The Cursed Crusade (Xbox 360)

Cursed CrusadeThis is my seventh attempt at an introductory paragraph for this review.  The problem I’m having is I cannot seriously discuss any element of this game.  In this moment, I am failing as a reviewer on all fronts.  I really want to be objective.  I don’t want to blast every element of the game, because I can see just the slightest sliver of potential.  But the simple fact remains that this game is just so terrible, so awful, such a failure on almost every level imaginable, that it’s actually draining my ability to discuss it rationally.

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The Walking Dead (Xbox Live Arcade)

Days Gone Bye:

The Walking Dead is everywhere these days.  Over 100 issues of the comic have been released in the last 9+ years.  AMC is in the middle of the third season of their TV adaptation.  There’s social media games, pen and paper games, and board games.  Now indie-dev-darlings Telltale Games attempt at submerging us into the world of Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse comic book series.

You play out the story of Lee Everett. When the zombie apocalypse finds him, he’s in the midst of being transferred from jail to prison to serve his time for a murder with extenuating circumstances.  However, when there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk in front of police transit vehicles.

The folks at Telltale have made a name for themselves among PC and Indie game enthusiasts in the last few years.  They’ve managed to tap into a market long forgotten:  The fan of the point-and-click adventure.  They’ve made critically acclaimed (and financially successful) games out of surprising movie, video game, comic and TV licences, including Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Sam & Max, and Monkey Island.  These games are released episodically, over the course of a few months to a year.  This was my first venture into one of their games.  If the quality here is any indication, I’ll be trying at least 3 of those other games as soon as I take another run through The Walking Dead.

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Review Grab Bag (10/2/11)

Welcome again to the Review Grab Bag…  the Review Free-For-All.  If it can be reviewed, it’s fair game… good, great, bad or steaming pile of shit.

As always the Review Grab Bag has an open call to any and all guest reviewers.  The rules are simple:

  1. Have an opinion on a thing.
  2. Write a paragraph or two about it, and e-mail it to me at hamwallet@gmail.com.
  3. Make her open the box.
  4. And that’s the way you do it.
In today’s Grab Bag we have 3 movies, and a downloadable XBox360 title.

Bejeweled Blitz (Xbox Live Arcade)

Bejeweled Blitz is a puzzle game from PopCap games. You probably already know this game. If you know a woman over 30 who’s on Facebook… you’ve probably seen her spam your newsfeed with her latest and greatest Bejeweled High Score. Outside of Tetris and Angry Birds, it’s probably the next most successful casual video game to ever exist.

The reason for this is because it’s like shiny, flashy crack… with explosion sounds. If you ever owned an NES or Gameboy in the 90s… you played Tetris. Remember how addictive that shit was? You’d probably be playing it right now if your mom hadn’t stashed the Gameboy in a box and put it in the attic when you went away to school. Now realize that puzzle game designers have had another 20 years to perfect exactly what makes Tetris so addictive.

This is the new shit. It’s streamlined. It’s more accessible. The scores are higher. It’s fucking shiny. If you’re any good at it at all… it’s faster paced.  And worst of all… it doesn’t take long to play.  Rounds are one minute.   That’s it.  Just one minute and you’re done. Except… you’re not done at all. You could have one more round before you go back and do whatever stupid shit you’ve been avoiding…

Just one little round. That’s all. No one will ever know… Just one little round.

Buying the Cow Anyway…

Relatively recently the price of Bejeweled Blitz on Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) dropped in half. It used to be 800 Microsoft Points ($10 US to the un-Xboxed masses out there.) They dropped it to 400 MSP (or $5 US). Woah, wait. That’s not all. When I acted, they had it on for an additional 50% off. Stop opening up calc.exe. and put your fucking iPhone away. I’ll do the math here for you. That’s 200 MSP/$2.50 US.  I enjoy getting deals, achievements and video games I snatched this one up, but I’m still puzzled as to why the flying fuck I bought it.

Seriously. It makes no sense. The game is available for absolutely fucking free on Facebook. This isn’t something I learned after the fact. I bought the game knowing this. I’ve even played it on Facebook probably 5 times since buying the game.

I’d love to throw out some honourable bullshit and say that I did this because it’s important to support video game developers and vote with your dollars and such.  That’s all true, but when it comes to me actually shelling out my own cash on something that I can get (without even “stealing” it off the internet) for free… Normally I’d be first in line to say “Fuck the Devs.”

Maybe it was because I had some extra MSP on my account.  Maybe it was because I wanted another couple hundred Gamerscore.  Maybe I thought my wife might play it with me.  I will probably go to my grave, and this will be one of life’s great mysteries.  That’s it.

Here’s the complete list:

  • How did they build the pyramids?
  • Where did the Mayans go?
  • The Caramilk Secret
  • Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
  • Why was Highlander 2:  The Quickening ever made?
  • Why the flying fuck did I buy Bejeweled Blitz?

I suppose I should probably actually review it…

Maybe later. I think I can probably squeeze in one more round.

Dante’s Inferno (Xbox 360)

Burn, Baby, Burn:

Reviewing 18 month old games is fun and relevant! Just this Saturday I wrapped up a Zealot (Normal difficulty) playthrough of Dante’s Inferno.  It’s an early 2010 release from Visceral Games and EA.  Loosely (probably very loosely) inspired by The Divine Comedy, the player controls Dante, the Templar Knight, as he descends his way into Hell after killing Death and stealing his scythe, so that he can free the soul of Beatrice, the woman, he loves from Lucifer’s clutches.

It also features a metric crapton of creepiness, gore and nudity.

Pictured: Strategically Placed Hand.

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A Glimpse Of Hell

I meant to write about this experience Wednesday night before getting Lost. But the blocky adventures of Tetris with Mel kept me from writing.

You see, around 6pm Wednesday night, Mel wanted to go look for a canvas, and then go to The Salvation Army to buy a cushion or a frame or some kind of bric-a-brac that someone bought at the dollar store and then gave to their grandmother on her birthday, who then died a couple weeks later and had the executor of her estate donate it to The Salvation Army.

So, after looking for the canvas with Mel, I followed my first inclination when dealing with TSA. And my first inclination when dealing with TSA is, of course, to stay the fuck away. The reason for this is because other than maybe looking at a couple boxes of records that they have packed away in a corner near the shitters, there’s nothing there that I’m interested in.

So, while Mel goes to TSA, I head to the Co-op to get some Diet Pepsi™. As is pretty much always the case, this took much less time than scouring TSA for the perfect cushion, frame, or Dead-Lady-Garbage, and I headed over to TSA to tell Mel that I was heading to Cockbuster Video to look at their used games.

Immediately I notice something odd. The parking lot surrounding TSA is solid fucking full of cars. Not just parked cars, but cars hovering about looking for spaces like it’s December 23rd, 1996 and Walmart is having a half-price sale on Tickle Me Elmo. After nearly getting T-Boned by a half dozen crazy old women in a Buick Century, I manage to find a spot about a quarter mile from the store. I park, and freeze my ass off as I head for the store.

Inside the door, I see the cause of all the kafuffle. Apparently, every Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm it’s HALF PRICE ON ALL CLOTHING at the Salvation Army. Which, obviously, is something that everyone everywhere needs to be a part of.  It was my own personal hell.

Normally, the musty smell of TSA (or any 2nd-hand Clothing Store) over powers me.  But on this occassion it mixed in with the smell of cold elderly and made me cringe.  The line up for the cash registers–that’s right, registers, 3 were open–had about 25 people in it when I entered.  Rows and rows of clothing racks had women of all ages in them, sorting, lifting and judging.  But more noticable than anything, was the noise of the coathangers as they screeched across the steel racks incessantly.  By the time I had found Mel in the DLG section, I was ready to snap.
I told her where I’d be, and bolted for the door as fast as I could without looking like a complete lunatic.  But noticed something odd as I was headed up the aisle.  There, at the end of the aisle was a woman, mid to late 30s, leaning against her shopping cart.  Her appearance just barely betrayed that she was mentally handicapped.  Her hair was red, and curled in a perm.  Her eyes were small, but the irises huge.  She and her cart were stopped at the end of the aisle, taking up about 3/4s of it.  And as I walked the entire length of this long aisle, she never once stopped staring at me.  Not even long enough to blink.  Coupled with the screeching, it was about the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.  I quickened my pace, arguably reaching the point where I did indeed look like a complete lunatic, shot passed the woman as she slowly turned like a zombie, and raced out the doors for the car.
Safe once more from the threat of the nearly dead, I headed out to look for videogames.  As it turns out, I picked up Left 4 Dead for the 360.  It’s a game about Zombies.  I really hope there’s no Salvation Army level.
…blouses…

Slow Month

Hasn’t really been that much going on lately that I haven’t already growled about.  It’s been ridiculously cold this week, but no one has really annoyed me that much.

The only people that have pissed me off lately have been Rogers.  They sent me an offer in the mail, which normally wouldn’t bother me.  But this was an offer for a free Xbox360 game… one I really want called “Gears of War 2”.  It features a machine gun with a freaking chainsaw built into it.
Yeah.  Awesome.
So I call them up, to find out what hoops will need to be jumped through to get a free videogame.  Turns out I can get the game if I switch to either of their high-end packages…  10MB max dl speed, blah blah blah, stuff I don’t give a shit about that help sell internet to people that don’t know shit about it, modem with a wired/wireless router built-in, no installation fees, 15 bucks for “Activation Fees”… All sounds good so far, Gears 2 for 15 bucks basically…  Until they get to the final clause, the two packages have 60GB or 95GB max usage per month.
I only have a 100GB hard drive, and I fill and empty the thing on an almost weekly basis, without including my online gaming.  Since Thursday I believe I’ve downloaded about 12 GB of a show called Celebrity Big Brother UK.  It’s awesome.  They’ve got LaToya Jackson locked into a house with Mini-Me and Coolio, and a bunch of famous Brits I’ve never even remotely fucking heard of.  I downloaded a Gig of videos onto my Xbox.  Mel’s likely downloaded some episodes of a shitty 80s/90s sitcom.  That doesn’t include any actual gaming, Facebooking, YouTubing, Torrent Seeding or any other foolishness that goes on through the tubes of internet that get clogged every Saturday.
Fuck you Rogers.  The internet is not a cellphone.  Offer unlimited usage, or suck the 10GB that I sprinkle on my Kellogg’s Corn Flakes™ each morning as part of my complete fucking breakfast.

I Got Yer Usage Right Here.

I was torn there. Wasn’t sure if that should be the caption, or “This image is actually so big I could only download it 3030 times in a month if I went with Rogers.”