Monday, December 20, 2004

Starlight Celebration 2004

Well Christmas is fast approaching and all the little galka boys and Mithra girls are filled with holiday cheer! The sign that Christmas will soon be here can be witnessed in all three nations of Vana Diel already. I have journeyed from Bastok to Windurst to San Doria to take snapshots of the wonderous sites and judge who I think has the best holiday's a tough call all 3 nations have done a great job!Here's the main fountain in Bastok favorite so far

Next I traveled to San Doria, here we see the hard work the royal elves put into their main holiday attraction in Northern Sandy, not bad...

The world of Vana Diel is big but that won't stop our Linkshells very own Galka Beastmaster Krogenar from finding a good holiday party. Here we see Krog hanging with me in Northern Sandoria (he had 1 too many egg nogs)

Well the Starlight Celebration party went all night long and Krog went a little overboard with the free alchohol.....

But Nalta isn't the kind of elf you bring home to mom anyway.....

As the night dragged on Krog proved his Galka stamina.....

Well that's it for now, see you next year to find out what trouble Krogenar will stir up in Windurst! We'll leave with the Konga line Nalta and Krog started at 3 am in the middle of Northern Sandoria......I don't think we'll be invited back to San d Oria next year....

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Game Review: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The Metal Gear series began on the NES back in the late 80's it was a simplistic game of sneaking past enemys and uncovering a secret nuclear launch weapon and destroying it.A few years later a sequel was made Metal Gear: Snake, where you (Snake) are sent on a top secret covert ops mission to infiltrate Outter Heaven in South Africa and elliminate the leader of this rogue nation, Big Boss. Along the way Snake also must face Grey Fox (Frank Yaeger). In the end of the sequel Snake completes his mission, assasinates Big Boss, and destroys Outer Heaven and Metal Gear.The next instalment in the Metal Gear series arrived on the Playstation and it changed the way people viewed video games, Hideo Kojima turned this simple game into an interactive movie with believeable characters and a storyline that rivaled many hollywood feature length movies. With some backstory to Snake and the Metal Gear legacy, Hideo Kojima elavated and expanded the story by weaving actual people and events from history with ficticous characters. The characters Kojima created for Metal Gear Solid are still some of the most memorable in gaming history. The remnants of Fox-Hound a covert ops organization funded and founded by Big Boss now lead by Liquid Snake included Revolver Ocelot, Psycho Mantis, Sniper Wolf, and Vulcan Raven. These guys weren't your typical 1 dimentional boss characters that you just shoot enough times and they fall, the members of FoxHound were a clever bunch, reading your "mind" useing the environment to their advantage. Each battle was unique and fun and they each knew something about Snake that he didn't know about himself. Kojima knows what makes a good villan, and Liquid Snake was the epitomy of a great villan, he was intelligent yet maniacal, cunning and ruthless. And just when Snake thinks he's in control Liquid drops the truth in Snakes lap, The Les Infant Teribles project, the Human Genome project, Big Boss, Solid, Liquid and the secret 3rd son of Big Boss. Metal Gear Solid set a new benchmark in the video game industry for story telling, plot development and twists, character creation, and ingenuity (heart attack reenacted through your controller).Anticipation for the sequel grew to to a frenzy till finally we got our first glimpse of Snake in a demo disk packaged with ZOE. We see Snake walking on the George Washington bridge then break into a sprint and leap off the side and fall towards a cargo ship with his stealth camo he acquired in the first game. Rumor spread across the internet that Snake dies in MGS2 Sons of Liberty. A year later Sons of Liberty launched in the US and to the surpise of all it did appear that Solid Snake died within the first hour of the game! How could Kojima do this to us!? What did Snake discover on the cargo ship that forced him to sink it? Did Snake betray the US and cause a major ecological disaster? In an effort to discover the truth a new operative was sent to investigate the site where Snake disapeared, his code name Raiden. Kojima took a tremenous risk with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but if you could get past the fact that you were not playing as Solid Snake and the insane plot twists, the story was actually very deep and intriging. Raiden soon discovers all is not as it seems and that terrorists, lead by none other than Solid Snake plan to destroy the hazmat plant constructed over the site where the cargo ship went down. Thru the guidance of Roy Cambel and his support team Raiden accepts the mission to stop Snake and Dead Cell from destroying the plant. Along the way Raiden meets a man who tells him Snake is not in charge of Dead Cell. Who do you trust, your commanding officer or a stranger?Eventually Raiden confronts Snake but then the man he ran into earlier arrives and reveals he is Solid Snake, being a new recruit Raiden is throughly confused and soon realizes he's waaaaay over his head. He has no knowledge of The Les Infant Teribles Project, The La Le Lu Li Lo, Outer Heaven, Big Boss, or The Patriots. With some reassurance from Roy Cambel and Rose (his girlfriend) Raiden cotinues on to stop Solidus Snake the ex President of the United States, the leader of Dead Cell and a member of secret government that Revolver Ocelot reports to. When Raiden and Solid Snake finally reach the core of the AG the mind fock trully begins! I won't spoil those who haven't played it yet but Solidus backstabs Dead Cell then Ocelot spills the beans that the secret government (AI) used Solidus and Raiden in a "live" experiment to re create the Big Boss vs Snake senario, then Solidus reteams with Dead Cell to stop Ocelot but is whooped, then suddenly we get a surprise cameo from a voice from the past. Ocelot escapes yet again and Solid Snake dives of the AG after him. And Sons of Liberty ends with a most anti-climatic fight between Solidus "Doc Ock" Snake and Raiden in liberty square.Sons of Liberty suffered from a few problems, first and foremost the publics anticipation was far to high, Gaming Mags and sites over hyped it to the point I expected Snake to be fighting clones in a galaxy far far away. Next the Dead Cell unit was absolutely lame compared to the members of Fox dead cell member was a by-sexual male who sucked his victims blood and his name was Vamp . Another issue for many was the story had too many plot twists, and the biggest gripe I hear to this day is Raiden.But if you were able to set these grieviances aside you would find a great game that moved the Solid Snake saga forward.With Big Boss dead, Outer Heaven destroyed, Metal Gear Rex and Ray smashed to smithereens, Liquid defeated, Solidus sliced and diced, where does Kojima go from here? How about the 60's cold war era! Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater brings us back to time when deterance and information were the weapons of the day.After Sons of Liberty skeptisism loomed over the next instalment in the series, would Kojima pull another Raiden surprise? Would the characters be even less inspiring than SoL? What new additions to the game play would be incorporated?Why did Snake appear to be the same age in this game which takes place in the 60's as well as in the first MGS which took place in the 90's? Gaming mags and websites soon began dropping hints that yes Snake was the main character but not the Snake from MGS 1 & 2. Speculation arose that it was actually Big Boss! Soon after we began to get info on the cast of character's. There was good ol' Snake and Ocelot, sans the revolver and much younger. And that was it for the recognizable characters, new to the series was Col. Volgin, who was responsible for kidnapping Dr. Sokolov, who attempted to defect to the US and the designer of the Shagohod, a top secret weapon with the ability to lauch ICBM's from anywhere in the Soviet Union and reack the US. Kojima masterfully mixes real history with MGS fictional history to enrich the story of Snake Eater and make it that much more fantastic. The prologue of the events in Snake Eater is the Cuban Missle Crisis, and the real reason why the Soviets agreed to pull out of Cuba was a secret deal between Kruschev and the US government to give back Sokolov. Enter Jack, code name Naked Snake, Fox's operative who is sent to rescue Sokolov and bring him back to the US before he completes this secret weapon. In command of the Virtuous (not Virtual) mission is Major Tom, and your support team consists of Para Medic, a promising medical student who instructs Snake on how to survive and treat injuries during the mission. That is one of the first major additions to the MGS game, besides the stealth aspect which is the core gameplay feature now Snake MUST keep his health and stamina in check. Snake now carries a full assortment of medical supplies from stints for broken bones, disinfectant to clean wounds from gunshots and large gashes, stiptik to stop the bleeding, ace badages and stitching thread to close wounds. Another Fox member assisting Snake on the Virtuous mission is his mentor The Boss, a legendary American soldier, she has done an incredible number of patriotic missions for the United States of America, she also worked with Major Tom in the SAS during WWII. Without retelling the story the Virtous mission gets FUBAR'd when The Boss betrays Fox and defects to the Soviets, reunites with the Cobras (a legendary unit she lead during WWII) and sides with Col Volgin who is secretly working with Bresnin who is attempting to overthrow Kruschev with the Red Army backing him and the Shagohod as their trump card.The members of the Cobra unit are by far the coolest and most memorable boss's in the history of Metal Gear! I never thought the FoxHound unit of MGS1 could be toped but I stand corrected, each member of the Cobra unit is named after an emotion, The Pain, the Fear, the End, the Rage, The Sorrow, and the Joy. They are each unique in their back story, character profile, and enjoyable to fight. The rule of thumb for boss fights in an action game is the fight is in a specified area usually an enclosed room, the fight is over within 15 minutes and there is always an exploitable pattern. The fight against the End throws all those rules out the window, you fight with him takes place outside in a forest that consists of 3 zones. You must trully outsmart and outlast him. The battle can take over 2 hours, but is very rewarding when you discover ways to find and kill him.Another significant change in MGS 3 is the environment(s), 90% of the game is out doors, unlike the sterile environment of Sons of Liberty. The game shows off the power of the Playstation, every blade of grass every tree, bush, vine is highly detailed, the player will never get the feeling that corners were cut and parts of the environment were cut and paste in other sections. To compliment the impressive environments Metal Gear Solid 3 is teeming with an abundance of Flora and Fuana, from mushroom caps and fruit to crabs, birds, fish, scorpions (not tasty), spiders, and lets not forget snakes...hence the name. Eating plays a crucial role as well, since you won't find ration tins laying around the jungle you better stock up on food, but be careful, if you don't eat it right away it'll go bad. You can also capture wildlife and let it loose on your enemies.One of the most prominent new aspects Kojima added to the Metal Gear francise in Snake Eater is camoflauge, this adds new depth to the stealth aspect of the game. Throughout the game Snake can find new camo patterns, wear the right pattern and the camo index (represented by a percent) will increase, wear a brick camo pattern in a wel lit dedicious forest and your ass is toast. Wear the tree bark camo in a dimly lit area and press your self against a tree you might as well be wearing therm-optic camo!With all these new additions, camo management, eating to retain stamina and health and healing to mend wounds you'd think the actual time playing would be sacraficed, but they actually enhance the game.The one short comings of MGS1 was the actual length of the game, I finished it in under 10 hours including cut scenes, MGS 3 clocks in at just under 30 hours my first time thru.MGS3 takes everything that made the first a great game and builds on it, Amazing characters, top notch gameplay, tons of extras (Snake vs Monkey ) A story that makes hollywood action flicks seem infantile, and make you want to keep playing into the wee hours of the morning to find out what happens next. And an ending that will make new comers to the franchise fanatics and those who know the game regain faith in Kojima. All I can say is the last hour is a tour de force of non-stop action and a chase scene that rivals MGS1 AND the endor speeder chase in Return of the Jedi!If I could give this more stars I would! A MUST HAVE title!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Keys to the Jungle

Nov 16th 2004 Krogenar and Bentidus help Tryptifaeris attain the three keys required to get the Kahzam Airship Pass. Tryptifaeris the white is at a point where he is too powerful to join parties on Qufim Island , so I need to find greener pastures to graze.

My friends tell me Kazam is where I need to head to, but in order to get there I need to acquire a Kazam Airship pass in Jeuno. There are 2 ways to get this Airship pass, I can pay 150,000 gil (that's ALOT of fish to catch!) or get 3 keys; 1 from the Palborough Mines, Giddeus, and Fort Ghelsba and deliver them to the Jeuno Air Travel Agency. I traveled with Bentidus to Giddeus for the first key, he tore up the Yagudo like Anakin with the Tuskens! Then we headed to the Palborough mines , both times I'd just hang out at the entrance and let him do all the killing then just wait for him to pass on the treasure lot. Those two areas aren't very photogenic but Fort Ghelba is pretty kewl, here's a few pics of Bentidus, Krogenar and myself on the way out with...."Fortune & Glory".

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Game Review: Street Fighter Anniversary Collection

Finally, Capcom has released Street Fighter III on the PS2, the long awaited sequel to the greatest fighting game in arcade history is here! Capcom is celebrating Street Fighter II's 15th anniversary ( Oh My God I feel old) with this release by including Street Fighter II Hyper Edition AND the Street Fighter anime movie all on one disk for the low low MSRP of $29.95.
Hey Capcom PSSST....I would have paid full price if you had made it ONLINE!
I don't know why you make Monster Hunter online, but a 2D fighter that raked in GOD knows much money for you, and single handedly revived the dieing arcade industry here in the states you refuse to make available on line. If I were Ken or Ryu I'd feel like I was punk'd.
Anyway I have only played III a few times, et me share my feelings on the game. SFIII is graphically superior to Street Fighter II and the Street Fighter Alpha series but it doesn't have the same.....for lack of a better word SHAAZAM.
I remember back in 1990 CJ calls me up and asks me to go with him to the local arcade,
"Dude you have to see something!".
So I go, not knowing what to expect and when we walk in, there in the front of the arcade is like 30-40 people crowded around 6 Street Fighter II machines, quarters lined the top of the control panel and cheers and jeers heard throughout the arcade. I was mezmerized as I first saw Chun Li do the spinning bird kick against Guile or the Hadoken battle between Ken and Ryu. I used to play Street Fighter I years before where only Ken or Ryu were selectable characters and I knew there were secret moves but could never figure out how to do them. I saw these guys & girls performing these special moves, and it wasn't like watching two blind kids fight...there was strategy, timing,and a psychological edge to the fights. This game was like crack to me and Krogenar, we played for hours on end and always cheered the other on in a fight. When it was released on the SNES I had it on day 1 we would spend whole days fighting on his fathers big screen TV. I played as Ryu and he prefered Ken, we played so much that we had to play with infinate time because we were like yin and yang, we knew each others stragegies, strengths and weaknesses and even with a sliver of health nothing was guaranteed.
We still play from time to time but Capcom milked the Street Fighter II franchise till the cow was dry and by the time they churned out III Tekken, Soul Caliber and the 3D fighting engine had taken over as the dominant fighting games at home and in the arcade.
Well Street Fighter III is here now, HADOKEN! Well the truth is the sprites are larger but the innovation isn't, the amazing soundtrack that complimented Street Fighter II is not present here (the C in rap is silent), the new fighters....yes they are actually new, have all to familiar special moves and . And my #1 gripe with Street Fighter III is the final boss Gil .
M. Bison was, and is probably one of THE best and most recognizable fighting game bosses of all time, he was evil personified without the crazy tenticles and freaky appendages. And he had a great evil (insert pinky into corner of mouth) had a hint of world war two axis uniform design.
This guy Gil.....has salon selectives hair and wears a bannana hammock, half his body is red and the other half blue, his pysical attacks are elementally based on......yup you guessed it fire and ice . How uninspiring is Gil, let me count the ways.....
And to make him even less suitable as a final boss he has no sub bosses like Vega, Balrog, and Sagat, wait where's Sagat! The Original Street Fighter final boss got the ax, that's not right, he should have a cameo or something. Oh Gill's special move you ask, 100% regeneration in mere seconds .
Overall the Street Fighter Anniverary disk is adequate, with good easter eggs like art galleries, and the Street Fighter anime but DAMMIT CAPCOM HEAR ME! PUT STREET FIGHTER ONLINE!!!!


The Chains of Promathia

After discovering the Hall of the Gods and seeing the statue of Promathia I bought a copy and installed CoP on my (now defunkt) PS2 HDD, with eight new regions to explore in Vana Diel I decided to visit Bibiki Bay first. Bibiki Bay is located in the southeast region of Mindartia and looks out on the Gugru Blue. Sheltered by a multitude of tiny islands, it's tranquil waters were once used by Tarutaru fishermen who farmed large caches of shellfish and seaweed.The Fishermans guild, seeing the bays potential, recently paid for the right to begin fishing the area again. The guild intends to make it's small fishing vessels; manaclippers, available for use by adventurers. Also, in order to bring ordinary sightseers, the Fishermens guild has just attained permission to land on the beautiful beaches of Pugonorgo Isle from the isles mysterious and wealthy owner....

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

After spending the better part of the day leveling my Black Mage job in the Valkurm Dunes I went from barely level 17 to almost level 21, the time has come for Tryptifaeris the black to venture from the Valkurm Dunes to Qufim, a dreary island north of Jeuno. The way there is perilous, first I must navigate the dreadfull Pashhow Marshlands (think of the dead marshes in ROTK) inhabitted by Malboro and other nasties, then cross the expansive Rolanberry Fields crawling with Goobue's, Crawler's and Quadav's. Once in Jeuno you must head all the way to the lowest level and then travel thru an underground cavern to reach the island of Qufim. But why risk all that when you can just jump on a Chocobo and be there in half the time?!

So here I am riding my Chocobo thru Pashhow Marsh when it dawns on me I have a clump of Selbina clay! What's that you ask. Well the mayor of the small port town of Selbina has a quest for adventurers, he gives you a clump of Selbina clay and asks you to seek out 17 stone monuments made by early explorers hidden throughout Vana Diel, and make impressions of the writings they left behind. Certain tablets are more challenging to find or reach, the reward varies on the difficulty, well this tablet is worth 1000 gill. I research the coordinates in the Marsh and steer my Chocobo to the spot, the tablet is down this winding narrow path to the north west, ahead I spot a Marlboro blocking the way! If I were on foot I'd surely be dead, but since I'm on a Chocobo I ride right past it, directly behind this abominal creature is the tablet.....and a dead end!

With it's back to me I dismount my ride and begin to scan the writing on the tablet, then I grab the clay from my inventory to make my impression and safely warp back to my home point which just happens to be Selbina. Just as I am about to use the clay I hear a rustling from where the Marlboro had it's back to me Dam! I suddenly get whacked for aproximately 50 hit points! I only have about 300, in a panic I begin to run thinking if I can get some distance between me and this monster I can cast warp and not worry that I'll get hit and my casting will be interupted, no such luck this Marlboro was fast on it's tentacles and Tryptifaeris was on it's menu. So I stop and begin casting warp, if it hits me I'm dead, I'll never have time to cast again....the Marlboro swings it's bulbous tenticle at my head but by the grace of the crystals misses! I now have 20 HP left and the Vortex of purple haze tears open and I feel myself enter the warp, the stench of the marsh and the the Marlboro fade from view....THWAAAACK! As I reappear on the other end of the warp back in Selbina I feel I've cheated death, a trimphant Tryptifaeris will stride into the mayor's hut with the clay tablet and I'll collect 1000 gill! But as I materialize a shocking vision appears, my mostly dead body laying face down spread eagle in the hot Selbina sand! It is extremely rare to see dead people in city zones but there I was mostly dead with a growing mass of living people huddling around me, staring in wonderment. I heard them asking "how?" and some even proclaiming there's PKing in FFXI now.....If only I began casting 1 second sooner this travesty wouldn't have occured. Suddenly from the back of the crowd I heard the welcome sound of someone casting Raise, and soon I was wisked from the ground and i floated midair as life poured back into me.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Emissary: Episode II

After reaching San D'Oria I went to the Bastokan consolate there and recieved my next orders, to go to Fort Ghelsba where Orcses run amok and the Yughott Grotto and report my findings to the consul of Bastok.

After reaching the summit of the Ghelsba outpost Krog and I return to San d' Oria and report to the consolate. The final part of my mission awaits, the BCNM dragon at Horlias peak. This fight would prove to challenging, not due to the difficulty of the dragon but the difficulty in finding people who still needed to fight the dragon. A few weeks passed before I was able to finish the mission but the group I fought the dragon with broke the record for time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Emmisary: Episode I

My latest mission for the republic is a top secret mission organized by President Karst of Bastok. I am to travel to Windurst, the details of my mission would be given to me in the Bastok consulate in Windurst.....

After reaching Windurst under the cloak of darkess I headed to the Bastok consulate and recieved my orders. I was told to go to Heavens Tower (think giant tree in Secret of Mana) get a magical weapon which is supposed to be given to a Yagudo Beastman in Giddeus named Uu Zhoumo as a peace offering. The Tarutaru give the Yagudo beastmen weapons and in turn the Yagudo don't attack Windurst.But Bastok has other plans for this magic weapon.....I'm told by my "contact" to bring the weapon back to the consulate and swap it with a fake. After doing so I head north to Giddeus to give Uu Zhoumo the fake, things don't go as planned when the Yagudo realizes the weapon is a fake . uu Zhoumo order me to get him an Aspir knife from a Notorious Monster (NM) named Eyy Mon (Jamaican Yagudo ). After killing Eyy Mon I gave Uu Zhuomo the Aspir knife and met up with Little Killer.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Paradise Lost

As I leveled BLM I began to travel more frequently throughout Vana Diel, I found I wasn't as worried about being attacked. Mobs that used to pose a threat to me as a WHM were easily dispatched as a BLM. I completed a few more quests in San d' Oria then headed back to the Valurm Dunes to continue XPing with PT's.

Todays specialty, Crab legs ala Valkurm. That little blue thing is a deadly summon known as Carbuncle.....he's a distant relative of Pikachu. He kills stuff with nauseating cuteness.

And here I am getting a tan in the headed elves gotta be xtra careful!

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Altana's Sorrow

After completing a few more quests in Bastok I reached a high enough level of fame to recieve the quest from the San d'Orian friar Virnage in the Mining district of Bastok. He asked that I retrieve a bucket of magical paint from the Garliage Citadel to help restore the beauty of the alter of the Goddess Altana in the Metal Works. As a reward Virnage would give me a letter to bring to the monks in the San D'Orian Cathedral who would then give me the scroll of Teleport Dem.
Yeah I could just buy it at the auction house for an UnGodly amount but what's the fun in that. So off I go to get that bucket of magic paint, I reach the entrance to the Citadel and cast Sneak, Deodorize, and Invisible to let me search in peace for this magic bucket of paint. I head down into the dark corridors and begin to search the rooms, careful to not fall thru the large holes in the floor. The Citadel is overrun with bats and it is imperative to keep sneak on at all times or suffer Krog's fate you will, during my through investigation my Sneak spell wore off! But I figured if I didn't move I could recast it and the bats would be none the wiser But by recasting Sneak I would negate the Invis spell....I figured there were no other mobs around that could detect by sight so I'd be ok.....wrong Just as I recast sneak a Bomb-type mob spawns and begins to hit me for large chunks of health, I wouldn't last long against this foe so I do the Mage thing and begin to cast Warp, the Bomb hits me but doesn't shake Tryp's focus, I continue to recite the spell, dark energy begins to surround me as I the room fills with the ancient words, the Bomb goes to hit me again but this time it misses and it appears I will escape this encounter, as I come to the end of my incantation the purple haze of the vortex tears open a portal that will reopen in the heart of Bastok and I will be an entire continent away from the deep dark of the Garilage Shitadel....moments later adventurers going to and fro in the Republic of Bastok are momenarily caught off guard when the fabric of space & time is torn asunder and a lifeless body is dumped in the middle of the Market district.

It appears that the ATB meter isn't present in this MMORPG 'cause my enemy got a last second hit on me for a whopping 170+ damage . The next time I attempted to get the elusive bucket of magic paint I contracted a guide, his name LittleKiller.
With the help of this mighty Taru I got my Paint and warped safely back to Bastok to give Virnage his stupid paint. He gave me the letter and telleported to the crag of Holla in the La Thene plataue, jumped on a Chocobo and headed to the Kingdom of San D' Oria to get my scroll of Dem. Later that evening I was drinking in the pub in Port Sandy when I overheard a rumor that a Vampire was down in the prison below the Chateau d' OraguilleI was fascinated by the whispers of this evil lurking below San D' Oria so I headed to the Chateau.......But that is a tale for another time.