Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fight Songs Get Me Riled Up

Yes, this is still Lindsey.  No, I have not been taken over by some sort of parasite that makes me love sports.  I just have an appreciation for some of them, especially those well executed as video games.  I have been known to play Tiger Woods, hockey, that little vintage green screen football game... But this particular entry is about EA's most recent gift to the football loving crowds.

I have to admit that I have not actually played this.  But I have spent an inordinate amount of time watching it being played - so I am, in all actuality, like a true fan of the sport!

This game is really lovely.  The graphics are so realistic that, at quick glance, one could pretend they are watching a real game instead of a video game.  And one thing that continues to amaze me is the sound.  They have all the fight songs, the roar of the crowd.. And announcers that actually make sense!  Now, I played Madden back in the day, and all the announcers ever did was say stupid things like, "Ouch!  That had to hurt!"  In NCAA they make witty and fitting commentary related to the happenings of the game.  It amazes me all the time.

Beyond the graphic and sound quality, the gameplay looks really smooth.  My husband has not complained about the controls.  There seems to be no shortage of plays to choose from.  There is an adequate challenge to playing and beating the snot out of your favorite rivals.  And there's recruiting.  Now, you all know me to love a good sim game.. and NCAA '11 provides!  You get to contact up-and-coming high schoolers and try to recruit them to your school.  This is done by managing a certain amount of phone time, and placing calls to your desired recruits during which you try to convince them that your school of choice is the best for them.  My husband created a recruitable character that represented himself, then was let down when he couldn't get himself to come to Nebraska.  Virtual-Bret ended up in Florida I believe.

If you're a football fan, this one could be for you.  If your significant other is a football fan, at least you can have fun watching this one be played.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas has been out for about a week now. There are a lot of reviews and opinions out there. One of the most commonly heard phrases about this game is that its exactly like Fallout 3. You are hearing that so much because, surprise, it IS almost identical to Fallout 3. This can be good or bad, I'm gonna break it down.

Bad news first. Its bad because I didn't want to pay $60 for a game I already have. The guns, the character interactions, even the menus are
exactly the same. And because the gameplay is identical, its kind of discouraging. I spent hours grinding through Fallout 3, completing missions and tackling no less than five different dlc downloads. So when I started this up, it felt like I was still going from the last game. Imagine completing a game in 80 hours and then realizing that the game was really 160 hours long. That is what this feels like. Its psychological.

Now for the good news, which is actually great news. Finally, a developer took to heart t
he concept of "it it ain't broke, don't fix it". All the things that I thought were fun about the last game are back. The quirky characters, the extremely user-friendly Pip-Boy, and my beloved VATS system are all back. There are some cool new features that definitely shouldn't be over-looked. You can now control your companions and have them help you with specific actions. And in addition to building new weapons, you can now modify weapons. Imagine a 0.357 Magnum with extra clips and a laser scope.

I recommend F
allout: New Vegas for just about anyone. Take a break from your crazy multiplayer shooter and indulge in some mission driven madness. Its a great game for people to play who are new to action-RPGs or are rediscovering the genre. I think this game will be for other people what Fallout 3 was for me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birds Vs. Pigs: Blood on Your Phone

My daily commute is around 3.5 hours and reading on a loud, jostling train can be futile. So as another form of entertainment, I have been looking for games to play on my iPhone. It seems like everyone I ask, no matter which phone or service they have, is enjoying this Angry Birds game. The time to jump on the bandwagon is once again upon me.

Angry Birds does not have that much of a story. There are birds with eggs. Some mean, green pigs came and take the eggs. Now you have to kill the pigs and take back the eggs. Now I always envisioned that this all had some sort of deeper, philosophical meaning. Perhaps a reflection of society and the unending politics of our daily lives. The pigs represent our daily struggle against greater corporate forces that are trying to steal the eggs. The "eggs" being our children and the "pigs" seek to brainwash every new generation into becoming thoughtless consumers. We must fight through blockades to regain control of ourselves and our lives. Alternatively, I am fairly certain that this is just cartoon birds dive-bombing pigs with mustaches. Mmmmmm ..... pigs with 'staches.

But there really is more to this game than a lot of the others out there. You have the ability to set up an account and share challenges and scores with friends and strangers alike. Its like a remedial version of networked gaming. All of that adds a new challenge to this already fun game.

Now the game itself is fairly simple in concept. You have birds, and you must launch them into blocks to kill multiple targets. There is a good chance you have played a game very similar to this. It is almost identical to games like Izzi and Fragger. It is simple and fun. As the levels progress, the challenges get harder and require a more strategic approach. And when you get stuck, don't worry, there are lots of videos and tips online to help make this a success.

The next best part of this is the price. For the iPhone, this game app is only 99 cents. And with this 99 cents, you get hundreds of levels of varying types of game play. Not sure you are willing to invest that hard earned dollar ? No problem. There is a trial app out there called Angry Birds Lite where you can play about 30 levels of the game for free. This is a great way to get a feel for it.

So the long story short is that this is a super fun game. Its easy to play and doesn't require a ton of monster, gaming skills. And with the price at just under a dollar, this is a game that any mobile gamer will enjoy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Big is Too Big?

I consider myself an avid gamer.  I love gaming.  It's my main hobby, and I make time for it as best I can.  I can usually pick up any game and play it fairly well after a little learning period.  I'm sure there are thousands of people out there that feel the same way... and I'm sure we mostly want the same things.  Bigger and better games.  But how big is too big?
One thing I do to scratch my gaming itch when I have a bad internet connection or no access to consoles is read blogs.  I was just reading and it is full of articles about all the updates and patches coming up with Cataclysm's upcoming December 7 release.  And when I say "reading" I use the term lightly.  There is just so much information.  I haven't hit 80 yet, and with Cat the level cap will be 85, so sometimes I just skim things since they don't really "apply" to me yet.  But lately it seems like I'm skimming more and taking in less.  It's almost like WoW has become too immersive.  I feel like I can't possibly learn it all!  New specs, talents, gems, weapons, jobs....

I've heard the same complaints from people about games like Fallout or Red Dead Redemption.  It makes me wonder when a game has grown too big - when your gamer life is taking just as much brain power (if not more!) than your normal life, is it work or is it still fun?  When I'm in a game and I feel like I can't even scratch the surface, sometimes that is just depressing.
But I can learn - and learn to love it!  I have enjoyed every moment that I've played WoW and learned more and more about the world.  I love to be immersed.  A different example would be The Sims.  I loved The Sims.  Then I got The Sims 2, and I was like, "Whoa this is too much."  The system of desires/life goals is a lot to juggle.  Even something as seemingly simple as keeping the house clean transformed from picking up garbage to picking up garbage, mopping the floor, wiping the counters, cleaning the toilet...

To bring it back around: these huge games just make me wonder.  We want bigger games.  We want virtual reality.  We want to feel like we're really living these lives.... But when is it too much?  When have you been overwhelmed?

Def Jam's Rapstar: The New Ultimate Party Game

There are a lot of rhythm and music games out there, but none of them really compare to Def Jam's Rockstar. This latest release from 4mm Gaming brings the nostalgia of old school beats and the amazing/retarded lyrics of today's number one rap hits. No matter what your favorite rap single is, you will surely find it in this game.

Rapstar is set up like most other rhythm games. There is a career mode, quickplay, freestyle, and live rap battles over XBL and functions a lot like karaoke. You read the words as a little time-keeping ball bounces over the lyrics appropriately. Even if you don't know the words exactly, you can still score pretty high as long as you make sounds that are similar and you are on beat.

There are lots of other new little features. The player has the ability to record themselves rapping to the game and clip it into 30 second videos. There are sound and video effects available in the game to add a little post-production sparkle. Registering and creating a profile on the Rapstar website will allow you to upload your videos directly from your Xbox to your online profile via XBL. I'm waiting for some pretty amazing viral videos to emerge from this function. If nothing else, you can probably find clips of big, hairy guys in their boxers rapping to Salt-n-Peppa ;)

The songs are really varied, at least varied among rap and hip-hop music. You can find artists like Beastie Boys, Lil Wayne, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, and loads more. And just like Rock Band or any music game, you can download songs to increase your game playlist. It can be frustrating if you don't know the songs, but you will probably still be able to complete at least a couple songs. And the other annoyance is that all the curse words are removed. I wish they had made an option at the beginning of the game to have a mature version where you can choose to have the lyrics in all their offensive glory.

The bottom line is that this is a really fun game. It looks really over-whelming and super dorky in the beginning. But once you start your first song, you are going to instantly travel back to your college days in the clubs or you formative years in middle school.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Games for the Non-Gamer

Not a lot of my friends play video games. They may have one console or another, but for the most part, their gaming is definitely classified as recreational. I have found this great website that should appeal to almost everyone.

The site is It is full of thousands of fun, simple, user-created games. There are scrollers, strategy, shooting, and puzzles. They don't require any downloading. And best of all, they are FREE !!!

I have played several and I am thinking that I may be having entire reviews for some of the games at a later time. But one that I recommend now is called Izzi. Its a simple game that bases itself off of physics. You have a cannon with different color smiley faces / cannonballs. Across from the cannon are blocks with correlating colors to the cannonballs. You must shoot the ball at the matching colored blocks. It is so simple but there are little strategies to it. There is also the option for users to modify and create levels. Its like Tetris meets Little Big Planet.

There are a lot of games like this one that are very cute, very simple, and crazy addictive. They are great for a lazy afternoon stuck indoors, or even for that desk jockey at work that loves playing around on company time. Hardcore gamer or not, you should definitely check out this site.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My First Time Across the Finish Line

I have told this story a thousand times, but here it goes again. I used to suck at first-person shooters. I just wasn't cut out for it. But one day, after two years of sitting on my shelf, I picked up a copy of the Metroid Prime and tore through it on my Game Cube. I've been a run and gun bitch ever since. But now, I have conquered my latest gaming fear. Racing.

I have never been good at driving in games. I always spin out at corners, crash into objects, and just never seem to be able to multitask while I'm racing. I mean God forbid I have to shoot something
while I drive. I am usually decent at flying games like Ace Combat and Flight Simulator. But really, driving of any kind has been my downfall.

This week, I was introduced to the game Blur. Its not a total racing game. There are lots of different things in the game like power-ups and time trials. But it is all clearly based on driving. I was reluctant to even put the game disc in my Xbox. But once I did, I never looked back.
Not only was I able to race, but I was doing a decent job ! I was completing solo career challenges left and right. I raced live with other gamers and I almost never came in last. In fact, a couple times, I was in the top three.

Now this very well could be a fluke. I might never be able to pick up another racing game other than this one. But if that's the case, it was fun while it lasted. I just hope that this is my gateway into racing games. Maybe the way Metroid broke me into FPS, Blur will help me learn how to virtually drive.