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Sunday, February 26, 2006A moment of reflection.
Last night, one of my closest friend's father passed away. While our prayers and thoughts are certainly with him, I found my mind pondering the deeper implications of this sad event.
While you and I slept last night, an important man died. Maybe you were watching TV, or playing a game. Or working on your blog. While I write this, someone somewhere died. As you read this, someone is dying. Last night at 6:35 P.M. CST, a man named James Earl Wilson left his body, and stood before the Lord. This man walked the earth for 75 years, and last night, he got to speak with the Creator of all the universe. And, as we believe and know, he was welcomed into paradise. By now, I'm sure he has met Paul, Moses, Abraham, Daniel, David.....and best of all, Jesus. He has probably had a water-fight in the River of Life with Christ! He has been shown to his mansion, and has gotten to visit with the family members that passed before him. He got to look down at his son and wife, and wished he could show them what he now sees. How incredibly awesome is that? We mourn, and rightfully so. But James is happier than he has ever been! The Bible says that "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". The body is a shell, housing the everlasting spirit that composes the real you. Joyfully, thankfully, the real James awaits his loved ones in heaven.
Be encouraged, Scotty. Be comforted. And be challenged.......
Tuesday, February 21, 2006Game Review: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Today we are going to to take a look at Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time for the Nintendo DS. I got this game in a trade with a friend from cheapassgamer.com. I had heard it was a good game, and since I was looking to grow my rather weak NDS collection, I jumped at the opportunity to trade for it.
From the very first minute of play, I have loved this game. It is incredibly fun, in that way that only Mario & Luigi can be. Some people complain that Nintendo is milking this franchise to death, but as long as the games are fun, I say bring it on!
The game is, at it's core, a role-playing game. However, it is filled with action and adventure elements, so it really blurs the genre lines. The battles are turn-based, and resemble the typical RPG setup. And, you gain experience, and level up as in traditional RPGs. But, the similarities stop there. In the battles, you are required to use timed button presses to increase the damage of each attack, and to dodge the attacks of your enemies. If you are good, you can kill your enemies without ever being harmed. (Easier said than done, trust me!)
The game utilizes an interesting dynamic that really sets it apart from any other RPG I've ever played. You may have gathered from the game's title that there is some time-travel involved. The adult versions of Mario & Luigi go back in time, and meet up with their infantile counterparts. From that point on, all 4 of you travel and fight together. Mario carries baby Mario on his back, and Luigi carries baby Luigi on his. This team element really makes the battles interesting. The battles play out like this: Each player is assigned to one of the 4 buttons: X, Y, B, and A. When Mario goes to attack, you must press the button that is assigned to Baby Mario, and then the one for Adult Mario. The same goes for the Luigis. And then, there are the attack items. These involve timed button mashes, and all are fun and interesting to use.
So far, I've logged 7 hours with the game, and the end is nowhere in sight. I love that. In an RPG, I want a long and fulfilling experience. Thus far, I have found just that in this game. Highly recommended.
Today's video comes from Gavin Degraw. Entitled "Chariot", it is the second single off of his debut album. The album is really incredible, so if you enjoy this song, I recommend buying the CD immediately. It's one of those albums where every single song is great. Degraw's vocal gymnastics are certainly impressive, and enjoyable as well.
This is a much-subdued version of the song. The album version is more upbeat, and funkier musically. Still, I love both versions equally. I hope you like it too.
Monday, February 20, 2006Stone Temple Pilots - "Interstate Love Song"
Today's video is "Interstate Love Song", by STP. This band had a great run in the 90's, but have since disbanded. Today, the lead singer sings with the musicians from Guns n' Roses, to form the band Velvet Revolver. I don't like their music too much. Anyway, I saw STP in concert back in 2000 or so, and it was amazing. One of those memories you never forget. Hope you like it.
Sunday, February 19, 2006New video in the hizzouse.
New video on today, by Puff Daddy, The Notorious BIG, and Busta Rhymes. It is entitled "Victory". I really like the music in this song, it's so serious and moody. I really enjoy Biggie's music, and am saddened that we'll never get anything truly new from him now. Anyway, the video is rather long, but if you have the time to give it a listen, and like hip-hop music, you won't be disappointed. Enjoy amigos.
Saturday, February 18, 2006New blog feature =======>
Over to your right, you will see our new video player, brought to you courtesy of videocure.com. I will change the video every few days, so you can get a feel for my taste in music. Hope you enjoy it! Feel free to post your thoughts about the videos I choose.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006Gotta love the FF7 action.....
I love this picture! It's from Final Fantasy 7, one of my favorite games of all time. In fact, I think I will make it my new profile pic!
So, I finally finished this incredible game, and have written up a small but complete review. Enjoy!
God of War
God of War is a game centered around Greek mythology; mythical beasts, weapons, powers and gods abound. You are Kratos, a mortal who serves the gods, bound to accomplish their bidding. Many years ago, Kratos was a Greek general, commanding an army that annihilated all who stood in their path. One dark day, Kratos' army met the barbarians on the field of battle, self-assured of another simple victory. However, fate had a trump in its hand that day. The tide of the battle soon turned against Kratos' army, and Kratos found himself lying on his back, with the leader of the barabaric army standing over him, blade poised for the death kill. Seeing his life flash before his eyes, he called out to Ares, the God of War, to save his life. In return, Kratos swore his life to the service of the great Ares. Ares complied, and the barbaric army was decimated, Kratos' life spared. And so begins your journey......
This game was incredible. I know, the hype was huge. Any game with a good deal of hype has a tough task ahead of it, trying to fulfill the expectations placed upon it. I believe God of War does this effortlessly, and looks/feels great while doing it. Allow me to break it down, gangsta-style. (Well, not really like a gangsta....I'm whiter than Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club)
The best word for the sound in God of War would be "fitting". The ambient sound, as well as the sound effects, are totally in keeping with the setting and feel of the game. Kratos' gravelly voice conveys his inner turmoil and torture, and the screams of his victims during the cutscenes will make you glad you never faced off against him. The enemy beasts emit the expected growls and bellows, and that makes it all the more fun to bash the living crap out of them.
What I loved most about the sound: Kratos’ voice. Totally fits his persona.
While the graphics are impressive, they are earth-shattering like some reviews have touted them to be. They can't compare to some other recent PS2 titles, such as Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, or Resident Evil 4. Still, they are quite nice. The build and muscle mass of Kratos' design really make him seem powerful and strong. The scenery is beautiful, even epic. My favorite image, however, is the swinging of the deadly Blades of Chaos as they slice the enemies to pieces. They flail about, leaving a trail of blood and gore in their path, and leaving me feeling totally satisfied. Good stuff.
What I loved most about the graphics: The Blades of Chaos whirling around as they bring my enemies to their knees.
I loved the story. Kratos' journey to redemption is a believable one, and you can feel his pain as his story is played out before you. A creepy old woman serves as the narrator, and her voice is right on. The story begins with our anti-hero throwing himself from a cliff, in an attempt to end his pain and suffering. The narrator then takes you back to the beginning of Kratos' trek to slay the god Ares. During this trek, you are given flashbacks of Kratos' past, and these help clue you in as to why he is in so much personal hell. Cut scenes are used well, spaced correctly and helping to propel the story, without distracting from the action. And man, does the action abound! That is for the gameplay section, though....
I think the story is awesome. The devs took some creative freedom in the design of the enemies, levels, and background, and it works very well. You feel like you are in ancient Greece mythology, but somehow it seems almost modern in it's delivery. The gameplay actually only spans what seems to be a few days, but the story presented covers more than 10 years. It is done so fluently, you will always know what is going on.
What I loved most about the story: The sheer goriness of it. The game is totally unapologetic about the murderous nature of Kratos, and I love it.
Ah, the meat of the review. Yes, God of War is best when served hot and messy, and that's the way you're gonna be getting it. Tons of enemies to slay, tons of puzzles to solve, tons of bosses and mini-bosses to overcome.....it's all here, and they even tied it up in a pretty package for you. The fighting is so much fun. You will ultimately have three weapons, but only two are available for the bulk of the game. Of those two, you will use the Blades of Chaos the most. The Blade of Artemis is a massive sword, slow and powerful, and not nearly as fun to wield as the Chaos Blades. These Blades are like short fat swords on chains, that you swing around using your square and triangle keys. X is used for jumping, and O is for holds, and for activating the fatality-esqe kill scenes. Throughout the course of the game, you will gain access to many different combos, so the fighting never gets stale. There is always some new combo or item to try out on the doomed enemies that rise before you.
To add to the mischief, you are able to acquire several special abilities during the course of the game. These are Poseidon’s Rage, Zeus’ Fury, Medusa’s Gaze, and Army of Hades. All are very unique, and come in handy in different situations. These would be considered the magic attacks of the game. All of them are upgradeable, as are the Blades of Chaos and the Blade of Artemis. This role-playing element really adds a nice touch, even though it is a rather small part of the game.
The combat is what kept me coming back for more. It is what compelled me to switch on my PS2 every chance I got. It is what made me replay certain parts of the game, just so I could kill the enemies again. And, it is what will have me playing this game again and again, and never selling/trading it. It really is THAT fun. It feels a good deal like the combat in Rygar, with Blades of Chaos handling similar to the Disc that Rygar uses. By the way, if you haven’t played Rygar for PS2, you really should. You can get it for less than $10, and it is a great gaming experience.
What I loved most about the gameplay: How could I ever choose?
The game has some good extras. The Challenge of the Gods is unlocked once you beat the game, and it is a series of challenges that help you unlock costumes. These costumes can then be used in a new game, and offer varying strengths and weaknesses. These challenges are no pushover however; I have yet to complete this task.
The game also offers some great artwork from the game, deleted levels, and even some videos that hint at what the sequel might center around. Finally, beating the game unlocks God Mode. Beating the game in God Mode unlocks other extras, but seeing as how I haven’t attempted God Mode yet, I can’t clue you in on what those extras might be.
What I loved most about the extras: The ability to unlock a cow suit. Hilarious.
This game, for me, was all it was cracked up to be. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and hope to play it again soon. The best part of the experience came in the beginning: As I began to control Kratos, I really and truly felt like a bada$$ myself. Kratos is undeniably strong and unforgiving, and that really translates well to the player. I could feel myself assuming his demeanor during the game, taking out all my vicious anger on the foes that rose before me. Down they went….oh yes, down they went.
Score: Great, great, great. Go buy this now. It’s worth the extra money. 9.5/10
Sorry about the hiatus...I was preoccupied with Mrs. Ender's gallbladder removal, the 12DP fiasco, and a couple other things. However, I'm back, and I purged all of the 12DP stuff from the blog. The program is in serious trouble, or so it seems, and I'd like to distance myself from it. I just hope to get my money back.
Anyway, not a whole lot is new. I spent the evening last night at a high school friend's house. He is now married with a 20-month old son. We had an awesome time!!
The blog is back baby!