Tuesday, November 30, 2004

welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games

i have to say, i've been incredibly lucky in the 2 bengals games i've been to. it's hard to say which game was more fun, last year's upset of undefeated kansas city, or this year's insane 58-48 explosion against cleveland. it was definately tense at times, but you couldn't help but have fun at this game. i'm still pumped when i think about it. it was awesome to see our offense go to work, especially watching rudi run wild over their defense. it's about time we did that to someone instead of them doing it to us. the fans were very drunk and very annoying on both sides, but that's football.

i've gone back to playing through Knight of the Old Republic on the dark side. i have to say, it's even more fun this way. just like in the Jedi Knight series, dark side force powers are way more fun. i'm hoping to get the upcoming sequel for christmas, so i want to have beaten the first game on both sides. still the best star wars game ever.

Monday, November 22, 2004

time, dr. freeman?

wow. today i wrapped one of the finest gaming experiences i have ever had.

having completed half-life 2, i can say that it more than lives up to the hype. in fact, it surpasses the original in nearly every way. if i had to come up with a complaint, it would have to be that the ending it a little too open ended for my taste. your team ai could be a little better as well, but i didn't seem to be bothered with that as much as some reviewers.

the story is one of the best in any game i've played. i couldn't wait to get to the end, and now that i'm there i'm both sad that it's over, and eagerly anticipating the third installment. there are few games where i've ever cared about the characters as much as i have in this game. one of the biggest achievement with valve's realistic facial expressions and voice-acting is that the people really come alive. you can see the emotion in their faces and hear it in their voices. part of the reason i can't wait till HL3 is that i'm already dying to know what happened to my companions. it's possibly the most cinematic game experience i've seen. this is the new benchmark by which all other action games will be judged.

obviously, half-life 2 and halo 2 will be compared a lot, due to both their glowing reviews and huge fan bases. in my mind, it's not even a competition.

halo 2 was definately a let-down in single player. halo 2's gameplay stuck to the same basic formula throughout. you move from room to room, killing everything. sure, you play half the game as an elite, but that change is mainly cosmetic. the actual gameplay itself is the same. the story is more detailed than the original, but i thought some parts were absurd, and others failed to be given adequate explanation. on the other hand, half-life 2 is probably the best single player game ever made. it may be a first-person shoot,er but it transcends every genre in that catergory. it's an action game, obviously. other parts, such as the urban uprising against the combine, have such a wargame feel to theme to them that i kept thinking back to games such as call of duty. the ravenholm level is a downright white-knuckled horror scenario. the two driving levels are packed full of adrenaline, and some of the most fun i've ever had using vehicles in a game. as i said before, the story itself is extremely engrossing, to the point that you want to find out about every little etail and speck of possible background information.

*warning: this may have some spoilers*
as far as endings go, both games decided to go with cliffhangers to leave their fans salivating for the third installment. however, in my mind one was done correctly, and the other was poorly. as the player reaches the end of halo 2, he has no idea he's at the end. as master chief approached earth, i was preparing myself for the big showdown with the covenant. this was going to be the big climax. then BAM, bungie pulls the plug. there was no big showdown. no final battle for victory. bungie didn't put an ending on the game, they just chopped it in half and stuck a "to be continued" on the end. i felt like i'd been robbed.

half-life 2's ending didn't make me feel as if i'd just wasted my time. keep in mind, the ending is still very open ended. in fact, it is a little disappointing that more isn't immediately resolved or explained. however, hl2 had a climax. like, halo 2, near the end i was feeling pumped at the impending showdown with dr. breen. even though the ending may actually open up more questions than it answers, it still left me with a very real sense of accomplishment. there is also a lot of intrigue and theories to speculate on, which keeps the game fresh. i loaded my last save to watch the ending again, and then went back and played through the whole last level to see if i could gain any more insight on what had happened. i already want to go back and play through the whole game again to see if i can catch and clues or details that i missed the first time. but that's all i want to say about the ending without anyone having played it.

it seems valve can do no wrong. let's just pray we don't have to wait another six years.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

this is a call to all my past resignations

the united nations staff is preparing to issue a vote of no confidence in chancellor valor- i mean secretary-general kofi annan. meanwhile, senator palpatine prepares to assume power, and qui-gon jinn is killed on naboo.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

we don't go to ravenholm

to warn you all, there's a very good chance i'll be doing nothing but raving about the glories of half-life 2 on here for at least the next few days. now that you've been notified...

i failed to mention oin my previous post another aspect of the game that i believe is as revolutionary as it's character presentation, and that is the physics of the game. the game features the greatest physics engine i've ever witnessed in a game, by far. first of all, there are countless interactive items in the game: bottles, cinder blocks, boxes, tires, barrels, furniture, playground equipment, etc. gordon can pick up, move around, and throw all kinds of objects, as aptly represented by penny-arcade. what's even more unique is that every object has it's own specific weight and mass, in accordance to it's real-life properties. the realism this provides to the game's atmosphere is amazing. what's even more incredible is the next step that is taken in this interactivity with the game world when gordon gets his hands on the gravity gun. what the gravity gun does is it allows gordon to push, grab, and throw all kinds of objects, especially ones too heavy for him to lift on his own. more importantly, it allows gordon to utilize the objects around him, turning them into weapons.

the significance of this is the new level of depth and ingenuity it allows when playing the game. running short on ammo? don't worry, just use the gravity gun to begin hurling barrels at your enemies. or how about throwing buzz saws, propane tanks, or propeller blades? this game allows you to turn a chest of drawers from a piece of furniture into a weapon to be launched at your adversaries. it also allows you to pick up objects and shield yourself from enemy fire.

but the depth the physics adds to the gameplay isn't limited to when you have the gravity gun. let's say you're being shot at by enemies standing atop a wooden platform. instead of trying to take them all out, find a way to shoot out or blow up the supports for the platform and watch them tumble. there are all kinds of ways to deal with each and every situation. pure genius.

i could rant on more, like how the sound is superb, and greatly enhances to the atmosphere of the game. like how i'm seriosuly freaked out by the ravenholm level, a dark town filled with all kinds of zombie/alien horrors. the whole atmosphere is great, it just sucks you in. nothing like seeing these haunting corpses hanging everywhere, when eerie howls suddenly pierce the night and the creature appears on a rooftop across the town, silhouetted in the moonlight. might not seem like anything major when you're reading about it, but the effect in the game is extremely unnerving. you really feel like you're gordon, groaning "oh great.." at what you have to deal with next. valve, you guys are the greatest.

yes, i'm obsessed. for good reason. it's amazing. and no, i won't stop raving about it for a long time. sometime i need to give the new counter-strike a try, but there's no way i'll play anything else till this is finished.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

rise and shine, mr. freeman. rise and shine.

wake up and smell the ashes.

ahh man, this is the stuff. after much frustration over steam (note: you cannot dock HL2 as a game because of valve's being unprepared for massive traffic on steam), i finally got the game registered and the files unlocked. after such a big headache, can this game live up to the hype?

oh, does it ever.

i could rant for hours and i've only just begun to get into the game. worth every second of the wait. the atmosphere is incredible. as the game fired up, i was literally on the edge of my seat, leaning forward towards the monitor to get as close to the action as possible.

this game looks gorgeous, and plays fairly well on my computer, with decent settings. what stands out the most are the characters: they have the most life-like features that i've ever seen. valve used all kinds of technology to map out the muscles in the face of characters, allowing for all kinds of realistic expressions. and the lips are perfectly synched with the voices, making the game even more realistic. the voice acting itself is superb so far, a very professional job. in fact, it's down right cinematic.

the action is extremely intense, far more varied than halo 2's "go into a room, clear it out, next room, clear it out, repeat" formula. much of the action at the beginning are adrenaline-pumping chases as you flee pursuing combine forces, for awhile without even a weapon to fight back. once you are armed, things get even more action-packed, every bit of it is thrilling.

of course, the overwhelming sense of nostalgia that flowed from the beginning of the game made me love it all the more. the ominous face of the g-man, the voice of my scientist companion, the sound of a headcrab jumping, the return of the terrifying shiver i get every time i see one of those huge, horrible pirhana-like monsters in the water, and most of all, the tingle on the back of my neck when i hopped once again into HEV suit. incredible. i can't even describe it. let's just say it's taking all the self-restraint i have not to load the game back up and play it all not long. there's no way i'm going to pay attention in class tomorrow.

ladies and gentlemen, gordon freeman has returned!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

dear valve software,

i know you think you're all slick and cool and revollutionary with your new steam delivery system as a way to activate games. and i know you're all big on security now that you screwed up and let the hl2 source code get stolen a year ago, so now you make it so that we have to use steam to unlock half-life 2, even if we bought it in the store. and then you go and drop the ball by not anticipating the MASSIVE traffic on steam due to the millions of fans that apparently you didn't expect to clog your servers by trying to all activate your games. or maybe you just don't realize that most people want to play their games AS SOON AS THEY BUY THEM. and now they can't, because they can't connect to steam, which means that sit here in anger and think about how badly they want to firebomb your entire office. yes, you may have made the greatest game of all time, but since you're denying me from playing the arguably even greater sequal, i can only think of the wrong you are doing me. this had better be worth both the $55 and major headache i've gotten trying to register on steam. or else.


a very, very bitter old man

Saturday, November 13, 2004

i've been around all the pawns you've gagged and bound

i'm sure you will all be as thrilled to learn as i was that michael moore is planning on making a sequel to fahrenheit 9/11. as moore himself says "fifty-one percent of the american people lacked information (in this election), and we want to educate and enlighten them. They weren't told the truth." the very fact that someone like michael moore would throw out the word "truth" takes the idea of irony to a whole new level.

in other news, maybe due to my blasphemous comments about halo 2, my body seems bound determined to kill me. first i start off with the whole congested sinuses, sore throat, and cough. needless to say, i've been up the past three nights trying just to breath, never mind sleep (which explains why i'm on here at 5 am). the pile of used tissues in my garbage can is staggering. then my congestion becomes so severe that my nose starts bleeding because i've been blowing it so much. then the nice white sores appear in my throat. and now my head is so backed up the mucus has decided to start coming out my eyes along with my nose (apparently we shouldn't have joked about my eyes bleeding doug, that's probably next). i don't want it to sound like i'm complaining, but it's only 5 am and i can't sleep, so i've got to talk about something to entertain myself.

Friday, November 12, 2004

ain't found a way to kill me yet

i beat halo 2's single player campaign today. frankly, i feel like bungie owes me. first of all, the ending blows, and while i won't reveal any details for those who haven't beat it, it's basically a cheap tool setting you up for the inevitable halo 3. not only did bungie put the flood back in the game, but there's really no reason for them to be there, or an explanation of why. a lot of the gameplay methods got old. when fighting the flood, you could expect to sit in the same room for at least ten minutes while you killed wave after wave, move on to the next room, repeat. the same thing happened much of the time when you're in a tank; for some reason there's a rediculous number of ghosts on halo, and they'll come at you in groups of 2s and 3s for fifteen straight minutes. so you sit and wait, blow them up, wait, blow up the next group, repeat. very few of the levels stand out like the original did; i can't really think of many levels i'd want to go back and play on co-op over and over like i did with ones from halo. needless to say, the campaign left me feeling let down.

multiplayer hasn't completely blown me away yet, but that's just because i haven't had a good chance to truly experience its greatness. playing at doug's house was alright, but his brother's friends just kept screwing around, and making small games on their own instead of 16 people. don't get me wrong, i can see the hints of greatness hiding under the surface, i just need a better setting to bring out the best in the game next time i play.

Monday, November 08, 2004

i wanna be your superman

velvet revolver concert at us bank arena was awesome. they played all their good songs from contraband, two STP songs, three GnR songs and an Aerosmith cover. slash's playing was amazing, and weiland gave the show a lot of energy. i think he'd die if he didn't have a bullhorn to sing into. i'd have to say the best songs were "sucker train blues", "slither", "sex type thing", "used to love her", "superhuman", "mr. brownstone" and "set me free". the crowd went nuts when slash asked "how bout them bengals?", but they definately missed a huge chance to play "welcome to the jungle" after that. that would have brought the house down.

fall conference was a blast. i managed to avoid getting too sick, which is more than i can say for austin, who thankfully didn't die. i also played a rediculous amount of ultimate frisbee. it was really cool to hang out with everyone and get to no more of the people from uc. however, getting elbowed in the head during naval destroyer and staying up till 4 am finishing my paper last night were not fun.

but that's all done, and tonight i get to pick up Halo 2!! ign.com gives it a 9.8, and i have no doubt it's going to be mind-blowing. picking up my preorder from gamestop at midnight, and then it's no sleep once again tonight. but it's going to be so worth it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

i feel stupid and contagious

the tracklist for the 3 cds and dvd of with the lights out has finally been released. sure enough, looks like its almost all demos and covers. only complaint: still no unplugged.

i'm seeking a friend for the end of the world

i finally decided to go preorder halo 2 at gamestop today. and i paid off the whole thing, so basically all i have to do is walk in and pick up the game at 12:01 am nov 9. less than a week! the guy at the store said he had a friend with the stolen french version. he said it made the original look like it came out on the n64. i can't wait, it's going to be beautiful. all my stress with school should be (temporarily) over by monday afternoon, so i can stay up all night playing halo 2. i'm not going to bed till i beat it. of course, by getting the game now i'm only setting myself up to make an already crappy quarter at school even more abysmal, but hey, that's life.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

come together, right now, over me

i'm so glad election day is finally here. i'll be happy for all the campaigning, commericals, and arguing to end. the only good thing that happened out of it is that i got a recorded call from The Governator, and it was hilarious! he was telling me that he wanted "to pump (me) up about the elction." he also said that we need to go out and "flex our muscles" today at the vote. i wish i'd recorded it. my house got tons of calls like that from both sides, including ones from bush himself, kirtsen dunst, and michael w smith. anyway, i need to eat lunch and go vote.

school is agonizing, as usual. a midterm and a test today, they both could have been worse, but they also could have been a lot better. another midterm on friday. the hard part is going to be getting my book review for history done. it's due on this coming monday, and i still have to read most of the book and write it. wouldn't be a problem except that i'm going to be gone all weekend at the navs fall conference, and then when i get back sunday night i'm going to the velvet revolver concert. arg. school's such a waste. i don't even feel like i have a real reason in being here. and seriously, in the grand scheme of things, for the 50 or so more years max i might be around, who cares? it's totally not worth it. how much cooler would it be to take the $7k or so a year i spend on school and using it to buy toys for children in the hospital? or buy some homeless people some warm clothes and food. or help my church pay off their loan. or donate to research to cure aids. or whatever.