Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Almost back to normal

Well after yet more hospital related trips the object of my affections is finally back on the mend, hopefully for real this time, so now that she is on the road to recovery I can but hope that things get back to regular programming.

In between driving all over the land (or that is what it feels like) to see her, I have just been chilling out with a variety of projects. Easy stuff like Fallout 3 (PC), Terminator Salvation and CSI Deadly Intent have been and gone. Plus, I sank sixty odd hours into getting the full 1,100 from Dragon Age Origins too - which was an absolute blast to play.

I'm now trying to finish up with Tropico 3 - which for some reason was released in PAL regions in November but is not out in the US until next year. Strange for us Euro folks to get ANYTHING before anyone else but I'm not going to argue with good fortune.

The game is amazingly addictive and a strategy game to boot which is not normally my thing. Basically it plays like Civilisation but with less of a global landscape. You have to build up your city from the ground up - successfully managing the industry, agriculture and housing of your people. If that doesn't float your boat then you can always go for tourist money by building airports, hotels and attractions. You also need to look after their religious needs and desire for entertainment amongst other things. The game has a fun sense of humour as you can arrange for dissenting voices to be silenced or have 'accidents' plus you can sneakily syphon money into your own slush fund should you so desire. Though if you upset people too much you could be on the wrong end of rebels, a military coup or a general uprising so a careful balane is needed.

I got totally lost in the game for a whole week to be honest and enjoyed my time immensely, at the moment I am five campaign missions away from finishing the full 1k but it was time well spent. My only quibble would be the fact that after playing the same thing over and over the charm has kind of worn off and I just want to be done now, ha ha!

Next up will be either Planet 51 or Sherlock Holmes Vs Jack the Ripper - I'm not expecting great things if I'm honest but yo never know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fun times and personal trials

Been having a rough time recently due to a serious illness in the family but thankfully things seem to be picking up. It has meant a pretty stressful time and less time doing just about everything - I've barely had time to go and do any food shopping, ha ha!

Still I have tried to keep myself busy with a bit of gaming alongside keeping the house tidy and popping over to the hospital twice a day. Now that I'm back at work things are even more hectic so I tend to work, pop for a visit, eat and then go to bed. Not the best of lifestyles but hopefully things are on the upwards slope.

Games wise I buckled to the needs of the GSL (even though my team are only casual participants) and stormed through Fallout 3 (PC) and Terminator Salvation as well. I also have the new CSI game waiting for my attention. However, my brief sojourn into points based pimping has come to a crashing halt as I've been loving Dragon Age Origins instead.

The game reminds me of Baldurs Gate (same developer, so that's unsurprising I guess) and is just all around awesome. The combat system can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, though it has to be said that the flexibility of the controls can never match up to the PC version. Still the story, characters and missions are top drawer and things never seem to get dull. I'm being fairly cheap and making multiple saves in order to get all of the moral choice related achievements, as even though I love the game to bits I really don't want to play it two or three times all the way through.

Once that is done I may well go back to CSI and Fairytale Fights, which I have put off playing for now until I can find a partner to do the multiplayer achievements with. Apparently if you complete the game solo it glitches the MP stuff so you can't get it - neat trick.

I recently read Stallions post about old gaming consoles too and it succeeded in making me feel old as I flashed back to my old ZX Spectrum days - truly the pinnacle of gaming, ha ha!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A lovely milestone

150 retail games completed.


That includes all games that I have hit 1k in - some of which I have gone on to get the extra DLC for and some I have not. I have noticed that my dashboard tally only counts DLC if I play the game after said content is available. My Halo 3 achievements were showing as 800/1000 until about a month ago when I played it again and now it shows as 805/1750. Same with FIFA 09 which I have the full 1k on and plan to never play again - it shows as 1000/1000 rather than 1000/1250. A neat little twist and one that should really be standard on all websites but what are you gonna do?

So anyway, my 150 games are all at 1k and some have the DLC done too. I'm close to adding L4D and WWE 2010 to that number but for now am happy to bask in the glow of such accomplishment.

Unfortunately my final completion to hit the magic number was Monsters vs Aliens, a decent game but one that suffered from shockingly repetitive gameplay. I'm hoping to get stuck into an RPG after I finish up with wrestling, and with my copy of Dragon Age en route it could be the perfect opportunity. I still want to go back to Risen at some point as well - choices, choices.....

On the review front I have Fairytale Fights on my plate, plus Brutal Legend (which kind of fell through the cracks) and the upcoming Dragon Age which will no doubt take priority. Good times.

On the 200k race front my pal Rich is only one thousand points away from the magic number now so it is nearly over. I will have failed in my own personal goal of hitting 175k before someone got to 200k but at least I got close. Perhaps if my rental copy of Terminator Salvation shows up fairly soon then I will be able to make things more respectable. We shall see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Multiplayer boosting and the horror it brings

Nothing is better than playing games with your friends and even boosting with them can be plenty of fun, as random conversations will crop up to fill the void and ensure it never gets too dull. What I do hate though are those few games that try and force you to arrange a big group of 6+ players into being around at the same time.

You would think that getting six people together, or even ten, would be a piece of cake but frankly it couldn't be further from the truth. Even on a brand new game like NHL 10 it was a nightmare just getting six people in one club to play one solitary game (which we didn't even have to win). A 36-1 drubbing later, to ensure the other team didn't leave, and it was a case of achievement unlocked. Boo yah!

The same success can't be said to have occured with NHL 09 which I really should have played last year to get this thing done. Sadly trying to get 10 people online at the same time and through one measly game of hockey was a logistical nightmare. Them one of our stand ins decided they were bored after five minutes and quit out - meaning the other nine of us missed out on the achievement. Poor form indeed. Hopefully we will succeed at our second attempt this evening but who the hell knows if everyone will turn up, stay the game or have the patience to wait for just one more person to join.

Why companies feel obliged to put such stupid achievements in games is beyond me. I suppose it is hardly as high on the dumb scale as the infamous NBA 1,000 people online achievement but it doesn't seem far short when you are trying to arrange everyone. Here's hoping for success at the second attempt.

On to better news and NHL 10 is done with and I'm closing in on finishing both Smackdown 10 and Monsters vs Aliens too. After which I will be returning to Risen and then starting either Fairytale Fights or Brutal Legend - time will tell. Still have a couple of outstanding reviews waiting for my attention so we shall see how things fare on that front.

Hope everyone has a happy Halloween also.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rip offs and life sucking games

I got a free copy of Lips: Number One Hits this week. My mandate is obviously to review the game and see how it stacks up so it came as something of a shock to discover that this game was, in actual fact, just the 250 extra points worth of DLC that had been tacked onto the original Lips.

No doubt most people knew this bit of information ahead of time but it took me quite by surprise, and not in a good way. Charging full price for a retail game with only 250 points is against the terms and conditions that MS themselves designed but they seem to constantly break the rules with their own games - such as Halo (more than 1250) and Fable 2 (required a seperate game to get the original 1k). In Fable's case that was remedied, so no qualms there, but it seems that if MS can release a game with only 250 points for full price then what is to stop anyone else doing it?

Hopefully the trend will stop here or some free DLV will emerge for the game to make it worthwhile - otherwise it looks like a nice can of worms has been opened.

P.S The achievements are also laughably easy and can be done in a couple of hours tops depending on how many stars/medals you already had from Lips.

In other news I have foolishly started Supreme Commander. I found a super cheap PAL copy for the games biggest ever fan (Creech) and shipped it over to him. Obviously he would need help boosting the online component so I volunteered for that as well. The folly. The boosting was fairly quick and easy but the actual game is looking like taking hours upon hours to do. It is scant consolation that apparently no one has completed the PAL version so I could be among the first to do so. I may well take on the challenge but we shall see. It is fun to see that I have over 1k in TA points for the game even though I've only actually got 100 points worth of achievements - that's how hard/rare it is.

In other news I have nearly, so very nearly, finished with NHL 10 and (as ever) have thoroughly enjoyed it. I always seem to like hockey games for some reason and this was no exception, even though I had to suffer through a 36-1 defeat just to get the six player online achievement (we didn't want the other team to quit). Other than that it was fairly painless and is a good game for anyone with even a passing interest in the sport.

My other new 'gem' of a game was Monsters Vs Aliens, which arrived from the rental company and my other half insisted we play together. It is not totally terrible and is fairly quick and easy, so hopefully I can turn it around in double quick time and get something a bit better.

Finally I have invested some time into WWE 2010 and, again, it's not a bad game - just one that is far too similar to the last few years worth of releases. Still it is always fun to smack people repeatedly with a steel chair and then push the referee over for a few yucks. It may take me some time to grind out all of the storylines and get a wrestler into the Hall of Fame but the game is so easy that it is no big deal.

Of course, the impact of all these new games on my completion score is not good and it has sunk to a new low of just over 86% - enough to make me cry. Though I will hopefully arrest this trend with a bucketload of game completions in the near future.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

200k race update

Maybe the title is slightly misleading as it implies that I'm actually in contention for victory or something but I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a recap.

Basically my good buddy Rich is leading, with Apple in hot pursuit - then the rest of us just languishing at the back somewhere, ha ha! Hammer did drop out of the contest when he quit points but now that he is back on the sauce I have no idea if he wants in again or not. Might be too late for him to win at this stage anyway. Personally speaking I'm a bit disappointed with my performance, not because I'm not winning mind but because I had hoped to get to at least 175k before one of the others crossed the magical milestone. Doesn't look like that will happen now unless I crank out a few really quick games. I do have Fallout 3 (PC) and could always pick up things like Terminator Salvation and the like, but I think I'll just muddle on as I usually do.

Frankly with the amount of half finished games I have sat around I really have no need to start anything new at all, but probably will do anyway. My current to do list includes NHL 09, NHL 10, Operation Flashpoint, NBA Ballers, Risen, Brothers in Arms and C&C 3 Kanes Wrath. Hardly a walk in the park there, but I do like to make things difficult for myself.

Operation Flashpoint is being tackled with steady progress and we have four out of eleven levels down - which sounds weak but is actually not bad going. We can also make it to the level five finale every time so just need to finalise some kind of solid plan for success. I vary between enjoying the game enormously and loathing it totally - which is unsurprising due to the one hit kills and need to restart a level if your co-op pal dies. Tough stuff, but we are clawing our way to victory and it will be one of my happiest completions.

I've gone back to NHL 09 as I had left it at 250 points for far too long. So now I'm going to try and crank out as much as I can in a short space of time. I have done all of the offline stuff except my Legend card which I'm starting work on now. I've lined up a session for the 10 people in a game achievement (hope to get the club match one too) so that I will only need to do some one on one boosting which I can hopefully do with a second console at some point. Fingers crossed.

NHL 10 is also, rather foolishly, on my to do list and I'm trying to approach it from the same angle. If I can get the 6 people in a match and online league (needs four people) achievements done with then I should be good to mop up the rest of the tasks fairly easily. Fingers crossed.

This week will see Brutal Legend land, so I may well pick it up at some point which will give me something else to contend with. I think I need to try and focus my efforts on a few games at a time really as at the moment I am in danger of being swamped.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The calm before the storm

Well it seems that the Xmas rush is due to begin (or maybe it already has) after a hectic recent schedule that has seen me play and review FIFA 10, Need for Speed Shift, Wet, Mini Ninjas, Risen and NHL 10. Those last two are still pending, and a bit late I must admit, due to the fact I've had so much on.

Upcoming treats include Brutal Legend, MW2, AC2, Borderlands to name but a few. Not to mention the usual array of dross that will surround these triple A titles. No doubt a few of them will find their way to me for review purposes but I'll probably pick up a couple regardless and play them for my own amusement.

On the completion front my entire effort has gone to shit. Basically because I have put far too many games on my tag without finishing them off. I have a paltry 60 points in Risen, 150 on NHL 10 and 340 on Flashpoint 2. Not to mention only 50 for Brothers in Arms which I flung in my machine to get the Septemeber 17th achievement. Ugh! My % has now plummeted to about 87% or so, which is a poor showing really.

So my main decision was to try and finish off as much of NHL 09 and 10 as I could (as the old one was languishing on 250 points too) then polish off NBA Ballers and Brothers in Arms. Here's hoping that I actually stick to that plan considering some of the games heading my way.

I'm also working through Flashpoint in co-op with Webb, on Hardcore mode of course which is a bit of a nightmare. The main problem is that all human players need to be alive to get credit for completing a mission. So there have been a few cases where one of us (Webb) has died while the other has gone on to finish - resulting in mission restart. Boo! It is a tough nut to crack for sure but a fairly attainable 1k given enough patience. I'm hoping to get that bad boy done with over the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed.

On the plus side I finished off Need for Speed Shift and I stand by my review. The game is fun in short bursts but never really has that cutting edge to challenge the big boys, I think they should stick with more arcade stylings next time around. Plus I decided not to put FIFA on my main tag after seeing the need for 100 online wins - with the amount of quitters out there it would be an exercise in frustration - not to mention the fact I'm still pissed with the crappy DLC that EA slapped onto last years offering. Poor form having DLC for a game that comes out every year anyway.

Let the good times roll...........

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

NBA 07 and other traumas

For some reason I went out and bought NBA 07 again, it only cost me a few pounds, in the vain hope of snagging the ever elusive 1000 users online achievement. The effort obviously failed and we barely got half the amount needed. Considering half of my friends list was on the game it seems that the best chance of getting this achievement done has come and gone.

Frankly I suspected as much even before we began, but I clung to the hope that it would be different. The issue now is the fact that the game is a few years old, not widely stocked in games stores or even rented that much. So the only people that actually own the game tend to be those people that are stuck at 900 points and are willing to jump into every attempt. Without a large pool of new gamers and people prepared to pick up the game then I fear all future attempts are doomed to failure. In the last known successful attempt (over two years ago) there were only JUST enough people top unlock the achievement - and that was when the game was brand new and still popular. What hope for the rest of us?

Oh well, at least we tried.

In other news I am still edging closer to success on Shift, another few badges have been turned into shiny platinum ones. I plan on getting all of the badges out of the way, then grinding up to level 50 and then finishing off the last event for the remaining 150 points. To be honest I could have snagged that massive amount of points hours ago but I thought it would be nice to have that down as the final thing to have accomplished.

I'm still waiting on FIFA and Risen too which is a major drag as I'm champing at the bit to get stuck into them and have the reviews up for all to see. Bring on the pain.

Monday, October 05, 2009

GSL and random musings

Yes, it would appear that another GSL looms large on the horizon. This time around the event is being restricted to Subscribers and Staff on x360a in a bid to stave off a lot of the drama that usually attaches itself to such an event. Will the plan work? I guess time will tell.

I am actually taking part but only as part of a very casual team alongside a few likeminded (and lazy) individuals. Cru will be on my team so it will give me a chance to boost some stuff with her in the name of keeping out team semi competitive. I don't expect to win, I don't even expect to finish anywhere but the bottom - but it should be good fun.

Review wise thigs are really hotting up. I have just finished off my write up of the Crash Course DLC for L4D - which may well be one of the most disappointing DLC purchases I've ever made. Next up I will be starting on Risen and FIFA 10, both of which have been shipped out to me but have yet to arrive for some reason. I've ordered NHL 10 too in a bid to get that badboy written up once I have a chance. With a bucketload of titles on the way in the upcoming weeks I will probably wreck my card and my completion percentage to boot. Oh well, at least it will ensure I play some good quality titles.

On a personal note I have been dedicating my time to finishing off Need for Speed Shift. Even though I don't particularly enjoy the game it is fairly easy. I think my major problem is the fact that the just drive around the same old courses doing one of only three events - so it soon got fairly boring. I did have a bit of fun with it though. The Endurance events are a good blast, especially 30 laps on a tiny figure of eight course with 15 other cars. Ha ha, it lead to so many mid track pile ups that is was more like a destruction derby.

I did manage to boost some of the Epic badges online too. My partner in crime was Apple and we managed to find a way to hax our way to victory with very little trouble. Basically I would set up a race and have the number of laps setting on Long. This would cause people to either not find us in searches (as everyone was looking for Short matches) or just enter the room and then leave. Once the count got to 1.30 we could vote to auto start the race, so I'd quickly change the laps setting to Short and off we went. Ha ha, a neat way to stop people spoiling the fun.

With the online out of the way, I only need 18 of the 21 offline badges to get to Epic status and I'll be done. Not too tricky. I'm hoping to mop it up this week and then move on to one of the new titles when they finally arrive. Bring on the pain.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tank traumas

Well I finished up WET this week and the game grew on me over time, at first it seemed that it was just a cheap imitation of Stranglehold and I wasn't too enamoured with it. But after playing through the game four times and finishing off all of the Boneyard challenges I can honestly say it was a lot of fun. Normally multiple playthroughs really start to get on my nerves but for some reason that wasn't the case here - in fact I'd often find myself chaining together high numbers of kills and acrobatic moves in the arenas when I really didn't need to. Ha ha, good times.

I also got together with a few friends to boost the new L4D DLC which didn't take much time at all. The only things I'm missing are completing the regular campaign (as Versus does not seem to count) and getting 4k more kills. The rest were fairly easy to set up and a lot of fun too. I really got into the game and it reminded me just how fun it was in the first place. The new campaign was hardly steallar though with a few choppy frame rate issues and scenery that looked far too familiar. Still for what it cost I would certainly recommend it. Now I just need to go back and get that last bloody campaign done on Expert.........

I also started playing through The Maw for something different, and the game is a lot of fun. It could certainly have made it into a full retail title if it had been fleshed out a lot more and had a bit more money chucked at it. My only main concern is the fact you seemingly cannot die so there is no real challenge. Still a cowardly, jelly like blob is always good for a few laughs.

Finally, Need for Speed: Shift..............

I don't really like it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why do I even have a to do list?

I seem to take two steps back for every meagre step forward at the moment. It seems that for every game that I manage to finish off another two will step in to take their place, I really need to pace myself a bit more and perhaps relegate a few more review titles to my back up account until I actually have time for them.

A case in point would be Need for Speed: Shift. It actually came out a week or so ago but as no one was entirely willing to review it the burden fell to me. Obviously I have been working on WET, Mini Ninjas and Raven Squad so it had to wait until now. I had a look at the list before hand and it seems like a fairly easy 1k - which makes a change as driving games are hardly my speciality. So in my stupidity I went and slapped it straight on my card and saw yet another hit to my ongoing quest for luscious completion.

In fairness though the game IS fairly easy, and I milked it for over 300 points in just a few hours. The same effort again tonight will see me practically double that, then I will have to grind out all of the stats required for twenty Epic badges. Nothing too taxing though so I should be able to manage.

Also still stinking up my card are games like Damnation, NBA Ballers, C&C: Kanes Wrath, Brothers in Arms (with a paltry one ach: for playing on Sept 17th), Spiderman 3 and Project Sylpheed. A lot of work there and most of them are still less than half complete. Ugh.

The bane of my life is also rearing its ugly head. Yes, DLC is back and corrupting all and sundry. I have a rented copy of Fable 2 so plan on finishing up the full 1350 on that fairly soon, the L4D DLC also drops today so will require some time and effort. I'm still one expert campaign short of finishing the original 1k (Blood Harvest - yikes) and then need to farm the 53k worth of kills. I'd love to get the full 1250 though before the sequel turns up. As despite Valve's promises I can't imagine that any more DLC or points will be attached to the original.

It promises to be a busy week all around, hopefully I can make some progress on a bunch of titles and get close to finishing them off - or at least close enough so that I can be happy with my efforts.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New games and slipping targets

I just noticed that my proposed goal of 90% completion is coming up at the end of this month and there is no way I'm going to hit it. This is mainly down to the number of new games I've been playing (mainly for the purpose of reviews) and the fact I haven't been able to finish them all off.

I have reassessed the situation and changed my target to a whopping 92% by the end of the year. A pretty big ask but one I think I'm capable of, plus it would mean my score was high enough to stay above 90% every time I started a new game. So hopefully that will be the case.

The end of the year promises to be a busy one though as there are a rash of games incoming. Halo: ODST turned up on my doorstep on Tuesday and I had totally forgotten that I had even ordered it. The game is meant to be fairly easy though so no big deal on getting it done hopefully, I'll just need to rope in some co-op partners in a bid to romp through the story. I've also got all of the Halo 3 maps now so maybe I should go back and work on that somemore. I only have 800 points in the game and haven't even played it since a couple of months after it first came out.

Still - that is all for the future. This week I am desperate to finish off L4D or at least get a good chunk of the work out of the way, it seems that some new DLC with achievements may well be on its way so I would like to have the original 1k done with before it lands. I can but hope. I've also got a copy of Fable 2 heading my way so I will be able to polish off the two DLC packs in short order (hopefully) and that will be something else done with. I'm also hopeful of finishing off WET fairly soon, as I romped through the challenges (which were not very challenging) and just need to run through the game a couple more times to be pretty much done.

With a ton of upcoming reviews, games on pre-order and a massive back catalogue of unfinished work I'm sure I'll be plenty busy for the forseeable future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The great trade in rip off

No doubt you all already know where I am going with this, as I'm sure it is pretty much a global phenomenon rather than one limited to just the U.K.

My issue here is the dubious prices and practices that a lot of games stores seem to adhere to when it comes to trading in old games. No doubt a lot of people will simply say that I should use ebay to sell them on (for more money and outright cash) but frankly I'm far too lazy for such things and once I get stung for fees and whatnot it really does not seem worth it.

At the end of the day I want to take a game down to my local shop and be given a fair price for it - end of story. The first thing that pisses me off is that most stores will give you almost half as much for your stuff if you want cash than if you want credit - how the hell is that fair? Considering the ludicrous mark up when they sell pre-owned stuff then I doubt they are losing out by much. Though I appreciate the argument that certain stock may never sell etc etc.

Next up is the fact that you can't tell by a pre-owned games price just how much is will be worth to trade in. Case in point: I went into Gamestation to trade in my copy of Mini Ninjas, it had cost me £28 online and I had played it, reviewed it and finished it so wanted to get credit while the getting was good. I ended up getting £28 in store credit, meaning I had effectively lost nothing. Good deal. Then I spotted a copy of the first Broken Sword game for the Playstation sat in a cabinet - the case was dirty and cracked but the price was a whopping £29.99 pre-owned - WTF? I have a mint copy of that game sat at home (along with a bunch of other PS1 titles) so asked how much I would get for it on trade. The answer? A measly £3. So a game that would only net me £3 in credit is being sold on for £30 - how the hell is that mark up anywhere near justified? I also learnt that my pre-owned Mini Ninjas was going to be stuck on the shelf at £42.99 pre-owned too - a mere £2 cheaper than the price for a new version in-store and about £12 more expensive than you would pay anywhere online.

The mind boggles.

How can companies continue to offer such pitiful values when it is completely unrealistic to do so? It also kind of narks me that an ancient game like Broken Sword was worth £1 more than my mint copy of Rainbow Six Vegas which netted me a whopping £2. I now have literally hundreds of pounds worth of credit at Gamestation and no real inclination to spend it due to their insanely high prices (£45 for new games), rubbish offers (only 2 for £20 on really old pre-owned stuff) and generally naff sales.

It is strange as they used to offer two for £30 on decent pre-owned titles and two for £40 on the newer stuff. Not to mention the fact they never offer any kind of extra incentive deals or cards like you see in the US.

No doubt folks over the pond think they have it bad too, but judging from the various trade in deals, Edge cards and rebate coupons I've seen floating around it is certainly a lot better system - though still not perfect. Frankly if we had in one tenth of the amazing pre-owned offers I've seen on the US Good Deals thread then I would be a happy camper but I doubt it will ever happen.

At least with the festive season coming up I should start to see some good offers creeping back in - I can but hope.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another big gap

Yet again I seem to have been AWOL for a couple of weeks, no particular reason behind it this time but I have been swamped over the last week.

Strangely I actually had the week off from work but that didn't neccessarily equate to more time spent gaming sadly. First I had to clear the garden of a bunch of chopped down conifer trees - sounds easy right? Unfortunately these bad boys happened to be 17 feet tall and numbered about twenty. It took us about ten hours to load them up into a car and shuttle the crap up to the recycling plant - I can't even remember how many trips we did in the end but I was shattered afterwards.

The fun didn't stop there though as we also redecorated our large spare room, which has been little more than a dumping ground since we could afford for our last lodger to move out. So we had to move all the furniture we no longer needed then repaint all of the walls and the door. I then spent a whole day building all of the new furniture which included a big old rocking chair, three big bookshelves, two large CD towers and a TV table. Fun times. It looks amazing now though and the CD shelves in particular are ace - as the alternate CD's (well, duh) and a bunch of random things including fun cups, Final Fantasy figures and cute plush Totoro toys all the way from Studio Ghibli in Japan. Yaaay, for geeky spirit.

In between all of that I found time to review two games: namely WET and Mini Ninjas. I enjoyed both for different reasons. WET was good old fashioned fun, though a touch too similar to Stranglehold for my liking, and is definitely worth a rent at the very least - though it lacks the legs to justify a full blown purchase. Mini Ninjas is a great family game, but only a decent one for hardcore gamers who will have seen it all before. It's certainly cute and fun but a tad too simple and repetitive. I'll stick the links up when I get a minute.

I totally failed to finish off any of the games I had wanted to - and adding a couple of new ones didn't help my completion percentage any either. On the plus side I did get the full 1k for Mini Ninjas and also for Ice Age, which turned up from Lovefilm, as both were short and straight forward. WET still needs a lot of work as I need to get weapons kills, Ultra Hard mode, all the challenges to Gold etc etc so that may drop onto the back burner for a while.

I did manage to complete one of the four scenarios on L4D on Expert (thanks to Omega for the help) but now need to polish off the other three, which I'm desperate to do. I also still need 44 Yahtzee wins and 16 Battleship wins to finish off Family Game Night - ugh! Completing Castle Crashers was a lot more fun and now I just need the online points and a couple of other random tasks to be done with it. My last niggle is Damnation and I need to bug Cru about it so we can sit down and finish it off - I blame myself for ignoring the game but it is truly woeful. WOEFUL I TELLS YA!

Such things may have to wait though as Raven Squad is my next review, so I'll be needing a co-op partner no doubt. Plus there are a bunch of other games due out fairly soon so I will have very little time on my hands it would seem. My 90% completion target is looking like a forlorn hope at the moment.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Steady progress

I forgot to mention that my quest to finish off Rainbow Six Vegas finally reached its conclusion last month. I managed to get to Elite literally the day before jetting off to Gamescom, which was a major bonus. Then upon my return I just had to sit down and make my way through the story in co-op, a feat made much easier by the use of a second controller and a bit of care and attention. Job done.

After that I had to mop up a few loose ends in GI Joe (the game that apparently killed Fro's interest in points) but thankfully it was all ridiculously easy, even on Hardcore mode. To be honest the game wasn't terrible and is certainly an easy 1k for those interested. Though if you are after a quality title then you could do better, a lot better.

Also, I finally finished off Damnation boosting over the weekend which is a major relief as the game was wearing a little thin. Just have to plow through the campaign on Insane now and then I can be shot of that awful game forever. To think that I wasn't even going to put it on my card originally.........

Another plus point is my steady progress on Left 4 Dead which has come out of nowhere (for me) and now stands on the verge of completion. The game had been sat on 550 points since January and I had never given it a second thought, but over the last week I have managed to complete a lot of the achievements I was sure I'd never get. Things such as Nothing Special, Stomach Upset, Jump Shot and all of the Versus tasks have now been done. I'm left needing the two big kill achievements (for 1k with the chaingun, and 53k total) plus the two Expert mode achievements and the one for finishing without any friendly fire. I'm hoping to tie in one of the Expert mode completions with the friendly fire task but then I may well need to find helpers to finish off the other Expert finales. We shall see but I suspect the AI isn't going to be up to snuff.

Family Game Night is also on the verge of being complete (other than those accursed Scrabble achieves that will forever be barred from me) as I only need to get to fifty wins in Yahtzee and twenty in Battleships and Sorry Sliders. How hard can that be?

After that who knows. I'll be going back to Batman and probably NBA Ballers, which has been given a long layoff due to recent boosting, plus there is obviously Damnation to squeeze in. I also suspect that the reviews are going to start heating up now that we are entering the festive period - as both Section 8 and Raven Squad need handling for a start. Fun times ahead.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Points, points, points

Well after the fun and games (plus no small amount of work) following Gamescom I am now back to a bit of normality. My whole week following the event was spent writing up previews for a bunch of games and compiling the top ten list with Webb - the controversy, ha ha!

Then I had Batman: Arkham Asylum on preorder which needed reviewing, so I swept through it on easy on my better halfs account in order to sample everything on offer and have just commenced my own hard playthrough on my own tag, replete with 240 collectibles to hunt down, woo hoo! Still it is one of those games that I am genuinely enjoying playing through, so the second run through will be a blast not to mention the fact that hard difficulty makes it all the more fun. It will definitely be joining the elite ranks of games that I have bought and not traded in (I think that list is comprised of Dead Rising, GOW and Blue Dragon).

As opposed to the less glamorous ranks of games I've bought and have yet to play...........

Onto the achievement front and it has been a busy week all around. I started my hard playthrough of Batman but have only reached about 25% complete so far, mainly due to the fact I've been flitting about somewhat. Firstly I decided to spend my massive stockpile of MS points on a bunch of arcade games even though I generally avoid them. I picked up Castle Crashers (which my girlfriend has been bugging me to get for ages - glad to finally oblige), Cloning Clyde, Shadow Complex, Wolfenstein 3D, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Comix Zone, Penny Arcade Episode 2, Family Game Night (all of them - only to realise I can't play Scrabble without a US console, doh) and a few bits of DLC for Mass Effect, PoP and Star Wars: TFU.

I figured that I was never going to use the points on anything worthwhile so may as well cash them on for some easy arcade games. Pretty much all of the games I bought can be completed solo or with the bare minimum of online help and it will give me something to play when I have a spare five minutes here and there.

I made a start on Family Game Night and suffered the ignominy of seeing my girlfriend roll three legit Yahtzees in only our second game (no wild dice either) while I have yet to get it. My last three games I managed to roll two yahtzees each time but that last one eluded me. Bah. Still I have polished off Connect 4 and Boggle plus only need an achievement or two for Battleship, Yahtzee and Sorry Sliders. A fairly easy 1200 points overall though it pains me to see Scrabble sat there - unable to be completed.

We also got cracking with Castle Crashers and I'm loving it. Easily the best original arcade game available (notice my careful wording there? So Monkey Island can still reign supreme) and one that I can see myself putting some major time into. It is nice to have a game that is just a bit of fun rather than worrying about serious plot. I've only snagged 65 points so far but the rest will come with time and I'm in no rush to get them, which is a change for me. Though it would be nice to find a bossting buddy for the online stuff at some point.

Also on my weekly gaming radar this week were Damnation and Left 4 Dead. I finally got around to snagging some more points in L4D as I boosted all bar one of the Versus mode achievements (just need another 500 or so Special Infected damage to be done) and it has given me the impetuous to go back and try to finish that game off. I really haven't played it since I reviewed it back in the day and it has been sat on about 600 points since then.

Damnation on the other hand was more of a chore, though made less painful by having good partners, due to the stupid online achievements. For a start you need at least four players to start a game - a multiplayer tradition that really pisses me off. Then you have to host 25 games, win 25 games, win on each map, win each gametype etc etc. Considering you have to repeat the process for four players it can soon get repetitive and takes up a goodly number of hours. Thankfully three of us are done and we only need Cru to swoop in and host/win the required number of games. I'll be glad when its done though I still need to finish up the game in co-op.

My main goals for the upcoming week are to try to complete as much of Batman as I can, finish off Family Game Night and hopefully get a good chunk of either L4D or Damnation out of the way. Bring it on.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gamescom 2009

Well it has been a while since I posted but that is mainly due to my week long jaunt to Germany with Webb and Routine from x360a. Our mission was, of course, to cover the Gamescom convention which is basically Europe's equivalent to E3. I have to say that I really had no idea what to expect and the whole week exceeded what I had anticipated on every level.

Firstly, I managed to snag a room on my own. As that layabout Minty had to drop out at the last minute (don't tell him I said that, ha ha) so Webb and Routine shared while I was all on my lonesome. Though most of our hotel time was spent in one room anyway, as I would read up on details for upcoming meetings, Webb would post news and bemoan the state of the site in general and Routine would play Monkey Island (you can see who had it toughest).

Our first few days consisted of press events and interviews behind closed doors in the business area. The joys of having a press pass can not be overstated in this case methinks. Webb and I had a pretty crammed schedule each day and Routine was busy getting footage of the various show floor halls and shots from upcoming games. Having to wander around and speak to people behind the scenes was certainly an eye opener. A lot of them are amazingly passionate about games and it should really have been obvious to me long before now - after all, who else would want to make games but gamers themselves? It made the whole process a lot easier and I found myself chatting back and forth with them about upcoming projects and asking questions that other players would actually care about.

Some of the time slots were pretty tight but I only had to reschedule one appointment for the whole week (sorry Vancouver 2010). Other than that I managed to bounce between Lucasarts, Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk Ride, Bethesda, SEGA, Konami, Fairytale Fights, Capcom and a few others. As well as getting out and about on the show floor.

Everyone was amazingly friendly and the bevy of free drinks can not be overstated in terms of importance. Not to mention the high levels of free swag that was on offer, I managed to snag a bundle of stuff that will be heading over to x360a in the form of a competition fairly soon. I even went on stage for some Beatles Rock Band so I could grab a t-shirt. Who doesn't love swag right? So if you want to be in with a chance of getting you hands on some t-shirts, a cap, figurines, sweets, stickers and energy drinks (I kid you not) then keep one eye out.

Overall I had a great time and would certainly love to go back again next year, or to any similar event for that matter. I haven't even mentioned the show floor, games or the awesome burgers we discovered at a local steak house as I'm sure that would bore the pants off people. Suffice it to say that I would heartily recommend such an event to anyone that may have been on the fence.

I will get a more usual post up shortly, about my general points status, review status and the normal gubbins. I bet you can't wait...........

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Working hard and other tales of woe

Seems like my musings are becoming more of a weekly event now, maybe I was just being overly dull by spamming up a new topic everyday or maybe I've just run out of things to say. I know a number of my special topics have fallen by the wayside but that is mainly because of how busy I've been with both my real job and also the stuff I do over at x360a.

I was lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view, ha ha) enough to be made a moderator over at x360a recently, which is a nice compliment though one that is more time consuming than I thought. Trying to keep a handle on spam, flame wars and general idiocy is a full time job and I'm glad there is such a good team of guys on hand to cover my back.

What I didn't expect was to have people just be plain stupid for nothing. My initial thought was that everytime I closed a thread, deleted/edited a post or generally made alterations - I would let the poster know what I had done and why. Just friendly like. As I assumed this would stop people from raging over things being chopped without their knowledge and generally let them know how we worked as mods and what was/wasn't accceptable.

I had to give this practice up within days of starting it though, as one particularly irate guy refused to accept the fact I had edited his posts and persisted in saying he was right to swear at other people. When I didn't agree he then laid into me instead and claimed I was a bad human being, he also claimed I had said things I hadn't and generally acted as obnoxiously as he could.

............I hadn't even infracted him in the first place, just removed some cussing from one post and told him about it.


He got an infraction in the end and it made me stop trying to be so friendly for fear of it happening agin. Human nature can be a terrible thing. Still other, than that I've had some nice polite responses and generally positive vibes from people so long may it continue.

Alongside the mod side of the site I've also been working on a couple of reviews, editing The Bigs 2 (which should be up soon) and writing a review for the Ashes 2009. A decent game of cricket indeed and one that is a very easy 1k for those that are interested. It has been a bit quiet on the review front to be honest but things should pick up from August onwards as the inevitable holiday rush begins. Some good stuff to look forward to even amongst all of the big name delays.

On a purely gaming front I have been fairly low key. Finally got around to finishing off Lips after a couple of marathon co-op sessions with my lovely lady, so that is completion number 140 in terms of retail games. I also rushed through Ms Pacman, Pacman: CE and Xevious plus picked up the last Dig Dug achievement. My arcade completions are a lot less impressive with only about 14 or so but I'm really not interested in that many games.

Cru and I have finally started our run through of Damnation on Insane difficulty, so hopefully it won't take too long. We did the first couple of levels in an evening - with Cru moaning about the badness of the game the whole way through, ha ha! We still have the crappy multiplayer to deal with too. Oh the joys.

I'm also making great progress on the Rainbow Six front as I'm now up to Lt Colonel, so only two ranks to go until I'm done with the boosting. Hopefully I'll be up to Colonel in the next day or so and that will just leave me with the final slog to Elite. I will then need to finish up the game in co-op mode - which will make me one of the very few people NOT to have Elite as the last achievement unlocked, ha ha! The Ashes is also proving to be remarkably simple so I hope to have that sewn up in the next couple of days too - only four achievements left for me to snag.

After that it will be back to NBA Ballers and I may also seriously consider some GOW as well - it is the only lengthy online game left on my card now after I've managed to tick off Army of Two, COD 3 and Rainbow Six. Am I ready for such a marathon effort so soon though? We shall see.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Live Arcade - rip off of the century?

Anyone that knows me will know of my disdain for arcade games in general. Other than Geometry Wars (back in the day) I just feel that the standard has generally not been high enough to justify the costs. Paying over the odds for games like Yie Ar Kung Fu (which I had on the Spectrum 128k about twenty years ago) et al just feels like a real kick in the nuts when such games can probably be found for free all over the internet.

Hopefully things have started to pick up recently. Games like Castle Crashers, Monkey Island (is know its just and old game made anew), Splosion Man and the like have given me hope. The quality of original games seems to be on the rise while the older remakes are actually adding something new rather than just being a straight port. This can only bode well for the future. Though I have noticed that the prices have crept up too - 400 point games seem to be dead now, while 800 is becoming increasingly rare. Can you honestly say that such short games are worth as much as 1200 or 1600 points? I think not, but I'm sure many would disagree.

What I did pick up on the cheap was a copy of the Namco Museum disc, which includes nine arcade games for a fraction of the price it would have cost me to buy them seperately. I haven't exactly gotten over my hatred of so many cash in games, but the chance to snag an easy 1400 points in just a few days seemed too good to miss.

I got stuck in over the weekend and managed to get the full 200 in Pacman, Galaga and New Rally X. I'm also one achievement away from completing Dig Dug (just need to clear the whole screen on one level and then I'm done). Next up will be Ms Pacman, Pacman CE and Xevious - all of which seem to be a nicely attainable 200. The only two games in the collection that I'll be giving a miss are Galaga Legions and Mr Driller, Legions is meant to be a rough game to polish off and I have to admit that my shoot 'em up skills will probably not be up to the task while Mr Driller has a bunch of online achievements that seem like a bit of a drag to get done. I don't want to invest too much time in a mere 200 points. Though I did slog through Puzzle Quest but at least that was enjoyable.

On the retail game front most of my time is being taken up with Rainbow Six Vegas, as I claw my way up to Elite rank. I've also been dabbling in the few achievements I am currently missing outside of the online mode - as I finished up all of the co-op terrorist hunt missions and am now working my way through the story in co-op too. I'm hoping to get the whole thing done by the end of the month.

I'm also hoping to get back into NBA Ballers this week and hopefully get close to polishing it off. The game is a rough one to play but I think I should be able to get through it relatively easily - having to play through the story twice is the most unappealing aspect of the whole thing. Still I have suffered through worse.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whatever comes along really.........

I can never seem to stay focused on just one thing at a time. Just as I seemed to be romping through NBA Ballers (one of the worst basketball games of all time) a few other games have leapt up and caught my eye. Like a thieving magpie I'm attracted to glittery objects and the latest game craze - but this time it is not my fault.

First of all, my GF officially said we could start playing Beautiful Katamari again. It is one of the games that she will not let me play unless she can play too, so we have been playing it together for the past few days and getting plenty of things done. I think she will stick with me until we get 100% on the collection and find all of the Cousins and Presents. Then I reckon that I will be left to my own devices to rack up the 50/100 hours played and 100/200 requests completed. As those kinds of tasks bore her. It is an added bonus in terms of points towards my completion percentage.

Next up, my good friend Rich went and dangled the carrot of some Rainbow Six Vegas boosting. He now owns multiple 360's and two copies of the game, so we have been setting up a dedicated server over the last couple of nights to boost that stuff. It would be nice to 1k the game as it is one of the tough MP games I never thought I would get done. With that, COD3 and Army of Two out of the way that leaves only one longwinded bad boy on my tag - GOW. Whether I'm ready to boost that shit is another matter, as I was put off the MP long ago by the sheer idiocy of some of the players. Not to mention the fact I have over 100 revives, headshots and sniper kills but no achievements - which was annoying to say the least. Now that I'm going for Elite on Vegas I also have to finish off the co-op stuff, so I have been doing the terrorist hunts on splitscreen and will go back and play through the story in the same way.

Finally, I spotted Cru playing HAWX which I have yet to finish so asked her if she wanted to do some MP together. Ideally we would need one more in order to get a few things done but it shouldn't be a problem. We are still intending to do Damnation too, but I think we are both put off by the sheer badness of the game, ha ha!

So from playing one game (Ballers) I now have a lot more on my plate but, crucially, they are all games I have already started so will all chip away at my goal of 90% completion.

On a more shameful note, I now have Fallout 3 on the PC. I could get all of the points from it in a matter of minutes but remain amazingly torn. A lot of people have done it already but it DOES look dubious on your card to anyone not in the know - and who knows when MS will crack down on such things. I may dwell on it awhile and see how I'm feeling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back to my best?

Well business is picking up once again on the completion front. I've chalked off Bionic Commando already this month, and now I can add Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (not that impressive), Overlord 2 (fairly impressive) and Secret of Monkey Island (plenty of fun) to that list. I'm also hopeful about finally polishing off Lips and getting back to finishing Wallace and Gromit. I've also done a little bit more on Virtua Tennis 09.

With the current lull in review games I am struggling to focus on one game in particular at the moment, as I can't seem to settle down and play anything - hence why I reverted back to tennis as it was the last thing I played that isn't complete. I really want to either go back on polish off one of my older games or start something shiny and new. The only question is what? I ordered the easy PC version of Fallout 3 for less than a tenner so my challenge may well be to play the game through properly on the 360 - as I have really been meaning to get into an RPG of some description. I also picked up Dawn of War 2 for the PC, as I'll play that for fun rather than points as some of the achs look like absolute dogs.

Come August I do have the Cologne games event to look forward to, so that will be a chance for me to get hands on with some new and upcoming titles. Exciting times indeed and I plan on feeding back what I see to the one or two people that actually read this crap, ha ha!

Other than that I seem to be depressingly lacking in inspiration. Feel free to check my earlier blog of owned games and tell me what I should be playing, ha ha!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The quest for 90%

Thought I would update my retail/arcade to do list and how that impacts upon my quest for that elusive completion ratio. To be honest it is tough to keep track of my overall score as different sites use different measures - so some throw DLC in there (whether I have it or not) and some don't. So I'm just going for 90% on EVERY site to satisfy myself.

Anyway here is how things stand:


Battlefield 2: MC - 315/1000
Beautiful Katamari - 340/1250
Bladestorm - 150/1000
C&C Kane’s Wrath - 120/1000
Chromehounds - 700/1000
Gears of War 2 - 210/1425
Gears of War - 720/1250
GRAW - 737/1000
Guitar Hero 2 - 320/1000
Halo 3 - 800/1750
Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince - 870/1000
HAWX - 555/1000
Hellboy: SoE - 310/1000
Left 4 Dead - 550/1000
Lost Planet - 350/1000
NBA Ballers - 335/1000
NBA Live 07 - 900/1000
NHL 09 - 250/1000
Overlord 2 - 875/1000
Perfect Dark Zero - 150/1000
Project Sylpheed - 60/1000
Rainbow Six Vegas - 820/1000
Scene It: BOS - 615/1250
Spiderman 3 - 10/1000
Splinter Cell: DA - 670/1000
Table Tennis - 630/1000
Vampire Rain - 650/1000
Virtua Tennis 09 - 445/1000
Viva Pinata 2 - 20/1000
WSC 2007 - 550/1000
You’re in the Movies - 140/1000

TOTAL - 14167/32925


Boogie Bunnies - 85/200
Eets: Chowdown - 20/200
Gauntlet - 45/200
Geometry Wars* - 40/200
Texas Hold ‘Em - 105/200
Wallace and Gromit - 100/200

TOTAL - 395/1200

So I have 14562 out of an available 34125 in games I have already started playing. A couple of these titles should be knocked off the list fairly soon but that will only reduce my overall totall down by just over 200 points so no great improvement. Still, for the sake of planning purposes, I'll assume HP and Overlord will be done this week which gives me 14307 / 32125 and leaves me with a whopping 17818 in points to be gained.

The actual total is probably more thanks to greedy cash in developers adding DLC to every single game nowadays, but I've had enough of that particular trend. Back in the day I would buy any and all DLC to preserve my 100% completion on every game but it has pretty much got beyond a joke now. So I'll buy DLC for games I enjoy IF it is reasonably priced.

I've knocked a couple of games off the old list but I've added a real dog in Virtua Tennis 09, so that will be another game I need to focus on in order to get it done.

After a quick recalculation I have determined that I will need to score 4,111 out of my outstanding 20k worth of points (for games already on my tag and including DLC) in order to break the 90% complete mark. That's an improvement of nearly 2k over the last time I worked it out, as I finished off Larry, Bionic Commando and snagged some more points on Scene It. Next up will be another 665 from NBA Ballers, 940 (hopefully) from Project Sylpheed, 450 (for one run through) on Lost Planet, 100 from Wallace and Gromit, 530 from Hellboy, 600 (or so) from Spiderman 3, 200 more from Virtua Tennis 09, 500 from GOW 2 - then the remaining 100 or so points from a mix of NHL 09, You're in the Movies, C&C Kanes Wrath, Bladestorm, PDZ or whatever.

Not much of a change over last time I suppose but one that is gradually getting me in the right direction. When you consider that each completion % on my tag is worth 1777.77 points then you can see how much of a pain it becomes to edge up even a few points. I really want to get up to about 93-94% so that I don't dip under 90% every time I start a new game. That would be awesome but time consuming so we shall see.

A rather lean summer

I'm closing in on a few targets at the moment. First of all I've nearly finished off my two latest reviews and hope to have 1k in Overlord 2 and Harry Potter by the weekend. Not really much of a feat for HP but Overlord was a nice change though less original than its predecessor (in terms of puzzles and story that is). It does mean that I have been doing very well on review titles recently with on Virtua Tennis 09 as the blemish on my record thus far - I kind of went off the boil with that game but will get back into it soon enough. Hopefully.

The upcoming summer is looking a lot less exciting in terms of games than it once was, mainly due to the fact that most of the big titles have been delayed either to cash in on Xmas or into the new year. There is only really Arkham Asylum that tickles my fancy and after that I really don't know. On the plus side that should free me up to play some of my backlog without any interruptions. I also really want to play an RPG of some kind as I have plenty knocking around.

Right now I want to re-ignite my quest to 90% completion. Next on my hit list is NBA Ballers, so hopefully I can breeze through it with no great trouble. Then I can step up my efforts and play something a bit more challenging. I've been promising myself that I would tackle Project Sylpheed at some point and now seems as good a time as any.

Along the way I shall try and polish off some more easy 1k games, as I really want to get to 175k by the end of the year with 160 games fully completed. Can I do it? Who the hell knows. Ha ha, but it gives me something to aim at.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Back once again

Well it has been a lengthy delay since my last post, but without a 360 what could possible happen to me that was interesting enough to blog about? Ha ha! My life doesn't solely revolve around the 360 but this blog does.

Anyway, a generous soul lent me a shiny new console and I was able to get some gaming in over the last week. My main goal was to play Overlord 2 and get the review up on x360a - a feat I managed to pull off after 20 odd hours of playing through it. The game is a lot of fun, maybe not so much as the first as the shine and originality has worn off, but I still really enjoyed it. It is something different from the endless array of unimaginative movie tie-ins and generic FPS games that seem to be thrown out by the dozen. When you play as many (often dubious) games as I do then a change of pace is more than welcome.

I also went back and finished up Bionic Commando (retail) as my hard difficulty playthrough proved to be relatively straight forward. In between times I was sent my next rental: Night at the Museum - which took all of a few hours to finish off. I think the biggest shock is not the simple nature of the game but the fact it was rushed out in such a state at all. I don't often criticise other reviews (because everyone is entitled to their own opinion) but the fact IGN gave it 7.5 out of ten is staggering to me. So that game has been banished back from whence it came, to be replaced by Dirt. A driving game. I hate driving games. But it is meant to be easy enough as long as I can find someone to play online with.

I've also got to find time to play Damnation with Cru and maybe some Splinter Cell: DA now that I'm up and running again. It's all go.

First up is my next review though: Harry Potter. Oh the horror........

Monday, June 22, 2009

E74 and other tales

Well, after finally finishing my Leisure Suit Larry speed run and then polishing off my Bionic Commando collectables/challenges run through my xbox decided to give up the ghost. As warned by both Apple and Fro, the playing of Larry would make me stop enjoying games or, to be more accurate, make me stop playing games at all (thanks for that Apple, ya bastard).

So after my completion of Larry my beloved Elite had a few hours of retrospective thought while I romped through to the end of Bionic Commando. Then, after realising just how awful Larry was and possibly feeling violated by being forced to play it, it said a big "screw you" and flashed up the delightful E74 message.

This was especially annoying as I was already a third of the way through my Bionic Commando runthrough on the highest difficulty. The first sign was a big black line in the middle of my screen. I assumed the game had glitched or the disc was damaged, but the problem went away when I paused the game or went back to the dashboard. How curious.

So after turning the console off, I had a clever idea to install the game to see if that would remove the problem. No joy. In fact even less than no joy as I only got the dread message instead. Gutted. This does rather put a spanner in the works of my upcoming reviews, which would have included Overloard 2 and Transformers. A fact I am less than happy about.

So I now have to wait 3-5 days for someone to collect my machine and then 2-3 weeks for it to be fixed and sent back to me. My compensation for this? A months Xbox Live. Wow..........

Hardly seems fair when I'll be losing basically a month to get it fixed anyway so they are basically just giving me back online time that I had already paid for. How generous. I suppose I am luckier than most as this is only the second time my console has gone tits up which, considering the amount of time I spend on it, seems like a fairly decent return. Though I have to measure that against the fact that NO other console I have ever owned has needed fixing even once.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another one (nearly) bites the dust

Well, Leisure Suit Larry is pretty much done with now. I only need to finish off my speed run for the final achievement and then I can send the game back and hopefully get something equally God awful (and easy) to replace it with. I've dashed through the game and have reached the last dreamscape sequence with less than three and a half hours played, considering I have an eight hour time limit to play with and only a couple more missions to do it is safe to say that it should be plain sailing from here.

This will be retail completion 135 (or maybe 136?) so I'm clawing my way up to 150 which is my target for the year. I doubt there are many systems that I can claim to have completed so many games on, except maybe the Spectrum 128k, so it will be a great milestone.

I've also spent a bad part of the week with Damnation which is a fairly shocking game all round to be honest, so many sloppy issues and out right glitches that I have to wonder who exactly was testing the game in the first place. The review should be up on x360a soon, but I doubt people will be waiting for it with bated breath. My only problem now is that I'm going to be playing through the whole thing again (on my main account this time) with Cru, ha ha! Well she is a glutton for punishment as the game sucks, but she did go out and pick up a copy especially for me so let the good times roll.

Now that I've finished with yet another bad game and an equally duff review I think I'll go back to Bionic Commando and finish that bad boy off. I really like the game so at least it won't be a chore. Then it's gonna be NBA Ballers - ugh!

I think in the interim I will have to endeavour to write one of those articles that I promised a few weeks ago. Let us see what takes my fancy and then go from there. Boo yah!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Glitches and completions

First of all let me revoke some of the nice things I said about Virtua Tennis 09. It's still a good game, don't get me wrong, but the number of glitches that have turned up since I did the review seems to be ridiculous.

I played over 100 matches (online and off) when it came to doing the review and never really came across any issues at all. Since then a number of problems have cropped up, the entire court disappeared during one match, during another everything went black barring the players (it was like playing in space), further to that there have been reported glitches with people getting stuck at a certain rank on the Pro tour and not being allowed to advance further, or reaching number one and the achievement not unlocking. Also, while playing I would inexplicably skip two weeks of the tour for no apparent reason, meaning I missed events that I wanted to play in, other events like the advanced sponsorship ones have a habit of not turning up at all. Clearly these are some potentially game breaking flaws and, while SEGA have promised a patch, it really is not good enough to let a game like this ship with such amazing issues.

I can only hope that the patch arrives fairly soon and sorts out these problems. If I get screwed over in the Pro tour and lose 30 odd hours of gameplay then I'm gonna be pissed.

On to the topic of completions and I seem to be in something of a lull right now. In April I managed to finish off an impressive six games, another seven fell in May as well (some of these were already partially complete mind you). Yet here I am, halfway through June without a single game done. It's pretty piss poor.

Hopefully I can change that be polishing off Leisure Suit Larry, and Wallace and Gromit will be easy enough too. After that I really don't know. Bionic Commando is doable but I haven't played it in ages and Virtua Tennis is likely to take me months to finish off. My best hope really is that I get sent something nice and easy when I finally get Larry done - as I have Night at the Museum, Terminator Salvation, Fable 2 (DLC needed) and Wolverine at the top of my list. A couple of those could really kick start me. I really want to get up to 160k by the end of July/August so something needs to be done.

There is always Damnation as well, plus maybe some online Splinter Cell. So hopefully I can sort myself out and get shit done. Fingers crossed.

Plus, I need to catch up with Apple in the 200k quest so that Fro buys me a game. It's not gonna happen but a guy can dream can't he?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ongoing quest.

Well I started playing Damnation and the game is decidedly average, at times you can see exactly what they were trying to do but then you'll hit something annoying and any good work will be lost in an instant. I wasn't planning on putting it on my tag, despite forking out £25 for a copy so I could review it, but I may well change my mind.

Cru has said she might do the co-op with me, and if I can get that hurdle out of the way it wouldn't be too bad. As even mediocre games can be entertaining in co-op. Plus, the multiplayer achievements aren't too bad either - though they do need 4 players. So we shall see whether I can be tempted into getting the 1k.

Back to the list of games I have chosen to play and, worryingly, Leisure Suit Larry is top of the list. Normally I'd steer clear of this crap but it got shipped to me from my rental company so I feel compelled to complete it. My progress was halted when the original copy stopped working but the replacement seems just fine. So I plunged back into the game and made some progress. I'm up to 72/100 collectables and am about half way through the quests such as they are. Once I'm done and dusted with the game I'll then need a second speed run but the main story is actual pretty short once you skip the cut-scenes.

I've also made more progress on my Virtua Tennis 09 career. I am now the #1 ranked Amateur and am just endeavoring to unlock all the courts I can at this point. I've pretty much done all of the specific shot (volleys, lobs etc) achievements too. So now I can focus on the Pro tour and Davis Cup. Plus, unlocking the rest of the play styles, buying clothes, doing academy missions and the ranked online stuff. It's a long road ahead.

I have finally determined that I will need to score 6k out of my outstanding 22k worth of points (for games already on my tag) in order to break the 90% complete mark. It's a lot more than I was actually expecting, but I can get 1.4k from finishing Larry and Bionic Commando, another 640 from NBA Ballers, 940 (hopefully) from Project Sylpheed, 450 (for one run through) on Lost Planet, 100 from Wallace and Gromit, 530 from Hellboy, 600 (or so) from Spiderman 3, 200 more from Virtua Tennis 09, 500 from GOW 2 - then the remaining 600 or so points from a mix of NHL 09, You're in the Movies, C&C Kanes Wrath, Bladestorm, PDZ or whatever.

I have more than enough easy points to get the job done to be honest so it will just come down to actually sitting down and getting this stuff done. All of these points will also only net me about five or six more completions too. Not to mention my quest is dependant upon steering clear of too many other new games, unless I know I can get them done fairly easily.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Latest reviews.

Red Faction Guerrilla and Virtua Tennis 2009 have both been posted up now on x360a, so feel free to click on the links to your right to read them (unless you are viewing the screen upside down in which case WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?).

They are both titles that I enjoyed but for different reasons. I've always been a sucker for tennis games, even as far back on the Spectrum (remember those?) so I did enjoy playing Virtua again even though it is basically the same game as it ever was. Red Faction finally provides the game that was promised back on the PS2, with oodles of destruction and plenty of fun to be had. Sadly the lengthy online achievements and monotonous single player collectibles kind of put me off going for the 1k.

Next up is Damnation (which is kind of late as it came out a couple of weeks ago) and I'm not too over excited at the moment as it has kind of slipped under the radar. Hopefully it will put in a good showing and it can be played in co-op which should help to ease the boredom. Time will tell whether or not I should have missed it completely though.

Many thanks if you read my post on reviewing. I realise that it kind of went on a touch longer than I expected it to so............tough, ha ha! I mean, apologies. Still it pretty much covered all of the bases even though I expect it to be quite far removed from a professional set up.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fluctuating performance

Every time I edge closer to 90% completion I seem to throw another couple of games onto my card and ruin it. This time out I've put Virtua Tennis and Leisure Suit Larry (the shame) onto my profile and they have dragged me back under 88% again.

Virtua will be something of a long term project as the number of games required just to finish off the single player is a ludicrous amount. Whereas I was hoping to finish Larry off over the weekend but the disc proved to be unreadable once I hit a certain point of the game so had to be shipped back to the rental company. A replacement is on the way as I type this so hopefully that one can be done and dusted in a couple of weeks tops.

I really want to go back to Bionic Commando fairly soon too, as I'm amazingly close to getting that one polished off (regardless of the fact I only have half of the points). It is pretty much stacked towards the end game - with three completion achievements (for difficulty), one for the last boss and a couple for all collectables/challenges done. So I've actually got all the smaller stuff out of the way which is nice.

Even getting these three games complete, or near enough, will probably not be enough so then I'll go back and start playing the two biggest culprits in my tag: Project Sylpheed (60 points) and Spiderman 3 (10 points). As getting them up to about 700 points each should be worth 1% on its own.

Bring the pain.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

How to Review (for Dummies)

I'm sure there are more than enough self help books out there already but I always had a soft spot for the Dummies series (hence the title) and figured I would give everyone the down low on my thought process when it comes to playing, scoring and submitting a game review. It might also help some people get to know the x360a review team a bit better. After all I will be revealing their deepest darkest secrets..............or not.

First of all, I am by no means a professional writer. So please don't take my advice as any kind of gospel truth. My writing style has been honed over a couple of years and is based around making reviews as informative, yet fun, as possible. If you are shelling out £40 ($60?) on a brand new title then I want you to know everything you might love/hate about it before you make the plunge. Nothing used to piss me off more than reading rave reviews about a game and then getting it home only to be massively disappointed. The most famous scandal was obviously with Kane and Lynch on a certain site - and someone got the boot for their review on that. So the key is to be as unbiased as possible. I will say that I have dabbled in writing before, I have a 100k word novel sat around and have written and submitted a couple of short stories down the years. Not much success there but at least it kept me busy.

Let me dispel some myths that seem to float around x360a from time to time:

1) None of the review team get paid.
2) We don't get a review copy for EVERY game. 70% of the games I've reviewed I've actually gone out and bought (and no, the site don't reimburse me).
3) Games companies have NO say in our final score.
4) Every review is edited and checked by the rest of the team before it goes on the site. If someone thinks it is bad/biased/the score is wrong etc then it doesn't go up. Simple as.

The biggest accusation I get is usually to do with bias. I have no affiliation with any games company, I don't get paid and I play games for fun. If I play a game and it has faults then they are going to get mentioned. I don't care if someone out there thinks a game is the next messiah - if that game glitches like hell, has a crippling frame rate and takes three hours to complete then it's going to get marked down. So the bias thing is usually down to someone not agreeing with a score and deciding that I have been swayed by some kind of evil conspiracy. If you disagree with my review that is fine, but at least have a reasonable argument to back yourself up - don't just shout BIAS and expect me to be tolerant. I would also say you should actually read the main body of the review rather than looking at the final score and jumping down my throat. A few people have slagged me off, gone back to read the review and then come back to say they agreed with me.

So onto the reviews themselves.

I'm often asked how we decide who does a certain game, which is not really an exact science. The team is split into two already, with some of us based in the UK and the rest over in the US. Before a deluge of folks say they want to review from Australia, Japan and Italy - the reason for this split is simple: cost. Review copies tend to come through the news/PR team on the site and these guys are based in the UK for PAL games and the US for NTSC. So the cost of shipping out a PAL game to an Australian reviewer would just be too prohibitive and lengthy.

Obviously if we get an NTSC promo game then one of the US guys would handle it and likewise with PAL games. So the choice of reviewer can rely on who sends us a copy, or on release dates. Most games come out in the US sooner so it makes sense to get them done and on the site ASAP. Obviously the guys have other commitments too so if the difference is only a week or so then it may be picked up by the UK team to help spread the workload. If we don't get a review copy then it comes down to the team to cover it. With big games like Resident Evil 5 or GOW 2 it is not so much of an issue, as most people are more than happy to buy a copy on launch day and get the review done. Niche games and less alluring titles, can be more of an issue but (as anyone who has browsed my list can see) I will play pretty much anything, so in a worst case scenario I'll just buy a game so we can get the review done. The same for the other guys.

I would also like to point out that Pants has a pretty much exclusive hold on RPG games because he is pure evil and doesn't want the rest of us to have any fun. Of course it could just be that he really enjoys them but I like my original theory, ha ha!

Even if we get a promo game it usually only arrives in the week prior to release and then has to be sent onto the individual reviewer. So if a game isn't up on the day of release then it's because we haven't finished playing it yet. The reason behind this is that we like to have completed (or as near as damn it) every game before we review them so we can get the best possible opinion. The best example of this would be Pants pouring 60+ hours into his first playthrough of Tales of Vesperia before he started writing - now that is commitment.

Regardless of how/when a game arrives it then becomes my number one priority in terms of gaming. I may well play another game alongside it but I will try to play the review title for a couple of hours everyday (don't forget I work full time, ha ha) until it is done.

My first order of business is to look at the achievement list for the game. If I think it is a doable 1k then I'll play it on my main tag, if I think it will take a hundred hours or so to finish off then I put it on my back up account instead. A recent case in point would be Red Faction - I loved the single player but the online achievements were long winded and numerous and I really couldn't see myself going back to it.

Before anyone accuses me of cherry picking to improve my completion %, this theory only applies to review games that I might not otherwise have picked up. I'm happy to put games like GOW 2 on my tag, even knowing that I'll never complete them, as it is a game I want to play. Likewise there have been certain review games, like HAWX and Virtua Tennis, that I enjoyed enough to put on my tag with the knowledge that I MIGHT one day get the full 1k.

Once I know which tag I'm playing on I will dive right in. I'll usually pick the easiest difficulty if the option presents itself as that way I can play through the whole game in a shorter space of time and experience everything it has to offer. This is even true if I want to 1k the game - as it is more important for me to get a good and thorough review than the pick up maximum points (it hurts me just to say that, ha ha). As I play the game I will usually make a mental note of any issues that arise in terms of graphics or glitches (I do have a good memory so tend not to write anything down at this point) I'll also keep an eye out for any innovative features, or just things that stand out in general. I like to play games having seen as little other information as possible, as Webb will tell you, I don't play demos beforehand or read other reviews/previews. I like the game itself to impress me rather than its PR campaign.

Depending on the title I will always try to play the game to completion or, if it's a sports game, try and get through at least one season or similar. Once I've finished with the single player I then move onto multiplayer. I try and play every available game type, possibly a few times each to get a feel for it. The only issue here can be a pretty dead online community at launch, as I struggled to get a game going on HAWX and Stormrise for example - so had to actually seek out someone to play with via the forums. HAWX has picked up considerably since then, but it was a real pain to find a match a few days before it was officially released.

Once I'm happy that I have sampled everything a game has to offer then I will sit down and start my review. The usual boundaries are as follows: 1200-1500 words, three/four images with captions, coding for paragraphs/images/final score boxes. The content boils down to the following (though not necessarily in this order):


I may well add in some comments about previous titles (if it is a series), talk about the developer or publisher, plus any other unique issues that may be worth a mention. I try and stay clear of controls as such, unless it is something innovative like the whip system in Stormrise or the timed shot release in Top Spin 3, as anyone can read a manual.

When I first started out I would write a review from beginning to end in a very specific order, but now I like to mix things up and chop and change paragraphs to get the best flow. I usually start reviews now by completing the final score boxes, so I'll give my individual marks for the various sections as well as an overall mark for the game. In this sense I can get my final opinion down as soon as I've finished with the game, so it is fresh in my mind. Then I can flesh out the review from the bare bones of this section.

When it comes down to the main body of the review I usually do the achievements section first as this can be pretty much done and dusted by looking through the list. I pay attention to any fun or unique achievements and any glitchy tasks or non-stackable difficulty achievements mean a bad score. I'm pretty much set against dragged out multiplayer points too - so any game that requires a million kills or whatever is not one that I really want to praise too highly. I think developers really need to focus on making their lists more unique and interesting, regardless of whether they are easy or not. As it is there are far too many titles that reward you for in game progression and then throw a ton of kill X number of enemies with X number of weapons achievements. It's just lazy.

Then I'll move back to the start and introduce a game. Regardless of the game I approach each of them with an open mind. I might be looking at a potential game of the year or something designed just for kids, but you have to give everything a fair chance. The intro is usually a bit of fun and I try to give my first impressions and delve in the background of the series or any other games teh developer may have been involved with.

Moving on, I then try to get a good flow to the review. If the game is heavy on story I'll usually start with that and how well (or not) it ties into the game as a whole. Some games don't need an amazing story to still be a lot of fun to play, but by the same token a bad story can really undermine the experience as a whole. It's a fine line and one that really depends on the game in question.

The key aspect of any review is always going to be the game-play, especially in sports titles, and what I look for here is a game that does something new and interesting. If a game is sticking to tried and tested techniques then it HAS to be as polished as possible. Obviously there is only so much you can do with a footbal game, so you have to make sure it does everything AMAZINGLY in order to succeed. What annoys me is sequels that are pretty much the same as they ever were with no sense of progression, as if you are making a sequel I really think you need to have a reason - a unique selling point that shows you have updated the game for a real reason.

The graphics and sound are fairly straightforward. Either a game looks good or it doesn't, likewise the soundtrack should be impressive when it needs to be and subtle at other times so you aren't overwhelmed. If you are going to have voice acting then it should be of a good quality too, rather than grabbing a few bored actors and providing some dodgy lip synching. Overall though I don't think a game can be defined by graphics, so this section would never impact on the final score too highly. If a game looks bad but is still a lot of fun to play then that is more important. Though if the graphics start to impact on game-play it cna only be a bad thing - clipping, frame rate issues, pop up and lag can cripple an otherwise decnt title.

The multiplayer only has to cover a few key areas: is the game fun to play with friends? does it lag? and is there an online community? Most online games have the same generic options (deathmatch, capture the flag etc) but I wouldn't mark them down for a lack of innovation. The key is how much enjoyment you can have online and just how easy it is to get a match going. If a game lags and is cluttered with numerous exploiable glitches then it is obviously not ideal. If you are struggling to get a game going on launch day then you are probably not looking at a game that will give you much long term enjoyment either. A multiplayer game should by a fluid experience with plenty of regular players. That way you can guarantee a game that you'll be playing long after you've finished off the single player.

Some people like to discuss any cons in one paragraph near the end but I tend to talk about pros and cons as I go along. Then I can give my final verdict in the summary and just mention whether or not I feel the game has more positives or not. A good game should provide a reasonable length solo experience with the addition of a solid multiplayer being a major bonus. Multiplayer orientated games like Halo and Left 4 Dead are obviously a little different. The summary will basically give the story of the whole review in one paragraph, with my opinion on whether or not I think it is worth your cash at the end of the day.

Once I'm done with a review I will pick out some suitable screens for it and do captions for them. The draft is then posted up for the review team to edit/critique. If there are any rewrites needed then I'll go back and make changes. Otherwise it is over to Webb to get it posted up.

Job's a goodun.

It's a fairly lengthy process and, aside from playing the game, it can take me 4-5 hours to get a review done and dusted. Though the time can be less if I sit down with a very good idea of what to write.

It's good fun though and I thoroughly enjoy myself from beginning to end. Any questions then go ahead and ask, but I need to rest my fingers after typing this. Keep on keeping on.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Things to do.

Inspired by Thrawn, I figured I could write a few articles and such like about gaming in general and exactly what I am up to in my role as a reviewer and what not. I don't think my opinion is any more valid than anyone elses (as games can be entirely subjective) but at least it will give me something to keep my mind busy.

Potential topics right now include the following: Points vs Completion, Tough 1k's: what is the point?, The Review Procedure and Girls in Gaming (why the big deal?). The first two topics have really been done to death and always stir up the controversy but I would like to wax lyrical and let people know where I stand really. I'm sure you don't give a rats ass, but I'm going to do it anyway.

I'd also like to talk a bit about how the x360a review team works (no juicy gossip I'm afraid) and talk about how I approach games that I'm about to review. Not to mention a few choice observations for those people who think I'm in any way a) paid b) bribed by companies c) biased.

The girl gamers thing has also been done to death, but I did read an article a month or so ago that was little more than an attack on women in general (passed off as a gaming article). It surprised me that people still thought that way as I just assumed the gals were part of the group now. Do people still see them as a little niche or what? Certainly there seems to have been less pink peripherals and Barbie games thrust upon us (outside of the DS) so maybe there is hope.

Any questions, comments or input anyone has would be greatly appreciated. I'll be trying to chat to everyone I can who may be relevant to each and every topic and hope to get something interesting to say about them all. For that reason I'll probably start yakking on about reviews first as that requires the least outside input. Bring the noise.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reviews and such

Should hopefully have my latest musings on Virtua Tennis 2009 and Red Faction: Guerrilla up on x360a either today or tomorrow. I enjoyed both games for different reasons, though Virtua didn't really bring anything new to the table which was a bit of a shame.

Red Faction is something a bit unusual and was plenty of fun to play. The game is just about blowing stuff up really and that is no bad thing. I've refrained from playing it on my own tag though because the online points are just too much of a drag. It upsets me when a good singleplayer experience is dragged down by an over abundance of online achievements. Plus, I'm going for 90% completion at the moment so could do without something as long winded as that 1k. I may well go back to it in the future though, but for now it is languishing on my GF's card - yet another example of why a back up account is handy.

On the plus side, I really would not mind going back through the game again, as blowing up everything in sight will never get old. EVER.

I'll post up the links once they are up on the main site.

Now I can get back to Bionic Commando and try to climb ever higher up the Virtua Tennis rankings, the single player is a real grind though.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The gaming life

The thought occurs that a lot of gamers are turning into minor celebrities. Obviously, Stallion is the most notable example thanks to his massive gamerscore, but it is also true of other people that have now lost that shelter of anonymity thinks to Xbox Live and gamertags.

Records for games have always existed but you'd be hard pressed to name the people responsible. Now we have tags like Major Nelson, TriXie et al being widely recognised by the vast majority. While score whores like Stallion, Rand al Thor and (sadly) stripclubdj have become famous, or infamous, for their exploits. The strange thing here is that even when a player reaches the top of the pile they are very rarely universally acclaimed.

stripclubdj obviously got to the top with less than legitimate means, but he never made any excuses for his actions and was openly honest about his techniques. In fairness, even when he was reset, he didn't bitch and moan about it - at least that I saw, and he still had his supporters.

Whereas Stallion has got to the top through hardwork and the ability to play any old crap. Yet he is constantly called out as a cheater, hacker or someone with no life. It would probably be no great shock to find out that he got as much hate mail as fan mail (in a personal message sense). It seems unfair that gamers feel the need to tear each other down rather than celebrate a great accomplishment.

The thing is that both of these individuals came to the public eye because of online leaderboards, forums and, most obviously, gamerscore. Factors that would have never been in play in the not too distant past. The 360 is the first machine to make checking out other players as easy as typing in their gamertag - from there you can pretty much paw through their friends, games played and score - not to mention post messages at a whim. Obviously players can block these features too, but why should we be forced to? I think players gunning for the top know that they are going to get slated regardless and are happy to live with that, but it still puzzles me why people feel the need to abuse random players that they don't even know.

My position as a reviewer opened me up to a glimpse at the bad side of things. I don't mind people asking me questions about reviews, but I do mind getting mindless insults just because they don't agree with a score or random friend requests just because you saw my name. I can only imagine how often the top players inboxes must fill up - as mine seems to be spammed constantly by people I've never heard of.

Not that I can complain. I'm an active member of a great forum and thoroughly enjoy writing reviews on the side. So if a slight bit of message filtering is the price I have to pay then so be it. My only qualm is just how much protection is offered to those people who truly need it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


A few salutations are in order. First of all the mighty Fro has hit 200k - a mighty feat indeed considering just how quickly he has accomplished that goal, he overtook me some time ago which kind of smarts since I was 50k ahead of him at one point but what can I do in the face of such beastliness?

Second of all, Stallion has been inducted to the Book of World Records for his massive gamerscore. A nice bit of recognition not only for him but also for the entire gamerscore 'profession' as such. It certainly opens up the door for a whole slew of potential records related to points. Good to see that the authors are aware of potential hackers out there too, as there have been numerous points recently when cheaters have snagged the top spot. So congrats to the legit number one.

Now that we've got that out of the way I can talk about me, ha ha!

Personally speaking I've been edging closer to 1k in Hot Wheels, which will be a relief to get finished as the game is rapidly outstaying its welcome. The A.I is fairly cheap at times and the collision detection is a joke on certain corners and jumps - with your car being sent spiralling through the air just for hitting a slight dip in the track. Ugh!

I've also started up Virtua Tennis 2009 (my latest review) and the game is proving something of a disappointment at the moment. Not that it is a bad game as such, but the gameplay is the same as the original Virtua Tennis that I played way back on the Dreamcast. It really does seem that very little has changed? I know the adage 'if it ain't broke.....' but surely something new could have been added. It's still plenty of fun though but just seems to have become the latest in a long line of barely updated sports titles.

Next up will be Red Faction - which I have some high hopes for. Fingers crossed that it lives up to the hype.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Stop your dirty minds - I was talking about Bionic Commando, obviously.

The game is really growing on me despite the few annoying niggles that have kept it from greatness. I suspect my Commando run through will run into some snags at some point but for now I'm just loving swinging around and heaving cars at people. Good times.

After my previous list (of games that I've played but not completed) I thought I'd bust out a list of the games I actually own but have never played. It's kind of shocking how big it is really and there are plenty of points on offer here that I may never get around to. We shall see.

Let's delve into my stash of games then:

A-Train HX (meant to be an easy 1k)
Afro Samurai (tough in parts but doable)
Armoured Core 4 (easy 800 points, then a slog for the rest)
Armoured Core For Answer (ridiculous online stuff)
Assassins Creed (some glitchy stuff but fairly easy)
Battlestations: Midway (tough expert campaign)
Beowulf (meant to be awful)
Brothers in Arms (completed this on my GF's account - then realised you could cheat the 100 days played stuff. I'll go back to it at some point)
Bully (easy, though time consuming, 1k)
Call of Juarez (not going to start until I find people to boost with, the online is dead)
Command and Conquer 3 (need a second machine to boost this)
C&C: Red Alert 3 (meant to be doing the online with a friend but we never got started)
Conan (three plays needed - fun)
Condemned 2 (need people to play online with)
Crackdown (meant to be awesome, think I'll play it fairly soon)
Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant (easy 1k)
Dark Sector (need online players)
Dead Space (awesome game, no excuse for not playing it. Sorry)
Devil May Cry 4 (the achievements scare me, ha ha)
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (fairly standard 1k, with grinding)
EDF 2017 (tough single player, really want to start this)
Eternal Sonata (two plays needed but easy enough)
Fallout 3 (not playing just to spite Thrawn. Ha ha, I want to play it honestly)
Far Cry Instincts (no reason not to play it, just don't want to)
Far Cry 2 (was a gift and the MP stuff is sick)
GTA IV (Webb cries whenever I mention not playing this, but I swear I will one day)
Infinite Undiscovery (long ass game, and at three playthroughs needs a solid investment of time)
Kingdom Under Fire (needs a lot of grinding and I'm not feeling it)
Lego Star Wars: Complete Saga (going to play this co-op with the lady, as I have with the other Lego games)
Lost Odyssey (more RPG style fun, need some free time)
Madagascar 2 (fairly easy 1k, but I need to be in the mood)
Mass Effect (three more playthroughs, it's becoming a common theme)
Mirrors Edge (a game that intrigues me but not enough to play at the moment)
Naruto: Broken Bond (I actually really loved this game, so want to start it again on my own account)
Prince of Persia (an easy enough 1k)
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (need boosting pals)
Samurai Warriors 2 (hack and slash stuff I need to be in the mood for)
Secret Service (an easy 1k)
Sid Meiers Civilisation Revolution (easy enough to 1k but I need to get around to it)
Silent Hill (on my current list of games to play)
Smash Court Tennis 3 (need a second console to do this ideally)
Sonic Unleashed (bad reviews have killed this for me)
Star Wars Force Unleashed (easy enough 1k but I haven't found the time)
Stormrise (need an online buddy to go for this)
Supreme Commander (got it on the cheap and still haven't played it)
Tenchu Z (easy enough 1k but you have to play each mission three times, ugh)
The Club (need two consoles ideally)
The Godfather (have to grind to level 50 and I can't be bothered right now)
The Incredible Hulk (easy enough 1k)
Tom Clancys Endwar (the glitchy achievements have put me off)
Tomb Raider Underworld (easy 1k, just need to play it)
Tomb Raider Anniversary (same as above)
Too Human (long, tough and dull - not feeling this right now)
Turok (need online buddies)
Two Worlds (easy 1k, but time consuming)
Virtua Tennis 3 (almost impossible gold challenges have put me off)
Warhammer Battle March (need two consoles ideally)
Warriors Oroichi (grindfest)

As you can see, that is one hell of a list. Most of the reasons for me not playing a certain game revolve around either sheer laziness or the fact that the online aspect is extremely long winded. There are also a ton of RPG's on there that need a ton of playthroughs or a crapload of time. In fact I even have one or two games on here that I actually played on a backup account for review purposes (thinking I wouldn't like them enough to bother with for points) and want to go through again. If I only played for points they would probably already be on my account but I like a nice completion % too.

At the end of the day it all comes down to time. As if I had enough of it I would be playing through all of these games at a rate of knots - alas, I am forced to play what I can, when I can. So I will continue to muddle along and do what I can. Once I've cleared the backlog of games I've started but not finished then I will gradually start as many of these games as I can. Starting with an RPG or two and most of the easier 1k's on the list - things like PoP and Tomb Raider etc.

If I don't buy a new game for a year I will still have plenty to do, so that's something I guess.