A big bowl of thanks

Originally posted at GameSpot on March 3, 2008

Being thankful isn’t something I do enough of. I know it’s cliché, but I need to strive at being more aware of the blessings I enjoy each and every day.

This is no different when it comes to video games, and I want take time out with this blog to review what an amazing 4-5 months it’s been in my gaming world.

Due to the generosity of family at Christmas and our tax return, I’ve been able to advance more in my game library is these past few months than I have in quite a while:

Xbox:

Chessmaster

Forza Motorsport

Jade Empire: Limited Edition

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders

Project Gotham Racing 2

Project: Snowblind

Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow

DS:

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA)

Diner Dash: Sizzle and Serve

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Mario Kart DS

Mario Party DS

New Super Mario Brothers

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Risk / Battleship / Clue (GBA)

Star Fox Command

Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 (GBA)

TMNT (GBA)

Uno / Skipbo / Uno Freefall

Hardware:

Nintendo DS Lite (2)

Fanatec Speedster 3 Forceshock Xbox Racing Wheel

I look at this list with a sense of awe and intimidation, both excited about the purchases but wondering how I’m going to find time for all of them.

That’s the problem with my gaming hobby – I’m acquiring games faster than I can play through them.

I’m not the first person to have this problem, nor will I be the last – and as far as problems go, I think having an abundance of games is probably the best kind to have.

Post tenebras lux

Ding is down – I repeat, DING IS DOWN!

Originally posted at GameSpot on January 21, 2008

It’s been a strange trip for me to get back into the world of Rainbow Six. I played the original game for the PC back in the late 90’s, and now I find myself suiting up with Ding Chavez and the boys for another round of tacking out terrorists. The original game kind of put me off with its endless planning and unforgiving realism, but now I’m playing through Rainbow Six 3 and I genuinely enjoy it. Here are a few thoughts so far:

I enjoy the option to secure terrorist rather than just shoot them. It seems like if you surprise them or just have them outmanned, the terrorist will shout for mercy and get down on this knees. This doesn’t always happen, but I think it’s a nice touch that adds a certain “human realism” to the game.

The simple interface to order your team is sweet, but the icing on the cake is the Zulu code. Being able to position your team and them give then the same order remotely is exciting and fun.

Thankfully, when a teammate gets killed in a mission they are magically resurrected in the next mission. This is great news for me, since I would be a one-man team by about the third mission.

I know this is a staple of these kinds of games now, but the effects when a flash bang goes off are great. The bright light with the blurry vision, along with that one piercing note add a lot to the atmosphere. (Another “vision” note: night and thermal vision are still cool.)

Don’t ask me why, but I like the game environment to reflect as much of the action as possible. Basically, if a designer is going to go to the trouble to make an environment destructible, then I should make sure that his or her work is not in vain. I was applying this principle of the second level (Mountain Highway), shooting up some televisions and computers when the entire thing blew up in my face. I assumed that they would just turn off and be full of bullet holes, but these electronics actually fought back and killed me. You can imagine my surprise when I had to re-start the level – and I didn’t make the same mistake twice.

At the end of the third mission (Oil Refinery) you come across a ton of terrorists – one having a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. I finally beat it, but it was a little odd to have a level made of sneaking around corners end with me running blindly into the fray and hoping I took enough guys out. Ah, the thin line of realistic and arcade . . .

Finally beat level four, the Island Estate. One word: yikes. I’m at the end of the mission and it took probably around twenty-five times for me to actually take out all the terrorists. Pinned down in a courtyard with two hostages . . . sweet. Yes, I was frustrated – but it turns out the key to winning was having Dieter get himself killed on a grenade. He went down, I was by myself, and I managed to slowly pick them off and beat the level. Sorry man, but I had to do it without you – see you next mission!

Closing thought – I owe part of my renewed interest in the Rainbow Six series to the television series 24. My wife and finished season six on DVD a little while ago, and the game (and even the music) reminds me of the show.

Should a game be made entitled Rainbow 24 where Jack Bauer leads a team of anti-terrorists into life-threatening situations? The answer is yes.

Post tenebras lux