Samurai Sword

samurai sword game

The two older girls and I crossed swords and played our first game of Samurai Swords; they were ninjas and I was the shogun ūüėÄ

This happened sometime in March of this year.

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Memory lane – filled w/Total War!

Originally posted at GameSpot on November 6, 2010

This past¬†August 7-8, 2010¬†I played one of (in my opinion) the greatest games of all time –¬†Shogun Total War: Warlord Edition¬†again.

I haven’t played in a while, but due to a recent PC acquisition I loaded it up and took a trip down memory lane …

… a lane filled with¬†Total War!

I was a little rusty and lost my first game, but by the second I found my stride.

Didn’t end up finishing that game (we replaced the computer I was playing on), but I’m looking forward to installing the game again and playing.

With the news that¬†Shogun 2¬†coming out, it’s great to still appreciate and enjoy the original.

 Post tenebras lux

E3 2008

Originally posted at GameSpot on July 21, 2008

In honor of my first new emblem in nearly three years (watching some of the E3 coverage live for one day), I thought I’d do something I’ve never done before – weigh in on the games at E3 that I’m¬†excited about.

While this is something that everyone¬†else¬†is doing as well, it’s still fresh for me – so here we go in alphabetical order:

Crysis Warhead

Since I have chosen to by food instead of a new computer, I haven’t been able to play the first Crysis game; and I probably won’t get to this one anytime soon. Still, based on reviews and just how the game looks it’s one I definitely want to get to someday.

Empire: Total War

This is a no-brainer for me. The Total War series is an all-time favorite, and I’ve been hooked sinceShogun: Total War. Naval battles and guns – the series time-line keeps moving forward. Will it ever come to present-day I wonder? Whatever the answer, I’m happy in the past.

Fable 2

I enjoyed¬†Fable: The Lost Chapters¬†quite a bit – so a bigger, better version is always a good thing. There’s been a lot of talk about having your pet dog run around with you. I have nothing against owning a dog, but will it really be this amazing game play experience to have an animal with you all the time? Dog or not, I’m looking forward to fun game play and a good story from¬†Fable 2.

Far Cry 2

Much like Half-Life, this is a highly rated FPS series that I just haven’t been able to play yet. Will I get around to¬†Far Cry 2¬†before the inevitable third installment rolls around? Time will tell.

Flower

With all the explosions and gun shots going off around me in these other games, it will be nice to stroll around the grassy fields for a while. I see this game in the same vein as¬†Flow; who knows when I’ll be able to play Playstation games, but I’ll look for this title when I can.

Halo Wars

It’s Halo. It’s war. It’s Halo Wars. I think that pretty much sums it up.

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

Just because I haven’t finished¬†James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing¬†doesn’t mean I can’t want another Bond game! While most of the games involving 007 have been misses, the hits (such as¬†GoldenEye) have been big ones. Let’s hope Quantum is one of them.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest

What’s that? You’re taking the Star Wars Battlefront formula and putting it in the Lord of the Rings universe? I think I’m in some sort of dork heaven right now…seriously, this is easily one of the best games I’ve played – and it isn’t out yet! Yep, it’s that good – I can already tell.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Two words: tactical nukes. I may still get around to the first Merc game, but if I land on this game before so much the better.

Mirror’s Edge

Seems to be some buzz around this one; I do think it looks like an interesting concept but I wonder how truly “free” it is. Can you go anywhere, or is that just an illusion as you move along a linear path? And is that even a bad thing? With anything new, there’s always plenty of room to screw it up – but I’m going to look on the bright side and say this game will turn out just fine.

Prince of Persia

Played¬†Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; still need to go through the last two-thirds of the modern trilogy. This game is supposed to be completely separate from these three games, so I’m interested to see what will be different. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s an acrobatic Prince looking to save his kingdom (and himself) from certain destruction…which doesn’t sound very different at all. It’s a good formula, however, so we’ll see what happens.

Pure

While I’ve had the privilege to play several fantastic racing games (Burnout 3,¬†Project Gotham Racing 2,¬†Rallisport Challenge, etc.), off-road games seem to have a less stellar track record.¬†Pure¬†looks to change all that, and the videos look amazing.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

The first¬†Puzzle Questis great, and this is the next one. The first one is good, so this will be good. I think with iron-clad logic like that, it’s hard to argue.

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

There is no denying that Bioware puts out quality RPGs (A little game called¬†Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, for example). I’m assuming the same type of quality will shine through in this game, and the unique idea of Sonic in a RPG on the DS looks very interesting. For those reasons, this one should be good.

Sonic Unleashed

And the Sonic love continues. Truth be told, I haven’t really played the big blue hedgehog since mySonic & Knucklesdays – but those were good days. I’m hoping this game will bring Sonic to prominence in 3-D, because I have yet to see a reason to make the transition.

Star Wars Clone Wars: Lightsaber Battles

At last, all the lightsaber battles I had using my old plastic bat during my childhood will finally pay off! Hopefully the moves you make will transfer to the screen smoothly; to have such a sweet concept fall short would be nothing less then the dark side at work.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

An original storyline coupled with amazing game play and graphics? (WARNING: Tired catch-phrase from the Star Wars Universe about to be used!) The force is strong with this one…

Street Fighter IV

I can remember wishing for a Sega Genesis, and the only game I wanted was¬†Street Fighter II: Championship Edition. That wish was granted, and Street Fighter remains my favorite fighting franchise. I want this one to be good – I won’t get to it for a while, but for the good Street Fighter name I want it to do well.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.K.

I’ve always been a little wary of flight sims on consoles; but they keep getting closer to the mark and this game could be the best yet. I wonder how this game will stack up against the Ace Combat series?

There it is, my take on what I’m looking forward to from E3 2008. This doesn’t cover everything, and who knows when I’ll actually be playing these games, but they all have great potential.

Potential for what? What else – potential to rock!

Post tenebras lux

The will to conquer is the first condition of victory

Originally posted at GameSpot on May 6, 2008

The title of this post comes to you from Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), a French soldier, military theorist, and writer.)

If you listen very closely, you can hear it; the sound of armor clashing against spear and sword…muskets being fired over the hills…lasers tearing into the passing ship’s hull (yes, I know there’s no sound in space, but just go with it)…all these sounds assault your ears and force you to live in that moment – whether you like it or not.

This sort of scenario is what I think of when strategy games come to mind – playing on a historical or futuristic landscape where you have the power to conquer vast amounts of land and glory, or get crushed to dust by rival factions.

There are a number of quality strategy games out there that all have the same problem – I don’t own them yet. Usually by lack of hardware (which is directly related to lack of money), these games have eluded my strategy-loving power-seeking hands up to the present.

But be that as it may, I still think on them from time to time. I think of worlds to conquer, armies to raise, and mass plans to put into effect…all while laughing maniacally, of course.

My laughter aside, I’ve felt the need to go over some strategy games I’m really looking forward to playing someday, in no particular order:

Medieval II: Total War

This one’s an easy choice, since¬†Shogun: Total War¬†brought me into the strategy genre. Real-time battles, hundreds of soldiers fighting in 3-D, a great score and top-down map, etc., the list goes on and on of what that game did right. I expect nothing less from¬†Medieval II, and fact – I want more! I’ve seen the game in action, and with updated graphics and more options, I’m planning on having this game blow me away.

World in Conflict

Another game I’ve seen in action, the first strategy game (that I’ve seen) to take place in the modern world – and it looks amazing. From what I could tell, the pace is just right (fast and furious), and the story one I’ll want to see to the end. A nuclear bomb? Well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Europa Universalis III

Now we start the games I haven’t played. The¬†Europa¬†series of games looks to me to be a different animal then I’m used to – more on the “map strategy” and less on the battles. I’m assuming diplomacy and trade will come stronger in this game, and with the end-goal not necessarily being world domination it should be an interesting ride.

Europa Universalis III¬†also has detailed info in spades, which is half of the fun for me. RPG detail is boring and tedious, but for some reason I can’t get enough in a strategy game.

Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords

I don’t have much experience when it comes to strategy in space – but I want to get some! I own¬†Star Trek: Armada, but nothing on the epic scale this game promises to be. As I’ve mentioned, I like my strategy big – and nothing is bigger then the final frontier. Of course, I’ll want the two expansion packs –¬†Dark Avatar¬†and¬†Twilight of the Arnor. If you’re going to do something, do it right.

Sins of a Solar Empire

This is the new kid on the block, having come out this past February. People talk about the death of PC gaming, but until a game like this can come out on console I hope it’s not an¬†imminent¬†death.

Star Wars: Empire at War

There have been some attempts at this in the past (Star Wars Rebellion), but it seems Lucas Arts got it right this time. Seems to have a very cinematic quality about it, and that’s a big seller in my book when it comes to Star Wars. The¬†Forces of Corruption¬†expansion looks very good as well, but I’ll get the most fun out of playing the Empire. Ever since¬†Tie Fighter, I’ve been on their side.

Stronghold Crusader Extreme

Looking at this series, the reviews are either hit-or-miss on GameSpot – but here’s hoping the latest will be a hit. Sieges, knights, and warfare in huge medieval settings – all the right ingredients to make a great game – now it just has to come out!

So there you have it – a list of strategy games full of worlds just begging for me to rule them.

And some day. . . I will!

(Fadeout to more maniacal laughter)

Post tenebras lux

Ice crystals cause a gasp!

Originally posted at GameSpot on February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 – We were sent home from work early because the weather was so bad, and I took advantage of the opportunity to get some gaming in. It was almost a year to the day (Valentine’s Day of last year) that work was cancelled because of the snow, and it still felt just as good as it did then.

Quick hits:

Got some good time in with Super Mario World and Star Fox Command. I feel like I should give the latter its own entry, but that might come later.

Super Mario World is getting better, and that’s due directly to the fact that I’m actually progressing in the game now. Figuring out the puzzles or hitting a jump right goes a long way in keeping me playing. Just got out of the Forrest of Illusion and it’s on to the Chocolate Island. I get a little tired of the constant Ghost Houses, but I think that’s just because they’re tougher.

Star Fox Command has really impressed me. Any flight sim I’ve played has been on the PC, and while the game isn’t a simulation per say, I’ve never seen flight combat represented so well on any other platform. The DS control handles very well once you get used to it, and pulling out of a drive or making a sharp turn feel like you’re actually doing something.

The difficulty is just right, bordering on easy sometimes – but then a tough boss or missile shows up to even things out. I do enjoy the missile mechanic of the game more than I thought – it ratchets up the tension, knowing that you could have beat the rest of the level but missing one beacon means it was all for nothing.

The story is nothing too special, although the dialogue gets pretty good when the characters have extended interaction. Lines like, “Outta bed and full of beans,” tend to make you smile every time. I do enjoy the story surprises, though – you finish an area and all of the sudden BAM! Team Wolf pops out of nowhere!

– In both games, I’m found something I didn’t know I missed – the gasp! By the “gasp!“, I mean literally sucking in a lot of air – loudly – whenever something happens. In Super Mario World, this is usually when I die on the same jump for the tenth time in a row, or when I actually squeak by a difficult level. On Star Fox Command, it’s when I’m hitting that last beacon to destroy a mother ship or frantically trying to finish a level before time runs out. During these moments, it’s not unusual to hear a gasp! – or several of them.

I think the gasp! has been missing (or at least in the consistency of when I’m now experiencing them) due to the fact that I haven’t really progressed through a game in a long time. I’ve been racing with the new wheel, or just playing through games I’ve already beat when I have time like Star Wars: Battlefront II. But now I’m playing through levels, advancing unknown stories, and playing the DS in short bursts instead of sitting in front of my Xbox for an extended amount of time.

One isn’t better than the other, but I do enjoy this change of pace – and I’m excited about the potential gasps! to follow.

– Three great lines have come from my wife during this week, all related to Puzzle Quest:

“I’ve done this more today than I’ve knitted.”

She has really been getting into the game, and rightly so – it’s a great game! I showed it to her the night I got it, she said it looked cool, and then I left for work the next morning.

Since then she’s picked it up, and can’t put it down! I’m excited that she enjoys it, and so far she’s played it more than me – for the record, she’s on level 17 and I’m at 5.

“This is my kind of Fable

My wife “played” Fable with me on Xbox, and now she has a version of her own. With the knights, orcs, swords, and other Fable-ish items found in the game, it reminds her a lot of the world of Albion. Seeing her enjoying the puzzle aspect of the game and having her first taste of some RPG elements feels really satisfying – she told me she understands now why I get excited when I level up a character (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), or want to expand my kingdom as much as possible (Shogun: Total War). Ah, music to my ears! Now she knows why I get excited over the things that I do

“I used yours since my battery died.”

Just as she was about to topple her foe, the DS’s battery died – but instead of quitting and waiting for her battery to re-charge, she finished the game on mine. I think that speaks for itself.

Post tenebras lux

Cerebrations of the past tense

Originally posted at GameSpot on November 19, 2007

(Or, recent thoughts I’ve been meaning to get in here but haven’t had the time.)

These are not in order of importance, just simply how they’ve come into my brain:

Able to see World in Conflict over at my brother-in-law’s house a few weeks ago – the game was just as amazing as the GameSpot review made it out to be. The first thing that struck me was the graphics – stunning. The detail of the terrain, weather effects, lighting, and the smoothness at which the game ran was fantastic. True, he has a state-of-the-art PC that can handle the heavy load – but even at a lower resolution things would have looked great. The level he showed me also had some fun game play, which kept things moving with good voice acting and high drama. All that being said, it was a treat to see what’s currently out there as far as high-quality RTS.

On that same PC, he booted up Medieval II: Total War for me as well. Shogun Total War is one of my all-time favorite games, and I eventually hope to own the entire Total War series. Until then, however, this small taste will have to tide me over. Simply put, I can’t wait. It’s worth noting, however, that this game (from what I could tell) was more of what I was used to playing Shogun, just beefed up and expanded. That’s not to take away from the game at all – in fact, I see it as a compliment. I hope to spend many future hours with Medieval II and the whole series.

A few memories of old Tom Clancy games. My brother-in-law had the gold edition of the first Rainbow Six – a title I used to own – with all his other games. I never could really get into that game. If I had to nail it down, it probably was because I wasn’t that good at it. All the planning, all the map points, all the trial and error – it just didn’t add up to a fun experience. It came down to me executing a well-laid plan – and then doing just as well without said plan and shooting anything that moved.

I had to take back Band of Brothers. I appreciate the need to be realistic, but having the characters swear at least once every sentence made me pop and game out and take it right back to the store. To be fair, the first sequence in the game drops you right in the middle of a battle, and there‚Äôs no doubt a heavy amount of loud swearing would be taking place in that situation. Also, to be fair, I’m a father now – and I can’t have that crap on in the background. It’s too bad – I was really looking forward to getting into that game for awhile.

Currently playing Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, and I’m stuck at the second battle against Gothmog. I know I’ll re-visit this thought when I finish the game, but it’s not really “fun” to play. I love the source material, but that’s what carries me through. On its own, I would have stopped playing a while ago. There are some perks that stick out, and I’m glad I’ve been able to see them: 1.) Fighting (or playing as) the Balrog was sweet. His animation is done extremely well; I really feel like he’s a powerful enemy when he steps up to the plate. 2.) A sense of “being there.” Oh, it doesn’t happen a lot in the game – but when the sunset hits the wall of Helm’s Deep just right, I feel like I’m in the movie. 3.) Since the characters are the same models used in The Two Towers and Return of the King, I feel like I’m playing with weather-worn friends when they show up. I played as those characters for hours on the other games, so there’s a “welcome back” feeling when they join my party for a battle in The Third Age.

Unfortunately, a strong feeling of being boxed in by the game, big differences in difficulty from one second to the next, and a weak story (with Tolkien’s literature as a backdrop? How could they have a weak story?!) crush any of these small joys from making it a fun game. Will I ever finish it? Yes. Will I ever play it again? No.

We had a couple over this past Friday and they brought the Wii. I’ve been able to play the Wii at several friends’ houses’ and I really enjoy the console. I mean, you’ve got to love a gaming system that makes bowling that fun. My wife and I were also able to introduce them to Halo, and that was a lot of fun as well. I love that moment when someone says, “Well, we better get going…what time is it…12:40!? Just one of the many reasons why I enjoy this form of entertainment.

Warmed up Fable: The Lost Chapters and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Substance this past weekend. Not really playing, just looking around. I wandered around a little in Fable, and watched the cut scenes from MGS2. I don’t have the time to play these games through again at this point, but a little remembrance tour always makes me feel good.

Post tenebras lux