Saturday, August 25, 2012

Skyrim Dawnguard

I have never made any apologies for how much I love the game Skyrim. So it should be no surprise that Dawnguard scored some pretty high marks with me as well. While this add-on was well received, there were a few minor missteps along the way.

First off, if you didn't like Skyrim then you won't like the Dawnguard DLC. It plays, looks, and feels exactly like the main game. The graphics are really amazing and include some stunning new areas to explore, complete with creepy enemies and entrancing vistas.  Like I said, identical to the initial offering.

The content itself allows for hours and hours of game play. Thus far, I have drawn out about 20 extra hours. While some games give you 6 hours for $60, Dawnguard gives 20+ for $20. Spending your money on this expansion is certainly justifiable and well worth it. What makes this game so long is that there are two very different ways to play. One way allows the player to help vampires reign supreme and the other way helps the vampire hunters. Both story lines have some similar areas, but the change in perspective and different missions give it high replayability.

One aspect of the game that fell short was that the general idea of vampires is so overdone. I expect the best from the Elder Scrolls series and tapping into such an over-saturated pop culture topic is annoying. Granted, the vampires aren't glittery or sexy, I'm still definitely tired of hearing about them. And the only vampire hunter I will ever respect is Buffy. I hope that next time they explore some of the creatures we know less about, it will be the Snow Elves or the Dwemer.

The only other thing I wasn't thrilled about was not even really game related. The DLC comes with an achievement that requires the player to kill a legendary dragon. Unfortunately, legendary dragons don't spawn until at least level 70. Despite having over 140 hours into my main character, I was only a level 52. I spent all my time doing things that don't generate xp like harvesting ingredients or talking with villagers. In order to unlock this one last achievement, I have to grind, grind, grind my way to level 70.  

Other than those two very minor gripes, the Dawnguard DLC totally lives up to the hype and its namesake.  If you loved or even just liked Skyrim, download this content.  If nothing else, it's something new that will keep you busy for the next couple weeks until all the big games start hitting the shelves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lessons From the Controller

In my life, I have two separate females that have taken it upon themselves to become gamers.  They looked at a handful of friends that played games and decided they were going to as well.  I should be hyped that my lifelong hobby is expanding to include new people, but this continually growing activity is bringing in some unwanted company.

My general problem with these two people is that they don't actually play.  They bought an Xbox or downloaded a PC game and never play them.  They make status updates about how much they love playing games and include random aspects of their "gamer" lives, even posting pictures.  And when they engage in real world conversation about video games, it always includes generic comments, listing off a few classic titles, and patting themselves on the back for making references that are so well known my grandmother could have made them.  To be fair, Grandma Schweers was pretty bad ass.

In essence, these women can talk the talk but in no way can they walk the walk.  It's hard to understand where they come from.  Perhaps they thought that owning a few triple A titles would make them seem cool, elite, or maybe even smarter?  Or maybe they are just trying to get in on this new "nerd is cool" wave that is rolling through pop culture right now.  I have never looked at games from that point of view.  I play because I simply always have.  I like it, so I do it; I have no justification.

Video games becoming more and more popular has brought in a lot of people like this, both male and female.  Some people that join the culture actually do play the games but don't really show the appreciation or respect.  They get on forums, into chat rooms, or log into game servers only to yell things like "Halo is for fags, Battlefield rules!"  I don't need that, no one does.  But despite all this, I still think the video game world is a "more the merrier" situation. 

So my general life lesson from all this is that I have to take a deep breath and let go.  As much as I want to nurture and protect this passion of mine that has been present my entire life, I have to accept the fact that I can't.  I want the industry to grow as big and fruitful as possible.  I want more developers with creative ideas and new, amazing technology to blow my mind.  I want to play with new people, have long debates and hear new points of view about my favorite games.  And more players mean a more sustainable industry.  All those things are happening, but with the good comes the bad.  In order for growth, there must be growing pains, both in the video game landscape and in life.  So as much as people talk up games but don't actually contribute to the culture in any positive way, I must accept them for they are signs of progress. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ah-ah-ah-I Work Ouuuutt

Moving and shaking!
Despite my lack of blogging, I have been playing a surprising amount of Xbox lately, and knocking some achievos out of the park.  I'm pretty happy with this, and my gamerscore is soaring.  What whaaat!

I have been working on my fitness with Dance Central 2, inspired hugely by the new Xbox app Kinect FitPlay.  It is a free app, and it has achievements.  Read: free achievements.  But you definitely have to work for them.  It has been inspiring for me though, because you get achievements for logging in and burning calories for having a streak of 2, 4, 7 and 10 days.  At the same time you get achievements for burning specific numbers of calories, and for you and your friends total calories burned.  It is super fun and inspiring to see the streak of days you've exercised go up.  For the first 10 days I was super dedicated until I got that achievement, then I lagged off, but now I'm trying to get back into it for the calorie achievements.  It's nice to get these bonus achievements for games I'm already playing and enjoying.

The hubby photo bombed this finishing move.
The downside is that there are only like, 8 supported games right now.  Dance Central 2 is on there though, but not DC1, go figure...  Supposedly there will be more games added on, and I certainly hope so.  Once Upon a Monster is on there, but from everything I've read online and from my own experience, it is not working.  No one seems to be getting any calorie tracking from it.  Hopefully the app has an update and rectifies this situation.

However you spin it though, I can't complain.  It is a fun app, it's got me (and my family) up and exercising, and it's free.  Go download it.  And then add me as a friend so that we can burn calories together!!