I spent a good amount of the weekend just playing Civ4, especially
with the Beyond the Sword expansion. I'm still finding new units and
additions to play with, so I've by no means exhausted the new
However, a few things stand out about this expansion. The first
being that there seems to a be "bitch" player/civilization in each
new game. My first new game had the barbarians going ape shit on my
lands. Each turn found about five new barbarian units entering my
land. This, I must say, was without the raging barbarian option
being turned on. The next game had the same thing happen, but for
some AI controlled civilization. I don't know who, but I know that
my military advisor screen showed a skull (representing a dead
civilization) pretty early on.
My friend, Bastich, had the same thing happen when he played BtS.
For him, it was India that became the mythical land of barbarians. I
don't mind knowing that the barbarians are ready to put up a fight,
but they really should be less geared toward flat out war with a
single civilization. At least without the game giving a new option
to help get aid against barbarians from a friendly civilization in
the diplomacy screen. I know I'd appreciate both being asked to help
and being able to ask for some assistance in saving my sorry self.
I also appreciate the game giving more sway to religion this time
around with the Apostolic Palace wonder. It's like the UN, but built
around a single religion of the founding country. If you don't
belong to this religion, then you're shit out of luck when votes
come down for things like "we all stop trading with heathen
civilization X". It also shows how important it is when I was
attacked by Napoleon, who was not a religious member of the
Apostolic Palace group. Well, right after he declared war, the rest
of my religious homies just in to declare world war on his sorry
ass. I wasn't until I demanded a few cities for peace that the rest
of the world gave him a break.
The new units are also a great improvement...not to mention that a
few are quite broken. The units like the airship, which is an early
version of the bomber, is fun for defending a city early on in a
game (just bomb the invading army, which cannot fight back against
air units). However, the paratrooper is almost broken. These
troopers can drop in up to five squares from their base, then move
an additional square after landing. It's quite broken, but since
everyone gets these units, it's good fun.
In the end, my favorite change is the addition of the Christ the
Redeemer statue as a wonder. This one lets you change civics at
anytime without a turn of anarchy. This means that when some leader
demands you change civics, you now can tell them yes, and
immediately change back. So, instead of angering them by both having
a different civic and by refusing them, you end up only with the
original insult of believing in a different form of government. It
also works great when you're strategically building a wondering in
your capitol, since you can change to the civic that adds 50%
production in your capitol, without being slowed for a round or two
I also watched The Simpsons movie yesterday. It's not like this is
quality cinema that will evoke a great sense of some emotional or
psychological revelation (unless you needed a reason to favor
environmentalism). However, it's a movie that offers a lot of cheap
laughs and is definitely worth the price of admission just for the
entertainment. I don't know if I'd pay full price for this movie,
but a matinee is well worth it...just make sure you don't watch it
during a time when a lot of children will be up and about, unless
you want one annoying movie going experience.
I am enjoying the
rivalry between Harmonix and Neversoft. On one hand, Harmonix really
has nothing to prove, besides that a $200 price tag is worth it for
a rhythm game (like Rock Band will probably sport). On the other
hand, Neversoft is the development studio that once was tall and
proud with their license of Tony Hawk...however, that was before
THPS was replaced with THUG and then THAW. Tony Hawk fans, and
previous Neversoft fans, have all seen Neversoft sink further and
further into obscurity from lack luster titles. So, they will need
to prove to Guitar Hero fans that GH3 will not be the THUG of the GH
So, on one hand,
you have Harmonix trying to bring along endorsements from Slash and
whoever else will end up wanting and easy paycheck. All while they
brutaly attack the core ideas of GH with power ups (where the f#@$
is the power up button on my real guitar...I could sure use that
when I'm trying to act like I have musical talent) and more battle
oriented of multiplayer modes.
I think, with
downloadable albums, the introduction of Metallica to rhythm games,
and the included ability to do drums and to sing, Rock Band is
coming out on top of this pathetic battle. By pathetic, I don't mean
Harmonix's offering, but...errr...the other side in this lop sided
I mean, first
Harmonix scores Who's Next as their first downloadable album, then
they may have a Metallica album in the works, and now it sounds like
Nirvana's Nevermind is coming their way. They are on fire, while
Neversoft is...they...ummm...they have...uhhh...Slash and power
Anyway, I'm still
getting in some time with Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword. Until I
finish conquering the world, I will not be able to stop playing.
That, or until I get Picross DS in the mail later this week. Either
way, I need my Civ4 fix right now. After playing so many hours of
Oblivion and Dragon Quest V, I just really need some time with
something that's a little different. True, all of these games are,
in a sense, Role Playing-like. However, the overall feel of Civ4 is
just too much of a break from non-stop pure RPGs.
I've now gotten to
the point in Civ4 when I can start to send forth my corporations
upon the world. Nothing is as fun as sending out missionaries and
businessmen to bring the world to it's knees...via words and shiny
trinkets. I have gotten most of the world under my sway, besides
Napoleon (who was a dick and has generously gifted me with many
cities through war and negotiating for his survival) and Shaka
(who's on the other side of the world and being dominated by
I've also been
lucky enough to obtain the Jesus the Redeemer wonder, so if I see
any corporate salesmen coming from my neighbors, I just quickly
change civics for a turn to lock them out. Then when they go off to
the next potential business partner/civilization, I change back and
enjoy being my own corporation. Afterall, if anyone is going to win
over the hearts of people through diplomacy, religion, and coercion,
it will be my mighty Spanish.
Anyway, not much
else to talk about today, since I've got about ten things more on my
schedule than I have time for. So, in the name of being overworked
(and yes...underpaid), I shall end this here and do some
constructive things. Blah.
Also, if it needs
to be said, Beyond the Sword is a must have for Civ4 fans. No doubt
There was no post
yesterday. Well, that's not quite true. There was a post, but before
I put it online, I did my usual job of editing, and I found
something. It was more like the ravings of a mad man than a good
In a nutshell, I
was ready to post about my thoughts on Amazon.com. However,
Amazon...well...when someone says something is the bane of their
existence, it's usually just someone being overly dramatic and it's
rarely as important as someone makes it sound. However, Amazon is
really the bane of my life right now, and has been for the last
three or so years.
It started when I
tried to get Smash Melee (way back in the day) for the GCN when it
first came out. I pre-ordered the game on Amazon, paid for two day
shipping, and received the game about two or so weeks after it came
out. Amazon was just that slow with shipping a game. This was the
last time I ordered a game from Amazon. About four weeks ago,
Velveeta ordered Picross DS for me, off of Amazon (she had a gift
certificate and was doing the nice thing of giving me a game from
it). Well, when I asked her for an order update on Tuesday (around
the time I should get the game from Amazon since it shipped out on
Monday), I was told that Amazon would expect delivery around the 8th
to 10th of August. This was despite how Amazon said the game was
ready to ship from their web site.
That Picross DS
issue was mostly small, since I went to Best Buy's web site and took
care of placing an in-store pickup on Tuesday, and had the game in
my greedy hands an hour later. However, this was simply the straw
that broke the proverbial camel's back.
The big issue I
have with Amazon is that they have turned my home life into hell on
way too many occasions. It's not from failed orders and the like
(although I don't get how a business can operate and survive the dot
com burst if they don't treat customers with respect), but rather
the fact that Velveeta got that gift certificate as a reward from
her employer...an employer named Amazon.com.
Amazon does a lot
of things, which I will not get into too deeply, that make the
infamous "EA Wife" story (from a year and a half ago) seem like a
nice alternative. Hell...I'd take Velveeta being at EA and me being
an "EA Husband" over the situation of me being an "Amazon Husband"
any f$#@ing day of the week. I am not even remotely exaggerating on
this. Amazon has a few major departments/divisions, and the one that
Velveeta works for makes me feel better about my job each day...and
I hate my job more than almost anything else in the world (with the
only major exception being Velveeta's job). It's division that
requires excessive hours, lower pay than accepted by the majority of
the similar jobs in the region, and leaves a nice blend of physical
(Velveeta has spent excessive time in physical therapy from her job)
and emotion scars.
The two constants
I can be sure of from Velveeta's work is that there will be plenty
of yelling matches between us (always based around her job) and
physical damage to her self. She has wrists that make Kyle's (from
the South Park "Make Love, Not Warcraft" episode) seem strong and
healthy. Worst of all, until she finds another job, she is doomed to
her doctors informing her that her wrists simply cannot get better.
If she had a new job, she has an excellent chance of recovering, but
with Amazon...well...if things keep up, eventually surgery may
become a requirement.
She has complained
to her supervisor (who is an arrogant asshole who refuses to accept
that people below him has physical or emotional feelings...imagine
Michael from The Office...but evil), her HR department (who are as
oblivious as HR departments can get...where's Toby from The Office
when you need him), and even the state Labor and Industry department
(now they really don't give a flying f#@$). In the end, the only
option is to find a new job, but...and there's always a "but"...it
won't happen as long as she's burnt out and a fragile shell of her
normal self (hiring managers can smell weakness, and Amazon is
forcing that weakness upon her).
It's so bad that
Velveeta doesn't even get vacation. When she schedule, in advance,
to get the 3rd and 5th of July off (the 4th is a mandatory holiday
for Amazon...the only good thing I can say about that damned
company), we went out of town...with Velveeta's work laptop in tow,
since she had to work from her "vacation" for two of those three
days (the 4th is mandatory...as in, no one is "allowed" to work).
Anyway, it's this
blending of total neglect (it's about one step from criminal
neglect...and I do have a lawyer picked out already...too bad this
means that I, a person who hates the idea of getting the courts
involved, will have to get the courts involve) towards their
employees and the inability to ship out products on time that lead
me to live by one simple rule about Amazon; I don't use them. I
won't even accept the kindness anymore of someone wanting to use an
Amazon gift certificate on me. I don't want anything to do with
them, and I hope for the day that Amazon's headquarters are struck
down by some natural disaster (I know it probably won't happen...but
one can dream) and I can declair it a smite from a higher authority.
It's a nice dream...that, or the time they step once more into
criminal neglect territory and I sue their bitch asses into the
stone age (too bad I didn't collect evidence against them until
after some things had already happened...sigh...).
Ok. That's a
summary of what I was aiming to post yesterday, but with a lot less
insanity. I won't even explain how insane it got, but I'll say that
I must have channeled the spirit of the great doctor (Hunter S.
Thompson) into me with that never to be seen post. It went to the
crazy levels of his coverage of the Nixon impeachment and Watergate
So, as I said, I
got Picross DS. I have been waiting for this game, or any new
Picross game, since the first time I finished Mario's Picross on the
GB. I loved the original, but it was a wrong time for it in the US.
It's only now that casual and brain-training games are popular that
Picross can succeed.
The game is great,
so far. I've finished the easy mode (which is very easy), and am
about 55% through normal. That means I've done 15 easy puzzles and
about 82 normal puzzles. There's still the free mode (with about 150
puzzles) ahead of me when I finish normal (which has about 150 total
puzzles). Compared to Mario's Picross, Picross DS is worth far more
on a price per minute played scale...and it's a $20 budget game!
My only complaint
so far, versus Mario's Picross, is that this game doesn't force you
to quit if you make too many mistakes on normal or easy mode. MP
would force you to quit if you time got over a certain time (with
each mistake adding more time to the clock). Picross DS, on the
other hand, just let's you go forever...despite some unlockables
requiring times below one hour. The game should just abort if a
puzzle goes over one hour. Not only does this make sense with
unlockables, but it also allows for a sense that you can fail.
Well, this is
enough posting for one day. Too much to do and too little time.
anniversary mom and dad, and happy birthday to my uncle.
It's the first
Friday in August. Normally, this wouldn't mean anything more than
it's time for me to have a nice weekend and to relax a little.
However, tonight should be a different type of fun for me. After
being in my house for about 4 months, I am finally having a good
larger scale game fest. In other words, tonight will be beer, booze,
and (most importantly) Guitar Hero...loud Guitar Hero...triple pane
window, in a basement loud.
I'm still playing
way too much of Picross DS. Well, it's not really too much in my
eyes, but Velveeta is starting to see why I was so excited for this
game; it's an obsession to rival modded Oblivion and Civ4 with
expansions. It's an addiction that removes me from the world until I
finish "just one more puzzle". An addiction in gaming that I have
not felt since I first played Mario's Picross...way back in a decade
I like to call the 1990's.
I've been playing
each level of normal, one at a time. I won't progress to a new level
until each puzzle on the previous level is solved in less than an
hour (the time considered passing). I'm now at level 7 or
8...whatever one introduces 20x20 puzzles.
to bring in 20x20 puzzles in one hell of a bitchy way. Your first
20x20 is not some easy one with a lot of 20, 19, 18, or other large
sized rows and columns. It's instead based around a lot of small
numbers. In other words, it's a difficulty jump that I have not seen
the likes of since I went from Umbra on vanilla Oblivion to Umbra in
OOO Oblivion. Yes...it's a nice little dose of reality to show the
player that they may think that the game is getting easy...but it's
really the game taking it easy on the player. Plus, by still having
the same time pseudo-limit of one hour, you have a lot more tiles to
get through, with as few errors as possible...of course, running off
of too little sleep doesn't help things either.
I decided I won't
play and of the free mode puzzles until I finish normal level
puzzles. So, even after I finish the next few stages, this little
budget $20 title is still going to give me a lot more bang for my
buck. I'm glad that Nintendo has not only brought a new era of
puzzle games, but a new era of budget thinking games, since I doubt
we could have seen a $20 Picross a few small years ago.
Now for a little
game news, instead of just my raving rambling thoughts on Picross DS
(the king of puzzle games).
Metallica is coming to GH3 now, as well as Rock Band. I guess
this would even the playing field some...if it wasn't for RB having
drums, a mic, and the freakin' downloadable albums. So, while GH3
may be trying to play a nice game of catch up, I know that RB will
get my money long before I give any to Neversoft...but if another
good song is added, then I'll get GH3 the instant it drops...despite
the stupid changes.
before I have to end this early...I was wrong. However, I believe in
doing things to your best level at all times. So, I made a nicely
giant mistake. I said that Rockstar would not delay GTA4 but a few
weeks to help with the Halo competition...and in that I was right.
They would never delay GTA4 to appease Bungie. Instead...
GTA4 is now being pushed back to 2008. That's lame, since I was
needing a new GTA fix. However, what's worse is that this is going
to f#@$ their stock prices and further cause problems for the
publisher (Take Two) and developer as they struggle with constant
delays and bannings of their prized franchise titles, like Manhunt
2. This is the type of news that makes me glad I dumped my Take Two
stock a while back. If they cannot bring out either of their most
hyped games for 2007 on time, then they will need a lot of help, and
they will face a lot of hard times as the damage control teams get
When the other
news for Take Two, as of late, is that
their founder is escaping any jail time...well, that's just a
reminder of their woes and not a good direction for the company
right now. At least Take Two will have football again to make up
some of their losses.
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