Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Poll - What's going to happen to me?

So I'm going on an Alaskan Cruise soon and I've got just the right poll for the occasion. Here it is:

What's going to happen to me on my Alaskan Cruise?

I'll accidentally fall overboard
I'll piss someone off and be pushed overboard
I'll get lost on a shore excursion in the middle of the wilderness
I'll meet the lumber-jack man of my dreams and stay in AK
I'll go through video game withdrawal and have to be committed

If you're all nice I might bring ya' all back something. Ah, who am I kidding, you guys aren't nice. Bon yoyage!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Poll Results - How's your summer been so far?

So here are the poll results:

How's your summer been so far?

Hotter than normal = 2 votes
Cooler than normal = 4 votes
Wetter than normal = 0 votes
Drier than normal = 2 votes
Same as always = 2 votes

I think that's a pretty even split, don't you? At least as even as I think it could be.

I voted for "drier than normal" but I could have voted for "cooler than normal" as well. When the average rainfall for where I live is 3 inches a year AND those 3 inches usually come in the summer monsoon season things should be pretty wet. But when the weatherman says that we're 2.5 inches below our average AND there are no storms on the horizon things get pretty dry here in the summer.

Outside of a 2-3 week period in July it really hasn't been hot like it normally is either. It's either that or I'm getting more acclimatized to the weather than I once was. But I remember when 115 degrees was pretty standard for the summer and that was pretty much every day. I even remember a 122 degree day that was just dreadful. They had to shut down the airport until things cooled off.

Hot days like that are pretty typical . . . except for this year. I don't think we had too many days where the temperature got above 110. At least not as many as we usually get. Which on one hand is nice because it's not so hot. But on the other hand it takes longer for the swimming pool temperature to get up to a bearable level. I went swimming the other day and I thought I was going to freeze. The pool temperature was 86 degrees.

Since I prefer to a little cold instead of a little hot I guess I can't complain too much. Maybe the winter will be hotter than normal to make up for the cooler summer. Maybe then I can swim in the pool longer. Or at least invest in a wet suit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Choices of the poor house

I remember a time when I could buy any game I wanted. Sometimes that could mean 3 or 4 a month. Money was no object. Time was the only problem. I never seemed to have as much as I wanted to play video games. Now it seems both are in short order.

Ever since I started saving up to buy a house I've taken a closer look at the money I spent on video games. That doesn't mean I curtailed what I did spend . . . it just means I looked more closely at the game and my desires and THEN bought it. There might have been one two I didn't buy, at least right away, instead I waited for the price to come down to a more reasonable level of what I thought the game was worth.

Since I bought my house, and wiped out my saving to do so, my video game purchases have almost dried up completely. I've still bought a game or two here and there by making the sacrifice to my food budget. Or relying on lower electric bills in the winter time. But now that summer is here and my electric bill has doubled in recent months my gaming budget is running in the red. Or at least it would be if I bought everything I wanted to get.

First I couldn't decide between buying Ghostbusters or Red Faction: Guerrilla and then I heard about Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. Now I only had money for one game but there was three of them to buy. I went into research mode and started asking my friends their impressions of the game, read reviews, watched trailers, etc. If I could only afford one (and even that was a stretch) I was going to make sure it was the right one. After a couple of months I finally narrowed my choice down to Sacred 2. But by then I heard of more games coming out that I wanted.

So far the list of games I'm lusting after is thus (in no particular order): 1) Modern Warfare 2, 2) Assassin's Creed 2, 3) Little Big Planet (PSP), 4) Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, 5) Red Faction: Guerrilla, 6) Ultimate Alliance 2, 7) Wolfenstein. All of these are either out already or will be by the end of the year. Back in 2007 I would have had the money to get them all on street date and then some (and I'm sure there are more games out or are coming out that haven't made it onto my radar yet). Unfortunately that isn't the case here in 2009. I know I can squeeze one out of my budget and maybe a second one too. Or I could wait until the price drops and pick it up as a bargain (or used).

But the problem with waiting until the price drops to pick up a game is finding out that the online community for that game has moved on as well. I have several older games that I would love to play online, but I'm not sure if there is anyone playing them any more. Games like: Burnout Revenge, Quake 4, Call of Duty 2 and 3, and co-op in Kameo. If there are achievements tied to online or co-op play and nobody is playing those games anymore how will I get those achievements? Kind of like what's happening to Chromehounds in January.

Metallicorphan gave me a link to an article that says Sega is shutting down the Chromehounds servers on January 6th 2010. After that, no more online play. Although with Chromehounds I've given up on ever getting the online achievements. There is too much boosting going on in the game for anyone to earn those achievements legitimately. If you want 'em you've got to cheat in order to get them. I'm not a cheater. But the thought that I'll have a game that's worthless to play (once I get all the single player achievements) annoys the crap out of me. And what's the point of selling it back since the game will have no resale value. It was a niche game and now that niche is being shut down. So what about other games?

Is is worth it to try and play online matches in the original Gears of War? Or how about Rainbow Six: Vegas? Or Marvel Ultimate Alliance? I have seen several people pick up MUA in anticipation of the sequel coming out, but as for the other two the sequel is already out. And that's not even considering Call of Duty 2 and 3. Those have been eclipsed by 4 and 5.

Should I be spending my time playing those older games while there still might be a chance of enough people playing them online? Or should I just stick with the newer games that I already own where I know there will be people playing online? And what if I do wait to get Wolfenstein or some other game 6 months or a year or two down the line? Won't I be in the same position with that game (or others) that I'm in right now with the ones already listed? Should I just buy a game, play the hell out of it when it first comes out, and then sell it back so I have the money to get the next game on my list? I'm pretty sure several of my friends are doing that. But what happens when new DLC comes out that makes me want to pick it up against, but I've already sold it back? Would I have the money to buy the game all over again AND the DLC? I don't think so.

I miss those days when I could walk into GameStop and buy any game I wanted (and then some). I can't do that now, but not because of the economy. This is of my own choosing. So no matter how bad a day I'm having I will continue to drive by 3 GameStop stores all within 2-3 miles of my house (along with 2 more directly on the way home from work) and not walk in for some retail therapy. I will continue to do my research on the right game for me and hope that when I do eventually buy a game there will still be people playing it online. And if you are one of my few friends that still own any of those older games maybe we can get a match going online sometimes. You never know, we might single handily bring new life to an old game . . . especially for those of us who can't afford the new ones.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm....

There's been a couple of things that have struck me as odd lately. Good and bad. So I'm going to tell you about them.

1) I can't believe we played something other than Gears of War 2.

The regular crowd really cranked it up in Gears during the double points week for the new maps. Of course when the week was over we were pretty much burned out on Gears. Oh, we still played. But are hearts weren't really into it and we played badly. So I was only a little bit surprised when a bunch of us picked up Call of Duty: World at War and started playing that.

Of course that game just came out with more zombie maps, and who doesn't like killing zombies? A couple of the guys had already sold their original copy back in order to get another game (come on, why do you people do that?) so they had to purchase the game, yet again. Evil Ric couldn't find a used copy so he had to purchase it new . . . again.

We did some zombie killin' and jumped into a few multiplayer matches. One thing that hasn't changed is the glitching and manhandling we got occasionally. Yes, they complained about it. I did too, sometimes. But I'm more use to being the lowest scorer on the team, with more deaths than kills, so I guess the unfairness of it all doesn't bother me as much.

2) I can't believe we played a non-FPS game

On Wednesday 1 vs. 100 was doing a "Movie Quotes" game that Evil and c5ride suggested we join in on. I didn't think the idea would fly with everyone but Evil, c5, Genghis and I jumped in and started guessing. Evil and c5 really know their movies. There were quite a few that I just randomly guessed at (once I used up all my skips). It was fun, but mostly for another reason. Who knew c5 could cut a rug? It was hilarious to watch the three guys bust a move during the down times. I think I even heard c5 giggle like a school boy at some of his avatar's more spectacular dance steps. It didn't matter that I came in last either because I laughed so hard that even after a night of killing . . . I mean dying in the game we played next, I still went to bed with a smile on my face. Thanks guys.

3) I can't believe I got to play with Cleelost.

Clee's a friend from back in the old Star Wars Battlefront days. I played a lot with him when we first got our 360s. Lately though it seems like every time I see him come online he's watching a video instead of playing a game. When I got an invite from him to play Gears of War 2 I immediately jumped out of my Texas Hold 'em tournament and joined. And as an added bonus (I think it was a bonus) I got to hear MarcDNPain's voice. At least he use to be that gamer tag, now I don't know what he calls himself. That cackle of a laugh in my ear was unmistakable though. It was fun to reconnect with those guys for a night. Let's hope it doesn't take another several months before that happens again.

4) I got to talk to El Sand Dog.

Sand Dog's Xbox 360 has been on the fritz lately and he hasn't been able to play some of the games that he usually plays. Because of that his time online has been very limited or restricted to what he can do. I haven't talked to him in ages and I always love hearing that deep, slightly stoned out voice of his. He's one of those guys that can actually get the line "How you doin'" to work for them. It's worked on me. I miss Sand Dog. He's a blast to flirt with and a great guy to play with. I hope he gets his 360 issues worked out soon.

5) I got a message that I'm sexist

In my profile online my bio lists both the address for this blog and the address for the Xbox360GamingWorld site that my friend Pogue Moran (yes, I called him a friend) runs. I got a message from a total stranger, after playing some Texas Hold 'em that said "ur website is sexis". Yes, those typos and netspeak were in included. At first I thought they were talking about this blog. Sexist? Here? I don't see it. Yes, it's called "Life of a Gamer Girl" which might be sexist, but since I am a girl, AND I play video game, AND these entries are mostly about my life playing video games I really don't think it's sexist.

As for the Gaming World website? Eh? Maybe. There are quite a few guys on the site from all around the world that like to do a bit of chest thumping and fist pumping, but it's mostly guys just being guys and showing off. There have been a few avatar pics/vids that I wouldn't want to open up while at the office, but since the site is now banned at work for "gaming" because of all the flash games it's not a problem anymore.

There are quite a few girls on the site as well. We tolerate the boys for the most part and have put them in their place if the moment warranted it. But one things is certain those guys on the site are thrilled about girls playing video games. No matter how much trash talking, chest thumping or fist pumping they do, none of them have every berated a girl for playing video games. No "you suck because you're a girl" or "girls can't play video games". In fact some of them are very happy to admit when a girl gets the better of them in a match. Some other guys might call that a little perverse, but I find it welcoming and inclusive. I met a lot of great guys through that site and I don't regret any one of them, although Pogue isn't for the faint of heart. He's more of an acquired taste.

So a bunch of highs and lows for the week, but overall a very good week in the gaming world. It would be better if I didn't have to go to work but could stay home and play games all day. But then again, without the job I wouldn't be able to afford to buy new games or pay for the internet to play online with the games I do have. I guess I'll keep the job for now. My gaming habits will change a bit over the next couple of weeks, but only temporarily. You'll read more about that in a post sometime in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Poll - How's your summer been so far?

Here's the latest poll:

How's your summer been so far?

Hotter than normal
Cooler than normal
Drier than normal
Wetter than normal
Same as always

Remember you can always leave a comment to tell me why you voted the way you did. You don't have to be a registered member of Blogger to do so.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Poll Results - OVERALL best movie franchise

Here are the poll results:

What movie franchise has the best OVERALL movies?

Lord of the Rings = 3 votes
Star Wars = 3 votes
Alien = 0 votes
Rocky = 1 vote
Star Trek = 2 votes

I think two of you are letting one good movie (released this summer) sway your opinions, but I won't mention which one.

I will admit that I tried to cheat with my vote on this poll. I voted from my computer at work. At home I was going to vote from that computer. I wasn't going to vote for the same movie either. I just couldn't make up my mind which one I wanted to cast a final vote for.

I never got around to voting from home so only my vote at work counted. That was for Star Wars. How could I NOT vote for Star Wars? I have a whole bookcase dedicated to Star Wars books, a closet full of Star Wars toys and I own the original trilogy in at least 4 different versions/formats . . . possibly more.

What made me doubt the overall integrity of the Star Wars films was there were some very horrid things about the last two that I didn't like. I'll get to that later.

My other vote would have gone for Lord of the Rings. I think those are great movies. They're engrossing, entertaining, imaginative, beautifully filmed and solidly cohesive as a franchise. They are long (especially if you get the extended, director's cut editions) and are not for those with bladder control issues who can't sit still long to watch them uninterrupted. And they're worth every minute too. I would have gladly sat through a four hour movie in the theaters if the results would have been the same. I will admit that I might be a little biased about these movies, but not in the way that you think.

See, I haven't read the Lord of the Rings trilogy yet. I've read The Hobbit at least 3 times, but I've never gotten around to reading the other books. I own them, just haven't read them. So why does that make me biased? Because I haven't read the books I don't have any expectations to the story. No, what did they leave out? Or, that doesn't happen in that order. I walked into those movies with no preconceived notions as to what to expect. And I wasn't disappointed.

I wasn't surprised at getting votes for Star Trek. Although I haven't seen all those movies I hear they are either really good or just plain horrible. Since this question asked for the "overall" result I had to eliminate Star Trek (and not because I'm a Star Wars fan).

I was a little surprised that Rocky got one vote and Alien didn't get any. These are two other franchises where I haven't seen all the movies. I heard Rocky movies went downhill fast, except for this last one which I heard was okay. The first Alien movie scared the bejeezies out of me. There was no way I was going to see a sequel . . . especially in a theater. But I've heard they're pretty good. And I'm not counting the Alien vs. Predator movie as part of that franchise. I thought for sure that Alien would get at least one vote because of how well it did at the box office and the scary/creepy factor. Oh well.

But back to Star Wars.

I loved the first trilogy (I think I've already established that) and I couldn't wait for The Phantom Menace to come out. I think I saw it 30 times in the theaters that summer before I stopped saving my ticket stubs. It was different than the original movies (they were so much more chatty) but I liked it. And Jar Jar Binks doesn't bother me as much as he does other people.

When The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith came out I equally as excited. And then I was disappointed. I don't want to get into a debate about every little detail of the films but let me point out some high (or should that be low) lights as I saw them.

1) I don't think Hayen Christenson did a very good job as Anakin. It's more than his hair is curly where as Jake Lloyds was straight. He over acted his part. I would have much preferred to see Ryan Phillipe in the role instead. I think he would have brought that quiet menacing aura to him that I think Darth Vadar needs to have (even though he wasn't Darth Vadar yet).

2) the dialogue was horrible. The worst line (at least to me) is when Obi-Wan and Anakin are trying to rescue the Chancellor and they finally get surrounded by droidekas. Obi-Wan says "Come on, we're better than this". Cheesy. Lame. And so unlike the witty, sharp dialogue of the other movies. And so unlike the Jedi. I cringe every time I hear it. And unfortunately that isn't the only line that is bad. There are many more so I won't quote them. I wish those that helped make the first trilogy so great could have worked on the scripts for the second trilogy.

3) the movies looked too digital. The first trilogy was shot on location, real people were used in real costumes, that may or may not have been easy to move in. The movies looked like they were full of real life, in a real galaxy, far, far away. For the most part the second trilogy (especially the last two movies) were all shot on a sound stage and the backgrounds filled in digitally. TPM had locations shots and maybe that's why I like it better than the others. When Padme and Anakin frolic through the hills of Naboo it's almost the only scene shot outside. I think the whole of the last movies was shot inside. Yes, I know they can do things with lighting and digital effects to make it look they are outside, but to me it comes off more as a painting than an actual place teeming with life. I just miss that in the later films. Not filming "on location" might have kept those costs down so they could apply that money to the digital budget, but I don't think it necessarily made the movies better.

I could go on, but I won't. I don't hate the Star Wars movies. I think they offer more to imagine and wonder at than the Lord of the Rings movies. Besides, those were based on an existing story. The blueprint to the tell the story was already created. Star Wars, on the other hand, was created especially for the screen. It wasn't based on anything so it could be free to explore or do things without being constrained to an existing structure. For that imaginative quality (have you watched the movie just to stare at the people going to the theater, or in the bar scene?) I have to say Star Wars gets the edge over Lord of the Rings. Even if I tried to cheat and vote for both of them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm changing my gamertag

No, I'm not changing it to "Hot Fantasy Girl", that one's already taken. And I'm not changing it to any derivative of that name either. We encountered HFG again last night. The guys reception of her wasn't as warm and fuzzy as before (I think it didn't help much when she kept killing them with the Hammer of Dawn).

I'm going to change my name to "Buzz Kill". Or maybe "Kill Joy". Or "I ask a question and suck the life out of the party and distract my teammates so we lose the match". Do you think it's too long?

In my defense we weren't actually in a match at the time I asked the question. It just carried over into the match. And I thought it was a simple question to answer. Yes, I know there's a lot of baggage that comes with asking an ex-soldier what the Medal of Honor is usually given out for, but a simple "it's the grand-daddy of all war medals for going above and beyond the call of duty" would have sufficed. I don't think that belittles the recipients of what they achieved when they've earned a Medal of Honor if you sum it up that way. After all, I'm not military so my feelings are much more pedestrian than what an ex-soldier would feel when the talking about the Medal of Honor.

I'm sorry I brought it up. Not because we played horribly and lost the match. But because I'm sorry that it seemed to suck the life out of the party and turned a couple of outspoken-extroverted-guys-who-thrive-blowing-the-heads-off-of-locust into a couple of thought-provoking-introverted-let's-sit-and-ponder-about-it-road-kill in the middle of what should have been a fun match. It won't happen again.

And to mark the occasion and remind myself to keep my mouth shut I'm changing my gamer tag. I'm kind of partial to "Kill Joy" but what do you think?