Noteworthy Video Games I’ve Played
Gears of War (Xbox 360)
I am not a fan of console FPSs but Gears of War is probably the first console based FPS that I wasn’t repeatedly thinking “this would be better if it was on the PC” while playing. Stripping out the usually annoying health system does a lot to keep the game going. The whole system where you’re moving from position to position hiding behind stuff works surprisingly well. I thought I’d get bored of it eventually but it remained fresh. Also the chainsaw bayonet is fun.
Viva Piñata (Xbox 360)
I haven’t played it enough to get a feel for the whole game but it certainly has a very shiny happy people kind of feel to it. It’s basically a garden / animal razing simulator. It’s just that the animals happen to be Piñatas that you lure in with other garden features / food. After luring them in you enslave them and abuse them in any number horrible of ways (not really). What you can do is sell the food or Piñatas to buy other seeds, food, or such things. The Piñata mating dance is quite cute and all in all it probably is the cheeriest and highly polished game in terms of presentation I have ever played.
Sid Meier's Railroads! (PC)
It runs much better after the first patch. Fun game, although the gameplay moves pretty quick for a tycoon like game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it also means I never feel like I’m creating an impressive rail empire as for the most part if I know if I’m going to win or loose a particular game within the first 30 min of playing. Even so it’s fun.
Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
Fun RPG although I’ve become less enamored with it as I play. The good news is they dumped a lot of that Jpop crap that they picked up in the FFX game. Also the real-time gameplay is keen and the ability to essentially program your allies is cool as well. Breaking up armor and other abilities outside the standard leveling system to the license board keeps things interesting. The downside is the ridiculously dry story, boring characters, and relatively weak cut scenes. Typically Final Fantasy games have characters that are as shrill as can be so I’m a bit baffled by how uninspired it is.
Civ IV: Warlords (PC)
Because if I didn’t mention I was playing it someone would wonder if I’m really duxup.
Movetalk: Stranger Than Fiction
I don’t know what exactly I was supposed to enjoy about this film. It was funny and interesting, until the end. The funniest moment came when a character is watching TV and a parody of the Animal Planet Channel is playing in the background. I don’t know if the parody was supposed to be that funny, only a handful of people in the theater seemed to enjoy what was going on the TV as much as I did.
My issues with the movie are at the end and of course those are total spoilers.
I thought the ending was idiotic. I can’t say I could come up with a better ending, but that didn’t keep it from sucking. I appreciate they had to do something but the idea that everyone thinks this guy is supposed to die because the book is really good and maybe for him gave his life some meaning seemed just stupid. No thoughts of his new love (and even that relationship didn’t really jive in my mind) or anything like that? Just jump in front of a bus after reading the book?
Then there was that whole BS at the end where the author changes her mind with here philosophical stance on the main characters actions. Then she twists it around so it ends up that the story she’s been writing is the one we’ve been watching. Oh how witty I’m just rolling with appreciative laughter :P Attention writers: Most of you who write about writing, suck. Please stop. Stick with the good stuff.
Movietalk: Saving Face
Cute film. It’s rough being an Asian lesbian doctor with your family trying to hook you up with men. Insert some comedy and ironic twists and there you go. Nothing more than what it seems to be but worth a lighthearted visit especially with the Asian lesbian action...
Movietalk: The Constant Gardener
Clearly a movie taken from a book, the whole mystery of why the murder in question takes place doesn’t really have much impact. At least it didn’t for me. Maybe if I were into the characters more I could see it thru their eyes, but with the movie I wasn’t very surprised as it was easy for me to guess the gist of the whole thing. Not much of a payoff made for a so-so film.
Movietalk: The Puffy Chair
The Wife really liked it. I thought it was ok. It is an independent film where some kids go on a road trip and deal with life and relationships. The film sort of wandered here and there for too long for me to really enjoy it and I found the main character a bit too childish to tolerate.
Movietalk: Brokeback Mountain
At times it felt like they went out of their way to present each character in both positive and negative lights. The result being that by the end of the film I found nobody was particularly likeable except maybe poor Ennis. Even so I enjoyed the film although I can’t exactly put my finger on why.
Being married takes work. Even though my wife and I dated for several years only moving in together last spring has presented number of challenges that I think for the most part we’ve overcome, or are at least working on.
Things like convincing my wife that despite the fact that she feels she needs to hand make every Christmas card this year I’m not putting in all that work when I’m more than happy to whip up something easier that will take less than 40 man hours of work to construct. No doubt she has eliminated some crazy habits of my own.
Going Home for Christmas
We’re heading north for Christmas. Hopefully they have snow there as there’s squat in the Twin Cities despite the weatherman’s hollow promises. We’re also driving the twin sister up so that means we’ll likely leave about 3 – 4 hours later than planned because she’s always late. I can’t complain because I’m habitually late as well. We’ll be staying at my bride’s parent’s house because they have more room (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc).
I’m not entirely thrilled by our lodging but oh well. They’re good people. Oddly they’re not much younger than my Grandparents but far more lost in their own world. The mother in law is the woman that once said Garfield was always too in your face for me. Exact quote, I shit you not. Take a moment to absorb that for a bit. Yeah.
Complicating matters is that the neighborhood is full of relatives. The wife’s parent’s marriage was the formal joining of two absolutely humongous clans of humanity. You’re probably related to one of them and you don’t even know it. So I expect visits from all sorts of people who I have never met before.
This is also one of those families that always re-plans. This is how it works. A decision needs to be made, everyone talks about it, and a decision is made. Example, we’re going to eat dinner at 5. For absolutely NO ####ING REASON someone will later say something like Are we eating at 5? Should we eat at 5? Blamo everything is renegotiated for NO ####ING REASON. There was no problem with eating at 5, nobody apparently had a problem but now it’s 7 and all sorts of things need to be adjusted. WTF?
Aside from those things they’re all good people. It could be far worse, they could be Republicans.
What to do to keep myself entertained could be an issue there. Dragging the 360 along probably isn’t a good idea as I’m not sure they’re familiar with “v-i-d-e-o g-a-m-e-s.” Also driving my chainsaw bayonet thru someone’s skull, while fun, is admittedly not the sound you want to repeatedly hear over Christmas.
I’ll probably bring the DS along as a compromise. Less obtrusive and I picked up Yoshi’s Island for it so there’s something to do.
Things I Want for Christmas but are too Expensive to Ask for *
* Aka I have no idea what to capitalize in tittles.
30” LCD HDTV
Gifts for the Wife
I bought my wife a Victoria’s Secret gift card (her suggestion), and a little diamond necklace for Christmas. I wanted to buy her a remote car starter but I’ll be damned if I can find a place that installs them and I’d be a bit wary having them hork with the new car as it will be a place I’ve never seen before as I called all the other places and they don’t do it.
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