Sunday, November 30, 2008

My review of Midnight Club LA for the Xbox 360

I'm a fan of driving games, so after watching all the commercials for this one on TV, I was pretty excited to give it a try. Street racing, outrunning the cops, earning respect and cash to buy new rides? Sounds sweet. I popped it in this weekend and sat down expecting some fun.

My first impressions were positive. The world of the game is indeed beautiful. It's set in Los Angeles and you can drive all the way from the beach to the Hollywood hills. Some missions actually have you do this. It's a Rockstar developed title and while it's not as interactive as Grand Theft Auto, it looks just as nice. It's not quite as interactive though. You can't mess with the computer AI, and when you try to run them over, they dive out of the way. While the game is open world, your only options are "Win race" or "lose race". I did a lot of both.

You start out with one of three crappy cars. Many racing games do this to you, as a way of teaching you the ropes of the game. Usually, after a few races, you earn a better car or the money to buy one. This doesn't happen in Midnight Club LA. I started out in a piece of shit VW and 4 hours into the game, I was still driving the same piece of shit VW, even after winning a ton of races in it. By this point in most other racing games....I'd already have myself 4 or 5 new cars, but maybe this is a street racing "simulator" and they want to teach you that in real life, no one hands you the keys to their Corvette after two races in a crappy VW.

Around 6 hours in, I still didn't have enough cash to buy a decent ride, so instead, I bought a middle of the road Ducati motorcycle. It was much faster than my piece of shit car, and I was unable to win a few races with it. I finally unlocked a piece of crap Camaro that was slightly faster than my piece of crap VW. I went online to race a few people with my new car. They all had awesome Vettes, Saleens or other supercars and blew me away. Guess they'd put more than 6 hours in. I logged back out, and sat there wondering how long I wanted to grind in this game.

Instead of grinding for cars, I decided I'd try for some achievements. There was one for taking 15 pictures and submitting them to the site. Since all I had was my bike and my piece of crap car, I took 15 boring pictures in order to get the "Paparazzi" achievement. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Here I am getting ready to race against some souped up Fast and Furious car. This is exactly why I play video games, to simulate being someone who sucks at life.

At a glance you might think this next picture was me burning out my tires in an awesome show of acceleration and torque. In actuality, I believe my piece of crap car probably just needed a smog check.

One of the best things about Midnight club is supposed to be the police pursuits. Of course, the car they start you with doesn't go much faster than the speed limit, so in order to start a pursuit, I tried parking outside of the police station while playing some rap music really loud. They didn't chase me.

Finally, there were 10 gamerscore to be had for submitting your car to "rate my ride". I sent mine up, and it's been rated 11 times so far. The verdict? 4.64 out of 10. That's about the same score I give this bullshit game.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Xbox Experience

So, the New Xbox Experience launched this morning and everyone on my friends list is slowly popping online with new avatars. Here's what mine looks like.

I think he's going to need a better costume than this though. Perhaps they'll make some stormtrooper armor soon. :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lazy Sunday

No, I'm not talking about the awesome song. That's just all that can be said about today.

Yesterday evening after the yard work ended, a couple of folks came over and we watched some movies, had some pizza and Craig brought a cake for dessert. I opened a bunch of birthday cards and presents. After that, it was lots of Guitar Hero World Tour (My gift from John) before a break to listen to Wing from South Park sing happy birthday to me courtesy of Elizabeth. I didn't know what was going on at first, but apparently...if you buy her CDs, she will call you from the Netherlands and sing to you on your birthday and other occasions. She called at 11pm and I put the phone on speakre so we could all listen. It was pretty funny. Afterwards, we played games late into the morning, then went into the hot tub until it was almost light outside.

I didn't get to bed until 6:45am or so, then I woke up at 10:30 only because my clock said it was 12 and I thought that was a good time to be awake. Turns out it said 12 because the power had gone out for a minute the day before (thanks to the industrial saw Craig brought over blowing a breaker). I watched a movie with Heather then went back to sleep from 1-5. When I got up, we watched some more TV, then I beat Fable 2 and went to bed around midnight. Hopefully, that normalizes my sleep schedule.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The day

So, this morning I woke up around 7:30am to a birthday text message. Ordinarily on a Saturday morning, waking up this early would be cause for grumbling, but I had to get up at 8am anyway for Craig to call me so it was all good. He called right on the dot for my credit card number (he was buying some lumber for the fence) and I went out to the living room to play some Fable 2. I got almost to the end of the game before it was time to start yard work.

Craig and I worked on the fence until lunch time, then made a trip to Home Depot for some more lumber and some Carl's Jr. for lunch. When we got back home, he started cutting stuff for the trellis we're putting on the fence and I went up on the roof to get rid of the leaves. We worked until dark...then called it a day.

Now for some relaxing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Secret Samadhi

11 years ago, Live released their 4th CD, which was a huge deal for me. Back then, Live was one of the biggest bands in my little musical universe. I had never even heard of them 3 years prior, but some friends convinced me to go see them play and I was hooked after that. A year later, I had followed them all over the northwest on their Throwing Copper tour, and Mental Jewlery and Foursongs had become two of my all time favorite CDs.

When Secret Samadhi came out, I remember being unimpressed with "Lakini's Juice" (the first single that was being played on the radio and MTV), but I bought the album anyway hoping it would grow on me. This is back before MP3s, so buying an album when you didn't even like the single was a risky proposition. I listened to it a lot, but none of the songs "clicked" for me. I tried to like it, but I just couldn't get into this album the way I did with their other music. Looking back now, I think maybe I just loved "Throwing Copper" so much that anything they released to follow it up would have been a letdown at that point in time for me.

2 weeks ago, I saw Zack and Miri make a porno and during a pivotal scene in the movie, "Lift me Up", (an unreleased track from the Throwing Copper days) came on. The next day I found myself listening to all my Live records again. One album in particular stands out more now than it ever did in the past.

I was completely wrong about Secret Samadhi. It's just as good as their first three disks and possibly better in some ways. I've listened to several of my Live cds on and off since the 90's, but this one has always been missing from the rotation. No more. This is on my mind tonight because I've got the record on and I can't seem to turn it off....even though it's a work night and I should be in bed.

Heather managed to sleep through my little evening of Live and almost the entire Secret Samadhi album, even though she's just one door away and I have the sound up pretty loud....but I think my singing just woke her up.

That's probably my cue to call it a night.


You have a blog?

I'm on the "instant blogging" service Plurk with my friends all day long at work....but I don't think I ever really say anything there. Talking about what I had for lunch or where I'm going after work isn't exactly newsworthy. "News" like that might belong on a site like this, where no one reads regularly. :-)

At the beginning of this year, I tried blogging once a day. I couldn't hang. Later this year, I found plurk, and I don't think a day has gone by since I joined up where I didn't post there at least once.

I may start this daily thing up again. Can I make a calendar year? We shall see.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election day once again

I got up this morning around 7am, actually excited to go vote. By 7:30 I was standing in line at the elementary school near my house, along with about a dozen other people who were waiting to vote in the 20 polling stations (all full). By the time I left, the line was twice as long...but everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

At this point, I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping that someone I voted for will actually win this time.