Silent Hill Origins

I wrapped up Silent Hill Origins a few days ago (thanks to my brother graciously letting me borrow his PSP). I should mention that I’m a huge fan of Silent Hill. I should think that’s quite obvious. I am also a big fan of survival horror. I don’t know why, but some part of me just loves the macabre, the psychologically disturbing. It’s weird, because it honestly gives me nightmares, yet I persist. It doesn’t hurt that survival horror games tend to have some of the most interesting stories in video games.

Anywho, Origins. I’m going to say that the Zero Punctuation review of Origins was more or less right on the money. It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly Silent Hill. As a quick setup, the game starts as Travis Grady, a trucker, decides to take a shortcut by Silent Hill. He encounters a burning house and saves the girl inside. Before long he’s in Silent Hill on something of a wild goose chase looking for the girl.

That’s basically the problem. Travis has no reason to stay in Silent Hill. He’s not taking his daughter there on vacation. He didn’t receive a letter from his dead wife. He stays for no particular reason at all, for a girl he doesn’t know. Oh sure, you find out that Travis’ past is tied to Silent Hill, but it’s completely disconnected with his reason for being there.

Another issue is that the transitions between the normal, creepy Silent Hill to the nightmarish, even more creepy Silent Hill, are performed by the player. Anytime you find a mirror, it can be used to transition between the two different versions of Silent Hill. It’s kind of a neat idea at first, but eventually it essentially diminishes how scary the “Other World” is. It’s still creepy, that’s for sure, but it loses something.

Finally, the monsters leave something to be desired too. For the most part they just seem generic (except for one monster that I can only describe as the “intercourse monster”).

Still, the overall story isn’t bad, and it’s nice to put some backstory on the original Silent Hill (Origins is a prequel). The ending in particular makes the game worth it. I’m also amazed that the PSP’s tiny screen can still convey the sense of fear that Silent Hill brings to the table. With a pair of headphones on, the atmosphere is surprisingly good. It’s worth playing through, though I think I’d avoid paying full price.

All of serves as a precursor to my plan to play through Silent Hill 2 again while my wife’s cousins are in town. Now that is the scariest game I’ve ever played.

Facebook

Hey all,

I’m on Facebook now. Can’t remember if I mentioned that before. Anywho, just upgraded WordPress and installed an app that should notify my friends of new posts here on 8bN. This is just a test to see if it works.

Camping, and also Iron Man

So, there are two things that beg to be discussed this week, Iron Man and camping. First things first, Iron Man. Iron Man is an excellent movie. I loved it. It’s worth noting that I am a big Iron Man fan. He is probably my second favorite superhero next to Spider-Man. I like Iron Man because under the suit he is still human. Spider-Man has super powers, but they aren’t over the top like, say, Superman. In fact, in the comics anyway, he actually had to invent web shooters, making his trademark ability something that’s actually man made.

Iron Man, on the other hand, is all man made. I like my superheros vulnerable, what can I say? Anyway, the Iron Man movie is great. Robert Downey Jr. does a very good job in my opinion, though honestly I didn’t read a lot of the comics, so I’m not the best judge if you really, really love Iron Man. I’m not positive if Iron Man is really the best comic book movie yet made (an opinion held by my friend Thomas). I’m still waiting for something to top the train scene in Spider-Man 2. Regardless, Iron Man is great and deserves to be seen by many, many people. I liked it so much that I’ve decided to rent the game and give it a go. It got me all excited to play as Iron Man, so I’m going for it, damn it.

And now, camping. My wife and I went camping this weekend. Now, when I tell people that, I imagine they have a different idea of what actually happens. When I think of the sheer amount of stuff that was crammed in our car for two days of sleeping outside, I kind of shudder. Without listing it all, we had a tent, air mattress, cooler, blankets, toiletries, tons of food, tons of liquor, and more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. In fact, we didn’t have enough blankets the first night, and were lucky enough to be able to borrow some sleeping bags for the second night. There were also (very clean) bathrooms with running water and showers about 100 yards from our campsite. The point is, it’s hard for me to think of a trip with so many amenities as “camping.” Still, I didn’t have my precious laptop and cell phones didn’t work, so that’s got to count for something.

Oh, and it was fun. That’s important too. I twisted my ankle really bad though. I heard it crunch and everything. Oh, it hurt like hell. I wince every time I think of it.

Final note, I’m on FaceBook now. Look me up if you’re so inclined (and not a dick). Also, my T-Mobile contract expires this month. I want me one of these … now.

GTAIV, among other things

[Holy crap. I was in the middle of writing up this entry when I saw the many, many comments that have been left in my absence. Thanks, everyone! I’ll try to keep it more regular for you :)]

Yeah yeah, it’s been a while. I know. Things have been super busy at X3F. Of course, you’d know that if you read it. Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you do read X3F. Anywho, we had over 3,300,000 page views in April. That’s a new record for us, and it makes for the second record-breaking month in a row. Very nice. If only that conferred a pay bonus, I’d really be happy.

I picked up GTAIV on Monday night. I’m really liking it so far. That may seem like a stupid statement, but I’ve never really gotten into a GTA game before. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have, but I never had the desire to pick one up before. So far, the game is great. Multiplayer is surprisingly fun, although I’ve yet to get into an actual game. I keep starting up a party (the lobby where you can just run around the world doing whatever with your buddies) but whenever I try to take us into a proper game of Team Deathmatch, I get disconnected. It’s annoying and I don’t know what’s wrong. My NAT type is open and everything. Still, the single player is excellent, and Niko is a wonderful character. Well, he isn’t wonderful himself, but he’s well-written. I’ll put it that way. Also, Vlad’s a prick.

Anyway, what else? I got my E3 invite a while ago. Things are looking pretty good as far as me attending. It’s not set in stone, but chances are good. At least I know that they won’t turn me away if I do go. I’ve got an invitation.

I’ve returned my copy of COD4, and now I’m waiting for Condemned 2. I’m hopeful that it will scratch that survival horror itch. Condemned was actually one of the games I reviewed on here before I got my gig at X3F. Read the review if you’re so inclined. Or I could just save you the trouble and say that the first Condemned was excellent (despite a so-so ending). I know Alone in the Dark is coming out soon, but I’m just not sure if it will actually be good. The tech that’s there is certainly intriguing, but so far they’ve made a lot more fuss about the technology than the actual story. I’m wary of Silent Hill: Homecoming too. The recent round of screenshots didn’t really impress me. Maybe it looks better in motion…

Finally, I saw someone asking about whether or not I like Smash Bros. I definitely do. Melee got more time than any other game on my Gamecube. I played it for years. Seriously, I don’t know any game that has had more longevity. We’ll see if Brawl can keep up. If anyone is interested in exchanging friend codes, be my guest. If anyone does, I’ll go dig mine up. Though honestly, the set up is so stupid, I doubt I’ll ever organize a match. It’s just so much easier to use Xbox Live that I have trouble even caring about Brawl’s online play. It doesn’t hurt that every game I’ve played has been laggy as hell either.

Oh, one last thing. I’m thinking of picking up a new digital camera and a portable HDD sometime soon (gotta take advantage of Time Machine now that I finally upgraded to Leopard). If you know a decent or cheap item you could suggest, let me know.

Of Smash, Zelda, and Lolo


It was a Nintendo heavy week for me. Between Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC version), Smash Bros. Brawl, and Lolo on Virtual Console. If you have a Wii (or an NES), you really should try Lolo. It’s one of the better console logic puzzle games out there. If you like to over-think things (and I do), you can even see shades of Lolo in Portal. Yes, I was completely serious about that statement.

My niece convinced me to get back into Zelda: Twilight Princess, and I’m glad she did. After only an hour or so of playing it, I’m already engaged in the story again. It’s good stuff, and much more mature than I was expecting.

Finally, I’m looking to actually get back into some semi-regular multiplayer gaming again. Not sure if this is going to be at the same time every week or what, but I’m trying to squeeze at least an hour and a half or so at least one night a week. The X3F crew has been toying with the idea of grabbing community members to try out Community Content before we write it up. Just imagine, you could be featured in one of our videos! Isn’t that exciting? No? Oh, well, we might do it anyway.

I’m actually really proud of the videos we’ve been doing lately, both for XBLA in Brief and Community Content. I embedded one of our Community Content videos in this post, just to show it off. Feels pretty cool to be making our own videos now. And I probably can’t say too much, but we have some cool news regarding X3F videos that should be coming pretty soon. Stay tuned.

COD4 is pretty good, alert the media

Greetings loyal subject(s). So, a few things to discuss. Number one, Smash Bros. Brawl is still awesome, though it is nigh unplayable online. It is made better when played with friends and simultaneously voice chatting via Xbox Live (or your VOIP app of choice). I unlocked Sonic and he’s pretty good, so I’m happy. On a much more manly video game front, Call of Duty 4 is awesome. Tycho from Penny Arcade once described the ending of Prince of Persia as “masterful,” an assessment I wasn’t sure I agreed with. Call of Duty 4, on the other hand, most certainly ends masterfully. It’s just about perfect. Yeah, it’s super short, but it is oh so very sweet.

I’ve yet to delve into the multiplayer portion, but I was part of the beta a few months back, so I know how addictive it is.

I’ll probably wait for a bit before I get into multiplayer, as I still have to wrap up Lost Odyssey. I say “wrap up” but what I mean is “put in another 30 hours or so.”

In other news, my niece is in town, and we’ll likely be playing through the adventure mode in Smash Bros. Brawl. That makes me immensely happy.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Ahem. If you own a Wii, go get this game right now. Actually, I’m inclined to tell you to go get this game anyway. Apart from a less than perfect online system (which can be made better, by the way), it is as excellent as I had hoped. It does not reinvent the wheel, but it really didn’t have to.

That’s really all I wanted to say. By the way, if you still read me (both of you), let me know. I’m feeling lonely.

So, it was weekly updates, wasn’t it?

I was under the impression that I was supposed to write a new entry here at least once a week. I haven’t done that lately. I apologize.

So, with that out of the way, it’s been incredibly busy at Xbox 360 Fanboy lately. In the space of one month — the short month of February at that — I contracted two new writers, coached them through their first week or two, went to GDC, and started producing video features. Sweet googa mooga, I can’t keep up. I barely find time to play games anymore, honestly. I have worked out a way to get some more time though, but perhaps I’ll talk about that some other time.

For now, I have to say this: I interviewed Peter Molyneux. One on one. It is thus far the highlight of my career as a games journalist. It was great.

As for everything else. I’m enjoying putting together video features. I picked up an eyetv hybrid from ElGato, which allows the capture of video to a Mac computer from any composite or S-video source. Combined with a distribution amplifier (a purchase I was hoping I wouldn’t have to make unfortunately) it works like dream. If you read X3F (which is more likely than you reading this) expect to see a lot more videos in the future.

That’s it for this week. It’s effing cold here right now.

The storm and the week from hell (pictures)

Yeah, you probably noticed that posting stopped for a while. You may have heard on X3F that a vicious winter storm blasted Oklahoma (and many other states) a few weeks ago. Annie and I were actually very lucky, as we only lost power for a day or so (some people didn’t have power for weeks). We did, however, lose our cable/internet/telephone for pretty much the whole week. That meant I had to do my posting at my parents’ place, which was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to see my folks, but it’s not my work environment. As such, I was behind on my posts in December. I’ve got some nice pictures I figured I could share, so enjoy.

My neighbor
My neighbor’s Car

Our car (AKA Annieís car)Our car (AKA Annie’s car)

Glass grassGlass grass. I took a lot of these.

More glass grassMore glass grass

Lenny is confusedLenny is confused.

Oh look, glass grass!Oh look, glass grass!

Yet more grassYet more grass

Another neighborAnother neighbor’s yard.

My carís antennaMy car’s antenna

My carís antenna: EXTREME CLOSEUP!My car’s antenna: EXTREME CLOSEUP!

LeavesLeaves

Glass grass: the returnGlass grass: the return

Shopping carts donít know itís coldShopping carts don’t know it’s cold.

The street was completely blocked to the eastThe street was completely blocked to the east

So there you go. Crazy, no?

Oh, and, just so there is at least one reference to video games in here, I’m incredibly excited about Bionic Commando Rearmed. If you haven’t seen it, go take a look.