Sunday, December 23, 2012

Game In The Veins

So, I'm starting a blog/website strictly dedicated to video game writing. Reviews, previews, features, , that kind of thing. I am no longer writing for New Gamer Nation, so things that would have ended up there will be on my own site instead. I will likely no longer be making any video game related posts here, as it makes more sense to toss those up on Game In The Veins. The layout is pretty basic right now, but over time (when I have the time) I will be making some tweaks and throw up new content more regularly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Two Changes That Victoria's Secret Can Make to be More Guy-Friendly

I don't shop at Victoria's Secret as I am not a woman nor a cross-dresser, but my girlfriend does. I have spent more time than I would like to admit or care to remember, standing in place in the corner of a Victoria's Secret store, waiting for my girlfriend to come out of the changing room. I am rarely the only male there as other boyfriends, fiancees, husbands (whatever) get dragged along as well. During this time I have had to revelations as to how this store can make all of the men like me more comfortable.

1. Give Us Someplace To Sit - This goes for all department stores, but especially Victoria's Secret. The store is almost always busy and because there is not designated "Sit here until your girlfriend is done" waiting area, I am always in someone's way. I attempt to cram myself into the most disused corner of the room, away from the lacy undergarments and PINK t-shirts, but it doesn't really work. At some point I have to move because someone wants to look at whatever it is I happen to be blocking; so I do move. Then, like clockwork, I find myself in another shopper's way and scuttle somewhere else. I already get death-glares and odd looks just for being there, I don't want to be on the receiving end of even more negative attention.

Perhaps more importantly the the fact that I always find myself in someone's way, a chair would be nice for my achy body. It sounds pathetic, but if you are standing (mostly) still for upwards of 20 or 30 minutes, you start to feel a bit stiff. Should I have someplace to sit at my disposal, that could be prevented. Chairs would be good for women, too as oftentimes ladies shop together. Those who are not trying things on themselves or are waiting in line for a free dressing room, would probably love to take a seat.

2. Stop Spewing Pink Everywhere - Seriously, didn't whoever designed all Victoria's Secret stores have more than just pink in their Crayola box growing up? I understand that they are trying to be feminine and sexy, but that does not mean that everything outside of (some of) the closing (literally in some of their stores) has to be pink. Red and black are supposed to be sexy colors, too - use those and accent with pink. Last time I was in a Victoria's Secret, the walls, shelves, drawers, countertops, ceiling, just about everything was pink. I would think that even if this was your favorite color, you would recognize that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Please Victoria's Secret, recognize that your customers and employees are not the only people that set foot in (sometimes unwillingly) your stores. Please, help a man out. With the alterations in place, I might not feel so miserable the next time my girlfriend asks me to go to the mall with her (maybe).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Follow Up: The "Suck for Luck" Campaign

Last year the Indianapolis Colts won two of their sixteen games and finished last in the entire league. This year, they appear to be playoff bound and are being led by rookie QB, Andrew Luck. He has done everything expected of him and more. He is breaking records, leading his team to come from behind wins, and looking poised every step of the way.

While I know that the Colts never intentionally lost games last year for the chance to draft Luck first overall in last April's draft, I think that they would have done so had they known how great he really is (if they needed to anyway). Luck's talent is as advertised, only even more impressive (similar to Robert Griffin III) Peyton Manning has come and gone (and playing very well himself in Denver) and I don't think that Colts fans are missing him too much.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Follow Up: When Can I See Master Chief Throw A Plasma Grenade at Marcus Fenix?

Super Smash Bros. is one of my favorite game franchises EVER and since I've never owned a Wii, I've only actually put real time into playing the first two games. Nintendo hit a huge home run when they decided to pit their best characters against each other.

Sony has followed in Nintendo's footsteps with the release of PlayStation All-Atars Battle Royale. The game definitely is not a carbon-copy of Super Smash Bros., but clearly was inspired by it. Why has Microsoft failed to produce a similar franchise?

When this question is brought up (which is rare), people tend to point out that Microsoft does not have as many exclusive characters as its Japanese competitors. These people fail to recognize the fact that that does not really matter. Super Smash Bros. Brawl features Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid franchise. These games have been on Nintendo consoles, but are actually better known for being featured on the various PlayStations. Also, while no characters from Assassin's Creed are actually in PlayStation All-Stars, some have hoped that Connor from ACIII would make it into the game at some point.

Microsoft, I beg of you, make this happen. Your version can have a significantly different feel than the other two franchises. It will sell, I guarantee it (as long as you DO NOT make it a Kinect game).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Letter Grades For Linkin Park's 5 Albums

Just felt the need to do this. Short and sweet. Here they are:

Hybrid Theory (2000) - A : The start of something great.
Meteora (2003) - A+ : My favorite album of all time. Period.
Minutes to Midnight (2007) - B+ : Departure from classic sound, but still solid.
A Thousand Suns (2010) - F : No matter how hard I try, I cannot forget that this exists.
Living Things (2012) - B- : Rebound.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Wonder: Zombie Apocalypse Edition

Who would be the first to die, or un-die, during a zombie apocalypse? I mean, literally the first person. Hopefully, not me.

I Wonder: Who Invented Cupcakes?

Seriously, whoever came up with cupcakes must have been a genius. And normal cakes for that matter. Pancakes, short cakes, ice cream cakes. On a regular basis I find myself amazed that anyone came up with anything that people eat that actually needs to be prepared in some way-I couldn't do it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Follow Up: Leonard Johnson

Back in April, I was clamoring for someone to draft former Iowa Stater cornerback, Leonard Johnson. No one did. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did sign him as an undrafted free agent. Ultimately, he got through training camp with a roster spot and has made some contributions to the team.

He isn't lighting it up (yet), but he has helped and he has even found himself a job as a starter. Through nine games, Johnson has three interceptions. That is more than what many starting defensive backs have. One of those was even returned 83 yards for a touchdown in the teams 34-24 win over the Chargers.

I'd say that I'm looking pretty good.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Selfish Plug

I'm not often one to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty awesome (obviously, modesty is my middle name). In the name of advertising myself, here are three gaming pieces that I've written recently that may be of interest to someone other than myself:

Borderlands 2 is amazing, but it does have one glaring problem.

Games steal from other games, but sometimes they forget to grab the simple things.

Like people, game franchises die. People should accept that.

Enjoy . . . or don't, it's up to you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Wish: World Peace Existed

What? I'm not all bad.

I Wish: More Game Developers Were Mac Friendly

Most computer games choose PC's and I understand that. Many of them also tell us Mac owners that if we were interested in games, we never should have gotten a Mac in the first place. Why?

My Xbox 360's primary function is to play video games. While it can do more than that, that is what it is made for. My laptop was not made to play video games.

I'm a student and I do not claim to be much of a computer person. I know more about the ins and outs of computers than my parents, but less than most of my friends. What I do know is that I enjoy my Mac for everything besides gaming and the only reason why it falls short in that arena is because the vast majority of the games I'd like to play are PC only. I must commend Blizzard because all of their current games (Starcraft II, Diablo III, and World of Warcraft) are playable on Mac's.

I am not the only sad gamer wishing that games like Total War: Shogun 2 were playable on my computer. It doesn't take that much more time or money to make this happen and sales will go up. Are developers just lazy? Do us Mac gamers need to speak up more? What is the answer? Just tell me and I will do whatever (little) that I can to attempt to solve this issue.

Until then, I'll keep reading about all of the games that I can play until one lone tears forms in the corner of my eye. At that point I'll distract myself by playing something that is actually at my disposal.

Another Brilliant Idea: Limit Political Campaign Spending

Political campaigns, especially presidential ones, spend an absurd amount of money in an attempt to get their candidate into office. I want this to stop.

Political offices are essentially bought. The candidate that spends the most tends to get the most publicity and in turn, the most votes. There are limits as to how much individuals can contribute to campaigns now, so campaigns now need to work harder to get more people to donate money, but I want to take things further.

Right now, our global economy remains in the gutter. We live in a world where children are starving, wars are raging, Honey Boo Boo exists, and instead of remedying these catastrophes, money is spent on smear ads that don't seem to ever go away (please make it stop). Apparently, all American politicians were never told the ole "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" from their parents.

By limiting spending, all campaigns are forced to become smarter and more creative. Those with the best brains instead of those with the best pockets will win.

Am I alone in this train of thought?

P.S. Go vote.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm Excited, But Should I Be?: Wii U

Nintendo's new console, the Wii U, launches within the next month. Due to my finances, I likely either won't ever own one or at least won't pick one up for a couple of years. The system has its critics (including myself), but I'm still hyped up about its release.

Maybe I'm just being nostalgic, but some of my all-time favorite gaming experiences have occurred while playing a Nintendo system. The first Pikmen game, Pokemon Red, Super Smash Bros., most Super Mario games; they're all Nintendo and they're all great.

The Wii U will bring new IP's with tons of potential (like The Wonderful 101) along with epic sequels of fan favorites (i.e. Pikmen 3). With time, there'll be new Zelda, Metroid, and Super Smash Bros. games. 

While it may not be as powerful as future Sony or Microsoft consoles (we don't know yet), it is certainly a step above the current generation of consoles. As long as the Wii U gamepad doesn't become a gimmick (like the Kinect), it has a chance of becoming something great. Currently, the Wii U can only support one gamepad per console (but you can still use Wii controllers, the Wii U pro controller, and others), but eventually that number will grow. 

WiiTV will finally bring a great media center to a Nintendo system. Nintendo is also finally fully embracing online gaming. Despite my excitement, I do still REALLY wish that the Wii U was called basically anything else, but I won't allow such a minute criticism bring me down.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dear Clique

Jazz Band (Dirty Style Blues) by Jean Dubuffet
Dear Clique,

     I find myself lost in this strange world called "Iowa." As I walk through this sea of green, I don't feel like myself. I've become just another face, blending in all too well. My better half keeps me safe and sane, however, I still long to get the band back together.

     Meet me in the suburban town of Willowbrook. I'll be waiting at the end of the culdesac that faces away from Madison, with my arms wide open.

- Kalashnikov Chris

Oh My Dearest Telegraph

At the end of a recent journalism exam I took, students were asked to write a poem about the telegraph for extra credit. In the two or three minutes that I had left by the time I reached the end, this is what I came up with:

     Oh my dearest telegraph
     What abominations you let me have
     Tis all because of you
     The internet devours my afternoon

     How dare you my dearest telegraph
     You've put cancer in my brain, you have
     According to my doctor's note
     I'm being kill by my cellular phone

     So long my dearest telegraph
     What little importance today you have
     It's not over you today's children hath fought
     It is but you who'll soon be forgot

Friday, October 26, 2012

Everyone Should Believe In Something

Everyone should have their own passions and beliefs, but there are still guidelines to follow.

1. Don't attempt to force your beliefs on anyone.
2. Don't believe anything that causes harm (of any kind) to anyone (including yourself, but especially anyone else).
3. Don't allow yourself to be completely blind. Think for yourself.

Apparently, I Cannot Write About Video Games Enough

I am also writing for the up and coming Vgamerz. Head here for my first ever review.

By The Way, I Write For New Gamer Nation

Want some video game news, reviews, previews, editorials . . . basically everything? Go to New Gamer Nation, where you can read things that I write like this or even this.

Dan Cummins Inspired Thought Process

Earlier today, I saw a large white pickup truck angle parked in a lot that didn't have angle parking, taking up two spaces. Three things kept me from slashing their tires.

1. Witnesses.
2. An appropriately sharp object.
3. The realization that if I did slash their tires, they'd no longer be capable of leaving the spaces that I was furious at them for occupying in the first place.

"Other people are the worst part of life." - Dan Cummins

     - I have tried, but I can't argue with that statement.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello World

I am still alive (in case anyone was wondering). I have also still been writing, just not here. I recently became I writer for the video game blog D-Pad D-Bags. Below is a link to my latest article.

: Why I'll Empty My Pockets for Borderlands 2 Instead of Black Ops 2

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Top Four Most Anticipated Video Games (Fall 2012)

#4 Madden 13 - In recent years, Madden has been trending in a downward spiral, releasing a particularly lack luster effort last August. Madden 12 marked the first Madden that I did not buy since I became a madden fan pre-Xbox 360/PS3. Why will Madden 13 be better? Developer EA Tiburon seems to finally realize that they’ve dropped the ball. A greater effort is being made in the game play as well as the presentation. There will be two new announcers in the booth and they were actually recorded together, sounding more natural than the robotic Chris Collinsworth, who color-commentated the last few games. Even if EA’s hard work doesn’t pay off, this game can’t possibly be worse than its predecessor.
#3 Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - I’m excited for Black Ops 2 for the same reasons as the upcoming Madden. Call of Duty has become stagnant. Gamers unanimously agree that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is by far the best installment in the franchise. Since CoD 4, each annual release has been almost the same thing with little to keep things fresh. Like Madden 12, last years Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the first ever CoD that I didn’t buy since the franchise’s birth. I have not been alone in clamoring for changes to the CoD franchise and Black Ops 2 is bringing changes. Part of the game will be taking place during the Cold War in the 1980’s. The rest of the campaign and all of the multiplayer will be in a future Cold War in 2025. So far the campaign appears to be as over-the-top as ever, but there seems to be signs of evolution as well. There will be several times during the campaign where players will be forced to choose which mission to go to next while those that they do not pick go un-played. The decisions you make impact aspects of the story including who lives and dies. The missions will also allow players to run through the entire mission commanding troops and drones from a birds eye view, hopping into a drone, or playing as a soldier on the ground. Players will also be able to switch to whoever they want whenever they want. This will add replayability to the campaign for the first time in a long time. Little has been revealed about the multiplayer, but there are sure to be changes there, too; hopefully significant ones.
#2 Assassin’s Creed III - After the success of Assassin’s Creed II, the franchise began releasing games annually (Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelations). Unfortunately, annual releases are rarely a good thing for gamers since the short development times oftentimes lead to games that aren’t particularly polished or innovative (see Call of Duty and Madden) and that proved to be true with Assassin’s Creed as well. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood felt like ACII, but somehow not as good. Assassin’s Creed Revelation was supposed to provide fans with answers, but left them with more questions instead. For the first time since the release of ACII, ACIII will bring a lot of change to the series. Ezio Auditore, the main character in the last three Assassin’s Creed installments, is gone; his story has been told. The franchise is abandoning more than just one of the best characters in video game history, but Europe, the Middle East, and all of its characters that don’t play into the modern day story line as well. Players will now be exploring colonial America and will be spending the majority of their time during the American Revolution playing as a half Native American, half British assassin. Although there will be some large cities to use all playgrounds (Philadelphia, Boston, etc.), there won’t be anything like the colossal cities featured in past games. Instead, the wilderness will become a significant part of the game. Trees will be a new way of transportation. Players will have to fend for themselves out in the wilderness, hunting animals for food. Another first for the series is weather; there will actually be seasons. Snow will dramatically slow players down. More so than in the past, players will have to really think about their surrounds both before and during combat. The combat itself will receive various changes, providing more options, and hopefully, simply be better. Ubisoft took some big risks by implementing such huge changes to the setting; will they backfire?
#1 Borderlands 2 - The original Borderlands was phenomenally fun; it earned game of the year awards for a reason. Borderlands 2 will bring gamers back to the planet of Pandora. Four new character classes will be playable as well as a fifth class that will be downloadable sometime post-launch. However, the original four playable characters and other characters from the first game, will make appearances, too. Borderlands was known as a game where players fought a ton of enemies, grabbed an incredible amount of loot, fired thousands of different weapons, and didn’t experience much of a story. Borderlands 2 has set out to change some things. Players will encounter a much greater variety of enemies and more of them. There are thousands of more weapons and each weapon manufacturer feels and plays very different, no longer being just a name. Gearbox is actually valuing story. The antagonist of the game is Handsome Jack (the first game didn’t really have a bad guy), owner of weapons manufacturer Hyperion. He is taking over Pandora in pursuit of alien technology and riches. There will be tons more dialogue as well as parts in-game that serve as cutscenes while keeping players in the game. The graphics are better, there is even more color, and the game brings a much greater variety of environments for players to explore (the first game was mostly, but not exclusively, a desert wasteland). Each new character appears to be a fresh, evolved version of their predecessors. Instead of a berzerker that uses both his fists to pound enemies into submission when filled with an animalistic rage, there is now a gunzerker that has the ability to dual-wield any two weapons (even rocket launches) and unload a significant amount of punishment on his foes. There is a siren class again, but instead of temporarily becoming invisible and very fast (phasewalk), she can now immobilize, suspending them in the air and leaving them vulnerable to attack (phaselock). Each characters skill will also be highly customizable, completely changing the integrity of what the skill is. Claptrap will be making a comeback and is likely to provide more lovable moments to those who adore him, and more rage to those who hate him (or love to hate him). And of course there will be loads or more sweet, sweet loot. Borderlands 2 will be bigger, better, more customizable, and (hopefully) more fun than the previous installment. This is the game that the original Borderlands was supposed to be and that game was pretty damn good.
Missed The Cut - Halo 4 - Players return to Master Chief for the first time in years and much has changed, but Bungie is no longer at the reins and this sequel almost feels forced.

Top Four (Worst) Video Game Worlds To Live In

#4 Pikmen (Wherever You Crash Land/Live) - Would you want to live in a world where everything is giant and nothing is friendly except for tiny, colorful, noseless people that do whatever you tell them to, and you live in constant fear of being killed by some strange creature? Or would you like to be one of those puny people, devoting your life to a stranger dressed as an astronaut, and being put into harm’s way nearly 24/7? No. No you wouldn’t.
#3 Any Superhero Game Ever (Any Superhero World Ever) - If there are superheroes, then there are super villains, too. Sure Batman, Spiderman, and the rest of the spandex clad, overly muscled men and women out there have saved a lot of innocent people over the years, but a lot of civilians have died too. If you are a “damsel in distress” you are as likely to be killed as you are to be saved. Either way, there is always going to be crazy stuff going on in the world and there will always be a new villain waiting to run amuck as soon as the last one is tossed into a high security prison somewhere, assuming they don’t escape from said prison.
#2 Mass Effect (The Universe) - The galaxy is at war and if you haven’t personally been decimated by the Reapers, then someone you know has. All organic life (and some synthetic life) is throwing everything it has in one last ditch effort, suicide mission style assault to save everyone and rid themselves of the Reapers. It all comes down to the decision made by one man/women, Commander Shepard. They decide whether to control the Reapers and send them away, destroy all inorganic life forever, or permanently blend all inorganic and organic life into sentient, cyborg-like beings. No matter which option they choose, the mass relays (the way everyone travels through the galaxy) will be destroyed, millions of people will be stranded, and millions more will die. The worst part? Some stranger gets to decide your future and you have no say whatsoever. Maybe if Shepard had more choices *wink wink, then maybe things wouldn’t be so bleak. 
#1 Diablo (Sanctuary) - Despite the name “Sanctuary” this Earth-like world is all but peaceful. Not long after its creation, its people had their magical abilities taken away by the powers of heaven and hell. Then angels and demons fought over Sanctuary for the loyalty of its people. Eventually Diablo and his brothers were banished from hell and chose to ravage Sanctuary. Years after they were captured and locked away in soul stones, Diablo was released again, wrecking havoc on everything in his path. A few years later and Diablo was at it again, releasing his brothers along the way. Fast forward two decades and Sanctuary was once again under attack by the likes of hell with humanity’s existence at stake. While in Sanctuary you’d likely be living in a little town with the armies of hell in your backyard. If you think that sounds crappy, imagine all of that happening while living in Sanctuary’s equivalent to the Middle Ages. Diablo; fun to play not to live.
Missed The Cut - Rampage (Earth) - It would indeed be quite terrible to live in a world where every major city is constantly being attacked by giant lizards, apes, and rats.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Top Four Best Video Game Worlds To Live In

#4 Rock Band (Earth) - Love music? Then you’d love living in the Rock Band version of Earth. The world would be riddled with amazing bands that would be touring all the time.  Your itunes library would never suffer from a shortage of new music, ever. Plus, nothing else would really change and Earth is already pretty nice.

#3 PaRappa the Rapper (Whatever World It Is That PaRappa Lives In) - Going along similar lines as Rock Band, PaRappa’s world would bring in a reign of music. Singing and rapping would make the mundane things in life, like taking your driving test, a whole lot more fun. It would also be school, yet slightly awkward, to get to hangout with talking dogs, bears, and onion-people. Life would never be boring.

#2 Mass Effect [If The Reapers Didn’t Exist] (The Universe) - With all organic life no longer in danger, life would be pretty sweet. Flying around the galaxy and discovering new worlds would be incredible. No, it would be so unbelievably enjoyable that a new word would have to be invented to describe it. As long as you don’t find yourself being chased by space pirates or looking down the barrel of a shotgun held by a mercenary, you’d be fine.

#1 Super Mario (Mushroom Kingdom) - Think about it, unless you are an Italian plumber (and who is?), princess, or minion of a dimwitted dinosaur-turtle king, you would never be in danger. The kingdom is colorful and the clouds smile at you. How could you have a bad day racing a go-cart against a gorilla? Life would be pretty easy while spending the majority of your time playing soccer with turtles, baseball with chimps, and cruising around town on the back of a fun-loving, egg-laying dinosaur. Sounds pretty sweet to me.

Missed The Cut - Your Favorite Video Game World - At first you might think it would be amazing, but you’d soon discover that your expectations were set too high and would be doomed for disappointment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

R.I.P. Deckard Cain

It's not likely that he'll magically return since his body was burned, but sadly, Deckard Cain died in the first of four acts in Diablo 3. Cain was the lone character, besides Diablo, to be in all three games. He'd survived horrifying demon onslaughts, being locked up and left for dead in Tristram as it was burning to the ground, as well as being hit by a 'falling star'. Despite all of that, he died kind of pathetically and undramatically as players sat and watched, unable to save him.

R.I.P. Deckard Cain. You won't be forgotten.

"Stay awhile and listen."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Balancing Act: The Diablo 3 Demon Hunter

Diablo is amazing. Video games are (mostly) amazing. Diablo is an amazing video game.

In Diablo 3, players get to choose from five different classes: barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, and demon hunter. Players are also allowed to have a total of ten characters at once. Because of that, it might seem that the class you choose first is not that important, but to me it is. My first class of choice (if my computer can actually run the game) is . . . the demon hunter.

I am not choosing the demon hunter because they are totally badass, because they have grenades, which is just plain cool, or because it is easier (at times) to play as a ranged class; I am choosing the demon hunter because I can relate to them (sort of).

Each character has something called a "resource system." This system is what allows them to use their spells and abilities. The demon hunter's resource system is actually a combination of hatred and discipline.  Hatred is used for offensive skills while discipline is needed for defensive ones. In the lore of Diablo demon hunters need to maintain a balance between hatred and discipline, so that they do not lose control while in pursuit of demons. To me, in life we or at least I, have to live in a similar balance.

On a daily basis I need to maintain balance in different phases of life. I know that when I wander off the beaten path things usually do not go terribly well. One of the best part of playing video games is being able to connect to the character that you are playing (which is why everyone hates when their character dies *cough *cough Mass Effect *cough Bioware, you screwed up). Maybe I am going to play as a demon hunter because they look ridiculously cool, but I'd at least like to believe that I'm not that shallow (all the time).

Decide for yourself which class to choose.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Four Most (Un)Satisfying Types of Video Game Endings

#4. It Was All a Dream - So you've spent hours playing through a game and finally make it to the end only for it to be revealed that everything you just did was just someone's dream? What?! Games (and movies for that matter) that all take place during a dream are a half-assed way of ending things. Developers are telling their fans one of two things. Either they weren't created enough to actually come up with a gripping narrative or they were lazy. This ending type has been used over and over and over again and by big time games, too. There have been Super Mario, Final Fantasy, and Zelda games that have all been a dream. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

#3. You're Left Wanting More Game - I don't mean you want more game, so you can keep on playing, but you want more game, so you get a new ending. Far too many games have ultimately ended like this; the original Borderlands was this way. The point of the story or so players thought was that there was a something called "The Vault" that contained unimaginable treasures and alien artifacts. However, *spoilers* when you got there some giant monster pops out of it and when you killed it The Vault closed, never to be opened again. When credits appeared after Halo 2's ending, many people were hoping that it was just a joke and that there'd be more after the credits; there wasn't. Sometimes I wonder if developers really don't know that these endings are bad? 

#2. Your Character Dies at the End - As in real life there is death in video games and that is to be expected. However, just like in real life we don't want death to fall upon ourselves or those that we care about. When your character permanently dies at the end of a video game it is as if you and a close friend of died simultaneously. While playing a beloved video game character people tend to connect with them and put some of themselves into them; it's why they are beloved in the first place. As a gamer, the last thing that I want to happen is to pour hours into a game or game series only to have my character die. Whether it is a noble death or not, it's still death and death should never be associated with household video game names . . . like "Commander Shepard."

#1. The One That You Wish Was All Three . . . The Mass Effect 3 Ending - *all spoilers* Mass Effect 3's ending(s) did leave players craving more and their characters did die at the end, which is why some of us wish that the entire series was all just a dream. If the game was a dream then we could at least pretend that Commander Shepard was still alive (or didn't exist), that the ending didn't come down to choosing between red, blue, and green, and we wouldn't have to 'rage quit' the game via turning off our consoles in stunned silence. By the time I was nearing the end of the game I had already heard that the ending was infuriating to most, but I had made sure not to find out what actually happened until I played and I hoped that the ending wouldn't be so bad to me. At first I thought,"OK. What just happened?" I was able to remain pretty calm and even though I didn't like the ending, I didn't think that it was earth shatteringly bad, but time changes things. The more I thought about the ending, the more I re-watched the 'various' endings, and the more time I spent thinking about plot holes (like how all of the members of your crew that you can bring into battle were in London, but somehow made it back onto the Normandy) the more I thoroughly despised the ending with a passionate hate that I normally reserve for things in the real world. The biggest reason why the ending was so terrible is because gamers were lied to. We were all promised "A story that diverges into wildly different conclusions based on the player's actions in the first two chapters" and we got the polar opposite. Nothing that players did factored into the 'choice' that they made at the end of the game. None of the three endings or ending cinematics were fundamentally different. Although there are 'three different' conclusions to the series, they all look and feel exactly the same. No matter what players choose, Shepard dies (or at least loses his/her physical form), the Reapers are no longer a threat, the mass relays are destroyed, and the Normandy crash lands on some unknown planet. After receiving flak from thousands of enraged fans, Bioware has decided to work on "Extended Cut DLC" that will "expand upon the ending." Time will tell if anything really changes or if players will be left with a bad taste in their mouthes and tainted memories of the Mass Effect experience. No matter what happens, gamers will not forget the initial ending that they played through and that's not a good thing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Want More of Moore

As a quarterback, I love Kellen Moore. He has spent his last four years as the starting quarterback at Boise State; winning more college games than anyone before him. I know that winning and production in college does not directly translate to success in the NFL. I also recognize that he is only 5'11" and most successful quarterbacks are at least 6'2". He is also a lefty and most people heavily favor right-handed quarterbacks, forgetting that quarterbacks can roll out to their left, too. He does not have the strongest arm or the feet to be a threat outside of the pocket. However, there are plenty of reasons to like him.

Moore is the son of a coach and has a very high football IQ. He understands different offensive concepts as well as what opposing defenses try to do to stop him. He is a natural leader, he is confident, but not overly confident in his own abilities, and always says the right thing. Moore makes the players around him better. Although lacking elite arm strength, Moore does possess elite accuracy and that should count for something. I know that Moore does not fit anyone's prototype, but is that such a bad thing?

I am not saying that he will ever be a hall of famer or a pro bowler, but he does have something to offer an NFL team and if I was a general manager, he would have a spot on my roster.

You've Got to be Joshin' About Johnson

I cannot believe that Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson has not been picked in the NFL Draft. I know that he isn't the fastest, strongest, biggest, or most talented defensive back in the world. I am also aware that I am not an NFL scout or general manager. However, I am a bit of a football geek and even though Johnson is not the flashiest player, he was still able to hold his own against elite wide receivers.

Justin Blackmon out of Oklahoma State was the top wide receiver in the draft, going fifth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. His worst game of the season came in OSU's lone regular season loss. Who did they lose to? Iowa State. Who shadowed him all game long? Leonard Johnson.

In Pro Football Weekly's 2012 Draft Guide Johnson was projected to be a second or third round pick. On Johnson was given a grade of 72.2 out of 100. Let me put that into perspective. My favorite NFL team, the Chicago Bears, had picks in every round except for the fifth. In their six picks they only drafted two players with a higher grade than Johnson and those were their first two picks. They drafted corners in the sixth and seventh rounds; neither of them received grades above 47.0.

It has never been indicated that Johnson has any character issues or off the field concerns. He was a three and a half year starter and did not have any injury issues. He has no 'red flags.' Why have all 32 teams looked past him?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another "Brilliant" Idea: Downsizing Pro Sports

Professional sports leagues have always gotten bigger and bigger, adding more teams. I think now would be a good time to eliminate a few franchises.

Charlotte Bobcats (NBA) - Does this team really need to exist? Michael Jordan is considered by all to be the greatest basketball player of all time, but he is a terrible executive. He is a co-owner of the team and has helped run the organization into the ground. To be fair, they've never been too far above the gutter. The Bobcats are perpetually bad and they just ended this season with a 23 game losing streak. More importantly, the 2011-2012 Bobcats finished the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

Kansas City Royals (MLB) - I know that the Royals have had some good years, but most of those predate  my birth and I'm 21. The team is in a small market, does not have a lot of money to spend, and does not like to spend what is does have. Free agents don't want to go there and the players that they do develop leave. Every year they tend to be the bottom feeder of the AL Central. They show flashes of life at times, but never fail to disappoint.

Cleveland Browns (NFL) - It's true that the Browns have made some important picks in the ongoing NFL Draft. If they end up panning out, the Browns can be removed from this list. However, since the Browns are horrible and tend to draft plenty of busts, it is fairly likely that they will remain on this list. Cleveland does posses four NFL championships, but they all took place before the Superbowl Era. The Browns have never actually played in a Superbowl, let alone won one. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns' division rival, has six Superbowl championships. I would not want to be a Browns fan and have that rubbed in my face all the time. What makes the Browns even worse is that they can be a tease. In 2007 the Browns went 10-6 and their starting quarterback at the time, Derek Anderson, made it to the Pro Bowl. The team missed the playoffs by one game, but showed some promise. The next year they went 4-12. During the 2010 season, running back Peyton Hillis had a breakout season and made it onto the cover of Madden. This past season Hillis spent much of the season injured, proved to be ineffective when healthy, contemplated leaving football, and was cut after the season ended. Cleveland fans have it rough.

Does there really need to be 32 teams in the NFL? Are there enough good basketball players to have 30 competitive teams in the NBA? Do enough people in America care about hockey to warrant having 28 teams? I don't think so.

You Know What I Just Realized?

Even if you cutout all of the overly sexualized lyrics from "I'm in Miami Bitch" by LMFAO or take out the vocals altogether, the song would still sound filthy. That's impressive and kind of awesome.

Is It Wrong? 2.0

Is it wrong to know all of the lyrics to a song except for the chorus? That's how I am with "Yes" by LMFAO.

The "Suck For Luck" Campaign: The Ending

Last night the Indianapolis Colts selected Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck, with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Colts earned the rights to the first pick by going 2-14 and finishing last in the league. Future hall of fame quarterback and long-time Colt great, Peyton Manning, is now a Denver Bronco. Everyone says,"You can't replace a legend," but that is exactly what Luck will have to do t succeed. It's official; their campaign is finally over. They sucked and they got Luck.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top Four (Non-Playable) Video Game Characters That I Love

#4. Mario Auditore (Assassin's Creed II) - There is little remarkable about this particular Mario, but that is kind of the point. He is the uncle of Ezio Auditore, the game's main character, and he is always there to lend a helping hand. His villa serves as the Assassin's home-base throughout much of the game and is where Ezio's mother and sister live after they are forced from their home. The most important thing that is does is train Ezio and help him follow his father's footsteps by joining the Assassin's fight against the Templars. For most, Mario Auditore is a simple and possibly, forgettable character. So, why do I love him? Simply because of something he says when you first meet him, "It's a-me, Mario!" This shout out to Nintendo's beloved Italian plumber is my favorite video game reference of all time and has earned Ubisoft's Mario a place on my list and in my heart.

#3. Deckard Cain (Diablo Series) - In Diablo, Cain is your Dumbledore, your Gandalf. Unlike the other two, he has no magic powers, but he is old and has a bushy white beard. He also happens to always be wearing a cloak/robe and is the most knowledgable character in the game. Another link between the three is that Dumbledore did die, Gandalf almost died, and the introduction to Diablo III leads you to believe that Cain has died, until you start playing. During the Diablo series, Cain has served as the players' main guide and source for information. Blizzard even released a book titled The Book of Cain that is supposed to be written by Cain and tells about everything that he has witnessed first-hand as well as all of the knowledge he has accumulated about Heaven, Hell, and Sanctuary (the equivalent to Earth in the game). Besides Diablo himself (or herself if you believe certain theories about the upcoming third game), he is the only character featured in every game; Diablo wouldn't be the same without him. Blizzard also linked a game mechanic to Cain to make him even slightly more important and badass; he'd identify your items for free. What I (and many fans) love most about Cain is his voice. Cain's voice has become the voice of the series. His most famous soundbite is, "Stay awhile and listen" and if you place Diablo II at all, it is a line that you will hear frequently. Despite how many times I've heard it, it never gets old; I love it.

#2. Claptrap (Borderlands) - I love Claptrap. I hate Claptrap. I love to hate Claptrap and that's why he's soared all the way up to #2 on my list. Claptrap is a talkative, boxy robot with a single wheel for a leg and two arms. He is the face of the Borderland franchise and is somewhat of a mascot. There was very little dialogue in the first game, so at time it was refreshing when you'd come across a Claptrap in town. The problem was that they'd never shut up, which is why Claptrap is a love/hate character for virtually everyone that's played the game. Like Cain, Claptrap had a game mechanic tied directly to him. Occasionally, players would come across a broken Claptrap while they were out and about. If they found that Claptraps missing piece and fixed him, they'd be rewarded with an additional inventory space. However, the entire time you were around the broken Claptrap he'd be yelling, "Help me! Help me!" and wouldn't stop crying for his life. At first, it was just sad, but after awhile it became annoying. By the time you put 30 hours into the game and finally beat it, you hated Claptrap with a passion. There was good news though. Gearbox later released some DLC called Claptrap's New Robot Revolution. During this DLC, players got to do what they had wanted to do for quite sometime; kill Claptrap. Borderlands 2 is set to release this September and it is sure to provide me with more reasons to love hating Claptrap. Until then, I get to enjoy him dance to some dubstep (about 2:24 in).

#1. Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect Series) - I must start by saying that I have never played as a female Commander Shepard or FemShep, so I have never played as a character that pursued a romantic relationship with Garrus. Moving on. Garrus is the man that other men dream of being like and women dream of being with. He shows compassion and understanding when he needs to, while also being a ruthless badass that accepts nothing less than perfection on the battlefield and works to cleanse the galaxy of villains and scumbags alike. People speak of him in hushed whispers. Upon being seriously injured, he decided he didn't feel like dying. He chose to keep his scars just to look even more awesome. He knows how to brag without coming off as arrogant. My Commander Shepard caught him getting it on with Tali vas Normandy, so clearly he has a way with the ladies. He never questions or doubts you. He always has "calibrations" to make and he knows it. Some of his dialogue and cutscenes are the most satisfying in the series. He is one of only two characters that serve as a member of your crew on the Normandy in all three games. You really get to see him change and develop as a character. He starts out as a C-Sec (Citadel Security) Officer, later becomes a powerful vigilante wittily named "Archangel," and ultimately becomes Commander Shepard's most loyal ally and best friend (if you let him anyway). When I first heard that ME3 was going to have multiplayer and that you could play as all races, I dreamed of creating a Turian and making him as close to Garrus as I could. Unfortunately, the multiplayer part of the game doesn't really work that way, so I'm left dreaming of what it would be like to play as Garrus. Before heading into the finale of ME3, your brief goodbye with Garrus fuels you to want to bring the galactic war to an end even more so you can share a drink with him. Now that Bioware is making changes to ME3's ending (after thousands of fans expressed their disappointment and rage), maybe we'll all finally be able to have that drink. Garrus Vakarian is the most interesting Turian in the Galaxy and I love em'.

I Need My Ears Checked Again

Until fairly recently, I thought that the phrase "Nip it in the bud" was actually "Nip it in the butt." It still made sense to me.

I Need My Ears Checked

I always thought that "Swap Meets" were called "Swamp Meets." I literally just found out that I was wrong.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Aren't There Male Groupies?

Over the years, women have made great strides in leadership. Although their numbers are still lower than men’s, more and more women are obtaining leadership roles both inside and out of the workplace. However, some industries are still being largely underutilized by women; I believe that the music industry is one of them. More specifically, I feel that there are not enough women involved in rock music. If women take advantage of all of the different career opportunities available, it can only help women as a whole advance.

Various factors have contributed to women being held back in the rock industry. If you do not have what others perceive as being ‘good looks’ you might not get a serious chance. Hard rock magazine, Revolver, has an annual issued titled “The Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock.” This issue is oftentimes the only chance a female rock star has of even being featured in the magazine and the emphasis in on the women’s looks, no her music.

Also, unfortunately not all men take women rockers seriously and sometimes that is directly tied to their looks. Looks are something that women have to battle and most male rock stars do not have to deal with. If you type “top 10 female rock stars” into Google’s search box, the second result is “My Personal Top 10 Sexiest Female Rock Stars.” That definitely says something about the reception of women in the rock industry. However, like in sports, women hold themselves back, too.

In our own class discussions it was revealed that almost no one in our female-dominated class actually follows women’s sports. You cannot really hope that women’s sports can grow without supporting them. The same can be said for music. Very few people could name more than one or two women in rock. compiled a list of the ten most influential women working in rock today and the only one that I have heard of is Evanescence lead-singer, Amy Lee. Lee is known in large part because of her looks and is on Revolver’s aforementioned “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” list. I listen to hours of music every single day, consider myself somewhat of a rock connoisseur, and I only know about a small handful of women in the rock genre.

When it comes to women in rock, there may be a difference between the perceived glass ceiling and the actual one. Unlike boys, girls are not encouraged to pick up a guitar or bang some drums around, lead singers of bands are referred to as “frontmen,” and women are expected to be ‘groupies,’ following a band around instead of actually being in it. There are built-in limiting factors that make it difficult for women to breakout in the industry, but I believe that if women are patient enough to alter their approach to the rock genre, they can overcome these factors.

It is true that oftentimes, lead singers get more attention than their fellow band members. Amy Lee of Evanescence, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, and Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf are all lead singers. However, that does not mean that the rest of the band gets ignored. Despite this, most women in rock sing lead vocals and very few play guitar, bass, or drums. I think that if more women become drummers or guitarists, they can raise and eventually break the glass ceiling.

Women taking the role of the lead singer has its pros and cons. As previously mentioned, being in front of the microphone does give you a greater share of the spotlight, but it also provides more criticism and pressure. This can provide women with a fast-track to leadership within their own band, their genre, and the music industry as a whole. It also plays right into the hand of gender stereotypes.

Appearance is already something that women in music, like most other industries, have to struggle with. If women are quite literally under a spotlight, sex appeal becomes a difficult issue to avoid or overcome. It is a lot easier to not be looked at as an object when you are hiding behind a set of drums. A very general stereotype that some men hold is that women cannot do everything that they can do. Women can prove this stereotype to be false if great female guitarists, drummers, bassists, etc. arrive on the rock and roll scene.

The amount of women in a given band can also play an important role in the success of women. A band consisting of only women could be viewed as a gimmick and people might not take it seriously. Should a band only have one woman, like most bands with women in the group do, then that lone woman could be seen as the ‘token female’ in the group. Both of these scenarios create significant barriers for women that are already in a difficult career and face other gender-specific obstacles.

Simple biological differences mean that it does take a certain type of woman in specific marital and financial situations to have a shot at making it in the rock industry. If in the industry, a woman clearly is not a ‘housewife,’ but that does not mean that they have a husband that is willing to stay home a raise kids. Should a female rock star have kids, she will be forced to take the off-ramp and might not be able to ever get back on again. A situation like this would not only affect a given woman and her family, but her band as well. It is not as simple as taking a few months off from an office jobs. Tours could be cancelled, albums could be delayed, and the careers of a band of musicians could even be over. If a band is not living through a full touring life cycle and recording new music regularly, it is easy to get left behind and forgotten since music is so competitive.

You may be thinking, “music is great, but what does it have to do with woman and leadership?” Music serves as a platform for all kinds of opportunities. It can give you a voice and allow you to spread your opinions and ideas. It also allows you to become an activist. For example, pop goddess Lady Gaga led a campaign to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Suzi Parker of Politics Daily reported that after Gaga was escorted to the MTV Video Music Awards by four members of the Service members Legal Defense Network, a group committed to "ending discrimination and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" more than 107,000 people visited their site within three days.

Women in other genres, such as pop, have been able to truly become leaders; Beyonce is in the same vein. However, there are currently not any women in the rock industry that have done the same. Technology and going digital has greatly altered the music industry over the last decade which could lead to further change. Having a female lead guitarist in a band that enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may not be too far away. Although the toolbox is not full, women do have some tools at their disposal and the potential to become leaders in rock and beyond. Maybe there will be male groupies following women rockers across the country and reverse gender roles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why I Fail (Even Worse) at Zelda

This week is Gamesradar's "Week of Love." Today they posted the 25 best Gamecube games of all time. Guess what's number one? Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

Not only do I fail at Zelda, but I apparently missed out on the greatest gaming experience available on an underrated Nintendo game console. I would have been fine with Wind Waker being number two or three, but one? By failing at Zelda, I have failed as a gamer.

; (

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top Four (Almost) Unbeatable Video Game Weapons

#4. Golden Gun (Goldeneye 007) - The Golden Gun only came with two bullets, but it was the lone weapon in the game that provided its wielder with a one-shiot-kill. When armed with one, you were feared by whoever was sitting next to you (online gaming didn't exist yet). The only thing holding you back was your own accuracy.

#3. Blue Shell (Mario Cart Series) - Blue Shells automatically lock-on to whoever happens to be in 1st place, which is hugely useful as long as you aren't already winning. Certain games in the series have made Blue Shells dodgeable, but it takes skill. Launching a Blue Shell can completely change the outcome of any race. 

#2. Tactical Nuke (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) - Tactical Nukes in MW2 proved to be quite controversial. When the killstreak is used all players' characters are killed, the match ends, and the team that used the Nuke wins. Once someone has one, there is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop it. The only think keeping this weapon from being #1 on this list is that fact that it is incredibly difficult to get. It takes a whole lot of skill and luck to amass the 25 consecutive kills required to get this killstreak (and of course you had to unlock it and select it, too). Unlock the others on this list, I have never acquired a Tactical Nuke, but I have been on the receiving end of one. 

#1. Master Ball (Pokemon Series) - You may not consider the Master Ball (or any Poke Ball) to be a weapon, but I do. You use it to capture a "pocket monster" that you then use to fight on your behalf; sounds like a weapon to me. What makes the Master Ball great is that it automatically captures whatever Pokemon you used it against. In the original Pokemon Gameboy games (Red and Blue), it was the only way to catch the legendary Pokemon, Mewtwo. Even though the Master Ball is invincible, you only get one. If you don't hold onto it (and save it for Mewtwo), then all you can do is waste it. The Master Ball has taught millions of gamers an important video game (and life?) lesson: hold onto what is most important to you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"No" Means "No"

Need I say more?

10 Reasons Why I Play Video Games

1.   To end the boredom.
2.   To compete with strangers (thank you Xbox Live).
3.   To bond with friends/family.
4.   To experience a story in a way only a game can do.
5.   To learn.
6.   To forget.
7.   To feel a sense of accomplishment (beating a game or doing something awesome/difficult).
8.   To have something else to talk about/reference.
9.   To have something else to spoof.
10. To expand my horizons.

Why the Boy in Mass Effect 3 Annoys Me

Everyone that has played Mass Effect 3 (sorry if that doesn't include you) is familiar with a boy that you encounter near the start of the game. When making your way to your ship, the Normandy, during a Reaper (giant, sentient, synthetic ship-beings) invasion of Earth, you stumble across the boy, hiding in an air vent. You reach out to him and try to get him to come with you to safety, but he declines, then disappears. Seems innocent, actually annoying.

During the opening cinematic, you see the boy outside, playing with a Normandy toy. If he has a Normandy toy, he knows who Commander Shepard (your character) is. If he knows who Shepard is, then he knows what he/she looks like. If Shepard tries to save him, he'll let Shepard save him.

If the boy had allowed the player to help him out, then gamers would not have had to witness the shuttle he boarded get incinerated by a Reaper. That death haunts Shepard's dreams throughout the rest of the game and is the reason why the Catalyst (a sentient being that controls the Reapers) decides to take the form of that young boy. 

Had this one thing happened (the kid accepting your help), players would not have had to sit through multiple, repetitive dream sequences (that were a missed opportunity) where you are forced to "run" incredibly slowly, chasing the boy around a forest until he disappears in flames. Shepard would have been in a better state of mind throughout the rest of the game as well.

Many Mass Effect fans also hated the ending (I held out as long as I could, but eventually joined them in their rage.) If the Catalyst chose a different form, then at least one part of the much-hated ending would have been different.

Lesson: If you are hiding in an air vent and the hero of humanity and all of the galaxy offers to help you, say,"YES!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Black Sheep

The Black Sheep is a comedic/creative website and newspaper written for college students by college students. I wrote a couple of articles for it last semester and here they are.

Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Undergrad

Road Test?

I've had my 2006 Volvo S40 for about two weeks now. I'm considering writing a complete road test on it, but I'm worried that I'll tear it apart and then get stuck driving it for years. I don't want to get overly picky, so we'll see what happens.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Your Name Here

My new (used) car is on its way from Phoenix to Des Moines. About a month ago, before the car was purchased, I jokingly told a friend that if I ever owned a red Volvo, I would name it "Meatwad." There were two reasons behind this.

There is a show on comedy central that I fell in love with this past fall called Workaholics. A character on the show drives an old Volvo that he refers to as "the Swedish meatball." Volvos are made in Sweden and his particular Volvo happens to be a red/brown kind of color. Hence the name.

There is another show called Aqua Team Hunger Force on Adult Swim. There is a character on this show that is quite literally a wad of meat named Meatwad. So, I thought it would be funny to name a Swedish meatball Meatwad.

I only said that I would do it because I assumed that if I did ever actually own a Volvo, it would not be red. Outside of the Chicago Auto Show, I scarcely ever see red Volvos. Typically they are white, silver, gray, or black. However, my Volvo (that I'll be driving this Friday) is bright red.

I'm not going to name it Meatwad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monica is Gone

Monica, my car . . . former car, is gone. Over winter break she suffered multiple mechanical failures. I had to pump money into her just to make her drivable and after that she still had no rear breaks and needed a new transmission (that was her third trans already). It no longer made sense to pay to keep Monica running, so I sold her to Carmax, where she was going to be auctioned off for parts.

Now I am without a car to call my own, but not without a set of wheels. My girlfriend is in China until May, so I get you cruise around in her 95' Volvo that has just under 198k miles on it. Sometime this semester, I'll be needing to get a new car. Lets just hope that my second car isn't my second Monica.