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An empty slate, a single drop of grey;
the emptiness is here to stay.
Swirled together, the colored pain, it flows gingerly down the drain.
And with it, the happiness and the day.

In place of the color, grey turns to black.
The slate is overtaken, never to go back.
And what you’ve said, cause drops of red
to stop and fill up the cracks.

It doesn’t matter why we feel.
The slate is made entirely of steel.
Why do you insist on smashing your fist
until the pain, someday, you steal.

But facing odds, persistent,
You lift up your head, and hit it.
The pain was intense, and suddenly innocent
was the slate, shattered, and by the darkness, bit.

This is my first actual review on ReflectionGamer, and it’s not even of a AAA game. Hysteria Project is a game that was originally released for the iPhone and iTouch about a year ago, but just recently re-released as a PSP/PS3 mini for just under 2$. It is one of the only games that is entirely real footage; it’s more of a movie with a little dab of special effects than it is a video game.

The premise is interesting, to say the least. You watch a live-action cut scene, you come to a decision that the character has to make. Then the video cuts out and you’re given two (sometimes three) options to choose from. The movie then continues in the way that you chose. We see the entire world in first person, which is a nice effect. All this works on paper, and very well could work in a game, while but Hysteria Project starts off strong, it crashes very fast.

Likes:

The Atmosphere. Even when the game slows down and gets less and less interesting, the creepy forest that the main characters is running through sets a hopeless and dreary mood to the entire game. The building you start off in has a very “psychotic murder” feel to it; right off the bat, you feel in danger, you get the feeling you’re going to die if you don’t do something to escape. When you run outside and down the first path you see, you can feel the danger behind you. Glancing backwards and seeing the ghostly figure with a knife pursuing, you can’t help but be at least a little scared.

The Concept. Have you ever been watching a movie and right as the main character is about to walk into a trap, you yell “No, don’t do that!!” to the screen? In theory, Hysteria Project lets you live that fantasy out; literally controlling a movie. The live action shots that have multiple outcomes is a very smart and creative idea.

It Tried. The game really tried to be scary. It tried to be something new and different. I’ve seen a very small handful of games use live action scenes, but not a single one use them as the main gameplay. Hysteria Project tried to be something completely different, and for that, props.

Dislikes:

The Death of Immersion: The beginning scene gets your nerves on edge almost instantly. Your heart starts to beat faster and you begin to become the character, to fall into the game. Then, the screen fades and the game presents you with two options: “Search around” or “Try and loosen the ropes”. While it’s understandable that in this sort of game, we have to make choices about what will happen next, the way that the developers decided to go about that kills the mood entirely. If I was watching a movie, and every time the character had to choose between two paths and a giant bubble popped up that said “The Character is thinking, please wait.”, I’d walk out of the movie. The developers could have figured out a more creative way to go about making choices in the game, one that doesn’t involve killing the mood entirely.

Repetitive: The beginning choices given to you are very branched. You proceed on different path depending on how you choose. But, a mere five minutes (only three or so choices) into the game, you notice that when you make a wrong choice, you either die or are set in a infinite loop. When you get stuck in one of several infinite loops, you are made to watch the same scene over and over again until you either figure the puzzle out or you are allowed to proceed due to luck. The deaths endings aren’t even anything creative. I was given a choice to walk forward or walk to the left. When I chose forward, the game just gave me a game over sign, no explanation farther than “you noticed something was wrong”. Very uncreative on the developers part. The game makes you play like they want you to play, which defeats the purpose of this sort of game in the first place.

Quality of the Scenes. For a video game that is entirly real life footage, you would think that they could have invested in a better camera. Even the iPhone, which isn’t too much of a gaming system, can play back better quality video than what Hysteria Project uses. The videos are grainy and blurry, sometimes so much so that it’s hard to tell what is going on. This problem kills mood and makes the game suffer. The worst thing is, it was a very easily fixed problem. Had this game been higher quality, in terms of video, it would have been a much more immersive game.

Sound Problems. Maybe it was just me, but after a few minutes, I noticed a popping in my sound, which became very annoying; I was wearing headphones. I’ve no way of knowing if this is a problem with the game or my PSP, but either way, it detracted from the game.

As much fun as Hysteria Project could have been and as creative as the concept actually is, the game fails to be scary or fun past the first five minutes of “gameplay”. The breaks in the mood, the low quality videos and no fun re-playability all add up to a very mediocre game that could have been very fun.

People hate waiting for the newest stuff. We like to have the newest iPod, laptop, video game and car as soon as physically possible  So, because the American electronic consumers want more information about the newest gadgets all the time, most company’s try to do the opposite; keep as much information secret as possible to build up hype and, hopefully, sales.

2010 hasn’t been a kind year for video games and electronics though. We’ve had at least three rather large announcements announced months, even years ahead of time, along with some smaller leaks, and it’s only April. Let’s get a quick run down.

Gears of War 3:

Cliffy B, the lead designer for Gears of War, was scheduled to be on the Jimmy Fallon show on a Thursday. On Wednesday of the same week, he had to reschedule for Tuesday, the next week. Well, someone forgot to mention that little fact to the good people in the advertisement department for Xbox Live, because this little blurb appeared announcing on the game on Thursday. Cliffy B, on Tuesday, called Gears 3 “The Worst Kept Secret”. No kidding. I’m sure Epic was real happy about the slip up, and you know someone over on Xbox Live got fired.

Nintendo 3DS:

Though we had heard rumors of a new Nintendo DS that was being planned by Nintendo, the world was expecting news at E3; no earlier. One late night, on a random day in March (March 23rd, to be exact), Nintendo announced some small facts about a brand new Nintendo DS: the 3DS. It was to be a type of 3D that wouldn’t use glasses and was going to be nearly “the strength of a Gamecube”, but that was all the information Nintendo released. No pictures, no concept art, nothing. But it was actually Nintendo who announced what little information we got about the 3DS, so why the weird time?

Turns out that some journalists had aquired some facts about the new Nintendo handheld, some true, some false and Nintendo wanted to beat them to the punch by officially announcing it.

Apple iPhone 4th Generation:

Probably the biggest leak this year was from the big Apple themselves. Apple has a track record to be very very secretive about their newest devices or software. We’ve never had a leak of the newest version of the iPod or iPhone unless Apple specifically wanted it to be leaked.

Until a brand new version of the iPhone, cleverly disguised inside a casing that made it look like a 3GS, but running the new OS, version 4, showed up in a random bar.

An Apple employee was out for his birthday, probably had a little too much to drink and walked off… leaving a prototype of the newest Apple iPhone that hadn’t even been seen by people inside Apple yet, on a stool.

Oops.

As soon as Apple realized that it was lost, they bricked the console so it wouldn’t even turn on. Gizmodo.com bought the device for $5000, and had the first world release of the newest iPhone. Hours later, Apple wrote Gizmodo and asked for the iPhone back (which confirmed that it wasn’t a fake). Gizmodo gave it back without a fight.

Xbox 360 Slim?:

On March 17th, this picture of what was thought to be a Xbox 360’s motherboard appeared all over the internet. It has a Xbox branding and some of the same parts as the 360 does. But to anyone who has seen the current Xbox motherboard, you’ll notice a slight difference in this new find: it’s way smaller. It looks like the CPU and GPU have been combined and some of the ports have been shuffled around to make the motherboard shorter than the current version. We heard exactly nothing from Microsoft about this rumor, but it’s obvious they are trying everything to get 100% rid of the Red Rings of Death problem that has been plaguing their consoles for years. Seems like a redesign of the terrible X-Clamps would be a good start to rid the world of the problem forever.

All these slip ups so far, you have to wonder what else is going to hit the press months or even years early this year.  

Xbox Live 1.0, aka, Xbox Live for the original Xbox, as you probably already know, is shutting down in mere minutes: 3am Eastern. It is now 2:17am, and I am going to play some Halo 2 right until they hit the kill switch.

It’s sad to see something with so much history go down so fast. But like Microsoft said, the ending of Xbox Live 1.0 will pave the way for new features in Xbox Live 2.0.

I salute you Xbox Live. You will be missed, but forever in our memories.

I’m not very good at writing about more serious subjects. Most of my posts on this blog have been centered around video games and less important ideas and thoughts. This blog post, however, is going to be my first shot at writing about Jesus, my personal savior. I’m not going to guarantee it’s going to be good or promise that it will be some new insightful writing, but I am going to try my best.

Ok, here we go.

§

We’ve just passed the Easter season. I, among others, spent the week listening to what Jesus did on his last days of his life on this Earth. He entered Jerusalem to find himself greeted by thousands of  Jews, proclaiming that he was the King to rid them of the Roman empire. He preformed The Passover for his disciples, known today as The Last Supper. On Friday, he began his trial, put in the hands of Pilot, a Roman judge who actually sought to save Jesus. But the same Jews who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with open arms refused to let Jesus free; Pilot had no choice but to condemn Jesus to be beaten and crucified. His pain was intense.

But did Jesus go through more intense pain than being crucified?

On the cross, Jesus took every sin from every person and put them onto himself. Every single sin anyone had done was resting on the God’s Son. Jesus died on Friday. He rose from the grave on Sunday.

So where was Jesus for that weekend?

Throughout the Easter holiday, we discuss the events that take place on the Earth during that weekend that Jesus is killed, but we never talk about what actually was happening to Jesus throughout that weekend. He surly wasn’t with God on the throne; that would defeat the purpose of dying in the first place. That would be like Survivor Man going out into the wilderness, being completely alone for 7 days and filming himself trying to survive, all the while, he goes behind the camera and has a steak dinner. Jesus had to suffer for our sins, so he didn’t go back to comfort with God.

So… was Jesus…  in Hell?

It seems to me that it’s the only possible answer. He wasn’t on Earth, He wasn’t in Heaven, He wasn’t in bloody space. So he had to be in Hell.

Now, this brings up a lot of different questions. If He was in Hell, that means He would have had to been completely human, correct? If He was still the Son of God, he could never be punished by Satan because Satan has no power over God or His angels. So we have to assume that Jesus, after taking all the sins of the world, was human as he went into Hell. This means that Jesus would have suffered just all humans who have been sent to Hell have suffered.

Now, if you’re Catholic, you believe in the Nine levels of Hell: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Avarice, Wrath, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Betrayal. I, personally, believe that Hell is Hell; no levels. Once you’re in, you suffer just as much as anyone else. But, assuming there are nine different levels, we can assume that Jesus had to suffer through all nine levels for the sins that were placed on his shoulders.

But, he didn’t just have “a lot” of sins, He had every single sin of the entire world on his shoulders. So, did Jesus not only go through the nine levels, but go through them millions of times? Did he have to suffer through the pits of Hell multiple times for every single human being on the planet? Who knows what the time frame for Hell is. Jesus could have spent 400 years in Hell while only 48 hours or so passed on Earth. Can you imagine the suffering?

Now, forget the nine circles and go back to theory that “Hell is Hell”. Jesus, in that one little weekend, and with the sins of the entire world, had to go through the pain of Hell a million times for every human being on Earth.

And we thought his suffering here on Earth was terrible.

Catholics also believe that a human can escape Hell. They believe that their sins can be abolished and their souls will flow towards Heaven. Christians, as far as I know, do not believe in any such thing. I certainly don’t believe it. I believe that once you’re in Hell, you’re in. You can’t beat Hell.

But Jesus rose again. Jesus actually did beat Hell!

And on Sunday, Jesus cast off the chains that held him in Hell and went from his grave to return to His Father in Heaven; right where he belonged.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t have much biblical backup for my accusations. I had been pondering to myself about what happened in those days between death and resurrection.

And… maybe I’ve got a idea.

Just last night, two big bomb shells were let loose by the gaming community. First is Gears of War 3.

CliffyB, or Dude Huge, whatever you’d like, was scheduled to be on the Jimmy Fallow late night show just yesterday, that is, Thursday. But, at the last minute, he was bumped to a Monday showing. Well, I suppose the good people at the ad department for Xbox Live missed the memo, because a nice little ad for “Gears of War 3” appeared on the service, giving us a “April, 2011” date. While this is sort of nice, I would have rather the game be unveiled by CliffyB himself. Seems like in this day and age, no matter how hard we try, nothing is a secret for long. There are hardly ever secrets that the actual developers get to reveal.

Anyways, also announced last night was Pokemon Black/White. We know nothing about the game at this point, but I’m really hoping for a total re-boot of the series. It’s high time we get something new out of our Pokemon games; we’ve basically been playing the same game over and over again for the past ten or so years. Lets get with it Nintendo, change some things up, lets have some innovation!!

Oh yeah, one more thing; the new Pokemon will NOT be a 3DS game.

Just this past Monday, Microsoft rolled out a rather sizable update to their gaming console, the Xbox 360. The update, which we’ve known about for at least a couple of weeks, enabled users to use any flash drive or USB hard-disk drive on their Xbox 360 to store data, game saves and even installed games. The update basically gives the Xbox 360 the same features the PS3 has had since the beginning of it’s life.

What’s the catch? It only allows up to 16 gigs.

Ok Microsoft, thanks for trying, but you lost me on “hello”.

What the console does is this: you plug in your flash drive or hard drive, sizable anywhere from 1 gig (minimum) to 40 terabytes, if such a thing exists. The console recognizes the drive and tells you that it will erase everything on it and set it up for the console. Well, ok then, go ahead.

After a minute or two, you notice that your 418 terabyte drive is down to a measly 16 gigs. “What the crap!?!?” was the first thing I said.

Yes, Microsoft makes you limit all the drives to a maximum of 16 gigs. You can, however, have two devices (only two) plugged in at the same time for a grande total of 32 gigs!!

In this day and age, what with downloadable content and game installs becoming more and more popular, it makes sense that Microsoft would allow us to use the random flash drive sitting around in our house. But the limit is such an obvious restraint to make it so we still have to buy their overpriced hard drives; it makes me sick! Can’t you, Microsoft, give your users something that benefits them entirely instead of trying to make a pretty penny off ALL of us ALL the time?! They’re even selling a 16 gig “Xbox” flash drive, selling for $50, which is laughable considering I can find a 16 gig flash drive for under $20 easily.

Regardless of my complaints, I am actually using the new system. I have a modded Xbox and sometimes my burned games don’t run exactly perfect unless they’re installed to a hard drive. Trouble is, all I have is a 20 13 gig hard drive. So I’ve plugged in a 40 gig USB hard drive (partitioned to bloody 16 gigs) and another portable 20 gig hard drive into my Xbox and have installed a few games to them. I have to say, the games installed to the USB drives run really fast compared games installed to the 360’s hard-drive. I’ve seen a good five or six seconds of improvement on loading times and almost 100% framerate on most games.

Anyways, I suppose the newest Xbox update wasn’t all terrible. It was a great idea on paper, but as soon as a Microsoft employee said “Hey, if we let them do this, won’t they stop buying Xbox 360 hard-drives?” and they added the limit, the “awesome-ness” factor dropped nearly 24 super points for  me.

Microsoft, come see me when you’re increased the limit to 32 or, heck, no limit at all.

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