Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Side Effects May Occur

Computer's fixed, but it's a long story. Basically, my never-updated antivirus was blocking all internet access, so I uninstalled it. But later, when I went to plug in the cord in the back, sparks flew out of the power supply. So I went out, bought a new power supply, and my dad and I replaced it ourselves. Everything computer-wise now works. The PS2 is another story.

My electric luck was running short that weekend. I was taking a break from 5 hours of tech support and decided to finally get started on GTA. So I popped it in and turned it on and watched about 5 minutes of cutscenes before my dad comes home. He asks if I want to get some Wendy's and I was like, "Hellz yes I want some Wendy's". So I thought I would pick GTA back up later and stood to turn off the PS2. Right as my finger touched the power button, a huge spark connected and then the PS2 turned off. A little dazed, I just shrugged it off and left. When I came home, the PS2 wouldn't turn on. I called Sony's customer support, and they were nice enough to replace it for me, even though it was way out of warranty. I'm still waiting for it to be delivered, so I'll update you on that.

Yeah, school's been a lot easier now that I have easier math and chemistry classes, plus a study hall. A lot less stressful, which is nice. Hopefully the year continues like this. I am planning on updating my Myspace layout; I have it all drawn out seeing as I want to make a fresh, purely CSS based page. It'll be hard, but hopefully the payoff will be good. Good thing I have a lot of free time to do it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yeah, I Know

I was going to post a nice Guitar Hero review, but that's going to have to wait. I've been pretty busy lately. The good thing is that I have a three day weekend now so maybe sometime within that time it should be up. Gamestop emailed me a coupon for 25% off any used PS2 game, and most PS2 games these days are like $5 anyway, and I have $5 so I though I should get myself a game. I got GTA Vice City (after arguing with my mom to let me get it, 6 months and I won't need anyone to buy mature-rated games for me. They also had a bunch of free posters at Gamestop, so I grabbed a few, including a Super Mario Galaxy one. I really want to play GTA right now, but I have other things to do.

Last night, my internet decided to not work for no apparent reason. I decided to wait until morning to try fix it so that's what I'm doing right now. I can get the internet to work on my Wii and my garbage Windows 98 downstairs (which is what I'm typing this on right now), so it works on anything connected wirelessly to my router. But my good computer won't connect for some reason. I'm trying a couple of things, but I might have to call tech support eventually as much as I hate doing that. Hopefully I get it to work soon.

I saw Juno and I didn't like it very much. It's blatantly obvious that the director is going for a Napoleon Dynamite style movie, but it falls flat. It's like he's trying too hard. And the Juno character is that one girl in my class who always has something stupid and witty to say about everything and you just want to punch her in the face. And that Cera guy is a good actor, but totally wrong for this kind of movie. In Superbad, that kind of acting works, not in this movie though. Overall, I found it to be not at all funny, totally unrealistic, and just not very good. Don't know what all the hype about it was for...

I better go back and fix this damn network. I want to watch Diggnation, but can't download it until my internet works again. At least I have no homework, this semester has been so much easier.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Portal Review

Here's the next review on Portal. Next up, Guitar Hero 3.

Every now and again comes a game that is so different than other games that it immediately catches your eye. It's so revolutionary that you fall in love with it. Portal was that kind of game for me. Sure, in 2007 I played a lot of good games, but Portal stands above most of them in how fundamentally different it is. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you know how the gaming community has come to love this game. And for good reason too.

Portal's story is basically this: you are a test subject in a research lab who solves puzzles using this gun that can create two portals. If you enter one portal, you exit through the other one, so the basic idea is to shoot portals onto different surfaces to solve the puzzles. It's such a simple idea when you think about it, but it's a really cool idea. But this isn't what made the game great for me.

Sure, the graphics are pretty good. You get that feeling of being in a scientific area and the graphics really help portray that. The graphics are somewhat simple but very effective in that it creates that clean, yet spooky atmosphere. The music is alright, nothing special, mostly just ambient sounds to set the mood. The controls are pretty solid, move around with WASD, point with the mouse and shoot a portal with the click of the mouse. These are just nice aspects of the game, but it isn't what makes me really love this game.

What makes me love this game is the storyline and the spookiness of the atmosphere. The first voice you hear in the game is the voice of GLADOS, a computer that guides you through the game. It's all computerized and kind, but glitches now and then and kinda scares you a bit. She keeps telling you to keep going in order to get some cake. In one of the levels, she tells you that it is impossible to complete the level, but when you finish it, she congratulates you on being successful under pessimistic conditions. In all the rooms, you can see glass windows where there are seats so that people could watch you try to finish the puzzle. Things like that really make you feel like you are a guinea pig of some sort. You don't know what's really going on, but if you win, you get cake.

Then things get weirder. You start to see things that don't make sense, like a broken wall that leads into another room with weird writing on the wall, saying things like "the cake is a lie". As the game continues, more of these things are noticeable, and it really scared me. It's been a while since I've played a game that genuinely scared me. I was literally shaking throughout most of the game because around every corner, who knows what you will find. The developers do such a good job at creating a scary and disturbing atmosphere at all times.

There are these little robots that shoot you whenever you get in their line of vision. But they have such a sweet and innocent voice that it really disturbs you. Small things like these really set the mood. Then the final level is so crazy and epic, it's really hard for me to put into words without spoiling the ending. But when the fire pit comes, everything you know gets switched around and everything beyond that is really confusing. It messes with your mind. If you've played this game, you'll know what I mean.

Portal is this game that is really hard to explain. It's one of those games that you really have to play for yourself. This is a gaming experience that you can't miss. The game isn't really open to a sequel, you'll know this if you've played Portal to the end, which is too bad because I'd like to see a sequel to this short but awesome game. So go play this, you won't be disappointed.


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Review

So this is the first full-fledged review for the site. Hopefully it doesn't suck. If this goes well, I'll be writing more in the future. Next up, Portal for PC.

To say that I am a fan of the Zelda series is an understatement. Let's just say that one of my major life goals is to beat every single Zelda game ever made. So you can tell that I like Zelda a bit. So of course you know I was excited to see another game entered into this great series. As a bonus, the game is a direct sequel to Windwaker (which is my favorite Zelda game of all). Also, it's for the DS, so I can play it anywhere I want. I was freaking ecstatic about getting my hands on this game.

I finally got some cash and bought it. I turn it on and am blown away almost immediately. The graphics are like no other game that I have ever seen for the Nintendo DS. Bright and colorful, detail on everything (except for the hands, which look like blocks), that familiar Windwaker style. Throughout the game, the developers seemed to have reached further and further beyond the graphical capabilities of the system. Sure, some parts are blocky and pixelated now and then, but for a handheld game, it's pretty impressive.

From the get-go, you get that epic feeling that you are about to embark on an epic quest, the feeling that comes with every Zelda game. You meet Linebeck, who is now one of my favorite characters in the series, and once you get that boat, you get that feeling like you can go anywhere you want. Just like Windwaker, you have a whole ocean to explore (although slightly smaller) and it thrills you just knowing that.

At first, I was not a huge fan of the controls. I had heard that they were extremely intuitive, but my first experiences with the new touch controls had me thinking otherwise. It took me a while to get used to them; I was used to just walking with the d-pad and slashing my sword with the press of a button. But now, to slash the sword, you have to slash across the screen with the stylus. Eventually, I got so used to it, that you couldn't even tell the difference between the old and new way of controlling Link, it felt so natural. Now and then, like when fighting monsters, you wish the accuracy of a sword slash with the press of the button, but other than that, the controls really grow on you. All of the items really use the capabilities of the screen so well, like the boomerang that goes exactly where you draw and the bow and arrow which shoots with the tap of the stylus. These weapon controls are so polished and are very satisfactory to use.

The biggest gripe that I have with this game is it's difficulty level. This is easily the easiest game in the entire series. While some of the puzzles do require a bit of brain work to figure out, you whiz right through the dungeons and boss battles so quickly. It's really cool how some of the puzzles get solved using very innovative controls and are very satisfying to complete, you sort of feel robbed because it was easier than you expected it to be.

The second, and last, problem that I have with this game is the music. I've drawn so many comparisons between this game and Windwaker, and I'm going to make one more. Windwaker has a fantastic soundtrack, my favorite soundtrack of all time in fact. But Phantom Hourglass is a letdown, music-wise. You get some familiar songs from Windwaker, but they're remixed and I really prefer the old versions. Other than that, the rest of the music is forgettable and doesn't have the quality I have come to expect from a Zelda game.

I was a bit let down with the ending, (spoiler alert) I was hoping they didn't take the old "fell asleep and had an epic dream" story that we saw in Link's Awakening. But that doesn't mean I didn't like the game. Other than that, I really enjoyed this game. Probably the best game out for the DS right now, so definately try it out. It's a good game to tide me over until the next game comes out. But come on, Nintendo, why not consider another 2d Zelda game? I love those just as much as the 3d ones, if not more...

P.S. Also, I'm not going to review the wifi multiplayer game that came with Phantom Hourglass because I've only played it 4 times, lost all 4 times, and didn't like it much after that.


Monday, January 07, 2008

I'm Surprised We've Come This Far

First post of 2008! Wooo!

One week of school left until the semester ends. Actually, make that only 3 days, because I have Friday off. The next semester will be a lot easier, so I'm starting to feel a bit more relieved. They can't give us homework over that break, so it should be a productive 3 days.

I've been playing a lot of games recently, including Zelda PH, Portal, and Pirates of the Burning Sea. I've almost beaten the first two, and my beta test of the last one is running out of time, so I've come up with a good idea. I'll be writing three separate reviews for each of those games and posting them here. I'm doing this because it's a good way to flex and practice my writing skills (I'm considering journalism for a college major), plus most websites like to get writing samples if you ask to work for them. This way, I have something already written to give them. I don't care if people read them or not, it's mostly just for fun. And who knows, I know some people who could get me hooked up for writing for some bigger sites, so maybe you'll see some of my reviews on Gamepro or IGN or something. That'd be awesome.

So look for those reviews, they'll probably be up this weekend. Until then, I'll be enjoying the new year and the last three days of AP chemistry.