Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My friends are a good influence on me

With all the holiday games coming out this season I don't think I know of any friends that can afford them all. And nobody likes buying a game because of the hype only to find it's a dud once they start playing it. That's why some of my friends have been talking about one of them buying a game, playing it, and then letting everyone else know 1) whether it's worth the full price as new, 2) wait until it's cheaper, 3) rent it, or 4) stay as far away from it as you can get. This process only works as long as you trust your friends and have the same taste in game. Or, if not, know what your tastes are and how those differ from your friends. And that got me thinking about the games I've picked up from the influence of my friends.

There are a lot of games that I picked up because of my brother dain bramage. But those games, and the "why"'s of how I got them I'll save for a later post. This will be about my friends online so all of these games will be "newer" compared to what dain influenced me with.

The first game my friends influenced me to get was Gears of War. I can't tell you how many times I was playing Star Wars Battlefront on my original Xbox when Cleelost and eventually El Sand Dog would send me invites to play that game. It was one I considered getting but it would require me to buy an Xbox 360 and I wanted to wait as long as I could before I did that. I eventually caved and bought the game and system and the rest, they say, is history.

I watched dain play Chromehounds many times with CyberWrat and Zenra Nukenin and while I enjoyed watching I never thought I would play it because it was so far out of my comfort zone. One day, for some reason, dain had me sit in for him while he did something else. I didn't know what I was doing but Cyber, Zenra and everyone else in the squad didn't mind. They were nice, courteous, and very understanding of a noobie that not only didn't know how to play the game but wasn't all that interested in playing it either. That soon changed.

I found a cheap copy of the game and joined the squad myself. I had a steep learning curve but they never minded when I couldn't help or contribute to the team. They constantly offered advice and parts and helped me build a hound that would fit my style of game play. Because of that I learned to like the game (I wouldn't go so far as to say I love it) and I made some great friends and strengthened the bonds with existing ones.

When it comes to racing games I prefer cart racing to realistic racing. If I want to see/do that I could just go out on the freeway. Cyber recommended Burnout Revenge as a realistic type game with some cart racing type elements to it. I saw him play the game many times and when I found a cheap copy I bought it. Instead of just trying to race, the game offers the chance and reward of hitting people or doing spectacular jumps and crashes. Not very realistic, but also not very cart racing style either. I liked the game and I still enjoy playing it today. Unfortunately I lost all my saves and rankings when my stuff got stolen so now I'm starting from scratch again.

I can't tell you how many days I saw Quality JimBeam and Genghis Khan and c5ride playing Fallout 3. I heard about the game but since I haven't done well in open world games in the past I wasn't itching to play this game. After countless hours of listening to them harp about the game's virtues I decided to get it myself. While I didn't get far in the game outside the vault (another stolen casualty) I really did like the time I spent playing it so much so that I pre-ordered Fallout: New Vegas. It takes a lot of me to play a game very little but like it enough to pre-order the sequel. I'm looking forward to F:NV now if I could just find the time to finish the first one.

I also remember when Marvel Ultimate Alliance came out. All my friends were excited about getting to play their favorite comic book heroes. I have comic books, but they're all Star Wars ones. I've never been into the other comic book heroes. Although I do remember watching a cartoon on TV with the Wonder Kids ("wonder twin powers activate") but I don't remember what show that was. I had several friends get that game and play it a lot. I wasn't really going to get it but Hell Weasell and G Sneaka wouldn't take no for an answer. They kept telling me about the game, comparing it to other games I might have played, and I think they might even have guaranteed I would like it. So I bought it.

By the time I got around to buying it most of my friends have moved on from that game. But Weasell and Sneaka have played with me while I work my way through the game. And they were right. I do like the game.

One game I knew nothing about before it came out, and very little about once it did, was Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. I saw Genghis play this for hours on end. He said he's probably played it for 100 hours yet still hasn't advanced the main story line. He was doing nothing but side quests. When I asked him about it he said it's like an open world Balder's Gate style game. Different, but close enough for my understanding. He said you'd put in hours and hours in the game and it would well worth the price. And I'm for getting my money worth on a game. He also warned me that I would need to spend large chunks of time playing it instead of short 10-15 sessions I usually get in games.

This was one of the hardest games for me to find, but when I did, it was a reasonable price so I got it. It took some times getting familiar with the menu system and map settings but I was just starting to like the game when it was stolen. One day I'm going to make sure I don't have anything to do and I'm just going to sit down and play this game. I'm sure I won't get far in the story with all those side quest, but I know I'll love every minute of it.

The hardest game for me to find, once I decided to get it, was also the game that took the most convincing and the longest time before I got it. That was Civilization Revolution.

I remember playing the demo when the game first came out but I just couldn't get a handle on the game. I deleted the demo and never thought about the game again. That was until QJB started playing it constantly not too long ago. When I asked him about the game what he told me about it didn't match up with the demo I had played many months (or years?) earlier so I didn't put the two ideas together. Based on his comments I decided to download the demo and found out I had already done so, but still didn't connect the dots. Once the game started however, I realized this was the one that I felt was trying to show me the game in gibberish. My first playthrough of my second download of this demo didn't go so well. I talked to QJB about it and he gave me pointers and tips about the game. I tried the demo again and things started to make sense. I think I played through the demo several times each time wanting to play a little bit more than what the demo offered because I was getting interested in the game. So I decided to buy it.

Unfortunately this was the hardest game to find. I did find it once but when I opened the case there was no booklet inside. I've implemented a policy that I won't buy a used game unless the booklet is included. I just like having a layout of the button/controls just in case I forget. I know I can find that information in the game but it's easier to read sometimes from the booklet. I think it took me two months to find a copy of this game (booklet included) after going into every GameStop between work and home several times a week (there are 6 stores nearby my house or on the way home from work).

Even after I got the game and started to play the full version I realized there was still a lot of stuff I didn't understand about the game. Thankfully QJB provided great "after purchase customer service" and walked me through a lot of the game. This turned out to be a game that sucked several hours out of my game time without me even noticing. I was warned about that, but I didn't believe it. Now I know better.

In addition to disk games there have been a few Arcade games that I've picked up from the recommendations of friends.

Death Spank is one of them. Sneaka said the humor in it was twisted and wrong . . . and that I would love it. How could you pass up something like that. Although I've had some problems in the game, he was right about the humor. And all my other friends who played it said it matches Sneaka's sense of humor . . . and they were right too.

I also picked up Monday Night Combat because of Sneaka. I'm not very good at it and I only know how to play the assault character type but it's the camaraderie of playing with friends that I like the most of that game. And the times when I get sneaky and kill someone. I am getting better at that.

I picked up Battlefield 1943 based on a suggestion from Evil Ric. I had been getting burned out on Call of Duty games but he said this game was different. It was and it wasn't. I never played it as much as my other friends so now I've left alone to get that "play 100 games" achievements which is actually harder now because the game has gotten so laggy.

I picked up Gin Rummy to play with Zenra and because I'm a huge gin rummy fan. It's nice to sit and play a game and have a civil and polite conversation with someone. I wished more of my friends had a copy of that game so we could all play it like we all played Uno back in the day.

I also picked up SpyGlass Board Games based on some conversations with Kralon. I like playing chess, checkers and othello (reversi in that game) but I wasn't sure if the price was worth it. It has been, except for the fact that I can't seem to beat the AI in checkers so I can get that last achievement.

I might not like my friends talking about games I have and spoiling the plot for me but I do listen to them when they talk about the games I don't have. Sometimes I pick them up and sometimes I don't. I think Red Dead Redemption is a game I never will get because of what my friends said about it and the fact my friends now know what types of games I like and don't like. They said I wouldn't like the open world aspect of it.

I consider all of this advise and influence good on me and my gaming. I've picked up games I probably wouldn't have paid attention to otherwise. Unfortunately my friend's advice is a bad influence on my bank account. Maybe I should start sending them the bill when I pick up a game they recommend. I wonder if they would stop recommending games if I did that. I wonder what hidden gems I would miss out because of that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I accomplished a lot this weekend

With having a full time job during the week sometimes big tasks get pushed to the weekend when I can spend more time on them. You know, like pulling weeds, chopping grass, beating a boss to get the tuna inside him, driving a vehicle up a snow covered mountain to Peak 15. You know, the usual.

This weekend I accomplished a lot. No, I didn't pull weeds or chop grass, but I did get that pesky tuna and made it to the top of Peak 15. Better still was that by finally being able to do those two things I got myself unstuck in a couple of games.

My tuna problem was in Death Spank. It's a new arcade game that several of my friends recommended and I'm glad they did. One of the missions is for a lazy fisherman who wants you to beat a mini-boss and cut the tuna out of his stomach. I couldn't ever seem to beat the boss. If I took a lot of damage and had to run away to heal when I would get back the boss would be back to full strength. That's when I went online and figured out what to do.

Apparently there are turnips of something that the boss will eat to restore his health if he's left alone for too long. Destroy the turnips . . . destroy the boss. I made one attempt many weeks ago to do just that but failed. I tired to destroy the turnips too close to the boss and we engaged in combat before I could finish. He beat me. I died. Game over. Moving on. This time I made sure to only go after the turnips while the boss was somewhere else. It worked and in no time at all I beat him, had the tuna in my inventory and was heading back to the lazy fisherman. My reward? He instantly healed me. Unfortunately I had used up some items to heal myself before I got back there. All for nothing. Except that now I'm no longer stuck in that game.

The other game I got unstuck in this weekend (I have many more I need to work on) was Mass Effect. I've seen a couple of my friends playing the first and second one and I thought I'd give it another try. I was at the point in the story when you first get a chance to drive a vehicle. You have to make it up to the top of Peak 15 to find out what's going on and to look for someone. No matter how many times I tried I kept dying at the first tunnel. That's when I put the game away and got some advice from friends.

One person advised to stay in the car the whole time. Another advised to get out and fight when I saw people. He figured a three member party would have better control and firepower to go after individual attackers instead of using just the vehicle. On my first play through yesterday I stayed in the car . . . and discovered I could repair some of the damage the car took. Yeah! On that attempt I made it through the tunnel but then promptly died on the other side.

On my next attempt I drove up to the people, got out of the car and tried to attach, using the car as coverage. Unfortunately the enemy kept shooting at the car, so even though I wasn't in it, it was still taking damage. After clearing out all the enemies in the front of the tunnel I drove in. I died before I could make it to the other end.

The next time I left the vehicle around a corner and walked up to the enemy. I cleared out the whole tunnel and then hoofed it back to the car. There were only a few shields I had to take out to get through the tunnel but it was so much easier. Once I got to the end of the tunnel I got out and repeated the process. After a couple more times there were only turrets to deal with and those I could take out with the rockets (which I had just learned I had). After I got all the way up to the top I couldn't believe how easy it was to do so. It made me wonder why I hadn't thought about that tactic. I guess that's why I'll never make a good general.

Now, some would say that my weekend wasn't very productive at all. Especially my mother. I still have weeds and grass in my backyard that need to be taken care of. But for me I think it was a very productive weekend after all. Because I'm unstuck in Mass Effect I can now play through to the end, start the sequel AND talk to my friends about the game without avoiding spoilers. With Death Spank I can now go back to enjoying a game that was driving me nuts. I loved the humor but when you can't get past what seems a simple task even that humor turns sour in your ears.

Maybe I should spend every weekend working on the games that I'm stuck in. I have enough that I could probably go a whole year without duplication. And if the weeds and grass get high enough I can always call a landscaper. That way the yard looks nice and I don't have to miss any game time. Sounds like a plan to me. Does anyone know a cheap, but good, landscaper?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poll Results - Are you getting Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach is the big game to get right now. I also think it's the harbinger of the holiday season of new game releases. I know, I've already got several games on pre-order. But Halo: Reach is out now and I wanted to know if you were going to get it. At least for the three people who voted in this poll besides me.

Are you getting Halo: Reach?

Yes, on release date = 1 votes
Yes, eventually = 2 votes
Maybe, if all my friends get it first = 0 votes
NO! = 1 vote

Okay, lets get into the voting. And I promise no "Reach around" jokes. I already used up my allotment of one.

I voted "Yes, eventually". Because I put three games on pre-order a while ago that will be released in October I thought I'd wait to get this game for several reasons. 1) I haven't even finished the first Halo game, 2) outside of a few die hard fanboys I don't have too many people on my friends list that would like to play this game 3) I haven't even put in my pre-orders on the games that come out in November or December yet and I'm not made of money.

I will get this game eventually because I have all the other Halo games (with the exception of Halo Wars). If I didn't get this game it would be like buying a chess set one piece at a time but then not buying the pawns. Sure, you might throw them away willy-nilly in a chess game thinking they're worthless, but you're not going to win without them. If Halo: Reach helps to tell the full story of that game world I'm all for it. But until I play (or finish) more of those other Halo games the game is pretty much worthless to me. I think I'll wait until either 1) the price comes down, 2) there are no other games out there I want to have more, or 3) I win the lottery and have oodles of money to spend on things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of life. Like Halo games.

I don't have a problem with the gameplay, environments, or story in a Halo game. It's when I go online and play with teabagging idiots that annoys me. For some of my friends it's the "Halo jump" that annoys them. Either way, the game is great....the people you play it with not necessarily so.

So what games do I have on pre-order that are pushing Halo: Reach to the back of my budget? Dance Dance Revolution, Fallout New Vegas, and Fable III. Games that are further out that I want to pick up are: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War 3, Dead Space 2, The Force Unleashed 2 and a whole lot more. I might be treating myself a lot this Christmas season so any gifts I give might be a little skimpy. But I'm not complaining. :) What games are on your radar this holiday season?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Decline of RPGs

The first video games I played were Tetris and Mario Bros. A puzzle and platform game respectively. But my love of video games in general came with RPGs. Those Role Playing Games that allow you to customize your character's strengths and weaknesses and battle enemy foes using physical attacks and magic. There was strategy involved but you were not scripted to playing the game a set way.

If any series cemented what RPGs were all about it was Final Fantasy. Although there were RPGs before the first Final Fantasy game was released no other series has done it better than developer's Square's (whether they were Square Soft, Square Enix or just Square) long loved series. But I'm beginning to wonder about the health of RPGs in today's gaming environment and whether or not Square has given into the pressure of making the games more action oriented and faster paced.

In order to see the decline of the RPGs, let's start at the beginning. Most of the very first RPGs had a similar system of battle. You had three or four characters standing in a line facing any number of foes (also standing in a line) and you each took turns in the battle. A menu would pop up of available moves and the player entered whatever commands they wanted to see their characters preform. Playable characters also had designated jobs or job skills and no matter how much you wanted that magic user to use a sword they were never going to be very good at it. Your warrior would always be your muscle man. Your healer would always be a girl. Your black mage would always be the shy dorky one.

One problem with early RPGs was that you wouldn't always know when your characters would take their turn. There was nothing more frustrating than having a character with low hit points get killed off before one of your other characters could heal them and all because of their turn order. That curative spell now gets redirected to a character that doesn't really need it and it's a waste of magic points.

Then along came "attack gauges" or "turn order line ups". These allowed you to see when in the order of battle which characters would act first. If you notice that all the enemy are going to strike before you even get a turn then there's no point in trying to save a teammate if they're going to get struck down before you get a chance to heal them. You turn(s) would be better served striking at the enemy with the characters you do have or shoring them up for the next turn. It was a balancing act of attack and defend. There was strategy involved and the player had to think ahead in order to survive some tough boss battles.

So now players had "turn order" displays to better help them battle enemies, but characters where still standing in a straight line at the start of battle. In the 'guise of making RPGs better, developers now instituted what I call a "roaming" nature to the battle. Instead of drawing a line in the sand of where each team would stand and fight from,characters now roamed about the battle field. But enemies roamed around as well. At the start of a battle a character might be in front of the enemy but later on they could isolated and surrounded by the enemy. While this did make the battle systems more "active" and faster paced because you not only had to keep track of commands issued and the order they would be performed you had to keep an eye out for enemy movement so no one character gets in trouble. The problem with all this movement was that a lot of information was being displayed on the screen and a battle could get very distracting to a player if they paid attention to every blip and dot that showed on the TV.

Some time after "roaming" was introduced to RPGs developers decided that it was just too much for games to handle so they started to create games where the computer controlled the movements and commands of some of your party members. No longer would players have to concentrate on keeping three or four characters alive and active on the field. Now they only had to concentrate on one. Those characters that were previously designated as "healers" "warriors" or "magi" were now locked into those roles and that was the only thing they could do. The gamer had one character they could customize and grow however they wanted to. Everyone else's destiny was written in the programming code.

You would think that RPGs could go no further in eliminating the human player from the game, but they have. Final Fantasy XIII is a perfect example of that. When a battle starts there is an "auto battle" option available. What this command option does, is have the computer pick the best attack options and programs them in for you. One click of a button and your character will execute three preprogrammed commands. And your other characters are left to whatever commands the games programmed them for. But there's a twist. If you team is in need of healing, you either have to use potions yourself or you have to switch your whole team to a different "paradigm" in order for one of the AI controlled characters to heal you.

What a "paradigm shift" is, is a pre-programmed set of class skills for your party. Unfortunately, you might be in a position to want to throw a lot more fire power at an enemy at the same time you might need someone to heal the group. Having a paradigm shift that gives you both is impossible. Instead of three strong attackers you now might have one attacker, one support person and one healer.

For me, all of these changes have created a disconnect with RPGs and the characters that inhabit them. I don't care as much about Lightning or Hope as I did about Cloud or Vivi. Vanille is more annoying than Rikku ever was. And I don't care if Snow gets to save Sara as much as I cared if Tidus got to save Yuna. The games are still RPGs. You can still customize your characters (albeit down a very limited, straight forward path).

RPGs were like Chess games for gamers. There was thought and planning involved. They took hours to play and had a story line that merited the time invested in the game. Now a days is seems it's all about throwing the player right in and GIVE THEM ACTION ACTION ACTION!!!!

Maybe you don't think RPGs have changed. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's me that has changed. I'm older. I've got more things and responsibilities going on in my life so my expectations for RPGs might naturally have changed. But there's one problem with that. I've finished Final Fantasy X but I still love to go back and play it. It stills brings the same emotions and excitement out in me as when I played it the first time. Now some scenes in the beginning are more poignant than they were the first time around because I know what's going to happen. With newer RPGs I'm just not feeling that. It's like developers are saying "we've got to hook 'em first with action and make the game easier to play to they'll stick with it". To be honest that's not usually why gamers get involved with RPGs.

I will probably always love RPGs. They haven't messed them up enough where I'm turned off the genre as a whole. I have learned to be more cautious with my expectations and purchases for games in that genre. That didn't use to be the case. I would buy any and every RPG I could find. The first game I finished to the end credits was Legend of Dragoon. That is an RPG worthy of (and set up for) a sequel. I have since gone back and restarted that game as well because I miss it.

There is a saying that "if it's not broke, don't fix it". I wish developers would have listened to that as they have evolved the RPG style of game. While, attack gauges and turn orders are nice they still keep the integrity of the RPG experience intact. When the game starts to control more characters than the human playing it, I think they've gone to far. Hopefully this is only a trend and this "decline of RPGs" is only a pothole on the road to some great RPG games to come out in the future. Long live Vivi!

New Poll: Are you getting Halo: Reach?

There's a little game coming out next week that you might not have heard about. It's called Halo: Reach. What? You have heard about it? Well then, vote in this poll. Please!

Are you getting Halo: Reach?

Yes, I'm getting it at release
Yes, eventually
Maybe, if all my friends get it first

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old....but still true

I've just been flipping back through older enteries seeing if my style has changed and if I'm actually getting better as a writer when I came across this one:

How hard is it to finish a game?

I was sitting around with nothing better to do (obviously I was at work) when I had an epiphany. I own a lot of video games, but I haven't finished very many of them. Okay, I had only finished 3 (Legend of Dragoon, Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance). And I wondered why I hadn't finished more. I sat and stared out into space, pondering this dilemma when I had another epiphany. I'm a video game addict.

I play video games a lot. And I own a lot of video games. But there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to play them all . . . especially when new ones keep being released. I'd buy a game, play it for several hours, then have to put it aside so I could play the next great game I just bought. When I finally make it back to that first game I'm so lost I don't have a clue what to do next so I just start the game over. I've probably played the first 5-10 hours of ALL my games at least twice. And some of them more than halfway through.

It's great to have a lot of games. I enjoy them all. But I want to enjoy the fact that I've finished them. Not finishing some games meant I couldn't talk to some of my friends because THEY'VE finished the game and they don't want to spoil anything for me. It's annoying when you're not in on the secrets. So I devised a plan:

Pick one game for each console and don't play anything else until you've finished those games.

Since I own several systems (SNES, N64, GameCube, PS, PS2, Xbox, GBA SP, PSP and a PC of course) I figured I could pick several different types of games to play to suit my every changing mood (I am a girl after all). But how was I to "stay on target"? I could enlist my gaming brother. After all, he's the "dealer" that got me hooked on video games.

When I told him of my plan, he liked it, since he's having the same problem as me (with a lot more games to agonize over). He wanted in. We put our heads together and made a list of games that we both own (for the same console). We'd be each other's support system and help network when we got stuck in a game and can't find that damn hidden treasure. ARGH! Since it was my idea, I let him pick the games. He picked: Final Fantasy VII (PS), Summoner (PS2), Star Wars: Jedi Knight II Jedi Outcast (Xbox) and Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube).

I had dabbled in all of them (had 10+ hours in FF7) but I was ready to start over and play them to the end. We started out with a bang, all gung-ho and everything, but that didn't last long for either of us. I found out I have another video game addiction. Xbox Live. There's something about beating another player and knowing their human and not AI (though for some it's hard to tell the difference). I laugh gleefully (some call it a cackle) but I enjoy myself. Especially when they find out they've been beaten by a girl. Then my gaming brother opened the flood gates and got me hooked on something else. Xbox 360.

We both exercise a lot of restraint not buying new console when they first come out. Let other players work out all the bugs and kinks in the new systems, we'll wait for a later release. But my brother couldn't wait anymore. He bought a 360 before Christmas. We met up each week and I had to sit there and drool while he played Gears of War and played around on the dashboard. I couldn't take it anymore. I caved. I bought a 360 in an after Christmas sale. And now I'm hooked. Achievements? I'm all for them. Gamerscore? I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Now it's not just another new game that I want to play, but a whole new system.

It's been 6 months since we started our little pact. Neither one of us have finished a game he picked out. We're getting closer, but at this rate it'll take us 3 years to finish them all. And think of all the games we're NOT playing (or trying not to play) during that time. On second thought, I don't think I want to.

I laughed at out loud at the last paragraph. It's been more than three years since then and I don't think neither dain or I are any closer to finishing those games than we were back in March of 2007 when I posted this. I have an excuse . . . my game saves were robbed. I don't know what dain's excuse is other than the fact that there are so many more games out there that he owns but hasn't played. Oh wait, that's my excuse too.

Poll Results - How badly did I mess up?

I was so anxious to get this poll over with I actually shortened it one day just so we could all more on. Besides, nobody was voting any way. I'll have to come up with something good for the next poll. Anyway, here are the results:

In my "Done with Online Gaming" post did I...?

kick an ant hill = 1 vote
whacked a hornet's nest = 0 votes
stuck my foot in my mouth = 0 votes
stepped in shit = 0 votes
all of the above = 2 votes

I don't think it's any surprise that I voted for "all of the above" (I just hope I stuck my foot in my mouth BEFORE I stepped in shit). And while I've already explained to some friends my thoughts behind that post in question I think I should it explain it to everyone so we're all on the same page.

When some people get frustrated they vent right away. There's nothing wrong with that. For me I blow off a little steam but then keep most of it inside and try to analyze it and process it until it finally comes out in a blog post here. Sometimes I just don't care and that frustration melts away. Other times I've already got so much frustrations from work that playing games online only makes things so much worse. That's when I say I've had enough. And that's where I was mentally when I wrote that piece.

There was so much more in that post that I took out because I realized that I was whining about whiners and I thought that made me feel foolish and made things a bit ironic.

One of the examples I left out was when I was playing on my own (without my friends) and we were playing Security. I was in the front and ran to the frag grenades and picked them up. I guess my teammate behind me wanted the frags themselves so he spent that whole run firing at me and trying to push me aside to pick them up himself. He didn't get them. He then spent the rest of that round following me around and shooting at me. When I got in a battle with someone on the other team he just stood there and didn't help out even when I moved the enemy around so he could shoot him in the back. He waited until after I was dead before he engaged.

The next time frags came up I went there again. The same thing happened. This time the enemy came right over and downed me right away while I still had the grenades in my hand. I had tossed one grenade that killed the enemy but he had downed me before he died. My team mate stood and watched, never bothering to help me up. When I died he grabbed my grenades and ran off . . . only to be immediately killed by someone else.

Then there was a match on Ruins (once again I was by myself) where my own team mate pushed me out of the way when I was going for the frags under the bridge. He immediately ran to our torque corner and pushed two other players out of the way to grab torque. He then stepped in front of our cubby and had his head blown off. So he grabbed both power weapons, but didn't get a chance to use them. Guess what he did next? He quit. Unfortunately he was host and we were all booted from the game.

I give my friends a hard time sometimes when I tease them that nobody gets a chance to get the power weapons except them. But sometimes I struggle with that. I WANT a chance to use the weapons and get good with them, but I also WANT our team to win. If having the power weapons in an experienced player's hands vs. a complete and utter bumbling noob I would rather have the pro use it than me. Maybe if our team was slaughtering the enemy I might ask to use a power weapon on a round or two. If we are getting slaughtered I still think we can have a chance to win even down 4 to nothing.

I want to use the power weapons because I don't want my experience in Gears to be what it was like in Star Wars Battlefront. When I first started playing I could never get into a vehicle because everybody else would take them. It took years before I could get my hands on a land based transport (tank, speeder, etc) and then I couldn't do very much with it before I was killed. I just didn't have the practice with those options to be effective. And don't get me started on flying vehicles. I still can't use them.

I don't want to finish my game play in Gears and say I never really learned how to use the torque bow or sniper rifle. It's a part of the game and I would really like to have a go at it. Besides, I think it will help my kill/death ratio.

I don't really care so much about my kill/death ratio. I care more about getting a win . . . or a loss. But I've noticed a trend in Gears. Those that use the long distance power weapons (sniper and torque) have a higher kill/death ratio than those that don't. It's hard for me sometimes to listen to my friends and teammates berate the opposing team for having a low kill/death ratio. It's common to hear "you have a .5 kill/death ratio dude, you suck". Dude, that's what I have. I must suck.

It's not like I don't try. Some might even say I try too much ("Pengwenn what were you thinking?"). It's just that in order for me to get a kill without a power weapon I need to get closer to the enemy. Unfortunately that means I'll probably die more often than I kill them. It would be nice sometime to sit back in friendly territory and yet still have the firepower to knock out the enemy one by one. But when I do get the opportunity to use the power weapons I'm more likely to shoot myself in the foot due to my inexperience.

I wish I could tell you all the frustrations that lead up to why I wrote that post. But if I did you would complain that I'm being a whiner too. And I've probably bored you enough already. I just really want to enjoy playing games with my friends. I love winning. Hate losing. Everything else is whipped cream to me. And if I get a chance to use a power weapon and it helps my team that would be the cherry on the top. Let's just hope the host doesn't quit before the match is over.