Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tales from the Lost Months: Got Them Soul Coughing Video Game Addict Blues (Part 1)

One of the questions asked of me before I jumpstarted this blog again was whether or not my 5 month absence was due to being addicted to World of Warcraft. My answer was "No," but with the caveat that there had been an increase in video game activity around Chez Juice.

As I've mentioned in a previous story here, back at Thanksgiving we had a WHOLE MESS of people at our place. For Thanksgiving day we had family, friends, inlaws, outlaws, and all but one of our five godchildren under our roof. In total, we housed eleven folks, beyond ourselves and had an absolute blast doing it. Most of the actual family part was on the wife's side, but I represented too by importing from Mississippi my buddy Joe, his wife Leigh Ann, his son Jonah and his brand new baby Rhys to join the fun. Between my wife, her mom, her sister, her sister's daughter and our niece Kayley taking turns, Joe and Leigh Ann hardly had to touch their baby the whole time.

Since the Borderland area isn't exactly an exciting place and the weather wasn't cooperating enough for us to travel to some of the more beautiful places in the area, and since no one in the family had any desire to do black Friday shopping, I had worried there would be too much downtime for folks with not enough to do. Ahead of time, I requested that Joe and my brother-in-law Jim bring their respective gaming consoles, which we set up on two different TVs. Joe is an avid PS3 guy, but Jim swears by the XBox 360. Leaving off one of the 1st gen Game Boys from the early `90s, I've not owned an honest to goodness gaming console since the Atari 2600, like 28 years ago. As you can see, I'm not a huge video game guy.

Don't get me wrong, I do like video games, but I tend to only play them on PC and not all that often. In 1999, the wife (then the fiance) bought me a copy of Half-Life for PC and then spent years regretting it. I played that game all the way through several times over before branching out into the spin-off sequels and generally loving the universe it set up. Unfortunately, by the time Half Life 2 and subsequent episodes were released, my computer had become just obsolete enough that it could only run the games for a few minutes before crashing. I eventually upgraded my video card (between Half Life 2 and Half Life 2 Episode 1), but the technology had jumped again so I was back in the crashing boat.

I enjoy console games as well, but have never had access to them long enough to get any good. I also have some childhood issues with arcade games, due to their requirement that you spend lots of money in order to get enough practice to become good at them. My allowance money tended to go toward comics, and any spare change my dad had I knew would be better spent on food for us all. So I eschewed video games for much of my life. I also tend to resist playing them even at the console level because I don't want to look like an idiot, mashing all the wrong buttons. It's not that there are too many buttons on modern controllers, either, as there are far more keys to press in PC games. It's just a coordination problem adapting to those buttons.

While Jim was here with his XBox, the wife decided she was going to have a go at it. She's even worse with modern controllers than I am, but she was determined to have some fun. She played a zombie shooter game for a bit, then Jim suggested she switch to Fable III, which is a fantasy RPG style game. She loved it and would have spent the day playing it except she had to put down the controller long enough to go help cook. By the end of the visit, Jim was threatening to leave his XBox with us. He argued that the XBox Kinect had just been released, so he was thinking about buying a new XBox/Kinect bundle. We might even have taken him up on the offer, except that my sister-in-law had already alerted us that she'd already bought the Kinect as Jim's Christmas gift, so we knew we couldn't borrow his system out from under him.

Then, barely a day after everyone left from our holiday gathering, two ugly things happened. A) The wife went into video game withdrawal; and B) she was hospitalized with a wicked case of bi-lateral pneumonia.


1 comment:

crsunlimited said...

See, right there. You go cold Turkey from video games, and your immune system can't handle the shock. lol.

Seriously though I hope she is felling better.

I don't normally play RPG's on consoles because hardly any of them have a good interactive online experience. A friend of mine owns Dragonage and the only thing I have seen online for that game is leader boards. To those who don't know what that means: It means it posts your score online to compare with others, and if your not in the top 10 or so you will never see your name there.

What they are really lacking is the ability to link up with friends to quest, or run campaign mode with. That's where PC RPG's shine.

The big difference between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 I have found is that the Xbox 360 is more in tune with social gamers. PS3 may have free online connection for all games, but connecting to them can be a pain, and it's not as intuitive menu wise to get a game going as the xbox is.

Me being a gamer, not just to beat games and Lord my score over everyone, but liking the fact that I can hang out with my best friend in another state, I prefer the xbox 360.

From the main menu before you even get in a game you can see your friends online, and can join a party with them and talk to each other via Headsets. Then depending on what we are in the mode to play we enter the game as a party and play. Teaming up this way is very fun to play games like Modern Warfare 2 where you can talk to each other in real time and warn of oncoming danger, or just to plan out your attack.

The Kinect I will never buy. I own a Wii. Half the games I own for it I don't use the motion controls for. Serious game titles like Zelda had motion controls for swinging your weapon, but soon became tedious, and with an easy 1 button push to accomplish the same task that killed your wrist from shaking the controller, you stop using the motions.

Sure bowling is fun, and the motion games are unique and require skill, but to be honest they aren't the kinds of games I buy a system for.