Monthly Archives: November 2009

IMPRESSIONS: Left 4 Dead 2 demo


I try not to judge a book by its cover. Similarly, I try not to judge a videogame by its…heck, they are different beasts than books and by the time a game is released the public has already been spoon-fed screenshots, trailers, previews, demos, and a landfill of hype. So a videogame’s retail cover means nothing in actuality, but what I’m trying to say is that I normally shy away from the crazy, fast-paced shooters of this generation because I feel like they are just not my kind of game. I’m talking about the Halos, the Gears of Wars, the Call of Dutys, and the Left 4 Deads. Last night, I put that theory to the test.

Left 4 Dead 2 comes out on November 17, and a demo for the zombie shootathon went up on Xbox Live at the end of October. Y’know, to gets folks excited. However, being a lowly wielder of the Silver account, I had to wait until yesterday to download it. Oh, lowly me.

The demo offers up two modes of play–single player and online campaign–within one of the game’s five episodes, The Parish, with the first two sections of that episode available for exploring. There’s no story introduction, and you’re dropped off a boat next to, magically, a table of weapons. Grab your gear and go. Go where? Forward. Then the zombies swarm (or maybe not, thanks to the clever and always thinking AI director), and here’s where the problems started…for me, at least.

One, nervous and unsure of how to play, I hung back and allowed my three other teammates to dole out punishment. A single zombie did not get through so basically I just stood in a corner watching. This is equivalent to watching an in-game cinema. I did nothing.

Second, when I finally did decide to shoot some zombies I ended up hitting my teammates more often. They scolded me, and I retreated to hiding in a corner, popping off a shot only when it was clear who what I was aiming at. This only worked in the open areas, like the park and streets. Inside buildings was a no-trigger zone. Was there a button for zoom? I couldn’t figure it out.

Anyways, you’ll travel down streets, through a dark kitchen, across a shrub-heavy park, all while shooting a variety of zombies. They are fast zombies, too, some jumping on your head and others spitting Ecto Cooler at you. The graphics are colorful and strong, and the physicality of everything is pretty impressive, especially how zombies fall differently under gunfire versus melee weapons. In dark areas, the light from your flashlight makes for eerie gunfights. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing with some of the items I found, and I just moved from place to place when it go too quiet until eventually the demo came to an end.

Then I played the demo a second time, and the entire scenario was different, which was nice. Very nice, and I slowly improved on shooting zombies. So I’ll pass on the full retail game, as I don’t have anyone to play with (and I’m assuming this is a great game for friends and such) and just replay the demo when I get a hankering for a zombie massacre.

At least now I can say with total authority that Left 4 Dead 2 is not my kind of videogame experience.

November 2009 games releases that interest me

Hmm, it is now 10 days into November, and I realized I need to learn to plan better. For one thing, I should get this list going, ehh, more at the very beginning of the month.

Anyways, slim pickings this month. Oh sure, big name games like Dragon Age: Origins and Assassin’s Creed II are dropping, but who has the moolah for those creations. Surely not me. Besides, I’ve got Fallout 3 to keep me busy on the Xbox 360 for some time now, and there’s nothing really pulling at my heartstrings this month, save for a couple DS games out there, as well as a…PS2 game?! What is this, 2003?!

Nintendo DS

Phantasy Star Zero – released on 11/10/09 (that’s today, y’all!)


Having never played a Phantasy Star game before, this looks like an okay place to start. Action RPG, sci-fi elements, anime influence. Something about a war, but I bet there’s battles involved, as well as gaining XP. Should be enough for me.

Harvest Moon DS: Sunshine Islands – released on 11/10/09 (that’s today, y’all!)


I’ve been sort of getting into farming sims lately. I blame Facebook, naturally. And at least this game’s title doesn’t make me want to vomit and run away in tears. Yes, Harvest Moon DS Cute, I’m talking about you.

Playstation 2

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier – released on 11/03/09


I love me some Jak and Daxter. Truly great platforming, with the occasional shooting/racing element. Never got to play any of the PSP adventures, having stopped at Jak 3 since a full-on racing game like Jak X left me feeling empty-chested. So it’s nice to see a release for the Playstation 2 even if Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier might be swollen with flying elements. Given the right price, this could be a good time.

Ho-ho-hope December is a little better than this for us casual, poor videogamers…

Doesn’t Play Well with Others

While hunting around Fallout 3‘s Capital Wasteland last night for more Bobbleheads, I unlocked the following achievement after over 50 hours of total gameplay:

Doesn’t Play Well with Others (20G): Kill 300 people

And it’s true. I don’t play well with others. More interestingly, I don’t play well with critters either, as at the time this unlocked I had killed over 600 creatures, ranging from Mole Rats to Mirelurks to one or two Deathclaws. My violence record, you can now has it.

Holy ginormous chocobos!

The chocobos in Final Fantasy XIII are huuuuuuuuuuuge! Much bigger than they’ve ever been, if memory serves me correctly. Don’t believe me? Check out these scans below:




New trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is quietly coming up to its release date (December 7) and not much is known about the second Zelda game for the DS other than it involves trains and phantoms and many of the same elements from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But check out the new trailer below, which hints at Princess Zelda’s importance to both plot and gameplay:

I’ve yet to beat The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, mostly because I’m tired of digging deeper into the same ol’ tomb, but it’s still a great, colorful time that I pick up now and again, and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is looking to improve on that formula in every way possible. It’ll probably make my Christmas list…

The Top Five Sequels I’m Not Interested In

What? My second list already?

Yes, people. This is what chaos looks like. Enjoy this list of game titles with the number 2 at the end…

5. Left 4 Dead 2


I’m no good at shooters. I’m just as no good at horror games where the littlest of things make me jump. Hence, I was never meant to excel at shooting frenetic zombies, and this sequel looks to be more of the same.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2


Oh hey, look! Another shooter where you shoot things…just like you did in that first game where you shot things!

3. Bioshock 2


I’m still late to the party when it concerns Bioshock, which is a story-driven adventure, a solo game, all about immersion. Seems like the sequel is adding in multiplayer…why? Because that’s what people demand now in every game? Seems forced.

2. Mass Effect 2


I’ll admit that I greatly enjoyed Mass Effect though I’ve only been able to play through it once despite its design for multiple run-throughs. Truthfully, the storyline isn’t that captivating nor does it differ terribly based on who I play as and how I play them. That’s pretty much going to be the same with Mass Effect 2 and rumor has it Shepherd is biting it in this murky middle. Meh.

1. Assassin’s Creed 2


Repetition, repetition, repetition. Good for learning a new language, horrible for a videogame. And this is something that Assassin’s Creed suffered from greatly. Switching scenery might fool me at first, and giving Altair the power to, y’know, swim is nice, but I get the feeling that this one will not have learned from its mistakes and will just be more climbing, more running, and more stealth kills. Plus, I’m still totally bitter about the first game’s “ending”…

And there you have it. Feel free to argue, but it’s pointless. These are games I’m not interested in; your wants and desires will surely vary.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time movie trailer

Having just beaten the most latest iteration of Prince of Persia, I was surprised to see that there’s a film coming out for it in 2010. Here’s the trailer:

I don’t know. Might be good, might not. Certainly has the Persia look of the original games (something the reboot missed out on completely), but Jake Gyllenhaal and Jerry Bruckheimer have me worried. Time will tell (pun intended)…

Grinding is Good and Bad and All We Really Ever Had


There’s been a lot of talk lately about grinding, some for it, some against it, and some just not sure how to define where it shows up. Here’s some links, all of which are worth a read and/or listen:

Having named my blog Grinding Down for a reason, I feel equally mixed about this subject.

It’s a staple of RPGs, sometimes more prevalent than not, and I much prefer it to be an optional sort of thing. Cases where it has not been optional are Eternal Sonata and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. In both these games, I found myself stuck at a boss fight that I was clearly not ready for…which meant wasting an hour or two grinding, fighting the same monsters over and over, sleeping at the same inn to heal for cheap over and over, and so on. This is depressing. There might as well have been a scratch on the game’s disc because this kind of grinding is basically stating, “You can not play this game any more. Not until you kill X more slimes/whatever. Ha ha, fooled you.”

I’m surprised I haven’t had to grind yet in Fallout 3. Or maybe I have and I just haven’t noticed. Playing as a sneaky thief, I don’t necessary have to be super strong to kill a room of ghouls. I can instead just sneak past them. All experience that I’ve gained along the way (now a Level 21) has felt natural and just enough to get me through the next section. Whereas in Oblivion, a game that levels you up so long as you constantly use the same skills over and over, grinding there is visibly obvious. Want to excel in blunt weapons? Better start smacking some mudcrabs around.

Truthfully, I’m fine with grinding so long as I don’t know it is happening, so long as it is an enjoyable aspect of the game and not jarring, so long as the reward is worth the work. I have fought and defeated Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII, and this was during the days of “no Internet guides”; all I had was my thumbs and the knowledge that I needed to have Cloud and the gang at incredibly high levels. So I spent a weekend grinding. This involved fighting, fighting, fighting, take a potty break, fighting, lunch, fighting, fighting, fighting, dinner, fighting, fighting, potty break, possibly a shower (I can’t remember anymore), fighting, fighting, and then bed. Once I felt battle-ready, I saved and then took Emerald Weapon down after much stress and sweating. The question remains…was grinding to gain XP to be strong enough to beat a boss to gain even more XP worth it? Not really. In addition to experience, you get the Earth Harp item, which is tradable for the remaining master materias. Meh. I could’ve been outside reading or something. That part of my youth is gone, and I have nothing to show for it.

Oh well.

Fable II is Full of Fowl Players


Having put Fable II down at the end of June 2009, I decided on a whim last night to drop the disc back into my Xbox 360 and see if there were any mildly easy Achievements that I’d missed. And lo, there were. Within an hour, I’d manage to unlock three, specifically:

The Property Magnate (10G): A property was sold for twice its original value. Now that’s good business.

The Hoarder (25G): You, or a friend, found every single silver key in Albion. Some would call you obsessive. Not us.

The Fowl Player (10G): A Hero dressed as a chicken and proceeded to kick many of its own kind. We’re sickened.

That last one was pretty fun, I gotta admit. There’s a couple more to go for that just require time and patience, both of which I have every now and then, just not at the moment.

But if gaming updates about ol’ smelly Fable II doesn’t interest you, then check out some brand new concept art for Fable III. Looks…industrial. Kind of excited for this to come out, but I might have to go about and put together a list of things Lionhead needs to fix/change for their next iteration. I’ll say this much though: they can keep the chicken suit.

Rocking the Weezer hat in Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times

You know what’s really hard to do? Photograph your Nintendo DS screen:


I basically just wanted to show the world that I’ve been totally rocking a Weezer hat in Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times these past few weeks. See? Okay, okay…it’s really a “baseball cap,” but a guy can pretend.