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Skyrim First Impressions [GO]
Nov 18th, 2011 by Dan

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim 03

It's definitely a very pretty game (Photo courtesy nxcuso)

Well, guys, I finally did it. After all the hype and all the insistence of my friends, I plopped down $60 and bought me Skyrim. Mind you, I found Fallout 3 to be dull most of the time and marginally entertaining at other times and I never had even the slightest interest in playing Oblivion, but here I was, buying into the hype.

Within the first hour of playing Skyrim I ran into every single thing I hated about Fallout and every reason I didn’t want to play Oblivion. I will enumerate these things below:

1. The fucking fantasy accents. I really hate how people insist that everyone in fantasy media have some sort of European accent.

2. Combat/Movement is floaty, disconnected-feeling, and not fun. The NPC animation is kind of janky. I dunno. Nothing has any of that tim rogers-style friction. My actions don’t pop and I feel like a bull just barreling through the world with zero finesse. It’s clumsy and awkward to me (at least at the moment)

3. Halfway through the first quest I became so encumbered that I had to clear out my inventory or walk at a glacial pace.

4. Not long after that I came across a lore book. Instead of easing me in to the world of Skyrim, this book contained 35 (not exaggerating that much) terms – be they races, countries, concepts, or things – that had no explanation or basis for someone like me to understand. It read something like this to me, “And then Fulanito found a jibbertijab and took it to Fluttergamon so that he could take his place as the leader of the Roobawoo people.” It’s incomprehensible. I literally could not parse more than a handful of sentences and this book was meant to set up the whole Dragonborn thing.

5. Conversations were super boring! “Let us both stand completely still and talk about Whiterun. If I move my vocal chords shut down.”

6. There were arbitrary rules about stealing stuff in the first house I was at. Dude will literally empty his pockets and give everything on him to me, I can take all his food, pick up gold coins from his table and keep them, but if I take his boots that are under the table…no, that’s stealing.

7. Last bad thing: the interface on PC is shit. It’s built for a controller.

I know it sounds like I hate this game. Despite all of these things immediately reminding me why I didn’t want to play Skyrim, I didn’t feel that exasperated with the game until this morning when I was thinking about it. Here’s what I did like:

– This game is really pretty. Normally that’s not that much of a factor for me, but it actually felt like a real place that I was wandering about.

– During the opening dragon attack sequence I accidentally ventured too far ahead and stood directly in the path of the dragon’s fire attack. I’m pretty sure this means I’m fireproof. Fighting dragons is gonna be a joke.

– Some of the systems do actually intrigue me. The skill progression system seems cool as does the fact that some dude apparently just yells at people to kill them. That sounds like an awesome ability to have.

– I can dual wield fireballs. I shoot streams of fire from both hands…and then my mana runs out and I back away from my assailants in circles until I can shoot them some more.

– Further along that point, I like that you build up weapon skills/abilities by use. You have the proficiency to use everything kind of poorly. It’s up to you to progress down whichever path you want.

– I’m absolutely looking forward to slaughtering as many elves as possible. My character is this ugly lizard man who I’m role playing as having utter contempt for every other race he encounters…especially elves. Can’t wait to meet some elves.

– Everyone is super ugly. Makes sense. I like that.

– I’m super excited to just wander around and see what I run into/come across. That sense of, “Oh, hey, there’s something really close by that I should just check out…” from Fallout 3 definitely persists and feels fun. Can’t go wrong with that.

Skyrim has me cautiously optimistic to play it. Maybe I’ll be able to move past the things I dislike about Bethesda games and actually enjoy the game that everyone else universally loves.

Keyword Roundup [Uncat]
Jul 4th, 2009 by Dan

Happy Fourth of July!

Recent statistics packages on my blog allowed me to browse search terms that lead to my site. So here’s what you’ve been searching in July along with relevant links and/or answers to your questions.

mlb power pros 2009 – 68 hits

MLB Power Pros continues to be a strong draw for my blog since I’m probably one of the few guys who talks about it. Real shame too, because it’s such a great game. Many come to the blog hoping to find news about the 2009 edition, but, if they’ve hit up my post they know that I’m skeptical that the game will come stateside.

vinny caravella – 21hits

persona 4 endurance run – 14 hits

Embedding the Persona 4 Endurance Runs on this website has had a profound effect on my traffic as Vinny Caravella and the Endurance Run itself seems to draw quite a bit of traffic to me.

server.ericsbinaryworld.com – 14 hits

Not too surprising, the root search for my brother’s server yields my website.

pokemon platinum evolution table – 13 hits

I’m not quite sure what a Pokemon Platinum evolution table is, but you can find good pokedex resources at Marriland and Serebii.net

dwarf fortress stories – 12 hits

Clearly a reference to these two posts: (1, 2), folks looking for Dwarf Fortress stories can also find some great ones at the official forums. Other options include the fantastically hilarious story of BoatMurdered and the more serious, but still fun Nist Akath

claudia black nude – 11 hits

Claudia Black, newest addition to the Uncharted franchise, seems to be a rather popular figure on the blog. According to this VERY NSFW SITE, she has never done any nude roles. Sorry guys, tough luck.

power pros 2009 – 7 hits

See above!

mai shiranui nude – 6

This one shouldn’t really be all that hard to find people, seriously! Here’s are VERY NSFW links. I don’t know if that’s the best stuff out there, but I’m not really willing to look.

fallout 3 vegas – 5 hits

No real news on this.

persona 4 review – 5

No doubt searching for my review.

giant bomb achievements – 5 hits

My achievements. Let me show you them.

i bring nothing to the table – 4 hits

The URL. You can’t miss it, it’s right at the top of the screen.

timon – 4 hits

I’m guessing they mean the meerkat, but just in case, here’s a disambiguation.

gears of war 2 exp table – 4 hits

Are you referring to the new experience system? Google also gets confused cause the word Table is in my URL, despite it having nothing to do with GoW 2.

endurance run persona 4 – 4 hits

See above

metal gear solid 4 proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good – 4 hits

Totally wrong. MGS4 has FANTASTIC gameplay. It’s the story that’s seriously lacking.
mlb power pros 2009 release 4

bubblegum crisis hentai – 3 hits

Kicking it old school, huh? Not sure if this link will ever work, but please don’t make me keep searching for this stuff…

pete mccullough bass – 3 hits

The bassist for Streetlight Manifesto. Their URL can be found here

endurance run persona – 3 hits

See above

tabel van dempster – 3

I have no idea what this is or why it leads to me. Probably because my site contains the word Table and I’ve spoken about Ryan Demptser

youtube mariano rivera major league at bat – 3

Mariano Rivera got himself his first RBI on the same day he got his 500th save. What a milestone! MLB doesn’t allow video of their games on Youtube, but you can try their website. No guarantee how long it will be up.

mlb power pros 2009 wii – 3 hits
“mlb power pros 2009” – 3 hits

See above

nothingtothetable.com – 3

My fantastic URL!

kings quest princess bride clues – 3

One big problem with this search term: It should be King’s Quest VII: The Princeless Bride. Other than that, you can find some FAQs and walkthroughs here.

the gregory brothers – 3 hits

I love Auto-Tune the News. You can find the Gregory Brothers URL here.

best dwarf fortress stories – 3 hits

See above!

pokemon fight table – 2 hits

Again, see above.

streetlight manifesto christian – 2

You know the drill. You’re also confused. There’s never been a member named Christian and this is NOT a Christian band.

super punch out super hard mode – 2 hits

Officially called Title Defense Mode, here are some hints.

dean strelau – 2 hits

A friend of mine mentioned in this post about baseball. I wonder who was google-stalking him?

gustavo sorola – 2 hits

One of the founders of Rooster Teeth. Very funny man.

youtube boston batter shatters bat against washington 2

Pretty dangerous event. The bat almost hit Nick Green and caused him to miss the fielding.

l4d zoey track jacket – 2

Surprising that I get the L4D track jacket (available here) as a hit instead of the nude Zoey mod post I made. No complaints here.

Dragon Questing V Part I [GO]
Jun 30th, 2009 by Dan

Like I said I might do before, here’s a rundown of a game I’m playing to try and encourage me to make significant progress. Unfortunately, even if there were commercial DS capture devices available, I don’t really have the cash to spare for them anyway, so we’ll start our look in with words and I might snap some ugly iPhone shots if I really want to hurt your eyes. As a final warning, I’m going to be getting into plot points. Leave if you don’t want to read SPOILERS

This game hammers home the theme of family pretty heavily and it makes me wonder what might have been going on in Yuji Horii’s life to inspire him to create this deeply touching game. DQV opens with a fairly standard black background name entry screen as you choose the name of your hero. The next scene is of a throne room. There’s only one conclusion you can draw at this point, the guy pacing in front of the throne is the king. He seems stressed and he’s pacing. His name is Pankraz. Sancho shows up and summons Pankraz down to see his wife, Madalena. Her son lies on the bed beside her and they deliberate over a name. Pankraz thinks Madason would be a brilliant name for the boy, because he’s not very creative and thinks that since he’s Madalena’s son, he should apparently be saddled with what sounds like a woman’s name. Madalena thinks that perhaps he should be named Dan. Pankraz reluctantly agrees and holds Dan up, Lion King-style, to proclaim that his son will henceforth be known as Dan. Crisis: Madalena begins to cough; something is wrong with her. The screen irises on Pankraz and the new baby boy. Dan begins to cry.

Cue heroic music and iconic Dragon Quest logo over a castle in the sky.

If you’re only just now getting to DQV, as I am, this opening is awfully remniscent of Fallout 3. Consider the identical elements: you are born in the opening scene, there is a name decision to be made, and some sort of tragic accident seems to befall your mother. I think there’s a pretty strong reason for both of these games to begin almost identically and it stems from simple human behavior. There are fairly established notions of the kind of relationship that a single parent, especially a single father has with his offspring. It’s either the whole abusive, resentful, alcoholic view, which would be useless in this case, or the close, caring setup that we get in both of these games. What it says to the player is: these men are your only strength left in this world. You’d better try to do right by them. In Fallout 3, your motivations are driven by your need to find your father and, once you do and he is killed, to continue his life’s work to restore water to the Capital Wastelands.

DQV does things a little differently. Immediately following the title splash, you see yourself in what looks like a bed in a ship. You can tell that it is you in the bed, because the man in the wild purple robes is the very same one portrayed on the Toriyama-drawn boxart. You tell your father that you dreamed he was a king and he laughs it off. As you walk around the ship, you learn a two things:

1. Your dad, Pankraz, is the man
2. You guys travel. A lot.

The ship lands in Littlehaven and you’re told to go play. At this point, you’re level 1 and you’re just supposed to go wander around and hit up the world map. Here’s where I’ll leave my observations for today and we’ll talk some more about stuff next time.

(NOTE: I’d be remiss in not mentioning that this feature was at least partially inspired by the ABDN DQV review by Tim Rogers)

The Pile of Shame [GO]
Jun 23rd, 2009 by Dan

Just about every serious adult (and employed) gamer has one thing in common, regardless of his/her tastes: the pile of shame. It sounds a lot worse than it is, because it’s definitely not a stack of Barbie Horse Adventure games or anything, it’s a stack of games that have all received critical acclaim or come highly recommended, but that the gamer has no time to get around to playing, mainly because of other releases or just being too busy.

The perfect time for burning through this back catalog is usually the summer. Releases have slowed down in anticipation for the upcoming holiday season and developers have only just started getting over E3 preparations, limiting their ability to release in the summer anyway. Plenty of other people are taking this time to burn through their backlog, but I find myself unable to focus on the rather considerable stack of games I have in lieu of achievement hunting or just purchasing new games.

It’s a serious problem when I’m in Best Buy seriously considering buying Resident Evil 5, the latest in a series of games that I never play because I hate horror video games, instead of just going home and playing Dragon Quest V or Suikoden Tierkreis, both games I’ve never played and own, or finishing the remakes that I’d started like the DS Chrono Trigger or GBA Final Fantasy VI. I keep having to resist buying Gears of War 2, even though I’ve yet to finish Fallout 3, play the Uncharted 2 Beta at all, or milk the remaining content out of Left 4 Dead or Mass Effect. Then again, should I really be all that surprised? People love the brand new and the allure of buying a new copy of Ghostbusters, despite its middling reviews, is just a part of human nature.

The main problem with my “problem” is that I don’t really have the cash to throw around to just be buying all sorts of new games. You may have applauded my self-control in resisting RE5 and GoW2, but the real deterrent is that I just couldn’t afford to buy them. I’ve flirted with the notion of starting some kind of retro-gaming feature to motivate me to both clear my backlog and give me new, interesting (video game related) writing topics. Honestly, if I could take easy screenshots or capture video more easily, I might be more likely to try and do something like that, but it loses some of its allure to have it be text-only.

This may or may not still happen. I’m going to do some research into cheap video capture mechanics and if I can manage it, then we might see me start to clear through my backlog with accompanying screens or movies. If not, well then this winding, aimless post is just me whining about having games that I don’t want to play because I want shiny new ones.

E3 Extravaganza [Game Overview]
Jun 5th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

E3 is a magical time for video games. So much news happened in this past week that this is gonna be an epic post filled with tons of trailers and news. In no particular order, here it goes:

Look! A three-headed monkey!

First off we have the Monkey Island news again. Tales of Monkey Island will be debuting next month (!) on 7 July from Telltale Games. Yes, it’s super exciting…yes, Telltale has proven that they can have moderate success and timely release with episodic adventure games…but I don’t feel the humor of Ron Gilbert in the trailer.

I just hope the game is quality and we get to see a lot more MI.

Legendary

Speaking of former Lucasarts comedic geniuses, Tim Schafer’s Brütal Legend (mind the umlaut) has had production suspended in what can only be known as a dick move by Activision. The litigious Activision dropped Brütal Legend not long ago when they merged with Vivendi and they claim it was because they never met milestones. Supposeedly they still retain the rights to release the game and will suffer “irreparable damages” for this.

My favorite part of the story, Tim Schafer’s response:

“Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it,” Schafer said. “Oh great, now Beyoncé is going to sue me too.”

Seriously Activision? You guys look like major tools. I already don’t play much anything by Activision and I just might consider this a permanent decision. It’s unbelievable.

Back in Black (and Red)

Nintendo will be selling the Wii in black starting this summer in Japan and the DSi in red at the same time. Not a bad idea, considering that sales of Nintendo systems have started to lag behind some of the Sony stuff. It’s just the kind of Nintendo thing to do in this situation.

NEW SMB

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is on the way! It will not feature online play =[

Left 8 Dead?

Left 4 Dead 2 is coming! A bit sooner than most expected, that’s for sure, but I think even Valve deserves to make some money every so often.

Melee weapons, incendiary ammo, new special infected, new AI Director sadism, new/updated weapons, and new survivors.

What’s more, you won’t be able to just camp for alarm moments, some won’t turn off unless you advance and complete tasks.

Nick reminds me of GOB. That makes me happy.

Metal Gear?!

New MGS games announced. Rising will be on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and Peace Walker will be on the PSP. I’m kind of bummed about PW being a PSP game, since it focuses on Big Boss, but maybe I’ll end up asking for a PSP for Christmas or something.

NEVER

Funny tidbit from the Nintendo conference

Jedis go Boom

It’s just the cinematic that opens the game, but it sure gets me excited for the release.

Walrus?

Some more The Beatles: Rock Band info.

XIII

Also: Final Fantasy XIV?

Uncharted!!!! OMGOMGOMGOMG

Random Games

OBJECTION!

Tangled up in BlazBlue:

More Samus, No T or A

New Metroid game being made by Team Ninja?! Nintendo will probably keep the ridiculously large, bouncy boobs and thongs to a minimum, so calm down.

Galaxy 2?

New Mario Galaxy game. 90% new levels, some old ones remixed.

As a corollary, no new Zelda or Pikmin games announced today. Maybe next time.

Fallout 3 DLC


Alan Wake…FINALLY

Seriously, this game has been in development FOREVER.


Heavy Lluvia

Still looks good.

Sunny Gold

Coming to the DS is Golden Sun! The RPG is BACK! I hope this iteration is more interesting.

Misc News

Social networking was the big theme of the conferences. From Facebook on DSi and Xbox 360 to Twitter making an appearance on the latter too, it seems like the next big thing.

Microsoft is also offering full games on demand on Live for real, non-MS point money.

All in all, a great conference. I know I missed some big news, but, hey, you’ve got the internet too, so quit being so damn lazy. Now if only we could rush to the fall and make these games come out already!

Fallout 3 Vegas? [GO]
Apr 21st, 2009 by Dan

Fallout has a new game coming, but it’s not Fallout 4 nor is it a DLC pack as we’ve become accustomed to receiving. No, it seems that instead we’ll have a brand new game taking place in Vegas being developed by Obsidian Entertainment instead of Bethesda Softworks.

It’s not a sequel, it’s just a sidestory taking place in a geographically different part of the post-apocalyptic USA. Unfortunately, to me, it seems like it’s probably a waste of time and money. There was a time, many years ago, when I was excited for a game that Obsidian was producing. It was KOTOR II and after playing KOTOR I knew the game would be great. Turned out that Obsidian was rushed and Obsidian didn’t quite do as well as Bioware in creating the new game. No, I’m not excited about this new project. Not until I see it happen and work…

PC: Fallout 3
Nov 2nd, 2008 by Dan

Been playing Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic first-person RPG epic Fallout 3 this weekend and I’m quite pleased with it so far. Here are some quick thoughts about random things that stick out:

The game is very buggy. Apparently this was a problem with Oblivion too. I’ve gotten a few hard freezes that I was able to start mostly avoiding just by updating my graphics card drivers, but still…I shouldn’t be having this much problem playing a game that’s been approved for final release.

That being said, the game is tons of fun. VATS is a great system and I love targeting individual body parts. I’d say my absolute highlight moment goes like this:

I spots three raiders in the distance. I’m accidentally spotted by one of them as I tries to sneak in for an attack, so what do I do? I throw down a frag mine and start running backwards. The two who were close to each other approach in just the right direction, so one of them steps on the mine first and is blown to absolute pieces. The other is heavily damaged, but pushes through the smoke…only to have VATS activated on him. I target his head with my hunting rifle, get a hit, and instantly decapitate the bugger. Feeling quite smug with myself I celebrate a bit until the third guy tosses a grenade at me, giving me a concussion and nearly killing me. I shoot him dead too…good times.

I think the other main gripe I have with Fallout 3 is that it was designed primarily for consoles. Who can blame Bethesda for this? It makes absolute sense to release your game on as many platforms as possible and it’s insanely easy to port to each. Unfortunately, this leaves the PC player with an incredibly awkward interface to muddle through. Why do I have to access my Pip-Boy 3000 with a button and then manually swap to the Map screen? Any real computer game would allow me to do that, but would also have a binding that would automatically take me to my map screen. It’s only frustrating in very specific occasions, but I hate how clunky it seems on the PC. With a controller it would be quite nice, but they should have kept the functions more open for those of us playing the game on a real platform.

In case you were wondering, no, I didn’t blow up Megaton. You sick bastard.

One final note: a search string for “Does Crono love Marle” apparently lead to either my site or my host’s site. The answer is yes. Yes he does love her.

Embedded Reporter: Retrospectives!
Oct 27th, 2008 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

Gametrailers is at it again with not one, but two retrospectives this week. With Fallout 3 and Wrath of the Lich King coming out soon (Fallout 3 a lot sooner), they’ve put out their one part Fallout retrospective and part one of what I’m guessing to be a three or four part Warcraft retrospective. Enjoy!

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