Unlock Griffin in Gears of War 3

For an easy way to unlock Griffin in Gears of War 3 multiplayer, all you have to do is "like" the Gears of War Facebook page.  Unfortunately, there's a lot of fakes.  I'll make it even easier.


Click the link and then click "Get Griffin" on the left.

How to Change Your NAT to Open

When playing online, you may have received a message that your NAT is set to strict or moderate and this may impact matchmaking.  What is NAT?  Click the link.  Does your head hurt now?  Here are some easy steps to set your NAT to open using a Linksys router and Xbox 360.

1.  Manually configure your Xbox 360's IP Settings.
  • Network Settings -> Select Your Network -> Edit Settings -> Manual IP Setting
IP Address:
Subnet Mask:

2.  Open up a web browser and access your router by typing in the IP address.  Typically the IP address is

3.  Click on the Applications and Gaming tab.

4.  Select Single Port Forwarding.

5.  Type in a new application name.  I used OpenNAT.  Type in 3074 for both the External and Internal Ports. Make sure "Both" is selected under Protocol.  Type "250" in To IP Address.  Then check the box under enabled.

If you've followed all of the instructions, your NAT type should now be open.  Matchmaking should be quicker now.

Top 10 Games of All Time

I've been wanting to post this for a long time, but had an internal debate for some time.  Debate settled, here's my list.  These are games that I personally consider to be the best of all time.

1.  Final Fantasy VIII
This was the game that had changed my world.  The initial trailers I saw in theaters blew me away.  I had to have this game.  In fact, I bought the game before I even had a Playstation to play it on.  To date, it remains my favorite game of all time and that isn't likely to change.  It opened my eyes to what games could be.  I haven't looked back since the game launched on September 9, 1999.

2.  Mass Effect 2
BioWare are masters of story telling.  With Mass Effect, they have crafted a universe that I dare say...overshadows Star Wars.  Mass Effect 2 took all of the good from the first game and took it to a whole new level.  In a game where virtually every action you take makes an impact in the current installment and the next one, this is an adventure that is not to be missed.

3.  Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I was torn between this entry and its sequel, Majora's Mask.  In the end, it came down to the entry that revitalized the series.  Ocarina of Time breathed new life into the Zelda series.  It brought the games into a new dimension and showed people around the world what could be done with the hardware of the time.  It is a massive, sprawling adventure that for many, set a level in design that has yet to be reached since.  Accompanying all of that is a musical score that has stuck in gamer's hearts for nearly 15 years now.

4.  Resident Evil 4
Much like Ocarina did for the Legend of Zelda series, Resident Evil 4 took the Resident Evil series in a bold new direction.  Drastically changing the game play and even removing the staple enemy zombie was a gamble that paid off for Capcom.  Again, much like Ocarina of Time, many (including myself) consider this the high point of the series.

5.  Shadow of the Colossus
For a game with no spoken dialogue, this is a game that speaks volumes.  It is the story of a boy desperately trying to bring a girl back to life.  We don't know the relation between the two.  We do know that this boy is willing to slaughter 16 giant creatures and in the end sacrifice himself to bring her back.  If you are looking for the definition of art in gaming, look no further.

6.  Muramasa
Muramasa is the first title that made me take the Wii seriously.  This is a living, breathing work of art in purest form.  Each hand crafted stage is breath taking and the story of these two warriors is wrought with a sadness not often expressed in games.  This is a game that made me change my opinion on a system.  I consider that the equivalent of moving a mountain.

7.  Halo: Reach
As I stated in my review, Reach is the culmination of everything great in the Halo series.  It was the last game made by the original developer, Bungie.  Telling the story of the doomed planet and its inhabitants, Reach is a harrowing tale of fighting against insurmountable odds.  Add to that some of the most addicting multiplayer and Reach is an instant classic.

8.  Dead Space 2
Dead Space was a surprise hit for me.  I loved it from start to finish.  That love was increased ten fold with the sequel.  This is the quintessential horror game of this generation.  In my mind, it cannot be surpassed.  This is the story of a man whose psyche was shattered in the first game and he must now rebuild it while surviving an outbreak far worse than the original.

9.  Bayonetta
Bayonetta was a title that shocked me.  I absolutely loathed it.  The character design was what turned me off initially.  Here was a character so overtly sexual it was almost painful.  I imagined the game would be as vapid as the personality I figured she would have.  Then I played the demo.  Everything I thought was turned upside down.  Here was a game that did not take itself seriously in the least and it turns out that was just what I needed.  This game came at a time when I had lost faith in gaming.  Playing Bayonetta reminded me how fun a game can be.  It renewed my faith in games.
10.  Soul Calibur 4
With each entry, Soul Calibur builds on its own epic pedigree.  This is a series that is constantly evolving and each game is more addicting than the last.  From the fast paced eight directional combat to the engrossing characters, there's so much to love.  If there were only one fighter I could play for the rest of my life, this would be it.

50th Game Review

In a landslide, the winning review is Red Dead Redemption.  The epic tale of redemption in the wild west was a smash hit from RockStar Games is set to become my next epic review.

Fact or Opinion?

I've been wanting to do a top ten list for a long time now.  The list would be the Top Ten Games of all Time.  There are plenty of sites and magazines that already do this.  The problem I'm running in to is, what defines a game as great?  Is it based on the technical aspects such as control, graphics and audio quality, lack of bugs, etc?  Or is it purely the opinion of the person making the list?

For example, Gran Turismo is widely regarding as the greatest racing game of all time.  This is due to the immense amount of detail that went into the game.  From the replication of the real world tracks to the infinite amount of fine tuning that can be done to the cars.  The game is so realistic that professional racers play the game to train for upcoming races.

Myself, I can't stand Gran Turismo.  I prefer Blur, a game that blends real cars and Mario Kart.  A game whose regular player base on the 360 now consists of 50+ players on a Saturday night.  Blur and Gran Turismo are on opposite ends of the racing game spectrum.  Now, what is the better game?  The one that is based on real life and is near technical perfection or the more arcade style racer?  The online number of player say Gran Turismo, but I'll pick Blur each and every time.

I suppose most top ten lists are based purely on the community.  What the popular opinion is, how the game ranked on a number based rating system, etc.  I've never been a fan of number based rating.  I feel that games can't be rated on a chart like that.  There are too many aspects to them, too many ways to interpret them and too many people to do the interpreting.  In the end, the review is based entirely on the opinion of the person who played the game.  Call of Duty is hailed as one of the greatest shooters of all time.  I treated Modern Warfare 2 poorly in my review.  Technically speaking, is it a great shooter?  My personal opinion clouds my judgement.

Hopefully you can see my dilemma.  Would my list really be the ten greatest games to grace our world or merely my top ten favorite games?

2011 Xbox 360 Usage

I don't know about you, but I'm a huge fan of the monthly stats that the Xbox team sends.  Long have I wondered how much time I spend with the console.  But of course, this doesn't reflect just my time.  My profile is the default profile when the Xbox is turned on.  These numbers are padded a little.  So, if you see me on in the morning watching Disney shows, it's not me.  I swear.

Choose My 50th Game Review

I'm coming up on a historic moment, my 50th game review.  The question is, what game should I review?  Sound off in the comments below or make your choice in the poll.

Alan Wake
Gears of War 2
Halo 3
Lost Planet 2
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Mass Effect
Mortal Kombat
Red Dead Redemption
Resident Evil 5

Paranormal Confessions

The love of my life has finally started her own blog.  It details her experiences with the paranormal and provides a unique view on the subject.  If you're a fan of ghosts and things that go bump in the night, I highly recommend you pay a visit.


Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft.  Release on December 2, 2008, PoP marks the beginning of a new trilogy in the series.  It establishes a new story with a new cast of characters and stands in stark visual contrast to the games preceding it.

The story opens with an unnamed man venturing across the desert with his treasure laden donkey, Farah.  A sandstorm erupts and soon the "Prince" is separated from his fortune.  He then finds himself in a mysterious ancient kingdom.  He soon meets the princess of the kingdom, Elika.  Elika has been resurrected by her father, the king.  As a result, an ancient evil by the name of Ahriman has awoken and corrupted the land.  The Prince and Elika must heal the corrupted land in order to seal Ahriman.

The game world is broken up into multiple zones with four distinct areas.  Each area is guarded by one of Ahriman's generals, the Hunter, Concubine, Alchemist and Warrior King.  To heal the lands, the Prince and Elika must traverse the world and defeat the respective general guarding the Fertile Grounds.  Healing the grounds revitalizes the world around it, changing the drab lifeless environment to one teeming with vibrant color.

Visually speaking, Prince of Persia is nothing short of a work of art.  It is absolutely breath taking in its scope and beauty.  From start to finish, it was an absolute joy to experience this world.  The game makes use of cel-shaded graphics to a degree I've never seen before.  You would be doing yourself a disservice by not experiencing this radiant example of game design.

The game plays very similar to recent games in the series.  There is an incredible amount of free running and platforming to do.  Fortunately, it has been made incredibly easy to do and everyone can experience the joy of watching the Prince and Elika gracefully dance through the world.  The two of them must work in tandem to navigate the many varied environments in the game.  To progress, your runs must be perfect.  There is no room for error if you wish to advance.  Fortunately, if you do make a wrong move, Elika will always be there to save the Prince.  She will literally pull him from the brink of death.

This also applies to the many battles the two of them will find themselves in.  Much like the way they traverse the environment, the Prince and Elika move with a grace and beauty that make them terrible to behold in the eyes of their enemies.  Combat is combo based with the Prince using sword and grab attacks, Elika using magic and the two of them performing mesmerizing acrobatic maneuvers.

The only low to the game is the ending.  I don't want to spoil it for you, but it leaves you wanting more.  More in a good way, but the wait in between games is making me nervous about the future of this series.  The game was released in 2008 and it's been nearly three years at the time of this review.  There hasn't been any mention of a sequel and that would be an absolute tragedy if this story remained unfinished.

This entry in the Prince of Persia stands as a pinnacle in gaming.  In my mind, it joins the ranks of such classics like Shadow of the Colossus and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  It is a requirement to play this if you enjoy the art form that is gaming.  So do yourself a favor, immerse yourself in the fantastically crafted world.

Games to Beat: 2011

With little over three months to wrap up the list of games on my list to beat for 2011, I have 12 games to go.  Sadly, this isn't including games I anticipate on purchasing once they're released.  Nor does it include the total amount of games on my back log.  As it stands, my completion rate for the year is at 48%.

A recent survey found that only 10% of people beat a game they've played.  I was blown away by this.  Though, I suppose, it's not that hard to believe.  This generation of gamers are lazy.  They crave instant gratification.  But that's not the point.  The point is that I need to get my ass in gear and wrap up those last few games.  What games are sitting on your back log?

App of the Week: Star Wars Trivia

Name: Star Wars Trivia
Cost: Free
Description: A complete Star Wars trivia game with over 500 questions on all the Star Wars saga.

What is the name of the droid that attached Luke's prosthetic hand?  How many non-droid bouny hunters were on the deck of Darth Vader's ship in The Empire Strikes back?  Find the answers to these questions and hundreds more with this free app.

As a long time fan of all things Star Wars and all things useless trivia, I've fallen in love with this app.  Simply pick a movie and do your best to answer a series of 10 multiple choice questions.  I consider myself a big Star Wars geek who knows more than I should and I found myself getting stumped on quite a few occasions.  This is a perfect time killer for trips or any down time you may find. 

Release Calendar: September 2011

September 1
Jumpgate Evolution  (PC)

September 6
Reistance 3  (PS3)
Dead Island (360, PS3, PC)
Might and Magiv Heroes VI  (PC)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (PC, 360, PS3)
Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten  (PSP, PS3)
The Impossible Game  (PSP, PS3)
BloodRayne Betrayal (PS3)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (PC)
Rugby World Cup 2011  (PS3, 360)
Driver: San Francisco  (PS3)
Rise of Nightmares  (360)

September 7
Crimson Alliance  (360)

September 9
Starfox 64 3D  (3DS)

September 13
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad  (PC)
NickToons MLB  (DS, Wii, 360)
Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures  (DS)
The Gunstringer  (360)
Bit. Trip Complete  (Wii)
God of War Origins Complete  (PS3)
NHL 12  (PS3, 360)
The Cursed Crusade  (PS3, 360, PC)
Sengoku  (PC)
Rage  (PC, PS3, 360)
The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns - Again  (DS, Wii, PS3, 360)
Pucca Power Up  (DS)
White Knight Chronicles 2  (PS3)

September 14
TrackMania 2: Canyon  (PC)

September 19
DragonQuest Monsters: Joker 2  (DS)
Kirby Mass Attack  (DS)

September 20
F1 2011  (360, PS3, PC)
Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter  (PC)
Gears of War 3  (360)
Silent Hill Remastered Collection  (PS3)
Jewel Time Deluxe  (DS)
Quest for Zhu  (DS)
Global Ops: Command Libya  (PC)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2: Innocent Sin  (PSP)
Resident Evil 4 HD  (360)
Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns  (DS)
Tropico 4  (360)

September 22
Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes  (PC)

September 23
Men of War: Vietnam  (PC)
Lucius  (PC)

September 27
Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012  (Wii, PS3, 360)
Fifa Soccer 12  (PS3, 360)
Soltarobo: Red the Hunter  (DS)
Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland  (PS3)
Stronghold 3  (PC)
MMA Supremecy  (360, PS3)
National Geographic Challenge!  (Wii, 360, PS3)
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection  (PS3)
Defenders of Ardania  (PS3, 360, PC)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Classic Trilogy HD  (PS3)
Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD  (360, PS3)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012  (360, PS3)
Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny  (Wii, PS3)
Fishing Resort  (Wii)
X-Men: Destiny  (DS, Wii)
The Ultimate Battle of the Sexes  (Wii)

September 28
Quantum Theory  (360)

September 30
Dungeons - The Dark Lord  (PC)

You're the Devil, Gamestop

Today I took a trip to one of the closer GameStops.  The idea was to trade in some of my older games in hopes to either get a new game , Rise of Nightmares, or pay off my preorder for Gears of War 3.  I was really hoping for option #1, but I had to settle for option #2.  What was reaffirmed for me was that gaming is an expensive hobby with little in the way of financial return.  Here's what I traded, what I paid when I bought them, and what I got.

(Wii) Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels - $40 - $4.20
(Wii) Castlevania: Judgement - $20 - $5.60
(360) Rockstar Games Table Tennis - $14 - $0.70
(360) Rockband 2 - $60 - $2.80
(360) Fallout 3 - $30 - $3.50
(360) Divinity 2: Ego Draconis - $60 - $9.80
(360) Devil May Cry 4 - $10 - $2.80

Total: $234
Sold: $29.40
Profit: -$204.60

Granted, no one buys games to make money off of them.  The time one enjoys playing the game is usually a fantastic return on investment.  Add to that, Gamestop's notorious reputation for buying games for pennies on the dollar and selling them for a much higher price.  Sure, they have to make profit and there's no guarantee of when the games will sell, if ever.  But the games I traded in were in mint condition and included all of original documentation such as manuals and promos that came with.  I was hoping for a little more, but what can I do?  Half of the games I sold are on greatest hits lists and can be purchased new for $20.  The more obscure games, such as Star Wars and Divinity 2 brought in more money, which makes sense.  While I made enough to pay off my preorder, the total was still less than $30.  I wish I knew of another service that might pay more for my used games.  Anyone have suggestions?

Hunted: The Demon's Forge

Hunted: The Demon's Forge is a co-op dungeon crawler set in a dark fantasy world.  The story follows two mercenaries, Caddoc and E'lara, as they attempt to unravel an invasion spanning three kingdoms.  Developed by inXile Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks, the game was released on May 31, 2011.

Hunted is the story of two mercenaries, the human Caddoc and his elven companion E'lara.  Caddoc has been experiencing haunting dreams involving a mysterious woman with alabastor skin named Seraphine.  Soon enough, his dreams become reality and the two mercenaries must discover why a normally cowardly race, the Wargar, have teamed with their mortal enemies, the Minotaur.  The two races have been enslaving humans from three separate kingdoms for unknown reasons.

The story itself is an interesting one and fun to experience but it is also very predictable.  There are plenty of twists and turns that you can see coming from miles away.  This is all very familiar territory for fans of high fantasy.  Fortunately, the story is told well enough through in-game dialogue and cut-scenes that I didn't mind knowing where it was taking me.  The voice acting is some of the best that has graced this generation and the banter between Caddoc and E'lara really adds much appreciated depth to the two.  It reminded me of a friendlier version of Morrigan and Alistair from Dragon's Age: Origins.  The only unpredictable thing in the story is what flies out of the main character's mouths.  Quite a few times I was caught off guard and left chuckling in the end.

Graphically, Hunted is above average and could even be considered gorgeous if you could see the environments.  Hunted is an incredibly dark game and I was stumbling in the dark more than I should have been.  Even with the gamma turned all the way up, it is hard to pick out details such as buttons, switches, and even three story columns.  While definitely more tolerable than the default setting, I had to constantly go back into the menu and remind the game that the gamma was at max.  Each new level and after some cinemas, the game would revert back to the default settings and yet the slider would show up all the way at the right.

Gameplay in Hunted takes some getting used to.  This is a co-op game and truly, co-op and constant communication with your living partner is the only way you'll survive.  The game can be played with an AI partner, but it is an exercise in frustration no matter which character you choose.  Unlike other co-op games, each of the two characters is unique and plays vastly different.

Caddoc is your generic warrior.  With sword and shield in hand, he charges into the thick of battle to obliterate enemy ranks.  He has three unique abilities to aid him such as a charge, which is handy for closing the gap to archers and destroying shields, a force field that will lift all enemies around Caddoc and slam them into the ground, and a buff that increases speed and damage.

E'lara is an archer who controls the battlefield from a long range.  She can infuse her arrows with magical properties that allow her to adapt to the enemies faced.  Ice can freeze enemies and shields alike, allowing for the next shot to shatter the target.  Fire adds a damage over time effect and Arcane arrows outright destroy armor.

Each of the mercenaries can learn three magical abilities.  Dragon's Breath is a lightning based damage spell that can arc from one enemy to another.  Brimstone shoots fireballs which can be manually detonated or when they make contact with an enemy.  There is also a sigil which will create a sanctuary on the ground and keep out any trespassers for a short period of time.  Each of these powers can be channeled and sent to an ally, giving them a brief boost in combat.

Along the way you'll find new weapons and armor which are paramount to survival.  There are only a handful of models and weapon types, but it's always exciting to find something new to break orc skulls open with.

The game spans a variety of locations.  From villages to sewers to forests and of course dungeons, there's plenty of variety to keep the game from getting stale.  In addition, there are plenty of puzzles which require each player to discover the final solution.  From a time perspective, Hunted doesn't seem to last too long, even if one finds every secret, and believe me, there are a lot of them.  Fortunately, this game has legs with multiple endings and a dungeon editor called the crucible.  Finding gold in the game unlocks new items, enemies, and environments to use in the creation of your custom dungeon which can be played by anyone.

In the beginning, Hunted is an unforgiving game and this leads to a general feeling of frustration from all who play it.  Even on casual, the lowest difficulty setting, you will die.  A lot.  But once you spend some time with it and learn the tricks, it becomes really enjoyable.  Of course, this is all dependent on playing with a breathing partner.  It's a classic type of game to play with someone sitting next to you on the couch.  I wouldn't remotely recommend playing it solo.  But if you're a huge fan of dark fantasy and co-op gaming, then Hunted is a must.  Just make sure to bring a friend.

Devil May Cry 4

Devil May Cry is a series whose entire story will never be told.  There are four games in the series.  The order of the games in the series is a bit screwed up though.  To play the story through start to what is available, you would have to play DMC 3 then DMC 1 then DMC 4 then DMC 2.  Adding to that is the series reboot that is due out sometime next year.  My theory for the series never being finished is that DMC 2 was a flop in both reviewer and fan eyes.  That's a shame as it was my favorite game in the series.  You saw a more mature Dante with a somber story and fantastic game play.  The game (and series) ends with Dante riding a motorcycle into Hell and Lucia waiting for him to return.  What ever happened to Dante?  The world may never know.

DMC 4 follows a new protagonist, Nero, as he quests to unravel the secrets of his order and save his one true love, Kyrie.  It all begins with a concert that ends with Dante shooting the leader of Nero's order in the face.  Then it involves Nero's demon arm and Dante's dead twin, Vergil and his sword.  With all of this going for it, this is surely to be an involved game with well developed characters whose plight you can feel.  Not so much.  Nero spends most of his time screaming for Kyrie.  Kyrie also mysteriously turns into a mute after belting out the opening song.  She stares at Nero like an imbecile for 90% of the game.  When there's no meaningful character interaction, I can't care for the characters or the world they inhabit.  I finally started caring once I had the chance to play as Dante, but it's just a short trek covering all of the areas and bosses that Nero had just been through.

DMC 4 is a game that is artificially padded.  You must play through the entire game twice.  First as Nero, then as Dante.  There's only a handful of areas to play through and each offers plenty of variety when compared to the others.  There's the vast gloomy castle that must come with every DMC, the standard snow level, and even a sunlit jungle that feels nothing like DMC.  There are six bosses and by the end of the game, you'll have fought each of them at least twice.  It makes sense to backtrack in the game, but the blatant repeat of the levels screamed of laziness to me.

The combat is as fresh and fluid as the past two entries in the series.  Nero provides a new spin on things and is enjoyable to play, but his Devil Arm is the only action you'll be using for 90% of your time with him.  To build up any real ranking, it is necessary to spam the button.  The real treat comes when Dante becomes available for play.  He retains his previous styles from the last game, but can now change them on the fly.  This makes getting in the mandatory fights something to look forward to.  I was a huge fan of upgrading the Trickster ability and teleporting all over the place.  Only negative point is that Dante can't run along walls this time around.  DMC 2 set the standard: Dante can run along walls.

Speaking of negative points, there is one fun sucking black hole of an event that takes place twice in Nero's journey.  There's a board game that you're forced to compete in if you want to advance.  There are numerous spots on the board and a giant die that must be rolled.  Some spots spawn enemies, some drop orbs, some teleport you to the end, and others doe nothing.  The frustrating element is that you can't roll over and reach the exit.  You must roll exactly to proceed or prepare to be stuck in a loop.  Rolls are completely random and forcing a player to waste time on a segment because of this is ridiculous.  One of the breaking moments came towards the end of the game.  I spent a little under an hour trying to complete the final board game section.  This is something that could be completed within 15 minutes, but the random rolls kept me in what felt like an eternal loop.

In the end, DMC 4 feels like every other entry in the series, but with some fatal flaws.  With the past three games, I played them over and over and loved every minute of it.  I played through DMC 4 once and will be selling it shortly.  I'm glad I only paid $10 for the game.  Anything more would have been ludicrous.