Saturday, March 29, 2008

Xbox 360: Making Black Accessories

I know. I'm the slowest person on the planet at posting pictures. Sometimes I forget completely. My gadgets are still packed up and in disarray, so it's hard to get everything done the way I want.

Before I moved out, I was working on a project to convert my white 360 accessories to black. They sell the basics in black, but the Vision Camera, the Messenger kit, the battery charger, and the wireless headset are all a mismatching white.

I'll be honest, I haven't even purchased a black battery yet. One of these days when I have a few bucks to waste. However, the messenger was the white accessory that bothered me the most.

Following Alacron's directions, I grabbed some plastic bonding paint from the store. They didn't have the Plastikote in black that I wanted, so I ended up wiht Krylon Fusion, which seems to do the trick. Anyway, he's right; take it slow and only do a light coat each time. The great thing about Fusion paint is it dries in about 15 minutes, so you could get the paint job done in a day.

Holding the can away 8-10 inches and doing a light pass is critical. You won't get it solid black until 3 or 4 passes if you are doing it correctly. Even then, a couple more coats won't hurt. Just make sure it dries and stay light so it doesn't run.

Again, we're waiting on pics. But I've done my memory card; it looks great, and my Messenger keyboard. It looks immensely better than white on black. I'm doing my Vision Camera right now (look for 6 screws on the bottom, underneath the label sticker and the rubber ring). I think I'm going to be happy with the results.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core introductory Minutes

Due to task overload, I haven't had a chance to play Crisis Core until this morning. I wanted to delve into it last night, but my slim PSP wasn't charged enough to do the required update.

This morning, I plugged my PSP into my 27" Westinghouse LCD and was quickly reminded why we keep getting sucked into Square-Enix games. The pre-rendered FMV's were gorgeous for the PSP. Full of action, and in my third favorite FF universe (preceded by FF8 and FF10).

Once gameplay came along, the graphics stepped down a few notches since we were no longer pre-rendered. However, for a PSP title, they are still impressive. The music and voicework complemented Advent Children well.

The gameplay itself was very basic albeit acceptable. Dodge, block and action. You select attack, spells, or items in real time then use the action button to perform it. This isn't derivitive of the original game at all, but it's not supposed to be. Since it's 90% about story with these games anyway, I think I'll still enjoy it.

I'll do a review once I get a chance to actually play the game.

Monday, March 24, 2008 Review

The aesthetically boring look of gadgets can always use a little vinyl surgery. Sometimes a single color on a device lacks personality, and other times we just need a custom look that defines an object as our own.

A couple of weeks ago, I was dabbling in reminiscence. My original launch Xbox 360 had such customization. I had the Nyko custom faceplate, and converted an AVP window static cling into a skin for the 360. Photos of the work are available under "Systems" at the right.

It looked alright, but I had to use double-sided sticky tape to keep the skin on. The text on the static cling was also cut off and unappealing. The custom face plate insert I made was okay, but it was the result of being over-creative.

With the 360 Elite upgrade I went with last year, I figured the black would go along with my skinning idea. However, this time I was in the market for a professional product. Several google searches later, I finally came to

As opposed to the usual obnoxious designs at say,, unique skins allow you to create the skin you want first, right on the website. Using either pictures they provide or you upload, you use whatever pictures you want and size them appropriately. Within minutes, I had downloaded some AVP photos and had the design I wanted.

I liked the concept so much that I decided to make me a Bullet Witch Zune as well.

The decals are high quality and glossy. I quickly found that I should have heeded uniqueskins warning on resolution. While the low-res pictures looked great scaled down on the site, they are a little gritty on the final product. However, it's only noticeable on close inspection. If you go this route, use the highest resolution photos you can get!

The only other small issue is that the full console decals are a bit spendy. $25 may seem like a lot, but the product is solid. The Zune was thankfully a mere $6, which I found to be a steal.

Now I have the look I wanted without all the hack-job mess of before. I will post pictures soon.

Would I buy again? Definitely! I recommend for anyone who wants to design their own skin. It's custom, easy, and hassle-free. I'll probably return for a slim PS2 skin next!

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Just visiting?

Fish is in the air at my other blogging assignment. Big changes are afoot, but I cannot talk about them here.

I'm moving this weekend, and I expect to be quite busy. I'm actually mostly moved, but there's a lot going on. I might have to move my room mate out as well since he's not "Just Visiting" on the Monopoly board. The hope was that in the late hours I could squeeze a couple of posts by.

Since the other guys have all posting on hold, I may actually have a chance to use this site as originally intended: for the gaming news I find interesting. This of course will be temporary, but I just renewed the domain so I don't plan on throwing my self-titled debut in the trash any time soon.

Work has enslaved me for the week, so my Google Reader was stuffed mess. Hopefully I'll get a chance to comment on the recent stories that caught my eye. I did find this awesome review/walkthrough of the original Ninja Gaiden!

"See you next!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Army of Two is a snooze-fest

From the trailers and the commercials, it is easily assumed that Army of two is a high-impact 3rd person shooter. We expect nothing less from a trailer than showing us the highlights in a way that opens our respective wallets' gullets.

I can't recall an engaging two-player co-op game since Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Sure, there's Halo and others, but usually teamwork isn't as much of a focus as it could be. I'm talking two people, who rely on each other and progress is impeded without cooperation.

Army of Two gets the team-play idea right, but the implementation lacks the spark of intensity. While the graphics are impressive, the sound, and firefights don't match. AOT seems to have the slowest monotone machine guns in the world. The weapon sounds are near indicative of shooting through the Matrix drown in a pillow. Even with hundreds of watts of surround sound, the immersion just isn't there.

I commend EA for bringing us a new IP. The franchise could have a future. The mechanics of play and graphical fidelity were spot on. The lighting effects are superb and believable. But fire the sound team and speed up the action!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Alien vs Predator: Shower Edition

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'm moving in a couple weeks. Guess which consoles are already packed?

In attempt to get a pre-emptive jump on my future migration, I began packing my entertainment items.

To no one's suprise, the first things to go in the bin were the PS3 and the Wii. I can't even remember the last time I seriously played either of these consoles. My mom keeps asking for me to bring the Wii to her house. I told them I'd let them use the PS3 for a Blu-ray player. I'm thinking they can borrow the Wii for a while as well. LOL

I'm not sure why so many people are attached to the Wii (and to a much lesser extent the PS3). The Wii has nothing for games...just recycled mini-game trash. Aside from Wii Sports...I still don't hear any local talk of other games. I still need to finish Metroid Prime, but the control scheme is turning me to other games for now. One of these days I'll grab a PerfectShot and RE: Umbrella Chronicles.

The PS3 is a capable system, but it doesn't feel like a games system. It feels like a geek toy, much like the PSP. Aweseome capabilities, but too slow, awkward and lacking in the fun department. I still scan the PS3 sections at stores and don't see anything that's not on the 360 that I want. For some reason, I'm going to buy a rumble controller anyway...and not use it. *sigh*

So the PS3 and Wii are wrapped up in the bottom of a plastic bin along with a PS2, original Xbox, and an old laptop. I'm not thinking the 360 is going to join them until the very last couple of days at the house.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bullet Witch Revisited: Bargain Bin Fling

Games keep pouring in, and time just isn't being on the friendly side. Looking back, I still have several games to play: Burnout Paradise, Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, PGR3, and Assassins Creed. That's games I just need to get started on. Games I wanted to get more out of: Rock Band, Phantasy Star, Tiger Woods, and Bullet Witch. Since I wasn't in a FPS mood or sports mood, and it was too late to play Rock Band, I decided on Bullet Witch.

I did a search on "Bullet Witch" in this blog, and it looks like I didn't even do a review. There were too many games at the time that were more entertaining for me to delve into the gun-broom action game. It looks like I was disappointed at the time, and reasonable so.

Upon my revisit to the game, I'm able to give it a lot more credit than before. The story is actually a lot better than I thought. The pre-rendered cut-scenes were done quite well. In-game, the gun-rods are bad-ass in a way: Machine Gun, Gatling Gun, Shotgun, and a Canon. The mid-point of the game is where things start really picking up. Lastly, the environments vary in a good way.

When Alicia shoots the door off the airplane and jumps out to fight the airborne demon, it's so over the top that it just has to be awesome. Akin to when Master Chief flung himself out into space with a Covenant bomb. A little bit more personality and we'd be in Devil May Cry territory.

Alas, the bad must be discussed.

Continue reading...

Unfortunately, the developer didn't stress the magic combos with these weapons enough. Requirements for better utilization of the arsenal would have made this game 10 times more interesting. I didn't even know the canon could be turned into a triple-zoom sniper for long distance headshots until I was screwing around on my second run through the game.

Even more problematic is that the AI is unacceptably bad. It has notable moments of all-out cheapshots. Snipers for example, will lock on to your head no matter how many aerial cartwheels and flips you do. For the most part, the grunts just run straight at you and eat the bullet buffet headed their way.

The graphics are a toss up. At times, they are quite impressive. Other times, they look very last generation. The shadowing doesn't work at all, and there is some very pixelated moments in the game. The characters' faces in cut-scenes look great, but then their hands look blocky as hell.

I say the game is worth playing at least once. Granted you are willing to stick it out until after the airplane fight (3rd level I think), that is. Finding out how Alicia came to be is a bit mind-turning. If only they had put more time in to polish it up and vary some of the concepts (walnut heads are lame), we would have had a solid game here.

Imagine a great short story being told by someone with a stuttering problem and has a thick white hair sticking out of his lip. That's Bullet Witch in a nutshell.

Witches Brew:
-Cool weapons and magic
-Variety of scenery in levels
-Interesting Story

Burned at the stake:
-Brainless AI
-Graphical glitches
-Arsenal not utilized well

Resembles/Feels like:
Devil May Cry without the sword play, aerial combat, and jackass personality. It could kind of be compared to Gears of War gameplay, but that's a stretch.

Rent or Buy: It's a renter or Bargain Bin title

Personal Appraisal: $15
MSRP: $17.99

Other Opinions:
4/10 @ IGN
5.5/10 @ Gamespot
5.1/10 @ teamxbox

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chains of Olympus sucks for the seasoned

In Joystiq's one-off renamed "Nega-Review", it's unanimously decided that the PSP outing is same-old. How exciting, seemingly how I preordered it unknowingly.

The game is mocked for being linear, although I wouldn't expect much else from a portable game. After all, regardless of the PSP's capabilities, it is not a full console. Other complains range from lack-of-anything-new and the loss of features/capabilities in this prequel.

From the demo, the game seemed okay, but it wasn't very exciting. Other than Kratos bashing someone's head in with a treasure-chest. But I could live without it.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gamestop reserved Chains of Olympus for me without permission

So I received a phone call in the middle of band practice tonight. It was from an odd number, so I ensure to hush up the guys from their fiddling.

"Aeris" from Gamestop, how your name brings back memories. You know what? I wasn't sad when she died. I liked Tifa better anyway. LOL

According to them, I had reserved God of War: Chains of Olympus. Talk about a surprise! The truth is that I don't like the PSP that much and I certainly don't like God of War enough to reserve it. They must have pulled a quick one on me and somehow interpreted a "Yes" out of my shunning of their usual Do-you-want-to-reserve barrage.

Confession: I just bought a slim PSP for the TV out. But this was for two purposes: Crisis Core and AVPR. That's it. The God of War demo was interesting and all, but I'm in no rush to buy the game. I guess I'll have to go apply the money toward AVPR.

*shakes fist at Gamestop*

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Resistance 2...Cant' say I'm excited

While PS3 fans everywhere were putting Resistance: Fall of Man on a pedestal, I just couldn't join in. RFoM because an example as to why Blu-ray may not be a good thing for games; the game was dragged out too long.

Sony is trying to compare Resistance to Gears of War 2, but I have little faith in their apathetic take on Gears. They attempted to build similar hype about Killzone against Halo, which turned into a joke in theory and in execution. While Resistance is leaps and bounds above the original Killzone, it failed to have the replay value and intensity of Gears of War.

Behind the scenes, we know that the Gears vs Resistance conversation is driven by graphical comparison. Fans and big-wigs alike have somehow come to the conclusion that graphics are everything. While Resistance 1 looked good, Gears of War was undoubtedly a step above it. What Sony's Steinberg is really trying to say is that Resistance 2 should compare aesthetically to Gears 2. In execution, however, graphics won't be enough.

If Resistance 2's experience is anything like the bore of its predecessor, it won't even be in the same competing bracket as Gears. While the non-shooter-experienced Playstation fan is easily impressed, 360 fans have come to expect a lot more. Regardless of console preference a good game will go noticed by peers. Even now that PS3 fans have experienced Call of Duty 4 and Rainbow 6, it's hard to imagine even PS3 gamers giving Resistance much attention.

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