Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving, Stargate, Star Wars the Old Republic, and XBLA Deals.

I know it's been a while since I posted and admittedly I have been slacking but well, here's a new blog for your reading enjoyment.   Incoming giant blog!


No this isn't my Thanksgiving Meal.

I'm not really one for tradition or holidays and don't really see much of a point in this one.  I guess I look at things like, why have a designated day to be thankful but instead be stressed with the burdens of cooking an elaborate meal, most of which won't be eaten and eat till you get sick?  Don't get me wrong, I'd love a good meal and have no problem at all cooking a good meal but this is something I gladly do daily and on daily basis I'm thankful for the people, friends and family, I cook for and eat food from.

With that said, I've never been able to eat most of the food on thanksgiving and get really sick if I do.  I can't handle turkey and I've only been able to eat organic food for the past 3 years.  It was nice to see my cousins there though getting a good meal, one of them is struggling financially and lives with roommates who eat all of his food and the other doesn't ever get a good meal at home and is basically skin and bones (needs to eat more protein danget).

On the flip side, thanksgiving is a really big deal for my grandma who's extremely into tradition.  Me, my sister, and my mom all offered to cook but she didn't want us cooking and wanted everything prepared by her which means TONS of salt.  Well my aunt is on this blood type diet and can't eat a lot of things which includes a lot of sodium, my mom is vegan, and I can eat only organic (otherwise I get very sick) but everybody except for me broke their diets and ate.

Needless to say, my grandma and my mom both got sick.  My mom was having stomach problems, heart burn and her carpal tunnel was flaring up and my grandma got light headed, dizzy and was having chest pains.  Needless to say, they took their blood pressure and they were sky high.  So I had them drinking Herbal Teas with ginger and peppermint in them and I had them eating veggies and Greek yogurt.  They're both feeling a lot better since then but also since then my mom had a long talk about her age, health, and nutrition with my grandma and she's been laying off sodium filled and greasy foods and has been eating more plants, grains, oats, and nuts.

 Nothing says I ate too much like a cat.

While it was annoying having to clean up the entire kitchen after not eating hardly anything, I'm just glad to see them both feeling better.  I'm hoping that my grandma doesn't become an extreme vegan but at the same time I'm glad to see her eating better!


The main Atlantis Team by the final season.

It's been a while since I've talked about this but I have been watching it this whole time faithfully just about every night from my Nintendo 3DS (I love that dang system)!  Anyways I have finished up the entire Atlantis series.  My thoughts and opinions?

Much like Stargate SG-1 I didn't know what to expect.  I knew it was a sequel/continuation to SG-1 but only by name.  I literally knew nothing else about this and only know one person who's seen the show (who I haven't talked to much about it).  To my surprise it felt very much like SG-1, except started off at a pretty good quality.  Its characters are a good mix of different walks of life and they go on the same crazy types of missions that Col. Jack Oneill and SG-1 went on for the majority of the SG-1 series.  In the second season, they introduce one of my favorite characters in a show so far, Ronan Dex, who gives the Atlantis team their own Teal'c (though he's quite different).

All in all, I enjoyed seeing this series and will miss the cast, characters, and interesting plots of Atlantis the same way I will miss SG-1.  Its too bad it took me till I was in my 20's to actually give them and scifi shows in general a try.  I've been regrettably missing out on a lot for a while.

SG-1... and a little person.

Speaking of SG-1, I also made sure to watch the movies which right after I seen the Atlantis series, I decided to watch the final (or I believe final) movie of SG-1, Ark of Truth.  It was enjoyable and wrapped up 1 of the story plots (there are more) that needed to be finished.  I hope to see future series's finishing up what both SG-1 and Atlantis started.  There's a lot of lore there that I'd like to see finished.

Star Wars: The Old Republic - Beta Test Weekend

I think I killed that guy a couple times!

I have been salivating over this game for a very very long time (since it was first announced and my art school friend told me he's been working on it).  It's one of the few games that I've been keeping up with constantly reading almost every tid bit of news (though I've been avoiding major spoilers like the black plague) and it's the only major retail game that I'll be getting during this holiday season... which there's a story to that.  This is due to me pre-ordering the game the day pre-orders were allowed, going for the collectors edition (which has a whooole lot in the package but costs $150), and registering the early access code.  I soon was hit by random charges by microsoft, started getting car problems, and got hit with a slew of other financial things which made me want to change my pre-order to a normal edition, which I tried but found out, I couldn't without losing my early access code that was already linked to my account.  So, that was the dilemma... HOWEVER this dilemma seems trivial after playing the beta!

This is how I handle problems in SWTOR.  A flame thrower to the face!

The beta started the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  When I got on, the servers were jam packed with every server at heavy or full status.  This is to be expected, it being a stress test and all.  I made my character which was a Cyborg Bounty Hunter that greatly resembled a certain Dex Ronan character from a certain Gate Star show.  When I got in, the servers had a ton of lag.  There had to of been nearly 300 people all doing the same thing at the same time, it was insane.  Because of this, for the first 4 hours or so, there were glitches and problems like some people getting stuck randomly, some people having armor and hair floating off their characters, bad frame rates issues, and game crashes among other issues.  This was to be expected, as I said, the servers were FLOODED and when I say flooded I mean there were hundreds to thousands of people in each servers waiting queue, with some servers listing wait times of up to 27 hours.  As I said though, this only lasted about 4 hours or so.  Soon after the test started, Bioware opened up 10 or so new servers and it really helped the load.  From there on out, it was much much smoother sailing but it was still crazy crowded.

The Dark Side of the force is strong with this one.

This is coming from a MMO vet who's played TONS of MMO's and is directed at any nay sayers, skeptics, and doubters.  Questing in this game has to be the most enjoyable questing experience I've had in any MMO ever.  The quests are long enough, not too long (looking at you FFXI) and not too short (looking at you Warhammer), the cutscenes aren't awkwardly dragged out (looking at you WoW Cataclysm) and they're not unreasonably short (looking at you Aion), the quests have great direction (unlike FFXI) and progress you nicely without having you constantly run across areas back and forth in a very unorganized fashion (looking at you Age of Conan).  

Furthermore everything's fully voice acted with high quality (or rather Bioware quality) voice acting, story, and writing and the decision system really draws you in (just like Mass Effect and Dragon Age).  Unlike those 2 other Bioware games, this one multi player and gives each person a random role on the decision they pick while doing story in a group ultimately allowing each player to have a role and gets everybody involved in the story.  The more quests you do with others, the more social points you earn.  I'm not sure what they're used for but there's a meter there so it has to be for something.  Note, the cutscenes are not skippable, so if you don't like story, don't play this game but if you do, and want a funner, deeper, and more challenging questing experience from you MMO's, this is the game.  I'd also like to note, there's a lot of group quests and really tough "elite" (or SWTOR term - heroic) mobs that you'll need a solid group to take on.

I also want to note, the first dungeon was a lot of fun and had just as much story as the quests.

Is it a group of players or is one a companion?

Speaking of groups and quests.  Companion characters add a huge element to the game that most other MMO's are severely lacking.  It gives you that extra side kick like character you get from normal RPG's, giving them the like/dislike system seen in other Bioware RPG's and giving you a lot more control over them then most other NPC characters in most other MMO's.  Think of them almost like World of Warcraft's hunter's pet or warlocks demon's except even more versatile with some working as your healer!  This of course adds another lair to questing, making you want to choose things that your companions like while still getting light/dark side points.  Also it makes combat a lot more interesting for all classes, giving you access to an undeniably useful resource that no other MMO I've played has.

A PVP Warzone showing off an epic battle.
Speaking of combat, the combat requires you to constantly press buttons (like DC Universe, Champions Online, and Age of Conan) which imo really keeps you involved and keeps players from slacking off.  To be honest, I don't mind auto attack, but I find auto attack kind of lets people slack off in MMO's and hurts over all gameplay more then helps, where as actually pressing buttons keeps people more involved and keeps raid groups awake and alive.

The Chaos of Player vs Player combat!

I love PVP, it's not the only thing I like but it IS one of the things that draws me to different MMO's and competitive games in general.  While TOR doesn't have the strongest PVP system I've seen a MMO, it is there, and it feels surprisingly polished.  Then again I'm saying this as a lower level who played a Bounty Hunter in only 2 Warzone battles.  From what I can tell, each character has some form of USEFUL CC (crowd control) and a world of warcraft pvp trinket like move (letting them break out of a CC once every 2 minutes).  It really helps out, this is one of my biggest problems with most MMO PVP as it makes things feel very unbalanced.  Deaths aren't as quick as WoW and I wasn't in CC for 20 seconds straight (like fighting rogues and mages in WoW).  It was very fun and thrilling and I can't wait to see what all they do with the PVP aspects of this game in the future.

The crafting system.

Crafting in this game is pretty solid from what I can tell, giving you worthwhile items to craft (unlike Aion) that actual do stuff for your characters at early levels that you won't get anywhere else (unlike World of Warcraft).  Like the gear I could make was much better then what I was getting from quests, really giving me an edge gear wise and making me a solid choice as a tank for dungeons and a hard to kill, face melting, cyborg, iron man in PVP.

Your Companions can craft for you.

That is one of my absolute favorite features.  Along with you companions leveling as you level, your companions can also craft for you, meaning when you get further in the game and get other companions that you're not using, you can actually have them craft for you leveling your skills and making you useful gear/mods/consumables.

The Codex system returns.

One of my favorite things about Warhammer is its one of the few MMO's with a Codex like log system.  Codex's are really awesome if you want to learn more about something quickly without having to leave the game and look it up or deal with what could be (and usually is) internet trolls.  Just like Pokemon's Pokedex and Mass Effects Codex, everything you need to know, from back stories of NPC's you meet, knowledge about places you go, weapons, creatures, and much more, is all in there.  No, I don't believe it's voiced but this is for the lore people who read stuff anyways.

Gotta love them space battles.

The last and final thing I'll talk about with this game is space battles, which by the 3rd day of beta, I finally got to try.  It's not a mind blowing feature, there isn't a lot of customization there and works only as a mini game on the side but the combat was indeed fun.  It's nothing like Star Wars Galaxies fully featured space combat system and it's a lot more like Star Fox on rails dodge and shoot style.  Don't get me wrong, it's a ton of fun in short bursts but don't expect it to be very deep.

Traveling just got a lot easier!

Yes I know I wrote a lot about this game but I'm super excited about it and after playing it, I can honestly say that I'll be putting that collectors edition to good use.  There's a soooo much more I didn't talk about and I could go on and on about but I need to keep an already staggeringly long blog shorter then epicly long.  I will say that come December 20th (hopefully 15th with early access and all), I'm sorry a head of time if you can't reach me, because I'll be in a galaxy far faaar away.

XBLA November deals!

I know I've already typed for a while so I'll try and keep this short (I had pictures planned out but gonna skip them for length reasons).  I got a $50 dollar microsoft points card on my birthday and only bought 1 game with it.  I saved the rest of the points figuring that I'd see some sales later down the road but didn't realize they'd be right around the corner.  Microsoft apparently was doing a Fan Appreciation sale, Black Friday sale, and Cyber Monday sale along with their normal deals of the week and monthly price drops.  Needless to say I cashed in.  Thanks to Major Nelson for being on top of the updates.

  • Crazy Taxi - 400 MSP - 50% Discount (deal of the week)
  • Sega Rally Online Arcade - 400 MSP - 50% Discount (deal of the week)
  • The Fancy Pants Adventures - 400 MSP - 50% Discount (fan appreciation)
  • Super Meat Boy - 400 MSP - 67% Discount (fan appreciation)
  • OutRun Online Arcade - 400 MSP - 50% Discount (fan appreciation)
  • Mortal Kombat Arcade Collection - 400 MSP - 50% Discount (cyber monday)
  • Beyond Good & Evil HD - 240 MSP - 70% Discount (cyber monday)

Needless to say, despite my grandma and mom getting sick and having to clean a huge mess in the kitchen, my thanksgiving weekend was amazing.  I'm very thankful to see my family and to see Bioware, Microsoft, and other companies help pull gaming out of a huge slump.

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