My Skyrim Character

Skyrim on Xbox 360

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim arrives on 11/11/11. Can. Not. Wait.

 

With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about the character I’m going to create. One of the things many fans of the Elder Scrolls games love is the fact that you can customize and configure your character in so many ways. Want to be a human? Easy. An elf? No problem. How about a humanoid lizard or cat? Elder Scrolls can take care of that too. While the race or species of the character is something that’s somewhat important to me, it’s not crucial. Sure each has their own specific stats that can help in the direction your character chooses to take in the world, but overall the developers have stated that it won’t make a huge difference in the game. Also, each race is more partial to certain races than others, which could affect how your character lives in wherever it chooses to reside. So, I enter this world with one question: What will my character be like?

I’ve heard stories from other gamers about how they’ve gone into certain open-ended games with a specific character in mind. They give these character traits that affect the choices they make within the defined story of the game. Whether they’re good guys, bad girls, or a complicated mix of emotions that affect choices made, these characters have been the most memorable to them as they recall their gaming experiences years later. I want to do the same with Skyrim. Originally, I was thinking of making a character like Rand from the Wheel of Time novels, but later thought that it was still not enough for what I wanted in my character. The next paragraph will detail the characteristics in my character.

First, he will be male. The unattached storyline is that he will have come from a broken family with no ties to his original parents or siblings. He grew up on his own with hardly anyone there to help him survive, so he will be highly skilled in thievery. He knew that the skills of a thief would not be enough, so he also learned a small amount of magic to keep him out of harms’ way and to help him escape from a tight situation. Since he has grown up alone, he typically chooses to spend most of his time by himself and stays away from relationships, although if he found the perfect woman, he might choose to stay with her. He usually thinks only about what will help him survive but can recognize how doing a good deed for someone can benefit himself. Because of this, he is willing to work with others (including a guild) if it will mean a higher status to himself and a better chance of living for another day. He cares little for anyone else but himself, but has a soft spot for children and animals. He has a weakness for beer and will seek out a dark corner of a pub in any town he crosses whenever he needs to think about what direction he will take next in his adventures. His name will be Cripshaw.

You have just read the nerdiest blog post I’ve ever written. This is how excited I am to play this game on 11/11/11.

Do you play games with a specific character in mind? Do you think you’d ever try in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Extra Life 2011: How it all went down

Before the marathon

The day has come and gone and Extra Life 2011 was a huge success! Last year, when I first heard about this charity, I signed up on a whim. The goal begins at $96 and can be adjusted accordingly. My original thoughts were that many people wouldn’t take it seriously, but I was surprised at how fast that goal was met from some extremely generous friends and family. So, I bumped up the goal and ended up donating over $240 to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. That’s when I thought that this could be something used for real good.

Fast-forward to this year with my goal started at $250. Some great friends and family sponsored me and helped blow past that goal to $300 thus gearing me up again for another epic day of marathon gaming on October 15. Of course, as erratic as my sleep patterns are, I awoke at 2:30 a.m. so excited that there was no chance of me going back to sleep. For anyone who sponsored me, I want to reassure you that I easily played games for well over 24 hours, including breaks, throughout the day and night.

The marathon begins

I officially started my session at 8 a.m. with an Xbox 360 game called Spider-Man: Edge of Time. It was a nice “beat-em-up” game that satiated a mind used to shooters and much more intense, twitchy games. After a few hours, I switched over to playing some Gears of War 3 with my friend Brianna and Stu, who was also participating in Extra Life 2011. We jumped into a horde mode match and made it to a round in the thirties before being disconnected from the host. BAH!

That was a great time to take a small break and then jump back into some video games with Pinball FX2, which is a great game to take a break with. It was one of my top games for 2010 and continues to be a favorite to go back to. Afterward, I played some multi-player Call of Duty: Black Ops with a bunch of random people. If you’re unaccustomed to playing games with strangers, let me tell you, you can hear some weird stories occasionally. That day, I got a few guys talking about the type of weed they smoke. I’m so happy Xbox has a mute button.

As night approaches

I ended up jumping into Stu’s campaign on Gears of War 3 and we finished the game, which took about four hours to do. At this point it was time to take a small dinner break consisting of some pad thai from Thai Orchid, which definitely hit the spot. After eating that, I threw in some L.A. Noire to play some of the downloadable content that has been waiting for me. I love the music and actors that Team Bondi got for this game and if you like the TV show “Mad Men,” you’d probably like playing this game.

The finish line in sight

After I finished a chapter in L.A. Noire, I killed some more time playing multi-player Call of Duty, Super Stickman Golf on iOS and some more Spider-Man until about 1 a.m. My friend, Evan, said that he would wake up at 2 a.m. to help me ride out the last and hardest part of the marathon. Keep in mind, I’ve been awake for a full 24 hours my 2:30 a.m. and have been playing games  since  around 4:30 a.m.

When the clock struck 2:30 a.m., Evan and I started our journey into Call of Duty’s zombie maps. I can’t believe that I haven’t gotten into these before, but I’m so happy that I participated in this charity in order to give me a good reason to play them. The layout of each area is detailed, the well thought out and full of mysteries. By the time we were finished with our last match, it was after 8:30 a.m. I signed off and recorded one last video to my Tumblr account.

Overall, Extra Life 2011 has been a huge success. Gamers from around the world have donated an approximate combined total of over 1.1 million dollars to children’s hospitals worldwide this year, which is a huge leap from the $465,000 last year and $170,000 the year before that. I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the people who sponsored me, played games with me, and promoted this cause. It means a lot to me, but even more to the kids it will help at Doernbecher.

Who says video games are bad for you?

King of Extra Life 2011

Everyone who participates in Extra Life are kings and queens in my book.

Extra Life: Recollection of a 24-hour game session

It’s been nine days since I’ve endured a 24-hour gaming session for Extra Life and this entry should’ve been updated sooner, but life is busy right now. With the help of friends and family, we together helped raise $241 for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Pat yourselves on the back. This is a great thing we’ve done together.

I woke at 7 a.m. on October 16 with enough time to head down to Royal market to grab some munchies and caffeine before the gaming session began. Once back in the house, I started playing around 7:40 a.m. with the game Comic Jumper. It’s a funny little game from Twisted Pixel developed for the Xbox LIVE arcade that has a great artistic style and sense of humor. A few hours in, I got an invite from my friend Evan, or as he’s know on Xbox LIVE, tactical DBk.

I jumped over to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and started a multi-player gaming session with Evan (tactical DBk), Jay (SALSA DBK), and Matt (Zilla DBK). Notice something similar here? Our clan tag on COD is DBK, which stands for “Douche Bag Killers,” and trust me; there are a lot of douche-bags to kill on these multiplayer shooters. But we do it in good sport. It’s just a game.

Shortly after that, I went over to the game Watchmen: The End is Nigh so I could sit back and play a mindless beat ‘em up game. This is pretty much all you can expect from that game. It’s not a great game, fighting get bland pretty fast, and Rorschach has some strange lines in the game.

Around this time, Yaicha came home from work and we ordered some pizza to go with the I.P.A. she brought home. I felt it appropriate to begin Limbo, which my friend Dave (dead vp) bought me for my birthday back in September. It’s a small game that had gotten top reviews on game journalism websites across the Net. I specifically waited until Yaicha was home and for nightfall to arrive before beginning this 2-D somber sidescroller. I must say — I have NEVER played a game like this. Please, if you can, pay the $15 for the game. It’s worth it. 3 – 4 hours later, I finished that game and it felt so worthwhile that it made the day of playing video games feel refreshing, though it was 1 a.m.

Yaicha ended up heading to bed and I continued on my path of game playing until 7:40 a.m. I went back over to Modern Warfare 2 to “pwn some more noobs” until my eyes were getting fuzzy. Around 3 – 3:30, my concentration was starting to wane so Evan and I went over the some multiplayer Peggle matches. Peggle is a neat little game from Pop Cap that is pretty much like pachinko with awesome backgrounds and specific powers. It was a nice way to chill after some intense multiplayer shooter matches.

Evan finally fizzled around 6 a.m. and I chilled out with a second play through of Borderlands until 7:40. Directly after that, I sleepily posted a tweet from the computer and went to bed. It was a great gaming session and I’m happy to have helped with such a great charity.

Special thanks to the following people for donating:

  • Adam Wagner
  • David Vanpelt
  • Rudy Rofinot
  • Chelsey Campbell
  • Benjamin Terrell
  • Brianna Gardner
  • Candice Voss
  • Bob Cowell
  • Katherine Wamsley
  • Ariel Rhoden

Other specific facts:

Gamerscore Achievements:

235 gamerscore

Food and drink consumed:

2 Lo-Carb Monster Energy Drinks

5 Lagunitas IPA beers

Half of an extra large pizza from Papa Johns

One small bag of sweet BBQ chips

Crackdown 2 is like a mediocre beer

Photo courtesy of videogamesblogger.com

Here comes mediocrity!

Not too long ago, I received a free half-case of Session Dark lager. The beer was pretty gross, but I still consumed them. I did this because it was still beer and it was good enough to keep drinking on occasion until they were all finished and out of the fridge. This is what Crackdown 2 is like.

The game begins with a story update on what has been going on in Pacific City since the end of the previous game. The gang factions you’ve brought down are now nonexistent, but there are new threats that have taken over Pacific City in the form of a criminal faction called “Cell” and a whole lot of fast-moving, zombie-like Freaks. Other than this, the story is almost devoid of any further mention. Besides small episodic content in the form of audio logs picked up across the city, one really has no idea what they’re really doing in Pacific City.

What the game really comes down to is collecting orbs to power up your character. Many of these orbs are scattered around the city in various locations, some are in plain view while others are tucked away in dark recesses. Some of these orbs are only obtained with vehicles while others can only be picked up with another player online. These orbs help your character drive well, jump higher and farther, or gain a little skill in all categories. Speaking of your character, one can only pick from four different men but it doesn’t really matter because they’re wearing a helmet the whole time. Ruffian really should’ve just banished this implementation of supposed “choice” immediately.

The problems lie in how the game is presented overall. The game is all about traversing across Pacific City, (by yourself or with someone else,) collecting orbs and causing havoc in the streets, but it’s the terrible control and poor map that causes the gameplay to be a major pain. Your character has a better time moving in the air than on the ground and occasionally grabs onto ledges while ignoring others altogether. There’s no possible way to mark waypoints on the map, which makes it even tougher to track where one has to travel without pausing the game every few seconds to assure they’re on the correct path. Add a terrible targeting system reminiscent of playing an HD clone of Grand Theft Auto III and you have a close to broken game.

Overall, the game isn’t terrible. I’ve played many worse games throughout the years. Yes, I finished it by myself, since I’m not one to play platformers multiplayer. Upon finishing it I was happy because it meant there would be no more of it. If a game is supposed to be more about collecting items than an interesting story, Ruffian should have made sure that the controls were spot on. They should have supplied a map with added waypoints and more. Instead, the game is like a mediocre beer. Just like how a Session Dark lager is drinkable, this game was playable. But would I ever buy the beer or this game? Never. I’d recommend an IPA and Prototype.

If you’re in need of another point-of-view, I recommend the review over at IGN. If you have any comments that I didn’t bring up, feel free to leave them here!

Game Review: Puzzle Quest 2, does it stack up to the first?

I first picked up Puzzle Quest on the iPhone because of a posting I came across on Twitter from Daniel Perez (username xBBx.) The post was for a free download of Puzzle Quest for one day only. Little did I know that I’d be sucked into a world full of puzzle solving and questing the lands full of mythical creatures similar to that of a Lord of the Rings book.

Before I knew it, there was an announcement that Puzzle Quest 2 was going to be released soon for the Nintendo DS and on Xbox Live. Splurging the 1200 points for the download the day it came out, I’ve been sucked into the game for hours on end since. But there are definitely some differences from the first Puzzle Quest.

The first noticeable difference is the missing map. No longer does one just wander the map from point to point engaging with character and enemies at certain points. Instead, your character wanders through villages and dungeons conversing with non-playable characters (NPCs,) fighting enemies, and solving mini-games in the form of puzzles. These mini-games include bashing doors in, picking locks, searching rooms, disarming traps, and finding loot. The other noticeable difference is the usage of items within the puzzle battle. One can use a weapon, shield, potion, or poison which is activated by matching the fists in the puzzle. This alone makes a WORLD of difference in how one plays the game.

If you’ve played the first one, beware; the moves are slightly different on here. I played as an assassin in both and the stealth move is very different than in the first. On the other hand, if the enemy resists your spell, you don’t lose the mana like in the first game, just the turn. The puzzles can be addicting as they come in various sizes. I’m playing it on normal and about ¾ of the way through. Most puzzles look like the one pictured but some are larger. The Xbox Live version also comes with a multiplayer component but I’ve yet to play that.

Infinite Interactive obviously put in quite a bit of work into this sequel and I definitely recommend this to the avid puzzle gamer who are looking for something a bit more than Bejeweled. While the story is kind of lackluster and the dungeons are mostly reminiscent of a tactical RPG, the character art is drawn and colored well. With four different characters, the replay value is pretty worthwhile. I doubt the game will change your life but I’d bet that it’d entertain you at best.

PICS:

Puzzle Quest 2 Fight Screen

Puzzle Quest 2 Dungeon Layout

Puzzle Quest 2 Puzzle Layout

Puzzle Quest 2 Lockpicking