Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To tree huggers everywhere...


That is all.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York Islanders, LET THE DIVE BEGIN!

Ok, so the Islanders are officially eliminated from Stanley Cup contention (not that many of the fan base actually wanted them to make it as an 8th seed to be smashed by Washington in the first round). They've done their fans justice by sticking around long enough to make it interesting, but we as intelligent fans weren't kidding ourselves. So anyway, now that they are out, for the love of GOD... LOSE EVERY FREAKIN GAME TIL THE END OF THE SEASON. The goal now is the higher draft pick. One of the following, sure fire blue chippers are what the team needs.

1. Taylor Hall
2. Tyler Seguin
3. Cam Barker

Hall and Sequin seem to flip flop for the top spot and Barker is a lock at the 3 spot barring earth shattering events like injury or teams making weird deals to get him for their own. I don't know much about the three save for Hall and Seguin are tearing up scoring races, but Hall is on a better team, which ironically has Barker on it as well. (Maybe I've read that wrong too, but I do know for sure Seguin is on a less talented team and continues to be a prodigy on his own). I guess it comes down to who the scouts feel is a better fit for the team. I'm liking Seguin myself, even though I was "All for Hall" for the majority of the season. The Islanders have holes up and down the lineup, with the exception of 3rd liner depth guys. They have some great guys on top, and one more blue chipper would be great. On defense, Cam Barker would be sweet, but I just like more scoring and hope that the big wigs can get someone free agent wise for the defense core. Based on play this year, everyone on defense is expendable outside of Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, and Jack Hillen.

In goal, the Isles are very likely to keep Roloson and Dipietro, even if Dipietro is still wobbly on his knees. People keep saying that there's lots of goalies on the free agent market the summer, but who in their right mind would come into that mess after what Martin Biron has gone through this year, with sparse playtime and even a demotion to the minors? I guess there's always someone desperate for a contract, but will that be someone the Islanders want or even need?

Here's who I think the Isles should bring back next year (including folks with contracts, obviously)

John Taveres
Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey
Rob Shremp
Matt Moulson (love this guy!)
Blake Comeau
Trent Hunter
Matt Martin

Mark Streit
Andrew MacDonald
Jack Hillen

Dwayne Roloson
Rick Dipietro

Now obviously some of these guys are contracted so it's moot. If you are Islanders fans, or followers, you'll notice some names missing, like Sean Bergenheim. This guy has been disappointing since day one. Jeff Tambellini is obviously not going to get playing time, so he'll be on his way out too. Rdek Martinek is just made out of tissue paper it seems, so the 20 games he plays a year just aren't worth it. Anybody left beyond this are simply out of contract or are minor leaguers making the best out of a bad team.

Who would I like to see the Islanders pick up? Assuming someone will actually COME to the team in the offseason? Let's take a look.

The Islanders won't have any older guys this fal coming beyond Trent Hunter, who himself isn't that old. So, a veteran who could contribute a little offensively for a 1 or 2 year contract and teach the youngin's some of the ropes would be great. A perfect fit would be Paul Kariya or Ray Whitney on the left side, or maybe Scott Walker on the right. A fourth line center is all they need in the middle, so a steal of MAYBE a John Madden would be great, however, it'll be tough to get someone with any real talent left to play 4th line minutes. Taveres, Bailey, and Shremp need to continue to grow and gel as top line centers, so they should get most of the minutes.

On defense, I'd love to see them get someone who is actually 6 foot or taller, and heavier than 200lbs. The Isles defense is so small you'd think they were a chess club who got their teeth knocked out if they were in street cloths. Adam Foote would be great. A reclaimation project would be fun, so Nick Boynton would be a good fit for that.

In goal, it's a reach for anyone as there are TWO incumbents already. A third stringer who will get time mostly at the start of the season and possibly get a demotion by game 40, a good fit might be Patrick Lalime, or Manny Legace.

This is all pure conjecture though, as all of this is based on a GM that seemingly likes to do things that people won't think he'll do. Garth Snow is a snakey bastard and can pull of random things like signing Martin Biron last summer, which make little sense in the long run but seem to work out along the way. I'd like to see some of this happen, but hey, I'm just a fan with not near the knowledge of some of the guys who really talk about this stuff has.

I guess we'll see.

Until then, see you tomorrow. :)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Dripping Bloody Mess That is '80's Hairband Music

So the other day I felt the urge to strip out the program directors ears at 97.5 Krock here in Newfoundland because simply put, I couldn't bear to hear Colin James anymore. I sit at work where we have to keep K-Rock on the air because it's really the only one we can all agree upon, so we are poisoned with the continuous replay of the same 30 to 40 songs.

K-Rock, I fucking hate you. God bless you for not playing the latest up in yo-grill wigger rapper, but damn you to FUCKING HELL for making me hate the music I grew up with too.

Anyway, I happen to have the luxury of going into my office and putting on music that I like and want to hear in any quantity or quality that I like. I keep a catalogue of about 300 to 400 songs hidden here so I can open up glorious Winamp and cycle through whatever I like. The other day, I felt that even those tunes may be growing a little stale, so I decided to try out this new-fangled internet radio thing. (Yes, I'm behind the times). I found this interesting little station called ", 80's Hairband Channel". The first 5 bands to grace my poorly sounding PC speakers were, in this order: Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Poison, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. What makes this a little more interesting, given the issue of overplaying songs, was that NONE of the songs were in the greatest hits packages for each of the bands. They were still grade A stuff, just the stuff that gets looked over by standard radio dj's.

I will freely admit my tastes in music are somewhat different than most. Anybody whohas ever met me knows for my passion for Def Leppard and guitar music in general. When Guitar Hero first came out it was like a euphoric blend of gaming, geekiness, and GOD ROCK, and I ate it up like the little sheep from the public that I was. (oh what we know now that we should have known then, as Guitar Hero and Rock Band are more stale than Dave Chappelle "Charlie Murphy" screams) Anyway, this channel was a breath of fresh air with revelations of music from the grander times that was the "1980's". A period of excess, a period of bad hair, and a period of great, great music. Over the top lyrics, and amazing guitar shredding work. The thing with all great things is that people see it for what it is, a way to make money. By the end of the 80's and the start of the 90's, there were literally hundreds of 4-5 man bands, with more hairspray than your average beauty shop dealership's warehouse. The music at that point, while still good, was growing old. At the start, we had the likes of Def Leppard and Van Halen, with each building their music methodically with layers of strong guitar licks and base lines, sold not just by the style but by the quality of the product. In the end, you get Cinderella and Warrant, both more sold on the fact that they had the style, not sold by their substance.

This channel has really opened me up to the sheer number of bands that were around that time that were literally carbon copies of each other. Here is a sampling of what was played this morning between 9am and 12pm.

Dio, Jackyl, Great White, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Dokken, Aldo Nova, Krokus, Bonham, Guiveria, Queensryche, Warrant, White Lion, Firehouse, Harem Scarem, L.A. Guns (apparently there are two LA Guns Bands), Skid Row...

The list goes on. Mixed in with these were some quality tunes from Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns 'n' Roses (remarkably, this band was born out of L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose), Van Halen, and Sammy Hagar. The difference between the first bunch of bands and the second bunch? The first bunch could be a greatest hits album for ONE SINGLE BAND as they ALL sound identical. Wailing screams and mindless guitar licks. Fast drums and bad backup singers. The second bunch are all individualistic, have quality, memorable tunes, and actually have some musicianship to their bodies of work.

One thing that I don't like about some rock tunes is the rip guitar solo that has NOTHING to do with the rest of the song. If it's just to show off how wild their guitarist can play notes randomly, then it adds nothing to the song. But if it a guitarist with incredible talent who weaves his solo in with the actual beat of the song and backup guitars and creates a strong progression into the last verse of the song (a good example is the guitar solo from Def Leppard - Animal from the mega successful Hysteria Album) then you get a real show of talent and a great, if not iconic, song.

A good idea as to the comparison from group 1 to group 2 is that for the most part, the bands from group 1 are all gone save for bar and reunion tours. In Group two, the bands are still recording music and doing so successfully. (except maybe for Van Halen, but that's because Eddie Van Halen is a moron as well as a guitar virtuoso)

All in all, if you like good rock, go out to and check the channel out. It'll bring back good memories of a grand era of rock and make you wish that you could throw up the horns again without getting a weird look from the person next to you.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let's put something up on Flickr

I've been enjoying the good (yet chilly) weather we've had recently and have managed to get myself a few interesting pictures with walks through Bowring Park and the like. If you are from outward bound (away from Newfoundland) and don't know what winter is like here, this is a description:

1. Wet
2. Cold
3. Terrible snow for doing anything in
4. longer than it needs to be

Then we have a spring like summer sort of period until the fall hits in September. Why most of us stay here is beyond me. Anyway. It's beginning to turn into spring a little bit, so we've been trying to take advantage.

Above is a shot of my beautiful wife for whom I mention time and again in this very blog. She is pictured in Bowring Park near the weeping willow near the center of the park. I have anumber of photos uploaded to Flickr, check them out if you get a chance. You can search for me under "Chris D. Dixon".

In quick gaming thoughts, I'm about 15 hours into Final Fantasy 13 and it's starting to grate me a little. The linear track is something that was great for helping me learn the game and it's nuances the first 10 hours, but lets get on with it a little now. Square Enix does get high marks on doing their best to keep it interesting though, as the environments are exquisite and varied. They are doing well with some trickles of back story on the characters as well. I don't like Sazh very much, but his story is certainly interesting.

I've also started poking at the Dragon Age DLC. The Return to Ostagar was a good pickup at 400 pts on Xbox Live, but it really could have been longer. The Soldiers Peak launch day DLC was great, but was overpriced. I started in on the major expansion pack called "Awakenings" a little while back but think I'll restart it. It has some great features and promises about 25 hours of gameplay. It should be fun.

Well, back to work, and hopefully I'll have another post tomorrow. :D Sorry I haven't been posting, as I haven't been at a computer enough to think about it.


PS: I love and miss you dearly Waffle. You were a true friend and companion, and will always be missed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Onto something new gaming wise. AND! It's sunny out so I can go outside!

So I managed to finish Dead Rising last night, I got the lame assed ending because I didn't watch my time and ended up not making it to the final checkpoint in time. :( However, I get to start over with a super high level and Wrestling boots. I hope I get to keep my kill count, which was nearly 8000 zombies before all was said and done. The sheer joy of being in a van and driving over literally THOUSANDS OF ZOMBIES is quite euphoric. Strange to read, I know. It sounds insane. But try it, you'll see.

I haven't decided what to do next in gaming. I have Final Fantasy 13, and I have Dragon Age Origins: Awakening, and I still have Bioshock 2. Mass Effect 2 has some serious DLC coming out in April as well, so I can see myself jumping back into that as well.

FF13 is growing a little tedious, with it's long run of linear gameplay (see: Star Wars trench run, dragged out to 25 hours). I'm still enjoying the game and I'm starting to really get into the characters, much like you would with characters in a great book. But sadly, I see the length of hand-holding for players in this game as being almost a commentary for the Japanese developers on Americans in general (because everyone in the western world is American it seems). Short attention spans aside, it's almost like they are saying they're stupid. They cannot handle materia development, magic growth, or skills trees, (see FF7, 8, and 12) so we have to hold their hand through the first half of the game to make sure they get the point. Anyway, it does get better. :)

Dragon Age is a great, indepth and compelling game that makes me cry when I look at it. For such a strong game to have such poor visuals, even with the ever so slight bump in quality for the expansion, is a travesty. I really want to play through again before I get too deep in the expansion simply because I now have all the DLC for it and want to use it to help develop my character more. Are characters backwards compatible? Hmmm... just did some quick research and no, they are not. So... I may as well wait and get my copy back from my friend to play the DLC, when finished that I can continue onto Awakenings from there.

Bioshock 2 sadly sits on the shelf, collecting dust. It's a very good title and fun to play, but for some reason or another, I've found other stuff to play before it. I think I got it when I did simply because it was fun to take advantage of trade specials. :D I'm sure I'm going to have to start it fresh again, as I haven't gotten that far in it to begin with, and I kinda forget what I've actually done so far. :S

Finally, it's so nice out that I think it's an evening for pictures. Sunset pictures are always fun to take and it's really not hard to make them look amazing. Here's hoping the weather holds!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogger Bits after a week off

Wow it's been 6 days since I last wrote. I guess this is becoming more of a "Write when I'm trapped at work for lunch" sort of thing. I want to write everyday, but when the situation just doesn't present itself to me, I guess I pass on it.

Well, it's been a fun and exciting week in gaming. I haven't really gotten to put as much time into it as I typically do because of various responsibilities and what not but I still managed to get some great moments over the past week.

First and foremost, I got my hands on final Fantasy 13 and played the first leg of the game. It's VERY linear but it's not necessarily a bad thing as it helps the player truly grasp the functions, fighting, and menus of the game properly. It has this great system called "Paradigm". What it does is to change the style of fighting your character does during a battle so it works better with the other characters of the party. A Commando is the same as a basic fighter, a Medic is a cleric healer, a Synergist is a Party Buffer, a Sabateur is a thief, etc. You can switch between the skill sets at will and it makes fighting much more streamlined. Visually the title looks like a Final Fantasy game. Still got the main characters with the colours, the wild hair, the crazy, sometimes slutty outfits. The non essential characters look generic with basic clothing at what not. The environments are something to behold, and the Summons (I've seen Odin and Shiva so far) are nothing short of stunning. I'll continue with more on this as I play through it.

I honestly would have played more of the game were it not for the fact that I have been eyes and ears into Dead Rising. I posted previously about an unhealthy obsession with the undead and I think that still rings true. (spoiler alert) I just got past the parking garage where I get to jump in a car and simply plow down as many zombies as I can within a short period of time. Wow. My kill count (which is conveniently noted in the bottom right hand of the screen) went from 2150ish to well over 3500 in the short run of about 15 minutes. To give you an idea of how quick that is, it took almost 10 days to get the first 2150. Wow. I've learned a little more about some of the ins and outs of the game too, like mixing fancy drinks, some hidden power weapons, and got captured by some psychopaths in raincoats too... very strange. I've had this game in my collection for almost 2 years now and never paid much heed to it until now. I've sold myself short because of that. This is a title most anyone should definately play. It's easy, it's fun. Visually it really is starting to look a little dated, but the game came out 5 years ago now. It's still damn good.

I also got my mitts on a pre-release copy of Dragon Age Origins expansion, "Awakening". This is a title I sunk 40 hours into last fall. I had mixed feelings for it when I first played it, as visually it was the equivalent of a first generation Playstation 2 title. Muddy textures, screen tearing, and really poor fire effects. But, I tried and managed to get past that (which is REALLY difficult for a Graphic Artist like myself) and got a very rich gaming experience for the effort. The game is a well written, easily played experience with lots of side quests, plenty of items and class variations, and a great character generator. The expansion cleans up the graphics somewhat, continues the story basically where you left off (assuming you survived the original game) and sets you on your way to adventure and fortune again. Word has it that it's a 20 to 25 hour playthrough, but we all know that it usually a padded number if you go by review sites. I'm guessing 15 to 20, with lots of replay value (which I intend to take advantage of).

I stopped by Blockbuster the weekend and got this great surprise of "Buy one of these games, and get one free". I managed to get myself copies of Conan, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Spider-man Web of Shadows, Prey, and MLB 08: The Show, and got them ALL for less than $25 combined! Now I know Conan and Prey aren't much to talk about as they seemingly are dumpbin games all over the city, but the others are games I genuinely enjoy and each are definately worth the 3 to 5 dollars I spent on them. Web of Shadows is a game I wished I'd never traded, so I can now finish up some things in the game that I didn't last time through, and all for the cost of less than a rental!!

There's lots of other things going on outside of gaming for me, I'll wish a happy belated to a good friend for whom we celebrated with Saturday past. His girlfriend/wife made this INCREDIBLE cake that looked like a gigantic hamburger. Ohhh baby was it good too! The weather is also starting to take a turn for the better so it looks like I will finally be able to get back to some outdoor activities like photography and hiking. Maybe even a trek to the family cabin is in order. Anyway, these are mindless ramblings that most people roll their eyes to when they read a blog like this, so I'll stop here.

Back at you soon.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Moving the day after

For the first time in forever, a moving day hasn't drained the life out of me and ached my back. It's great! Now, I've had a few moves over the past couple of years, with myself and my peers mostly at the age where you move out of the apartment lifestyle and into the first home lifestyle. Squeezing things around tight corners and through small doors, etc. As much as my female readers (who didn't pipe up yesterday! :P) may hate to hear this, where I'm one of "the guys" and not a skinny little squirt, I generally get to do the heavy lifting, which in turn makes me ache and pain and very tired. This time around, I did that and it didn't bother me at all. YaY! :D

We were moving things out of my grandmother's and into my basement for storage. A Bedroom set with two dressers being the heavy stuff. I then went with a co-worker who is moving into a house and got a bunch of his stuff over as well. It was a great night for exercising in general. :D

I'm still on task for the photos I had intended to take. I have sketched up all 6 that I want to do (the self portraits aren't deviating from the plan much, just a little more of me in each shot) abut the desolation ones are going to be a bit more involved.

Anyway, a short post for me today, I didn't even turn on the Xbox last night. I'll have more on FF13 and the coming of the Dragon Age expansion tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So, who's out there?

Now that I've been posting for a couple of months, I'd love to know... who's out there? I get the odd comment back on facebook where I typically send out and advertise the blog, and officially I still have my ONE and only follower, but now I'd like to know. Who reads this jarbled mess of "learning how to write better?" After you've read this post, either comment here or on facebook and I may be able to taper some of my comments and thoughts to your likes on any given day. Most times, I'll still post whatever I please, but it's nice to once in a while "cater to the masses". :D

Today I'll talk a little about my recent photography crap. I call it crap because that is exactly what it is. CRAP. I was embarrassed to show my work in Camera 35 last week because I simply didn't put the work into it that I should have. I did 3 pictures for "Self Portrait" and 3 for "Desolation". The self portraits were somewhat better than the desolation, but they were ALL bad in general. The thought process for the self portraits were, in my mind, good. I was on the right track. I wanted to tell a little about me. I was looking down the neck of a guitar with wonderment, showing that I've been since grade 4 trying to learn guitar and I just can't get it. I did a shot with a classic glass coke bottle covering part of my face, suggesting my slavery to the red and white wave of caramel cola goodness. (I want a coke now... dammit.) A third is a really devilish, evil looking shot, suggesting that I have a dark side, like anyone. Each of them were shot on my Sony 5 mp. They looked ok, but not worthy of the good folks at Camera Club. This is something I became VERY aware of when I sat down and got to compare them with everyone elses shots.

The desolation shots were DEVASTATINGLY bad. two shots of dead weeds poking out of the show and a dark, blurry shot of my wife next to a barren, cold field. I did all three of these on the fly on the day the set was due. I had been waiting for some better weather, which never materialized, so I had to make due with what I could get.

I doubt any camera 35er's read this, but I'd like to comment on the rules of the competition for both of these contests. If you do read this, and you are one of the folks I speak of, please, do not be offended. This is not personal, I love your work and am inspired by much of it. I know I'm nowhere near the photographer most of you are in this club, I'm there to learn from you and am humbled by the fact that you've accepted me in your ranks.

Anyway, I was under the impression that the shots had to be taken FOR the competition, not something from our back catalogues. The thought process on these things being "go out and take some pictures". My shots, while bad, fit into the category of taking the time to go out and shoot them, and to try and learn something. These catalogue shots from places all over the globe to me equate to "What I Did on My Summer Vacation". If I were able to back catalogue some of these contests, I can provide VERY worthy shots far better than what I gave, but how would I learn from that experience? I wouldn't. Now, I by far one of the most junior members of the club, so I'm sure I have a little more freedom with regards to going out and shooting. My job is 9-5 basic, I have no kids, I have lots of free time. PLUS I have a lot more to learn than some of the folks who have been shooting for decades. but if it's a contest, then make the playing field level. Hell, there are some members who didn't even submit to the contests because, while they are most certainly incredibly talented, they just couldn't come up with something they liked within the time frame given. To me, this is what should be done if you can't come up with anything.

Onto a positive thought on the competitions, there were some absolutely FANTASTIC, CREATIVE, and TELLING shots submitted. In particular, I was a fan of Jerry's goofy face, Jenn's very sweet shot, and Geoff's very imaginative and creative multi-player Wii shot (I may try that myself sometime :P). Brian's shot of drinking wine was great as well.

With the fact that I wasn't very pleased with any of my shots, I've decided to re-shoot the entire set and see what I come up with when I actually commit the time to doing it right. I'm first going to sketch up the shots, then do my best to convert them to photograph. I'm going to scout out a few places tonight or tomorrow, and really get into it again.


So the Islanders have hit "Tank Road" finally. All year long they've done their best to put on a great show, be far more competitive, and be absolutely great to watch. Sadly, they've lost 12 of 15 and now sit with the 3rd worst overall record, and the 3rd best shot at the number one overall draft pick. Apparently, being in the top 5 is a good thing, as all 5 top ranked junior players are all blue chip, sure fire prospects. I'm still having pipe dreams of getting Taylor Hall, but Edmonton and Toronto seem to want to tank more than the Isles. :S Taveres seemingly is coming out of his mid season funk, with 3 or 4 points since the Olympic Break. Matt Moulson keeps on chugging along, and is in line for a nice raise with what should be a 55-60 point season, 25+ goals. Good on him. Kyle Okposo is going to be this teams leader. He leads the team in points and is a go to man in ALL situations.


Anybody else think the Jays will STINK worse than they did last year? Dear god, the team looks like a mess with no real #1 starting pitcher and still hoping that Vernon "I look like the kid from 2 1/2 Men" Wells will come out of his 3 year slump? Aaron Hill and Adam Lind can't do everything.


It's funny. I sat back last night, holding my 360 controller in my hands gingerly, and looked up at the screen to see Final Fantasy 13. I looked at the controller again and smiled.

"This is why I bought the machine", I said to myself. Way back when I was in the process of looking at getting a big boy system over the PS2 and Wii I owned at the time, the deciding factors were that the catalogue looked a bit better on 360, and it was getting Final Fantasy 13 as well. Back then I had myself convinced that I was still into RPG's the way I was in my teens and early 20's and let it guide me. I knew that it was coming out for PS3 as well, but the rumblings of a weaker catalogue really turned me from it.

So far, the deciding factor has been worth it (see last night's post for details).

Back at ya tomorrow, and again, let me know you are out there. Comment here or on Facebook.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Final Fantasy 13 first impressions.

So I managed to get Final Fantasy 13 a little early, and now have got a few hours in on it. So far, I see what the developers were trying to do with the title and all the things some folks have been saying about it.

First off, lets talk about what people have been saying about it. Yes, it is very linear in the beginning. It's generally one path with a few branches, lots of fighting and great graphics. Incredible graphics actually. You have no control over who is in the party, you can develop each character very "basically". The story is confusing starting off. Lot's of talk about Pulse, the purge, Cocoon, l'cie, Fal'cie, etc. Where none of them relate well to real world things, it's very easy to get lost in the talking. Here it is in a nutshell. There is one planet. It has a moon. People live on the moon. Things on the planet are bad in the people's minds. The things on the planet make people into magic users, which eventually turn into weird things or crystal. If you get tainted by one of these bad things, you are to be sent to the planet (purged) and you are hence left there to die or do whatever so long as you do not bother the people on the moon.

This leads into what I think the developers were doing. I don't know if many of you have played Final Fantasy in it's iterations, but it can get REALLY overwhelming in the start because of an overload of information and story. So what they've done with this game is they've streamlined it, and made it more user friendly. The battles are easier to control with an "auto fight" option. It still has the "do what you want to" options as well, should you want to. You can't get lost in the first parts either. The linear game style is there for that, so new players won't get lost and in turn, put the game down. They've made it engaging enough to keep the player interested, and keeps baiting you with more and more as you go. Information, character modification, and weapon and armor upgrades are done slowly, bit by bit, so you an absorb each bit individually. Very well done. I enjoy it quite a bit because I feel I can follow it. In Final Fantasy 12, I was lost and eventually gave up on the game. It was very Star Wars like too, which I didn't take to like I think the developers would hope their audience would. The story on this one, while not completely original (save the world, yada yada) it's done far better. There are also no playboy bunnies in this one compared to FF12. :P

I'll have more as I progress through the game. I can't recommend it yet, as I haven't played enough yet.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Whoops! Retraction and ammendment. :)

The tv show is called "True Blood", not "New Blood".

In my excitement to tell you I messed up the name. WHOOPS!



An unhealthy obession with the Undead, and a thought for Steve. :)

Last night as I sat down playing a game for which we shall talk about in a moment I thought that I may have an unhealthy obsession with the undead. I have always been facinated with Zombies, Vampires, Frankenstein, etc. My most memorable, favorite games always tend to have games like Resident Evil, House of the Dead, and their ilk ranking up high on the charts. I enjoyed all of the recently released Zombie and Zombie like movies, with 28 Days Later being the best (I even... gah... shared a passing interest in Twilight, although vampires are not supposed to sparkle in the sun, they are supposed to BURN). Even television, I liked Buffy and Angel, was interested in Vampire Diaries (although that has passed) and now the fantastic new show New Blood. What is it that fascinates me so much with all things dead?

So I took a look at my collection Sunday and decided to fill in this "in between game" time with some older titles that I picked up ages ago and never really got into. I picked up "Dead Rising" (surprise! It's about ZOMBIES!!!) and got into it a little. The save feature of the game has always turned me off... it being if you die you load the last save file (which generally is as many as 3 levels previous) or to save your status with your newly acquired levels and START OVER FROM THE BEGINNING. In typing this doesn't seem so bad. In practice, it's fucking hard. Dear lord, I've played the starting missions of the game at least a dozen times since yesterday levelling up my character. It's insane really. But I gotta say, chopping zombies is a hoot. Anything you can grab can be a weapon, ranging from awesome (see: Katana and Viking War Axe) to useless (see: potted plants and a plastic bubble gun). All totalled yesterday, I managed to kill around... 5000 or 6000 zombies. I saved a dozen or so people, and left a dozen or so to their useless, stupid AI fate. I think I used the Bat the most, smashing zombie skulls into paste more than once.

The game revolves around snarky freelance photojournalist named Frank (oddly, that's my dad's name) who gets a tip that something is going on in Willimette, Colorado. What he doesn't realize is that it's a ZOMBIE OUTBREAK. The town is all dead save for a few meager survivors (78 to be exact) trapped in a mall. It starts out with a pan over the city, you taking pictures of people getting eaten and killed by zombies. At that moment you think it's just people gone mad, because you are unaware of the zombie plague. Next, you get to the mall, and see people barricading the doors to keep them out. Of course, there is the STUPID FUCKING OLD WOMAN who needs to save her doggie (isn't there always one of those?), and of course the doggie is running around outside with the zombies. She opens the barricade, and the rest is predictable. Everybody but you dies. You run to the hills and set up in the security office with some wierd government agency types who won't tell you anything, and then the game gets going. Save people, kill psychos, survive. Lots of fun.

Last night my wife opened me up to a great show called New Blood. It stars Anna Paquin, the girl who played Rogue in the X-Men movies. She is a telepath, and in this world, Vampires live amongst Humans, and treated like a minority. She meets a vampire who is handsome and quietly soft spoken, who is nice and deals with the follies of being considered a minority. Basically, it's a better story than Twilight, but with Red Necks, as it's setting is the deep southern states. It's based off of a book series, and it remarkably follows the books very consistently, with very little lost in translation. Anyway, I'm two episodes in and am sold on the series. I'll talk more about it when I see more episodes.

And finally, a thought for my good friend Steve. He was the best man at my wedding last fall. Steve, what better way to spend a Sunday evening than chopping up zombies and having a bag of sour keys at your side? :D

See you tomorrow.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Fear has struckth me, Final Fantasy 13 MAY SUCK!

I'm the sort of chap who typically does his research before making a purchase of any order. Anytime I've not done so (HP cameras, shoes, Darksiders... etc) I've typically gotten burned. So, recently I've started reading the reviews for Final Fantasy 13 that have trickled onto the web. So far, all I've read, in not particular order, are:

1. Linear.
2. Gorgeous.
3. Boring.
4. Gorgeous.
5. Still Linear.
6. Long.
7. 25 hours of Linear.
8. Great fighting.
9. Linear. Still.

Well, this frightens me some because it seems Final Fantasy 13, to the fear of all generational Final Fantasy fans, may well indeed suck. What to do, what to do, what to do.... I hate renting anything because in essense, you are just adding to the cost of a game if you figure you are going to buy it anyway. "Here's 6 more dollars, just because I don't need it". If it's just a weekend gathering and you want a copy of a game that needs multiple copies, it's a great way to get around everyone owning it. (I'm looking at YOU Gears of War 2). But, to rent to try and see if you like then you do, you turn an already expensive $69.99 title into a $75.99 or even $79.99 title, which just isn't good for anyone save the shop who rents the title then sells the title. Blah. This is where demos save people. In store demos, downloadable demos, you know, to see if you like a game RISK FREE. Divinity 2 got a sale from me just because the demo worked out so well. SquareEnix (the company who make Final Fantasy) would do well in releasing a demo just because the reviews for the title read like obituaries in some cases. Let people decide for themselves.

To me, so far, I'm on the fence. It sounds like they've taken the FF formula and made it less stale. BUT... they've also taken some of the joy of freedom away from it as well. I have trouble playing older Final Fantasies now because I find the trudge of grinding levels and waiting for full animated sequences for Summon Attacks to complete a little tedious. I just want to get through a fight and move the story along. Random encounters bug the hell out of me now. Sometimes I get random encountered right out of a game as it seems I can't pick a fight when I need it (those grinding times) and I can't take two steps without getting nailed when I don't want them (I hate you... Lost Odyssey).

All of this thought and discussion on the traditional JRPG formula really shows how engrained it is in our generations gamers psyches. We've all had a game like Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy in our catalogues at least once in our lives. They have always been the backbone of what Role Playing is to some gamers. But now, we see the faults in the formula. Sad, sad indeed. We want more, and apparently, Final Fantasy 13 is trying to give us that.

1. At the start it controls what you do with your team.
- Reason being, it helps you get into the game and learn it. People get lost at the start of so many JRPG's because they get overwhelmed.

2. At the start it's linear.
- Reason being, it keeps you from getting lost, another reason players stop playing.

I can't speak for the battle system as I haven't tried it myself or read enough on it. From the briefest of notes I've read on it, it takes the Active Battle Time or whatever it's called and from Final Fantasy 12 and cleans it up, which is good. Hopefully it did away with all the weird little lines on the screen. Very annoying.

All in all I am afraid I will regret getting this game. But I have to take the "don't let your fears rule you" thought with this as well, because there is one thing that is worse than fear, it's regret for not trying. I'd regret not getting it, and can still trade it away if it sucks. Simple.

I love gaming. :)


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Microsoft Sucks.

Powerpoint is the "fruits of the devil". Promises SO much, does so little.

That is all.


Microwave Lunchables... what the HELL was I thinking?

I'm here, trapped at work for yet ANOTHER day. I have to stay in at work when my wife works day shifts, as it is easier for everyone. This is part of the reason I started blogging actually. I haven't found a DS game since "The World Ends With You" to hold my attention, I'm not a big reader, and I like to blab. BLABLABLAB... and thus this blog was born. :P

So last night I went to get some groceries and ended up foolishly buying a bunch of microwave dinners. Why, I dunno. They ALWAYS look so good on the box, then you take a bite and you get the most disgusting taste in the world. Not because it is the most disgusting though, but because you were expecting this restaurant styled, all world tasting delight and you get soggy bread with some tough pepperoni and gooey, greasy cheese. The vegetables are always gross and shrivelled, the edges alway tough enough to withstand hurricane force winds and weather should someone get smart enough to adapt this strange technological advance into something useful rather than leaving it as an unfulfilling lunch crust.


So lets step in the wayback machine and go back to when I first started this blog and I was talking about Darksiders. It's your average 3d action-steal-from-other-titles-and-claim-to-be-original games. I picked it up based on some great ratings and the games that it stole from, Legend of Zelda & God of War, were pretty awesome. I have to admit, I haven't truly liked any Zelda since the SNES Link to the Past game (although to Game Boy cop offs have been decent). The N64 games, which were regaled as generational inspired works, were ugly and tedious. The Gamecube version was fun to watch but I never really took to it. The Wii version was the same game, with Wii controls. Through all this I know I'm in the minority when it comes to opinion. But I just didn't take to them. Anyway, the parts that I didn't like, the tedious puzzles, is what about 80% of what Darksiders is. The game world is supposed to be a world where people are all killed off and the "demons" have taken over. The world has all the derelict cars, buildings, and warehouses that were there when all the people died. I don't know who made the game world, but it is needlessly tainted with tedium and ridiculously bad layers of "do this to get the door open" crap. In other games at least they mask the tedium with "the ancients made it this way so the "treasure" would be protected (See "Tomb Raider", etc). Here, it's just to get to the next room. Blah. Anyway, Darksiders is now on the trader pile and fits into the category "Regrettable Acquisitions". Thankfully, it's worth a pretty penny at Rogers, so it's going towards my Final Fantasy 13 purchase, or maybe Dragon Age Origins: Awakening.

Speaking of which, I guess we all have a list of games or hobby sorts of things that we can count off. I generally enjoy most every title I play to some degree. But there are those Darksider titles that really get promo-ed well and I fall into the trap. Super Swing Golf on Wii is one that comes to mind (why didn't I just get Tiger Woods???), Far Cry in any of it's iterations (I fell prey to Far Cry Predator), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, and Spider-man 3 all dashed my hopes as I needlessly lined the pockets of the local EB retailer. Oh woe is me.

I have the photo competition tonight and I still do not have a desolation picture. I will rush one out before I go tonight but it won't be what I wanted I don't say. I'll run out back today after I clue this up and see if I can come up with something... I'd best go do that now as I have half my lunch gone already! Will be back with results tomorrow!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NHL Trade Deadline Day!!!!

One of my other passions in life outside of gaming, photography, and art is hockey. I LOVE hockey. I'm not a band wagoner, I'm not a casual fan, I'm a REAL fan. I have to be, given my favorite team is the New York Islanders. This team has been so bad for so long you'd have to be a real fan to follow these lovable losers.

People ask me "Chris, why the HELL do you like THAT team?". Well, some of you have heard this story before, but I'll tell it again. (We'll start with the "these parts" precursor...)

In these parts, that being East Coast Canada, typically, you are a fan of either the Toronto Maple Leafs, or the Montreal Canadiens. I believe it is a generational thing really. Back when our parents (if you are a 30-something like me) were first watching hockey, there were only 6 teams and the only 2 Canadian teams were the Habs and Leafs. So by default most hockey fans watched one or the other. My father is a Canadiens fan, from a community that is divided by the blue of Leaf Nation or the Red of Hab Nation... and one street down between them. :P Anyway, I didn't fall into that generational trap. When I first started watching hockey, collecting hockey cards, and hockey stickers, the Islanders were on top of the world. I remember getting the second part of the two part sticker for the Islanders championship photo and sticking it in the O-Pee-Chee wonder book. (For some reason, I recall getting excited over getting Brent Ashton of the Winnipeg Jets too... weird) But the real turning point for me becoming an Islanders fan wasn't any of these things, but from an old Rod Hockey board. Remember the ones with the orange sides, flat plastic players, and super sharp ends on the rods that cut you if you didn't have those stupid little knobs on the ends of them? Well, we had one of those, with the Boston Bruins in their super cool all black uniforms, and the New York Islanders, in their Royal Blue getups. Well, I played that game a lot with my big brother Paul. He being the bigger brother, he tended to get to choose whatever team he wanted first, and he always wanted to be the big bad Bruins. So I got stuck with the Islanders, which seems to have stuck to this day.

Anyway, today, as the title of today's blog suggests, is Trade Deadline Day. It's the last day that NHL teams can make a trade before the playoffs. Some teams sell off assets to help build for the future (seeming the Islanders fall in this category every year). Some teams add pieces that they think will help them finally go all the way to the finals (For some reason this never works). And some teams just like the notoriety of being in the news so they throw out names seemingly to sate the rabid fanbase to make them think they are doing SOMETHING to try and get better. So far this year, the Islanders have two or three assets that they are willing to part with. One of the goalies they signed in the fall, Martin Biron or Dwayne Roloson, Andy Sutton (who they've actually traded for a second round draft pick), and now a surprise in Sean Bergenheim, a young stud who seems to have fallen out of favor given he can't score, even though he has so much potential that it drips from his nose when he sneezes). I was a little surprised that Sutton only got them a lower end 2nd round pick, but given they would have lost him by years end anyway (his contract expires) then this is better than nothing. Both Roloson and Biron are stop gaps til the team's goalie-for-life Rick Dipietro can figure out how to stay healthy. He's back and shown he can still play, so it's just a question of durability and sustaining it now. I won't be sad to see Bergenheim leave, if he does, as he seemingly just can't figure out how to tap his own potential. The Islanders need scoring, not ANOTHER 3rd line agitator. Either way, it'll be fun to watch come the 3pm eastern (4:30 Newfoundland) deadline.

It's because of days like today that I started using Twitter, as most of my favorite reporters use it for faster updates. I never post, but always follow. In Sports, I follow TSN Insiders Bob McKenzie & Darren Dreger, the ALWAYS entertaining Chris Botta, Islanders fan and the guy who runs the fantastic Islanders insider blog called Islanders Point Blank. Last year when I thought that the site would go down, I wrote TSN in the hopes that they could find a spot for Chris on their team. That didn't happen, but he did land on his feet at NHL Fanhouse. I follow Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, but I tend to not take much of what he says seriously, as it seems to be a lot more speculative rather than fact. I also follow the cutie Katie Strang, who is the beat reporter for the Islanders for Newsday. Her info is usually ROCK SOLID, as most of it comes directly from the team rather than those infamous internet "sources". Right now I just caught a trade for Skoula to NJ for a Middle Round Pick. I like how the tweets tend to be far less formal than written reports.

Finally, when trade deadline day is over, I like to sit down in NHL 10 and update my roster to see how the team performs in the digital realm. Most times, I've noticed, the players that I pick up generally don't work out so well. I guess that shows how different a digital GM and digital player likely is compared to his real life counterpart.

See you tomorrow when we discuss the actual TRADES!!! :D


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anybody remember "What it's like havin a Roni"?

I just figured I'd drop a little randomness into your day with the title. I don't even know what a Roni is save for a San Francisco Treat, and I'm sure it's not that. :P So last night I spoke of how the PS3 is having it's issues, and it seems they are all mysteriously fixed now. Sony never truly told anyone how they've fixed it so it's quite possible my PS3 is home now converting all my other electronics into evil Transformers to take over the world. But hey, who cares. It works. :)


I played through the Demo of Hard Rain last night and it was a pleasant surprise. It's basically the same style of game as "Indigo Prophecy"... an under the radar great title from a few years back. What you are mostly doing is watch a CG movie and inputting specific button sequences to continue the movie on it's merry way. Now... it is actually much better than it sounds. Some of the stuff seems random but overall it's quite engaging. Too bad it's on PS3, as it now gets flipped to a renter pile instead of a buyer pile. I don't want to invest in a second collection of games like I have with the 360. You PS3 owners out there who want a unique game experience owe it to yourselves to at least give the demo a whirl, or even a rental. It's a quality, grade A title.


The weather looks absolutely terrible over the next few days, which shall make my "desolation" picture a hard one to get. Rain, Drizzle, Fog... typical Newfoundland weather and seemingly what comes up every time I want to enter a photo competition. The grey skies will help, all the same. I finished my Self Portrait shots last night and I'm very pleased with them. There are no straight on shots of me, as all three tell a little story about me. I'll say more and post them here on Friday after they've been submitted. They deal a little with Coke, Guitars, and Evilness. :P Take from that what you will.


That's it today! I'll be starting Bioshock 2 tonight, so you gamers who read will be less bored with my articles coming up!


Monday, March 1, 2010


The PS3 network apparently didn't get y2K ready, or Leap year ready as it seems, as the system's internal clocks on almost ALL of the older style FAT systems has reset themselves to sometime in 1999. GEEEE-reat. I just bought a system that is a lemon. Sony says that they are working on it, and thank GOD I'm not a hardcore guy like some folks I know. Trophy data gets corrupted, and the world cries. :P Anyway, the big fat doorstop that I have that used to be known as PS3 may soon be needing to find another home.


Just chuggin through some games of late, finished up AvP the weekend. Took a stab at Dead Space and starting over in Mass Effect 1 again. Waiting on my copy of Bioshock 2 to be returned as it seems to be what I'm craving these days. I checked the trade on a bunch of the stuff I've finished recently, and low and behold, they are worth SO MUCH that I don't want to trade them right now. Friends, oh yee friends in my network of share friends, you shall reap the benefits. Who wants to borrow some grade - A new release titles? :P


Finally inspired to shoot a few pics again. I have two submissions for the self portrait and a killer idea for desolation. Apparently there are CAPA (a group I'm not entirely sure what is yet) submissions as well, but I'm going to pass on those this time around.

Off to try and cut through Dead Space. See you on the flip side.