Halo: Reach – Let the Teabagging Begin!

Last Monday just before midnight, I found myself in a Gamestop full of awkward nerds who must have been trying to kill all the employees with the toxic fumes that their un-showered bodies produced in a desperate attempt to get their copy of Halo: Reach early. Upon asking the manager about this, he told me the midnight release of Starcraft 2 had prepared them for this underhanded tactic and built up an immunity to it.

Fast-forward a half hour and I perform my first teabag. My victim was a little kid who became quite furious after I told him he gave me Bieber fever. Kids these days.

The first thing you may notice is that the control scheme has changed a bit. Melee attacks are now more conveniently executed using the right bumper and action command/reload has moved to the X button. The only change that feels awkward to me is the B button, which changes your grenade type.

Physics have changed as well in Reach. Beatdowns (now called pummels) are less powerful, cutting down on the notoriously annoying “double beatdowns” from Halo 3, and you can now die or get hurt from falling too high like in previous games. You also can’t jump like Neo anymore, so you don’t think you can confuse people so easily by jumping over their heads.

Neo...jumping really really high.

One of the biggest changes to the game is the addition of a class system. Some gametypes will offer different weapon loadouts or abilities, such as a jetpack or the ability to create a hologram of yourself to trick enemies. Otherwise, you get to sprint, which can certainly be helpful in gametypes like SWAT when you need cover to survive. I find one ability in particular to be a little cheap as it lets a player become temporarily invincible and avoid taking damage from…oh let’s say a barrage of grenades.

The multiplayer maps in Reach are a mixture of old favorites and levels from the campaign. I feel that there are too few maps, most of which are ripped straight from the story, while a few others look like they were made by the developers in Forge. I would have liked to see much more variety here and am hoping they release a map pack soon. While most of the maps feel well designed, it’s only a matter of time before they get old. All the classic gametypes make a return with a couple of additions that are rarely ever played, like Headhunter.

The veto system has been drastically improved, now allowing players to choose 3 map/gametype options or the high school reminiscent option, “None of the Above,” which generates a new list for players to vote on while insulting each other’s choices over their headsets. Matchmaking in general has been beefed up as well, giving you more search customizations that help you be paired up with the sorts of people you actually want to play with. While this system has nothing on eHarmony’s 29 dimensions of compatibility, it still works pretty well. Unfortunately, you will still run into matchmaking searches that start over constantly as well as in-game connections issues. Nobody likes a laggy teabag, but we don’t have much of a choice, do we?

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Blur Review

Blur game

Blur is a racing game which was created by the masterminds behind the Sega Dreamcast’s Metropolis Street Racer game, as well as the Project Gotham Racing series released on both the original Xbox and Xbox 360 – Bizarre Creations. They also happen to be the creators of one of my all-time favorite Xbox Live Arcade games, 2005’s Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. At its most basic, this is a racing game that’s built around vehicular combat while utilizing many different real life car makes and models. Some have likened this game to a Mario Kart on steroids racer, but in my humble opinion, it’s a thousand times more quick and chaotic than what I remember Mario Kart ever being. No offense aimed at the Mario Kart uber fanatics out there, but that’s just my humble opinion.

The first time that I played Blur was when the public beta was released on Xbox Live Marketplace, after it went live on April 6, 2010. Nothing much about the game in general has changed as far as looks and controls are concerned. Now that I’ve actually had the opportunity to play the PS3 version they look virtually identical. To be completely honest, it’s been just as much fun playing it months ago on my 360 as it’s been having played it recently on my PS3… and this is coming from a guy that vehemently swore off racing games many, many years ago.

Blur car

The first mode of the game that I immediately dove into was the career mode. You encounter and race against boss characters after completing certain demands – demands such as “evade three shock fields,” “complete two fan runs,” or “complete four fan targets,” etc. There is a wide variety of cars that can be driven in Blur, including the Ford Focus RS, Dodge Challenger SRT8, Nissan 350z NISMO S-tune, and even a classic like the Volkswagen Beetle. Once you best one of the boss characters, you unlock their vehicle and vehicle modification for your use. After getting past the first boss character Shannon I wound up unlocking her Renault R230 F1 Team R26 (try saying that five times fast) vehicle, as well as her “overbolt” mod, which grants its user with an extra bolt round every time a bolt power-up is picked up. In order to unlock the higher difficulty boss characters, primary goals need to be met (finish in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd), fan targets (the number of fans you gain) must be obtained, and fan runs (driving through marked gates on the track) need to be accomplished. Basically, when you complete more of these goals during a course, more playable content will be unlocked down the road (no pun intended).

Blur race

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Red Rings and Superbowls

A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine had his Xbox 360 returned from Microsoft after it inevitably red ringed. My response was “I’m so glad that hasn’t happened to me. Knock on wood.”

Last week I hit the power button on my Xbox and fired up Netflix Instant. I was watching Magnum PI when my system froze. It was at this point that I scratched my head like a perplexed gorilla and carefully shut the white unicorn down. I let it cool its jets and then booted her back up to find a single flashing red arc on the front of my box. Hard drive error. So, I removed that drive and put it back in, praying for this to be my savior.

My Xbox seemed to be booting fine. The logo popped up on the screen and I was taken to the dashboard. Everything was fine…or so I thought. The system was locked up and then the unthinkable happened. My eyes widened as I tried to un-see what was right in front of my face. Three flashing quarters. The Red Ring of Death. I tried everything to fix it; to get rid of that pulsing symbol of death. Nothing worked.

Luckily, my three-year warranty hasn’t expired and I am sending it in to be repaired. This has created a problem though. I was really looking forward to reviewing Mass Effect 2, but now I cannot even play it. So instead, I am going to do something different this week. I am going to ask and not tell. I am going to pose a question, in hopes that you guys respond with some awesome opinions.

Was the Superbowl rigged?

I think it was for a couple of reasons: because I lost money and also because I saw a priest wearing a Saints jersey. Clearly, he got the man upstairs to bribe the refs. It only makes sense. I mean, I was already a little suspicious when Green Bay was defeated in overtime by a “team” of asthmatic girl scouts. Divine intervention is the only possible explanation. Oh well. Congrats Saints…I guess.

Written by Not Judas

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