Archive for September, 2012

Jeter: #10

Posted in Blog, Yankees on September 16, 2012 by slateman

Back in May, I commented on how Jeter had gotten to #18 on the all-time hits list. It’s not mid-September, and he’s been moving on up, now holding #10 to his lonesome. This has been an exciting summer, watching him climb that list, seeing him have such a spectacular year. Let’s look at the list as of today!

  1. Rose: 4,256
  2. Cobb: 4,189
  3. Aaron: 3,771
  4. Musial: 3,630
  5. Speaker: 3,514
  6. Anson: 3,435
  7. Wagner: 3,420
  8. Yastrzemski: 3,419
  9. Molitor: 3,319
  10. Collins: 3,315
  11. Jeter: 3,285
  12. Mays
  13. Murray
  14. Lajoie
  15. Ripken
  16. Brett
  17. Waner
  18. Yount

As you see, he’s moved past some legendary hitters. With 18 games remaining, it’s unlikely he’ll move up on the list any more this year. However, even a decent year in 2013 would move him up to #6. (An excellent season could yield #5.) I’m thrilled to have watched so many games this summer. And while I don’t have a great deal of confidence about this postseason, I love Jeter and it has been sensationally fun seeing him do all he can do for the past two decades. Hopefully I can update this page next summer and he can pass the Yaz.

Borderlands 2: Four Days!

Posted in Blog, Borderlands, Game Art, Games on September 14, 2012 by slateman

Four Days!!!

Planet Tony Hawk: Closed…Done…Forever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on September 13, 2012 by slateman

Back in 1999 I started what would become the largest Tony Hawk-related gaming site in the world. I would peak at over a million hits a week. I created no fewer than 400 pages of articles, previews, reviews, guides, tutorials, images, videos and editorials about Tony Hawk, his line of games, his skating, and everything in between. It was my baby (along with Crumbling Flesh). It opened doors for me to go to California several times a year, meet new friends, make connections, grow personally and professionally and to meet Hawk multiple times. I had a good run. I had a damn good run.

So, when Skate came out after seven years of annual Hawk games, something was ready to give. Another entry got some good scores but that was the beginning of the decline. We saw Activision scramble to make a pair of peripheral-required games, a motion game on the NDS, numerous mobile titles and a new download-only game. The heyday is over. It has been for a while, but today was my eye opener.

As I received Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a few weeks ago, I was psyched to get back to the site. I wrote a new FAQ, started making updates to my awesome Hawk History article and got ready to do some catch up. The problem was, I couldn’t log in. My email stopped working. No one would reply to my requests. I had that inspiration and it was burning bright. It felt like it did back in the old days. Gap lists for THPS. Stat icon locations in THPS3. My empassioned slagging of THAW. Even when it was bad, it was oh-so-good. I poured my heart into this site and I was tremendously excited to continue that devoted dedication.

Today I received an email saying that all Planet sites were archived and no updates would ever be made to them again. Wait…What? Yep. Archived. Closed. Done.

Wait…WHAT?!?! Apparently someone dropped the ball because I never got an email. Even in the midst of all the crap mail I get, I never came across a message saying, “Hey, your site, you know, the one you have worked on for 13 years of your life…yeah, that one. Well, it’s going to be closing.” I never got the opportunity to say, “Goodbye.” Just one day, it was inaccessible. Two weeks of emails and waiting yielded the news. “Gone. Closed. Forever.”

First of many meetings – NYC 2001

I interrupted the writing of this article to put my kids to bed. I held my son and rocked him to sleep, feeling his hands clench and relax on my shoulder as he dozed. Is this a big deal? Listen, my four kids have their health. I have a job. It is just a game and it really wasn’t my baby; my baby boy is my baby. This post is not to whine about how I’ve been wronged but rather to rue the loss of control over something special.

It is a premature and unexpected ending of a massive 13-year journey. It is painful to know I had no say in its fate. The money ran dry years ago but that excitement of updating something you’re so proud of remained…until I realized I could no longer share that passion.

Planet Tony Hawk was the source of great happiness and pride. It allowed me to do so much, see so many things and go so many places. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s been a great ride. For anyone who took part in that adventure, you know what I’m talking about. And today, I’m done with that journey forever.

Zhanchi Get! Oh, New Record Too!

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records on September 9, 2012 by slateman

So, I’ve completed at least 50 solves with my new Dayan Zhanchi and I quite like it. It’s clearly the best cube I own but it does need lubing. It’s time to do some research because the cube is spectacular. In the process of testing it all out, I managed to break my record…by a bit. It’s actually .03 seconds faster than my record…but I will never complain! I was pretty psyched! Here’s a snap of the counter. Awesome!

3×3 Dayan Zhanchi Ordered!

Posted in Cubing, Cubing Records on September 5, 2012 by slateman

My story is simple…I always was fascinated by the Rubik’s Cube but never got around to actually solving it. That was until my 35th birthday in February 2011. After purchasing a standard Rubik’s brand cube, I went out and got myself a white Guo-Jia A1. It’s a lot better than my original cube (whose yellow corner is almost white from so much use) but it’s not the greatest. That purchase was a year and a half ago and while my cube collection has grown considerably, I haven’t purchased a new 3×3 since.

For $10 though, I couldn’t turn it down. I don’t practice as much as I used to, and my F2L never really got past the ‘decent’ stage, but I wonder if there’s a chance of breaking my 36.15 seconds mark. I should have the cube by early next week…we’ll see what I think of it when it arrives!!! So psyched!

The Walking Dead: Season 3 Poster

Posted in Blog, The Walking Dead, Yankees with tags on September 5, 2012 by slateman

Fucking A! If this is not bad-ass, I don’t know what is. Bring on October!!! (something I will rarely say, seeing as how I hate the end of summer, and particularly this year as the Yankees are starting to suck, and October is not necessarily a shoe-in. I digress…)

Games I’ve Beaten – 2012 Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Borderlands, Games, Lists, Portal, Resident Evil, Skyrim, Street Fighter, Uncharted with tags on September 4, 2012 by slateman

After a few rough weeks, I’m glad to be back posting stuff here, even if no one reads this blog. I was thinking about the games I’ve completed this year and thought I’d write a few notes about them. How many have I finished? Well, these should be broken down into retail games and PSN games. Don’t think I got anything new on the 360, so that’s PSN and not XBL.

GameFly tells me I’ve rented the following this year:

  1. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (later purchased)
  2. F.E.A.R. 3
  3. Street Fighter X Tekken
  4. Portal 2
  5. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  6. SSX
  7. Sniper Elite V2
  8. Rayman Origins
  9. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
  10. Binary Domain

Not a bad list and it really justifies the GameFly fee, seeing as how I’d not have purchased most of those. Of the 10 titles GF sent me over the course of 8 months, I only completed 4. But that’s not really bad seeing as how SFxT can’t truly be finished and my PS3 died before I could complete the fun Sniper Elite.

In addition, my friend and I love coop games, but both Ghost Recon and Binary Domain aren’t what we’re looking for (gotta pay for one, no campaign coop in the other), so I wouldn’t count either of those.

This leaves F.E.A.R. 3 which, by all measures, was pretty much crap. SSX just was absurd and I didn’t play that long before shipping that one back. It lost all the charm the old games had. Now, Skyrim is a big one, and I quite enjoyed what I played but I have yet to complete the campaign despite dumping scores of hours into it.

The games that I count are Rayman Origins which was a pleasurable platformer replete with collectibles and tons of replay value. Had I not been on vacation in the middle of nowhere (which is why I got the game to begin with, really), I would’ve written more about it. The handheld Uncharted was largely a success. In fact, it’s the best-looking handheld game I’ve ever played and it felt like Uncharted, itself a success!

Finally we have Portal 2. I’ve said it before and won’t hesitate to repeat itPortal 2 is one of the most brilliant achievements in gaming history. Ingenious and clever and…well, no reason to do this again.

Now to PSN games. It looks like I’ve played the following this year:

  1. Outland
  2. Journey
  3. The Mysteries Of Little Riddle
  4. The Walking Dead (Episodes 1-3)
  5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

I figured I must’ve beaten more than that…but I guess not. I’ve already professed my love for that game. As for Journey, I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought of it. The Little Riddle game was something fun to play with my wife, and The Walking Dead games…well, just read below. Playing through the three episodes was one of the of the most enticing gaming experiences ever.

I played, but haven’t finished:

  1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  2. Just Cause 2 (PS3 died, lost save game)
  3. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (same)
  4. Lara Croft & The Guardian Of Light (same)
  5. Rochard

I’d like to get back to Rochard. Batman…I didn’t love that as much as everyone suggested I would.

Verdict: So…let’s face it…the reason for this article was to figure out what the best game was that I completed. Well, first off, Borderlands 2 comes out in two weeks and Resident Evil 6 in four. Those could very well be high up on my list, but from what I’ve done so far, Uncharted, The Walking Dead were the highlights. Rayman and Outland were fun, visually-impressive titles, but Portal 2 was the best.

Let’s see how BL2 and RE6 fare against such a juggernaut!

Mini-Review: Dan Swanö: Moontower

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews on September 3, 2012 by slateman

I remember working at the radio station in college and being in love with the Swedish family tree of bands. Åkerfeldt sang for Katatonia on the brilliant and grim Sounds of Decay. Blackheim of Katatonia had his solo project Diabolical Masquerade and Dan Swanö played drums with him. I guess that was enough to purchase Moontower in 1998.

12 years later, however, I still play it regularly, more than any of those Swedish bands, really. (Though, I do write this while wearing my favorite Opeth shirt) This album is the bomb and I have nothing else in my collection that is quite like it.

Speaking of Opeth, their latest album, Heritage, is a nigh-unlistenable ode to 70s prog. It’s strange then, that I love Moontower so much. This is 70s prog done right IMO, with its catchy songwriting, standard death vocals and all that moog! I can’t get enough. There are some moments where I’m lost in the unique tone and mood. And those clean vocals, when they do come about, I’m blown away.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this other than the fact that it rocks. I can listen to this any time, and lately, have been doing so a ton. From the opening notes to that spectacular ending, this is one of my favorite albums of the ’90s.

The Walking Dead: Episode 3…

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Reviews, The Walking Dead on September 3, 2012 by slateman

I simply couldn’t wait, so tonight I finished episode 3. This was the weakest episode in terms of exciting events. On the other hand, it was the single most powerful moment in gaming history.

OK, that may sound a bit dramatic, but (Spoiler-rific), when I heard the gun shot and ran into the woods…OMG. When I did what had to be done. OMFG. I don’t care that I knew it was coming. I FELT IT. That was painful.

I don’t quite know what to expect moving forward. It’s like my humanity is disappearing and if it weren’t for Clem, I’d be done. I think that’s why the TV show (comics?) have Rick’s family there. Without them, it would be so easy to lose what kept you together.

Anyways, the episode was a bit slow once you got to the train, but it was not without action and drama. I still can’t believe what just went down and I maintain its power was unmatched in gaming history. (And yes, I played Final Fantasy VII back in Sept of ’97 – 15 yrs ago this month…urgh!)

The Walking Dead: Episode 2…

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Reviews, The Walking Dead on September 2, 2012 by slateman

I’m having a tough time with this. Man, I love watching zombie movies. Action, suspense, RUN! It’s exciting, enticing and exotic. But rarely do these films truly touch upon the emotional portion of it all. Sure, you’ll lose a loved one. Of course difficult decisions will be made. But in The Walking Dead: The Game I find myself torn.

First off, I’m so glad this isn’t an action game, a FPS or anything of the like. The way this has been crafted is utterly perfect. It contains the exciting, enticing and exotic nature of zombie films and games before it, but only a few times in gaming history have I really cared so much for the protagonist. Few times have I felt so tied to my main character. In Metal Gear Solid 4 I remember tapping the triangle button as if my life depended on it (because for Snake, it did). John Marston’s suffering was my own in Red Dead Redemption.

I find myself having a tough time deciding when to be sympathetic and when to be stern. I want to protect Clementine but I don’t want to tiptoe to do so. I have to be strong to make the tough decisions, but I also want to try to keep peace. Things don’t work this way. The reviews I’ve read say the same…this is hard shit! I want to be loyal to Kenny…we are brothers here! But as each hour passes, these decisions become more and more difficult.

The first two episodes were free for PS+ subscribers and I didn’t even finish episode 2 before plunking down my $5 for episode 3. I must know how this pans out. Lee is the man, confident, yet reasonable. Was he a killer before? It doesn’t matter, he’s my hero now, saving those around him. This is as human a tale as I’ve ever encountered, truly only rivaled by John Marston’s. I simply cannot believe a cel-shaded point-and-click adventure based on zombies could be so deep, rewarding, intense and emotional.