Lexd's Blog

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My name is Lex … February 3, 2010

Filed under: gaming,rant — lexd @ 8:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

… and I have gamer ADD.

At any given time, I’m playing between 5 and 10 games simultaneously.

This sounds absolutely crazy (and even worse, sounds like I’m living in my parents’ basement, just gaming all the time), but it’s true. Currently, I’m in the middle of:

  • Machinarium
  • Arkham Asylum
  • Final Fantasy X
  • Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
  • Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
  • Bowser’s Inside Story
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  • Scribblenauts

I define “current” games as those that I play at least once every two weeks.

Holy shit guys, I need help.

I’ve always known that I’m a multitasker. It’s why I work well at an agency. I’m always doing at least 3 things at once. I regularly keep at least 5 windows open in each browser I’m putzing around in. I’m reading 3 books right now. BF and I are watching about 4 TV series right now.

But 8 games? I know I don’t have a lot of free time, but you’d think that would make me commit to one game before starting another. But no. I’m like a kid in the proverbial candy store, just playing EVERYTHING I have in my grubby little hands and then tossing it aside for the next yummy-looking thing.

My friend also just pointed out that I haven’t beaten 2 of my top favorite games of all time: Fallout 3 and Oblivion. Before you start laughing, I’d like to point out that I’ve put more than 120 hours into Oblivion and nearly 80 into Fallout, so it’s not like I played for 5 minutes to say that I played them and then moved on.

This has dealt a serious blow to what I feel was a pretty solid gamer status. My confidence is shaken.

Someone else please tell me they do this, too. I need to feel less crappy about my gaming habits!

image from henry9112


Video game quest update December 23, 2009

Filed under: gaming — lexd @ 4:19 pm
Tags: ,

I’m about to be a bad, bad girl.

Steam is having its year-end sale, and about a bajillion  games I want to play are on there, some of which are on sale  for less than $10.

While I’m still concerned about the issues I’m having with Mass Effect playing on Steam (pissed), I am probably going to buy Braid (for a whopping $2.49, people!), see if it works, and then go from there.

In the “Less than $10” and “Less than $5” categories alone, Braid, Machinarium, Deus Ex and Counter Strike are for sale. I mean, come on, people. I would have to be batshit crazy to not take advantage of this.

In the name of setting myself up to succeed for my superfluous video game quest resolution, I am going to make some purchases on Steam tonight.

But don’t tell … I’ll be in BIIIIG trouble. 🙂

Steam image from Steam.com


Best Games of All Time … According to Everyone Else December 16, 2009

Filed under: gaming — lexd @ 6:45 pm
Tags: ,

I read a lot about video games. I normally focus on sites targeting all levels of gamers, including big ones like Kotaku and Gossip Gamers. Additionally, I really try hard to read Gamasutra (which focuses more on the business side of making video games). Given that I have little to no experience doing anything besides playing video games, the subject matter goes over my head, but I find it fascinating regardless. (If you want to see some of the other sites I go to for VG knowledge, check out my blogroll.)

Recently, I’ve noticed that there are a handful of games that just keep coming up … and they’re nothing new. In fact, some of them are from as long as a decade ago. The problem is that I haven’t played them.

These are games that some people hail as classics, that defined a variety of genres in the video game world. People who I respect (like Leigh Alexander, for instance) really, really like these games, and often use them as points of comparison in their writing. This makes me mad, because then I have no point of reference. And I feel like less of a gamer.

So begins my research for what might be my most superfluous New Years resolution ever: PLAY THESE GAMES. Become more well-rounded, more well-versed.

I’m basically reviewing “top games” lists in order to cobble together a “to do” list for my gaming systems in 2010 (I can’t afford to buy a PS3, so no Uncharted 2 for me). Here’s the hit list so far:

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Resident Evil  (I’ve actually never played any Resident Evil games)
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Ico
  • Metal Gear Solid (I’ve … never played a MGS game before, either)
  • Metroid (again, another franchise I’ve never played)
  • God of War
  • Half Life (and 2)
  • Tales of Symphonia
  • The Darkness (Mitch Krpata’s review over at Insult Swordfighting made me put this game on my list)
  • Suikoden
  • Persona 3
  • Mass Effect
  • Xenogears
  • Knights of the Old Republic (I’ve just started this)
  • Dragon Quest VIII
  • Portal
  • Fire Emblem
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Also, I haven’t given PC gaming a fair chance (with the notable exception of the Sims franchise) since about 3rd grade with Phantasmagoria. Here’s some games I’d like to try (especially because I share a 360 and sometimes I just don’t feel like fighting that battle):

  • Starcraft
  • Diablo II
  • Baldur’s Gate II
  • Thief
  • Deus Ex

Hot damn that is a lot of gaming. It’s too bad I canceled my GameFly account … I could probably save some serious cash that way. I may have to get that thing going again.

Well, as soon as I beat Borderlands. Priorities, people.

Any to add to my list?

Giving credit where credit is due, I pulled these suggestions from lists created by IGN, VGC and AV Club

games image from freespamfree’s Flickr


Gamerscores and Achievement Whores December 11, 2009

Filed under: gaming — lexd @ 4:15 pm

In the realm of Xbox Live, I live in a house divided.

I play games that I find enjoyable. When I get bored with them, I stop playing. Achievements are cool, but that little “bleep bleep” noise that accompanies them doesn’t get my heart racing or anything.

BF, however, loves him some achievements … and gamerpoints. I’ve seen him crunch away at games he doesn’t particularly enjoy just to get the easier achievements before relegating them to the back of our bookshelf (or in the mail back to GameFly).

I happen to know that his gamerscore is somewhere near 11,000. I’m not quite sure where mine is, but it’s between 3,000-4,000 last time I checked. And really, I don’t care what it is.

Please don’t think I’m on a soapbox about this. If you enjoy goal-based playing and focusing on achievements, that’s just fine. Everyone enjoys video games differently, has different tastes, etc.

This all stems from an article I read on Kotaku this morning about a 24 year-old American woman who has a gamerscore of more than 165,000. I’ve been on XBL for right around four years, and I’m not even to 5,000 yet.

The part of the article that got me is near the beginning — as she’s boosting her score with the writer of the article on Madden NFL Arcade, she says, “I hate sports games.” She admits she didn’t know what a sack was, or even which player her quarterback was.

To each their own. But, is a gamerscore worth sinking hours of your life (and the woman didn’t even know how much money she’d spent) into something you don’t even remotely enjoy?

For her, obviously it is. 165K is a big deal. And when she hits 200K, she admits that it’s going to make her rethink what she’s doing. She said she’s thinking about retiring at that point, but does that mean retiring from GS grinding, or retiring from video games? Can someone who is this dedicated to building a GS ever play games recreationally?

Are you an achievement person, or could you not care less about your GC? Am I in the minority here?

I pulled my avatar pic from MyGamerCard

Madden NFL Arcade image from Amazon


Review: New Super Mario Bros. Wii November 16, 2009

Filed under: gaming — lexd @ 4:44 pm

As a 5-year anniversary gift, BF pre-ordered me the new SMB for Wii. I’ve been pretty vocal about wanting it, but it’s also a win-win because it means I’ll stop bugging him for 360 time (we just put the Wii in the bedroom, problem solved).

I dragged his ass out of bed at 10 a.m. on Sunday to pick it up, and we started playing 2-player the moment we got home (well, after 2 Wii updates). Later in the day, I embarked on a 1-player game.

Either way you play it, this game is great.

I was struck by the nostalgia that it evoked. From the intro screen (pretty uncomplicated) to the map and even levels, the game echoes Mario 3 to me more than any other game. There is even an airship involved for Bowser’s flock. There’s mid-world mini-castles, and the familiar lineup of enemies (although I’ve yet to see a lakitu). There are also mid-world baddie challenges (recently I got to stomp a bunch of goombas).

The controls are pretty instinctive (I’m not playing with a nunchuk). To my delight and BF’s frustration, the controls are pretty loose. BF said it was like his character was “on ice” — they don’t stop and turn on a dime. However, the shake function is pretty touchy. I must be spaztic while playing or something, because I kept accidentally sending Mario up into the air.

2-player can be frustrating. BF and I found ourselves getting in each other’s way, especially when challenging jump sequences were involved. Normally we just would have gone 1 at a time, but with a scrolling screen, you die if you get left behind. I’m not sure if I enjoy the level of complexity that adds, or if it’s just frustrating to be on par for a perfect jump and then have BF unintentionally knock me out of the way. At this point, I can’t imagine playing the story mode with more than two people. We haven’t gone very far into actual co-op (for example, me launching him into the air to find things, etc), so maybe there’s more to be found there once we stop trying to work around each other and start working with each other.

As far as single-player goes, I’m really enjoying the game. There’s a fun new optional part of the levels where a Toad is stuck in a “?” box somewhere in a course, and you have to find him and carry him throughout the level. If you succeed, new surprises show up on the map.

I’m only in the middle of world 2 (a desert map, like in Mario 3), but the difficulty level has ratcheted up already. I like this — I thought the first map was a little too easy, but it did its job getting me accustomed to the play style, controls and conventions of the game.

There are some fun additions: Star coin movies (where you can watch tips and tricks for a variety of different levels. I find this fascinating, BF thought it was dumb); and the baddies’ dance. You’ll see the baddies bopping out to the music on a variety of levels. This is cute, but can throw off your game a little bit if you’re trying to jump on them.

Overall, I love this game. It walks the thin line between reminding us of old-school Mario games, and being the same as those games, with newer graphics and a multiplayer. As far as I can tell, they’ve taken what worked about the older games, and have given it a fun new twist. I love it, and I’ll probably be playing it nonstop for the next few weeks.


Gaming Preferences September 20, 2009

Filed under: gaming,rant — lexd @ 3:44 pm
Tags: ,

I don’t think about these days much now (now that I’m officially out of the gamer-closet), but when I was younger, I never told anyone how much I enjoyed video games. A few friends and I would play MarioKart, Sonic, Donkey Kong, or whatever else was hot at the time, but for the most part, these were pretty commercially-accepted games. Few friends knew about the amount of time I spent with RPGs (which to me, were probably the geekiest type of games ever), and I pretty much maintained this low profile. (Minus the guy who introduced me to Earthbound in 5th grade – you still rock).

From GuineaPig119s web site

From GuineaPig119's web site

As I grew up, found gamers similar to myself both in person and on the Internet (the Nintendo BBS was enormously helpful at the time — what a great gathering place). It was pretty apparent that everyone liked a different variety of games (for example, I really just don’t enjoy sports games) … but for the most part, people liked a variety of things. Action/adventure, RPGs, FPS, simulation … they ran the gamut.

In my 24 years, I have never run across a person like the guy I met a couple weeks ago. When I approached him, he was playing Call of Duty 4 — cool game, for sure (I’m not a huge war game fan, either). We got to talking about video games, and BioShock came up, and he had this to say:

“I thought that game was so stupid.”

As you can imagine, my knee-jerk reflex was to shake him silly. I have a terrible poker face, so I’m pretty sure I looked like he’d told me he’d killed my dog or something.

This guy had some words for my new acquaintance (from GossipGamers.com)

This guy had some words for my new acquaintance (from GossipGamers.com)

He went on to say that furthermore, anything that wasn’t 100% realistic was a stupid game. I took a step back, and realized that by that definition, my top favorite games of all time were “stupid.” I didn’t realize I’d take this so personally, but I was ready to just close up the conversation and find someone who wasn’t so cripplingly closed-minded, when he affirmed my suspicions and told me the only games he played were the Call of Duty series. That was it.

Apparently he dabbled in any new games his roommates brought home (I imagine these “dabbling” sessions lasting about 5 minutes), but always went back to the tried-and-true.

At this point, I did excuse myself. I know that people have different gaming preferences, but you wouldn’t catch me calling sports games or military-based games (my two chief dislikes) “stupid.” I don’t think they’re stupid, I just dislike the lack of imagination required to play them. I get bored with them. I bet if I put this guy in front of a computer and forced him to play SimCity, his head would explode.

Point being, this guy and I had entirely opposite tastes. What bugged me the most about this, though, was how aloof this guy was, and how readily he was willing to dismiss anything else. I dislike closed-mindedness in general, but this was off the charts for me. People don’t always have to like what I do (I’d almost rather that they didn’t), but to be so dismissive is sort of alienating. I’m a pretty open-minded gal (or so I like to think), so to see someone just shut down and not be willing to discuss or even listen to anything else was so off-putting.

This disapproving rabbit disapproves (from disapprovingrabbits.com)

This disapproving rabbit disapproves (from disapprovingrabbits.com)

Speaking of BioShock, release date slated for 2 on February 9, 2010. Mega gaming session slated.


Belated review: Sims 3 July 27, 2009

Filed under: gaming — lexd @ 4:19 pm
Tags: ,

I know this is sadly overdue, but I don’t care. Here are my thoughts:

It should be noted that I am a pretty big Sims fangirl. I started playing the original (like, playing it 24 hours straight on weekends) back in the day. Even when I discovered the cheat codes, I still made my Sims labor the hard way for their ridiculously expensive art and expansive backyard pools.

For the second game, I stopped drinking beer (well, at least I stopped paying for it) in order to buy it during college. The difference between Sims 1 and the majesty that was Sims 2 was enormous. The basic idea was the same, but the customization and graphics went through the roof. Check out this link to see the evolution between games.

As I started playing Sims 3, I was initially pretty shocked. Yeah, the customization is a little better (especially with furniture, you can create colors now), and the graphics are improved, but I was sort of underwhelmed. After the gap between Sims 1 and 2, I was expecting a bigger jump in Sims 3.

From IGN

From IGN

Admittedly, there are things about 3 that I really enjoy. I like that going somewhere besides your home no longer takes time to load (in fact, they encourage your character to leave … they’ll start to go “stir-crazy”). My play patterns are changing, I’ve noticed … I used to always create the same kind of characters, leading the same kind of lives: Get a job, go to work, and on days off, hold parties and hang out with friends. Now, my characters are all over the place, going to town after work, going to sports events, etc etc. There’s a wider range of lifestyle choices, which makes the game appealing for me.

Other things I like about 3 are the character development tools (especially choosing key traits instead of dealing with attribute points), expanded interactions with people, more hobbies (gardening, fishing, etc), and the graphics appear to be a little sharper.

From IGN

From IGN

The biggest problem I have with 3 is something that I didn’t quite understand at first — each town’s ability to continue evolving as you play different characters. While this sounds like a neat idea, I think the characters need more guidelines and restriction while they are “living” without player supervision.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s my example: In older Sims games, you can create different characters that live in the same city together. When playing one character, you may see another one of your characters out and about, but they aren’t actually making decisions that impact gameplay — they are simply part of the neighborhood.

In Sims 3, player-created characters that are not the “default character” for a particular town will continue to live their lives without input from the players. I’m not sure if their decisions are randomized or formulaic (based on player patterns, etc), but this ruined my boyfriend’s first character. His character and mine were in the same “town” — so our default character changed. The first time he went back as his character, after I’d spent a few hours with mine, he had no money, had skipped work for three (Sim) days, and there was an unknown baby on his doorstep.

If you want total control, you can choose to create a new sim in an entirely new town … but where’s the fun in that? I dislike that each character has to exist in a vacuum (unless you’re up for surprises).

Anyway, the verdict? It’s pretty fun. I’d put it aside a while ago in favor of some other games, but I brought it back out this weekend — mostly to create a character that has my ideal life. She’s a novelist with an expansive garden, no “real” job, she lives on the beach, and she travels everywhere by bike. Escapism at its best.