Tuesday, June 28, 2011

G-Rank, Journey (PSN), Capcom's New Scheme, and Explosive Fanbuoyancy  


Family: To start out tonight, I want to wish my son Rhys my most heartfelt, enthusiastic congratulations for finally getting into Monster Hunter Freedom Unite’s G-Rank missions. It's official.

He's worked hard, put up with a ton of frustrations, taken dozens of defeats, and yet kept on going. Now, all of that effort has paid off and he’s at the same level as his old man. These missions are some of the hardest in the entire series, so making it here is no small feat.

I couldn't be more proud.

Special thanks go out to @SilentHitoshura and the guys at the Monster Hunter Podcast for teaming up with us at various points and lending us their support. In the end, it really is a team effort.


Games: Earlier today, I was fortunate enough to receive a code into the Journey Beta that's now available in limited quantities on the PSN network. I'm a huge fan of @ThatGameCompany’s work, and Journey is definitely one of the upcoming download titles I've been looking forward to the most.

I am quite happy to report that it did not disappoint.

First things first, I think the concept of a "beta" is being perverted into meaning something that it doesn't -- no offense to TGC since they are hardly the only people guilty of doing so, but this “beta” is for all intents and purposes, a misrepresented demo.

Now, with that issue off my chest, I can say with a clear conscience that Journey is moody, evocative, mysterious, and totally beautiful. Such work is par for the course for TGC, but I'll be damned if more than a small handful of developers out there are operating on this level. Amazing stuff.

The demo consists of the player's red-robed, highly stylized nomad character walking through what appears to be an endless desert and seeing what is (I assume) the ultimate destination of the journey -- a tall mountain with a shining light erupting from its peak.

I don't want to spoil anything since (much like fl0w and Flower) discovery is part of the joy in playing, so I'll just say that the playable sections illustrate the character's ability to jump, the ability to "call", the mechanics of moving on to the next areas, and ends with the character arriving at a very ominous-looking structure -- all of it text and dialogue-free.

The last thing I'll say? If there had been a "Pay $10 to keep playing now” button at the end of the demo, I would have hit it, and hit it hard.


Games: In more negative news, game circles have been buzzing about Capcom's recent decision to release their new 3DS Resident Evil title without the ability to reset data.


Essentially, when a player buys it new and starts progressing through the various modes, all of those stats and unlocks are hard-saved to the cartridge. That's all well and good, except for the fact that if the player wants to wipe the data and start fresh for any reason, it's not possible.

Why is this a problem?

Imagine all the times that you've deleted a save and went back to the beginning of a game to relive one of your favorite adventures from scratch, or when you've beat a game and cleared the memory so that a friend could play it. What about if you subscribe to a service like GameFly and it's your habit to clear the previous user's data before you put the game through its paces?

Any player who's been in the hobby for more than five minutes has certainly done one of these things, and it's hard for me to imagine this new "no resetting data, EVER” move to be perceived as anything other than an incredibly distasteful anti-consumer tactic designed to increase sales and put the kibosh on the used market.

Come on, Capcom... you've done some silly things in the past, but this? This is taking it a step too far.


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Twitter. There are a million reasons why, but today I just got one more to add to the list -- where else could I possibly get a direct, personal response from my mostest favoritest author in the whole wide world?

That's right, today I got a tweet from @JoeLansdale hisownself, and the supersonic girlie squee-cry I emitted out of pure fanboy rapture could be heard three states away. Go ahead and laugh. I'm not ashamed.

Twitter kicks ass.

Food: Just one last quick note. Ben & Jerry's Bonnaroo Buzz is made of coffee ice cream, malt ice cream, whiskey caramel swirls and English toffee pieces... AND IT IS CRAZY-MAD NOMMY.

Track some down and bring a friend along who'll step in and prevent you from eating the whole thing.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Family That Slays Together... and, an Evening with Swery and his Premonition  


Family: Earlier this evening, my oldest son and I were sitting together with PSPs in hand, team questing in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. After a while, he randomly turned to me and gave me a big hug, telling me that I was the best dad ever. I asked him why.

Because you play Monster Hunter with me and help me when I need it, because you take care of me and the family, because you work so hard, and because you have fun with us.”

My own father and I have always had a terrible relationship, and in fact, we're not even speaking anymore. When I was younger, I often felt frustrated, angry and disappointed that he and I weren’t closer, and that things were always so rocky. Still do. Fathers and sons always have their rough patches to be sure, but there was consistently some vital connection lacking with us -- some piece that was just missing.

As an example of the kind of connection we had, I can clearly remember several times when I would want to jump on my NES and take turns with the old man, practically begging him to come over and sit with me on the carpet for a few minutes, and he never, ever took me up on it.

Not once.

It may be a bit cliché, but I always told myself that I would do things the exact opposite of the way that he did when it came to raising my own kids. I get that people tend to say this sweeping phrase in a reactionary way without thinking it through, but in my case, I can honestly say that I did, and that using my old man as a roadmap of the route not to take has served me well.

I've never forgotten the times my dad hurt me or let me down, and whenever I've been slammed at work and I'm too tired to play, or I want to just sit down in front of the TV, or when I've had a long day and I want to disappear into the office and shut the door, I remind myself of how it felt when my dad did those things to me and then I act accordingly. I act opposite.

Those few words from my son tonight, totally unsolicited and spontaneous, were the best gift he could have ever given me, and an unequivocal validation of the choices I make as a father. All the headaches, early mornings, late nights, messes to clean up and hard work I've put into being the best dad that I could be?

Worth it.


Games: Speaking of Monster Hunter, I just wanted to briefly mention to those familiar with the game that my 9-year-old son only has two quests to complete and a couple of Urgents before he hits G-Rank.
I repeat, my 9-year-old is a hop, skip, and jump away from entering G-Rank. That may not mean much to those of you reading who haven't played the game, but for those of you that have... I think I just heard your mind being blown.

I'm so proud of his hard work and accomplishments, you don't even know.

(Oh, and in case you missed it, here's a link to my guest appearance on the Monster Hunter Podcast. My avatar isn't actually on camera all that much, but there are a few choice moments of conversation and our hunting group takes down some pretty big stuff.)


Games: The mad auteur behind Deadly Premonition, Swery65, has updated his blog and has posted something rather interesting… Basically, he's explaining how the game creation process works and putting feelers out for a publisher at the same time.

(Scroll all the way down for the English-language version.)

Someone, anyone, give this guy some money. With a real budget and little more freedom than he had the last time, is there any question that he would turn out anything less than a work of pure genius?


Games: Speaking of Swery65 and Deadly Premonition, fans of the game should absolutely click on over to Pioneer Project and see the amazing point-by-point comparison (pictures included) between the game and its spiritual predecessor, television series Twin Peaks.

Agent Dale Cooper

Agent Francis York Morgan
It's absolutely stunning to see the parallels laid out, and will certainly add an extra layer of depth and appreciation to the unique relationship that exists between the work of David Lynch and Swery 65. If you're a fan of either, DO NOT MISS.


Games: GamePro has a great article about Mass Effect and how Commander Shepard’s sexuality intertwines with player choice. It's written by sharp dude Scott Nichols, and is a must-read for anyone who cares about how relationships, sex and RPGs come together.

Oh damn, did I really just say that?


Monday, June 20, 2011

Alice and Akimi  


Just a quick one tonight, I've been working a lot of night shifts lately and it's catching up to me. Still, I hate delaying updates for more than a day or two, so hopefully this will tide you over...


Games: Still playing Alice: Madness Returns, and progress has been slower than expected for two reasons.

The first is that the levels are long as hell and every section in the game could easily have been trimmed back by at least a third (if not more) and the game would not have suffered a bit for it.

The second reason is that I judged the content to be a little too intense for my kids, so I'm not playing it in front of them. Not having daytime hours available to play slows down the review process quite a bit, but hey, no one ever said being responsible is easy.

All that stuff aside, I do enjoy the title. The art direction is stellar and I have a great fondness for the character of Alice herself. The way the developers put her together was totally elegant, and she feels both approachably simple and pleasantly complex at the same time. The mood and tone of the game is spot-on as well, provided that you like dark, psychotic adventures.

It's not the knockout that it could have been thanks to bloated levels and a little too much emphasis on random doodad collection, but it's still a good time. Look for a full review in the near future.


I tried Akimi Village on PSN today, or rather, I had my son put it through its paces while I watched and caught up on some important paperwork.

Being quite literal, the game is XBLA’s A Kingdom for Keflings re-skinned with different graphics. This is essentially a good thing since the game is one of my favorite downloadables and it's a great fit for kids. With no violence and no penalty for making mistakes during gameplay, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with something that's friendlier for little ones to get into. The downside? Players looking for something a little different will be disappointed.

Those who've had their fill of the two downloadable titles similar to this one on Microsoft's service will have little reason to check it out, but if you want more parent-approved town-building or have never played the Keflings games in the first place, then it comes with a strong recommendation to people who don't need to shoot aliens in the head to have a good time.


Friday, June 17, 2011

El Shaddai, A Monster Hunter Podcast, and Alice: Madness Returns  


Games: I just tried the El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron demo available on Xbox Live.

Although I've been hearing about the game for quite some time and seen loads of screenshots, seeing the game in motion is something else entirely.

From the little bit I played through, I was pretty impressed with the art direction. It reminded me quite a bit of Killer 7 with the vibrant colors, abstract usage of space and minimalist detail. The concept of minimalism seems to be applied to the combat, as well. With one button for attacks, one button for blocks, and one button for jump, the controls are quite streamlined.

I'm definitely more interested in it now that I've played the demo, though I'm wondering how well the game will hold up with what basically amounts to one-button combat -- worst-case scenario is that it ends up as a flashy eyecatcher with boring-after-an-hour fights.

Regardless, it's been bumped up a few notches on the list of games I'm looking forward to checking out.


The great guys over at the Monster Hunter Podcast were kind enough to invite me on their show and we taped both audio and video of some quests that we did together.

In the episode we taped, we kill this thing.
Even though I've spent (collectively) somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 hours or thereabouts on the various MH games, it was still a little humbling to go hunting with a group of guys who were obviously equipped with way better gear than I had. The bulk of my playtime has been solo, so I haven't had much opportunity to take on the highest-level quests to earn some of the coolest stuff. Hopefully that will change in the near future, but for today's recording I had to make do with the middling items I had on hand.

… Needless to say, those guys did most of the work when it came to putting the beasties down.

In addition to my thanks for having me on the program, they also earn kudos for being willing to take my son on a quick quest to rank up before the recording started. Thanks to their helping hands, we knocked out one of the hardest missions in the game (dual Tigrex) in a little over five minutes. If you aren't familiar with that particular mission, that's basically the equivalent of scoring a hundred touchdowns and flat-out winning the Super Bowl halfway through the first quarter.

Once again, props to the MHP crew, and I'll post a link here when the recording goes live.


So, as I mentioned in the last post, I just started playing Alice: Madness Returns (360) for review.

I haven't had a lot of time to actually sit down and jam through it, but I was able to complete the first section and my impressions were mostly positive. The visuals were pleasantly trippy and I'm definitely a fan of the art style. I also have a soft spot for the various incarnations of Alice in Wonderland anyway, so that was also a tick in the plus column.

However, like I said, I'm still way early in the game. Although I'm looking forward to getting back to it, I have to admit that I'm already starting to get a few warning signs.

Essentially, I'm a concerned that the bulk of play is going to adhere to some of the old-school choices that were on display right from the start -- things like breaking open containers to earn money, flipping switches to open doors and dealing with a surprising amount of platform jumping. There's nothing wrong with any of that stuff in general, but the way it comes together here gives the impression that the design philosophy is a little (a lot?) outdated.

Although Alice’s status as Bayonetta junior kicking ass in a creepy nightmare world is clicking with me so far, if the story doesn't come through, I suspect that the gameplay might start to wear on me -- doubly so if reports that the game runs somewhere in the twenty-hour range are true. I really can’t imagine a game of this type justifying a completion time of that length, so I'm hoping that things turn out for the best here.

We’ll see…


Wednesday, June 15, 2011



A bunch of random stuff tonight. Hang on!


TV: From website io9, a report that 2012 will not receive a full season of Doctor Who.

While I would ordinarily feel quite upset about this, my lack of enthusiasm for the current starting-to-fall-into-disarray-like-Heroes-did season mitigates the emotional trauma. The people behind the show right now need to get their ducks in a row before going on, so maybe slowing things down will get them back on track.


Games: From @NaviFairyGG over at GayGamer comes a brief interview with Jordan Thomas, one of the people currently working on the X-COM reboot.

In this piece, it's revealed that one of the characters is a closeted homosexual, and that the game will actually address this aspect of the script rather than having it be an interesting footnote divulged three years after everyone's forgotten about the game.

Color me intrigued!


David Wong over at Cracked.Com utterly nails it with a piece detailing the "six most ominous trends in video games". Despite the humorous slant, he’s utterly spot-on with his observations. It's almost as though he's been reading my mind…


Apparently there's only one man in America who makes specialized controllers for quadriplegic gamers, and according to the article over at MSNBC, he may not be making them for much longer.


I haven't played LA Noire yet (and to be perfectly honest, I'm finding it quite difficult to marshal up the willpower to do so) but I found Tom Bissell’s piece over over at Grantland to be both intimidatingly intelligent and highly interesting despite not being familiar with the subject firsthand.

I can only imagine those who played it will find it even more worthwhile than I did, and really, I did.


One final note for the night, the wife and I finally finished off Hunted: the Demon’s Forge on 360.

Although in fairness we weren't able to jam on it every night and get it done like we had originally planned, it still took a hell of a lot longer than I had ever anticipated. I'm glad to have finally completed it though, and now that it's all been said and done, I really kind of liked it.

It's not perfect, though. It's easily two times longer than it should be and only half as polished as it deserves, but there's a good kind of energy happening here. Underneath the problems, I was able to connect with it. 

However, I do want to qualify that statement by saying I think most of the enjoyment came from simply having a decent venue in which to play with my wife. If I had to go through the game solo, I'm pretty sure that I would have quit at least halfway, if not sooner.

With Hunted out of the way, I'll be moving on to Alice: Madness Returns (360) next. I'm a little concerned since I've been hearing it's also another lukewarm, problematic game that runs twice as long as it needs to, but that remains to be seen…


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Misc: I had a long essay written out for tonight's post, but I have to admit that after writing it, I started to have second thoughts. I still have it and I may put it up later, but after talking it over with a few people, it seemed that a shitstorm would be inevitable and I just don't have the time or energy for that right now.

Sorry to keep you waiting, but I think I should probably sleep on it.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving At A Fast Clip  


Wow, it's been a while since I went this long without updating.

Can't say I'm really surprised, though... My oldest son is here for an abbreviated version of summer, so with two kids in the house, juggling a bunch of freelance work and trying to get some snuggling in with the wife at night, there's been precious little opportunity to do much else.

Ah, summer.
It's strange to think that back when I was a kid still living at home, days seemed to go on forever. There were more times than I could count when I could get up after sleeping in, read a book, watch some TV, play some games, play outside, and even after all that, I still had an hour or two to sit around and complain about being bored… I can only dream of having those kinds of days now.

Clearly, free time is wasted on the young!


Games-wise, the wife and I are still pushing through in Hunted: the Demon’s Forge (360). A friend of mine recently made the comment that he was enjoying it, but that he would never recommend it to anyone.

I'd have to say, I totally, totally agree with that.

The end of the game's gotta be be around here SOMEWHERE...
There are so many rough edges and irritations that if I wasn't playing it co-op, I'm not sure that I would have bothered to keep going as long as I have. Having a partner along for the ride enriches the entire experience and makes up for a lot of shortcomings that would certainly erode a single player’s good will and patience.

On the other hand, a partner (even a fantastic one like mine) can only make up for so much. Hunted is long as hell, and in all honesty, I would have been completely satisfied with half the amount of content that's here. This nasty, roughish little game has somehow found itself a comfortable niche on my good side, but I'm ready for it to be over while I still have a certain fondness for it.

Otherwise, my addiction to Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (PSP) has been renewed now that worldwide multiplayer is possible with the return of PSN.

Currently working on making this Black Fatalis armor. Thanks to the super-rad MH Wiki for the pic!
Having now found a group of people to quest with, it's a realistic goal to keep striving towards the last few bits of the game I haven't seen yet. I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 hours at this point, and amazingly, I'm still learning new tricks and still reaching for the last four or five bosses I haven't even encountered.

Game is d33p.


So, the five-ish paragraphs above that took you 25 seconds to read have basically summarized my entire week… there's been no further progress on the final edits of my book, my inbox is out of control, I haven't watched a single movie or TV show, and life feels like it’s moving a million miles a minute -- I mean, I just realized the other day that 2011 is half over already, and it kinda blew my mind.

Switching into a slightly lower gear would be a welcome thing right about now.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Sony, Sony, Sony, Hunted, Doctor Who and Sarah Jane  


Wow, where to begin? It feels like there’s so much to talk about….

Games: Clearly the big news today was the array of press conferences given prior to the official opening of E3. The GameCritics podcast crew will be covering the show during our recording session this coming weekend, so look for our comments in detail to follow shortly afterwards. I have a feeling that it might be a longer-than-usual episode.

Since the show hasn't officially started and I have a lot of research to do since I'm not on the floor this year (more on that later) I won't say too much at the moment. However, the biggest reveal for me so far has been Sony's price tag of $250 for the PS Vita, formerly known as the NGP, also known as the PSP2. That's an incredible price for such a snazzy piece of technology. Apparently Sony has learned from the pricing mistakes it made earlier this generation.

(By the way, there's also a $300 3G model available, but apparently that service will only be provided through AT&T and I'll be damned if I sign up for another wireless service plan. The standard Vita’s Wifi will suit me just fine, thanks.)

Sony also announced a special 3D monitor that sports a new trick -- in addition to the standard 3D display, it can also run in a different mode to display two different screens per visual channel.

What this means is that two people sitting side-by-side can look at the same screen and see completely different things. Basically, it's couch co-op with each person having a fullscreen view while using only one TV. It’s pretty amazing stuff and I will admit that I am impressed, although I don't like the idea of wearing glasses to take advantage of it and I'm not very inclined to use 3D in general. Honestly, this probably isn't something for me, but still… pretty formidable tech.

Oh, and about not being on the floor... I had a couple friends ask if I was going to be at the show this year, and I told them that I wasn't because it coincides with the beginning of my oldest son’s summer visits with me. Up until this point I guess I hadn't really realized that the show will likely always coincide, so I probably won't be going again until he’s able to come with me… another six or eight years, maybe?

As much as I love games, family always comes first and since I only get to see my boy three times a year, there's no way that E3 (as much as I love it) will take precedence over hanging out with my man. On the plus side, PAX Prime happens about ten minutes from my house, so there's always that.


Games: While I'm on the topic of Sony, I'm quite happy to report that PSN is back up and the PS Store is now functional. Why does this make me so happy? Because I was finally able to re-download AdHoc Party and partake of some online monster hunting using my PSP.

How it works is that it turns your PS3 into a WiFi spot that can connect with other PSP users around the globe. For a game like Monster Hunter Freedom Unite which supports AdHoc-only multi (meaning: local, in the same room) this is an absolute godsend. My son and I were able to hook up with a friend in Scotland and another player in parts unknown, and the four of us went on a successful series of quests. Without AdHoc Party, the four of us would have had to have been in the same room, and realistically, that would have never happened.

For some bizarre reason, Sony has kept this free-to-download-from-the-PSN-store program a secret. With so few PSP games supporting Infrastructure mode (meaning: fully online) they should have been trumpeting the virtues of this program from every rafter. Instead, barely anyone knows about it and I can't recall Sony ever making any sort of an official statement or PR push for it. Talk about stupid moves... considering how much the PSP has been struggling in its early years, they should have done a lot more to get the word out.


Games: I'm still playing through Hunted: the Demon’s Forge and it's still unpolished fun. The game is turning out to be much longer than expected, at least twice as long as the average action game of this sort.

I'm not really complaining since I'm still enjoying it, but I'm starting to get that nagging "need to start working on my next review" feeling that pops up when a game I'm playing does not introduce any new mechanics but continues on and on and on.

Again, I'm not saying it's bad (because it's not) but I might have given a second thought to taking it on for review if I'd known how long it was going to be.


TV: three quick things...

>Firefly - I have two episodes left and the Serenity feature film to go.

>Doctor Who - The wife and I just watched the second half of the two-part cliffhanger (The Rebel Flesh/Almost People) and I've got to say that I'm becoming massively unhappy with the level of writing in the show right now. It's kind of in a rough, middle area -- not goofy, light fun as it was for most of the first four seasons, nor is it properly dramatic and fleshed-out enough to satisfy.

For example, this two-parter didn't really strike a chord with me until the end, and by that point the director had already wasted nearly two hours having the characters run around in dark hallways and babble about little of significance. It wasn't nearly as cerebral or as thoughtful as it could've been, and that ending bit (won’t spoil it here, but it’s not the part you’re thinking of) was the only bit that I found even remotely interesting.

I realize that Moffatt (now in control) has written some of the best episodes, but I feel as though he's grossly mishandling the season overall. Too much violence, the characters don't seem to be written in accordance with who they were last season, and it seems as though he's trying to pull off another ZOMG-EVERYTHING-WAS-ALL-CONNECTED like the end of season four. To me, following in those footsteps is a poor goal so soon after a reboot of the reboot… I’d have been happy with a solid season and had it been left at that.

>The Sarah Jane Adventures – Still calling myself a Doctor Who fan despite my mini-rant above, the wife and I have been saving this spin-off for when my son arrived. Glad we waited, he seems to love it.

In a nutshell, it stars one of the Doc’s old sidekicks in post-TARDIS life as she investigates alien plots, defends the Earth from evil, and other such business. It might not be for everyone since it's slanted towards a younger school-aged audience, basically the opposite of Torchwood’s after-dark sensibilities. However, it’s quick, jaunty good times and retains enough of the Who flavor to keep us all interested.

Thumbs up so far!



I'd usually update tonight, but my oldest son arrived for the summer and it's been a whirlwind of activity so far. Please forgive the lack of new content, but I should have something up soon. In the meantime, E3 is this week... Reading the reports from folks on the floor should keep you (and me) busy!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hunted: the Demon's Forge, Monster Hunter iPhone, Crimson Alliance and Firefly  

EDIT: Oops, forgot to announce the Lost Odyssey winner when I initially updated. Sorry! The winner was...AUSTEN! Austen, please get in touch with me and I'll send your game out ASAP! And to everybody else, thanks for entering!


Games: So the wife and I have spent the last couple of days playing Hunted: the Demon’s Forge in co-op.

This is an interesting game for the fact that Bethesda did not send out any pre-release copies to reviewers, instead mailing them to coincide with the retail sales date. In general, this is a sign of a publisher who has no confidence in the product, but I'm not quite sure what made them send it out with such little fanfare. If you ask me, it's a much more enjoyable game than Bethesda's other recent release, Brink, and they were trumpeting that one to the high heavens. I think maybe someone in their marketing department got a few wires switched…

Anyway, it seems that there is a lot of confusion about this game, and with so little information out there, that's not hard to understand. Here's the scoop:

In a nutshell, Hunted is basically Gears of War done up in Gothic style.

Hulking bruiser Caddoc and reckless elf E’lara have more than a little in common with Marcus and Dom, and for those players who enjoyed Gears (like me) this isn't a bad thing. The game's levels are basically laid out the same way as Epic’s, with each crumbling castle or muddy courtyard designed in a mostly-linear fashion to lead the player from point A to point B.

The characters are actually balanced fairly well -- each one has access to melee, magic and ranged attacks, but they each specialize in their own disciplines. Caddoc is a monster with a sword, but his crossbow attacks are painfully slow. E’lara deals a healthy amount of death from a distance, but her swordplay leaves much to be desired. You get the idea.

So far the levels are absolutely huge. The first complete area took several hours to get through, and there are plenty of hidden treasure chambers to discover, with most of those being fairly substantial, as well. Combat works well enough, though it needs more polish (just like the rest of the game.) It doesn't have the sort of buttery smoothness that the best action titles have, but it's more than serviceable. There have been a few crazy difficulty spikes though, and the life system relies on the player collecting vials of magic potion. The distribution of these has been a bit of a problem... it seems to go back and forth between having far too many, or none at all. I would have much preferred a regenerating health system, but it's not a huge issue.

In general there are a load of rough edges and weird things, but nothing game-breaking so far. In fact, it's been pretty enjoyable... however, I will say that I've been playing co-op the entire time, and I'm not quite sure how much I would be digging the experience if I was going through it on my own. If every level ends up being as large as the first one, it may be a case of too much content, BUT it's still holding my attention at the moment.

…And really, like I said before, this game is totally better than Brink. Bethesda backed the wrong horse in this case.


Games: In other games news, I've seen little bits and pieces of an alleged Monster Hunter iPhone game, only to find out that not only is the game real, it's already available for download!

Here's a quick video of what Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting looks like... it's definitely a ‘LITE’ version of the other games, but it retains the basic elements while shifting things more towards a pick-up-and-play, action-heavy direction.

Basically, the player can pick from one of three weapon types (sword & shield, dual swords, or great sword) and each level completely forgoes any harvesting of natural resources or wandering around through wilderness areas. Instead, each target monster is directly in the center of the screen and the player must attack, dodge and counter as if it was an encounter in a small arena. Monsters telegraph attacks with little flashes of light, and a successful dodge awards a super-attack that can be used in addition to standard strikes.

At the end of each mission, resources are awarded and the player can choose to create new weapons and armor, or upgrade what they've got. Once that's done, you head back into another mission and keep on collecting more resources.

Each battle happens extremely quickly, no more than a few minutes each and the difficulty in general is a lot lower than the ‘standard’ versions of the game. I blew through the first five monsters like they were nothing before going to bed, and although this is definitely not as in-depth as satisfying as the big-boy MH games, I can see myself logging five minutes here and ten minutes there when I need to kill some time.


Games: I’m going to be a little bold here and say that I did not find Torchlight to be nearly as fun or exciting as most people did. In fact, I kind of lost interest before finishing the demo on XBLA, which was a real disappointment considering how long I had been waiting for it to come to consoles. With that being a bust and no hard info on a potential console version of Diablo III, it seems to me that there is still a dungeon-crawling niche that needs to be filled.

Apparently, from the one screenshot that's been released so far, Crimson Alliance is looking to potentially plug that gap. Not a lot of info right now, but I am a fan of the genre (if indeed this game falls within it) and if someone can really nail that formula down, I'm there.


TV: The wife and I have been watching Firefly over the last two weeks, not quite an episode a day, but close. As of tonight, we only have three episodes (plus the feature film Serenity) left. At this point, I can see why people took the show's cancellation so hard.

I'm not going to say very much about it or start waxing poetic, but I will say that we have greatly enjoyed everything about it and I will be genuinely sad to reach the end of the series. The performances really start to come together after just a few shows, and every installment has been solidly entertaining.

Special kudos go out to Nathan Fillion for doing such a fine job as lead character Mal Reynolds, too… his awkward nuances and self-conflicting attitudes bring the role to life and give depth that grounds the entire show.

Anyway, it's a real shame that the show had such a short run. I can think of a million programs not even a fraction as good as this one that went on for season after season, but I guess that's the way it goes. No one's ever accused a TV network of having good taste.