Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Uncharted 3's Awesomeness

What really sets Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception apart from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are the enemies. Not the guys you shoot all over the world, but the ones in charge of those grunts.

U2 had Lazarevic, a Soviet warlord and arms dealer, who by himself was a terrifying force. He was huge physically, but incredibly smart and tactical. He had no qualms of shooting his own man if he betrayed him. Going toe-to-toe with this man was frightening, and he was nearly impossible to defeat.

U3 has Marlowe and Talbot, two folks from a super-secret organization that has operated behind the scenes of the British Crown for centuries. If they want something, they get it. Their grunts don't wear body armor; they wear suits. They mean business. Literally. While Marlow is the gal who runs the show, it's Talbot who gets his hands dirty and follows through. He is conniving and quick, but also can knock you on your ass.

It's not really what he says that gets under Nate's skin in this game, but what he does and the smug look on his face when he's doing it. In my first play-through of this game, I felt all the anger Nate felt toward this man, and that leads up to this part of the game.

(Skip up to about 3:30 to see just how much you want to punch this guy's lights out.)

Nate chases Talbot through the streets of Yemen and it really feels like you are going to get your hands on this jerk. You've seen Nate pull off amazing feats of strength and speed in the previous games, but now you see an enemy actually match, if not outperform, Nate at his own game.

Talbot is quick and nimble, and leaps his way from Nate at incredible speed (although I'm sure the game's programming has it so he is always in front of you). However, you can see that both of these guys are still human through all of this. They make mistakes, take wrong turns, and get hit by cars. But there is so much energy and anger between them that it doesn't slow down.

After almost 5 minutes of chase, you finally get to Talbot, and can take him on yourself. Talbot and Nate each take a beating (Talbot gets clocked by a 2x4), exchange blows, and Nate gives Talbot a few jabs to the nuts for good measure. After attempting to drown Nate, Nate smacks his face into the side of the fountain. That should knock a few of the man's teeth out, I say.

As satisfying as this beat-down is, just when you think you've won, Rameses comes out of nowhere to take Nate out himself with yet another chunk of wood. Sigh. We almost had him.

I admit, this has to be one of my all-time favorite moments in gaming. The intensity of the chase, the emotions of our hero, the well-matched and believable matchup between Nate and Talbot; this whole scene feels real. It's intense.

It's also probably the biggest turning point of the game's plot. Before this whole scene, Nate and crew had the upper-hand on Marlowe. They knew the location of the lost city, and Marlowe didn't. Things couldn't get better, until they got this much worse. Sully gets captured. Nate gets captured. The bad guys now have all but won. But bad news for them: they just made this whole mess personal.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Packed and Ready

I know you are wondering, "Tim, what are you going to be playing this summer?"

Well, last week I was getting all sentimental about leaving for 14 weeks. Not so much because I'll be in strange lands with new people and the real world attacking me from all angles, but instead I will be leaving my consoles behind.

I was packing and unpacking all my stuff and came across my library of video games. I then had these desires to play and replay a bunch of those games. Infamous. Valkyria Chronicles. Eternal Darkness. Resident Evil. Donkey Kong Country Returns. Half Life 2.

The list goes on, trust me.

But with my PS3 and Wii hooked up to the TV in my parents' living room, I don't have that opportunity to play my console games this summer (however, Half Life 2 is on my laptop, but I didn't pack my mouse :-\). My gaming opportunities will come from my new Nintendo DS Lite, if you recall. And I'll tell you what games I've packed for the summer.

1. Advance Wars 1+2

Advance Wars was one of the first games I had for my GBA, and since my DS Lite can play GBA games, I am taking full advantage and bringing along both of these stellar strategy games. They will be great for short bursts of gaming, allowing about one or two missions at a time.

2. Fire Emblem

DUH! What would I be without Fire Emblem? I don't think any further explanation is required.

3. Golden Sun 1+2

Golden Sun is the very first game I bought and played for GBA. It is fantastic. The sequel is even better in almost every way. There's more reasoning than their awesomeness to why I am bringing them along:

4. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Yup, the third game of the series, and the first actual DS game on the list. I hope to play through all three games in order and see if the world is truly doomed (like how yesterday was supposed to be the rapture according to one guy).

5. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

I needed a Zelda game on this list. Honestly, when I was at Best Buy, it was either this or Pokemon White. I don't have the patience to play a Pokemon game anymore... Who am I kidding? I played Pokemon Red last summer, and Pokemon Crystal a month ago. I am not ashamed!

6. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

The sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. I searched quite a bit for this game. No Gamestop in my area back home had it, but the ones in Ann Arbor did, for $18, AND with a case! That's a steal. The lowest price you will see this game going for online is about $40.

7. Plants Vs. Zombies

My dad bought this game for himself, and in the less than two weeks I was at home, he played this game four at least 2 hours a night. I can see why. It is ridiculously addictive and I see it being perfect for short bursts of gaming in car rides or any other situations.

There you have it. The seven games that will feed my habit for the summer. I do not think I will be disappointed by anything that I bring along. But I really should have packed a mouse so I could play Half Life 2...

Friday, May 06, 2011

Five Years of Gaming Memories

I'm not about to get sentimental. That's not my thing. So don't expect this to be a generalized reflection of my time in college, no. Instead, I will reflect one some of my fondest memories in video gaming during college. If I forget to mention something that you remember, call me out on it and I will include it. Let us begin.

Freshman Year

The very first night in the dorms, I asked some of my floor mates if anyone wanted to play Mario Kart. I think it was Tyler, J, Amber and myself. Needless to say, nobody wanted to play Mario Kart with me for the rest of the year.

Nick had Guitar Hero. Nick would let me play Guitar Hero in his room. Nick and his roommates soon got sick of me playing Guitar Hero.

Tyler and I would play ROMs on our computers, and it mostly ended up with me getting frustrated that Tyler was playing the same game I was. He then had WoW commitments, and I would play ROMs some more.

Jim and I walked to GameTraders and I bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus. For about 8 straight hours, we played that game from start to finish, and then went back to collect every single crystal.

There was a LAN Party with a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. We said that we would train and then run that shit. Well, nobody wanted to pay $10 or whatever to enter, so we all just became really, really good at Melee. There were many epic Fox vs. Falco battles.

The Wii came out! The first day back after winter break, we all made Miis on Jim's Wii, and played Wii Sports like it was our job. I got my Wii the week after, and Bowling became the most popular game. We once sat around in Jim's room and as they were drinking in their dorm, they wouldn't let me stop playing until I completed the Bowling trick shot mini games. It didn't take too long.

Sophomore Year

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption came out that August. Finest controls for a first-person game I have ever played.

Bad news: Jim and I wore roommates, so we played Melee a shit-ton. In March, Brawl came out, and we went to GameStop at midnight to get it. We played for the next 7 hours back at our room. We even came back from Spring Break a day early to do that.

Bill invited me to play Brawl with him and his friends down in the lobby. One guy was spamming Pikachu's Down-B attack, and the next match I guaranteed I could win with Pikachu and never once use Down-B. Success. I also whooped ass with Ice Climbers, and Bill gave me free sandwiches.

Halo 3 was huuuuuuuge. We must have played through the campaign about a dozen times. Straight through. One sitting. We'd play online together, and I would go down to Clark's room, and we'd play on separate TVs. I had an XBox Live account that was about to run out, so we played online all night until I got to level 30.

Jim had Super Mario Galaxy and had me play through with Luigi. I got 60 stars and beat Bowser in one afternoon.

Oh dear. We went to a speed dating event, and Jim invited these two girls back to our room to play Super Mario Bros. 3. We played through the game twice. Whatever happened to those girls?

Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero 2. Guitar Hero 3. I'm pretty sure that's what contributed to the ganglion cyst I had in my left wrist. Clark and I played through all of those songs, and would have Pro Face-offs playing Through the Fire and Flames, getting super tired halfway through the song.

This was also the year I earned my first 100 game winning streak in Freecell.

Junior Year

I bought my PS3 that summer, and I played a bunch of Call of Duty in my dorm. Everybody did. I was so much better at World at War than I was at Modern Warfare.

Clark got Rock Band, and I learned to play the drums. Then I got really good at playing the drums. Then I got better than Clark at playing the drums. We had a rock session with John before he moved out of Saxe. That was one of my favorite jam sessions (especially with John singing Freak on a Leash).

Steve and I would play Mercenaries in Resident Evil 5. We had such great strategies for every character combination and on each map. Those SS rankings kept coming. We knew exactly how many enemies were on each map, where the chickens were, and when the run away from the executioners.

Senior Year

When Modern Warfare 2 came out, I sat in my bedroom for about 10 hours and played the campaign straight through (because PSN was soooooo busy). I don't think I turned the lights on in my bedroom. Danny must have mocked me once or twice.

We had this idea to have a party in Y-11 and advertise it as having a "live band." The live band was me playing GH, but people could sign up and sing songs. We had a practice night doing that with Danny, Josh, Joe, Derda, and Laura. It was a big success, but we never got around to having that party.

Josh had Rock Band, so we got to have quite a few late night Jam sessions. Josh is nowhere near as good as I am, but his appreciation for rock music is respectable.

I almost forgot! Josh got the new Tiger Woods game, and he, Danny, Rob and I would play two full rounds until about 2 a.m. We created characters. Josh created himself, Danny created a woman named Beau Kochy, and I created a woman named Sandy Beaver. Josh owned the game, yet was the very last one of us to hit a hole-in-one.

We went to O'Kelly's on a Tuesday, and Joe doesn't drink, so he wasn't comfortable there. I wasn't comfortable because I had to go poop really bad, and I was not about to poop at the bar. Joe and I decided to head back to Y-11 and play Spec Ops missions on MW2. Anyway, I'm clenching as hard as I can, and Joe is driving carefully because the snow had made the roads pretty bad. As he turns right onto Deerfield, he loses traction and spins into 270, so he has to drive the opposite direction until he can find a spot to turn around. We somehow made it back before I shat my pants.

Aaron brought his Gamecube to nationals in Louisville, and we played Mario Party one night. Danny and I were a team, so we took turns, and then decided to play spoiler and screw over whomever was in first. It worked, and we won. On the last night, we had a huge Mario Tennis tournament and drank a lot of beers. I also remember not wearing any pants...

Victory Lap

I played a lot MW2 in the fall, but it was hard because the internet at Tallgrass is terrible, so I played plenty of single player games.

Joe and I would play Firefight mode in Halo: Reach, and we even had a 3 hour match that just never seemed to end. Probably because we were invincible and had bottomless ammo. Somehow, that game is still fun after 3 hours.

Over winter break, I was at home and Ben invited me to play Diablo 2 online with him. Ten hours later, we were halfway through the third act when we decided we should probably go to bed.

I downloaded Mass Effect for cheap when Steam had great sales, and one Monday afternoon after my graphic design class, I played Mass Effect for about 11 hours, breaking for lunch and dinner.

In the fall, there were quite a few people at Clark's and we decided to have a huge jam session with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. This one girl had quite the pipes and knew all these hard rock songs, which was awesome. We rocked until about 5 or 6 a.m. and then played Tiki Topple until the sun came up. That was also the day Danny asked me to be the minister at his wedding.

This was also the year I earned my second 100 game winning streak in Freecell.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Handheld Gaming

If you haven't heard yet, I will be a communications intern for the American Junior Golf Association this summer. What this means is all summer I will be traveling A LOT, and sleeping in hotels a bunch. So my PS3 and Wii? They won't see any action from me for four months. (I will let my family use my PS3 as a Blu-ray player, though.)

So I had the thought today: maybe I should buy a Nintendo DS and get the new Pokemon game...

Well, I actually have put a ton of thought into this today. Just ask Danny. I will need to address my gaming fix this summer, and if I am on the road a lot, and spending a lot of time in hotels, handheld gaming is the perfect solution.

Now brace yourselves, this will be one epic post.

I used to be quite the handheld gamer in my day. Gameboys? I had them. Just about every kind. Gameboy. Gameboy Color. Gameboy Advance. I would bring my GB in any car ride I went on. Going up north, to my aunt's house in Lansing, even short trips to the store. Pokemon, Mario Tennis, and Zelda saw a lot of playing time. Hell, I just remembered that I would play Mario Tennis on bus rides during tennis season. I was much better at Mario Tennis...

I bought the GBA as a sort of graduation gift to myself after middle school with Golden Sun. It was perfect. I must have played through Golden Sun about 6 times. Golden Sun 2 about 4 times. Pokemon Sapphire about 3 times. Advance Wars 1 and 2. Who knows how much I played Mario Kart. FIRE EMBLEM! HOLY MOLY! FIRE EMBLEM! After all that and more, my GBA has had a funky screen for a few years now. It happened sometime between playing it in class my freshman year and jury duty last summer. See, my GBA went everywhere.

(Sidenote: On my GBC last summer, I also played Pokemon Red, Zelda: Oracle of Ages, Zelda: Oracle of Time, and some more Mario Tennis.)

That's isn't all the GBA I've played, though. I've had a GBA emulator on my computer(s) for the past seven years or so. That's Fire Emblem (again!) and two more Fire Emblems, Final Fantasies 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, at least one play-through of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow a year, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, some Mario Golf, a bit of Tony Hawk, Metroid: Zero Mission (multiple times), and Metroid: Fusion (even more times). It's ridiculous.

Oh! And my sophomore roommate had a PSP, which we only used to play Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Between the three of us, we had one monster vigilante mission going. We would spawn a tank, aim backwards, and light up anything behind us, using the cannon as a boost to catch up with our target.

See, that's all handheld gaming. Imagine all that time if I had a book in my hands instead. Let's not even get into the amount of time I may have put into console gaming (and PC gaming, too. I guess).

So that brings me back to the Nintendo DS. My research says that the 3DS is coming out later this month. But I don't want to spend $250 on a handheld gaming system. The debate instead came down to the DSi vs. the DS Lite. Do I want the newer version with a larger screen, downloadable capabilities, a camera, and other features with the DSi? Or do I want the older version, that is equally portable, plays the same DS games, but is also backwards compatible for GBA games with the DS Lite?

Well, if you have read anything above, you might have concluded that backwards compatibility is VERY important to me (i.e. my 80 gb PS3 and my Wii). I still want to be able to play the older games in the current generation. I've written this before.

Which brings me to my decision of buying a DS Lite as a college graduation gift to myself in May. We have come full circle, and everything you've read just now makes sense. Here's to more countless hours playing Pokemon, Fire Emblem, and Zelda.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

153 Lines - UPDATE

I love Tetris. I play it multiple times each day. I'm the kind of player that should be described as "Go big or go home." I set up for the Tetrises (four-line boomshakalas) even when it comes to the higher-speed, late stages. If a problem arises, I will solve it, even if it means exacerbating the situation I was already in.

But I live for the Tetrises.

This afternoon as I played my first game of the day, same strategy. I'm rolling through, getting primed for a new high score. (Note: a new high score in points; 153 lines in not close the the highest amount of lines I have scored, which has exceed 200.) My current high score is 137,986 with 106 lines.

Yes, 106 lines. Go big or go home.

And as you can tell by the title of this post, I had 153 lines. But I came across a slight misplacement of an L-block, and there was no way I could correct. I finished with 128,936 points. What was my problem? Well, I knew the risks before I started playing.

The risk of putting iTunes on shuffle while playing.

I typically just play an album straight through so I don't get caught off-guard with a slower rhythm in a song. But I can't risk pausing Tetris to switch songs and throw off my own rhythm.

Here are the songs that played during my run:

Sukie in the Graveyard - Belle and Sebastian
Five - Ratatat
Everything Will Be Alright - The Killers

Can you see what killed me? Everything was not alright when The Killers started playing. I was distracted because as the tempo increased in Tetris, it slowed in the music. Yet I was still able to manage just one more Tetris until a new high score.

UPDATE: 12 hours later (it is now 1:30 a.m.) I scored 150240 with 150 lines. Thank you Deerhunter.

UPDATE 2: One week later, 178 lines and 188,801. With iTunes on Shuffle.