Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

It's not Thanksgiving without a Hand Turkey
Hope everyone is having / had a good turkey day.  I know I've slacked a little on the updates but it's the holiday season so here's a small update:

REDBOX: Where have you been all my life?!

I've recently found out, thanks to Chi's Twitter from, that the rental service Redbox is in a few places here in NYC.  For those of you who don't know about this service, it's basically an automated kiosk where you can rent games and movies for $1-$2.  You can rent it from one location and then return it at another which is VERY convenient.  You're also able to reserve games/movies online, so all you have to do is just go to the kiosk and pick up your rental.

They all have the latest games and movies so I've been indulging in trying out all the latest games to keep up with what all the podcasts I listen to are talking about.  Here's some quick 2 sentence reviews:

-Skyrim is amazing.  Every great thing you read about this game is true!

-Dark Souls is a love/hate game, most definitely.  It's hard but feels like a racing game where you have to memorize the level so you know what's coming next.

-Saints Row The Third is surprisingly a LOT of fun.  It's what I've been wanting from the GTA series that it doesn't take itself seriously.

I feel the need for another piece of turkey.  Pick...pick pick!...Tell me I'm not the only one who remember's this commercial?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Under-Appreciated Games: Arcania Gothic 4

See that guy?  That's you!
I've always been drawn to the lesser loved games as well as lesser loved movies (big fan of Hudson Hawk).  Games such as Conan, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series, Spiderman: Friend or Foe, even Outlaw Tennis.  Graphical glitches, general storylines, characters walking through walls, fighting the same baddies who just have different colors, wonky controls...these are all the norm for these types of games, but I've always been able to look past these and enjoy the game adapting to what's given.

My latest in my under-appreciated games collection is Arcania: Gothic 4.  I'm sure you could probably find this game in a bargain bin somewhere for like $17 bucks or maybe cheaper.  It's basically your normal light, third-person role playing game with swords, armor, magic, bows & arrows.  I say light because if you compare this to any of the Elder Scrolls games, this game just looks like a hack & slash...and for the most part it is.  

The storyline is basic: normal guy falls in love with normal girl in a village, something bad happens to everyone in the village, guy goes out and seeks vengeance, helping out others along the way and seeing he's part of a bigger story. That's the best description I can give without spoiling but I would say that most RPG games out there are some form of this outline.

First and foremost, you'll notice that you cannot customize your character.  The guy on the cover?  Yep, that's you so deal with it.  Right then and there, RPG nerds around the US are screaming BLASPHEMY!!!  I did too but after I started playing, I got over it.

The feel of the controls and the pacing of the story is really what keeps me interested.  Your melee weapon, magic spell and ranged weapon are all mapped to their own buttons.  How you use them is up to you.  So it's sort of a button mash in a way but there is a method to your mashing as you upgrade your skills.  As you get quests, talking to other people opens more of the story.  You will want to talk with other characters cause the dialogue is funny...almost as if the character knows he's in a video game.  I should warn you, there are curses but they're sprinkled out here and there.

I am SO not a fan of those wasp, bug things.
Meeting people on your way, you do side quests / fetch quests, pick up ingredients, find collectible items or chests hidden around the land.  Like I said...light RPG.  A RPG where you don't have to put as much though into it as you have to in games like Oblivion or Fallout 3.  Maybe it's the somewhat linear storyline that makes it RPG-lite, who knows.

If you want to get down to the nitty gritty of the gameplay, you'll find small things here and there that'll get annoying.  Sometimes NPCs will walk right through me, or I'll even walk through walls.  While there are some dialogue options when talking to other NPCs, they really don't make a difference in the story as it's pretty linear.  Walk around the world all you want to explore and you'll find some interesting things but you'll feel a little lost.  The map is pretty much useless; it's basically just there to show you where you are.  And remember to highlight the quest you're doing or you'll just walk aimlessly, but you'll usually find what you want.  Oh and crafting?  That's easy: get recipe, get ingredients, hit button, tada...but what more did you want?

While I haven't played any of the Gothic games before on the PC, most of the reviews I've seen (and there aren't many), give this game grief because it's not like the others comparatively.  Maybe it's because this is the first on a console that they had to change a few things around, I don't know BUT if you take this game as just another RPG game out there, without knowing any of the backstory from the other Gothic games, you'll find it's a pretty fun game to play.  Isn't that what video games are for? 

I should say that I am playing it on the 360.  There is a demo on the 360 which gives you a very good slice of the game.  If you're hard on cash but feel up for an RPG, don't look this over.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Adventure City Where Everything Goes Wrong BUT You Still Have Fun!

Adventures in Atlantic City is what happened this past Friday night.  Without spending 24 hours in the city, we managed to miss the concert (save for 2 songs), lose our hotel reservations at Harrah's, got cheaper rooms at ShowBoat and pay a ridiculous amount of tolls to NJ.  I've come to realization that New Jersey tolls are the reason that change currency is still in circulation.

Starting from picking up the rental cars, things weren't going right due to the long line and not getting the car that was reserved.  Upon picking up the rest of our party peoples, we find out that the GPS that was given to us by a family member will not work because he gave us the wrong car lighter adapter!  Instead, we used the iPhone GPS/directions.  

The task of getting out of NYC on a Friday night at 8PM is what it is: daunting but my fiance did an amazing job.  While she was driving through the crazy NYC traffic, the indoor car light was on and we couldn't figure out how to turn it off.  I even ran out at a red light to check if the trunk was closed (it was).  After quite some time of driving around with the light on, I leaned over to my fiance while driving and found a dial that turned it off...even though this looked like I was giving road head. HA!

Fast forward 2+ hours ('s THAT far away!) and we make it to our destination catching the last 1.5 songs of the show.  Sadness :(  We do the music industry thing, see the band, hang out in a small dressing room, drink the beer then move to the VIP room at a club to just hang out.  That was a lot of fun to be there and hang with the band.  They played on Fallon earlier that night so the club was nice enough to put it on the TV in the room.  To watch their reactions seeing their performance on TV were priceless and genuine.  Amazing bunch of people who are very humble.

The rest of the night is a blur from Harrah's giving away our hotel rooms at 2AM (they were completely the beginning of November...who knew it was a popular time) to getting cheaper rooms at Show Boat to scarfing down a corn-beef sandwich on rye in a place called Canal.  Definitely a different experience than I had the last time I was in AC (I was 12 then)...but oh so much fun.