Am I waisting my life?

This article terrified me and at the same time made way too much sense.  At what point am I waisting my life to play video games?

Five creepy ways video games are trying to get you addicted (

Dead or Alive 4

Being a late bloomer for the Xbox 360, there are plenty of games I want, but have to track down now. Dead or Alive 4, like Bullet Witch, is one of these games. I had played the second entry in the series and with the birth of this new generation, I wanted a new, updated game. Five years later, I have it. I almost wish I never bothered.

The first impression many had with this game was the amazing visuals. Five years later, the backgrounds are still lush and detailed, but the character models fall short. Characters are all doe eyed plastic vixens with breasts that heave and bounce with every movement. Their hair is wonderfully detailed and animated, but the models lack substance as the hair falls through the shoulders of a character as they move. With as much time obviously spent in jiggle physics, one would think they’d give the characters a greater level of detail and realism.

Realism is in direct opposition of all things Dead or Alive. The story is vague at best. Even after playing through with all 22 characters, I had very little idea as to what was going on. Every ending had absolutely nothing to do with their respective characters. Some characters end the game making a salad or having a dream that they’re a mermaid trapped in a net. It all makes zero sense.

For a fighting game with only two attack buttons, one throw and one block, there is a surprising amount of depth. There are a wide variety of moves and combos to learn in addition to the numerous fighting styles represented by the characters.

But no matter how good you think you’ve become, the AI will punish and belittle you with impossible moves and outright cheating. Every move you use can and will be countered. Don’t be surprised to see your punch turned against you with a leg counter. In addition to the counters, expect 10-11 hit combos. Single player mode is an exercise in frustration. Most of my wins consisted of pure luck. This is one of the very few games that has made me want to throw my controller in a fit of rage.

The copy I purchased was used for $14. There was no way in hell I was going to pay the $50 some sites offered for a sealed copy. As such, the disc was scratched and rendered online play useless.

In the end, I could only recommend this game to diehard fans of the series. Odds are, this will be my last outing in this series. The AI is a cheating bastard and there is no story holding this mess together. I think this series is leaning more towards the dead side.

Monster Hunter Tri

A series that has long needed to come to consoles finally does. Only, to the wrong console. Supposedly, it was supposed to be a PS3 title, but development costs got out of hand, programmers probably got lazy and it went to the Wii. Seriously, Capcom? Development costs are keeping YOU down, one of the biggest game publishers? Too much money go into the rehashing of Street Fighter 4 into Super Street Fighter 4? Despite being on a lack luster console, Monster Hunter 3 deserves a fair shake.

The Monster Hunter series as a whole hasn’t changed a whole lot. Much like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, Monster Hunter puts you in the same situation with each outing. A village is plagued by monsters; they hire a hunter (you) to wipe them out. Simple as that. While I would like to see some innovation and originality, what can you expect? The game is called “Monster Hunter”. You hunt monsters.

The game can be played with either the Nun chuck scheme or Classic Controller. I recommend going with the classic controller, as swinging the stupid remote to unsheathe your sword gets old after the first time. You’ll get quests from the Guild Board or villagers themselves to hunt various monsters. Sometimes they’ll need to be killed or captured, or very rarely run off like the delinquents they are. After killing a monster, they may be harvested for items used in weapon/armor crafting. There is no leveling system. You live and die by what you can harvest from the monsters themselves and the environment around you. To help with this, there are feline companions who can tend to a garden for you, growing herbs and other goodies for hunting use. Quests are broken up into ranks and after completing so many, an urgent quest will appear, allowing you to increase your rank.

Visually, Monster Hunter is impressive as it can be on the Wii. It would have been epic on the PS3 or 360, but you can thank Capcom for being cheap. Still it doesn’t live up to the graphic standards set by games on the GameCube a generation ago (Resident Evil, Resident Evil 4, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess). Granted the area is much larger, but I feel a distinct lack of effort on Capcom’s part. I say this, because both Resident Evil games are Capcom products as well. They are capable of quality.

The soundtrack is full of Monster Hunter familiarity. A relaxing treat for the ears but beyond that, nothing to write home about. Most NPCs don’t have any vocal ability and your character is limited to a short range of grunts.

Monster Hunter brings about a revolution for the Wii in the abolishment of the nefarious friend code. Nintendo usual blindfold and gag routine flies out the window with a voice chat system in place. Online, you can team with four other hunters, annoying voices and all to take down tougher hunts for better rewards. Lag is minimal and I’m amazed at how long it has taken a developer to make a competent online game for the Wii. Also, there is an offline component where two players on the same console can work together to bring down monsters in an arena setting. Sadly it does not carry over to the main game.

Monster Hunter is a great series for those who want to experience a MMORPG without the online fees and better than average computer. But with that comes the grind for materials and better equipment found in MMOs. This is a game about patience. Of course, like any other game, this is made better if you have a group of friends to play with.

The Wii finally gets another quality game and hopefully other developers take notice of the way Capcom has crafted the online aspect. If you have the patience and want a piece of monster hunting glory, then by all means, have at it.

A respected journalist? Not yet.

While trying to log into my AWOL Kotaku account, I noticed that I made a splash back in March.  While it's nothing to get super excited about, I still am.  Here's the link, then proceed to page 3:  Kotaku

A message from Abstergo Industries

Got an odd email today from Dr. Warren Vidic of Abstergo Industries. 

The link led here:

There's a short video about the Templars and then an rotary dial shows off new weapons.  There's a place to input a coded sequence.  The code is: 
Eye of God in the Pyramid
Trinity symbol
3 Triangles

This lead to another weapon, the switchblade.  Is it the Templar equivalent of the Assassin's dagger?  There was a download that gave me four wallpapers.

Edit:  Here's the video on the site

Red Steel 2

When I think of the Wii, I think of the controls first. Namely, how they are terrible. Even with the new Wii MotionPlus, I’m left flailing my arms like the special kid down the street. I’ve never felt any sense of grace or control during my frantic spats of arm swinging. So comes along Red Steel 2, a game that is supposed to capitalize on the “precision” of the $20 accessory. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in a long time.

The plot is simple enough. You’re the unnamed hero of the feudal west. Last of your clan and a city’s only hope, you must rid said city of a gang of dim-witted buffoons. The main villain is Shinjiro and he’s the one responsible for wiping out the rest of your clan. Cue the stereotypical revenge story and you’ve got Red Steel down.

Graphically, Red Steel 2 is one of the uglier games I’ve seen on the Wii. Everything is a shade of red or brown and looks very muddy. While I was playing, my girlfriend walked in and (seeing the game for the first time) remarked how hideous it was. That’s saying something if someone walking is forced to stop and comment on the embarrassing graphics. The character models are blocky and resemble the many square buildings littering the streets of this vapid world.

The audio is uninspired as well. From the background music to the voice acting, it’s as flat and bland as the graphics. Throw in the gimmicky Wiimote sound effects and you’re firing on all cylinders for why I loathe the Wii.

Gameplay is an exercise in futility. Red Steel 2 is a first person shooter with a far too touchy camera control. If you’re not careful with the Wiimote, you’ll spend most of your time like I did readjusting they way you’re facing. Combat consists of swinging the Wiimote (You know what, I’m sick of Nintendo’s dubbing of tech. Wii this and Wii that…it’s a controller.) err controller as hard and fast as possible to take out your enemies. No challenge whatsoever when the game refills your health after every encounter. Later in the game you’ll get a move that essentially breaks it. You won’t need another and what little challenge evaporates.

Upon completing a mission or purchasing the skill itself, you’ll be forced into a tutorial on how to use your new ability. Red Steel 2 will treat you like a simpleton as you’re forced to watch a crudely imported girl perform the action three to five times with her controller. Then, you get the joy of repeating it five times yourself. This plays out for each move, including the 15 minute tutorial where you learn to perform all the basic moves in the beginning. What makes it unbearable is the four minute video tutorial before you can play the game explaining how to connect and disconnect the Wii MotionPlus. I’m convinced Nintendo thinks we’re all morons who would impale ourselves with the control if they didn’t tell us how to use it.

Red Steel 2 is a classic example of the shovelware that plagues the Wii. Instead of trying to create something with substance, Ubisoft pulled out all the stops for the Wii gimmicks. From the laughable graphics to the poor “innovative” controls and terrible controller sound effects, it’s a joke and I’m not laughing. Feel free to avoid this one.

Houlihan's build your own

Restaurant: Houlihan's
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Burger: Build your own

Ingredients: Lettuce, tomato, red onion, nine month aged Tillamok cheddar, wheat bun

Verdict: The meat had a nice crisp exterior with a rich and juicy center.  The lettuce was fresh and the red onion added all the bite needed for this burger.  The only non meat item that left me wanting was the overripe tomato.  So much so, that I had to remove it.  This was my first encounter with Tillamok cheddar and I can only describe it as unique.  It was like a blend of cheddar and swiss with a little kick.  I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting some variety with their cheese.  All in all, a good standard for what a burger should be.  Not great, but not bad.

On the side:  Overly seasoned fries.  Usually not a problem for Houlihan's, so it was a bit of a shock.

Three out of five stars.

May 2010 Release Calendar

I've decided to add something new in hopes of driving up traffic and your never ending adoration of me.  No, it's nothing dirty, unless that will help.  Anyone?  Show of hands?  No?  Fine, we'll stick with the original idea.  A release calendar at the beginning of each month.  Hopefully it will be accurate.  If it's not, feel free to yell at me in the comments section.

May 3:
Lego Harry Potter (DS)
Picross 3D  (DS)

May 4:
Iron Man 2  (360)
Monster Racers  (DS)
Dance Sensation  (Wii)

May 5:
Iron Man 2  (PS3, PSP, DS, Wii)
Dementium 2  (DS)

May 7:
Rig N Roll  (PC)

May 8:
Satisfashion  (Wii)

May 11:
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3  (PSP)
Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY  (PS3, 360)
Lost Planet 2  (PS3, 360)
Skate 3  (PS3, 360)
Puzzle Quest 2  (DS)
3D Dot Game Heroes  (PS3)
Age of Conan:  Rise of the Godslayer  (PC)

May 18:
Runaway: A Twist of Fate  (PC)
Attack of the Movies 3D  (360, Wii)
Split Second  (PS3, 360, PC)
Shrek Forever  (PS3, 360, Wii, DS)
Alan Wake  (360)
Lost Planet 2  (PC)
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands  (PS3, 360, PSP, DS, Wii)
Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow  (DS)
Red Dead Redemption  (PS3, 360)
Trauma Team  (Wii)

May 23:
Super Mario Galaxy 2

May 25:
Blur  (PS3, 360, PC)
Backbreaker  (PS3, 360)
UFC Undisputed 2010  (PS3, 360)
ModNation Racers  (PS3, PSP)
Making History 2: The War of the World  (PC)
Dawn of Heroes  (DS)

Out of all that shovelware, May looks promising.  I'll most likely end up buying Lost Planet 2, Blur, Trauma Team, Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption 2.  Depending on the price, Batman is also an option.  I might gamble a Gamefly for Dementium 2.  Christ, May is going to be expensive.  How about you?