Tag Archives: Xbox 360

Backlog Adventures: Skyrim

It’s 2015 and I’m only just playing Skyrim, that smash hit from 2011, for the first time.  How did this happen?  When I try to answer that question, the first thing I think of is Led Zeppelin.

My first exposure to rock music was through my dad’s record collection, so I ended up listening to a lot of the Beatles, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course, Led Zeppelin.  But then something happened.  I was in high school during the 90s, a time when the sixties were back in a big way and kids were listening to Zeppelin as if they were another Seattle grunge band; between that and Zeppelin’s ubiquity on rock radio, I got burned out.  I needed a break.  But somewhere along the way, my brain got confused and convinced me that I actually disliked Led Zeppelin.  So, for ten years or so, I just kept on not listening to them.  The hiatus became indefinite.  I would change the station when they came on the radio.  I didn’t buy any of their music on CD, that newly emerging music format.  I simply lived as a person who wasn’t at all into Zeppelin.

Fast forward to 2005.  My brother turned thirty that year, and for his birthday I made him a mix CD with a song from each year of his life – beginning with 1975, the year he was born, and the year Led Zeppelin released Physical Graffiti.  Listening to that album to decide what song to open the CD with, I realized something that I knew when I was 12 but had since forgotten: Zeppelin rocks!  Within days I had purchased the most recently remastered versions of their first six albums, and was making up for a lot of lost time on air drums and air guitar.  Order was restored to the universe.

Why did my brain come to the conclusion that I disliked Led Zeppelin when in reality I probably only needed a brief respite from them?  Could it do the same thing with pizza?  What else do I only think I don’t like?  I don’t know.  But this is what happened with Skyrim.  When people kept telling me, over and over, insistently and enthusiastically, that I should play Skyrim – that I needed to play Skyrim – I dismissed them.  Skyrim just wasn’t my type of game.  I wasn’t into that sort of thing.

Continue reading Backlog Adventures: Skyrim

Microsoft E3 Conference Impressions

Games.  Games games games games games.  Lots of games.  All of the games.  That was the message of Microsoft’s press conference yesterday.  Microsoft has been calling this the best games lineup in Xbox history, and while I haven’t gone through year-by-year and compared them, yesterday’s conference certainly made a strong argument.

The show of course featured all of Microsoft’s heavy hitters: Halo, Tomb Raider, Gears of War, Fable, and Forza.  The show opened with a montage of characters (and cars) from these franchises, and each franchise popped up at some point during the conference.  But in addition to these big, predictable titles, Microsoft dropped a number of surprises.  Let’s take a look at the blow-by-blow.

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The show kicked off with a trailer for Halo 5: Guardians.  I’ve never been much of a Halo fan – I’ve only played Halo 3 – but the game looks impressive.  With a couple of people onstage holding controllers, we were treated to a (presumably) live demo – the first of many throughout the night – of co-op Halo 5 gameplay, which we’re told is “seamless drop-ion, drop-out co-op.”  Microsoft also showed off the multiplayer, announcing a new Warzone mode with huge arenas and 24-player battles.  Without really knowing what I’m talking about, I would say that Halo 5 looks like a pretty good bit of fan service.

Then, with no fanfare, a trailer for a new Xbox One exclusive game started up.  The game is called Recore (or ReCore or recore) and might be my favorite moment from the conference.  This is a new IP, and while there isn’t really any information in the trailer, it does look pretty cool.  The trailer begins with a woman walking through a vaguely post-apocalyptic desert landscape with her robot dog.  The dog’s design is centered on a glowing orb – a “core,” if you will – and our heroes soon encounter a bunch of four-legged, spider-like robots with cores of their own, albeit a villainous red as opposed to the dog’s heroic blue.  The heroine collects cores from the slain robots, and when her dog is dies, she takes its core and slots it into a giant, inert robot, bringing it to life.  So obviously the game is going to center on these cores and your ability to move them from host to host.  I’m hoping for more details later in the conference, but so far I’m excited for this game.  I love to see new IP, I love robot companions and blowing up robot enemies, I love seeing female protagonists, and I love the visual style of this game.  I can’t wait to learn more about Recore. Continue reading Microsoft E3 Conference Impressions

Ori and the Blind Forest Review

I love this game.  Let me get that out of the way right up front.  We’re in a new golden age for side-scrollers, and Ori and the Blind Forest is up there with the best I’ve ever played.  Gorgeous graphics, fluid controls, and satisfying challenges make for one of the best videogame experiences I’ve had in years.

Words.

Ori and the Blind Forest has been out for a while, but if you’re not familiar with it, here are the basics: it is a metroidvania game in which you play Ori, some kind of flying-monkey-looking thing, and you flit around the titular forest, which has become sick and is in need of saving.  The story, such as it is, is straight-up videogame boilerplate.  There’s a Spirit Tree, there are three main objectives centered on three elements, there’s the restoring of light.  But somehow, developer Moon Studios has made this paint-by-numbers story seem vital.  This can be credited mainly to two things: the game’s beautiful art design, and its poignant opening scene.  Continue reading Ori and the Blind Forest Review