Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rainy weekend FTW

So I don't know how it was around your neck of the planet, but over here is was wet and cold all weekend long--which made it the perfect excuse to sit around the house and do absolutely nothing. Yay! Actually, I shouldn't say "nothing." It's not like I was suspended in one of those isolation vats for 48 hours. I did do some things. It's just that the things I did were those quiet, lazy things you do when you don't feel like going outside. Like making a belt out of human skulls.

Anyway, so the first thing I did was finally take care of the ongoing lack-of-sound problem I had with my Xbox 360. Thanks to my pals at Quarter to Three, it is now fixed. Woot! This meant I could finally boot up Mirror's Edge, which has been sitting around my house since it came out. We don't get "free games" at EA. What we do get is points--10 per year, that can go towards getting games at the EA Store on campus. Console games cost 2 points, while PC games cost 1 point---proof, again, that PC games are the retarded in-bred step-cousin of gaming.

In any case, I used 2 of my precious 10 points to pick up Mirror's Edge, but it has been mocking me for weeks, cuz I didn't want to play without sound. So yesterday I plowed through the prologue and first two chapters, and my short review is: Me likey, but me throwy controller a couple times too. The game looks fuggin' fantastic. I love the art direction, all bright and clean with big dollops of primary colors everywhere. And the platform game meets FPS hybrid is a really nice concept--adding tension to your every move. But, as others have noted in more official reviews, the combat is really not so hot. At first, I thought those people had missed the point. Clearly DICE didn't really intend this game to be about combat. But the fact is, even by Chapter 2 it's *also* clear that some enemies need to be dealt with--at least if you're not playing on Easy, which I'm not. Yes, I know you can blitz through the game, in theory, without ever engaging the enemy, but some of the scenarios just almost demand you at least engage in some disarming, which, in my case, usually means I'm going to end up dead. The worse problem I see, however, is that, unless you are really lucky or really great at this kind of thing, you basically need to die over and over and over to figure out the right path to take. DICE is super generous with the checkpoints, so that's cool, but it does get wearying to have to play this way after awhile. I find myself only able to play in short bursts so that I can keep enjoying myself and not get too frustrated. I credit DICE for this though: They didn't go out of their way to baby everyone too much, just in some misguided attempt to PLEASE EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. They let this be a somewhat hardcore game--and that's not a bad thing. I'd rather they err this way, with a game like this, then hold everyone's hand all the way through and not provide any challenge whatsoever. I just may suck too much to ever finish it.

Also played: Wow Lich King, of course. God I love this expansion. Luuuuuurve it. The more I play, the more I am certain that this is the best WoW content Blizzard has made to date. I've already blabbered on about the phasing---and that was *before* I got to the epic surprise in Dragonblight--so I won't do it again. But all the other little touches, the funny quest chains (I loved fighting along with "Future Eggbertt"--who told me afterward to "get us better gear"), the mounted missions, just really have renewed my love full-on for this game. Really, Blizzard could just be coasting at this point, laughing and high-fiving each other in their beds of money. But they went out of their way with Lich King. And to that I say: Kudos!

And in further gaming news: Brodeo fans will hopefully be pleased to know that my good pals at Gamers With Jobs invited both Shawn Elliott and myself to appear on their podcast together, which we recorded yesterday (Saturday) for airing on, errr, I think December 17. I think. Check their website for details! I always enjoy talking with those guys, and it was extra super-dee-duper fun to be reunited with Shawn for a couple hours of podcasting blather. We had a good time recording it, so I hope y'all like it!

The other "big" weekend activity was watching "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" on DVD with the family, which I'd never seen. I've loved every Miyazaki film I've ever seen, and actually had intended on reading the manga for this years ago, but never did. This movie didn't disappoint either. But what is it with him and the weird creatures? Either he did (or does) a lot of drugs, or maybe he just has a brain naturally geared towards the surreal. The great thing is, as weird as he gets, there's always so much heart and sincerity in his stories. He never lets things get odd just to be odd. "Totoro" will always be my favorite. And "Spirited Away" was just so moving. I'm not sure how I'd rank "Nausicaa"--but, like all Miyazaki, it was two hours of animation that had me completed wrapped in its spell.

Finally, I did have to leave the house at one point today for a potluck dinner for my kid's cross-country team. That itself was fine. What was notable, in a blog-worthy way, was the teen word usage I learned at the event. That would be "beast", used as a verb. As in, "I totally beasted that test on Friday," or, "even when she wasn't feeling well, she totally beasted it at practice every week."

Okay, the resident Jew in the house must now sign off to carry the Christmas tree inside. WTF? What's next? Putting the honey glaze on the ham? Oy vey!


Rhody said...

I really want to play Mirror's Edge. I loved the demo, but money has been tight. I think my husband bought it for me for Christmas, though, which means it is likely in my house right this minute. Whee!

Anonymous said...

Always good to read your blogs Jeff, and can't wait to hear you and Sean on GWJ

Derek said...

Rain; I miss rain. It's an ice storm over here, my car is a regular carsicle right now, I couldn't even open the doors... I will hopefully be able to tomorrow.

Also, December 13th was Saturday (yesterday) so, unless they're super awesome at editing, the podcast isn't out yet :(

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the next GWJ.
Also, any thoughts on the VGAs? Did you watch them? I realize everyone else will be talking about them too, but the people want to hear it from a middle-aged Jew that rides a motorcycle, or at least that's the word on the street.

Unknown said...

I had to drive in the snow on Saturday. It sucked.
I had to shovel snow on Sunday. It sucked.
As a result, I have only played Home this weekend. It sucked.
So, all in all, MY WEEKEND HAS SUCKED! Not that I'm whining or anything...

sadchubbie said...

I'm so glad you guys are still doing podcasts! I really miss you guys on the 1Up ones. Looking forward to when the GWJ gets posted.

And obviously you want a rootbeer glaze on that ham. Honey just doesn't cut it.

Anonymous said...

Nausicca is great, like all the other Miyzaki flicks, but Spirited Away is probably my favorite.

Beasted? That just doesn't sound right.

Delerat said...

Lucky for you to have rain. Up here in Canada we just got a surprise of at least a foot of snow overnight! Luckily since I have a 40 minute walk to the bus I called in sick and played WoW and Persona 3 all day.

As for Nausicaa, it has to be my favorite Miyazaki film. Many moments of silence, nothing but the wind blowing. I wish more movies would make use of silence, which can be just as powerful as music, instead of filling in every gap. Did you notice the voice of Patrick Stewart as Lord Yupa? Gave me a nerdy giggle when I noticed.

Looking forward to hearing you and Shawn on GWJ.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, if you make someone at EA disappear, do you get their points?

On a side note, on Shawn's recommendation, I picked up Swat 4, and have been playing that all weekend. Its awesome; you can tell that Irrational is a quality studio, between this and Bioshock. It has the same sort of "hardcore", yet "not too hard" feeling you descibed Mirror's Edge having. Definitely worth $20 for the Gold Edition (check Amazon for all you bored, cheap people).

And no, its artichoke glaze on the tofu pig.

tdous said...

Damn right, carry the tree! And I'm not commenting on your blog until they make you apologise to a statue of Christ!!

Oh wait.

Anonymous said...

Beasted, huh. All I can think is that someone cool mispronounced bested, and all the other kids just followed suit.
And if you're guesting on GWJ this week that can only mean that Ken Levine will soon follow, probably before the end of the year. I'll look forward to that. You I mean, not Ken, though Ken too. Unless Shawn is there to be a Ken surrogate.
One more thing, has your daughter stuck to her guns and boycotted the Twilight movie, or has she given in to the hype. Just curious as to how that turned out.

Unknown said...

Jeff, one tip for Mirror's Edge:

--Split the guys up so you're only fighting them 1 on 1.
--Don't rely on the frontal disarms. Either leap on them from above to knock them out instantly, or wallrun next to them, kick them in the face to spin them around, and then guarentee disarm them from behind.
--If you absolutely have to fight, you don't have to disarm. You can sliding kick them in the nuts, jump kick them in the face, and then beat them down with a one two three punch.

Jeff Green said...

It's definitely "beasted"---derived from "that dude is such a beast" etc.

And obviously I got the GWJ date wrong. The 13th was the date we recorded--doy. Not sure when it's being posted....

Anonymous said...

"Didn't fail to disappoint" doesn't really go together with the rest of the gushing for the film...

Tydigame said...

I'm watching big fluffy flakes drift down outside my window right now. My mug of hot chocolate is in my hand. But none of this is helping me find a job.

Unknown said...

Yaaaay, now I long for the new GWJ episode even more. They finally managed to bring you two to the same show. For as far as I know, the episode will be released the wednesday, but then I live 8 or 9 timezones from you, so..

I wonder how Mirror's Edge will do on PC. At least I'm waiting for that one, but somehow I believe I'm in the minority.

Miyazaki is a wonderful director, though I think he does get help quite a bit from his team with stuff like creatures etc. Or so I've seen from a behind-the-scenes clip.
Have you seen alot of his films? Any is recommendable, but my personal favorite is his classic Princess Mononoke.

Eduardo Rebou├žas said...

Hi Jeff. Glad to see I have a fellow Miyazaki fan in you! I'd recommend you watch Porco Rosso as well. That's my favorite Miyazaki film, and try to see Whisper of the Heart, it's good too!

Looking forward to the podcast.

Anonymous said...

Oddly beasting in the use of a verb is more of a English military word. It for a better term is hazing.

Craig Erskine said...

Mr. Green, what's your definition of cold? I find it had to believe that Cali can get "cold".

This morning it's about 20 below with 30 mph wind in good ol' Green Bay, WI.

Count your blessings.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you feel the checkpoints are generous in Mirror's Edge; Nick Suttner's review was far more critical on that point. I'm holding out for the PC version so perhaps there'll be quicksave, though Half Life 2 has singlehandedly gotten me out of the habit of F5ing every 60 seconds.

A Tonari no Totoro is my favourite Miyazaki film too! I like the concept of a narrative where there is no antagonist. That's sort of why I was so looking forward to Mirror's Edge - for more of a player vs. environment conflict. It's a refreshing change of pace. Sounds like I'll be left wanting on that front.

Unknown said...

I used to use beast and beasted in high school. There was usually some other nonsense thrown in there like, "You totally beasted that ill ish."

I think we always used it jokingly though.

Jeff Green said...

"didn't fail to disappoint" = roflcopterz.

Thanks anonymous--I done edited it. :)

Same for the podcast date.

Anonymous said...

For those achievement whores (like myself), the post-Dragonblight event afforded an excellent opportunity to level up seldom-used weapon skills (i.e., unarmed) since your toon is pretty much immortal during the whole thing.

SilentG said...

Ah yeah Miyazaki is fukin amazing. Favorite is still Princess Mononoke. Got me into anime. Unless im thinking of the wrong guy and wrong movie, then nevermind. Spirited Away was alright until I found out the voice of Haku was that guy from both the Step by Step tv show and the voice of the futuristic Batman that used to air on Kids WB. You kno the one where he doesnt have a cape and wears this one piece jumpsuit. Just started picturin him. Destroyed the overall tone for me. AANYYWAYYY 'beasted', wait till they start using it inappropriately. Or maybe you're daugther's not immature like my friends and me.

Anonymous said...

I use "beast" and it's variants quite often when referring to Street Fighter or any other game where i engage in "friendly" competition with my friend.

ex. "He strait up beasted on that fool with his Ryu."

Anonymous said...

PC games are not retarded and inbred :(
Also, I have better than rain. In Oregon we have hella snow :)

"Concerned Citizen" said...

it was snowing when we got our christmas tree on saturday. got it up near santa cruz. =)

Anonymous said...

"proof, again, that PC games are the retarded in-bred step-cousin of gaming."

Mybe it's just PC games from EA. War Plan Pacific travels on the big bus to an elite private school.

Where it gets its ass kicked.

Anderson said...

As great as the phasing stuff in Dragonblight is, wait until you get to Icecrown. It's not as awesome because Dragonblight's ending (at least, to me) came out of nowhere. Icecrown (without spoiling lore) is more of an ongoing phasing that has a really great positive reinforcement component -- you feel like you're making more lasting changes to the region.

Anyway, I'm shocked at how deeply it's sucked me back into WoW, especially considering the epic [Yawn of the Ages] I had in BC.

Anonymous said...

Like a lot of people, I played the Mirror's Edge demo, and like a lot of people, my reaction was, hey, this is just Prince of Persia in the first person.

Not that there's anything wrong with that - I'm sure that some people will love that.

But for me the whole dying thing got old really fast. I just thought, oh how terribly early 90's, all this running and jumping, and falling to your death... the repetitious nature of that was just such a turnoff.

Been there, done that. About two million times now, starting with the very first Prince of Persia game, which, back in the day, utterly enthralled me. (Charles Ardai gushed about that game - and he was right, it WAS a great game. For its day, though. For its day.)

Very early on in the Mirror's Edge demo you have to jump off the rooftop of a building and try to grab onto a drain pipe on the building opposite - not only do you have to jump at precisely the right time, but you have to line up the drain pipe so that you're running exactly straight at it.

My problem was that if I managed to jump at the right time, then I would either veer to the left or to the right of the pipe, and so fall to my death, whereas if I lined myself up properly I would jump too soon or too late, with a likewise result.

I just thought, fuck it, this is stupid... I just don't have the patience for this stuff anymore.

I've got a huge stack of half neglected games on my shelf, any one of which is more deserving of my time and attention than this Mirror's Edge nonsense. (And that's yet another demo that's convinced me NOT to buy a game that I surely would have bought had there NOT been a demo!)

But what I can't understand is why the blogger of this blog would cash in two precious chips for a title, which, in just one month, he'll be able to pick up for only one chip? I mean, why not wait one more month and cash in a single chip for the PC version?

I don't get that. Those sound like precious chips to me.

This reminds me of something that a psychologist once told me about human nature - apparently they did this study one time. Children were given a plate with a chocolate chip cookie on it. The kids were told that if they waited a half an hour, and didn't eat the cookie, then they would be given a new plate with two chocolate chip cookies on it.

What they found was that all of the children struggled to avoid eating the cookie, but that two groups emerged: those that wolfed the cookie down right away, and those that were able to resist the temptation.

The latter group, it eventually transpired, would grow up to become highly productive citizens with meaningful jobs, and families, and homes of their own, whereas the latter group would grow up to have the exact same things but were simply unable to resist the temptation of chocolate chip cookies.

The Moose.

Anonymous said...

The demo beasted me.

Anonymous said...

How the hell do you edit your comments?

I just re-read my own post and saw that I got the words 'former' and 'latter' jumbled up.


I always do that.

Former - the first in a list of two.

Latter - the second in a list of two.

Or is that the other way around?

The Moose

Rhody said...

Very early on in the Mirror's Edge demo you have to jump off the rooftop of a building and try to grab onto a drain pipe on the building opposite - not only do you have to jump at precisely the right time, but you have to line up the drain pipe so that you're running exactly straight at it.

My problem was that if I managed to jump at the right time, then I would either veer to the left or to the right of the pipe, and so fall to my death, whereas if I lined myself up properly I would jump too soon or too late, with a likewise result.

That screwed me up when I first tried it, but I discovered a trick. If you press the attack button while you're near the pipe, you can grab onto it. It gives you a bit more room for error. Now I can do that part every time. :P

I think the biggest problem, at least from the little bit I've played, is there are a few gameplay mechanics the game doesn't really tell you about. Like the fact that you'll grab onto things that are near the dot in the middle of your screen. That's really useful for that jump right after you fight the cops in the demo.

Jeff Green said...


I hear ya. Actually I don't have any problem with that particular type of puzzle (so far) in this game. The trickiest thing I've encountered, actually, is that one move in the tutorial where you have to do the quick wall jump/turn around/grab move. But I haven't had to use that in the actual game yet.

That dot in the middle of the screen helps a lot. I remember that they discovered that kind of by accident during the dev process--it just helped provide some orientation that was missing before.

And re: not waiting for the PC version: some games I actually prefer on a console system. It wasn't that I "couldn't wait." It's that I knew I'd want this to be a 360 experience for myself...

Macroe said...

My xenophobic NAFTA post:

Seems ironic to hear you in this weeks' edition of the Canadian GWJ podcast. Where is the once proud CGW legacy of The Canadian Corner?

Don't mean to brag, but weather in Mexico City today was sunny, dry in a low 70's kind of way (I still had to wear a sweater, nearly froze my Mexican pelotas off).

People killed in Mexico so far in 2008 due to executions from drug wars between cartels trying to supply US drug demand: just north of 5,000 people. No videogame violence can quite match the crude reality of it.

Recession or not, the global village still beasts over all of us.

Anonymous said...

Stick with Mirror's Edge! There are some extremely frustrating indoor areas later on that completely destroy the flow of the game, but I still think it's one of the best games I've played all year. I've also found that the game gets better on subsequent playthroughs because you know exactly what to do in those tough spots the second time around.

The time trials can also be great fun, if you're into that sort of thing, but don't expect to top anyone's score on the leaderboards. There are some crazy times posted on there.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you're clearly a two-cookie type of guy - you've never struck me as being the type of person who will cash in for immediate gratification.

I agree that there are certain games that just seem more suited for the 360.

Still, I think I would've waited.

Those ten chips that EA has rewarded you with... that's quite a nice little perk. If you look at it this way, PC games cost about fifty dollars each, so ten PC games would therefore cost five hundred dollars.

That's a decent savings on the software, boy!

But does EA have ten great titles on its list? I think that maybe they do?

(Also, any chance of you publishing that in house Sims 3 review of yours on this site... no, I already know the answer... not a chance... man, would I ever love to get my mittens on that review though.)

The Moose.

Unknown said...

You should read the Nausicaa comic. It is an absolute epic.

As was said, Spirited Away is great, but Kiki's Delivery Service is an under appreciated gem.

I argue that Miyazaki may make the most nuanced (children's) films ever. The political & gender messages in his films are downright radical, yet feel completely non-threatening. He's a genius who I believe is only rivaled by Renoir, Hitchcock and Kurosawa. And he's the only one to ever do work of that magnitude in Animation.

Slapshot said...

Looking forward to you and Shawn on GWJ!! Cheers!

Mike Barrett said...

I haven't seen Nausicaa in years, as I remember it; it was a great film. Now I'm going to have to sit down and watch it again. I'm looking forward to listening to the podcast. Great blog Jeff!

ICallItFutile said...

I would have rather had rain then no power for 18 hours this weekend.

John Rivett said...

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down..

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Beastings is a proper old British army term. If your getting beastings, you have obviously f**cked up! But I've never heard it used in the singular. Old Sgt. Major Jones was a bugger for beastings, back in the day (although not literally y'understand)...

darvoid said...

Aww, rainy weekend huh? We had an ice storm that cut the power to 220,000 homes. So yeah, I got a lot of reading done last weekend...during the day that is. it's going to snow 4-6 inches tomorrow...c'mpn over and help us make a snowman.

Infinity said...


You totally "beasted" this blog entry.

Can't wait for the GWJ podcast and your reunion with Shawn.

Anonymous said...

Good to see youre a Studio Ghibli fan too, Jeff. Theres a season of them just started here in England, which is probably the only good thing about not having a job right now. Seen Grave of the Fireflies (or parts of it anyway), which I can only describe as wonderfly depressing, watch Only Yesterday today, and my treat tomorrow is the studios first ever film, The Little Norse Prince, which I estimate to be almost as old as you ;)
Out of all that Ive seen My Neighbour Totoro has to be my favourite, tho everything else is a close second.

Also, when I worked at EA we were offered games at a greatly reduced price (£10), which was cool altho only being a 'Cube owner back then left my choice somewhat limited

Anonymous said...

do you still play warhammer online if not update list

Anonymous said...

Ahh rainy weekends.. superb.

Liked your artichoke post.. was a lol moment.

BTW Jeff, you should try out "Kings Bounty : The legend" on PC. One for the xmas stocking (if you have one). It's a gem.

I started playing and couldn't stop. In fact, I've beasted it HARD.


Unknown said...

Jeff have you tried GTA4? It looks fun so far.

You should work with the ham. That pig stuff is great. Jews should not miss out on pig, life is too short. There's pork chops, ham and bacon and sausage and more from a pig. You can't even make a decent pizza without it.

Happy Holidays!

Stephen said...

"Putting the honey glaze on the ham"

Is that some sort of code-speak for something sexual? Ewww!

Anonymous said...

Beasted? I've heard that and I have too conclude that it's crap term. Also is it possible to be a grumpy old man at the age of 16? Because that's what I feel like.

Anonymous said...

Well Jeff you almost took the podcast over:-) was nice hearing you again over my car speakers.

I think 1up will not survive and Garnett/ You/Shane/Shawn/Richard will do an own podcast.

lawblob said...

Good stuff on the GWJ podcast, Jeff. I didn't realize you kept a regular blog; I will definitely bookmark this.

Tony Kim said...

long time subscriber to GFW mag, saw your blog....wanted to comment..

i tried mirror edge demo. i dont get it at all. its basically a FPS game w/o combat. so what. as for the "thrill" of motion, etc....huh???? dont get it. as for the franchise, this is dead. yeah i know EA wants to sequel it, but it doesnt fit with what EA wants -- online featured games. this is as single player a game will ever get. time trials to extent replayability? please! don't waste your time with mirrors edge. imo, its just a few ultra hard core game journalists trying to give it kudos. the public has spoken with its $$$'s they just dont want it.

as for miyazaki, now you got a winner!!! i have every single dvd. nausicaa is one of the best! i suggest you see besides the more famous ones (spirited away, howls castle) -- castle in the sky, castle of cagliostro, and porco rosso. those three are awesome and u get a real look into miyazaki's earlier films.

finally saw that EA finally got on steam. its about time! now maybe i'll buy COD WAW and CNC Red Alert 3. i hate putting disc's into the computer and EA Link sucks. now at least i can just use steam!

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