I may not be American but…

4 11 2008
Vote Obama

Vote Obama


Fable 2 party, Dead Space thoughts & Soulja Boy drama

18 10 2008

Fable II, the Launch Party
Some people have noticed that Fable II has been spinning in my Xbox 360 lately and a ton of people have messaged me looking for impressions. Unfortunately I can’t talk about Fable II just yet but expect to see a lot of content about the game on X3F next week.

Microsoft rented out a pub in downtown Toronto to help launch the game. The funniest part about playing a game at an event like this is when people give up. What I mean is, in Fable II you can kill anyone (except children) in a town but the city guards are going to be on you like white on rice ASAP. A menu pops up and notifies you that you can pay a fine for your crimes, do community service to lessen the sentence or resist arrest — all of this information has been released in previous previews AND was an element in the original Fable. People at the launch party would murder innocents, resist, get their asses handed to them and then give up. So, when I came in (fashionably late to the party) every time I picked up a controller it was as I was getting my ass handed to ME!

This sort of thing happens a lot at press events which is why it is often difficult to get good impressions. Note to all playing games at an event who then want to write about — ALWAYS restart the demo.

Space the final…. holy shit what was that?!
For the last few days I’ve been playing Dead Space. After seething in anger because Dustin got his hands on it, I picked up a copy and jumped in. Quick impressions, 9 chapters (out of 12 in) the game is good. While Dead Space looks nice I think a lot of people glazed over how good it sounds. The audio in the game adds to the already eerie environment and really creates a cool world.

There isn’t as much back tracking as Dustin led me to believe. I mean, you do go back but often it is literally two or three rooms. I was expecting you to have to redo entire areas of the game but that isn’t the case. The creatures are cool… the first time you see them. After that you’re kinda left with a sense that they are a ridiculous blend of scabs and sharp things. The game has made me jump once or twice but it really isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

The HUD-less design and the ideal of menu projection into the world relative to the character and not the camera is very well implemented. It’s very impressive to watch a video message from someone on board the ship and rotate the camera around to see the images stacked creating a holographic display.

Gun play is fantastic so far but that is based on me only using the first weapon — I’m trying to get the achievement, go figure.

All in all I’m impressed with the game and I think EA has a good franchise on their hands. I anticipate playing through the game a few times.

Also, the Leviathan looks like a demonic vagina.

Disappointed in Soulja Boy Commentary
Recently I posted a video of rapper Soulja Boy calling out Xbox Live gamers on X3F. Some people questioned why we would bother — the answer: It was Saturday and it was funny, get over it — and some people laughed. We thought nothing of it really but suddenly my inbox was flooded with comments that were being posted on X3F that were highly racist and used words that should never be uttered, regardless of skin color.

Not surprisingly all of the racist comments were deleted as soon as I saw them and every single person who used the racial slur typically used by bigots was banned from the entire Joystiq Network. Meaning, no more commenting for you.

I’m shocked. I didn’t think that our readers would ever stoop to that level and actually write something so hateful. I wanted to email each person and bitch them out personally but who has the time, really?

If you were one of the people who used a slur then I’m ashamed you ever visited our site. Biggotry like that is the reason for a lot of pain across the world and it will get you no where. You want to be a hater then hate because Soulja Boy has a shitty GamerScore and bad Halo 3 stats, not because he’s black.

Also, bigotry like that is why a lot of people won’t vote for Barrack Obama. Good luck supporting a Republican President, because the last eight years has worked out so well.

Honestly, does anyone want Sarah Palin within arms reach of nuclear launch codes? She can’t even name a newspaper.

Seemed like a good idea at the time … ladies

10 07 2008

Remember my great idea of posting everything I do every week? Well, that didn’t pan out. The thing about writing at a blog for 5+ days a week means you don’t really want to look at another blog on your off time!

It’s like when I worked as a manager for EB Games. You are surrounded by videogames and sometimes you need a book or a movie.

Speaking of which. Right now I’m reading a couple of books. Top of the list is “Don’t Get Too Comfortable” by David Rakoff. Rakoff is a newly christened American after living in the States as a visiting Canadian for nearly twenty years. The book is a funny look on the process of being an American.

Also on the list is “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” by David Sedaris. Haven’t really dived into that one enough to talk about it but it is notable that Sedaris moved to to the Far East to write it and to quit smoking. Yes, moved half way across the globe to quit smoking! I should do that myself.

BigCast 003 is pretty entertaining, if only because it was a total clusterf***! I was hella tired and stressed out during recording. The entertaining parts will be the outtakes and the bonus chapter I’m planning on including which saw Akela, Kyle and I jaw on about comics. Fun stuff.

Bought a brand spanking new MacBook. Pimp as shit.

The X3F Fancast Friends group on Facebook has some hilarious photoshops of me and the guys. Props to Richard Elliot. For some reason the group isn’t allowing images to be uploaded anymore, but Rich is looking into it. No, it wasn’t disabled by any of us!

E3 is next week. Scary stuff for me personally as it’s the first E3 I’ll be really entrenched in. I won’t be there but with Rich and Dustin gone it’s up to Terrence and myself to get things done.

It goes without saying but the Fancast is going to be a little odd this week. It’s going to be Rich, Dustin and Alexander talking about E3 on a nightly basis. As for Terrence and I … wait and see!

I’d keep writing but I have work to do and need to go buy Civilization Revolution!!!!!

Blog’s New Look

16 03 2008

Dunners (aka Dustin) let me know that the old version of my site didn’t scale properly for those of you who don’t run your monitors at 1280×1024 (or something like that).

That in mind I decided to use a different theme, from a list of other ugly ones, and redesigned the blog.

While it isn’t exactly what I’d like, it’s one of the few good looking options available to me via WordPress.

How is this version scaling?

The one where Xav explains the grind

9 03 2008

There are a few things I hate in games but one of the most annoying is the level grind itself.

Forcing players to play through countless waves of the same poorly designed enemies just so that I can hit Level 50 is an artificial and redundant design in games.

For some games, the grind is the game.

MMO’s are a good example — I’m not pointing fingers but while some people love them, sitting down to play WoW or Guild Wars was a lesson in patience.

Being 24 and busy with work at X3F and other freelance gigs, the only genre I have time for are action shooters. Be it first-person, third, shmups — whatever. So you might think twitch gaming has created this hate for the level grind.

The level grind is a feature prolific within role-playing games for the most part. I remember playing Final Fantasy VII and in preparation for my Weapon fights (Ruby in-particular) I realized I had to max out my character’s stats to win. Scouring data found in magazines, discussing best-practices with my friends, and random luck scored me the info that the best way to ensure success is by grinding out my characters and if I didn’t want to do it myself there was a trick.

I tried the grind myself, but just got bored and frustrated by it until i discovered a small offshore island that, due to it’s awkward shape, allowed players to bound back and forth on the shoreline. Equipped with tape and a turbo controller, I set the game up to do my dirty work for me and after a few days worth of exploits I was maxed.

So the moral of the story is, I hate the grind. Some people love it, and that’s great… but for me it doesn’t work.

I need story, progression and for things to happen … and you typically don’t get that with fetch quests and killing 100 cacti in a row.

So why is my personal blog called The Level Grind?

This is the place where I can shoot-the-sh*t. Talk about what’s going on inside and around my X3F life, gaming experiences, my favorites and hates, and everything in between.

Level Grinding is just filler, and so is The Level Grind.

HD DVD add-on meets the Blu-ray player

29 02 2008


With the Xbox 360 in between, I can officially call this one an awkward moment………

1am ramblings from the new home at thelevelgrind.com

25 02 2008

So The Level Grind Blog took a leap into the domain name pool today. All of you (you five that is) can update your bookmarks to point to thelevelgrind.com

Dustin recommended GoDaddy since all I needed was a redirect, wordpress is fine and dandy for me – for now.

I picked up Gears of War on PC today, only a few weeks after grabbing it on Xbox 360 again. Why? Points of course… but more on that later.

I’m running a decent rig here. Dual core Intel P4 @ 2.8ghz a core. Radeon x1950 pro and a gig of ram but this thing is CHUGGING. My computer is notoriously horrible, I swear it has more viruses than Windows NT and it doesn’t help that I’m running Vista – which desperately needs that first service pack to be released. In Gears PC, I jumped into a multiplayer match after knocking all the settings down to low and when it finally loaded I couldn’t move. It was horrible.

I windowed it @ 800×600 and tried single-player and that was a no go. It works but a one-legged man is quicker than my pc was running the nearly 2 year old title.

The issue is RAM. I’m slopping around with two 512mb sticks of DDR400 and it’s not working out for me. The next purchase will be the best DDR400 ram I can grab, since it isn’t the norm anymore.

I sent a few Live messages to friends I know own the HD DVD add-on to see if they were willing to part with it, that was a no go. They’re doing what I want to do, stock-pile HD DVDs when they drop to insanely low prices. I’ve said it before, I think that current HD DVDs has a better feature set than most Blu-ray movies and I’d like to go grab HD versions of the Bourne flicks, 300, American Gangster and a few others.

So outside of X3F I’m in college and have another part-time job in retail, but that’s about to change. I’m probably ditching the other job in favor of focusing what little spare time I have on finishing up my program – which is almost done. Knuckles told me I should probably have something else on the side for pocket money and while he’s totally right, I’ve just got so much on my plate it’s harder to deal with than that last airplane level in COD4 on Veteran.

So Gears on PC. Funny thing I learned, as everyone did a long time ago, is that the PC and Xbox 360 version have almost the exact same achievements (only one is different and the extra ones aren’t added on the PC version) and not only that but you can go get them all over again since the PC version is considered a different game. Points don’t matter you say? Well, maybe you should just click that little X in the top right corner now sir… cuz they do.

I have a long list of games I’ve added to my pile of shame. Games I own and neglected or games I bought and haven’t even played.

I grabbed Titan Quest and the expansion a few months back and really wanna dive into that. Company of Heroes was a staple during my gaming sessions, but I haven’t been able to play it in a while – see the PC problems above for answers.

Today at my local EB (they still exist in Canada) I grabbed Phantasy Star Universe for $9, figured I could squeeze a few points outta there eventually and a few points cards for future releases (IKARUGA!).

A while back I padded the Xbox 360 library with Perfect Dark Zero (which I hated btw) again for $5, Crackdown new was $10 on Boxing Day as was Stuntman: Ignition, which I played to the end and quickly put it back on the shelf. Added others like Condemned, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, The Red Star (PS2), Saint’s Row and Superman Returns (yeah I know it’s terrible… but even bad games have points – the flying is cool enough for the $10 I paid).

My what’cha playing list (see the ride side there?) has gone old school and I’m loving it. Marvel vs. Capcom 2? Still one of my favorites, I don’t care how broken it is! Lost Odyssey might as well be ancient because the gameplay is such a throwback. I’m on the fence with the game right now, but I’m still going through it out of interest (not only because of the points).

When I was a kid I could play through Final Fantasy VII, VIII, Chrono Trigger and Cross and never get bored… but now, I just don’t have it in me. Maybe the shooter is to blame because before there wasn’t anything like a Halo or Gears or Resistance that grabbed my attention. Yeah, that Resistance.

Shout out to crYm fYtr who tipped me off to the Xbox 360 Dashboard theme to use with my new HTC Smartphone. It looks crazy, like full on 99’s. Thanks man.