Soul Calibur 4 wallpapers

Whipped up some SC4 wallpapers for the loyal fans of this series.  Nothing fancy, but still ready for proud display on any screen.  All the images are 1280x1024 resolution.

Nintendo's E3 2010 presentation

Nintendo got its turn in the spotlight today at E3.  They revealed a line up that was predictable.  Here's the new line up:
  • Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Epic Mickey
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising
  • Metroid: Other M
  • Goldeneye 007
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
  • Mario Sports Mix
  • Wii Party
So, to summarize, Nintendo is releasing new games on their key franchises.  They do this every year and the masses eat this shit up.  Mario gets a new game and there's another title that starts with "Wii".  Big shock.  This is why I loathe Nintendo at the moment.  Instead of trying new things, they release the same games with new wrappers. 

Don't get me wrong though, the new Zelda looks great, except that series creator Miyamoto couldn't control the game as well he thought.  Motion controls are a fad that need to go the way of the dinosaur.  During the demo, Miyamoto could not demonstrate three of the weapons, because there were signal errors which were jokingly blamed on audience members using wireless devices.  I love the Zelda series and this entry's art style is rich and vibrant with color while still being realistic.

The game does look like it would be fun, if you could use a regular controller to play.  I like the idea of the whip and the different ways to throw bombs (bowling and shotput).

Metroid: Other M looks like a must have title for me as I haven't played a Metroid since the Super Nintendo.  I loved the dark and isolated feeling the trailer gave and look forward to Team Ninja's take on this classic series.

The title that did blow me away was Kid Icarus: Uprising.  It will be a launch title for Nintendo's 3DS, the new 3D gaming handheld.  It instantly turned me from indifference to must have.

Some major developers will have titles ready for the launch of the 3DS, including Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and Kingdom Hearts.

All in all, I was impressed with Nintendo this year.  Despite them giving us the same games over and over.

Metal Gear Solid: Rising E3 trailer

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood E3 Trailer

A fantastic video of what's to come.  Just mind the ad for GameStop at the end.  That voice wrecks the entire experience and makes me cringe each time I hear it.

Fable II

I prefer my games to be on an epic scale when played. I want to be overwhelmed, blown away, and locked in a constant state of awe. Fable II has been one of the few games to bring me this feeling. From the quiet beauty of the world surrounding the character to the emotional surges felt for the NPCs you meet, Fable defines what gaming should be.

Much like any great story, your character starts from humble beginnings. An orphan on the streets of Bowerstone, your character does anything to scrape out a living with their sister, Rose. A meeting with a cryptic gypsy leads to a music box and a trip to the local castle and its lord. Terrible things happen in your character’s youth and set the stage for an epic tale of revenge.

The story is rather straightforward with the trappings of the original Fable still adorned. If played straight through with no side quests taken up, Fable II ends up being a relatively short game. You start as a child, take on a quest for revenge, compete in a tournament, spend time in a prison, and make it back in time to stop the bad guy from destroying the world. It’s nothing original, but Fable II tells it in such a breathtaking fashion that it’s hard not to be swept away.

Much like the original, you are free to develop your hero as you see fit. This time around, the hero can be either male or female. You gain experience orbs from defeated enemies and the orbs reflect the way you dispatched them. Use a sword or other melee weapon and you’ll net red orbs for investment in strength skills. Use a ranged weapon and you’ll come up with yellow orbs for skill, such as increased speed and accuracy. Magic use gains blue orbs for a wider array of spells and increased power. Your character physically changes depending on how you spend skill points as well, becoming more muscular for strength, taller for skill, and gaining more glowing blue mana lines over their body if they’re a proficient magic user.

Choice has always been the focal point in the Fable series. Your choices have a more widespread and visible effect this time around. Even choices made early on in the game will have a dramatic effect on the world you later experience. Much like the original, these choices alter your character’s appearance. Do good deeds and your hair takes on a lighter tone and your skin a golden hue. Do evil and your hair thins and turns black while your skin pales and appears to rot. Add to this, a purity scale. Pure players gain a halo while corrupt players develop horns over time.

Unlike the previous entry, players do not earn cold hard cash by completing quests or exploiting merchants with supply and demand. Fable II has an economy ripe for plunder, provided you start early. Nearly every piece of property in the game can be purchased, and depending on the state of the property itself and the world around it, you’ll gain a tidy sum of cash for rent every five minutes. This time includes time when you’re not playing. It makes it easy to grind for cash when the game does it when not played. Because of this, creating multiple characters has never been easier. Well, that and the addition of multiplayer.

Fable II can be played co-op with a friend over Xbox Live or on the very same couch. To give your new character a vast fortune, simply load your new character into your existing character’s game. Set the scales so that they receive all the money from rent. If you haven’t played for days at a time, they’ll receive that initial lump sum and be set for the rest of their game. The only drawback to playing with another player is that whoever is playing as the henchmen cannot complete quests and must pick a generic premade character while in the host’s game.

Co-op aside, you’ll spend 95% of the game playing with a partner. Early on, your character rescues an abused dog and gains a lifetime companion. Your furry partner can assist you in a fight and help you find buried treasure across the broad lands of Albion. Be this money, weapons, or condoms, each has its purpose. I am hard pressed to find a more valuable partner AI in any game. I truly believe Lionhead perfected it with the dog in this game. Much like your character, the dog’s appearance changes depending on the choices you make. Do good deeds and your dog has a healthy white coat. Do evil and your doggy turns black. Later DLC, “See the future”, lets players choose the breed of their dog. A simple potion can turn your faithful hound into a Dalmatian, Bloodhound, or Husky.

Graphically, Fable II is stunning. From the vast fields of flowers to the darkest caves, it is candy for the eyes. The lighting is done to fantastic effect and each setting blew me away. The only flaw is that there are only a handful of character models. So in larger towns, you’ll find many of the same NPCs milling about.

The soundtrack was composed by the remarkable Danny Elfman and Russell Shaw. Nearly every piece gives me goosebumps as I play as they produce such a sense of awe. The music fits wonderfully with its respective setting and I never found myself wanting.

Fable II sets a benchmark in gaming that is hard to meet. It has a simple story, but one that is well told. There is an incredible amount to do beyond the main story and you’ll find yourself spending countless hours enjoying this masterpiece.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 gameplay trailer

This is the first trailer showing gameplay for The Force Unleashed 2.  The Secret Apprentice is rocking dual lightsabers and the rain looks absolutely breathtaking.  Beyond that, there's nothing new here.

My wasted potential

I write about video games.  I write reviews which I hope are objective and a pleasure to read at the same time.  I have received a few compliments about my style of writing.  I take great pride in this.  I strive to gain more attention and praise.

My father left when I was 10.  His new wife doesn't allow me in their house.  I'm not certain that he is even aware of this.  He sends me a check for $25 on my birthday.  I sign them over to my girlfriend.  I haven't spoken to my father in a number of years.  I can't remember the last thing we talked about.

My mother and I haven't spoken since September.  I remember when she called me a waste of life and talent.  She said it to my face and instantly regretted it.  She wasn't wrong though.  She worked hard to give me everything she did.  I have squandered my life and wasted every opportunity.

My girlfriend secretly despises me because I lack desire to find regular work.  My last failure was due to missing a day of work after four days to go to an interview with another company.  In my eyes, it wasn't a loss as I was a worker bee making parts for cars.  I took no joy in the job that would have paid the bills.  I live as a failure who can't support the ones closest to me.  I am embracing the crushing reality that I am not special.

I went to college for two years and majored in graphic design.  I did not graduate.  I have only designed one logo since then and been paid for it.  Since school, I have drifted through life.  I have never been sure of what I wanted to do.  I feel as though I want to write, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am too stupid to please a broad audience.  I was published once in college.  I have yet to see any success in the real world.

I am socially inept.  My flaws are obvious.  I cannot keep friends as I have a tendency to push them away over stupid things like religion.  I have since become an Atheist.  Only a handful of people know this as I am terrified of rejection.  Most people view me as an asshole.  I tend to agree.  It's a wonder I ever got laid.

I should be afraid to post this on the internet, where it will forever be out of my reach once published.  But even as I type it, it is too late.  This has already been stored in Google's servers and will remain there for an indefinite amount of time.  I am a failure.  Both as a person and as a worker bee.

I am 50 pounds overweight.  I am technically obese, though you would never know it looking at me.  I was an avid runner for a decade.  I stopped in college and have since become a fatass.  I have a fitness schedule that I ignore.  Every so often, I run or do push ups.  It makes me feel better for a few minutes.

I have goals.  I want a nice house.  I want to provide for my girlfriend and her children.  I want to be a successful writer.  I want to ensure that I never pass on my genetic material.  At least her children don't have to feel the shame of calling me "father".  I would never wish that on them.

I have realized that I am not special.  Once I break my gaze from the stars, I can grind my nose to the ground.  As a worker bee, I can provide.  I will gain no self satisfaction, but I will be a contributing member of society.

This is as honest as I've ever been and I'm still lying.  When was the last time you've told the whole truth?  Do you find yourself like me?  Lying for no reason and then asking "Why did I say that?"? No, I imagine you're all successful individuals who have obtained all you want in life.  You do this because you have discipline and motivation.  You have not squandered the opportunities I have.  You are not a terrible person like I am.

I will never be famous.  I will struggle only to be mediocre.
I am my own wasted potential.

Dead Space 2

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

There are moments in gaming where one gets goosebumps. This is one of those moments. This game looks so unbelievably good. Excuse me, while I go brush up on my lightsaber skills.

New look

I'm currently tinkering with the site design and as usually the case, Blogger is being a bitch.  I picked the Awesome template by Tina Chen.  It does not like to be tinkered with.  I'm glad that I can adjust the width of the page itself so posted videos are now fully displayed.  But beyond that and what goes where, this template does not like customization.  Hell, I can't even get a preview while I'm changing settings.

Long story short, please bear with me while I try to find a design or maker help me, code one myself that looks halfway decent.

Dragon Ball: Raging Blast

It has been seven years since I’ve played a Dragon Ball game. To be more precise, the only one I had played was the first Budokai released on the PS2. While I knew I was overdue to pick up a new one, I didn’t know why I should. There was a new Dragon Ball game being released every year. The decision was finally made for me when Ryan picked up Raging Blast and told me I needed it as well. After playing it, I tend to agree.

RB flaunts numerous modes and among them, a good portion of the story. From Raditz to Buu and even Broly, the entire Z series is represented. Sadly, most of the story is presented in lack luster cut scenes where a single shot of character A converses with a single shot of character B. Most of the details are lost and unless you’re an avid fan of the show, you’ll be left scratching your head as to what exactly is going on. The game encourages players to play all three difficulty modes to unlock all there is to be had, such as extra characters and costumes.

The controls are simplified to a respective button for physical attacks, energy blasts, blocks, throws and the right analog stick controlling finishing moves. While the controls are simple, the game is critical on timing. The window for blocking and throwing out a counter attack is tiny, a smaller margin than Dead or Alive 4. Compound that with a few unblockable attacks from characters like Broly, kid Gohan, and Goku and you’re likely to get frustrated very quickly. In fact, most online matches consist of players picking characters with such moves and hammering you ad nausea until they win. Though if you manage to get the upper hand, expect a rage quit so the loss won’t show up on their fighting record.

The graphics in RB are a dead ringer for the anime. The cell shading is among the best I’ve ever seen in a game and some attack sequences look like they were lifted directly from the show. Backgrounds are gorgeous and provide plenty of variety for your matches. I was surprised to be drawn to Namek. I hated the different shades of green in the anime, but now I can appreciate the beauty of the planet because of how gorgeous it is in this game.

The only real depth to this game is in the character customization. You’ll be presented with a grid that must be filled with perks for your character. Only problem is, they’re all weird shapes and must be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These can affect anything from stun times to quicker Ki charges and more powerful attacks. Proper character builds are key to winning.

Beyond the incredibly small window for blocking and countering, my only real beef with this game is the camera. Normally it isn’t an issue, but if an opponent is directly above or beneath you, the camera pulls an odd angle and suddenly you can’t see anything. It is frustrating at best of times and can lead to many an unfair fight.

In the end, Raging Blast is a fantastic game for fans of the series. Even non fans can find themselves sucked in and buying the entire series to fill in the gaps left by the game. It’s easy enough to jump into with plenty of depth in the character editor to fuel many different strategies. The roster of fighters is impressive with all the major players present, including the fusion forms. So if you’re like me and have been out of the loop for the better part of a decade, this is an excellent point to jump back in.

The Beatles: Rock Band

I’m not a fan of The Beatles, I’ll be the first to admit that. I was raised in an Elvis household. From my experience, you’re either a fan of one or the other, but never both. Needless to say, I wanted nothing to do with this game. Much to my chagrin, Kim comes from a Beatles household. How the hell did this game end up in my house?

Beatles takes the familiar Rock Band mechanics and adds some new elements. One of the more flaunted elements is the harmonies present in nearly every song. You and two friends can try to match pitch as you make everyone in the room writhe in agony and bleed from their ears. Also added is a timer when the game is paused. After unpausing, the timer counts down so you can easily slide back into the song hopefully without breaking your streak.

The game’s selection of music consists of many hits and some lesser known songs from their entire career. Each song has been hand crafted and customized, either recreating famous performances or introducing “dream sequences” for songs done during the later studio years. Unlike other Rock Band entries, the songs from Beatles cannot be incorporated into Rock Band 2.

While I’m still no fan of The Beatles, I can appreciate the influence they had on the world of music. The game was still enjoyable to play and even brought about a few innovations I would like to see included in future Rock Band games.

Army of Two

Army of Two was the first game we had purchased for our shiny new Xbox 360. I’m still convinced it’s one of the better games for the system, even better than the sequel. It brought about an innovation in cooperative shooters in the form of true teamwork being necessary to complete the game.

The story follows Rios and Salem as they graduate for being Army Rangers to working for the PMC (Private Military Corporation) SSC (Security and Strategy Corporation). Each mission takes part in a different part of the world as they track and eliminate terrorist threats. Throw in a double cross and a conspiracy to complete the generic but still enjoyable story. The real treat is in the character interaction between Salem and Rios. They act as a new age Abbott and Costello with a hilariously entertaining straight man in Rios.

Gameplay is based entirely around the idea of cooperation. To survive the overwhelming odds, players must use aggro. If you’ve ever played any kind of MMO, you should be familiar with this concept. One player acts as a meat shield and draws enemy fire while the other slips around unnoticed and eliminates said enemies. To make this easier, you’ll have access to a large arsenal of customizable weapons.

Each of the six levels is uniquely designed with no overlapping patterns. The graphics are superb with no slowdown or otherwise adverse effects.

Army of Two is a game clearly meant to be played with a friend. But if you’re socially awkward, there is a computer controlled partner to play with. He follows commands well enough, but Heaven help you if you get shot down. Your AI partner will come to your rescue, but will stand stock still and take round after round as he tries to revive you. This will usually net you a game over. To counteract this, be prepared to do most of the work yourself. It can be frustrating, but it’s much better than the Sheva problem that plagued Resident Evil 5.

Like I said before, I consider this one of the better games of this generation. From tight controls and plenty of replay value to a passable story and competent graphics, there is much to enjoy. If you have a friend or loved one you game with regularly, this is a must have title.

Armored Core: For Answer

The Armored Core series has been around for a long time. Known for its customization and fast paced action, it is a series well loved by the mecha community. For better or worse, this entry adds little to the series but does not fail to entertain.

Missions are presented as briefings and do little to nothing to explain the story. Put bluntly, the surface of the world has become uninhabitable, forcing people to live on giant floating platforms in the sky. A handful of factions, including both militaries and private companies, vie for control of resources on the war torn planet. Working as a private contractor, you have a variety of missions open to you at any given time, including clan ranking battles that will unlock new parts upon winning.

Winning is easy only in thought. The AI in AC:FA is incredibly gifted with hitting you from across the map and chipping away your health. This is compounded in the later parts of the game where you must complete multiple objectives with entire units trying to gun you down. Simply put, this is not an easy game. My inadequacy was only furthered proven with the one on one ranking matches with signature mechs. Numerous strategies line the internet on how to topple these foes, but it all comes down to practice, practice, and some more practice.

Visually, FA is a treat. The mechs are wonderfully detailed and the landscapes provide a sense of desolation and destruction. Buildings and other structures realistically fall to pieces as they sustain damage. The lighting effects in particular are a joy to behold as beam rifles and particle effects light up the screen.

There is an online multiplayer service, but good luck finding a match. As of this writing, game servers are a ghost town and you’re better off sticking to the single player mode. What few matches I did play, consisted of everyone showing off their Gundam inspired suit before blowing me out of the sky.

In the end, FA is a good game, but only for the mech crazed. Personally, I would recommend another mech based game, Exteel. It’s a free to play MMO developed by the wonderful people at NC Soft. The servers are full and there’s plenty of customization to be had.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

If you’re a long time reader, you know I’m not a fan of the Wii. So it’s a rare occasion when I sit down with the machine and even rarer when I enjoy my time spent with it. No More Heroes was a title that held some appeal, but not enough to make me play it. When a sequel came out, I took notice. Very rarely do games on the Wii see a sequel. Much like a handful of others, No More Heroes 2 turned out to be a diamond in the rough.

The game picks up three years after the first with Travis Touchdown locked into a duel with the younger brother of an opponent he had slain in the last tournament. After defeating him, he is unwittingly thrown into a new assassin’s competition, where he must battle his way back to the top.

The controls for NMH2 are remarkably tight for a game on the Wii. The only motion controls are used for finishing moves and are usually simple one motion cuts. The only complaint in this area involves the camera and lack of control. There is a button to lock onto opponents that serves as the only way to right the camera behind Travis.

Throughout the game, you choose what to do through a hub. From buying clothes and training Travis to taking on side jobs and actual missions, it’s laid out in a well designed menu. Unfortunately, the game runs a pattern that can’t be escaped until later in the game. It involves a few steps:
  • Help Jeane, your adorable kitty, lose weight 
  • Take on side jobs to make some cash 
  • Check the store for new clothes 
  • Buy weapon from Naomi (there’s only two you can buy from her) 
  • Visit the gym to increase stamina in strength 
  • Take a dump to save 
  • Complete story mission 
  • Wash, rinse and repeat
It’s tedious, but makes the game easy to play in bite sized chunks.

Visually, NMH2 is a dark and ugly game. There is no in-game option to adjust the brightness and most of the levels are very poorly lit. The game uses a half assed cel-shaded approach that looks dismal on the Wii. Enemy variety is also poor, as you’ll find yourself fighting the same 3-4 variations of the same enemies. Level design is sparse as well, with flat surfaces and no detail to speak of.

Despite these flaws, NMH2 is full of character and kept me addicted for a few weeks. There are numerous tasks to complete that ratchet up the replay value. It’s easy to tell that each boss was lovingly created and because of this, each and every one is memorable.

I greatly enjoyed my time with this game, but I can only see the potential for what this series could be. Designed on the PS3 or 360, this would make an already great game fantastic. Travis and crew deserve an HD makeover and the processing power would do wonders for the sparse levels. Of course I would want to see more of Jeane and Dr. Naomi. Naomi’s character felt under utilized as she only provides you with two weapons and that’s it. Why not add an upgrade system or some actual customization for the beam sabers? There is a remake of the first game for the PS3 and 360 already out in Japan, but a localization seems iffy at this point. Here’s hoping.

Why this game needs HD.

June 2010 Release Calendar

June 1:
Backbreaker  (PS3, 360)
The Sims 3: Ambitions  (PC, PSN)
Alpha Protocol  (PC, PS3, 360)
Tecmo Bowl Throwback  (PSN)
Planet Minigolf  (PSN)

June 6:
WWE Online  (PC)

June 8:
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands  (PC)
Green Day: Rockband  (PS3, 360, Wii)
Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker  (PSP)

June 15:
Toy Story 3  (PS3, 360, Wii, DS, PSP, PC)

June 22:
Arc Rise Fantasia  (Wii)
Transformers: Rise of Cybertron  (PS3, 360, Wii, DS, PC)

June 27:
Sin and Punishment: Star Successor  (Wii)

June 29:
Naughty Bear  (360, PS3)
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (PS2, PS3, PC, 360, Wii, DS, PSP)
Ninety-Nine Nights 2 (360)
All Points Bulletin  (PC)
Trinity Universe  (PS3)
Singularity  (PS3, 360, PC)


Coming off an immensely popular multiplayer demo, Blur has proven to be a racing force among numerous entries being released simultaneously released. While the most common description is being Mario Kart with real vehicles, Blur does not shy away and delivers and amazing racing experience.

Blur comes with two modes to focus on, career and multiplayer. Career is a single player battle against the computer with numerous boss racers marking your milestones. Players will need to meet certain requirements to earn a one-on-one race against each boss. Win and you get their car which carries over to multiplayer. During races, there are numerous objectives to be met, but only one (finishing in the top three) to move on. While racing, attacks on other vehicles and fancy driving, such as drifting, earn fans. Fans are Blur’s equivalent of experience points. Gain a certain amount and be rewarded with a level up. New levels unlock cars and perks to race with. In addition, there are fan markers placed on the track which begin a “fan run” where you must clear all the checkpoints to earn another light. Lights unlock more divisions to compete in against other bosses.

Unfortunately, all of your progress in single player is for naught in online racing. You must level up all over again to unlock cars and mods. In addition, multiplayer features perks that can be equipped, such as taking less damage and nitro boosts for each completed lap. There are slight variations on races to choose from such as racing without power ups to 20 player team racing. It’s fast and addicting with down time between races giving you enough time to pick your car, color, and mods.

Visually, Blur conveys an incredible sense of speed. Regardless of class or track, every race is exciting and requires a fair amount of concentration to keep up with all that is happening. Cars are beautifully detailed with fully rendered interiors and drivers that visibly shift gears. Damage adds a wonderful touch as each hit dislodges a bumper or sends your trunk bouncing up and down.

Acoustically, Blur is impressive. Especially with a surround sound system hooked up. The subwoofer rumbles with each hit and other cars transfer from speaker to speaker depending on their proximity to you. There is a sound track, but by default is turned off. I have yet to feel a need to turn it on or plug in my Zune. The sound of the cars shifting and engines revving to rocks pinging the undercarriage provide all the soundtrack needed.

This is the first racing game I’ve owned since Gran Turismo 3. Blur is a wonderful departure from the pain in the ass license tests and money hoarding to buy your dream car. Progression in Blur is wonderful with the leveling system with rewards streaming in at an enjoyable pace. There may not be the depth of tuning and customizing each car, but I feel it makes Blur that much easier to jump into.

Complaints? Take a guess. Another obvious title for it, but there’s that frustrating lack of online splitscreen. Though, there is the nice inclusion of four player splitscreen for offline racing. Thankfully, all cars and classes are unlocked at the beginning for maximum fun.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Blur is a must have for any gamer, regardless if you care for the racing genre or not. It’s fast and addictive. My only complaint, and this is a common one for the generation, is the lack of splitscreen online play. Beyond that, this is gaming nirvana.