Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gearbox is Brilliant

So I have gone back and restarted the new Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep DLC for Borderlands 2. This time with the goal of doing all the side missions. From the few that I have done, I can safely say the guys over at Gearbox are maniacal geniuses.

You would have to be to pull of poking fun at the people that buy your games and yet have them stop at laugh at themselves. Be warned, this will contain light spoilers from this point on.

So one of the side missions has you searching for some poor guy's souls. Apparently there is a big bad player that keeps killing him (spawn killing?) while he's trying to open chests. Once you find his souls, you now have to take on the bad guy...with the gamertag "noob_killer". This made me make the most unattractive snorting noises. How many times have you been in a multiplayer game and came across someone with a gamertag like this?

The next "poke fun at gamers" moment I came across involved a team of other gamers. You are required to kill a monster and you have to be the one to kill it but these three tools keep stealing your kill. Now it's up to you to make them rage quit. Each player has a typical douchey gamertag and each one requires you to humiliate them in some way. One you must melee kill twice, the second one you have to get two headshot kills on but it's the third one that made me must teabag his body twice. Yes, teabag!  I admit, I got way too much pleasure from doing this. I think it is left over hostility from when I started playing online. I began my Xbox 360 MP gaming life with Halo 3. Halo 3 is the teabagging-est game on the planet. Granted, I learned to be a better player because I would revenge kill anyone that would teabag my body, revenge kill them over and over....and over.

Now those two missions make me wonder who at Gearbox decided that this was the best way to get back at all those annoying online players we all hate so much? I would like to shake that hand of this person(s) and buy them a beer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Little Lego Batman 2 and Borderlands 2 DLC

I finally finished Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and I mean completely. I decided to do a little achievement hunting and managed to suss them all out.

This was the first of the Lego games to have voice acting. It was well done though I do think that Lego Lord of the Rings improved upon it. Granted, they were using sound bites from the actual LotR movies so that made the whole thing funnier. Serious movie acting mixed with legos can only equal fun.

But I digress, Lego Batman 2 is HUGE. It's really big. After I completed the story last year I didn't realize I had only completed about 25% of the game. It took a few days and several hours to get to 100% but it was worth it. I think that makes 15 or 16 games I have managed to complete 100% on Xbox 360. It took an untold number of hours to get it all done so this game will keep you busy for quite a good stretch. Impressive for a Lego game.

Oh if you plan on picking this game up, fly around as Superman. It's awesome to fly around Gotham listening to the Superman theme song.

The Borderlands 2 DLC was released yesterday, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep. A friend of mine and I decided to play through the main story really quickly to get a feel for it before we tried it on a harder difficulty. I am of the opinion that you will definitely need friends to do it on Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode. The main story can be blown through in a couple of hours but that isn't bad considering it's DLC. I haven't done the side missions yet so I know I have a couple more hours to invest in it.

Anyway, it was awesome and I am not just saying that because I used to play D&D way back when. The whole DLC was based on a D&D-esque game called Bunkers and Badasses. I won't spoil it for you but I about pee'd my pants when I saw who was playing the Queen. *giggle* If you haven't played Borderlands 2 yet....why not? It's a solid game, solid series and the DLC packs are all worth owning. Gearbox probably does their best work on the Borderlands games. I need to go back through and grab achievements I don't have yet but I don't mind. Playing through the game never gets old.

Borderlands 2 is the perfect mix of the serious and ridiculous. Tiny Tina's DLC does not change that formula. There is a moment when you can almost feel your heart going out to Tina and then a switch flips and it goes back the raucous, silliness fans love.

The summer is here! Why not spend a little time treating yourself to games inside the house and beat the heat?

On a side note: I have been thinking about recording some of my game time. Is that something you all would like to see? Me die...a lot?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Microsoft Has Listened

Yes, it's true. Microsoft has done a complete reversal on their check-in/used games policies. While this is a relief for most of the gaming world, there are people still bitching and complaining.

It is wonderful Microsoft listened but I think it is far greater that the consumers spoke out, with their wallets that is.

Here is all the information that was released regarding the new policy:

Now while I am happy to read this, I am still not going to pre-order the XB1. I was burned too often with the 360 and the RROD. I will wait to make sure hardware bugs are worked out plus, I will be broke trying to move to Colorado. However, it does mean that I will get an Xbox One in the future....maybe even two.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PS4 and Xbox One - Which Gets My Money?

We can all admit that E3 got off to a rollicking start with the Sony and Microsoft pressers.

Microsoft showed us some games for the Xbox One and told us all how cool it will be to have a system that will do everything we need, entertainment wise. We can now have 1000 friends, though I worry this will be linked to Facebook and count them as friends too. We can watch TV, watch movies, do other things while waiting for a game to start (though most games only give you a minute or two between rounds) and even use Skype (yeah no, not yelling at my TV).

While I admit that the Xbox One is a great system, very solid and very "future", I am not impressed with the lawyer-ese they continue to use, putting the control in the publishers hands when it comes to MY games and just how out and out rude they are being to the people they are supposed to be selling their system to.

Most of the restrictions don't really bother me much. I am always online (unless a storm knocks my internet out) and I rarely buy used games. However, as I stated before, I have 5 kids and generally have two consoles. I have yet to get a solid answer about this "Family Shared Library", how it will work exactly, how it will work within a multi-console family and are publishers going to be allowed to decide their games cannot be shared within this family library. Nope, just more double talk and answer ducking.

People are rejoicing about the age restrictions being enforced because the all-knowing, all-seeing Kinect won't allow it. I hate to disappoint you but....

  • Kids lie about their ages when they register(ed) on Xbox Live. Sometimes with parental permission because the parents do not want to deal with parental controls or upgrading them to an adult account when they turn 18. 
  • I do not think it is legal for them to tell a parent that they cannot allow their child to play a game if the parent allows it. There will be an out, like now, called parental controls. Parents will probably still be allowed to give permissions for games. Sorry but it is true. 
Then there is the Kinect. They have said owners will have the option to decide what it "sees" and what is doesn't but you are still required to have HAL since the Xbox One won't work without it. Personally, I find the current Kinect creepy enough, now it's positively scary.

Okay, you have to let E.T. phone home every 24 hours or no gaming for you. That is just a crappy way to treat your consumers. "I am sorry but you are all liars and cheats so to prevent you from being the pirates we know you ALL are, you need to register with us every 24 hours." I didn't realize that Microsoft was going to be my probation officer. Plus, no vacations with the Xbox One to my family's cottage in Canada. No internet there. 

I think the biggest slap in the face has come from the spokesmouths at Microsoft. The newest doozy fell out of the mouth of Don Mattrick,  "We have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360." 

To be fair, I am sure he didn't mean it to sound the way it came but wow, just wow. From insulting those who worry about living in areas without a stable internet connection, or a lack of broadband, to telling those same people that they don't matter, Microsoft is really showing the consumers they couldn't give a rat's ass about them. It is the worst kind of PR and I have no idea why someone doesn't tape their mouths shut or teach them to think before speaking.

Oh and by the way, the Xbox One will cost $499. Why the $100 more than the PS4? That stupid Kinect. Think about it. The original Kinect was a $149 purchase (separately) so it makes sense that now that it is required, the system would be pricey.

If you get a Day One Xbox One, you will get an achievement! Really? An achievement? That really isn't enough to entice most people to buy a system that is going to have a ton of features they are never going to use, restrict their game ownership, have a Kinect that is always staring at them and that they cannot play without being attached to a broadband service.

***Addendum, PS4 will also be region free. Imported game love***

Sony waltzed in and claimed all the gaming love. They showed spectacular games, announced there would be no change in the "used" game market, no change in the DRM at all and now indie developers can self publish on the PS4. They also hinted at some sort of PS3 backwards compatibility in the future using their Cloud system. I know Sony will support the PS3 for an ungodly amount of time. They have always done that in the past and I have no reason to think any differently now.

The new issue is online, muliplayer gaming. Now you will have to have a PS+ membership to play a multiplayer game but that didn't surprise me when you look at all the stuff they have done to improve the online experience. The money had to come from somewhere. A year of PS+ is $49.99 (Xbox Live Gold $59.99) but if you don't have a PS+ account you can still use any of the online features like Netflix and Hulu+. PS+ members get free games every month, free themes, free items and as long as they remain members they have access to those free games. The PS4 is also a very solid system and the specs are not that different from Microsoft. Sure they didn't show a whole lot of "new" tech at the E3 presser but they didn't have to. They showed it at the original PS4 reveal.

Both systems are not very attractive but I really don't care what they look like. I just need them to play my games, do what I want and fit on my television stand.

So who is getting my money? Well, I will admit that I will eventually own both but....

Sony is going to get my money first. Though I game mostly on my 360, the PS4 makes more sense to own first. I won't have to worry about whether or not my kids can play my game. I use my PS3 for Netflix over my 360 because the interface is far friendlier and easier (and I don't get buffering errors/issues like I do on the 360). Most of the time I play games on the 360 because of my friends. I moved from California to Ohio and that is how I "visit" with them. None of them are getting and Xbox One and since the Xbox One is no way compatible with the 360, I really do not have any inclination to own one right off the bat. Microsoft stated they will support the 360 for 5 years so maybe in the next 5 years I'll buy an Xbox One. They didn't show me a single thing during the presser that made me say, "I have to have an Xbox One NOW." 

They did show me a ton of reasons why I should wait.

So true!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And That is Another 100% Done....Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

To clarify, my backlog consists of games I have not finished, have no started or have not gotten 100% on (well, games I think I can actually get 100% on) and today I added my 14th game to that 100% completion list.

 I finally did everything in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. I love the Lego game from Traveller's Tales. They are funny, challenge the brain and are easy enough to play with my kids. Plus, they take beloved stories/movies and put a new twist on them while maintaining the original story. The only one I haven't finished nor gotten 100% on is Lego Indiana Jones 2. It's just so...boring. I think, in part, because I played the first one and playing through the second one feels like a rehash. Plus, let's be honest, Indiana Jones 4 was the lamest excuse for a movie ever.

 Honestly though, if you have kids or maybe you just want a game to play that is easy on the blood pressure, check out the Lego games by TT Games. You would be hard pressed to find fun, challenging games that are good for the kids. Even my 2-year-old will get on and run around breaking bricks. Sure, she does not understand the goal part of it but sh has fun just doing what she is doing. The rest will come to her soon enough.

 Anyway, just wanted to make this quick post to announce my Lego game prowess and state I can check this one off my list of games I needed to finish. So now what? Dual game? Maybe finish Lego Batman 2 and Alan Wake at the same time?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Another Podcast with GameEnthus

Shhh I stole GameEnthus' artwork for the Podcast. :-) See? I am giving credit.
 I got to be a guest on another fun, and long, podcast with the GameEthus crew. Okay, this time it was Aaron and a bunch of guests like me.

 We discussed some hopes and fears for E3, the Xbox One fiasco from yesterday and the Trope vs Women in Video Games series. Everyone should have a listen!

 I always enjoy hanging with GameEnthus and I sure hope they have me on again and again...and again. That sounds rather stalker-ish, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

House vs Home...or Big Changes are Coming (TL;DR)

Old pic of my family

 My life has been changed in the past few days. We were informed that my husband's branch of the company he works for had been sold. This means we will need to either take what the new owners are offering, which doesn't appear to be that attractive, or move to another region to stay with his current company. So, it looks like we will be moving to Colorado.

 You are probably asking yourself why we'd choose to move if the new company is willing to keep him. First, his company still offers the traditional pension. The years of service you put in plus reaching a certain retirement age guarantees you your pay plus medical until you die. No need to put your own money into it. It a reward for loyalty and a job well done. Most places now offer 401Ks or some other retirement plan the employee pays into and and losing money is possible. Right now, my husband makes far more than the average LPN/PVN does per hour and we get full medical/dental for the family for free. Add to that paid sick, vacation and various other paid days off and it becomes hard to walk away. He has worked for the company for 15 years now too.

Daughter's friend and her father at my house

 Now for the reason why I am not exactly thrilled with the idea of moving; my home. Notice I didn't say " my house". That is because this is more than just a house to me. It really is my home and I love my home. It will be 100 years old next year and the age on it is part of the reason why I love it so. The charm and character of the place is endearing and it's my very first "home".

 Yes it is the first house I have ever purchased but it's more than that, it really is the first place I have ever lived I felt was home. From the moment I walked into it, I fell in love with it and had to own it. We had run our poor realtor ragged trying to find us a home. She was shocked when we said we wanted an older home. Most people here don't, but we do march to a different beat than most people. Our needs were simple; 3 bedrooms with an attic we could finish into a 4th, a yard and cosmetic fixer. We looked at just about every house for sale in the area. In fact, we looked at the house that was for sale 2 doors down from this one. It was while walking out of that house that we spotted this one for sale and asked to see it. It was like coming home.

Oldest's high school graduation

 This house is so much a home, that we have taken in (and raised) three kids that weren't ours. We have always had an open door policy with friends and family and all are welcome. Now I am leaving the boys we raised and worry about them. Who will they turn to when they need help? Where will they go when they just need a place to relax for a night. Sometimes we all just have to get away and having a home to go to for a break from life is always nice. A home is that safe place to land. Where will their homes be now?

 I spent my childhood in rentals, mostly apartments but punctuated with duplexes and the occasional roommate situation in houses. We never owned a house and we moved so often I attended a new school almost every year until I reached the 6th grade. Once I attended 2 new schools in one year. Mostly because my mother did not like the school I was in and lied about our address to get me put in the other school. It was a good choice because I was miserable in the first school.

Youngest son's 2nd birthday

 My childhood was divided, for a time, between my family's place on Camano Island (WA) and wherever we happened to be living in California (mostly San Diego but a stint in Barstow). I was born on Whidbey Island (WA) and being able to spend my free time in WA was a blessing. Being able to be in a small town and have that Mayberry experience was a wonderful way to grow up. I wanted something similar for my children but in San Diego, they were growing up as apartment dwellers. Houses were far too expensive to buy for the average family. We decided to move to Ohio.

 My children have had that "Mayberry" life for the past 11 years. My younger kids do not know any other way to live and now, I am looking at the stark reality that I will be forced to sell my home and rent again. I will be forced to live in something that is serviceable, providing shelter but not really our home. It is very possible we may be forced back into a more citified existence. Add to that the fact I will be leaving my two oldest girls in Ohio, I feel like I am breaking up my family.

Younger daughter's Senior Prom

This house has seen so many firsts, aside from being my first house. We've had first dates, first dances, first kisses, first proms, first teeth, first lost teeth, first steps, first laughs, first smiles, first tears, first casts, first...everything. It's hard to walk away from this house and all it's memories. Sure we can make new ones but it isn't easy to find a house that actually feels like home. I know there are people that will agree with me.

I guess what I am trying to say in this TL;DR post is that I am finding the whole idea of moving extremely difficult. I am trying to be positive but my heart is breaking and it's hard to see the bright side. Don't worry, I have faith everything will turn out the way it's meant to though there might be a time when my husband may have to live in Colorado while I live here in Ohio. It's going to be a rough transition but we will all make it through unscathed.