Monday, November 28, 2011

Coming Out of the Turkey Coma + Giveaway!

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?  Did you eat a lot of turkey?  Have fun with family?  Play a lot of games (board, video or otherwise)?  More importantly, did you go Black Friday Shopping?

I love Black Friday shopping.  I think it's so much fun.  The thrill of the hunt in a sedentary society, and all that.  Every year I hit the games and DVDs pretty heavy.  That said, this year I only got a couple DVDs (cheap TV seasons) and ... brace yourself ... ZERO games.  I didn't try to get into the madness around every electronics department, and I didn't even go to Best Buy.  Unheard of.  In my defense, I am 7 months pregnant and when I was at Wal-Mart two fights broke out at the electronics department.  And at Target the entire area was ringed with people 6-7 deep.  There's no way I was trying to break through all that.

If only we could go at these crowds Dead Rising style.  Then every game would be miiiiine.
But even more than my burgeoning belly, I didn't buy because I was so mad.  I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had picked up 3 new games at Target because they were Buy Two Get One Free.  This was just within the last month or so, so I spent $100 on 3 new games - Dance Central 2, Disney Universe, and Once Upon a Monster.  All three of these games were drastically price reduced for Black Friday.  I believe I saw DC2 for $15 somewhere.   That made me want to punch someone.  (Maybe I should've gotten into the electronics fray...)   Debbie had a similar experience.  In the last month she has purchased Batman Arkham City, SkyrimBattlefield 3, and has Assassin's Creed waiting on reserve.  Of all those games, only Skyrim wasn't at a $30 or less price point.  Do the math: that's $90 that Debbie could've saved by waiting two more weeks.

This isn't about our lust for instant gratification and buying games as soon as they come out.  If you've put any math together about me as a gamer you know that's not true.  I'm more likely to wait a year or more to play a game just to get it used for $30 or less.  The bigger issue here is that it is holiday season and we gamers are barraged with all the awesome game releases in early November... and with each barrage we are further assaulted by the entire game industry encouraging us to buy on the release date to speak to the developers about what kind of games we want.  There are midnight parties to hype releases.  And we are given bonus content for reserving the game before it's even out.  Well, we at Achievos are here to tell you that an in-game weapon or t-shirt for my avatar does not heal the wound that a $30 price cut a week and a half later inflicts.
Is looking at this picture of a gun worth $30 to you?  It's about that satisfying to play it in the game too.
Heaven knows I've been burned on price before (did anyone else buy Lego Indiana Jones when it was full price, only to be $20 a month later?)  But maybe I've learned my lesson.  Maybe I'll just hold off on buying any new games, especially in early November, before I can try to buy them on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Were you burned this year?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or over at our Facebook page.  From the comments we will choose a winner for a free Fruit Ninja game code for Xbox Live Arcade.  I guarantee that a free game will soothe your soul.  Contest closes 11:59 pm on Sunday, December 4 and the winner will be chosen December 5.

Friday, November 25, 2011

To Prestige or Not To Prestige ....

Every time a new Call of Duty game comes out, I play chicken with myself over prestiging.  I look over my weapons and think about how much I have grown to love them.  Do I really want to let go of my favorite gun?  Will I even enjoy the game without access to Dead Silence ?  And I promise you that my maniacal giggle will be absent without C4.

The only installment from the entire franchise that I have maxed out my prestige on was Call of Duty: World at War.  I tried to do the same with Modern Warfare 2, but I only cycled around four times before the next game came out.  By the time I was ready to prestige in Black Ops, they were announcing the next Call of Duty.  With that in mind, I never rolled over once.

Each time a new Call of Duty game comes out, the max level increases.  It started with level 55 in Call of Duty 4, and has increased all the way up to 80.  With progressive leveling up to such a high number, it feels like it will take forever for me to reach the top.  Sure, there are challenges and double XP to soften the blow, but I can't imagine wanting to make that super long journey again.  On a side note, I really hate this idea of getting double XP codes from stuff like Mt. Dew and Doritos.  Why does it have to be attached to the junkiest food on the planet ?  Activision makes more than enough money on sales alone, so can we please let go of this cross-marketing thing ?  It's annoying, expensive, and majorly unhealthy.

This year has been huge for single player games.  With my life dedicated to other titles, I just don't see myself having time to play nearly as much Call of Duty as I used to.  I know prestiging isn't a requirement, and I find the game totally fun without it.  But it would be nice to have something else to go for once I've reached the max level.  Maybe I will just obsess over stats and golden guns.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Give the Gifts that Keep On Winning

We all have gamers in our lives, and we know that what they really want this Christmas is a gift that gives them reason to isolate themselves for countless hours in a dark room.  That's right, they want more games.  And with all the great releases this holiday season, developers have totally helped out the gift givers, but there is a huge selection, so if you feel like you need a little heads up on which direction to go for your specific gamer, read on.

Teens & Adults:

Syrim, rated M which means 17 and up.  We would probably let ages 16 and up play it.  If they already have Skyrim or you are looking for something cheaper, try DragonAge 2 or Fallout New Vegas.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, rated M and we recommend sticking with that rating, not necessarily for the gory gameplay, but because the online play has almost no filter from crazies people.  If they already have this or you're totally not dropping $60 on Little Timmy this year, Battlefield 3 will be on sale at Best Buy and possibly other retailers for $30.  Also, Homefront and Resistance 3.

Batman: Arkham City, is accurately rated T for teen which is 13 and up.  This should be in everyone's budget since it will be on sale for multiple consoles for $30.  They already have Batman: AC?  Try Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood or Revelations.

Uncharted 3, rated T for teen, we would probably keep it 15 and up but that's pretty conservative.  This one will also be on sale for $30.  Assassin's Creed might be a decent replacement for this one too since its very story driven.
Dance Central 2, for anybody who can dance!!  (Or, more hilariously, for those who can't.)  This one has already been advertised at $27 at Target as a Black Friday deal.  Alternatives could be the first Dance Central, or the Just Dance games.

Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is the newest game in the Zelda series.  It looks amazing, but we haven't had a chance to play it yet.  Zelda games are typically a pretty safe bet if your gamer is into the other Zelda games.  You could get them Twilight Princess if they somehow like Zelda and haven't played that yet (doubtful), or just punch them and tell them to buy Skyward Sword on their own.

The Younger Set (and, let's face it, most of the older set still):

Disney Universe is fun and crazy for the kiddos who will recognize their favorite Disney characters.  This game is also in the Target ad for $27 on Black Friday.  Alternatives for this game would be New Super Mario Brothers.

Once Upon a Monster is a kids game for the Kinect that will not totally drive the parents bonkers.  Yes, it has Elmo, but he is not as abrasive as he could be.  And the kids, of course, love it.  Alternatives for this would be Kinect Adventures or Xbox Points for Fruit Ninja on Xbox Live Arcade.  Kids love flailing around in front of the Kinect, you can't go wrong.

Super Mario 3D Land brings everyone's favorite plumber back to the foreground with a fun, new adventure filled with old friends (Tanooki suit FTW!)  Alternatively you could pick up Super Mario 64 DS at Gamestop for $30 or less (depending on new or used.)  You can't go wrong with any Mario title for a gamer, young or old.

Kinectimals with Bears is a Kinect game where your little sprout can raise, train, and interact with a baby wild cat.  The game is really cute and the kids get a kick out of their pet mimicking their movements.  Alternatively you could pick up the first Kinectimals without the bears for about $20.  Same fun, no bears.

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 has recently released and we haven't had a chance to play it yet, but you can't go wrong with a Lego game either.  If your gamer has played and enjoyed any of them, or is a Harry Potter fan, this one will be a win.  If they haven't played the first Lego Harry Potter, pick that one up to get them started on the franchise.


Black Friday is a great time to pick up that console you've been considering.  There are always great sales and bundles.  The Target ad alone has a 3DS bundle with the new Mario Land 3D and the system for $170.  The Kinect is a low $99.  Best Buy and Gamestop will also have doorbuster deals for PS3 bundled with two games for as low as $200, same for the 250GB Xbox 360, complete with totally respectable titles.  Maybe it's time to turn yourself into an Achievo.

So that's a run down of some of the new titles you'll see out there this holiday season from the Achievo point of view.  If you still feel totally overwhelmed, don't forget that you can always snap a picture of your gamer's game library and show it to the people at Gamestop (or wherever, but I can't make any promises for the baffoons at Best Buy) and they will help you find something that your gamer will enjoy.  And you can never go wrong with picking up Nintendo/Xbox Live Arcade/PSN cards full of points for purchasing games and content online.  There are even Xbox Live 3 Month subscription cards out there for $10 or less.  Buy with confidence - your gamer will appreciate your efforts (just don't forget the gift receipt.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Modern Warfare Military Guns Shooter Team Kill GO GO GO

Are you ready for another military shooter ?  Of course you are.  Not only is this far from the first Call of Duty, its also isn't the first Modern Warfare.  This franchise doesn't mess around, and even with Sledgehammer at the helm, we know what to expect.  The graphics are great, the upgrades are extensive, and players are jerks.  Lets talk about whats new.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare brought in kill steaks.  Modern Warfare 2 kicked it up with 15 kill streak options including the Tactical Nuke.  Modern Warfare 3 still has 15 options, minus the nuke, and players are allowed to choose three; it's now called the Assault Strike.  But this title blew the whole thing apart by adding the Support Strike packages.  The support streak acts exactly like a kill streak. There are 15 options and each player chooses three.  But players don't have to stay alive in order to get the rewards; they tally up throughout the match.  There is now also the Specialist Strike package that allows players to unlock extra perks to stack on top of their existing selections.  

Initially, these new additions really irritated me.  It seemed like there was just so much stuff to pick and chose and worry about.  My concerns were that I wouldn't be able to compete when the top players had all these amazing extras.  The more I play, the more I realize that these extras benefit my rookie friends even more.  Jumping into a franchise like Call of Duty can be intimidating.  Even players that are familiar with the series but not that skilled will be happy to get the occasional reward of their own.  It really cut down on how quickly they became frustrated.

There are more guns, especially sniper rifles.  The upgrades, attachments, and weapon perks outnumber the previous titles.  The maps are really reminiscent of MW2 in that there is a lot of multilevel action.  But unlike the first two games in the MW series, there are no maps that are super conducive to sniping.  That makes me very happy, but makes others very sad.

One of the other numerous changes that I would like to touch upon is the addition of a game type called Kill Confirmed.  The basis if the gameplay is team deathmatch, but every time a player dies they drop a set of dog tags.  Players must retrieve the enemy dog tags in order for the kill to count towards the overall team score.  Players can also recover their own tags and those of teammates to prevent the opposition from getting the points for the kill.  It is tough to win this game with someone hiding up in a corner with a sniper rifle camping it out, or players that spam grenades and launchers across the map.  I am not usually a fan of TD, but Kill Confirmed has a very fast pace and encourages an aggressive close quarters combat technique, and I love that.

I could actually go on and on and on about this game.  I was really skeptical of it in the beginning, but it's starting to grow on me like all the Call of Duty games do.  I think Modern Warfare 3 is fun and I recommend it for old fans and beginners.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Secret Footage Revealed

We here at Achievos are all about your we snuck behind the scenes and got this secret footage of Debbie dominating at CoD MW3.  She will destroy you.

Warning: Explicit Language Abounds

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

[Insert Call of Duty Pun Here]

I don't need to give an introductory statement about the Call of Duty franchise.  We don't need any witty comments or stupid little jokes where I pretend to have never heard of this monster series.  It's not clever or worth our time.  So jumping into it, Modern Warfare 3 is amazing and you need to own it.  While your temptation might be to stop there and rush out to purchase this game thanks solely to the last sentence, I encourage you to read on.  Right now, I'm going to just talk about the single player campaign. 

There have been some pretty memorable moments in past CoD games.  Players remember the first time they had a shoot out under a Ferris wheel, tore through an airport full of civilians, or realized that the main character is not quite what he seems.  But Modern Warfare 3 brings a whole new level of amazement with several scenes that will certainly find themselves solidly rooted in videogame history. 

MW3 takes us all around the world; New York, London, Sierra Leone, Berlin, Somalia, Paris, India, in the air and under water.  Each of these cities seems to have their own major event that took my breath away.  I can't describe most of the scenes since they would be huge spoilers, but I can say this without giving anything away; there was something wonderfully cathartic about shooting up Wall Street. 

The graphics are amazing, as per usual, and the game play and controls are pretty standard.  Sledgehammer didn't really break the mold with MW3, but they certainly brought some Jerry Bruckheimer entertainment to Xbox.  I am confident in my statement that this solo campaign is far better than the last three titles.  And for that I say, Thank You.

This game has some serious blood and touchy topics.  If you are a sensitive soul, you should probably walk away.

Monday, November 14, 2011

We're on Facebook!

Welcome to the 21st Century, am I right?  Join us on our Facebook page to keep up with our updates and other fun things.  We foresee giveaways using the Facebook page.  And albums of all our Achievo brethren gaming their hearts out.  Join us.  Love us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Skyrim: First Impressions

Instead of trying to do some kind of review, or tell you everything you've already read before release on all that is awesome about Skyrim, we here at Achievos have decided to hit up our friends and give you snippits of what their first impressions are after a day of play.
That repetitive date couldn't have come soon enough for many of our friends.
Mini Bezz says:
When I started the game I was excited and was ready to see if this would be better than Oblivion...and guess what IT IS. Skyrim is so amazing that I've had the game only 30 hours and I have already been playing the game for nearly 20 of those hours. It's graphics are amazing, the controls are easy and feel natural, and the views and environment just leave you staring at it thinking 'OMG is this real'. With Oblivion, I had spent at least a good month of my time playing....with Skyrim, I think its going to the rest of my life playing.

Parker says:
Skyrim is massive; in terms of content and scale.  Possibly one of the best examples of this is demonstrated upon the first dragon battle.  Not only are you small on screen next to the dragon, but the power difference is daunting.
Debbie's original hunch was right: there ARE dragons in this game!
Rob says:
I've just finished a 13 hour marathon session of Skyrim and haven't even scratched the surface (only one Nirnroot so far!)  The game dwarfs the size and scope of Oblivion.  I'm enjoying the gameplay more as I get comfortable with the controls and work out the intricacies of customizations, leveling, and all that RPG gooey goodness.  You have the ability to switch between 3rd and 1st person perspectives at will.  I used the 1st person in the dungeons, giving them a very Halo-ish feel.  Very interesting, and for me, it works very well.  Standard issue plots (so far) and menus.  Unspectacular AI and I did think the environments would look a little more polished.  However, I'm nitpicking and the total world immersion makes up for a lot.  I'm in for the rest of the weekend.  Gotta make my run at 10,000 now!

Dylan says:
When I first started Skyrim (after Character creation) I was speechless. Right from the start I felt myself falling into this world. I felt the terror and exhilaration as I was escaping Helgen, felt a little torn for a moment when deciding who to follow, was in awe of the beauty of the landscape as I first ventured out of the caves into the daylight, I even felt a little cold when I was high in the mountains! My heart was racing as I went toe-to-toe with a bandit warrior that caught me trying to sneak into a fort occupied by bandits, and I found myself moving my head from left to right in sync with my character, dodging arrows as I tested my marksmanship against his three archer comrades. I knew I would not be able to play any other game for a long time after playing Skyrim for an hour.

And finally, Debbie weighs in with her opinion:
This game blows my mind.  I bought Modern Warfare 3 on Tuesday.  It's a good thing I played for those three days because Skyrim is the first game to take me away from Call of Duty and it doesn't bother me at all.
Debbie's laying it on the line.
Are you already entrenched in the world of Skyrim?  What're your first impressions?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kevin WK Likes Dragons

If it's good enough for Kotaku then it's good enough for us.  Of course I am slightly partial to Kevin's videos, probably because I live with him.  But please believe me when I say that you are going to feel a lot sexier after watching this. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Celebrating!

Today we could easily post a blog about MW3 and all the time Debbie has already devoted to it..but that would just be too predictable.  I could let you know how my trials and tribulations have been going as I play Disney Universe with my 4-yr-old...but there's always time for that.  Instead, today we will continue the celebrating.  Last blog we celebrated our 200th entry.  This time: I celebrate hitting 10,000 GamerScore.

It all happened last night, with Debbie & Mini Bezz at my side.  I was at 9,975 and I was going to sleep on it, resting with the sweet anticipation of hitting the 10k mark today.  But then Debbie dropped out of her MW3 game and insisted I relish the sweetness of the big G's with her in party.  Who was I to resist??

Needing only 25 points felt both exciting and daunting.  I was afraid that many of the achievements I had for 5-10 were already completed, and any for 20+ would take a major time crunch (did I mention this all started at 11 p.m.?)  So Debbie started researching what achievos I had available, and we figured my best bet would be in Dance Central or Fable 3.

I started in Dance Central.  The achievement?  100% a song in Break It Down mode.  Poker Face is easy enough, and so I headed there.  I was doing great.  This was really happening.. Then in the last section of re-cap I broke under pressure and moved an arm wrong, getting only 97% of the song and missing the 25 point achievement.. but accidentally getting a 15 pt achievement for getting 80%+ on a song in Break It Down mode!  I was kicking myself!  How could I mess it up on one stupid move!?  And now I only needed 10 pts!?  Brain explosion!  And then Debbie and I realized that it was a blessing in disguise, because had I gotten 100%, I would've gotten 2 achievements at once and not been able to relish the beauty of the clean 10,000.  It would've been a dirty, horrible 10,015.

And then Fable 3 came to the rescue.  A simple remodeling of 5 houses and I was there.  It was beautiful  The achievement popped, I saved and exited and took in the beauty of avatar Linz standing there next to those five digits.  I even dressed her up for the occasion.

And I looked like this in my excitement.
It was truly awesome.  I feel justified as a gamer.  I feel accomplished.  The last 3 years of Xbox ownership have culminated into this.  And now...?  Now I look forward to 25k I guess.  And I long-distance enjoy this:
Because your best friends make you cakes when you hit GamerScore milestones.  Huzzah!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our 200th Post and First Date Jitters

Replace the word "homeschooling" with just "schooling"
Hey, its our 200th post !  Thanks for sticking around the last couple years and reading all the brilliant gems we have spewed forth.  For all the guest bloggers along the way, thanks so much for being a part of our little internet adventure.  And if anyone else would like to step up and guest blog, we always love hearing different opinions.  Just shoot us an email at  That being said, lets get on with the show !

I will be attending one of the numerous Modern Warfare 3 midnight release parties tonight. I used to absolutely love the franchise unconditionally, but it has grown into a love/hate relationship. If nothing else, my positive emotions towards Call of Duty come in unpredictable waves regardless if it's Treyarch or Infinity Ward at the helm. I am more optimistic about Modern Warfare 3 than I have been for the last two titles. Modern Warfare 2 was a great change, but had so many glitches that it was almost unplayable for the first couple months.  Black Ops was a solid title, but it was sort of the same of song and dance.  Maybe this one will blow my mind and leave me in that euphoric state of morning-after gaming bliss. 

So, as I get ready to grab my copy of MW3, I will anxiously shift my weight from one foot to another.  While people in line are laughing and sharing virtual war stories, I will be smoothing my hair and straightening my shirt.  As the store worker unlocks the door at midnight, I will nervously walk up and awkwardly offer to shake his hand like arriving on the doorstep to pick up his daughter for prom.  Then, after driving around with my copy in the front seat, I'm gonna take it back to my place and have my way with it.  I'm a creeper.

This is exactly what I'm wearing to pick up my date ...erm, copy of MW3.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Fire is Burning

I've got a fire burning on the dance floor, that's for sure.  And if I don't have it 100%, I'll do a break-it-down mode and get my groove on until it's perfect.  I've also got unrelated fires burning in my back, arms, legs and hips from being unable to stop playing the Kinect once I get started, but that's for another post.

I just picked up Dance Central 2 this week and am thus far totally loving it.  Today is actually the first day I've played it so I am far from completely through it, but I feel confident in blogging it because hello, it's a dance game.  I doubt there will be any life-changing end-game content.

"Linz!" you say, "It is so unlike you to buy a game when it is this new and expensive!  What has come over you?  Are you suddenly independently wealthy from the ad revenue from this blog?"  Why thank you for asking, loyal reader, and sadly no - Debbie and I have not yet been able to quit our day jobs and focus solely on gaming and blogging.  Darnit.  I was actually tempted into spending money now on new games instead of later on used games because Target is running a buy 2 get 1 free sale.  Last year I took advantage of this same sale and got Fable 3 (which I just started playing this week as well. What is wrong with me?!)  So this year I got Dance Central 2, Disney Universe and Once Upon a Monster.  I swear those last two are for the chitlins, not me.  Sort of.  And I've already played DC2 so I'm winning compared to last year!

I was definitely torn on buying DC2 already because I have not even fully gotten through Dance Central 1, but I am a sucker for dance games and wanting more and more variety in my playlists.  I thought about buying the DLC for the first game, but it was as expensive as buying the 2nd game so why not treat myself this time?  There are a lot of really fun songs in the 2nd game, but I have to say there seem to be more that I don't recognize in this title than there were in the 1st one.  Plus, they included a weird cover of Britney Spears' Toxic which makes me sad because that is like, my favorite Brit song and it's not the real thing.

The thing I love about dance games is that they never seem to get old.  You can replay the same songs over and over, trying to perfect the moves and best your last high score.  So I'd say replayability for this type of game is at an all time high.  I can't even begin to think of how many hours I sunk into the DDR franchise in college, and moving your feet on to 4 arrows is about a tenth of a percent as fun as actually doing dance moves you can recognize from the music videos.

I can't even get into the whole 'downloading your tracks from the first game into the second game' issue because I haven't tried to do it yet...but I can say that I think it's majorly B.S. that you have to have a code from the first game AND pay 400 Microsoft Points.  I don't want to pay an additional $5 for songs I could play by switching out the game disk.  I would guess you could download your songs and pay the money and then sell your copy of DC1 and maybe that would be worth it??  I don't know.  If anyone can shed some light on this, please feel free to in the comments.

When it all comes down to it, this game is fun. If you played Dance Central 1, you will like Dance Central 2.  It's the same concepts, same simply menus, same rocking moves and awesome beats.  I have found that it seems to be slightly more difficult, although it might just seem more difficult because I keep getting more and more pregnant.  If it's not the baby belly to blame, I would say the "easy" difficulty on DC2 is comparable to the "medium" on DC1.  Pick it up now, pick it up later, just don't miss shaking your groove thing.
This is happening.