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Sometimes you get bored and lack motivation to do something. What do you do when you’re me, a guy who writes silly things on the internet and looking for dumb stuff to write about.

That’s right, time for some thrift store shopping~

I will admit that most of the items I found are random curiosities more than anything. There are some fairly common and interesting things in here, however, and may be something to write about in a future blog post. If all else fails, it’s a good document of all the junk I get and how I got it.

I roamed around the Oak Grove/Oregon City area for this, checking two chain thrift stores and a Goodwill, plus a special hobby shop on the edge of Oregon City. So let’s rock.

Four CDs (99 cents each)

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There’s a post-it over Quake III Team Arena because the CD key would otherwise be visible. Granted, it probably doesn’t mean much these days…

My first hit was a local chain thrift store. I thought I was gonna strike out, but the CDs I got have some interest.

I had Quake Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon, but not the second expansion, Dissolution of Eternity. Now I do. I remember not hearing too many great things, but hey, might as well get it to complete my Quake collection.

I also snagged Quake III Team Arena, aka the “holy shit Unreal Tournament is SUPER POPULAR let’s make this hasty expansion” game. Again, mostly to complete the collection. Nowadays Quake Live pretty much fills the Quake III/Team Arena void, so this are more for collection’s sake.

The third and final game is Shellshock Nam ’67, one of the many Vietnam War games that came out in the early to mid 2000s. This game is notable for being made by Guerrilla Games, the guys who’d be later known for the semi-popular Killzone series. This was the sole game they made independently before Sony bought them around 2004. I don’t know if this game’s any good, but it can’t be that bad, can it?

Then there’s the last one: A Cheetah Girls Karaoke CD. This is probably the weirdest of the lot, but I bought it because it’s a Karaoke CD that supports the CD+G format for Karaoke machines (and related devices, such as the Sega CD and 3DO). I wrote about it briefly a few years ago, you can check that out here.

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Alright kids, time for me to get a bit “technical,” as it were. This is one of these posts where I’m gonna talk briefly about a game mechanic and how it actually benefits the player subtly. For those who came here for other stuff, come back in a few days.

One of the more entertaining parts of the whole game. A shame it's underutilized.

One of the more entertaining parts of the whole game. A shame it’s underutilized.

I recently beat id Software’s Rage, a solid first-person shooter/driving game hybrid. I was looking to play something after trying to beat Modern Combat 5, and this seemed like a prime candidate. Earlier in the year, I had ran through Doom 3 again, just to see if it was bad as I remembered it. It actually wasn’t awful, and is a pretty good game. Hasn’t aged gracefully in the graphics department, but what has?

Anyway, Rage has two mechanics that aren’t mentioned, but really help out the player. Most first-person shooters have it so when you reload, you can’t cancel out of the reload, leaving you vulnerable to attack. Secondly, the reload animation has to play out fully before you can fire again. Again, putting you at risk of taking damage, and in a fast-paced shooter, it can be frustrating to have to wait for your dude to slowly slap a magazine into their assault rifle and pull the charging handle before shooting again.

Rage doesn’t do either of these. If you start reloading mid-magazine and hold down the fire button, the reload is immediately canceled so you can expend the rest of the magazine. Secondly, if you’re reloading from an empty magazine, you can skip the rest of the reload and get back to shooting quickly. You can see this in the video I shot from one of the Sewer levels, and is more noticeable if you skip ahead to 1:53.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a huge help. Rage has you fighting between the quick and melee-heavy mutants, common grunts, and big boss monsters. The last thing you want is to have to watch a painstaking long reload sequence and die because of it.

Imagine having to wait for your dude to slap the magazine into his pseudo-AK while this monster blows you to bits. Hardly fun, right?

Imagine having to wait for your dude to slap the magazine into his pseudo-AK while this monster blows you to bits. Hardly fun, right?

Honestly, I think reload canceling and skipping long reloads need to start being a thing that’s not reserved as some kind of skill or perk. A lot of FPS games take a simple concept – reloading a firearm – and don’t do much with it. Outside of games like Receiver, which take the concept of firearms and expand on it, most games just take reloading for granted. Think of many other games that were released in the same year as Rage, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Bulletstorm, and Homefront (ugh). None of these don’t give you this same advantage. At most, tweaking a reload involves an exploit such as a melee attack, and in most cases just restarts the reload sequence, taking you much longer to get back in the fight, leading to some frustrating deaths online and off.

Is Rage’s way of handling reloads unrealistic? Yeah. Is it some revelatory thing? Not really. But I think had id not done this, Rage would’ve been a more aggravating experience. Their last major game, Doom 3, had lengthy reload times, but that game has a slower pace to it. Imagine that slower reload on Rage, it would’ve been an absolute mess.

As for Rage itself, it’s worth playing. The wasteland concept is a bit played out – especially since this game came out two years after Borderlands was a hit – but the action and driving’s pretty good. Not only that, you get to take missions from John Goodman and Steve Motherfuckin’ Blum. Can’t get any better than that, can it?

Oh, and this guy, who's voiced by Paul Eiding. Better known as Colonel Campbell. I'll give someone credit for going for notable VOs as opposed to famous people all the time.

Oh, and this guy, who’s voiced by Paul Eiding. Better known as Colonel Campbell. I’ll give someone credit for going for notable VOs as opposed to just getting Hollywood actors for everything.

For a while, I wasn’t going to upgrade to Windows 10. But then a friend convinced me of a few cool features, and I decided to finally take the plunge since it’s free as of this writing. Since my current PC was on Windows 7, I missed out on all the cool apps that came out during the Windows 8 era. After perusing the store, I found a few interesting games. Boy, I wasn’t expecting this…

It's time for STERN MILITARY SOLDIER POSE

It’s time for STERN MILITARY SOLDIER POSE

Modern Combat 5: Blackout is probably the most generic title for a game ever. This is the product of Gameloft, a French-based development studio known famously for their mobile phone and handheld games. Naturally, this is a “port” from iOS/Android devices, supporting cumbersome touch screen controls.

While I haven’t played the previous entries in the Modern Combat franchise, I am familiar with it. One of the games, Modern Combat: Domination, made it to consoles and I remember Giant Bomb covering it once. At the time, it looked like a mish-mash of Call of Duty 4 with a pinch of Counter-Strike‘s elements. By default, I go into any new game I play with mild skepticism and low expectations just so I don’t hype myself up for disappointment, so I wasn’t expecting much here.

This is a hell of a way to start a game...

This is a hell of a way to start a game…

You play as Phoenix, a mercenary for works for some corporation. With the help of a bald marine named Bull, you two storm through San Marco, escaping from evil terrorists, and eventually escaping a helicopter in a boat chase sequence. Pretty exciting for the beginning of a Call of Duty clone.

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Afterwards, Phoenix wakes up in Japan, taken over by raiders during some terrorist attack or something. I’ll admit, I barely remember the story of this game, and that’s coming from a guy who played through Battlefield 3 and 4, which had really unremarkable generic campaigns. But from what I gleaned from a wiki for the series, it’s basically double-crossing between various factions, and a surprise plot twist that the CEO of the Gilman corporation is also a mercenary soldier who caused the double-crossing. Hardly oscar-caliber story writing, but I got what I paid for. (Nothing.)

One of the many classes you can choose from. You get Recon to start, and the rest require you to either grind or pay up.

One of the many classes you can choose from. You get Recon to start, and the rest require you to either grind levels or pay up to unlock.

Modern Combat 5 has a leveling system, and unlockables. There’s a create-a-class option, weapons can be upgraded by using them in the game to unlock attachments and better weapons, and each class has special skills that are upgraded using SP. SP is gained between some missions, leveling up, and between events Gameloft put up. One thing I liked is how the rankings persist between both single player and multiplayer, which I wish more games did.

Multiplayer is typical military FPS in a post-Call of Duty 4 world: You have perks, you have a powerup you can use, there’s killstreaks like recon drones and EMP strikes, and you get XP for kills. There’s the common FPS gamemodes: Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and an unusual TDM variant called VIP where the VIP is always visible on the minimap and killing them rewards more points than killing other players. Fun, but a VIP kill is 5 points and the scorelimit is 50, making the matches go by faster than expected.

Huh, I guess my dad was right about combat drones. Never thought they'd look like this, though...

Huh, I guess my dad was right about combat drones. Never thought they’d look like this, though…

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PC gaming in the ’90s was a real wild west affair. When games like Doom took off, everybody started making shovelware compilations of anywhere from hundreds to thousands of levels. Most of them were downloaded off BBSes without crediting people, which is pretty scummy in itself. But if you had no internet connection, this was a way to get levels with ease.

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After a few years of this, publishers like WizardWorks started making their own unofficial expansions for games like Quake, Descent and Warcraft II. While this was an improvement – level designers could actually license their stuff for commercial use – the internet was really starting to bloom in the late ’90s, making these unofficial “expansions” obsolete.

Today, I’m gonna look at one of these unofficial expansions for a little game called Quake

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This looks like something I’d see as a background of some pick up artist’s vlog channel.

Aftershock for Quake is a terrible pun, but one of several expansions made to capitalize on Quake‘s success. Published by Head Games, this featured “advanced levels”, adding three episodes and a bevy of deathmatch maps.

Unlike the official expansions – Scourge of Armagon and Dissolution of Eternity – these have no new monsters, powerups or weapons. These are vanilla Quake levels, designed to run with a registered copy of the original Quake. The episodes are drastically shorter than vanilla Quake, only having five levels for each episode.

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There isn’t much of a story to these maps. Hell, with the exception of episode three, there aren’t any credits to who made this. It’s unfortunate, because I was hoping to find a “before they were stars” moments with this expansion.

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Doom 3 was a pretty cool game for 2004. I replayed it recently since it had been several years and I was initially down on it, but after replaying it, I have some newfound respect for it. While not as groundbreaking as Half-Life 2, it was still a good game. Though it’s hardly a “masterpiece of the art form” as the box quote says.

I even have that PC Gamer issue, they were actually serious with that quote!

I even have that PC Gamer issue, they were actually serious with that quote!

Alas, from what I gathered, the Doom 3 modding community was sparse compared to classic Doom, even compared to its competitors like Half-Life 2. But one particular mod stood out, and it’s not surprising it exists considering id Software’s legacy:

It feels like 1993 and 2004 combined into some freakshow.

It feels like 1993 and 2004 combined into some freakshow.

Classic Doom for Doom 3 was one of those hyped mods in its heyday. Boasting a small team of developers at Flaming Sheep Software, these guys aimed to remake the 1993 classic on a modern engine. Of course, what better way to show off the modding skills of Doom 3‘s engine than with a remake of the original Doom?

So much for doing a UV-Max run...

So much for doing a UV-Max run…

There’s only four difficulty levels in this one, similar to Doom 3‘s skill levels. Alas no Ultra-Violence, but I’ll play on Hey Not Too Rough, the equivalent of “Normal” difficulty.

Surprisingly the development team made an intro to explain why you’re going in. It’s so corny, filled with amateur voice acting and really jerky animation. Basically they give a reason for Doomguy to enter Mars and kill demons, eventually fending for yourself. Granted, the intro can be skipped, but it’s fascinating to put a story on why things went to hell. It’s a sight to behold.

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Then you’re thrusted into E1M1: Hangar, with just a pistol. A remix of At Doom’s Gate starts blasting through your speakers. It’s time to kill some demons!

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Hey kids, what time is it? No, not Howdy Doody time, but something better:

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Yep, it’s Loot Crate time! For January 2016, they went with an Invasion theme, full of sci-fi and other assorted goodies.
They also seemed to change the shape of the crate again from last month, presumably to keep it in line with the non-shirt versions. It makes it more difficult to keep neat and even, but as long as they can stack, I’m not bothered.
Let’s open our space rock of a crate and see what’s inside…


 

The Fifth Element replica multi pass

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This is a replica of the ID card from The Fifth Element, complete with a fake ID for Milla Jovovich’s character Leeloo. (That seriously sounds like a name I’d hear in a comedy film like Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.)
I will shamefully admit The Fifth Element is another one of those movies I’ve never seen. Maybe it was because it was critically panned upon release, but also because most sci-fi doesn’t do much for me unless it involves time travel. Though this replica item is a nice treat for fans of the movie. I’ll throw this movie on the “to watch” pile…


Alien Facehugger plush

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Aww, how cute. It’s an Alien Facehugger plush. Alien is another one of those movies I’ve never seen in their entirety. I’m familiar with its legacy, from the movies, to that weird ’90s toy line with the screeching “ALIIIIIIENS” commercials, to the video games. I still need to finish Aliens vs. Predator.

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For regular readers of this blog, you may have noticed a drastic increase in posts about edible video game goodies over 2015. You’re not the only one. I’ve blogged more about fruit snacks and Red Bull tie-ins than actual game stuff, and that’s not counting my yearly Mountain Dew Game Fuel roundup. It’s actually interesting to see more of this stuff than before, this wasn’t much of a thing over the past ten years. Either that, or I wasn’t paying attention back then.

I didn’t think I’d be making another one of these to start 2016 off. But I thank my mom, my #1 fan, for finding these out of the blue. Or in this case, red:

Mario with the best kind of gift: CANDY!

Mario with the best kind of gift: CANDY!

It’s more of those Mario 3-Dees gummies. I wrote about these last year alongside Plants vs. Zombies 2 fruit snacks, and it seems they’ve taken a holiday theme this time around. I probably should’ve written about these before Christmas, but hey, better late than never, right?😛

This is almost art. At least, to me.

This is art. At least, to me.

Like before, Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong all embrace the packaging, with three distinct flavors: strawberry, cherry and raspberry. Thank god there’s no watermelon gummies, just the good flavors in this one. It’s weird to see no green gummies, but they probably would’ve been less than pleasant flavors. Like watermelon.

When I wrote about these last time, I praised how impressive these looked for gummy candies. I lived in a world where younger me would be lucky to find candy that even remotely resembled the thing it’s based on, and not just be some amorphous blob that kinda resembled the product. But I gotta hand it to Au’some for making them look like the iconic Mario characters, like before.

As for the taste… they taste like the flavors advertised. It’s great, because when it comes to candy, those are three flavors I can always get behind. It’s even better when they’ve been sitting in room temperature for the past two weeks I’ve been putting this post off, as they’re nice and soft.. Though, I am baffled by the ingredients on the back mentioning pear juice as an ingredient.

My apologies for the fairly short post to start the new year proper. I’ll definitely have something a bit more meaty to post in the future. But for now, I’m going to enjoy 2016 the best that I can, and write about more interesting stuff, as I have been for the past four years. Here’s to a wonderful 2016!

Another month, another Loot Crate comes my way. As I continue with what will possibly be my last blog post of 2015, I have come up with a tentative name for these sort of things: “The Crate Chronicles.” Since Loot Crate is probably one of the more popular things in terms of nerd culture, this is more of a personal archive for myself, since most of the stuff inside is already well known on the web.

So let’s tackle this month’s Loot Crate…

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I almost didn’t get this crate, I found it in the trash. My dad had accidentally put it in there, thinking it was just an ordinary package. Thankfully there was no signs of damage on the box, so I was able to recover it before it would’ve suffered an untimely demise.

Oddly, the box is in a different shape this month compared to last month’s, I wonder why…

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Oh, this little thing. An ammo box advertising the UNSC, the main military group of the Halo franchise. As part of the Galaxy tie-in for this month, there’s a bit of Halo 5 stuff in here. There’s also a code for some unlockable items in the game, but alas I’m still stuck in the Xbox 360 world so it’ll have to wait until I actually get an Xbox One and have some interest in the Halo franchise again. My experiences with Halo involve playing a leaked beta build of the PC port many a year ago, and co-oping through Halo 3 with a friend, which was interesting in itself, that’s all I’ll say here.

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The rest of the goodies are inside the box, and it’s a bit more galaxy-themed: A Funko Pop! figure of Han Solo from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a pair of socks featuring BB-8 from the same film, and a patch of the crew insignia from Galaxy Quest.

I’m not super big on the Funko Pop! Figures. I don’t have a lot of space in my house for collecting stuff like that. However is a nice little figure. While I like socks with designs, I don’t know If I’d be wearing these ones around.

I have a shameful confession to make: I’ve never really seen the Star Wars movies in their entirety. Well, except for one: The Phantom Menace. (It was part of an eighth grade field trip. I barely remember it.) While I am familiar with some of the tropes and quoted lines of the iconic series, I’ve never really seen the other movies outside of clips here and there. Hence why I wasn’t as excited for The Force Awakens compared to my friends.

I will likely rectify this problem soon. If anything, so I can at least feel like I’m not completely out of the loop. It’s one thing for the younger generation to not seen Star Wars, it’s another for a grown man like me to have never seen it!

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Because of course I have to do my best “triumphant pose”.

The last thing that came with this was a cool shirt by artist Drew Wise. I did my best (worst) triumphant pose with it on, because of course I would.

This is a pretty nice crate. While I may not be super-interested in all the things featured, it’s a nice Christmas gift. Thanks, Loot Crate. Can’t wait to see what you got in store for 2016.

It’s the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate than playing something Christmas-related? How about a game based on one of the best damn action movies of the 80s, Die Hard?

I don't care what anyone says, this is a Christmas movie in my book.

I don’t care what anyone says, this is a Christmas movie in my book.

Okay, I may be stretching it a bit here. But it’s better than trying to find some Christmas-themed game involving Santa Claus. It’s also appropriate, considering Die Hard‘s legacy.

There have been many Die Hard games over the years. There was the top-down action game for the NES that’s been featured by the Angry Video Game Nerd and Games Done Quick, the multi-genre Die Hard Trilogy, even the Sega brawler Dynamite Deka which was rebranded as a Die Hard game when it hit stateside. But we’re gonna be talking about a little-known budget shooter that featured our old pal John McClane, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza.

Love how they don't even bother to show not-Bruce Willis' face.

Love how they don’t even bother to show not-Bruce Willis’ face.

This game had an interesting history. Starting out as a “Die Hard TC” for Duke Nukem 3D, it eventually made the leap from the aging Build engine to the new GoldSrc engine in 1999. Development on Nakatomi Plaza went silent in 2000 as rumors went around 20th Century Fox did a cease and desist on the project. Eventually the game got re-announced the following year with the license proper, as well as another upgrade, this time on the fancy new Lithtech Engine. The engine that was used in The Operative: No One Lives Forever, and… lots of budget games I’ve actually talked about before. We’re talking CTU Marine Sharpshooter, Vietnam: Black Ops and…

But enough about that. Let’s get into the game itself. Nakatomi Plaza is a loose retelling of the original Die Hard‘s story. If you’re reading this and you’ve never seen Die Hard, stop reading this and watch the film NOW. Alternately, you could read the book the movie’s based on, Roderick Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever, which I heard is actually a good book. If you have seen Die Hard, then continue. Preferably read this while listening to that GuyzNite song about the Die Hard franchise.

Since this game’s hits all the famous parts of the original movie, I won’t go into a play-by-play of the game, only for some of the changes. Because I’m going to assume, like before, that you’ve seen the film already.

The game starts out exactly the same as the film: John McClane arrives at Nakatomi Plaza thanks to Argyle the limo driver, meets up with Mr. Takagi, Ellis and Holly Gennaro, before Hans and his terrorist buddies come in and wreck stuff, leaving John with his 9mm Beretta, shoeless.

It's weird to be playing an FPS with a left-handed protagonist. What is this, Counter-Strike?

It’s weird to be playing an FPS with a left-handed protagonist. What is this, Counter-Strike?

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Ever have that feeling where you wake up and find out something surprising? That happened to me a while back as I was combing through my scant emails while watching stuff.

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I won a free year of Loot Crate. I’ll admit, I was shocked. I rarely win things. I envied a friend of mine who usually stumbled upon getting free stuff all the time. I don’t even remember what contest I entered to win this, but hey, I’ll happily take free Loot Crate for a year.

For the unaware, Loot Crate is a simple subscription service where every month you get some geeky goodies based on a theme. It’s $13/month usually, though you can go for longer subscriptions that’ll save money in the long run. If you’re into fairly geeky stuff, this might be something worth looking into.

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So simple and mysterious… I wonder what’s inside…

The theme of this month’s was Combat, based on various ways to fight the world. As I only casually followed Loot Crate, I didn’t know their stuff was based on a theme every month. This is pretty neat, as it only hints at what’s in the box.

Now for the highlights:

Blizzard Entertainment “Cute but Deadly” blind bag!

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Ah yes, the wonders of mysterious toys in sealed bags that may or may not have something interesting in them. Blind bags are fascinating as hell to me, mostly in part due to Ashens’ videos on it. While I’m not a cheeky brit with a mangy old brown sofa, I am a bloody yank with a stained TV tray, so let’s go and check this out.

All of these are based on Blizzard franchises. I’ll admit I don’t follow much in terms of Blizzard games. I’ve dabbled in a demo of Diablo or StarCraft years ago, but I never really followed their stuff like StarCraft II, Hearthstone or World of Warcraft. But whatever, the mystery of the blind bag is intriguing. Let’s crack this sucker open.

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There are many things that I’m always fascinated by, and one of them is portable versions of big console games. It’s surprising to see studios small and large try to squeeze as much power out of handhelds and hopefully make a good game out of it. I collect these on a rare occasion, and thought I’d dig one out of mothballs I bought awhile back and give it a spin.

Let's OWN THE CITY! As opposed to what, Own the Parking Lot?

Let’s OWN THE CITY! As opposed to what, Own the Parking Lot?

Let’s hop in a ride and drive the mean streets, because we’re checking out Need for Speed: Carbon – Own the City for the Game Boy Advance. I mentioned buying this in an old “I bought stuff!” post from a year ago, and I wanted to see what a racing game looks on the ol’ GBA. This is an EA Canada joint, and came out on the GBA, PSP, and DS as the spinoff portable title alongside the main game. Usually the portable version is different in some ways than its console brother, so let’s check it out.

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The story’s fairly silly: You were in a race alongside your brother Mick, and a multi-car pile up by some unknown assailant caused the death of your brother and made you get amnesia.. What follows is a typical revenge plot as you work with Mick’s former crewmembers, Sara and Carter, as you climb your way to the top and dominate districts and solve the mystery.

So let’s take a look at how this looks on the Game Boy Advance…

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If you think it looks bad on a screenshot, imagine this in motion!

Oh. Oh dear. I’m not a graphics snob by any means, but wow this game looks pretty bad, even by GBA standards. Feel the thrill of going 100 mph while it looks like a casual stroll through a city road. The game runs pretty slow for a racing game. Now I know the Game Boy Advance is not a 3D powerhouse, but something is really wrong when this runs at a snail’s pace. It doesn’t help that I can barely see anything. It’s hard sometimes to see what’s ahead of you, and most of the roads are made at 90 degree angles that make it hard to make good turns. Doesn’t help that this perspective also makes swerving past traffic and other racers difficult.

One of the few modes where being in first isn't guaranteed a win.

It’s impressive how the 3D looks, but it looks like a pixely mess where I can’t see crap.

But enough about how it looks, here’s how it plays. A accelerates, B brakes, L activates Nitrous – provided the car has it unlocked, and R is the handbrake. There are four race types: Circuit, Sprint, Elimination, and Hunter. Circuit and Sprint are simple races. Elimination removes the last place driver at each lap. Hunter is a strange one: Every skill or trick you do fills up a health bar, but hitting anything or stopping loses health. It’s less about finishing first and more about finishing skillfully.

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It’s that time of the year again…

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You know it’s time when you see the ol’ kitchen stove…

Mountain Dew gets buddy-buddy with major game developers and makes a fancy Game Fuel dedicated to a major game. This year, Activision gets the choice for the second year in a row, this time for Carl on Duty: Black Cops III – Revenge of the Urkel- er, Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

At this point, Mountain Dew has made the Citrus Cherry a standard flavor. No longer seasonal, you can get the stuff at any time anywhere. I noticed this as I found bottles of the normal Citrus Cherry at a Safeway, rather than the 7-Eleven like I usually do. You can also get Game Fuel Citrus Cherry in small sized bottles over at Amazon, which is where I first heard about it. Since this change, they’ve had various game-related promotions with Game Fuel this year, such as items for Batman: Arkham Knight and Warframe.

At first, I thought Mountain Dew retired the seasonal flavors, which would’ve meant an end to what has become a yearly tradition on my blog. But thankfully that wasn’t the case, as I found the new special flavor in the usual locations.

I’ve written about Citrus Cherry every single year since I started this. It hasn’t changed in taste whatsoever. It’s got a cherry taste with a citrus-y tinge that reminds me of Squirt or similar citrus-heavy sodas. At this point, I’m not even gonna bother talking about that flavor, and skip ahead to the new special flavor for BLOPSIII.

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Jesus, this is hella green. Am I gonna change into some mutated being after drinking this?

The new Berry Lime flavor certainly tastes like berry. At times, it tastes like I’m drinking Mountain Dew mixed in with a berry lime candy or something. Much like the Citrus Cherry, it has a very strong fizzy aftertaste which took a little getting used to. I’ll certainly say that it’s not the worst soda I’ve had, but this is definitely the weakest promotional flavor. To be fair, I’m not a regular Mountain Dew drinker, so maybe it’s an acquired taste. But I’d rather they bring back the Lemonade from last year instead, at least that tasted good.

It took me a second to realize this cover looks the exact same as Black Ops 1's cover, but WITH MORE FUTURE!

It took me a second to realize this cover looks the exact same as Black Ops 1’s cover, but WITH MORE FUTURE! It’s getting harder and harder to tell these damn things apart.

Much last year, you can “FUEL UP FOR BATTLE” and punch in codes at dewanddoritos.com to get XP boosts in the game’s Zombies mode. You don’t even get special items like last year’s Advanced Warfare promotion, so it’s much less cooler this time. Maybe Treyarch had no time to make dumb fancy cosmetics for it.

So, I already said how I felt about the Call of Duty series in last year’s entry about Game Fuel, and it hasn’t changed. Moreso this year since it looks more like an Advanced Warfare 2 rather than something cool and unique. Even Activision is likely aware of how derivative it looks, since I hear more about the new Zombies mode than the base campaign or the multiplayer. I bet it’s not awful, just underwhelming these days. Besides, if I wanna play some futuristic Call of Duty-like game, I could always play Titanfall.

So, this is where it gets a bit interesting. Now with Citrus Cherry being a normal anytime flavor, I could in theory write about the various game promotions throughout the year, no longer making this a yearly fall tradition. But I’m more interested in the special flavors than anything. In the case of the times where I wrote about Monster and Red Bull sponsored drinks, it was just normal cans with game branding. Hell, right now I could buy a Rockstar Energy that advertises the recent Mad Max game. But that’s not nearly as interesting to write about, compared to these special flavors.

I can’t wait ’til next year to see what experimental flavor they bring out next, likely for the next Call of Duty game. But for now, I will FUEL UP FOR BATTLE alright, just not this battle. I’ve been more of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive guy anyway.

(In an ideal dream world, CS:GO would be the next Dew and Doritos promotion. At least I’d proudly have a gun skin that had silly Mountain Dew/Doritos branding…)

Before, I wrote blogs about the stuff I bought under the relatively boring “Game finds” title. I wanted something more punchy, more entertaining. Then the name came to me. It’s sillier, but I like it more.

So, re-introducing a semi-regular feature on the blog: I bought stuff!

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This one will be all the stuff I got at this year’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo. I could go into great lengths about the PGRE itself, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I did get to enjoy classics like Outrun and Crazy Taxi, I saw some pro-level Tetris being played, I saw people play multiplayer Star Wars Battlefront 2 over Xbox System Link, and I met the guys who made Game Sack. This was a good year as always, and I anticipate the next year being bigger and better.

I will publicly admit that all but 2 of the things I bought were recent 360/Wii/PS2 stuff, mostly shooters. You could call me a “fake retro gamer,” but I’ve gotten to the point where either I have everything I want, or the things I want are ridiculously expensive to me. Like I’d totally want the Spyro the Dragon trilogy, but I ain’t paying $20-25 for each game, especially when I bought the entire trilogy on the PlayStation Network for a buck a piece. I am not a man who can throw hundreds on Turbografx-16s, Steel Battallion controllers or even a complete copy of Panic Restaurant (though I give Chris Kohler guts for even offering $800 for it). So instead I go for the cheaper stuff, and that’s usually games from a generation or two back.

It’s probably the best time to start grabbing Wii, 360 and PS3 stuff. As people start gravitating towards the prettier PS4 and Xbox One, some games are gonna get harder and harder to get. So I got a fair share of stuff and junk. Let’s see what I bought.

20151019_184552

A 5 for $10 deal of the following:

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (360)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (360)

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360)

  • Gears of War 2 (360)

  • Call of Duty 3 (Wii)

So one booth, Another Castle, was doing a ridiculous fire sale on Sunday. One of the aisles had 2 games for $5, or 5 for $10. Most of them were shooters or sports games, and I thought I’d grab some of the few that I missed out on for a good bargain.

GRAW and GRAW2 were pretty solid third-person shooters for their time. I don’t expect them to have aged gracefully, but the first one was the big action game people were playing on their 360s ’til Gears of War came along. Since I had gotten Future Soldier earlier in the year, I thought I might as well grab all the Ghost Recon games on the 360.

I had beaten Modern Warfare 3 in the past, back when I had a Gamefly subscription. Hell, I even wrote a blog on the shoddy PC port after dabbling in it on a Steam free weekend. This was basically the fifth game of the set. It was either this or EA’s Medal of Honor reboot from 2010, and I decided to go with the ridiculously over-the-top shooter as opposed to the copycat.

I always wanted to try Wii versions of popular 360/PS3 games, like Call of Duty 3. It felt like it was built for the Wii first considering the ridiculous quick-time events involving fighting enemy soldiers. Here’s hoping I can get used to waggle motions, as I had difficulty playing through Medal of Honor Heroes II with it’s weird first-person shooter/light gun hybrid control scheme.

Funny enough, the only Gears of War game I owned was the first. Heard great things about 2, and good things about the later ones. I bet this would be fun in co-op.

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About a day or so after I finished writing the last post about Counter-Life, I took a nap. When I woke up, I found out about this:

More CS:GO music kits.

Not only more of them, but practically doubling the total number of music kits from 16 to 30. I nearly fainted after that. This time it seems we’ve hit a big variety sampler pack, from returning artists to film composers, and even an interesting collaboration between Valve and a record company. In addition to the new music kits, they added “StatTrak” versions that keep track of the times you’ve become the MVP in competitive matches. It seems a bit silly, almost like a joke someone made to Valve without saying they were kidding afterwards.

Since I’ve written about the previous ones before, it’d be remiss of me not to continue the tradition. (You can see what I thought of the initial nine music kits here, and the later additions in February 2015 here.) Like before, I’m gonna write how I felt about each one, mentioning some of my favorite tracks, and whether or not it’s worth the $5-8 to grab, with a quick verdict at the end.

Now in the last collection, I had made videos of the new kits, but this time I passed on doing that. It’s not that it wasn’t fun to make, it’s that considering my meticulous nature for making these things, I would’ve been here all weekend working on something that’s already been eclipsed by other YouTubers for lesser effort. So instead I’ll be linking to the pages of the music kits on csgostash.com. just click on the album cover to be whisked away to a page where you can listen along.

So without further ado, let’s get started…

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If you haven’t noticed, I really like maps and mods. Mainly because I believe in new content being made by creators rather than developers packaged into $15 chunks. But also because people make really good mods.

Some of my favorite mods tend to be ones that only change that gameplay slightly while leaving the original content intact. Stuff like Police Brutality: wildweasel presents Terrorists!, like I mentioned in my Doom mods article a while back. So this time, I cover yet another one of those kind of mods.

So what happens when you take the world of Black Mesa in Half-Life, and throw in the guns from Counter-Strike? You get Counter-Life.

Gordon Freeman is a cold-ass motherfucker.

Gordon Freeman is a cold-ass motherfucker.

I remember this mod in its early days, back when I used to lurk on a Half-Life mod forum. It makes sense that this exists, considering the popularity of both.

“FOR GOD’S SAKE, OPEN THE SILO DOORS! SOME CRAZED MADMAN WITH A MAC-10 WANTS ME DEAD!”

So the story is identical to Half-Life: You play as Gordon Freeman, except instead of an HEV suit, you have a kevlar vest and you get to fight with more realistic weaponry. Basically this is more of a weapons mod than something like They Hunger, which not only had new weapons, but new levels and enemies as well.

The arsenal from Counter-Strike 1.6 is in full force here, from the classic USP, AWP, and Deagle; to the lesser-appreciated TMP and M249. Though there are some new weapons, such as the M4A1 having the M203 grenade launcher like in Half-Life, as well as a rocket launcher that almost resembles a LAW.

This is the weirdest rocket launcher I've ever seen...

This is the weirdest rocket launcher I’ve ever seen…

In addition, some of the weapons have features not in CS, such as the P90 having a zoom in scope, or the Glock 18 actually functioning like its real-life counterpart as a fully-auto pistol and not the weird Glock/Beretta 93R hybrid it’s been since the beginning. So while it’s not a 1-for-1 conversion of CS‘s arsenal, it works. Hell, in older versions, you could have akimbo USPs and Deagles, in addition to the Dual Berettas. Man, those would’ve been fun to use…

Silly Barney, why are you just leaving stacks of cash lying around?

Silly Barney, why are you just leaving stacks of cash everywhere?

So how do you get these guns? Well, in Counter-Strike, you’d go to a buy zone and buy weapons with money you earn. In Counter-Life, killing enemies give you cash that you can go to a Health Unit or an HEV Charge station to buy guns, ammo and other important things like health and armor. There’s also money strewn all over the place, so you’ll likely have plenty of cash to buy what you need. When you get to Xen, the Longjump Module in Half-Life doubles as a mobile buy zone, where you can refill ammo when you need to, but by then you can’t buy new guns, so make sure you got the weapons you want before you jump to the border world.

This probably looks weird to everyone but Gordon, just seeing a floating menu where you could buy stuff.

This probably looks weird to everyone but Gordon, just seeing a floating menu where you could buy stuff.

There is a catch to this weapons system, though: You can only have one of each weapon type. One pistol, one shotgun, one assault rifle, you get the picture. This means like in CS, you have to drop weapons to buy new ones. I’m not a big fan of this, because I believe in having bottomless pockets to hold practically everything. But it’s not a deal-breaker, it just means planning for what weapons to use in the next area. It doesn’t take long to adjust.

The only other gameplay difference involve the NPCs. Barney’s been upgraded from using a dinky Glock to a more powerful SPAS-12, and the grunts have powerful assault rifles and shotguns. I’m not sure why they made the changes, but I approve.

Man, this place has heavy god damn protection...

Man, this place has heavy god damn protection…

While I enjoy the mod, there are problems. In addition to the weapons system, ammo has to be bought at the health stations, which can be frustrating when there’s long gaps between finding those to refill. Not only that, with their new guns, grunts are literal aimbots and will kill you extremely quickly with their new inventory. Armor ends up being ineffective in these cases, which sucks having to fight them in later sections.

Get your quicksave buttons ready, cause you'll be using it a lot.

Get your quicksave button ready, cause you’ll be using it a lot.

That’s Counter-Life in a nutshell. There’s a multiplayer mode that converts some notable CS maps like Assault, Oilrig and Prodigy as well as one of the billion Dust clones that came out during its heyday, but any multiplayer for GoldSrc/Half-Life engine games these days are deader than a dodo. It also seems redundant considering Counter-Strike in itself is a multiplayer game. Perhaps if it had a co-op/survival mode instead, maybe then it would’ve been fun to play.

Your 5.56mm bullets are no match for the Gargantua's massive flame arms!

Your 5.56mm bullets are no match for the Gargantua’s massive flame arms!

Thankfully the mod is not lost to time, it’s on ModDB and was updated to be Steam-compatible around 2008. The developer has moved on to other projects, though I can’t see what else you could add to this besides support for other Half-Life levels. It’s worth a look, even though Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes is basically this but with extra polish. On the other hand, Counter-Life is free and requires only Half-Life to run.

Eh, I hate making choices. They’re both great, give both of them a spin. It’s a shame there was never a Counter-Life 2 for Half-Life 2. I’d totally play that with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘s weaponry…

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