Archive for the 'Video Games' Category

Xbox 360 Resurrected!

Yesterday, I received my third Xbox 360 replacement (my fourth console total). As you may recall, I had some trouble with my third console. I plugged it in yesterday, dropped Gears of War in the drive, and played for a few minutes. So far, all is well! I will be putting it through its paces in the coming days, just to be sure.

Of note (and as promised), Microsoft included a 1-month subscription to Xbox Live Gold.


Xbox 360 … Trouble in Paradise

I was having such a good time picking up Gears of War for the first time. I got to the part just after I annihilated these car-sized aliens with an awesome satellite weapon, and there was a cut scene and then BAM. Disc is unreadable, please wipe it and reinsert.

Well, I wiped and reinserted the disc, but nothing. Open Tray -> Close Tray -> Reading for a split second -> Open Tray. I tried it with multiple games, DVDs, and CDs, and nada. It’s as if the laser in the drive is stuck on something and can’t read the disk.

So, I called up Xbox Technical support, gave them the low-down. The CSR had me do a couple of random troubleshooting steps like remove the hard drive and set the system clock (that last I don’t quite get…how could the system clock affect whether or not a disc is readable? ). Nothing worked.

Bottom-line, I will be awaiting a pre-paid shipping box from Microsoft, into which I will be putting my THIRD Xbox360. I’m so glad I bought the extended warranty for it…otherwise I’d be out some serious cash at this point!

Also, as a nice gesture, I will be getting a free month of Xbox Live Gold membership…worth a whopping $4.16…oh well, it’s better than nothing I suppose.

Geeks of War

As you my already know, I am a video game geek.  I wouldn’t go that far, but I certainly asymptotically approach fanboy-ism when certain Sqeenix games are concerned. 

[Final Fantasy XII is neither Final, nor Fantasy, nor number twelve.  Discuss.]

I think I grew up when games that I really enjoyed were scarce. Perhaps I have been conditioned to be overcome by the Shameless Commerce Madness and Hype Machine and driven to viscerally possess the next thing to come out of Japan’s great development houses. In my old age, however, I no longer have control of enough time to play all the video games I want to play, or sample every JRPG that hits the store shelves.

A few years ago, I think after being tragically disappointed by an Atlus Software offering, I decided that I had to be much more discriminating when it came to my almighty dollar.

I started trolling IGN,, 1Up, and gathering as much information as I could about new releases, reading preview and reviews, and watching in-game footage. That last is most important; it’s too easy for me to get doe-eyed over the introductory cinematics, oftentimes completely misrepresenting what the game actually looks like for 99.9% of the time you’re playing.

So I developed the “Joe Cruz Winning Formula“: the average of the Editor review and the submitted User Reviews of a game must be 8.5 or higher, else I will not buy it. It has worked pretty darn well for me during the past couple of years.

I noticed something else, though, more recently. I was drowning in a sea of mediocre RPG’s! Velveeta-cloned mind-numbers that didn’t challenge me at all, but just fed the addiction. I made a choice, then, to change the litany of big-eyed, sword-wielding, dragon-slayers, and explore some heretofore un-enjoyed games. Platformers, FPS’s, and Adventure games!

Some games I’ve really enjoyed along the way: Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Metroid Prime.

Now that I’ve got an X360, I’m tremendously excited about the possibilities of these kinds of story-driven games, in Hi-Def visual bedazzlement, making my eyeballs fall out and my heart fall through the floor in excitement/panic/grief/connection. Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Fable 2, and BioShock, if I ponder them for too long, reduce me to a school-girl waiting for that Boyband song to hit my iPod’s playlist while drawing chisel-tipped hearts around the heartthrobs in the school yearbook.

Speaking of heartthrobs…may I please have Final Fantasy XIII…now?

World of Warcraft…you are out. Auf Wiedersehn.

Double-cheek kiss!  Left.  <mwah>.  Then right.  <mwah>.  You may leave the runway.

I downloaded World of Warcraft just to see if it would run on Vista Enterprise (<wink>) but also because I was interested in how they accomplished the whole client download issue.

Turns out they use a “torrent” of some kind, where other ‘Craft-zombies share some of their bandwidth so that other, unsuspecting, netizens become infected with the Blizzarius Virus.  I wandered around the starter Undead Race-region, killing off “Rabid Polygonal Fantasy Bats Level 3” and “Floating Undead Zombie Beast Skeleton Lich Minion Slaves Level 2”, and gaining a few levels.

I quickly remembered why I stopped playing in the first place.  It’s an addiction; point-click-repeat-click-point-heal-click-chat-heal-click-sellItem-repeat.  I already have one vice (well, maybe three), thank you very much, and I spend more than enough time with my hand-cum-wireless-prosthetic-mouse-pointer.

My doctor inocculated me against that infamous Blizzarius Virus, and now I’m free to gallivant across the real world. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Warcraft “world”…it’s just not for me anymore.

And I wish more software companies would use torrents to speed up the download process of some of their bigger packages…<cough>Xbox Live Video Marketplace</cough>

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