my specifications, with some gross-factor, a high amount of creeping me out and a decent backbone of reality. Plus, did I mention it looks simply amazing? I can’t believe that I ever thought Gears of War looked good. Gears looks like a sixty-year old transvestite in a dirty chiffon skirt and a pair of torn leggings compared to Bioshock.
Recently Roger Ebert got into it with gamers, saying that video games couldn’t be art. Well fuck you, Roger. If no other game before it could truly own that label, Bioshock wears it deservedly. As Tycho from Penny Arcade said
It is my intention to secure two copies of the game, entire - one Collectors’ edition, and one exclusively to shove up Roger Ebert’s ass. If Bioshock isn’t “art,” then art is the poorer for it.
Preach on, brother.
Posted by JimK at 03:27 PM on August 17, 2007
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Categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Xbox 360, News, Politics, Personal, The Blogosphere
Tags: gaming politics blogging Bioshock
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Gollum is smoove
Most of the time these things suck, but this one is pretty masterfully edited. Gollum and Smeagol sing Barry White:
Imagine the hours of editing that must have taken...all to amuse us for like, two and a half minutes. :)
Speaking of LOTR, I’ve been playing LOTRII: BFME. That’s Lord Of The Rings II: Battle For Middle Earth. Pretty standard RTS game, which means I like it and will play it over and over while never really loving it. I don’t know why but I play most RTS titles dozens of times...no matter how derivative they are. LOTRII: BFME has some high points: the balrog for one. Certainly worth the rental from Gamefly.
Posted by JimK at 07:02 PM on July 31, 2007
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Categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Xbox 360, Humor
Tags: lord of the rings gollum smeagol barry white youtube
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Absentee Bloglord, part “a lot”
I know. I have been really lax with this site over the last few weeks. I have excuses! ;)
Moorewatch is sucking all the blog-energy I have...and by the way if you haven’t stopped by lately, check out the last few weeks of posts. Everyone who writes for the site now is kicking major ass and doing some real investigative blogging. Donna’s even writing for us now. It;s coming together as a place to discuss all sides of the health care debate - as well as of course continuing to watch the bloviating hack and everything he says.
Anyway, the other thing that sucked a week of my life with no payoff is the Eidos game Just Cause. Fuck Eidos and fuck that game. Oh, I don’t mean to say the game is bad; on the contrary it was fun, so thanks to the person who suggested it. It was fun right up until I ran into a bug that prevented me from advancing the storyline and completing any more missions. I’m not the only one either - the intertubes are full of people asking how to use the remote detonator for the triggered explosives. See, there’s this mission: You have to parachute or drive in to this power plant and blow up three different areas. As you leave, you find that the dictator guy is building a nuke plant, and you have to set explosives and get really far away before they blow up. A timer starts as soon as they explode and you have to be at an extraction point 60 seconds after the explosion or you die. Triggered explosives would obviously be the only way to accomplish that...but my equipment list did NOT contain the detonator for them. I went to each and every safe house, to the mission briefing area, anywhere you can get weapons. Once I discovered so many other people with the same bug...I gave up and sent the game back to Gamefly. That kind of thing pisses me off. I don’t mind finding out I screwed up or I don’t have the skill to beat a game. What I refuse to accept in a game is when the code is so bad that I can’t finish the game due to bugs. Eidos never patched this thing, and they’re busy on Just Cause 2, so they never will. This bug is in all versions of the game, BTW...just not in everyone’s copy. or maybe it is, but only certain events in combination trigger it. No one knows. One thing I do know is Eidos can kiss my ass.
So now I’m all Splinter Cell-ing it up with Double Agent. I forgot how patient you have to be in a Splinter Cell game. I’m so used to Crackdown - which is violence that is just cartoonish abandon - and Rainbow and Gears, which are “run to cover and gun.” Splinter Cell is a whole other style of play, very slow, very patient.
Anyone have any suggestions for a sandbox-style game like Crackdown or Just Cause? I love those kinds of games, and GTA4 won’t be out for awhile. Is Saint’s Row really any good? It’s hard to tell from the demo.
The last thing that has been sucking time is I cook virtually every day now, meals from scratch, not quick shit like before. It really is time consuming, I forgot what it was like to cook this much. It’s fun, though, finding all these different ways to use veggies and lean meats. My kebabs are freaking spectacular, beef, pork or chicken. All that zucchini and onion and pepper and mushroom, with garlicky cajun-spiced marinade...mmm. Grilled sweet and regular potatoes are becoming a favorite. Grilled asparagus is awful for the smell that comes out in the wee, but divine for the taste as it goes in. I’m putting cajun spices on frigging everything.
The worst part of cooking is the damn dishes. I need an illegal to clean my kitchen for three bucks an hour. Maybe I could hire a super-hot Ukrainian girl. According to Hostel and Hostel II, all Ukrainian girls under age 30 are disarmingly beautiful and full of sex appeal. Of course they also work for murdering gangs of criminal businessmen who kidnap Americans for torture, so maybe I should stick with cleaning it myself. ;)
Good news is I have actually lost 4 pounds (off that ten pound gain since I started exercising) since I started tracking calories at My Calorie Counter. Cap, that site was a real help...thanks again. I love that I can add whole meals in there, and then later just select them if I eat them that day. It makes it a lot easier to track what is going on.
Now...the big question is, should I get the NSA or the JBA to trust me more? ;)
Posted by JimK at 04:27 PM on July 14, 2007
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Categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Xbox 360, Personal, Recipes and Food
Tags: gaming xbox 360 just cause eidos weight loss
Monday, July 02, 2007
Gears co-op, anyone?
Anyone want to help a brother out on killing RAAM? I can’t even do it on casual. It’s driving me INSANE. The AI (Dom) is more hindrance than help.
Hit me up with your gamertag if you’re interested.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Games stuff - Test Drive Unlimited and Dead Rising
Yuck. Both of them. Let me explain:
Test Drive Unlimited was just...boring. It was GTA without any fun stuff. I sent it back to Gamefly in 24 hours.
Now, Dead Rising. I wanted so badly to love the game. There’s a lot to love. I liked the story. I didn’t mind the animation. I liked the missions. I liked the photography aspect. I liked almost everything about it. Except.
Except the horrible control system. It’s awkward. Very, very awkward. It’s the opposite of fluid. It gets in the way. I couldn’t take it after awhile. I sent it back after a week of trying to love it. I still think about it though, and I might rent it again after I get my fill of Gears (and Splinter Cell, and Transformers and Darkness and Overlord, and...).
Anyone else have trouble with it?
Posted by JimK at 06:37 PM on June 29, 2007
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Categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Xbox 360, Technobabble (Technology)
Tags: Test Drive Unlimited Dead Rising Xbox 360 Gaming
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Crackdown orb tip - Shai Gen plaza - Corpse ladder
I was having the worst time trying to get the orb that is located at the top of the pillar, next to the lion statue, right in the middle of the Shai Gen plaza area. I was playing co-op with juggalo1987 and I helped him get it by shot-putting him up there while he was inside a car. Problem was, he’s not advanced enough to lift the car and shot-put me up there yet.
I already tried jumping off every building around the plaza and landing on it, but; One, most of the buildings aren’t close enough or high enough. Two, it’s like threading a needle with gloves and a blindfold on. Three, you die when you hit the ground, so you have to regenerate and get to a supply point and climb the buildings each and every time you try.
I also tried stacking cars, dumpsters, trucks, the big yellow skips, nothing gets you high enough. Then I had an idea: shoot harpoon bolts at the wall and jump on them. The problem there is, your character doesn’t seem to have collision detection with the bolts, and that means the game doesn’t know you’re trying to stand on them. So what can you pin to things with the bolts, something with which you definitely have collision detection? Dead people.
And thus was born Corpse Ladder. Kill someone, throw them at the pillar then shoot their dead body with a bolt.
Click me, I get bigger
Hop from one to the other, grab your orb and go. It also works at the lighthouse past Funland, and anywhere you can pin a dead body to a wall.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Crackdown render bug
This was odd...sorry about the quality, I was forced to take photos and video of the screen with my digital camera...Not sure how to screen cap the Xbox without trying to run the video through a capture card.
Can I just say that Crackdown is frigging awesome? Oh, I’ve said that before? Well it is. FRIGGING AWESOME. Also, I grabbed the Halo 3 beta and hated it, but then I knew I would. Halo multiplayer attracts the worse kind of online players, annoying to play with and even worse to listen to.