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Monday, November 24, 2008

Alpha and Omega vs. the World

You don't hear much from me or Beta about Omega. He's a dude I've known for about 15 years or so, and he's my most dedicated gaming buddy. He's been around the allot the last few days, and I've gotten him hooked on Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs. I have also in the past turned him on to Age of Empires II, Empire Earth 1 and 2, and Rise of Nations. We've played a couple of games in AoE3 lately, so I thought I'd share some of our matches, in recap form.

We played starter cities, me as the Russians and he as the Brits. We took on an even number of AI's, and while he fuddled with the controls, learning the ins and outs of the game, I steamrolled our foes into oblivion. Elapsed time: 26 minutes.

Omega wasn't happy after our first game, since he didn't get to do anything. He wanted to drag out the second game, so I just built up a small army and awaited his say-so to begin my attack. I must admit: I'm an artillery freak. I love to bring big guns to bear on my enemies. The bigger the boom, the happier I am. I'm the guy you'll meet in Empire Earth who'll swarm you with bombers and cannons, with a few lighter troops to protect the big guns, only to finish the job with 10+ nuclear bombers.. Anyway, I built about 15 mortar cannons and got a few dozen troops through shipments from my home city. Omega, on the other hand, brought in - I swear! - over 170 troops. It was typical Omega-style warfare: quantity over quality. In the end, we attacked the five opponents we had and blitzed them completely. Elapsed time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.

The next game saw us both going to my main city, a level 21 German city. We again, as last time, played on the Caribbean map, which put us on an island with one ally against about four AI's. I again went for my heavy artillery attack, since I wasn't going to be the bulk of our army anyway. I had around 10 imperial howitzers and a few dozen Doppelsoldners and Uhlans. Omega again fielded his army of 150+ random troops. I used a large navy to claim the seas near our island, and after we took the neutral island, we soon hit the limit cap and eventually built everything there was to build and maxed everything out, so we (or rather, he) decided it was finally time to assault the AI, which didn't put up allot of a fight. Elapsed time: 2 hours, 31 minutes.

This game saw us on the Saquenay map, teamed with Napoleon against four AI's. Omega decided it would be a good idea to claim the map with walls, and proceeded to wall off a huge chunk of the map, bit by bit. I joined in for the heck of it (not much else to do until he gets bored and finally wants to go kill something), and made myself a few walled-in colonies near his base. For the first time, though, the AI fought rough. It began with the Russians and the Ottomans - at different times - attacking my main city. I built a small standing army to protect it, and they were busy the entire game. What was bad, though, was the orange nation (I forget who) attacked Omega and tore down a chunk of his wall before storming into his base. We had been marshalling our troops down near my base in the south, and they snuck past us and tore into his base in the north.We quickly squelched that attack, but the much-welcomed side benefit was that it pushed us to attack much sooner. I led the charge on a trading post in the east to break up a trade monopoly the other team had begun (Napoleon started one on us twice, and we had to break our own up to stop ourselves from winning that way). My pack of imperial howitzers dropped the trading post in one volley (as they do with most any building), and we began a clockwise blitzkrieg around the map. One by one we wiped out the AI cities, but - in a scenario reminiscent of a bizzaro-World War II - our German forces had to race Napoleon's French troops to the Russian capital so we could destroy it first. We did, and we won. Elapsed time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

Phew! That's allot of action. I'll post more if we get more games in. Later, all.

(EDIT: I may sound a mite dismissive or negative about Omega's play in the above posts. However, he usually had almost twice my score, so his aggressive play style seemed to be better then my laid back style. He's better then me, at least.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

NXE has arrived at

The New Xbox Experience, Microsoft's attempt at updating their console's interface, has arrived at Awhile back they asked for testers, and I of course signed up. On their last batch of test application acceptances (released today) before it launches on the 19th, I got selected. Sadly, I had no idea of my good fortune, since I didn't see an acceptance email in my inbox (or junk box, for that matter). I just happened to boot up my 360 to play some Madden 09, and got the update. I scurried back to the computer, and sure enough, I had accidentally deleted their email. Stupid Alpha.

So, how is it? Allot better then expected, that's for sure. I didn't like the interface in pictures at all. I really liked the clean, sharp look of the old dashboard, so this facelift had allot of work ahead of it. So far, I've found that I actually like the way it's laid out.  Everything is easy to get to, and it looks snazzy, too. My avatar (a Microsoft Mii, if you will) was fun and easy to create, although I miss Nintendo's option to create as many as I want. It's allot faster then I expected; I figured there would be allot of slowdown and/or lag in the interface, but there's not.

I'll update with more information later.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NBA 2K9 Reviewed for PC, at Last!

I've finally reviewed NBA 2K9 on PC, after playing with my review for the last week or so. Why so long? Was it that critical to me to get it right? Is it that important? Were there that many changes needed? Nope, nope and nope: I'm just a nitwit. I wrote it  on the evening of October 24th, but didn't post it. A day or so later I remembered I'd written it, but before I could post it I saw a change I wanted to make. I'd make the change, but forget to post it again. This happened about four times. I repeat: I'm a nitwit.

In other news, I got my first taste of Fallout 3 today, and I'm impressed. You can expect to hear more on this later, and a review, for sure. Later, all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wii Music Mayhem

I recently picked up Wii Music, and I must say that for all of the negative press it's getting, it's a fun little title. People seem to want to compare this to Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and that's wrong. But that's for a review at a later date. I'm here to tell you a story of music done good, and music gone bad.

I've figured out that, for me, percussion is my speed. Partly because I can cause the least damage there, but also because I have a natural habit of drumming to music I listen to. I liked going Animal on the F-Zero theme and keeping time on Jingle Bell Rock, and handling the underlying beat on the Zelda theme allowed me to cut loose and go a bit overboard on the cymbal/gong that comes with one of the big drums. I also like - in Wii Music, of course - playing the piano, acoustic guitar, trumpet and doing vocals. So versatile, that Alphasim! Actually, as I told Beta, one of my Twinkle Twinkle Little Star renditions was so bad it should be ruled criminal. I actually hate Twinkle Twinkle Little Star now, because the game made me play the stupid thing so many times. I am particularly proud of one vocal rendition of I'll Be There I put together, though.

Seriously; don't turn your back on this game. It's fun, and with a group of focused (or wasted) players, it can be a blast. Give it a shot, and just remember, 'it's not a game, it's a toy.'