The Slim Jims

Two weekends ago, my girlfriend and I decided to have a few drinks while playing Halo 4.

We exhausted our supply pretty quickly, and made up our minds to brave the cold and hit the 7-Eleven across the street. On the way home, our bags filled with beer, Slim Jims, chips, and other goodies, we passed by the building of lofts adjacent to our own complex and heard people singing to music.

“I think someone’s playing Rock Band!” I told my girlfriend as she animatedly snooped around to find the source. Suddenly, she called into an open window.

“Hey! Are you guys playing Rock Band!?”
“Yeah!”
“I can take anyone in that game!”
“Oh, you’re good!? Well, come on in!”

She motioned for me to follow her, and wide-eyed, I did.

Inside, we were greeted by a crowd of people, drinks in hand and singing along to the music. We were approached by the woman I assume must have been hosting the party, and as she shook my hand an introduced herself, I apologized instantly for wearing sweatpants.

I felt entirely out-of-place and completely uncomfortable, but everyone welcomed us with smiles and waves, and when the hostess selected Bohemian Rhapsody as the next song, how could I not join in the singing? All of us belted the lyrics, banged our heads, swayed from side to side, and shared laughs when it was over.

One of the two gentlemen sitting by the window leapt to his feet and demanded that my girlfriend and I take the mic and the guitar to show everyone how it’s done, and everyone cheered us on until we took our places.

So there I was surrounded by total strangers, wearing a ragged pair of sweatpants and holding a bag of Slim Jims and chips as I sang Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”. Well, I tried to. I only know the chorus.

When it was over, the crowd dubbed us “The Slim Jims” with cheers and applause before we passed-off our instruments, waved goodbye, and thanked the hostess.

On the walk home, we laughed at the thought of everyone waking up tomorrow, furrowing their brows and asking each other, “Did two total strangers come in here and sing last night…?”

The Fine Line

I play video games to have fun.

My girlfriend and I logged into The Secret World to run some Nightmare Dungeons this past Sunday morning. No one in our cabal was kicking around at 6am, so we jumped into a pick-up group.

Anyone who plays MMOs knows that you’re rolling the dice when you play with a PUG. We’ve had some annoyances in the past, but by and large, we’ve met some great people and have a high opinion of the TSW community as a result.

But this time was different.

Now, despite the fact that I’m end-game, I don’t know everything there is to know about The Secret World. I don’t crunch numbers, I don’t craft theories, I don’t min-max, or anything like that. I build decks that I enjoy playing, and TSW’s 500+ abilities ensures that I can play a role numerous ways and correct any deficiencies on the fly.

A particular DPS in our group was armed to the teeth with QL10.4 gear, The Secret World’s best. When he landed a monstrous critical hit on The Darkness War’s first boss, I lost aggro and we had to wipe.

“what the hell was that come on man”, he scoffed when we regrouped before sending me his own tank build entitled “REAL G SHIT TANK” and then rattling off a list of reasons why I suck. I’m always open to suggestions, so I added it to my collection and resolved to take a look at it later. But I knew what went wrong: I had to really lay on the aggro to keep him covered, and so I did.

When we got to the third boss, who uses an ability to break aggro, the DPS ate it again. “gay”, he opined with grace and tact. I realized he must have been getting frustrated; who wouldn’t? So I changed some things up, and the next few boss fights went off without a hitch.

In the meantime, he kept posting messages in group chat that were intended for his cabal between snarky comments:

“DPS really sucks,” he said, and then quickly added, “my* DPS really sucks”. Humility? Not this guy. Misstell.

Then out of nowhere, “a lot of cabals really hate me”. Can’t imagine why.

When we reached the final boss, my deck was nearly unrecognizable with abilities I’d never used before. After a few wipes, he asked, “landiien can you dps”. I told him, “I could, but it’s melee DPS… >.<“. “switch to dps,” he commanded.

A few moments went by while everyone altered their abilities, when suddenly he asked, “what the hell kind of group is this that use melee in NM dungeons”.

“Somone who usually plays as a tank,” my girlfriend responded, “Would you relax?”

I’ve cleared The Darkness War several times before this with the same deck I always use to tank. Up to that point, I’d done my best to understand his frustration, accept his suggestions, and to be as cordial as possible. The guy had managed to insult and ridicule everyone on the team, and had murdered the mood of an initially chatty group. Suddenly, I realized, I was working.

“Good luck,” I told the team, “I play this game to have fun. This isn’t that serious.”

And we left.

It doesn’t matter how good your gear is, how knowledgable you are, or even how skilled; when you’re playing with a group, it’s all about working together.

He could have been the best player in the entire game, but he still left that dungeon short on bullion and with a sixteen-hour timer before he could try it again.

Metacritique: Halo 4

Looking for some laughs? Look no further than Metacritic’s User Reviews!

Below, you’ll find the best (worst) negative AND positive Halo 4 user reviews on tap at Metacritic.com!

Score: 3

Whilst I have only played normal difficulty, fighting an elite in past halo games was an awesome challenge. Halo 4’s elites do not feel challenging or smart, as well as the other enemies, something that did not exist on the normal difficulty setting of other halo’s.

Well, if you’re not getting the challenge you want on Normal, there are TWO other difficulty settings.

Multiplayer is fun, but it’s not halo multiplayer – the ultimate thrill of halo multiplayer was never in a perks/ability system, but just in the fact it was halo…

The “ultimate thrill” definitely wasn’t the gameplay. In fact, I often joined multi-player games just to stand around because, hey – it’s Halo!

More plot holes than swiss cheese and it’s not even easy to follow.

Swiss Cheese needs new writers.

Going into the game all I wanted was the same old halo, but 343 in trying to do this actually made it the killer… they need to forget about recycling bungie halo and take some bold steps to make it their own in future titles.…

So more of the same, but different!

Score: 0

This doesn’t seem like a game for people who want to enjoy playing games it’s a marketing tool to advertise Mountain Dew’s and Doritio’s latest gunk they want to shove down your throats.

Yeah, I thought it was kind of weird when Master Chief climbed out of that cryochamber and pounded a bottle of Dew. I’m starting to get tired of Cortana talking through a mouth full of Doritos every time she pops into my HUD, too. Still, I can’t help shoving that gunk down my many throats.

…the dull and uninspiring levels that have been polished to the point I can smell the polish coming off it.

Good…?

Score: 0

Does the game deserve the score itself I have given? Of course not, and no game does, but it’s not really about that.

Reviews aren’t about reviewing, and no game deserves a zero, but this game gets a zero.

When you see so many “professional” reviews giving perfect scores to a game whose existence is embarrassing in the first place, you need to wonder what’s going on.

When so many people don’t share the same opinion that you have, they’re all wrong. Also, conspirators.

Like I said, it does not deserve a 0, but it does not deserve a high score either.

Too bad the rating scale consists of only 0 and 10.

…or the pressure to give an AAA title a good score regardless of its content… Halo 4 simply because it is an AAA title…

Does this guy actually read “AAA” as “ay-ay-ay”…?

And then there’s Cortana. First of all, for some reason they changed her appearance from reasonably respectable and well kept to a naked and chubby butterface, making it look like they tried to shoehorn sex appeal into the game, and failed miserably.

I have a feeling that because he used “chubby butterface” in the latter description, it’s safe to assume what he means by “reasonably respectable and well kept” in the former.

And this is all without mentioning the awful advertising campaign. You’ve probably seen the Doritos and Mountain Dew stuff floating around…

Every time there’s zero gravity, the screen is just lousy with the stuff. Look, none of that advertising affects your experience with the game. No one is following you home and shouting “Doritos” at random intervals while you play.

Videogames have gone from a simple past-time to something that is sponsored by food companies, shamelessly endorsed, and where AAA titles simply must have a near perfect score because it would be incomprehensible otherwise.

It’s still pretty simple. READ reviews.

Score: 0

Absolutely disgusting. Overall, the game is “Good” but in respect to it being a part of the Halo franchise? No. It’s an absolute shame to everything Bungie worked so hard to achieve.

The game is disgusting, but it’s good. It’s good, but zero.

And the Dewrito and Dubstep crap makes me want to vomit.

Again, I have to agree: The rave you bust-up with the Covenant snorting Dorito dust is shameless and tacky.

Not to mention how blatantly paid off the entirety of gaming journalism is. Really? I’ve played this game. It isn’t crap, but by all that is and ever was, it is NOT worthy of the praise and scores it is receiving.

So you think the reviews are bad for giving it great scores when it deserves, in your opinion, much less. And yet, you say it isn’t a bad game, but gave it the lowest score possible. Who can I trust to tell me what to think!?

Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves for propagating the ruination of this industry.

If only everyone could be so open-minded and enlightened.

Score: 10

The best game of my life .
– Master Chief.
Awesome graphic band story
Halo: Behind the Music.
Thank you Microsoft , i love you All 383 industries
It shows…
Score: 10

All the negative reviews are CoD players who want **** games.

And all the journalists who gave it stellar reviews are corrupt! Or fanbois! What is it with gamers?

Seriously, you can’t buy a game JUST for multiplayer.

Seriously, you can. You can even buy a game JUST to use it as a coaster.

The story was amazing, if all you care about is multiplayer go play CoD, Halo is for serious people who are over the age of 13.

Halo is a bullet on my resume for that very reason. What does it matter? Play what you like to play and let everyone else do the same.

Score: 10

I don’t understand the negative reviews here, seems to be a lot of fanboys from the Call of Duty franchise trying to make this game look bad.

They’re probably getting a cut of the money that journalists get paid for fluffing reviews to get people to buy more junk like Mountain Dew and Doritos. It’s all coming together…

If you are on the fence about this game don’t be, it answers the questions you were looking for and more.

Because in life, we’re all just looking for questions.

Score: 10

Awesome game, great graphics, game play and so on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You’re just a few exclamation marks shy of convincing me.

Dust Complete!

As the credits started rolling on Dust: An Elysian Tail yesterday, I dropped the controller and shouted, “Thank. GAWD.”

Not because I didn’t enjoy the 18 hours spent slicing my way through to completion, but because I decided to do so on the Hardcore setting where a single hit will almost always kill you and where spikes, lava or any other environmental hazard will make your blood boil in frustration.

There’s a section in Cimmaron Caves with pockets of spikes on the ceiling and floor. Simple enough to navigate on their own, but not when there are giant poison-spewing bulbs laced throughout. I think I must have spent five hours watching Dust bounce around like a ragdoll into death. I’m pretty sure it took me longer to reload my save than it did to die.

There’s no aerial recovery in Dust: Any Elysian Tail. This means that if you take a hit from an enemy or, say, get splashed with posion juice, you’re going for a ride. Usually into spikes. I went through three Revival Stones on the final boss from just bouncing around in lava. At one point, I’d grabbed Gaius in that swanky mid-air dive-bomb and watched in abject horror as I plummitted for what seemed like an eternity directly into the river of hot death below.

Frustrating.

The combat is a lot of fun, but I quickly realized that the most effective way to dispatch enemies was to knock them into the air, perform a three-hit combo into dive-bomb, then repeat the process on any airborne baddies until none are left standing. I was disappointed to find that Dust doesn’t receive any new attack combos even though the combat never actually felt stale.

But those are really my only complaints! I loved that the game kept feeding me new abilities up to the very end, because even something as simple as double-jump breathed new life and avenues of exploration into the stages. It was great to see so many other indie characters hidden throughout, and solving the environmental puzzles to get to the numerous treasures was thrilling.

Dust is a great game, and I’m not going to caveat that with “considering its development” or “for an Xbox Live Arcade game”.

Dust: An Elysian Tail is a great game. Period.

Next, I think I’ll pay a visit to The Kid and see if we can’t set this calamity straight.

Classifying the Gamer

I stopped over at Wiiublog.com last night to see if a date had been set for the upcoming Miiverse-focused Nintendo Direct and found myself reading through the comments – always a treat.

That’s where I came across the term “Bro Gamer”. I thought I’d heard all of the seemingly countless classifications gamers apparently fall into, but this one was new to me.

So a quick google search lead me to Urban Dictionary.

The “Bro Gamer” is the player who is only interested in the latest Call of Duty or similar shooter, is fiercely loyal to (and only owns) Xbox 360, has an aversion to any game that isn’t a photorealistic powerhouse, and who claims to have had numerous intimate encounters with your mother.

People were quick to denounce the branded commenter, puffing out their chests, proudly proclaiming that they are “real gamers” who defy classification, and implying that they are above all others.

I don’t have to do much research to learn what a “real gamer” is. Based on the example conversations with a “Bro Gamer” on Urban Dictionary and the comments in the Wii U article, it’s not a stretch to assume that self-proclaimed “real gamers” are just snobs; they’re the same calibur of snob you’ll find in interest areas such as music, movies or books.

Some people prefer shooters.

Some people don’t care for racing games.

We all have different tastes and opinions, and none of them make us better or more enlightened than anyone else.