I’ve written before about the Xbox 360’s Achievements system, which rewards you for performing certain tasks in videogames and adds points to your overall Gamerscore. It’s arguably an old-fashioned idea, a return to the days of the arcades when players wanted to get their initials in the #1 spot on that Space Invaders cabinet.

But other than that, there’s no real use to one’s Gamerscore. It’s just one more way videogamers can compete with one another. Videogamers are a competitive lot, to be sure, so I suppose I should not have been surprised by the existence of But I was, nonetheless.

Halo comic coming this summer

I’m probably the only person I know who cares about this, but Marvel has a listing for its new ongoing Halo comic, due out in July a few months ahead of Halo 3. Here’s the description:

The Eisner Award-winning team of superscribe Brian Michael Bendis and artist extraordinaire Alex Maleev unleash an epic story of mankind’s struggle against the alien threat of the Covenant. Picking up from the conclusion of blockbuster video game Halo 2, the must-read issue reveals how the Master Chief, while onboard a hostile ship headed towards Earth, is battling against Covenant forces! Intertwined with Master Chief’s interstellar one-man-war is the saga of a great American city’s rebellion and downfall, two disparate lives’ collision and shared fate, and the Convenant’s hunt for an ancient relic of untold power and value. With hope dwindling and the fate of humanity hanging by a thread, is there any chance for a future? Read this debut issue to start the journey into the Halo universe!

Dead Slumping

Last month my cousin kindly loaned me his copy of Dead Rising, an Xbox 360 game in which you have to survive in a zombie-infested mall a la Dawn of the Dead.

Having lost some interest in zombies after finishing my as-yet-unnamed novella, it wasn’t until last week that I finally fired the game up. My main motivation for it was to pad my Gamerscore with some quick achievement points.

Unfortunately, I found myself getting bored pretty quick.

My Quest is Over

At 6:31 p.m. EDT on Monday, March 26, 2007, twenty-one years after he first picked up a Nintendo controller, Jason F.C. Clarke defeated Super Mario Bros.

Gears of War gets movie deal

Ed’s got a new post about Gears of War‘s recent movie deal.

I wrote a pretty long response, so I thought I’d copy it here.


I don’t make any bones about my preference for Halo over GoW, so I agree that Bungie’s universe offers a richer opportunity for cinematic quality. Bungie made their name in the 1990s with the Marathon trilogy of games, which was not only the Mac alternative to Doom but also the alternative for those who wanted a little story with their shooting. As complicated as Halo 2‘s storyline is, it doesn’t even come close to the criss-crossing timelines of Marathon: Infinity.

As I said in a comment on Sean’s blog, Epic sacrificed a lot of the story elements to make room for graphics and gameplay. And Epic isn’t exactly known for its storytelling (their former most-popular product, Unreal Tournament, doesn’t even have a campaign mode). Bungie, on the other hand, made their name with story.

I’m not saying GoW’s story isn’t interesting. It’s just a bit too derivative (really, what major sf franchise doesn’t it poach from?) and, as I’ve written several times, somehow manages to be both convoluted and thin. What bothered me most, though, was how little I cared about the characters, particularly Marcus—despite the fact he was voiced by Bender. The only characters I liked were Dom (“‘Sup bitches!”) and Cole (“The Train’s at home on the rails!”).

Somehow Bungie made me care more about a faceless guy in armor and an AI construct.

Power Up

Like many New Englanders, DG and I have been impoverished by incredibly high heating bills. We have electric heat, so that gets wrapped into our electric bill. Given the high bills we’ve had the last two months, DG suggested that perhaps the new Xbox 360 was eating up a lot of power.

As I was both curious about that myself—and feeling defensive of my beloved console—I decided to do a little digging online. First up was this article, which showed that, during game use, the 360 eats up an impressive amount of power, while our Wii sips lightly at the electric tap (with the commensurate dip in graphics complexity):

Console graph

The whole article is interesting and informative, and sheds light on something I’d never really thought about before.

Of course, the real question is how this translates into higher digits on my electric bill. As it turns out, if I were to leave my Xbox 360 on all the time, the cost would be about $20 a year according to this article, whose writer based the numbers on what NStar was charging him in the Boston surburbs. Given that we live in Brighton, that’s probably about dead-on for us. $20 spread over the course of the year isn’t bad at all, and it definitely isn’t accounting for our massively high energy bills, particularly given the fact that I don’t leave my 360 on (and have also stopped leaving my PC on during the day).

So apparently the high bills are mostly heating costs. Still, it’s nice to be aware of this. The seventh generation consoles represent a large jump in energy usage, since the most power-hungry sixth-generation console (the original Xbox) cost only $8 a year. And given the size of the 360’s massive power brick, and the fact that it vents enough heat to warm our study, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Xbox Live Arcade

I was really excited to get an Xbox 360 back in December. Thinking back, though, I can’t remember exactly why I decided I wanted a new videogame system. I’m not sure which games I was looking forward to, other than, obviously, Halo 3.

Xbox Live Arcade

I found out about Gears of War and that became the reason I was getting a 360. I played GoW for about a month straight, but I don’t think I’ve played it in almost a week. I’ve beaten the campaign on three difficulty levels and played through the entire game as the second player in co-op, so there are really no more worlds to conquer there (and personally, I don’t find either the gameplay or the campaign quite as entertaining as the Halo series—I’m currently replaying Halo for the second time in two months, having played through Halo 2 in the interim). However, Microsoft has a few interesting aces up its sleeve when it comes to keeping me playing between big releases like Gears of War and Halo 3.

Gaming’s Greatest Guns

I’ve got to agree with most of the choices in this article, “Gaming’s Greatest Guns”. I’ve played most of those games and the choices are dead-on, especially DOOM II‘s double-barreled shotgun, Duke Nukem 3D‘s shrink-ray, Halo‘s pistol and Perfect Dark‘s laptop gun. (Though, from what I understand, the omission of Half-Life 2‘s Gravity Gun is fairly egregious.)

Some of the commenters on the article suggest the Lancer from Gears of Wars should be included as well. Personally I disagree—there’s nothing particularly innovative or interesting about the weapon, except that it’s a machine gun with a chainsaw on it. We’ve had chainsaws and we’ve had machine guns in FPS games before. The Torque Bow is a bit more interesting, but I don’t really see how it’s significantly different from a missile launcher (except that it takes longer to fire, can’t heat-seek, and has a delay before it explodes).

Ultimately, I don’t think any of Gears of Wars‘s weapons were particularly ground-breaking in any way (or even overpowered), so I wouldn’t have included them on the list.

On a related note, it looks like the much-loved original Halo pistol is back for Halo 3—in looks, at least (the video is a leak and will probably be taken down by the time you click).

Jason Clarke, NFL superstar

So along with Gears of War, I also got Madden 2007 for Christmas. I’ve come to appreciate football—or any sport in general—only recently, and it’s arguable that my fondness for football stemmed largely from hopping on the Patriots bandwagon over the last seven years (hey, at least I’m a native New Englander).

But I’ve found a lot of things to like about football. The pace isn’t as slow as baseball or as frenetic as basketball, but instead, it has a kind of dramatic feel as two teams of modern-day gladiators smash into each other, trying to drive a wedge through the enemy or turn them back. Football is great on television, whereas TV reduces baseball to little more than the pitcher/batter duel. There’s room to appreciate all the players in football. The quarterback is important, but he’s more like the lead singer of an ensemble band (like Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam) than, say, Daughtry.

Gears of War

Like many gamers, I first encountered the first-person shooter genre with Doom. As an adolescent who grew up playing Predator in the backyard, I was immediately mesmerized by its blend of science fiction, monsters, and blowing the crap out of stuff with badass weaponry.

I followed up Doom with many of the other great FPS games?Quake, Quake II, and Star Wars: Dark Forces. And of course, the big shooter during my college years was Goldeneye, and my roommate and I played a lot of Perfect Dark.

A skirmish between security and the paparazzi at TomKat’s wedding.


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