Halo 3 Beta

June 1, 2007

I finally got my hands on the Halo 3 Beta released by Bungie. The Beta of Halo 3 plays a lot like Halo 2. I loaded up the Beta with incredibly high expectations, and after my first match, I could not help feeling slightly disappointed. This feeling was mostly due to my unfamiliarity with the new control scheme and the differences between the weapons of Halo 2 and 3.

The button layout was really interrupted my experience at first. In Halo 2 most of my actions of the player – such as reload, weapon pick-up, and vehicle boarding – were mapped to the X button. In the Beta on the Xbox 360, that is all placed on the 360’s shoulder buttons. Do you realize how hard it was for a seasoned Halo 2 player like me to use those shoulder buttons? It felt so unnatural.  

However, after a few games, I got used to it and it became one of the best games that I ever played…and this is only a Beta. The first thing I noticed was the plethora of additional content, all of which had been released already (Spike Grenade, Brute Spikers, Bubble Shield, Portable Gravity Lift, Spartan Laser, Mongoose, Mancannons, Trip Mine etc…) What was a complete and total surprise to me were the missile pods and the detachable gun turrets.

Now to those of you that haven’t played a day of Halo of your life, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but it’s OK. Let me break it down. My Halo 3 Beta experience was a very good one. The game-play is fast paced and very competitive. The additional content is a big improvement from Halo 2, and once you pick up Halo 3 when it releases in September, you just won’t put it down.

Gaming Dictionary
Reload
: The restocking of your ammunition in your current weapon.
Weapon pick-up: Acquiring and equipping a weapon that is lying on the map.
Shoulder buttons: The buttons placed on top of the Xbox 360 Controller.
Spike Grenade: Type of explosive that spreads very fatal prongs in multiple directions.
Brute Spikers: A handheld weapon that fires very fatal prongs at a high rate.
Bubble Shield: A deployable protective force field that encloses the player in a dome.
Portable Gravity Lift: A deployable device that when moved lifts the player upward.
Spartan Laser: A devastating shoulder mounted weapon that fires a very lethal beam.
Mongoose: A two person all terrain vehicle.
Man Cannon: A device that shoots the player a long distance.
Trip Mine: A conventional explosive device that detonates when enemies are nearby.
Territories (H2 Version): When players set territories for a designated amount of time.
Territories (H3 Version):
When players take turns capturing territories on the map.

Most Recent Amazing Gaming Moment:
I was playing the Halo 3 Beta in a free-for-all match against seven other players called “Rockets,” when all the other players where equipped with Rocket Launchers. Rockets were flying all over. People were scoring multiple kills everywhere I turned, beating each other down with the large rocket launcher. It was crazy. What makes this particular match amazing was that after only five minutes of game play – the match was over. Now I was thinking to myself, someone had just lagged out and the game was adjusting, but the game was over. When they displayed the score, I realized, “Wow this is the first time I’m looking at the scores.” It just so happened that I won too.

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Wii-nderful

May 8, 2007

 

Recently, I got my hands on a Nintendo Wii. I put my 360 aside and made room for my borrowed Wii and my copy of “Rayman’s Raving Rabbits” and Wii Play. As kiddy as the games may have appeared to me at first, it was crazy fun. The Nintendo Wii is Nintendo’s next-gen console where the controller has a very innovate and well designed motion sensor capability. That means like if you’re playing a sword fighting game instead of pressing set buttons to perform a standard attack, you’re actually swinging your controller around like it was a real sword…very fun, very unique, and what a workout.

In “Rayman’s Raving Rabbits,” I play as the franchise’s hero, Rayman. Apparently these rabbits capture me and they lock me up in a cell and force me to complete a bunch of different tests. Now, as I complete each set of four mini-game tests, I have to play either a big racing mini-game or a shooter style mini-game similar to that of an early “Time Crisis” or maybe even “House of the Dead.”

After that is completed, the rabbits leave me with a plunger and I add that plunger to my collection, so I can eventually make a plunger ladder to scale the tall wall and leap out of the window. By the sheer size of the wall, I can already tell that I have loads of mini-games to play.

This game is the first Wii game I’ve ever played, and it’s pretty fun. The mini-games really give me a workout. There was this one mini-game where Rayman is holding a chain attached to a cow and he has to spin the cow around and throw it about 100 virtual yards. As the player, I had to swing the remote around and around over my head and press my handy-dandy “A” button at the right moment. I kept messing up so, I had to do it over and over again. When I finally got it, I was really happy. I jumped for joy but had to take a break because my arm was tired. J

“Rayman’s Raving Rabbits” is game of mini-games, like “WarioWare” and “Mario-Party”…games that I usually steer away from. But with the new Wii remotes, the mini-games are crazy fun. The graphics on the game are decent and the sound is cool. I love the sound the rabbits make when I fail a mini-game, it sounds like a long “PSYCHE!” If I were Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb I would give the game a three out of five, but since I’m Bill Lewis Jr, I give it a seven point nine out of a perfect ten.

I wish I could say something more analytical and intriguing about the Wii, but playing it is a lot of fun. Not to mention all the Wii jokes I can get away with…

Gaming Dictionary
Adam Sessler: Co-host of a video game review show “X-play” on the channel G4
House of the Dead: A first person shooter video game usually played in an arcade where your controller is a fake gun and you shoot bad-guys/monsters/zombies in scripted scenarios and you are not allowed to control any other movement of your character except for the aim of your weapon.
Mario Party: A game where you control the loveable Mario or others in a board where after each set of turns a mini-game is played that don’t necessarily relate to one another. For example, one game might be collect the most falling apples in your basket, while the next would be sat afloat on the raft in the rapids.
Mini-game: A small game that is played very quickly, aside from the main game.
Morgan Webb: Co-host of a video game review show “X-play” on the channel G4
Rayman: Another franchise hero similar to Zelda, Mario, Sonic, Kirby, etc…
Time Crisis: A game similar to House of the Dead just more mainstream and popular
WarioWare: A game similar to that of Mario Party, just more random
Wii: This Wii little thing is Nintendo’s next-gen console.

Most Amazing Gaming Moment:
I’m playing Table Tennis on Wii Play and after a good chunk of time of trying to reach the set goal of 100 rallies. I finally accomplish it and bask in the shining glory of knowing that I did it.


Inside Scoop on “Lost Planet”

April 3, 2007

I kept to my promise and I rented “Lost Planet.” I got through a good chunk of the story, and I’ve played for a couple of hours online. Now, reviews of the game are all over the place and a lot of sources say that “Lost Planet” is a great game, and I have to agree. It really is.

When I first played a couple of months ago via a Marketplace demo download, I loved it and I was set on buying it because of all the explosions. They weren’t the little dust cloud and sparks explosions that I’m used to. I mean, these were quick intense moments as the “frag” propelled anything in range a couple of feet in all directions.

 “Lost Planet” is set in the future, when humans are leaving earth and seek colonization elsewhere in the universe. They find a suitable planet, but the climate is extremely cold and is inhabited by deadly insect-like aliens called the Akrid. At first, the Akrid will remind you of the grunt aliens in “Starship Troopers,” but they vary as you face off against gigantic worms, moths and other creatures that resemble insects…and are a lot more sinister. Humans stay on the planet and develop VS (Vital Suit) technology and defend themselves against the Akrid in hopes to harness the abundant thermal energy found within the planet, and the Akrid themselves.

 I don’t want to give that much away, but trust me when I say the story is engaging. Gameplay is incredible. The excitement and explosions you’ll witness are breathtaking. You have an interesting arsenal of weapons and grenades ranging from your everyday machine gun to the unique disc grenade. Also, you have the powerful and larger variety of VS’ at your disposal. Enemy AI is challenging enough. Enemy Akrid will constantly attack you and slowly bring you down, and enemy human soldiers will charge in groups and flee when alone.

I enjoyed the online play because it’s perfectly balanced out. It will definitely take a team effort to win any team match type, and a strategic mind to win any free-for-all. I totally recommend this game.

In other news, I was checking out “Crackdown” on EB GAMES and I saw that they’re offering a Halo 3 Beta invitation to all pre-orders. Now, “Crackdown” seems like a really fun game to play, but any opportunity I have to play “Halo 3” I’m taking. So now, I can expect to be receiving “Crackdown” on February 20. Hopefully, I’ll be playing “Halo 3” that same day. (Hopefully…)

Gaming Dictionary
AI:
Artificial Intelligence.
BETA: Pre-production test where people play limited or early versions of the game and provide copious feedback.
Disc Grenade: A disc shaped grenade that when thrown glides through the air and sticks to any enemy soldier, Akrid, or VS.
EB GAMES: Local Game Retailer.
Free For All: Match type where you alone against all other competing players.
Frag: Fragmentation Grenade (a regular grenade).
Marketplace: The Xbox Live service that provides free and priced downloads to all Xbox Live subscribers.
VS: Vital Suit. A large mechanized mobile suit for soldiers that is capable of equipping large weapons and many other features. (i.e transforming into a snowmobile, drilling, high speed dashing and strafes, and flight) All VS are customizable with any available with VS weapons.

Currently Playing:

  • Lost Planet
  • Gears Of War

Most Recent Gaming Moment:
I’m facing off against the gigantic moth in Lost Planet. I’m in my VS low on health and out of ammo. I’m dodging the moth’s explosive projectiles making my way to the closet VS weapon I see. The moth flies back far away from our plateau battlefield getting ready to charge into destroying my VS giving me next to little hope of victory. As I reached that VS weapon, which happens to be the shotgun, the moth starts its charge towards me. I thrown down my gattling gun and equip my VS and get off one shot with that shotgun point-blank before I’m hit with its charge, and it falls for good. OHHHHHHH YEEAHH…


Testing Game

March 27, 2007

A few months ago, I spent a couple of nights in San Jose at my friends house, and we system linked a couple of Xboxes together to play “Halo 2.” That is one game that will never get old. I saw some crazy things happen during these nights. One of my friends went flying after he missed his sword attack and was sent clear across the map. While he was flying one of my friends picked him off with a sniper rifle and his came crashing towards the ground. The most amazing moment was when one of my friends brought his team back up from trailing 15 to 37. Sadly, he couldn’t keep it up and failed to win that game.

I also rented “Ninety-Nine Nights” and “Just Cause” for the Xbox 360. “Ninety-Nine Nights” is a Dynasty Warrior-esque game. Almost identical in control and features, “Ninety Nine Nights,” however, looks a lot better and there are a lot more epic moments. One of my favorites was being alone on the battlefield taking on an entire army of goblins.

 “Just Cause” is an open-ended freeroam style game (like GTA) where you take control of Rico Rodriguez, who will remind you of a perfect blend of James Bond and Zorro. In the game you attempt to cause a regime change in the islands of San Esperito. You accomplish this by breaking rebel leaders out of jail, assassinating key government officials and generally causing a lot of mayhem.

 What I truly love about “Just Cause” is the abilities of our very own Rico. Imagine driving a car on a cliff and then busting out of the driver’s door and riding on the top of the car as it falls off that cliff and then, deploying your parachute and gliding in the air for a few moments before you see a helicopter that you cling to. You maneuver your way into the pilot’s seat (after kicking him out the side).

 You fly that helicopter as high as you can, and then jump and freefall towards your objective on ground level. Deploy your parachute again and use your hi-tech grappling hook to hitch a ride on a car (think parasailing), to take you the extra few feet to your objective because you undershot your landing. All this is possible in “Just Cause,” and makes it a really fun game to play.  

 I’m looking forward to “Lost Planet.” I played a demo of it a couple of weeks ago and loved the online play. The action was chaotic, but it was so fun. I plan to tell you all about it after I get in a couple of hours of gameplay.

 
Gaming Dictionary
CANALS:
A online multiplayer level for Gears of War.
GTA: Grand Theft Auto. The flagship of Open Ended/ Freeroam style gameplay.
Dynasty Warriors: A series of games set during the dynasty era of China. You take control of a power non-fictional general (someone who actually existed) and replay ancient battles (your own way). However, since regular enemy soldiers are so weak you’re able to take your overpowered general and defeat hundreds of enemies before tackling the more difficult enemy generals.
Open-Ended/Freeroam: A style of game where you able to roam around a city/country/state/province on your own free from objectives/goals/missions until you obtain your own mission/objective/goal from a set location.
System Linked
: Connecting up to four Xbox Gaming Systems together using a routing hub to play the same game together on four different televisions

 
Currently Playing:

  • Gears of War
  • Just Cause
  • Fight Night Round 3

 
Most Recent Amazing Gaming Moment:

Sneaking up on an enemy sniper on Gears of War with my shotgun and turning him into little pieces that fall off the bridge in CANALS and rain down on his friend who suffers that same fate.


For The Love of Game

March 22, 2007

I’ve always been a gamer. I remember back in my day, I stayed up late trying to beat Super Mario RPG “Legend of the Seven Stars” for the Super Nintendo…and that was a decade ago. At one point, I owned an Xbox, Gamecube and PS2 – and I played game after game until I ran broke.

Now, I’ve calmed down. I still play game after game, but I have a few other hobbies as well. Currently, I have an Xbox 360 and I own eighteen games ranging from “Call of Duty 2” to the most recent “Rainbow Six: Las Vegas.” I also have Xbox Live, and my tag is Masterphantom1, but you could call me “Phantom” for short.

For my very first entry, let me talk about “Gears of War.” It is one of the greatest games I have ever played, next to “Halo 2” and “Star Wars: KOTOR 2.”

The story is not in-depth as it should be, but I just didn’t care anymore because the gameplay is next to perfect. The way “Gears of War” did the cover system should become a standard in all future FPS’. All the weapons are almost equally matched, it wouldn’t matter if you have a pistol or a “Boom Shot,” success is dependant on the player’s skill, not who grabs what first.

I have a confession to make. I don’t have an HDTV or surround sound…but still, the detail of some of the environments are outstanding, and my 360 can run the game without a hitch, unlike some others I’ve played. “Gears of War” is a great game and I would recommend it for anyone who owns a 360 and enjoys FPS’. Cliff you are the man.

Gaming Dictionary

Boom Shot: One of the most destructive weapons in Gears of War.
Cliff: Cliff Bleszinski. Project Lead of “Gears of War.”
FPS: First Person Shooter. A shooting game that allows you to see the world behind the eyes of the character you control.
HDTV: High Definition Television.
KOTOR: Knights of the Old Republic.
RPG: Role-Playing Game. A game that fully immerses you into the development of a single character or team of characters.
Xbox 360: The first next generation console released throughout the world.
Xbox Live: An online service that allows you to play multiplayer games through your Xbox with other gamers around the world, communicating with each other via text messaging, voice chat, or video chat.