I recently pulled _Burnout: Paradise_ back out of its box and plunked it down in the tray. The reason? My wife bought me a 26″ HDTV for Christmas, which is a huge step up from a 13″ SDTV. Turns out, you can actually see the streets and cars of Paradise City a lot better on a bigger screen. And let me just say, _Burnout: Paradise_ in HD is absolutely stunning to look at.
I avoided Matchmaking in Halo 2 like the plague. I played a lot of Rumble Pit early on when I first got Xbox Live, and I’m sure that certainly helped me develop a lot of the necessary skills to be a somewhat competitive player. My favorite type of match to play, however, were custom games with friends. There were two reasons for this.
The first was that Matchmaking was rife with Timmies. For the uninitiated, a Timmy is a play – usually a child or adolescent – who, regardless of skill at the game, mouth of with words that would make a sailor blush, verbally abuse anyone and everyone around them, declare themselves video game gods when they are playing well and accusing everyone else of cheating when they don’t, and spend a large portion of their time teabagging the virtual corpses of their opponents – whether they were actually the one who defeated them in battle or not. The Timmies still exist in Halo 3 Matchmaking, of course. It’s just a lot easier to put the mute on them and to stick bullets into them.
The second was that I was never quite able to match up competitively with most of my opponents. In all my games of Rumble Pit, I can count on one hand the number of games I actually won. When playing with “my fellow Gunslingers”:http://tiedtheleader.com, I always felt like the dead-weight who was more of an impediment than a help. In Halo 3, I’m _very_ competitive, having achieved skill levels so far in the 18-19 range, where I never consistently made more than a 12 or 13 in Halo 2. I’m enjoying Halo 3 much more than Halo 2 – and for those who know me, they know how much I raved about Halo 2. The games seem much more balanced now, and I feel like I still have room to go up in skill points.
The game itself is visually and audibly stunning, taking advantage of the full processing power of the Xbox 360 to provide a cornucopia of delights. Forge is a beast, allowing you to customize maps to your heart’s content, and Saved Films, Screenshots, and File Share are revolutionary pleasures. I’ve joked in the past that Halo 3 is probably the most expensive video game to date, since many of us acquired an Xbox 360 for the sole purpose of playing this game. It’s no joke now, though. Halo 3 is worth every penny, and I look forward to many more hours of enjoying this game with my friends and the Halo community.
Well, I’m afraid that my writing time has been at a bit of a minimum the last week or two. In addition, I’ve had no time as yet to develop the new WordPress theme for “Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com in preparation for its re-launch. This is due, in part, to the fact that I’m back to work full-time. Now I’m trying to get caught up on some new projects while shouldering new responsibilities for an entire database management system that our university uses. I think it will be enjoyable work in the long-run, but the task of getting up to speed on how some of the backend processes work is, quite frankly, a little daunting.
It also doesn’t help that Halo 3 came out for the Xbox 360 last week, and I’ve been as much free time as I can playing online with friends and “clan members”:http://tiedtheleader.com as well as playing around with the new File Share capabilities and dabbling a bit in Forge. I still want to write up a review for Halo 3 but that, like so many other things, is something I haven’t found time for just yet.
I do want to get back to writing here a bit more again, just as soon as things settle down at the office enough for me to be able to fit a little blogging in around projects.
In the meantime, don’t forget to comment on “my book giveaway”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/10/01/book-giveaway-the-gunslinger/ and check out “my tumblelog”:http://tumble.shamuswrites.com.
As of right now, 22 out of 81 friends on my list are playing Halo 3 – and it’s not even 6AM. Lucky dogs.
Well, my 360 died this past Sunday. No red ring, just a disc drive that stopped working. Basically, it would play a video or game for about 15-20 minutes, then the whole console would reboot, and the disc drive would no longer open or read discs, unless you turned it off for a couple of hours and then fired it back up. At least then, you could retrieve the disc trapped inside before the drive decided to die again.
This is a story of how much I love shopping with Best Buy. Rather than wait to have a box shipped to me from Microsoft, just so I could then wait another handful of weeks for them to ship me a repaired or new one back, I just took out my 2-year service warranty and took my console back to Best Buy. After chatting with a member of their Geek Squad for a moment and verifying that, yes, I could upgrade from a 360 to an Elite, I walked back and grabbed myself one of the black boxes. And then, after paying the difference between the 360 and the Elite, I walked out of the store the proud owner of a brand spanking new Xbox 360 Elite!
My wife even liked the color. Me, I’m just thrilled to have the 120GB HDD.
Just before we received the news that “Halo 3 has gone Gold”:http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&cid=12737, we were treated to a delectable little video demonstrating the awesomeness that is the Forge customization module in Halo 3. For every custom game fan, this is a dream come true. Forge is quite literally a drag-and-drop utility for customizing multiplayer maps. If something doesn’t quite meet your satisfaction, Forge will let you change things until everything is just right. Or it will simply let you monkey around with the settings to create new, interesting, or just plain wacky gametypes. And once you’re done messing with the settings and you’ve created just the right environment for some crazy, insane carnage, you can save your modified map out to Xbox Live and share it with all your friends. Bungie will then be able to pick out their favorites and incorporate them into matchmaking. Halo 3 is going to change the face of the way we play video games on Live.
(Source: “Xbox 360 Fanboy”:http://www.xbox360fanboy.com/2007/08/28/video-halo-3-forge-demonstration/”)
I’m not a fan of the zombie sub-genre of horror/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic fiction, as I’m “mentioned before”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/06/06/zombies/. I don’t really see what’s so interesting about mindless undead whose only goal is to suck the brains out of their living victims. I’m also not thrilled by the idea that the only way to defend oneself against such creatures is to beat them into little bloody bits with blunt objects.
That said, I’m not overly thrilled with the new _BioShock_ title for Xbox 360. I played through the demo a couple of evenings ago, and at first I was thrilled to discover a game with an intriguing steampunk-style storyline. I mean, what’s not to love about an entire sub-oceanic city built during the World War II era? Of course, it didn’t take long to discover that this pseudo-steampunk game has a far darker side than I like. Something has gone terribly wrong in a very Dr. Moreauian kind of way. The inhabitants of this aquatic city – Rapture – have apparently been the subjects of experimental genetic experiments, and now most, if not all, of them are now monsters that more closely resemble zombies than humans.
My first clue that I was going to hate this game was the creature that attacked the pod I rode into Rapture on. My second clue was when I picked up my first weapon – a pipe wrench. I had immediate flashbacks to the _Prey_ demo, and sure enough, the first battles against the enraged citizens of Rapture were every bit as bloody and distasteful. Of course, I acquired a pistol a little further on that I never quite got the hang of using (it took me three or four shots to lay out just one of the zombie-like genetically-altered creatures of Rapture).
A number of reviews I’ve read rave about _BioShock_, and one even ran a comparison of the game against Halo 3. Ultimately, though, I decided that _BioShock_ is zombies meets steampunk meets science fiction. It’s that first part that turns me off to it and ultimately ends up being the reason why I won’t be buying the game.
DeeJ and L Askan tag-team to bring us more drool-worthy bits from the upcoming Halo 3. It’s almost a sensory overload with all the promotions and advertisements and previews out there right now with this game. Mountain Dew is even in on the action with their Limited Edition Game Fuel drink with Halo 3 labeling.
Like DeeJ, I am, for the most part, in a self-imposed Halo 3 blackout until the 25th. I know enough about what’s going to be in the game to be positively hungry for this game – Spartan laser, flamethrower, two or three new types of grenades, special items, gorgeous maps, beautiful gameplay, online co-op, Forge, Saved Films, and so much more. I’ve little desire to find out much more, though, for fear of ruining the story, but I know I can’t wait to play.
Bungie has done something with the Halo franchise that I love to see in video games – they’ve built a beautiful and fun video game that also has a solid and intriguing storyline. We have characters that we actually care about in the forum of Master Chief, Cortana, and even Sergeant Johnson. Halo 2 ended in a cliffhanger that had gamers all around the world throwing their controllers across the room in frustration (but not me – I loved it), and Halo 3 promises to wrap up the current story arc and answer all (or at least most) of our lingering questions. As I’ve said before, I can’t wait.
But like I said, it’s actually pretty hard now to avoid all the information coming out everywhere about Halo 3 – pirated scans from magazines, Bungie-released previews, IMAX-powered gameplay previews, and more. Heck, there’s even a new Halo 3 Xbox 360 and a Halo 3 wireless headset that will available before too long. A number of websites are also giving away various Xbox 360 and Halo 3 packages as part of the gear-up for Halo 3′s release. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a marketing campaign this ambitious – but it sure is a heckuvalot of fun to watch.
Sorry, I think my geek is showing again. Carry on.
I don’t get it. I played Marathon: Durandal for quite a little while yesterday and experienced zero ill effects. Motion sickness? From a video game? Ok, I have a somewhat weak stomach, but this just seems downright silly.