Monthly Archives: July 2012

Amateur Foodie Revue

As I mentioned before, I tried out a few different restaurants this weekend in and around the Baltimore area. This was our little way of doing something less expensive but still special for our anniversary, since we didn’t want to go off on a vacation as we prepare to finalize our house purchase. I’m anything but a foodie, but I figured I’d give extremely amateur impressions of our experiences.

Antrim – This is actually in a nearby town outside Baltimore, but we had heard of it and wanted to try it out. It’s more known as a bed and breakfast, but the food service was very prim and proper. The atmosphere was excellent and it was certainly a long and engaging experience, but the food didn’t blow either of us away. It was also the most expensive one, so that says something about price to value ratio.

Petit Louis – A couple of friends recommended this French restaurant, and I’m glad they did. It was a little crowded (probably due to restaurant week sales), but the service couldn’t have been nicer. I went with the restaurant week menu, which meant choosing from duck or sausage. I’ve not had duck and didn’t particularly want to, but I don’t like sausage much either. (I find the skin creepy, to be frank). I settled on the sausage, and it was good as that dish goes but still didn’t change my position on the food. I did like the dessert, and they brought around a great cheese cart. Our waitress even picked a cheese and wine pairing for us, and she was right. It was fantastic.

Fogo de Chao – This was the only chain we attended, and it was more for my sake than my vegetarian wife. It’s an all-you-can-meat buffet, so she just ate the salad bar. But the hook of the restaurant, letting you turn a green card over to request cuts of meat from the passing chefs, was pretty satisfying. They come at you with ninja speed as soon as that green card is turned over. I tried at least a bite of all 11 cuts, and my favorite was pork loin. I never liked pork loin much, but they prepared it really well and changed my mind on it. Also, they made our dessert complimentary when they found out we were celebrating our anniversary, which they really didn’t have to do.

  • I pressed on my Summer of Arcade reviews with Deadlight, and it looks like I wasn’t too far from the critical consensus. I think the story is especially problematic, but I couldn’t go into detail in the review since spoiling is bad form. Maybe I’ll make a spoiler-edition blog post that outlines my problems in more detail.
  • None of these rumored PlayStation All-Stars leaks sound particularly unrealistic. If it turns out to be legit, I think my character of choice would still be Sly Cooper initially. That’s not to say he’ll stay my choice, since I tend to go with the character that complements my style after I try them all. My Smash Bros. Melee character is Roy, for example. Not my first choice by any means.
  • I wanted to try out Walking Dead, but I was busy and I figured it’d go on sale eventually. I didn’t have to wait that long, and I’m glad I’m a PS+ subscriber.
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Breaking the Bat

I’m enjoying my romp through handheld RPGs, but I had planned to put some more time into Lego Batman 2 recently. Unfortunately, it’s been tempermental, and I’m not sure how to deal with this particular problem.

I was in an early mission — the multi-villain maze directly after you meet Superman — and I was getting a bit tired. So I shut it off, figuring I would have to repeat some of the mission but needing to get some sleep. The next day I turned it back on and simply couldn’t find the mission start point. I was sure the prior night I had accessed it from the computer in the Batcave, but I pinged all over the map and didn’t see any mission prompt. As far as I can tell, I’ve run into some kind of error, but it’s entirely possible that I’m forgetting some crucial step in triggering the mission since I was tired to begin with. If anyone else knows what to do, or has run into a similar problem, lil help?

Bryan suggested he should call me Bane.

My six-year anniversary is this weekend, and since we bought a house we’re going for a cheaper option. Instead of going on a trip for our anniversary as per usual, we’re just trying some different (pricier) restaurants in the area. Sort of a restaurant tour. Luckily this happens to coincide with restaurant week, so a few of them are offering discounts anyway. Tonight was the first such adventure; I might feel inclined to compare and contrast once I’m finished with all of them.

  • OnLive seems like a good deal for OUYA, but I’m not very impressed by the mock-ups of the box or controller. The handles look a bit uncomfortable, and just in general they both have a brushed metal look that seems out of fashion. I know it’s just basically a sketch, but still.
  • I hadn’t heard much about Retro/Grade, but it looks like a pretty nifty concept. I never had much skill for console rhythm games, though.
  • This Penny Arcade Adventures update sounds cool, but more than anything I want more battles. The combat puzzles in that game were just flat-out fantastic. Removing the random battles and level grinding meant that you knew every battle was possible to complete, you just had to find the right strategy.
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Flash is the loneliest number

My online resources claimed that this week wouldn’t be bringing any of my usual comic pick-ups, but I visited the shop anyway just to check it for myself since it’s been wrong before. It wasn’t, but I picked up Flash anyway. Partly because I wanted something to read, and partly because it is super-awkward to walk into a nearly empty store where you buy something every week and then walk out empty-handed.

This issue was a vast improvement in terms of the storytelling actually making sense. I had initially dropped the comic mainly because the stories were going into such strange hard-to-follow areas that I just couldn’t follow. The writing dipped into the cheesy in a few spots, but the plot flowed well enough. I still had a serious problem caring about any of the characters, but between gorgeous art and a story that seems to be a little less convoluted, I might start picking it up again. As long as it falls on slow weeks.

  • The multiplayer in Fall of Cybertron doesn’t look terribly different than War for Cybertron, but it seems to have some more customization options so that might be enough to tempt me in for a few matches.
  • If I weren’t already overfull with games, I would pick up the Indie Royale July bundle. It looks like they have some very cool old-school homages in there.
  • And speaking of things I’m tempted to buy, L4D2 for five bucks is a steal. Even though it would run terribly on my MacBook, just having it in my Steam account for sometime in the future has appeal.
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Lego Batman 2 first impressions

I was pouring time into a review this weekend, but I got a little time into Lego Batman 2 as well. I burned out a little on Lego games before, but the humor in this one is really keeping me going. I think adding voices was a risky choice, but it paid off since they can do things with humor that were impossible with simple pantomime. So far all the VO is absolutely pitch-perfect, and Robin made me laugh the most among them.

The game itself isn’t terribly different from previous Lego games, but I might be speaking too soon. I’ve unlocked a few of Batman’s suits (a very Silver Age touch), but I haven’t gotten a chance to play as any of the other DC heroes. I’m most interested in playing as Superman, for obvious reasons.

  • The review I was working on this weekend was Wreckateer, which is actually quite good. I know. I was as surprised as anyone. Frankly this made me a little more optimistic about Kinect, after a few games soured me on it completely.
  • This rumor about Assassin’s Creed DLC seems believable enough, though I am hoping it’s more episodic story content. I like the multiplayer as a diversion but it never held my interest enough to make me excited about the map packs.
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The Dark Night Notes

This will be another shortie, thanks to plans for The Dark Knight Rises.

Which I keep calling The Dark Knight Returns by mistake. Why’d you have to pick such a similar title, Hollywood?

  • I’m not sure these latest comments from EA are as strong an indication of free-to-play as some people are claiming, but it certainly recognizes some inherent weaknesses of the subscription model.
  • It makes perfect sense that the God of War teams wouldn’t want Kratos to hit women, so it’s not particularly surprising that this was a conscious choice. But still, I found that part of the interview interesting.
  • I’ve never played that much with Forge Mode, but maybe with the new Halo 4 toolset I’ll give it a try.
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AvX takes a turn for the Highlander

I’ve been pointing out that AvX is getting better, and this week moved the plot forward again nicely. This issue established that each defeated member of the Phoenix Five has his or her power split among the remaining members. (Phoenix Four still works with the alliteration, I suppose.) I have to imagine this is leading to some kind of Highlander situation with inevitable in-fighting. I’m not sure if I love that idea or hate it. I suppose it depends on how well it’s handled, but off the top of my head it seems like it could be incredibly hokey. But the plot progressed in other areas as well, with the Avengers generally scattered and disorganized, and even Professor X getting into the act by threatening Cyclops.

Wonder Woman introduced two new Greek goddesses, and I always love their takes on those myths. The current plot really seems like it could be a missing page from Greek mythology, they’ve really captured that tone well. Justice League felt like a placeholder. The Wonder Woman fight scene seemed tacked on because it didn’t have any other fight scenes, and the more I read of Graves the more he feels like an “edgy” version of Scarecrow.

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Persona 3 Portable first (and second) impressions

Usually when I write a “first impressions” post, it’s after I’ve played an hour or so of the game. The idea is to get a quick read on a game and share a few initial thoughts, and then follow it up with more thoughts later if I really loved or hated it. That style would not have been fair to Persona 3 Portable. Honestly, my first impression at that point would have been something along the lines of “wait, what?”

This is a situation where expectations clashed with reality. I picked it up because I was in the mood for a J-RPG, not realizing I was really getting two games: a J-RPG, and a dating sim. That latter genre is extremely front-loaded, and so after spending an hour clicking through dialogue options with nary a hint of RPG mechanics, I was a little confused.

Andrew Yoon, who recommended the game to me, assured me that I was not crazy and that this is the game. With that knowledge in tow, I gave it another shot. Now that the game has opened up and given me some more freedom to battle at will, and now that I realize that talking to people and forming relationships is a major part of the game that feeds back into the RPG elements, I’m enjoying it a lot more. I have a feeling this is going to be a slow burn for me, though. Other than grinding while I watch TV, I only want so much virtual flirting per day.

  • I keep hearing people talk about Adventure Time. Maybe I’ll give the WayForward game a try — because as I’ve said many times before, I love WayForward games — and go from there on the show.
  • I can only guess that this news means BioWare now considers the Extended Cut to be the canonical ending.
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A strange RPG hankering

I blame Theatrhythm for my current RPG hankering. I started with Persona 3 Portable and Rainbow Moon, but now I’m dipping toes in FF4 and the free Fire Emblem for GBA I got as a 3DS Ambassador. The problem with taking on these many RPGs all at once is that I’m basically signing up for a ton of games that each last dozens of hours.

So like I said, I blame Theatrhythm. Here’s my review.

  • If you told me to guess who else was slated in PlayStation All-Stars, these three would be my first guesses. They’re good additions, but I’m really waiting for more obscure picks.
  • Follow meeeeee.
  • Justice League with RPG elements. Yes.

Fall of the House of Night Notes

So we bought a house! I have mentioned this on my Facebook, so anyone reading this probably knows that, but I made the post Friends Only. Just in case anyone missed it there, here it is again. We bought a house.

  • I penned an editorial on why I’m cautiously optimistic about the Assassin’s Creed movie, emphasis on the “cautious.”
  • I didn’t particularly care for James Vega, so it seems odd to have the anime feature film focus on him. Why not Garrett? Or Tali? Or literally anyone else?
  • I don’t want to pay $150, but if I were a more hardcore Street Fighter fan this anniversary set would be a must-have.
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Rainbow Moon first impressions

I’ve put an hour or so into Rainbow Moon. It’s not at all what I expected, but it packs a few surprises that are keeping me invested. It has the trappings of a traditional S-RPG, but it really doesn’t carry much in common with most of them. For one thing, I only have one character so far. Rather than strategizing among many characters, I’ve just been grinding him to be strong enough to handle himself.

Battles are both visible and random. You see monsters roaming around the world and usually have to engage them, but then sometimes you’ll get a prompt for a random battle too. Those are optional, which is a cool way to handle the grinding aspect. The battles themselves are pretty fast, more the pace of a usual RPG battle rather than the long affair of S-RPGs.

The upgrades also blend in a little element of microtransactions, since you can actually purchase Pearls and Coins or earn them through gameplay. The visual style actually has a lot in common with Facebook games, so between that and the microtransactions I wonder if it started on that platform.

It’s an interesting, grind-heavy hybrid. And I haven’t even hit the crafting stuff yet, which I’ve heard is pretty deep.

  • Yes.
  • I’d like to get excited for The Last Story, but I haven’t even finished Xenoblade. Games keep getting longer, and I keep getting less time to play them.
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