amnesiack: (american astronaut)
I sort of feel like all I ever talk about here anymore is video games... oh well.

On Saturday I contemplated starting over with Final Fantasy XIII, but it really wasn't appealing. Then, I thought about finishing Dragon Age: Origins, but nixed that too. Instead, I finally booted up the copy of Mass Effect 2 that I bought on launch day.

As people predicted, I don't miss the fiddly rpg bits like I thought I would. The core gameplay is extremely solid and well-executed. The missions so far have been fun, and the story is high caliber. Of course, it wouldn't be Mass Effect without extremely boring mini-games thrown in there to balance things out, so you've got your planet scanning and whatnot as well. In the end, it's very much like the first Mass Effect: a slightly flawed game that still provides above-average enjoyment for me (at least so far).

Two things stand out to me:

1) They use reincorporation of characters and story elements from the first game with extremely high effectiveness. While you certainly could start with 2 and skip 1 if you were so inclined, I think the experience would be vastly diminished.

2) I love the random sprinkling of references to other science fiction franchises, such as overhearing two characters discussing a run-down colony on the fringes of known space called New Canton, or having a mercenary group called Blue Sun, or giving the ship's engineer a pronounced Scottish accent.
amnesiack: (scottbass)
This weekend has been great so far.

Last night, [ profile] lesleymac and I went over to [ profile] hansandersen's place, and he ran a game of Dogs in the Vineyard for us (see my earlier review of the game here:

The game was fantastic. It really was everything I hoped it to be, and maybe even a bit more. The system is fun, with a neat strategic game-within-a-game setup, but at the same time, it completely gets out of your way and lets really neat roleplaying moments happen. Two highlights for me:

1) My insecure, non-confrontational character being the first to draw a gun, without even me expecting it to happen. It came completely out of nowhere, but it just felt like the right thing to do at the time, and that one action shaped a huge portion of the rest of game after that.

2) Being put in a situation where a man's life was literally in my character's hands, having to decide whether he would live or die, and having to take several minutes internally debating before I could actually come to a decision.

From what I hear, these sorts of situations are common in Dogs.

Tonight, [ profile] darklingrose, [ profile] covenantscave, [ profile] lesleymac, and I went to the second annual Science Fiction Short Film Festival. It was a lot of fun again this year, with some really good films (particularly in the second half), though overall the quality of the movies was a bit lower than last year.

Also, I played a bunch of Final Fantasy XII today. Booyah.
amnesiack: (blue sun)
I'm sure most everyone here has heard about it by now because of Penny Arcade, if nothing else, but still... a Firefly MMO? It's another one of those situations where the realistic part of me shudders, while one tiny part of my brain jumps up and down, screaming with glee and throwing something around. I'm not sure what. Maybe bananas?
amnesiack: (geek pride)
I've been invited to a "play the wii before it's released" party at the Penny Arcade offices tonight, but unfortunately I won't be going. Had it been yesterday or tomorrow, I would have been all over it, but tonight is Adventure!, and I will not be skipping out on my friends and our awesome 1920's pulp awesomeness. You guys should feel very, very special.
amnesiack: (okami)
I partied at the Priebes' last night, and it was fun as always. Jason had a really good Clark Kent costume (complete with little bits of Superman suit peeking out from beneath his business suit), [ profile] preciousjade was the Wicked Witch of the East, [ profile] yurodivuie was the Angel of Death, and [ profile] jinasphinx was a character from Battlestar Galactica (Sorry, Jina, I haven't seen the show, so that's about the best I can do).

My planned Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi costume fell through, so I ended up doing the Luchador thing again. I wanted to mix it up a little, though, so I used the black and red mask (as opposed to my blue and white mask), added a cape, and put in my vampire fangs. So, instead of "El Mucho", this year I was "El Vampiro Grande."

We cut out a little early, owing to the fact that David and I were still exhausted from Dallas, and Dawn has to get up really early on weekdays.

Prior to going to the party, I of course picked up my copy of Final Fantasy XII (Collectors' Edition) at the GameStop from which I had pre-ordered it. I have to admit that I'm in a bit of a delima over it, though; if I start playing FFXII now, it will be months before I finish Okami, which is a really great game. However, if I delay playing FFXII to finish Okami, not only will I not be playing FFXII, but I'll have to avoid our main living room at home like the plague, so as not to see what's happening while David is playing FFXII. Argh! Curse you holiday gaming season!
amnesiack: (Default)
Happy Final Fantasy XII Day, Everyone!

...And Halloween, I guess.

I live!

Oct. 20th, 2006 06:34 pm
amnesiack: (blackmage)
Just in case anyone missed it, Veronica Mars totally endorsed Guitar Hero in this week's episode. Take that, you nay-sayers.
amnesiack: (american astronaut)
Fearless was fantastic. The wire-work and special effects were highly restrained, but Jet Li's performance was (as always) very well-done. It's a very straight-forward story with no twists or turns, well-choreographed fight scenes, and a basis in Chinese history that ignores almost all actual historical facts. What more could you want?

* * *

I know that Final Fantasy XII is coming out soon (I have, in fact, preordered it already), but I think that Okami may end up being one of my favorite games of the year. At its most stripped-down, core level, it's a Zelda-style action/puzzle/quest game. If you take all of its elements together, though, it is a brilliantly unique game, with a beautiful visual style unlike any other game I've seen. I'm only about 4 hours into it, and it has already sunk its claws (tee hee) quite deeply into me. With the PS3 on its way in the next couple of months, Sony is certainly making sure that PS2 game development goes out on several high notes.

* * *

Saturday night [ profile] yurodivuie, Jason, and I saw The Billy Nayer Show live at this tiny little theater in the Rendezvous Lounge in Belltown. Like most of the people there (I think), my initial exposure to the BNS came from the bizarre uber-movie that is The American Astronaut. I've already described it in a past entry, but having watched it many more times since then, I can firmly say that it is awesome in ways which you cannot conceive of something being awesome. Corey McAbee (lead singer, electric autoharp player, and song writer for the BNS, as well as the writer, director, and star of American Astronaut) is a twisted genius of the highest order, and seeing BNS live actually kicks all of that up a significant notch. Until their two encores, every song they played was from their as-yet-unreleased new album, and the few old songs they played for encores were not from American Astronaut (i.e. songs that I knew). And you know what? It didn't matter one bit. New songs or old, McAbee's lyrics will stun, confound, and hilarify you in a single burst. I left feeling that I had experienced something profound and not entirely comprehensible by my mortal brain. If you have a chance, I would encourage you to do the same.
amnesiack: (PAX)
We had our first setup gathering for PAX last night. The first part was our standard Meet & Greet, wherein we all get reacquainted and go through the Meydenbauer Center to see how things are going to be laid out this year. Then, we stuffed 10,000 attendee bags with various fliers, goodies, and treats donated for the convention. It looks like it's going to be a really great show (again) this year. The big news, though, is with the cancellation of E3 next year, Penny Arcade's phones began to ring off the hook with companies wanting to get in on the PAX action. Unfortunately, we've been booked solid on exhibitor space since February, so all comers, both big and small, were turned away. That'll teach them not to take us seriously. We've already got the Washington State convention center booked for next year, which will more than triple our square footage for the event. I have a feeling we're going to need it.
amnesiack: (kimpinegf)
Go me: I remembered to call the airlines I'm flying with next week to request vegetarian meals on the way to and from Athens.

When I travel, two halves of my psyche war with one another. One half wants as many things to entertain me on the flight and during downtime on the trip as possible, even though it knows I'll probably only use a fraction of what I take. The other half wants to pack as little as humanly possible, preferably to the point of being able to do carry-on only.

Thus far, I know for sure that I will be taking the following items:

* My PSP with my recently-purchased and as-yet-unplayed copy of Valkyrie Profile: Lennth and a second PSP battery borrowed from [ profile] yurodivuie
* My ipod
* The volumes of Journey to the West that I haven't finished yet.

Thus far, I've held fairly firm to those being my only entertainment items, but the pull to bring a big, heavy rpg book of some sort (most likely either the Manual of Exalted Power: Dragonblood or Weapons of the Gods) keeps growing stronger. We'll see what I can talk myself down to when the time comes. I've confirmed that there will be easily accessible laundry facilities in Athens, so I can probably get away with packing two pairs of pants and 3 or 4 shirts and other sundries.

Now, I just have to make sure I don't forget my passport on Monday.
amnesiack: (Default)
Saturday: I got away from work at noon and decided to forego the Best Buy run and just buy groceries. I then spent the rest of the day playing City of Villains, watching dvds, and reading. Not bad at all.

Sunday: I slept in and then opened the box o' stuff my parents sent me. For my big breakfast (you have to eat a big breakfast on Christmas; it's the law) I made eggs, sourdough biscuits, vegi-bacon, vegi-sausage, and strawberry-orange-banana juice. While I was cooking, Adam (one of my best friends, currently living in SoCal) called to give me my traditional holiday cursing-out, and we talked for a while about the general state of things. Post breakfast and phone was more CoV and dvd-watching, followed by a phone call from my parents and little sister.

When mid-afternoon finally rolled around I drove down to [ profile] grandmoffdavid's parents' house and spent several hours with him and a his family (including [ profile] preciousjade, of course). It should become immediately obvious to anyone who spends any time at David's parents' place that he came by his l33t cooking and booze-choosing skills quite honestly. It was a fun afternoon, with good conversation and presents and food and the like. I will henceforth be making all of my important life decisions using my "What Would a Ninja Do?" choice wheel.

I left there around 7:30 and headed over to Mike & Jenna's place for more food, movie watching, Xbox 360-playing, and conversation. It was mellow, which was good because I was beginning to feel very sleepy. I decided to head home shortly after 11pm, dropping into bed shortly after my arrival.

All in all, a very worthy Christmas, despite its unusual nature. Cheers.
amnesiack: (dali)
As of Wednesday we finally have some rpgs for the PSP. Much to my chagrin when I returned home from work that afternoon, David had already gone to the store without me and purchased a copy of The Legend of Heroes, but it was easy to convince him to go back to Gamestop with me. I ended up buying Kingdom of Paradise, a Chinese-style fantasy action rpg. It falls into the wuxia without the aerial acrobatics genre (similar to Jade Empire), which, while cool in its own right, is a bit of a disappointment after having had Weapons of the Gods so heavily on the brain for the last month, but I don't think I'm far enough into it to say for sure. Based on about 45 minutes of play, I can say the following things fer'it and agin'it:

* You can't jump. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: All action games, regardless of their secondary genre (RPG, Puzzler, Platformer, etc.) should include the ability to jump, even if it is completely cosmetic and has no effect on game play whatsoever. This applies triple to any game with kung fu.
* The camera angles can't be adjusted. In a standard old-school rpg view the camera is at a fixed point and you maneuver in a standard cardinal direction setup. KoP, however, has a dynamic camera that moves and shifts in different directions depending on where you're standing and how you're moving. The problem is that it is completely computer-controlled and cannot be adjusted or rotated in any way by the player, making it rather disorienting. Again, this is a feature that should be standard in all action games by now.
* Limited controls. This actually is a feature I have mixed feelings about (see "Easy but customizable combat system" under positives for the other side). While I never want action rpgs to reach the same level of complexity in controls as, say, your typical fighting game, it seems to me that if you're going to be controlling your actions in real-time, there should be a certain level of variety to what you're doing, rather than simply tapping the O button over and over as fast as you can. While there were things I disliked about it, I think that Kingdom Hearts really set the high standard for what an action rpg should be like in this respect. Defense of any kind is especially hard in KoP, as blocking seems to be completely ineffectual, and there are no other defensive maneuvers (jumps, rolls, etc.) that you can perform other than just using your normal running back-and-forth controls.

* Great graphics. They're nearly on par with some PS2 games I've seen, like Star Ocean III, and they capture the setting well.
* Easy but customizable combat system. This is the flipside of the "Limited Controls" issue above. The parts of the combat system that do work are actually pretty neat. You collect kenpu and bugei scrolls. Kenpu are individual attack maneuvers and bugei are combinations of maneuvers. You assign kenpu to slots within each bugei (so far, the exact kenpu and their order is determined by the Bugei, but supposedly there are "freestyle" bugei you can acquire which allow you to arrange them as you please), and then you choose which bugei to use during combat. You can easily switch between bugei in the middle of a fight, and all you have to do to use them is continue hitting the attack button. Each time you initiate a new attack, it will begin to perform the kenpu you have in your bugei in the order they have been assigned. Thus, as the game progresses, you should in theory acquire an increasing variety and combination of attacks that you can arrange and customize for combat use without having to memorize long sequences of button combinations. Very cool.

It's too early to make a call in regards to the story, but so far, so good.

amnesiack: (PAX)
Today is my last day of work for the week. Why? The long and short of it... PAX!. Yes, PAX05 (summarized in this great interview) begins on Friday, which means setup begins at 9am tomorrow morning, and I am the crazy sort who will use up all his remaining vacation time in order to work his butt off for free for four days alongside a cavalcade of smelly gamers. Already, despite more than doubling our work force, echoes from last year's understaffing delima have arisen. I pull shifts from 8am-9:30 pm in the exhibition hall and theater, and I've already been roped into an 11pm-2am shift as security for the Turbine party on Friday night at the Doubletree (where they will apparently be giving out free drinks and demoing D&D Online).

I have new gel insoles for my shoes (a must), my psp fully charged, spending money, cargo pants, and a wreckless disregard for my own health in regards to sleep and caffeine consumption. It's going to be a great week.
amnesiack: (Default)
It's been quite a while since I posted here, mostly because I can't access LJ from work anymore. However, I finally remembered to check the process for posting via email, and here I am. I'm assuming this whole post is going to be full of typing errors and broken html tags that I won't really notice until I get home and can actually look at how the post came out.

And what better way to mark my return than a boring list of the current media and consumer products that I am enjoying? No better way, says I.

Psychonauts: Available for the PS2, Xbox, and PC, this is one of the best games I have played in years. What is there not to like in a game about a summer camp for child psychics designed by Tim Schafer of Grim Fandango with a lead character voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz (aka Zim)? It is at least partially a platformer, but so far I've experienced none of the frustrations normally inherent in that genre. My co-worker Kurt told me that he already considers it to be his pick for game of the year. I'm having a hard time disagreeing.

Legend of the Five Rings RPG, 3rd Edition: Though I've never actually played a single session of L5R, I've been a fan of the game for a long time. It's basically feudal Japan with a fantasy twist; it is to the samurai era what 7th Sea is to swashbuckling Europe. The 3rd edition is a beautiful book. While many game companies aspire to put out full-color books, most don't have the art or designers necessary to make it look good (Are you listening, EDEN?). L5R 3ed, on the other hand, looks great from cover to cover. While some of the illustrations are better than others (as is inevitable), there is not a single piece of bad art anywhere in the book.

Fantastic Foods soup and noodle bowls: Fantastic Foods makes some of the finest instant vegetarian and vegan food in existence. These soups are incredible, particularly the Hot & Sour and Minestrone. Also of note are their vegetarian taco filling and falafel mix.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Vol. 7: I really couldn't be happier with the ending to this phenomenal series. I nearly cried during the Batou/Tachikoma scene.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: Jason first made me aware of this weird and delightful novel that apparently took 10 years to write. It's a comedic historical fantasy that falls somewhere in-between the styles of Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Charles Dickens, and Terry Pratchet, and the more I read, the better it gets.

Ok, back to work, me hearties.
amnesiack: (tmnt)
I started playing Jade Empire last night. So far, it's a great game, and I'm still in the beginning area. My only complaint thus far is that, like Fable, the variety of maneuvers you perform in each fighting style seems severely limited. That might change as the game progresses (I'm only about 1 hour 45 mins. into the game), or it's possible that the fact that there are something like 70 styles available will make up for it.

On a side note, while I haven't looked it up anywhere yet to be certain, I'm 99.99% sure that Gao the Lesser is voiced by Nathan Fillion, better known to many as Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly. Rock.
amnesiack: (kitaguchi)
The Katamari Damacy sequal, We Love Katamari, has been announced and will be released in the U.S. Rock.

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