Monday, January 14, 2008

Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2008

I am mostly posting this list for my own curiosity. I know that come December 2008/January 2009 I will probably think up a list of the ten best games I played this year, and I am very curious to see how the list compares to the 10 games I am most looking forward to right now. Because it is how I roll, the list is in descending order.

10. Rainbow Six Vegas 2
I greatly enjoyed the first game in this series, but it never really, really got a hold of me. This is in part because I was never comfortable with it. One game I felt like I dominated and the next online match my controller might as well have been unplugged. It sounds like Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is making all the right changes so I am ready to go give another shot.

9. Star Wars Unleashed
It is Star Wars, so this makes the game a no-brainer. On top of that, outside of some comic book stories Unleashed is the first official story that bridges the gaps between the two Star Wars trilogies. If the story telling is solid I could overlook a number of gameplay flaws.

8. Civilization Revolution
This is a true story, one time I started a game of Civilization III. Nine hours later I moved from the chair for the first time since I loaded the game. This is first time that Civilization is on the consoles, and it promises to streamline the play experience.

7. Ghostbusters
Along with Star Wars, Ghostbusters is a defining part of my childhood. It has mostly been determined that Ghostbusters 3 will never be made as a movie, but it is instead being made as a video game. This game is the true continuation of Ghostbusters, and I am so ready for it.

6. Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead is a four person Zombie Co-op game. This is all I really need to know to be sold.

5. Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
I like WWII games,and Brothers in Arms has always been the most realistic WWII game around. This version promises to fix the aiming (it has always been a bit off) and add a cover system (which the first two games needed badly). I am also hoping that Brother in Arms unique multiplayer returns because I really like the small squad base stuff they did.

4. Fallout 3
Oblivion, a first person fantasy RPG, is still one of my favorite games and Fallout 3 is the latest game by the same people. This time they made a first person, post-apocalyptic RPG. So in other words, I get to trade my sword for a shotgun and fight mutants instead of trolls. I am in for that.

3. Soul Calibur IV
Soul Calibur is my favorite fighting game series, so I already wanted this but now that it is going to have Star Wars characters it is one of my most anticipated games this year.

2. Gears of War 2

Technically, I don't even know if this game is coming out this year, but odds are favorable that it will. Gears of War is my most played game on the 360 (177 unique played days and counting), so the sequel is a must buy.

1. Culdcept Saga
Culdcept is seriously one of my favorite games (not just video games but games period) ever. Basically Culdcept is a combination of Monopoly with a Collectible Card Game. One the PS2 I played a TON of Culdcept Saga, and I dare say with the exception of Oblivion, it is the only single player game that I have put 100+ hours in. This version of Culdcept has online play and the outside possibility of downloadable expansions, which means that the other nine games on this list might be unnecessary because starting February 6th, I may not be playing much else!

Friday, January 11, 2008

What I want to do this year

Now that I have fully considered 2007, it is time to start looking to 2008. I don't like the phrase new years resolutions, and I don't really like the idea of setting an annual goal either. With both of those it is a pass/fail option and living life shouldn't be that way, so these are not resolutions or goals but rather some things I want to accomplish this year.

By the end of 2008 I should only have one more semester of Seminary. I am currently rocking out a 3.7 GPA. I finished High School with a 3.3 and college with a 3.5 so this the highest GPA I have ever had. Either school gets easier the higher one goes, or I am just a better student. Anyway, one of the things I want to accomplish this year is to maintain (or raise) that GPA. The biggest hindrance to this is an unhealthy dose of cynicism. I had two classes last semester that sucked something awful. I am fairly sure that one of the classes probably classified as a crime against humanity under the Geneva Accords. By the end of the semester those two classes left me with a "screw it" attitude, and I am have one of those same professors again this coming semester.

Another thing I want to do this year is write more. I had a good hook up for video game reviews in 2006, but I only did one in 2007 because they changed their policy which no longer made it possible to break even with buying a game to review. However, there is nothing stopping me from trying to get more ideas published in Group magazine.

Along the same lines I have spent way to long toying with the idea of a youth ministry blog. I easily create 50-60% of the stuff that I do for youth group meetings, so that is a great deal of content. I also have random ideas and a lot of seminary papers that could be interesting to someone (yeah probably not). However, if I did this I would want to do it for real and pay for it. I am afraid that if I went the free route (like blogger for instance) then over time I would not keep it up. However, If I registered a domain name (it would be by the way) and had to pay for hosting then I would be much, much likely to actually do it and keep it going. I may ultimately decide not to, because I won't be serious enough about maintaining a real blog, but as of right now it is something I want to do in 2008.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

This just made my year . . ..


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Top Ten Memories of 2007

If I have anything that could be considered a blogging tradition, then this list is it. 2007 was a very fast year for me, anyway. It really felt like it just flew by. However, it was a good year as I think this list (arranged in the standard descending order for dramatic effect) will show:

10. Beating Mass Effect
If you are reading this then you read my blog regularly (or you got really lost on the interwebs), so you already know about my new undying love for this game. Mass Effect stands as the single best story I encountered this year, and that makes it very memorable.

9. Todd Agnew Concert
Well it was sort of a concert. Their generator that powered all of their stuff died, and Todd Agnew was left to basically make stuff up which he did very well. It was kind of like the old VH1 show where they just put musicians on stage with a stool and let them ramble and play whatever.

8. A funeral
My grandmother (mom's side) died in 2007. This happened almost a year ago, and makes for the only unhappy memory on this list.

7. Straight A's
In the spring semester of 2007, I emerged with straight A's. While I had come close twice before, this was the first time I had ever made this accomplishment.

6. Jr. High mission trip
This year the Jr. High at Epworth went on a legitimate mission trip. We were suppose to help destroy a building, but instead moved a play ground for a church in Elizabeth Indiana. Also, for those of you who are familiar with Unity Chapel, you may not realize that it is an absolutly incredible place to play Capture the Flag!

5. Epic Gears of War Win
Gears of War is a video game, and it is a game I play with a group of adults. Anyway, there was an online league in this game that we participated in. In one game I was on a "second string" team (the really big hitters were already in another game), and we ended up playing the most foul mouthed, ill-mannered group of teenagers I have ever ran across. They did nothing but trash talk, cuss, and be down right mean the entire match. We battled them to the last round (it was best three out of five) and we won. Victory had never tasted so sweet!

4. Star Wars Exhibit
Over Fall break this year we went to Chicago with Abigail's parents and went to a Star Wars Exhibit. Despite very, very annoying traffic getting there, the exhibit was really cool, and it was fun to see some of the props and costumes close up.

3. Dinner Theater
I really like to act, and with the exception of the occasional skit, acting is something I have not done since high school. Epworth put on a dinner theater this year and I took part, playing the bad guy. It was a lot of fun, and I got a big ego boost when someone asked me (in all seriousness) what school I received my acting training at. :)

2. Mississippi Mission Trip
With the Sr. High youth I went to Biloxi Mississippi this summer to help rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. It is amazing how much work still needs to be done. What is also amazing is how much work we got done. For five straight days the teenagers happily worked 8-10 hour days.

1. Washington Vacation
We originally planned to go to Daytona Beach on vactaion, but we ended up finding some insanely cheap plane tickets to multiple destinations. We picked the furthest destination from Indiana and ended up in Washington State. We drove through beautiful mountains, sailed on a big lake, watched the Mariners beat the Red Sox, and saw a whale. A good trip indeed.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Top Five Movies of 2007

Two post in one day! w00t! (that would be an unnecessary use of Webster's 2007 word of the year by the way)
So it turns out that I only watched 21 movies that came out that year. While that seems like a big number on paper, I suspect that in comparison to the average it isn't. Heck, I bet my sister bought 21 movies that came out this year. By my count I only stepped into a movie theater five times this year. I guess this mean that I do not watch a whole lot of movies. This year might be a fluke because I did end up watching five seasons worth of 24 throughout the year. A typical top ten list seems a bit much since that would constitute half of the movies I watched so we will just narrow it down to the top five. Once again in a dramatic descending order:

5. Sicko
When it comes to politics I know that I fall in a very messy middle, but Michael Moore movies always pull me a little bit further to the left. I realize that Sicko is very biased and is created to argue a very well constructed case, but it does it well. Universal Health Care may not be as rosy as this movie paints it, but I am fairly confident now that our current insurance system is broken and borderline evil. Even if you hate Michael Moore this movie is worth watching.

4. The Simpsons Movie
Many think the Simpsons have lost their edge, but I am more inclined to believe that American culture just surpassed them. The Simpsons never ceased to be a family sitcom, jut an irreverent one. While this movie is full of very Simpson-esque visual gags, quips, and family dysfunction it is still a family film, and a fairly decent but silly one.

3. Live Free or Die Hard
It is amazing how far Die Hard has changed. John McClain has steadily changed from an unlucky "everyman" to a certified, cliche action hero. That does not change the fact that this is a very fun movie that is just as funny as it is cool.

2. Hot Fuzz
I really like the sense of humor displayed by the people who made this movie (same ones that made Shaun of the Dead). Shaun of the Dead took a Zombie movie and infused it with comedy, and this does the same thing with action movies for great hilarity.

1. 300
This is one of the coolest action movies I have seen. I really like the art style, and it has been a really, really long time (maybe since The original Matrix) that there has been a movie that I have wanted to watch over and over again like this one.
Plus I really like this youtube video:

Top Ten Games of 2007

Since it is a new year, I can join with the rest of the world and reflect on what has past and what is coming. When it comes to entertaining oneself some people watch a lot of movies (my sister), some read a lot (my brother in law), others play a recreational sport (my dad), and then some do a bit of all (my brother). For me, it is video games. I play a lot of them, so I feel like I can speak with some authority when I say these are my top ten games this year. Of course for dramatic effect, these are in descending order.

10. Pac Man Championship Edition
I have played this game on 86 unique days since it came out in mid July. The game is a more refined version of the classic pac-man formula, that gives the player five minutes to score as much as possible on a constantly changing map. My score platued just over 300,000, and I still can not get higher than that. However, that score puts me in the top 2% of people who have played the game and when there are hundreds of thousands who have done that, I think that is good.

9. Puzzle Quest
I think Bejewled is a silly game. However, if you take a Bejewled add cliche RPG elements and a magic attack system (which gives a mindless puzzle game strategy) then it becomes incredibly addictive.

8. Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter 2
In a lot of ways GRAW 2 was more of the same, but that was not a terrible thing. The single player story and AI were improved and multiplayer introduced some new maps. However, this game did not really start to shine until the expansion packs came out as free. Terrorist hunts are still fun, and the game walks a fine line between run and gun and tactical which is a good balance.

7. DiRT
I normally do not care for racing games. . .especially realistic ones. However, DiRT is different. Perhaps it is because the game gives just enough give to be overbearing in realism, but I really dug DiRT (ha!). The graphics are incredible (and on an HDTV, maybe the best I have seen). The game is rally racing, and driving from point A to Point B has never been so much fun.

6. Assassin's Creed
In the end the game really, really turned me off with a particular development at the end of the story. This is disappointing, because from a game play stand point I really liked it. Exploring the cities, climbing and silently assassinating guards never ceased to be fun.

5. Medal of Honor Airborne
In my opinion this is the most underrated game of the year. Medal of Honor Airborne is unique from other shooters for a variety of reasons. The game allows for players to parachute into levels, which means the level is open and objectives can be completed in any order. This makes the game feel more like a battle and less like a level. Plus the game has the single best cover system for a FPS ever. I think the only thing that keeps this game from being #3 on my list is the online play fall short by lacking a lobby and proper balancing.

4. The Orange Box
I only recently got this game and I can not speak a whole lot about it, but I recognize the awesomness of the game. Portal is an incredible puzzle game with very clever writing. I can see myself really getting into Team Fortress 2 despite none of my friends playing it and being way behind the learning curve. Finally, I am playing Half Life 2 for the first time, but thus far it has lived up to the hype.

3. Halo 3
Halo 3 was easily the most overly hyped game of the year, and it could not help to fall a bit short of that hype. Despite that, Halo is still a very good game. The single player, while not mind blowing, is fun. The online play is good, but only great if one really likes Halo's floaty, melee bashing style. Where Halo really, really shines is getting together with a group of friends and using the game's versatility to play some extremely unique custom games (like Rocket Race or Shark)

2. Call of Duty 4
COD4 may be the best shooter I have ever played. It is the first game that can truly be said that feel like playing a movie. Not only is it a military shooting game with a good story ( a rarity), but the multiplayer is where the game rocks. The game allows players to level up and unlock new abilities. Amazingly the game stays balanced while doing this and becomes absolutly addictive.

1. Mass Effect
I can not really talk about Mass Effect with out spoiling the game, but it is the single best game I have ever played, ever. Actually, I would go as far to say that after Star Wars it is my favorite universe/story. The game has me hooked hard, and it is truly excellent.