What I’m consuming

Stranger in a Strange LandIt’s no secret that I like to play games. I play a lot of games. Call it a hobby. But I also consume other types of entertainment. I’ve talked at length here of the TV shows I watch and I mention the occasional movie, but I really haven’t mentioned what else I’m consuming.

As geeks go, I’m not very well read in the “Classics”. Sure, I’ve read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, I, Robot, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and others, but I haven’t read as much as I’d like to. When I was in high school, I read a lot fantasy books (mostly Dragonlance Novels), but I’ve recently endeavored to broaden my reading horizons. Going off of a few “Top 20/50/100 lists” (here and here and here and here) I’ve been diving right into some of the best Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels I’ve missed out on. I’ve just about finished up Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and I’ll be moving on to the next book on my list. The next five books on my list are:

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Dune, Frank Herbert
The Foundation Series, Isaac Asimov

In addtion to that, I also started reading the Harry Potter books. (Yes, I am a hypocrite)

I’m also a voracious consumer of music. Recently I’ve been listening to Fort Minor. Fort Minor is a hip-hop/rap side project of Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. If you’ve seen any ABC/ESPN/TNT NBA promo commercials, than you’d recognize their song “Remember the Name“. But there’s more than just that song. The entire album, The Rising Tied is all pretty good stuff; great rhymes and serious beats. I’m digging it.

On top of it all, I’m excited about a lot of movies coming out this summer. We’ll be seeing Spiderman 3 this Friday because I’m a huge fanboy of the Blockbuster/action/blow-stuff-up kind of movie. Can’t wait. I’ve also got a huge list of movies I’m looking forward to this year, but I won’t bore you with that list. At least not yet.

As always, I’d love to hear what you guys are consuming. Any recommendations are also welcome.

(I should mention that this post was inspired by a post over at The Game Chair discussing reading lists of gamers)

2004, A Year in Review

I don’t claim to be a definitive source of opinion or expertise. Heck, this is a gaming blog, remember. But I do have opinions and here’s my take on the past year. I did have a video gaming lull in the middle of the year, due to my securing full-time employment following my graduation last year. But I’ve made up time recently, so everything is all good. After my retrospection, I’ll look forward to some things I’d like to see in the future. So read on for the whole enchilada:

Biggest Surprises

The two biggest surprises this year for me belong to Halo 2. I was initially surprised with how engaging the single-player game turned out notto be. I had high hopes for Halo 2’s single-player offering, and what we got was more of the same. Now again, I can say that definitively because I stopped playing the single-player about a month ago. I haven’t gone back since. Which leads to the other big surprise for me – how addictive Halo 2 is on Live. I have logged countless hours, by myself and with my friends, fragging faceless entities in the great unknown. But it is definitely some of the best times I’ve had gaming this year.

Biggest Dissapointments

This, as far as I’m concerned, is a no brainer. The winner of the don’t believe the hype (no, really, don’t believe the hype) is Fable. I’ve railed against Fable time and time again, so I’m not gonna say much more. For me, Fable was a system seller. Promises of a grand RPG that could be played for weeks and months lured me in. Sure, I play Halo 2 and sports games, but I’m an RPG gamer at heart. I bought an Xbox for the express purpose of playing Fable. I think I played a sum total of ten hours of Fable. And the last two of those it was painful. The cheap trade-in-value spoke volumes, too. Stores give high trade-in credit for games that are in demand and copies are scarce. Well, when they offered me eight bucks at Game Crazy because they had so many copies, I said people are trading it in because the game sucked. The Xbox-fanboy manager said it was because the game is short. Nope, sorry, it’s because the game sucked.

Best Xbox Game

This was a tough one. I was disappointed with Halo 2’s single-player but it’s multiplayer fun is undeniable. The fact that it is basically the same three or four games played over and over again but is wildly addictive is a testament to the genius of Bungie. The game is accessible to the casual gamer but deep enough to engage the hard-core gamer, as well. For 2004, Halo 2 is the Xbox game of the year. Runner-up: Burnout 3.

Best Gamecube Game

I didn’t get a chance to play a lot of Gamecube games as the year came to an end (see above for explanation) but I have some of the better games already lined up for this new year. I can say that my Game of the year will be Metroid Prime 2. I’ve been playing it for a while and it is fantastic. Retro has done everything right from the first and done things even better with the second. I look forward to continuing this game. Runner-up: Tales of Symphonia. (Remember, these are games I have played enough to form and opinion)

Best games I haven’t played yet

I have a bunch of games on the “want to play” list that I know will be good but I haven’t played yet. They include Full Spectrum Warrior, Splinter Cell PT, Viewtiful Joe 2, Mario Tennis, Metroid Prime Zero Mission, the list goes on. I am also contemplating giving World of Warcraft a try, but after picking up an extension on Live, I may but that on the backburner for now. I’ve got too many games as it is now. If I can peel myself away from Halo 2, I’ll get to some new games soon.

Wish List for 2005

There is a lot of things I would like to see come about in the next year, but I know it most won’t happen. If I could wish for one thing, it would be for two different Xbox Live!s. Something like a 25 and older Live! with a 24 or younger Live! Better yet, a 125+ IQ Live! Anything to weed out the people on Live that drive me crazy: the twelve year olds who accuse me of sexual improrities (and question my orientation), say things about my mother, drop four letter words like they’re going out of style, and quit games at the most inopportune times. I wish I could personally ban them, but that isn’t possible. I like the Survivor style elimination. If you act like a prick, everyone you’re playing with can vote you out. You get voted out too many times, you’re no longer welcome on Live servers for at least six months. Maybe by then you’ll grow up by then.

I’d also like to see the Xbox get a decent wireless controller. My wish would be for something on the level of a Wavebird, but those dolts at Microsoft are completely incapable of doing anything right, so we’ll have to rely on someone else. My friend has one of the Logitech Wireless Controllers, which is nice but it’s no Wavebird. Man, Nintendo has it down!

Which is my final wish – I would like to see people get of Nintendo’s collective back. The Gamecube may not be selling as many units as the PS2 or Xbox. The PSP may be better than the DS (I still think Nintendo buries Sony in the handheld war). They may not have the third-party support the other two consoles have. But who cares? Why do I want a crappy adventure/shooter game like Golden Eye Rogue Agent when I can be playing Metroid Prime 2. There is a lot of garbage games out there, but Nintendo always rises above them. All the doom-and-gloomers need to give the anti-Nintendo rhetoric a rest. I am a fanboy, hear me roar.

I don’t have a Mac but I do have an iPod. Let Nintendo become the Apple of the gaming world. I’d be fine with that.

Games of 2004

I, like most people, like to make top ten/five/whatever lists. Top ten movies of all time, top ten fight scenes, whatever. I made a top five Gamecube games of 2003 last year on epinions.com. I was thinking of games (Gamecube in particular) of 2004 and which one’s I’ve enjoyed so far and I’ve only played a couple games released this year. While there are a bunch of games I am looking forward to, I still can’t believe I’ve only played two games released in 2004: Wario Ware Megagames and NCAA 2005.

There are some good ones that are out already that I should play: Zelda Four Swords Adventures, Mega Man Anniversary, Spiderman 2, and Tales of Symphonia. Those are some good titles.

But the upcoming games are looking great. I am particularly looking forward to Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime 2 Echoes, and Pikmin 2. These will be the titles vying the top five of 2004. There’s also a handful of Xbox games I’m looking forward to playing, but that’s another topic.