Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An evolved christmas?


I've discussed this with a friend in an email earlier (lol yeah, some people still send emails :P) and just thought I'd share the same thing with you guys/girls here.

It's something I've been becoming aware of more and more over the last few years and this year it really just sunk in and solidified. Remember when Christmas (or even just the holidays in general) meant a whole lot of hustle bustle, time spent getting things ready, shopping for 'mega gifts' and items you were sure would make Christmas a 'big' thing, decorating for the occasion and more or less succumbing to an entire holiday that seemed to suck so much more time away from your life - at least in preparing for it than the actual time spent enjoying it? I sure as hell do. We may not have ever gone 'CRAZY' with Christmas as much as some families do, but there effeminately seemed to be a whole lot involved in the entire scheme of it all.

This year was a bit different. For a few reasons, one being my mother and her inability to get up and do things as easily as she'd like, our time focused on helping her out and getting any tasks she'd normally take charge of into our already busy schedules, stuff like Christmas shopping, Christmas dinner,  tree decorating, getting gifts for others ready, and so on. (She had to have more surgery early this December, which went well btw, she's recovering nicely). Couple that with the passing of one of my Aunts a few days before Christmas (she's been battling cancer for years, we knew this was coming, but that doesn't make it suck any less)  and we've got a lot on our minds to say the least. But, we managed, just fine, to get things done.

Come Christmas morning... the day had a different feel. Our family's tradition is to wait until everyone is up (or wake them up :P) and open gifts together, sharing what each has gotten and from whom, during this I noticed how nice it was to just sit down and enjoy some down time. Quiet, something played on the radio in the background as we systematically tore through the piles of gifts anointed to each member. There were your typical "I didn't know what to get, so ... here's something random sweets, clothes or other impersonal gift" but then there's those gifts that you know mean something. It's interesting because they can be the tiniest things too. For me, I got a book mark (I've been reading a lot lately) with Michael Scott on it (of The Office, a show I enjoy very much) from my brother... and while it was a small, simply gift... I loved it because it encompassed 2 wonderful things I'm into and it took thought on behalf of my brother to connect those.

I also got a small Batman figure from my cousin's girl friend, Just because she "Spotted it and thought of me". I was floored by how awesome that was. I noticed a few other instances in my families' gift unwrapping where you could tell there was something more to the gift than the actual item. That coupled with the low key, quite peacefulness of the entire rest of the day and I'm left in awe at the awesomeness of this Christmas, despite there being some large bumps in the road on the way there.

Which outlines the bottom lining to the whole idea. Christmas and anything really, is so much nicer and meaningful if you just take time to breathe; time to sit back and enjoy the downtime from the hecticness of life and also just enjoy the thought put into the bobbles purchased for you based on your character.

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That said, it's always nice to receive some kewl gifts as well. Here's a few of the kewl items I am proud to of received this year:

3 books, Bioshock: Rapture, Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth and Deus Ex: Icarus Effect - all video game related, and all sound REALLY sweet. I love reading a book based on a game I already love. They all look a bit shorter than Im use to, so it should take too long to get through them.


   


2 Games - Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, which I was PUMPED for :D Can't wait to get into it and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, a game I've been meaning to get and now don't need to, thanks to my bro.

 


3 movies/dvds - Super8 on Blu-Ray as I loved seeing it in theaters. Didn't like the ending, but the rest of the movie made me smile. Batman Year one - Haven't seen and the box set of Batman Beyond :) Yay batman :)
   

These items made me smile the most. I got a pair of leather driving gloves from my sis that have already come in handy :) *Get it, handy? :P lol. Gift cards, money and other things fill up the rest of the space (gift cards are so lazy IMO). Over all, very kewl Christmas. How about you?

Monday, December 19, 2011

No Light without Dark


*Don't worry, no real spoilers.

While I understand that the show in question isn't everyone's 'bag of tea', I simply adore Dexter. The basic premise behind it is simple; each episode you follow Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter analyst for Miami Metro Homicide whom uses his expertise and position to track down the scum of the earth (murders and the like) and kills them. However, the weight behind his character, his background, reasons for killing those he does and his entire universe created by the (well, originally created by the author of the books, Jeff Lindsey) the team behind the show is one of supreme crafting.

As the seasons go on (the 6th just wrapped up) it seems to be less and less about the kill and more about delving deeper into what makes Dexter tick, what makes him human and the flaws he and everyone around him has. When the killing bits do interweave into the story (as they often do) it's an exciting entrapment of suspense as you wonder exactly how things will play out; constant twists come to mix you up and destroy any kind of path you assume you see forming.

I just caught the season finale of the 6th season's run and while the episode itself was a bit sporadic with it's pacing and excitement level, in the end it cleared up a lot of loose ends from the season's length and even brought to the surface some plot points which lots of people were no doubt wondering about and suspecting to rear up at some point. I won't go into detail as I hate to include spoilers and ruin it for anyone whom watches the show, but suffice to say, the events in this last episode (for the season) has mixed Dexter's world up in more way than one.

Deb plays a big role in the majority of season 6 and grows quite a bit as a character.

IMO, the shock of season 4's end was a much bigger thing, but the news presented and played out in this end of season will no doubt have bigger waves in how the series plays out from now on. Gladly, this season, even including Colin Hanks as Travis, was a step up from what I consider a low point for the series in last year's season. Perhaps it was the fault of the end of season 4 that season 5 couldn't stand up in comparison... but as it stands season 6 beats season 5 by a long shot.

Including Edward James Olmos (of BSG fame) to this season's cast was also a high point, for me at least, as I love seeing the guy in any role.

I yearn for more. Sadly, next season won't start airing until next September (which is a long ways off) and while I do have the first 2 Dexter books (which the show is based off of) I fear reading too far into them and then ruining some plot point they plan on using for the show... which I wouldn't want to do at all.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are desktop PCs becoming irrelevent?


Just a thought that stems from a changing environment I see. The idea really sparked from the other evening when my brother and I were discussing a movie of which we didn't know the name. Stumped, we decided Google might know and my brother reached for his 3DS as he exclaimed "It'll take 5 minutes for my PC to turn on and boot up to a point where I can search" and that's the sad truth. If your PC isn't on... you're in for one hell of a sluggish wait compared to other electronics today.

I for one, reach for my android "smart" phone if I want to look up something quick, my brother his 3DS. Others their ipones, tablets and compatible devices that aren't anywhere near as clunky and time consuming as the PC. Sure, the PC is the more powerful hardware and at times the easiest to deal with (in regards to a normal keyboard/mouse combo, compatibility with various media forms) but... it would seem that the big ol clunky desktop PC is becoming a dinosaur of the tech world.

Netbooks had a quick run and I even read that Dell has dropped the idea altogether due to the popularity of tablets over netbooks. Netbooks were the "speedy, low-powered version of a laptop" which seemed like a good idea at first over more beefy laptops for those quick, less intense uses... but the tablets seem to be a smarter move for that kind of thing.

I love my PC for the game's it's able to run, it's multitasking swiftness (it's not always easy running a media player, browser, chat clients and download software simultaneously - if at all - on other smaller devices) and power to run dedicate stuff like Photoshop, 3D modeling and other such heavy software... but for every day tasks... it seems that people are taking the easy route and just picking up a tablet like device.

Whether you want to check facebook, browse youtube, watch a movie on netflix, surf the net, play some games, chat with others, check your banking, or download an app that makes fart sounds - tablets (and like devices) seem to be the easier way to go. The prices for these devices can some times alienate people... but tech is becoming more and more affordable each day as countries like India experiment with tablets that cost a mere $32-$60. While those "uber-tablets" now cost upwards and beyond $500, in the next few years I can see them dropping out and down to the sub $200 range easily, with cheaper models going under $100.

With the popularity of the iphone/pod/pad and the ever growing market of smartphones (and again, like devices) in general, it would seem that this kind of 'easy tech' is only going to continue to integrate itself in our lives more and more.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flash update on game experience


Hey team :) I haven't published a blog in quite some time... I've written a few but... end up just not liking them and then just leave them in their unfinished state. One of which was quite a lengthy "mini review" piece again and honestly... there's nothing "Mini" about it :P So I decided to do a "game experience" piece in which I try to keep a tiny blurb about each game I'm currently engaged in short but sweet. Please do offer some comments as to each.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3)

A blast. At times incredibly frustrating. Been working on completing the remaining races, aiming for gold in each. Also looking to pound out it's trophy collection.

The Saboteur (PS3)

Having never completed a platinum trophy (PS3) and knowing I was really close with this title... I sat down for a few hours and ironed out the last I needed for this. The game is now 100% complete - both gameplay wise and with trophies.

Mafia 2 (PS3)

Same deal. Finished story before, had just 1 trophy left to snatch. Insanely hard part (killing Derek) took like 60 tries (since I hit that part). Finally did it (almost by fluke), now it's 100% complete in game/trophy. Working on the 3 DLC chapters now.

Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (PS3)

Been heavily considering picking this up again. Need only complete the 'Crushing' mode to get the plat. Crushing mode is aptly named.

APB: Reloaded (PC)

APB had a bit of a short run as a gang vs cops MMO but has since been resurrected by a different company and made Free-to-play. I've got a couple hours in it already and enjoy it :) Insanely detailed character creator too :P

Duke Nukem Forever (PC)

Got cheap, as planned. It's actually kind of fun. Lots of people hated it, but my presumption of their hate being that of the old-skool method it uses for gameplay, thus far seems to be accurate.

Assassin's Creed (360)

I misplaced my PS3 copy of AC (yeah the first one) and so I grabbed a 360 copy at ebgames (it was on for $2.99) as I've had a desire to go back and refresh on that story before I jump back into AC2 (which I never finished) after which I'll get brotherhood and eventually revelations.

Chrono Trigger (PS1)

Got on PSN a little while ago, been playing on PSP, still love the hell out of it. Thinking of getting Chrono Cross after I finish this.

Starhawk Beta (PS3)

Got into the Starhawk private beta recently and gave it a few hours of my time so far. Just one map in CTF mode as far as I can tell, but it's decent. Much like warhawk before it, they mix things up with ground and aerial units (or jet packs) and the whole "Build your base on the fly" idea actually works quite well. I managed a few flag captures for my times (as I'm decent at that) but it's not easy to get in and out without being swarmed. I'm actually looking forward to the story more than multiplayer, but the multiplay was still fun :)

RAGE (PC)

Thus far I'm not impressed. The gunplay works, the Vehicles not so much (feels clunky), the environments look spectacular... but the interior environments look like hell. Low poly models, laughable textures... ugh. Honestly, wtf happened? I still need to pour time into it to decide if the game itself is worth it... but engine wise... meh. Hearing John Goodman right from the get go was kewl tho :)




The Last of Us

If nothing else, the Spike VGAs are good for reveals and trailers and this year was no exception. With it came the announcement of "The Last of Us" which has me really excited. I love Naughty Dogs attention to detail and the mammoth amount of work put into their characters, NTM their solid story lines and beautiful games. TLoU seems to continue that trend and the reveal trailer is great.

Vita out in Japan soon

The Vita is set to hit Japan on the 17th (Saturday) and some reviews for it's launch games have started coming in. So glad to see the likes of Uncharted doing rather well on the platform. Can't wait till February 22nd to get mine.

Gotham City Imposters

So... I hear that the beta for the game is starting up... sigh, I've signed up, even used the card that came with Arkham City as an "extra push" to get in line... and no word :( I really would love to try it.. hope I get in. Trailer here.

Hitman Absolution

The 15 minute gameplay video released a while ago sold me on the game. The new trailer just sweetens the pot.

Final Fantasy Type-0

Not only confirmed for North America, but will be playable and optimized (at least control wise) for PS Vita. Me likes.

Friday, December 02, 2011

I heart HD collections


So, I just spent some more time wandering around in Shadow of the Colossus (please tell me someone got that Sotc pun), hunting down fruit and lizards to boost my health and stamina as I plan to start out and take down my 3rd Colossus and I noticed something. I love these 'HD Collections' packs that companies seem to be hoping on board with.

I'm not sure if you're aware or not, but the PS2 era (6th generation as some call it) of gaming is by far my favorite. I own a ton of current gen games and would never give up amazing titles like Mass Effect, Bioshock, The Witcher, Assassin's Creed and the numerous franchises that started out in this generation of gaming. Jump backwards and I have mad respect and nostalgic feelings for games in the 16 and 24 bit system area with many favs from that time too and even the 64bit era has some titles that changed my life in gaming for sure. But the PS2 era is by far the largest for me. Perhaps it was just my gaming prime ages or something along those lines, but what ever the reason I seem to resonate the most with it.

Anyways, to see companies dip back into that pool, drudge up some gems and touch them up to play on our new consoles, really makes me happy. The first one to do this was Sony, with their God of War franchise, bringing the first 2 God of War games from the PS2 to the PS3 with updated visuals and a nice smooth run over to enhance it for it's new home on a beefier console. This is a step of dedication beyond simply packing games together in a box set and labeling it as a "collectors pack". Since it's success there have been a growing number of titles, some well done and some less well done, for gamers to be nostalgic with and dig into the well of gems from the console generation past.


   

As I mentioned, I picked up the Ico/SotC collection (haven't touched Ico just yet) and along with it, the God of War Origins collection (which includes the 2 PSP prequels to the GoW franchise). Now, the 5 games in the series of GoW games sit next to each other on my shelf, readily available to me when ever I choose to throw one in, that's incredibly awesome. They join my copies of The Sly Collection and The Tomb Raider Trilogy - both of which are incredible sets with some superb titles packed into their discs. I've been meaning to grab a copy of the Prince of Persia collection (the 3 PoP games from the PS2 era), but haven't seen it around.

In the near future, I am excited for the Metal Gear Solid HD pack (which includes MGS 2, 3 and Peace Walker) as well as the Zone of the Enders pack (ZoE 1 and 2, the second one I've never touched). Both of which are shaping up nicely. Since I started this blog post (a little while back, it's been sitting here unfinished) it's been leaked and confirmed that a Jak & Daxter is being prepped for the PS3 that includes it's 3 PS2 outing (minus the cart racer JakX)

   


The Silent Hill collection... I'm worried about... as they've excluded SH4 (which I enjoyed very much) and are changing the voice over for the games (contract dispute /w the original actors)... (at least for SH3, recent news reports that they'll have the option to choose either original or new VO for the SH2 copy of the disc) we'll see how it goes.

Not all HD collections seem to be golden

On the flip side I hear the Splinter Cell collection was done without love. Frame-rate issues, less that impressive HD visual upgrades, exclusion of multiplayer and other nasties make it much less appealing. Capcom decided to release each of their 2 PS2 Resident Evil games as download titles (RE4 and RECV) at $20 a pop - a curious move as the trend seems to be one of packing a few titles into a retail disc, but reviews seem to point out that not a lot was done to the two titles to upgrade them. RE4 looking near identical to it's original (albeit in a higher resolution). Was that their way of "cashing in" without actually doing a lot of work? Perhaps. As it seems, most of the HD Collections are looking to provide a product of labor (and love) to it's fans and at $30-$40 a pack (of 2 or 3 games) it's hardly a grab for money ($10-$20 per title hardly seems like such).

Some misguided cash ins aside, there seems to be promise from the studios that that their time and do justice in upgrading these aging titles for current consoles.

   

Ratchet & Clank seems to be a franchise that would be prime for packing into an HD collection, as the franchise is still very much alive today with the PS3's "R&C Future" series of games. I would think that this title is probably already in development and we've just not caught wind of it just yet.

I would LOVE to see a Xenosaga HD pack made for current generation and I loved the series on PS2 and would love to go back and experience it. Seeing as the company whom made it is now owned by Nintendo, that might mean some issues.

Kingdom Hearts HD anyone? The PS2 was the starting point for the series and while it's spun off and done GBA, PSP titles, DS titles, upcomind 3DS titles - I would still love to see the first two games and maybe even Re: Chain of Memories packed into a disc, updated visually and control wise to match the power of todays consoles.

Any other titles you feel would be great as an HD compilation pack?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mini Reviews - Gears 3, Toystory 3, Payday...

Last time I shared some thoughts on my dreams, this time around we're going back to the basics and getting back into the games :) I've been playing a lot of games as of late and while they're not all finished, I have completed a number as to rate and voice an opinion on such. I've not the ambition to do full blown reviews, so I decided to slip in some mini reviews and go from there:



Gears of War 3 (360)
Score: 8.5/10
Synopsis:

Thus far the Gears franchise... gives me a mixed bag of thoughts on it's quality. The first Gears, I enjoyed going through with a cousin... but the predicable "run from one area of cover and firefights to the next" really grew boring for me and I really felt they should of mixed it up more. Gears 2 comes out and I'm floored at the amount of variety they put into it, it seemed as though I never got bored of the gameplay and it didn't feel like room after room of bad guys hiding behind cover.

Jump to Gears 3 and... well, game play wise... I find it stuck between Gears 1 and Gears 2. There are moments of brilliance, especially boss battles, but by the end of the campaign I was attempting to run through the remaining rooms of hunkered down bad guys just so I could continue the story. I did enjoy battling the new and different type of baddies... but the standard grunts that stand upright like humans and fire as such... bored the hell out of me. The game rarely deviates away from these battle rooms and even when they do... you're stuck in a vehicle or something just gunning at stuff - rather than testing your skill driving or escaping or something beyond a rails shoot fest. Again, compared to Gears 2 which seemed to give you something new to do every 10 minutes, I was let down by Gears3's lackluster inclusion of these kind of scenarios.

Story wise it's decent as you get a nice mix of new characters as well as more fleshed out returning characters and a touching story. There are a few key moments in the game that'll tug at your heart strings, but IMO they don't match those used in Gears2. The visuals on the other hand are frakking breath-taking! You really need to just stop and look at stuff to enjoy it better. The textures are great and lighting really kicks it up a notch, bringing the scenes into a better light (oh!). The music is decent (as always) and the voice acting good, but neither surprised me.

In the end, I played a game that looks superb visually, yet seems to take a step back from the freshness of Gears 2 in favor of taking a look back at the original game and how it did gameplay. I gave it an 8.5 simply because I rated Gears1 an 8.0 and Gears 2 a 9.0, so it's a good middle ground :P. I must also mention that outside of the beta experience, I've not played the multiplayer and don't plan to and as such didn't rate the game based on that aspect.



Payday: The Heist (PS3)
Score: 8.0/10
Synopsis:

As you may of been able to tell (thanks to a blog post a little while back) Payday surprised me with it's solid core despite it's flaws. The game, while lacking a 'AAA' visual style, still looks rather good for a download title.

The controls feel a bit sensitive, even when adjusted, but once you pin them down, it's rather easy to do exactly what you want. You play one for 4 masked men (odd clown masks at that) whom are, more or less, professional theives who take on jobs of robbing banks, infiltrating diamond strong holds or breaking other criminals out of armored transport vans. Each plays the same, but they all seem to have their own personality and quirks as characters which help you in the immersion of the title. The team could of gone farther with using those unique characters to make them more memorable... but as it stands they're not too bad.

Co-op is key, as you work together with 3 others (human or AI) to go about the tasks given to you to complete the job. You can be drilling into a vault, burning a hole through a floor or hacking security computers all the while strategically trying to control hostages, fight off the police (and later their more difficult special forces) and make sure the rest of your team isn't killed or captured. The interesting part is that you get a set amount of health at the first and while your perks help out with better armor and (for some classes) a 1 time use med pack; you're more or less dependent on trying not to get shot and relying on team mates to help you up if you've fallen due to low health. Without working together, it's easy to be overcome by the law enforcers as you're often left to defend in areas without much cover and the cops storm you in relentless waves. Ammo too is limited (again you can get a perk in one class that allows a drop of an ammo bag) and you must pick up the ammo from downed cops; you can't take their weapons, as your load-out is based on a menu you choose before the heist, which really only adds to the strategy. All of your weapons, health limit, body armor and other helping tools are contained in these perks (some are constants, like body armor level or gun power increases, others like weapons and bags of ammo or medical supplies are equipped in limited slots).

The idea and execution are tight and equals a lot of fun. Like mentioned, it's not the prettiest game and the sound is adequate, it's got touchy controls and there could of been more flavor put into it's style, but over all the game play outshines the shortcomings to give you a unique and memorable experience that keeps you coming back.



Toy Story 3 (PS3)
Score: 8.0/10
Synopsis:

I wasn't expecting much out of Toy Story 3... being a kid friendly game and a movie tie in at that... I expected to jump in, play around for a bit (I had heard the Toy Box mode was fun) and I actually got sucked in for about 15 hours of enjoyment.

First out, the game is better in co-op with a friend than it is by yourself. Co-op is jump in/out, so it's not hard to join and the screen splits vertically, giving you a full view for each character to do as you please. My sis and I ripped through the "story mode" in one sitting and it's your typical run through the movie's story, loosely told with key areas presented. In the single player you can collect items to use in the Toy Box mode, which is where the girth of gameplay actually is.

This Toy Box mode is a rather large map made up of about 9 different areas, all based on parts of the movies and the characters that inspire them. The first is a town in a desert which is connected to woody and the old west, others like a Zerg tower, Sids haunted house and lotso's magical zen garden place are all unique and offer different types of things to do. Your goal in these areas is to collect stuff for your town, building it up as you go. You unlock horses for riding and racing, cars for the same use, new shops for customizing your town and it's citizens and a huge plethora of tasks. You're asked to find items, race take specific pictures with a camera and even play dodge ball and kick townsfolk through makeshift football goal posts. It's crazy, unique and a hell of a lot of fun for quite some time.

Once you've collected enough coins and have unlocked all of the buildings, interactive objects, weapons and what have you, it starts to get a little tedious to play. You have and endless supply of little tasks that the towns folk give you and there is a mammoth amount of stuff to collect both in Toy box and story modes... but at that point there really isn't much need to do so outside of your lust for completion or trophies/achievements.

Presentation wise, it's top notch - adopting a style not too different from the movies and everything is voiced, music plays in the background, there's no large glitches to speak of... it just works as intended. It's easy to control, you've got visual queues to tell you what to do and for a good 8+ hours you'll be enjoying going about the tasks of the world. Sadly when you've reached the limit... you've reached your limit and it's best just to move on to a new title :P.



Battle: Los Angeles (PC)
Score: 2.0/10
Synopsis:

It's been a while since I've played a game this bad. Visually it's a mixed bag... as I thought the weapon models were decent and some of the texture work okay... but the character models are bad even for PS2 era graphics (of which this game is not). The voice over is HORRENDOUS! The music is equally just garbage. Ugh, the A.I doesn't even look at you while shooting, cant' figure out how to move around a car and is more or less cannon fodder for the hour and a half that this game lasts.

Yep. I spent 1 hours 40 minutes in this sucker and... that was while goofing around... if you ran through it, it'd last even less. The cut scenes are badly drawn 2D images accompanied by the horrible voice acting and a story that more or less has a group of militia make their way through a city after being attacked by aliens. The aiming... works... but it doesn't matter as the game is brain dead. The controls are limited and in my case, playing the game on my PC - for some reason, even though I was playing with a keyboard/mouse it would send rumble feedback to my connected 360 controller... without any option to turn that off.

I've had more fun playing Half-life 1 mods from 1999 which were done in 15 minutes. This game is pure garbage the likes of which you should NEVER buy for any reason. Even if the movie of which this game shares a name was your favorite title ever, avoid this POS.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Is someone trying to tell me something?



What do dreams really mean? It's something people have been mulling over for ages and in the end, we really don't know, but there are some decent theories out there.

The most logical idea, that a dream is a practice taken by our subconscious to play things out in an attempt to unravel ideas, thoughts and scenarios to better arm ourselves for the complexities of the world. I kind of like this idea, but it doesn't seem to apply to some instances where dreams just get wacky crazy. Some even believe that dreams are our subconscious's way at testing things we'd really like to do in real life, but for some reason can't seem to. This all seems to make sense to me... but again, there are dreams that don't seem to fit in these categories.

Others, whom are obviously more spiritual, believe that dreams are meant to be lessons and glimpses from entities of beyond to both help us through life and tell us important things. While I'm not especially spiritual, nor follow any religion seriously, I do believe in an state of being after death - the likes of which we don't quite fathom at the moment. Thus, I believe that mesages from beyond this life could be possible.

Which leads me into my initial thought that sparked this blog post.

I've been having dreams over the last 6months+ and while not every dream does, a number of them seem to have a reoccurring piece that's starting to play with my head. It's making be wonder why this subject (actually a person) keeps popping up in my dreams. I don't seem to notice, while in dream, that I've seen this person before, but when I wake - I know it's the same person I've seen in a number of dreams. I've never seen this her in real life, she has no name, I don't know anyone whom resembles her in my life (currently) and yet... I feel like I've known her forever. It's strange.

The first dream that I can remember where she appeared, was a cryptic one in which we found a VHS video tape addressed to me from my grandmother (whom has been dead for about ~12 years now) and after being popped into the machine to play it, it turned out to be a family video tape of sorts, including large portions of the family on my mom's side. We thought it really weird though, because not only is my grandmother in the video in scenes we don't recall being at, she's also there along side grand/greatgrand-children whom were not born or at least not at the age they were before she passed. The dream is chunked up here and there for quite a bit but two very vivid scenes stand out after that first scene. One being this girl showing up, in this instance as a "professional" whom can investigate videos tapes like the one we got and when she arrives to do her job, she is dumbfounded by myself and the tape as it turns out she was contacted by my grandmother (I assume before she died) and was shown (in a dream?) that one day she'd meet her again and she would lead her to her future husband. The second scene is one of myself and her on the side of a mammoth bridge, I release this large banner like cloth to the wind, while holding on, letting it's huge size ripple in the wind. It's red and has type or logo or writing on it, which I'm told (from a disembodied voice?) that I would be known for that... then the dream ended.

If that wasn't odd enough, I've seen this same girl pop up in various dreams since then, she usually just pops in and smiles, or stands by watching what ever scene is currently in session play out.

I don't even have a 100% image of her. If I saw her in real life I would be able to pick her out... but to describe her... it's difficult. Shorter than myself, she has mid-long black hair and a lighter-dark complexion (which looks more like Indian descent - or rather that part of the world, not necessarily that nationality, that's just what comes to mind), dark brown eyes, slim, pretty and with a gorgeous smile. I went looking on google and found some images of girls that kind of look similar.



Then, just last week I had a much more vivid dream (most dreams feel foggy and merely memorable in quick glimpses, occasionally like this time, I remember the dream in near painstaking detail) in which I meet up with her again. Oddly enough, it's got a connection to my mother's family again.

This time we're spending time in a hotel for some kind of family function. For some reason I acknowledge my father not being there, having to work instead of be there for the gathering. A rather long series of events lead me to a lobby like area where I sit at a bench seat/sofa and whip out an old skool gameboy to play pokemon (awesome right? lol), then SHE comes along. Like I mentioned above, this girl is unknown to me in my dreams (but recognized once I wake) and she sits down next to me, gameboy in hand and we hit it off, discussing the game, playing together and so on. Time flies, almost on FF as the day melts away and eventually we reach a scene, same sofa, relaxed, my arms around this girl as she either rests or sleeps beside me. I wake her to remind her that we've got a dinner or something to attend (I assume with my family) and we head off to that, magical clothing change on the way and I find myself sitting at a table, my family behind me somewhere. At the table a large family of, which I presume to be people of an Indian descent (again it could be a number of nationalities, it's just what springs to my mind when I think of the dress they were in and their general look). I remember a whole lot of randomness, talk, a guy dancing? and a number of little things almost on FastForward again and then every thing kind of zeros in and I'm left talking with an older woman of the group (whom I assume is either the mother or grandmother of the girl I met in the lobby) who is asking me questions and I feel the entire group sort of looking and paying attention. It's finished with my trying 3 different foods in front of me and  after an approval of my like for a certain dish, the older woman smiles and throws her hands in the air which leads to the same thing from the rest of the table. To which she exclaims I am now allowed to marry this girl whom I met earlier. Overjoyed, I wake.

I always feel amazing after each dream where she appears but also kind of confused as I'm clueless as to whom she is. It's an odd feeling. Also worth noting, in no way are these dreams sexual, they're rather pure in nature, which is fine with me, it just further makes me wonder about the meaning behind these dreams. Has anyone similar stories? Thoughts? It'd be interesting to get some different views.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A pleasant surprise in Payday: The Heist



Don't you love it when you get a game, usually just on a whim, not expecting it to blow you away but rather be something of a time kill for the tiny amount of effort and money you put into obtaining it and then it turns out to be much more than you expected?

Such is the case with Payday: The Heist.

I merely got the game free via PSN as Sony offered it up if you went ahead and ordered the other 4 games in their "upcoming PSN releases" special (I forget exactly what they called it). Street Fighter 3rd Strike Online topped the list followed by the impressive looking BloodRayne title, a third in the series for DeathSpank (The Baconing) and the top down Renegade Ops. All of which I had an incline to play and didn't mind ordering them all at once to secure some bonus themes and the aforementioned Payday game.

I didn't even really know what Payday: The Heist was... but, for free I was willing to take a shot in the dark and now I'm hooked.

The game has a simple but decently executed premise. You're one of 4 masked men whom rob banks. In later levels you're doing things besides robbing banks - like ambushing prisoner transport vehicles - but it all works around the 4 player co-op, communicating with others on how best to avoid getting filled up with lead from the countless amount of law enforcement personnel coming your way.

Teamwork is key. Communication a must.
I've sunk about 6 hours into the game before I had my PS3 die, but have jumped back in and started out with 2 hours more, ranking up as I go. With new ranks, new weapons, items and power-ups become available which really allows you to play how you want.

The game itself isn't the most jaw dropping, graphically, nor is it perfect with controls (default controls felts too loose for me, I had to tone down the sensitivity) and I felt it weird as a first person shooter (I felt a third person view might make more sense) but it's over all experience really makes up for it's rough edges. There are varied levels, each with unique tasks to complete and enemies to take on. The enemies range from regular cops to tank like Bulldozer units whom take a ton of bullets to down and the Taser units whom freeze you in your steps with their electrical attacks, among others. Civilians play a role, you must keep them in control, but they can also be used as bargaining tools with the law, which equal out their usefulness. The music kicks in when appropriate and I actually felt it a perfect mood enhancer when you're hunkered down, barely able to move and need an incentive to make a dash for it.

The other issue... I felt that the team didn't put enough personality into it's 4 masked characters. They chat back and forth and have a glimpse of a personality... but I felt that the dev team could of taken it much further and really made each of them into their own recognizable characters - something akin to Left4Dead, which it bares a similarity to anyways. It doesn't cripple the game, but it would of been easier if you could connect to the characters rather than just their masks.

Capturing Hostages is important, you also get penalized for killing them.

To be blunt, I don't play a lot of games online. I don't enjoy randomly killing a bunch of people for hours on end in a death match like setting with the end result being some XP and bragging rights. That perhaps is why I like The Heist so much... as it's really about the experience and working together for a goal. That same kind of gameplay is why I still played L4D on the PC and why this game could be one of the few that holds my interest outside of a week (as with most online games I've played).

I am thoroughly impressed with Payday: The Heist, not because it's a near perfect high profile game, but because it's charming enough to really hold my interest despite it's shortcomings. In a world where cookie-cutter game play (especially in multiplayer) seems to reign supreme and bore me to death, Payday is a pleasant surprise.

Payday can be purchased either on PSN or Steam (PC) for $19.99.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dis n Dat - Nov 2011

Why hello there, little one.

Ahh, so last blog post was a bit of a sad one... in that I detailed the demise of my beloved PS3. It now rests inside my closet, power cord wrapped around it's corpse, in the dark. My new slim model PS3 in it's place, complete with it's newly swapped in 750gb hdd drive and (so far) clean look.

Yep, I went out and got a slim model, 160gb version... but with the management I had to do with my 250gb (on my Phat PS3), I knew I would need an upgrade. Right now, the largest drive you can get in the specs that meet the PS3's needs is 750gb. At $130, I thought it a great purchase. It (new PS3+hdd) set me back a bit, bank balance wise, but I'm just glad to have the extra space and a working machine

I also purchased something special for my new PS3 from ebay, but will detail that in a later blog.

I've got quite a bit of downloading to do, to get a lot of my games, DLC, updates etc ready to go on my new system... but I hope it's not too bad, just something I'll tackle when I'm sleeping.

I did start a new file on Arkham City, while using the stock 160gb hdd in my new PS3, planning to just upload the save to my PS+ save space and download it when I swapped in my new hdd... but I forgot to do so... and now need to start the game for a third time. I'm pro at the first 5 hours :P lol.

On the very day that my hdd drive arrived, I also received my collector's edition of Uncharted 3. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with the belt buckle (have never worn em) or the Ring, but they're very kewl and are actual items, not just cheap knockoffs. The statue of Drake joins my others on my computer desk and demotes my new batman one to the shelf (mainly because it's the only one that will fit on my shelf).



Lets see. Batman? Check, Uncharted? Check, Gears3? Check. Skyrim is coming soon and... honestly... that should be good for me for a bit (whoops, forgot the MGS HD collection :P). I'm going to try and cut spending on games again for a little while. They've been sucking the ol cash out of my bank account a lot lately, which is never fun :P I did pretty well all summer, warding off buying any games, but this fall is brutal with the amount of amazing that's been out. Eek. Perhaps I'll drop a few on a Christmas wish list and forget buying them myself? :P

Speaking of spending money, check out what I pre-ordered today:


Isn't it beautiful? I find they could of been more true to her actual design, but in all it's quite the awesome looking piece. Mass Effect 3 in March :D

-----

Lets see, what else is up. Umm, a Tree (or rather, half of it) landed on my car...


Thankfully, just some dents left as damage. The window is fine and no paint chipping as far as I can tell.

- Hydrophobia Prophecy (an update to Hydrophobia) finally came to PSN and it's free for PS+ subscribers (hells yeah)
- Started play Chrono Trigger (PS1 game on my PSP) a little while ago, loving the hell out of it :) Been AGES since I've played this title.
- Square just announced Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy 5 and 6 for PSone classics (my PSP is happy)
- Need to jump into Uncharted3. It's been sitting on my desk just a little over 24hours now... which feels wrong :P
- The Netflix app for my android phone now works in Canada (it didn't previously :S). I caught an episode of 'Til Death' while on my break at work today :D
- I love Netflix.
- Bane is apparently going to be in the new Batman movie. That's awesome.
- The Batwing and BatBike, looks stupid in the new Batman movie.
- Anne Hathaway seems like she'd make a nice Catwoman though. Deff can't be worse than Halle Berry.
- Finished Spaced, a charming show staring Simon Pegg. Going to miss it.
- Jumped into this season's 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' and couldn't of laughed harder. It's such a funny show :D
- Behind in Dexter, The Office and Community! Eek, shame on me! :P
- Saw Paranormal Activity 3 the other day, Garbage.
- Been having rather vivid and interesting dreams lately.
- Halloween was rather dull this year.
- GTA V.
- I'm tired of writing, as I'm sure you're tired of reading. Peace.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Farewell old friend, you'll be missed


Sigh. Batman killed my PS3.

So, today was one of the first days in a bit where I didn't have anything to do before work and so, I went to bed early the night before, got up at a decent hour and started playing some Batman: Arkham City. I got a good solid 5 hours into the game and reached a part in the museum, dealing with Penguin and his goons when my PS3 shut it self off and obviously my game while it was at it. This kind of thing has happened in various games over the years, bugs I presumed, and so I just restarted and thanks to Arkham City's great checkpoint system I was brought maybe 2 mins away from where things went all crazy. Jumped back in, whooping some butt and BAM a shut down at the exact same moment.

Scratching my head, I headed online to see if anyone was experiencing the same thing in this location, but came up empty. I turned my PS3 back on and just left it at the XMB for a bit while I continued to look around online and... bam, it shut down again, I wheeled around in my chair and my heart sank. I turned my PS3 back on and it didn't even get to the XMB when it reset and beeped at me, it's power indicator flashing red.

My PS3 died.

I actually backed up ALL of my PS3, PS2, PS1 and PSP mini saves about a month ago... to a USB stick (and some to Sony's cloud service, as they were copy-protected and refused to save to the stick) so I should be able to transfer them all over and not lose much of anything (besides my Arkham City save, which came after the backup). I also managed to turn the PS3 back on and eject my Arkham City disc... so that's not a lost cause :)



*Shrugs. I'm assuming it's the GPU... because I've been having weird graphical glitches across a lot of games where textures would pop out for a second, replaced by large solid colored polygons. I just put up with it.. for like 6-9 months now. Also, it's been getting louder and louder depending on what game I played. Sounded like a freaking Jet engine at times :P Guess I should of been more concerned with those signs, eh?

Hundreds of hours put into games over the years and it's never faulted me before now. Being one of the 60gb launch models (I didn't get it at launch but the manufacturing date was before launch, so I called it a launch unit :P). I will tear it apart and attempt the usual methods at repair, like applying new conducting gel on the CPU/GPU or w/e is involved, to see if I can resurrect the beast... but I really don't have much incline that'll work. Sony wants nearly as much to fix it as it costs to buy a new one... which is silly... but may also be an option sometime down the road.

I'm getting a new slim model tomorrow, as cheap as they come, as I've already got a new 750gb HD on order too, so stock HD doesn't really matter. I'm going to lose the ability to play PS2 games... which sucks a lot. I'm heavily thinking about getting a new PS2 as well... cuz I still enjoy the hell out of PS2 games. But I may way a little bit... so I don't stretch my bank account too much (I still need to invest in winter tires for my car sometime before it snows, which will set me back several hundred further, ntm other bills that need taken care of).

I can't wait to get back into Batman: Arkham City... but fear my save is gone. Uncharted 3 comes out this week too! So I can't just go without a PS3 :P

Ahh poop. Farewell PS3, you will be missed my friend.

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's finally here :)


Three days feels like forever when you're waiting on something. I was told my Arkham City pre-order had shipped on Monday, via courier, which I assumed would be here the next day (Tuesday, the ship date) as courier services are generally really quick to get stuff to it's destination. Turns out they sent it via the regular mail system and because they shipped it in such a mammoth box (seriously, it's like 8X the size of the smaller box that the collector's edition came in) I had to go pick it up at the post office :S

But, now I have it :) I put it's Batman statue near my more awesome statues and noticed that I need to dust or something... :P


I redeemed all of my DLC (It came with the Dark Knight Rises costume, Penguin lounge challenge map and Catwoman DLC as well as a beta code for Gotham City Impostors and a code to download the OST). I'm actually waiting and hoping they release all of the pre-order dlc for the game on PSN/XBL so I can get it all! Cuz I need to play as robin and kick butt as batman from the animated series :D

Took the game disc out of it's holding place (in the back of the artbook) and put it in the steelbook I got for ordering through futureshop (which is great and much better than using the artbook). Have yet to pop it into my PS3 (waiting for the DLC to download) but I hope to break into it a little bit before I have to head into work :)

I'm on Act2 in Gears 3, that's now on pause, I started a new game in Chrono Trigger, which I downloaded from PSN and slapped on my PSP... that's on pause too. Other games I'm currently playing too... are going on pause as I dive into Arkham City :D I'll talk to you in a few weeks, when I come up for air :P

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

02.22.12 is the day

Let's get right to it. I just saw some hellish awesome news pop up last night.

Playstation Vita is hitting world wide (aside from Japan who get it in December) on February 22, 2012 :)

One Please. 3G not needed.

I'm excited :) After hearing vague "sometime late 2011" for the longest time I accepted that perhaps Japan would be the only region in that estimate and that the rest of the world would be seeing a late spring/summer release for the new handheld. Pleasantly, Sony announced the end week of February for the launch in the rest of the world. Much sooner than I had anticipated, but if I play my cards right (cut spending) I should be able to snatch one on launch.

I plan on getting the Non-3G model... as I really don't see a need for online gaming on the go... especially when you need pay for a separate 3G bill with the likes of AT&T. If I can't be somewhere with Wifi (honestly, how many places do you go without Wifi?) then I'll just enjoy the machine as a single player device. Being 4+ months away, I should be able to have enough to get the system, a hefty memory card and hopefully a few titles at launch. :)

The specs, the beautiful screen and the games all really have me foaming at the mouth ;) Can't wait. I especially like the idea of starting a game on PS3, saving to a cloud and playing the exact same game when I'm on the go, simply saving (again) to a cloud (a term for a server in this case, not a cloud that rains... :P) to pick up again when I get home on my PS3. Very kewl stuff.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss, my single most anticipated game for the Vita.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Cancelled my Arkham City pre-order

Yep that's right... I cancelled my Arkham City pre-order...

...

With EBGames and re-pre-ordered it with FutureShop :)

Reason? Oh... how about this AWESOME Steelbook case! (at no extra cost!)


Until recently, I didn't even know this was an option! Hells yeah futureshop for scoring something kewl for us Canadians :) I was even worried about a case as I'm getting the collector's edition which as far as I can tell, comes with a cheap cardboard sleeve instead of an actual game case.

So, now the game can sit with the rest of my PS3 games :) Though... I'm going to need to find a bigger shelf or something... as I'm stacking PS3 games on each other now... as I've run out of space. *Perhaps I'll move them to my larger shelf and move my PS2/Wii/360 games to the current PS3 shelf...


Has anyone noticed that Japan gets a colored version of the batman statue that's included with the CE of the game? What's up /w that?

I can't wait for the game :) It's got to be my most anticipated of the year (yes more than Gears3 or Skyrim), as was Arkham Asylum when it launched. Playstation Mag Aus has the only review up right now, but we should start seeing some more soon - btw, PTOM AUS gave it a 10/10. I just hope that all the DLC being released at various stores for promotion (the different batman costumes, robin costumes, challenge maps etc) all make it online before long so I can snatch those too :)


Speaking of Batman, did you know that DC has done yet another of their awesome animated movies for the Dark Knight? (Not the movie, the man himself). It's based off of Frank Miller's comic of the same name and has Bruce Timm attached (the guy behind the animated series of the 90s), with Bryan Cranston as James Gordon (a kewl thing for sure) and  Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The whole thing sounds very kewl. If DC's previous efforts are any indication, this one should be well done :)

Here is the trailer for that:


Link for those reading my blog somewhere other than my site.