Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Summon Cardboard Box!

Man, it’s been awhile since I’ve made a Magic card!

This one took a lot longer than it probably looks, mostly because I went to great lengths to actually make it as opposed to just snagging something off Google Images and slapping a filter on it.

If you want an example of how easy this card could’ve been to make, here’s an image that probably could’ve done the job just fine that I found in about 5 seconds of searching:

Pictured: The easy route.

Anyway, the card above is of course an homage to the famed cardboard box device from the Metal Gear series.

In all honesty, though I’ve played through every entry in the Metal Gear Solid series multiple times; I’ve rarely found a use for the cardboard box in any of them.

I know they’re useful for quickly jumping around the map via trucks and conveyors, but outside of punching Meryl to make the wolf pup pee on my box; I never really made use of them.

What?  You didn’t know about the wolf piss?

*ANYWAY* much like the old N64 Turok games, it’s hard to deny that Metal Gear games are big on loading you up with cool gadgets and abilities; only to end up giving you very little reason to use them.

Turok gave you awesome guns, but nothing to shoot at.

Metal Gear gave you an amazing range of abilities, but no real practical reason to employ them outside of for shits and giggles.

As fun as that looked in the trailers, for the life of me I never found a reason to do a barrel roll in Metal Gear Solid 4.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, let me know if the text on the card needs to be changed or anything.

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I Miss The “Old” Metal Gear Theme…

I miss the Metal Gear Solid theme.

More specifically, the old Metal Gear Solid theme.

That’s not to say the new theme music is bad, (it’s not) I just feel the old theme was a whole helluva’ lot better.

The composition was more interesting, the tune catchier, and the overall “feel” of the track seemed to fit the series like a glove.

For those that are unaware, the original Metal Gear Solid theme, used in all of the games up until the PSP exclusive Portable Ops; was removed from the series due to implications that the track had been plagiarized from an existing composition.

Composed by Tappi Iwase AKA TAPPY, the theme made it’s debut as the background music of the promotional trailers for Metal Gear Solid, and was also featured as an alternate ending theme:

The original version of the Metal Gear Solid theme was entirely synthesized, and had a very electronic and, unfortunately; “cheap” sound to it despite it’s instrumentation being intentionally implemented for the purpose of simulating an orchestral feel.

Despite it’s somewhat primitive sound, (at least by today’s standards) the theme possessed a rare combination of energy and catchiness that make it synonymous with the series to this day.

While the Metal Gear Solid theme was first featured in the game of the same name, the first time I can recall hearing it was actually in Konami’s Beatmania games on the orginal Playstation.

I had a couple of friends that had “Goldfingers” for their Playstations, and I remember one of them being really into Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution.

While I honestly wasn’t too keen on either of those games, (still aren’t) I remember playing a lot of co-op Beatmania specifically to hear the remix of the Metal Gear theme:

That, was my introduction to the Metal Gear Solid theme.

As a remix, it’s actually kind of shitty; however the core sound of the theme manages to give the track a lot of strength and memorability.

Gotta’ love that English dude yelling random shit in the background though…

I’M-GONNA’-KICK-YOUR-ASS.  PLEASE-DON’T-KILL-THEM-ALL!”

*Ahem!* Moving on, I think the last time we got to hear the Metal Gear Solid theme music, was in the sequel; Sons of Liberty.

Combining TAPPY’s previous motif with Hollywood film composer Harry “I do military themes that sound like Hans Zimmer’s early 90’s work” Gregson-William’s, this iteration of the theme represents my favorite version of it:

Essentially split into 2 halves, the first portion of the composition is essentially an orchestral and synthesized re-imagining of TAPPY’s original motif, while the second half is a decidedly more somber military march-esque tune composed primarily by Gregson-Williams.

The end result is a powerful and exhilarating theme that I had hoped would endure for years to come.

Sadly, this was not the case.

As mentioned earlier, facts surfaced regarding the composition of TAPPY’s portion of the theme that heavily implied that the tune was stolen from Russian composer Georgy Sviridov’s “The Winter Road”:

Most likely fearing a possible lawsuit, Konami pulled the tune from all subsequent Metal Gear Solid related productions, including Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

With the “old” theme gone, Konami ended up using Gregson-Williams’ half of the composition as the official theme of the series from that point forward.

As I said earlier, I really don’t have a problem with the “new” Metal Gear Solid theme, truth be told it’s rather good as far as themes go; it’s just that it simply doesn’t fit as well as it’s predecessor.

It’s like John William’s Superman theme:

You can make new movies, and you can reboot the series all you want, but the day you stop using Johnny’s theme music; is the day I stop believing a man can fly.

The original theme bore an energy and sense of urgency that really sucked you in.

If you closed your eyes listening to the Metal Gear Solid 2 version of it, I swear you could see Solid Snake running around chokin’ bitches in your head.

The “new” theme, which bears more than a few of Gregson-Williams’ somewhat one-dimensional compositional touches; feels a little slow and overblown if you ask me.

That being said, the Snake Eater version of Gregson-Williams’ theme was actually quite good:

Essentially a medley of most the major themes used in the game, the full length version of the Snake Eater theme was an intense and far more organic sounding track than previous compositions in the series.

Let it be known, the heavy percussive segment towards the end of this track is one of my favorite action cues in the entire series.

The instrumentation of the track did well to keep in line with the game’s dated Cold War setting and decidedly more somber tone by making use of a richer sounding orchestra, as well as a particularly effective acoustic guitar towards the end.

To date, the acoustic guitar version of the “new” theme remains my favorite version of it.

The Metal Gear Solid theme variant used in Metal Gear Solid 4, renamed “The Metal Gear Saga,” left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth:

While the core theme was retained, and the acoustic guitar element reused with the addition of a bugle for effect; the bulk of the track felt excessively busy and scattered.

The synthesized elements in particular stand out as being particularly noisy and extraneous, such that the track actually weakens the intensity of the sequence it plays over.

The Metal Gear Saga was used in a fight scene towards the end of the game, and I remember feeling genuinely disappointed upon hearing it.

Make no mistake, that scene was amazing; but the music that played over it, wasn’t the one I had been humming to myself while I was playing the game…

While I knew ahead of time about the lawsuit regarding the Metal Gear Solid theme music, I played through Metal Gear Solid 4 hoping against hope that Konami would sneak it in there in some capacity.

The “new” theme is passable, but suffers from fairly generic composition, largely brought on by Harry Gregson-Williams’ tendency to recycle his music… A LOT.

In my book, the “old” theme is the one true Metal Gear Solid theme music.

It’s what I hear in my head whenever I think of the series, and it’s what I scour the net for remixes of whenever I’m in the mood for good background music to write to.

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Thoughts On Call Of Duty: Black Ops

Since it’s release, I’ve had no less than 5 people tell me to by Call of Duty: Black Ops, usually because quote:

“Trust me, you’ll like it.”

That’s 5 different people inside of what, a week?

Now it should be noted that most of these people are not exactly close friends of mine, and are thusly unaware of how cheap/Azn/stingy I am when it comes to purchasing games, particularly at full retail price.

I suppose it also helps that I have a distinct phobia of register clerks, which makes the purchasing process all the more difficult.

We’ll get into that some other time…

Anyway, while I have yet to buy into the hype and pick myself up a copy of Black Ops, today I was fortunate to have the game quite literally brought to my door by my Krn buddy from up the street.

While both of us are veterans of the Call of Duty series, spanning all the way to the original title; my friend has been playing them online on his PS3 quite consistently in the past few years, making him a far more experienced player than myself.

I sort of dropped out of the series after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

I had it for the PC, and really enjoyed it for the most part, however I never played it online; and rarely caught myself missing it when I had to format my PC.

That being said, I would never consider any game in the Call of Duty series to be anything less than excellent.

Well, except maybe Call of Duty 3… And maybe Big Red One.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here, is that I’ve played COD, and I like COD, so don’t get butt hurt if it sounds like I’m being mean to your precious COD.

That being said, here’s my first impression of Black Ops after about 2-3 hours of online split screen play with my friend:

Black Ops makes me feel like an old man.

An old man with poor eyesight and shitty reflexes.

In short, like any online COD experience, the game is an insanely fast-paced rollercoaster ride of half second moments of awesome, followed by equally miniscule (yet all too frequent) moments of fail and butt hurt.

You run around, you shoot at things that move/have evil red words hanging over their head, and you die.

A LOT.

And yet, this unbelievably troglodytic cycle of mayhem and Red Bull fueled chaos somehow equates to something fun.

This is coming from somehow who’s probably played 10 hours of COD over the past 5 years, and just played Black Ops for the first time today.

What I mean to say is:

From what I can tell, I sucked pretty epicly at Black Ops my first time out.

My kill-death ratio was in the neighborhood of .70-.80, while my buddy’s was 2.0 even.

As mentioned above, the online component of Black Ops has an interesting (well, at least to me it’s interesting…) flow to it.

For a FPS newb such as myself, the game felt alarmingly fast, as if everything in the game world, my character included, was moving just a half beat quicker than I was ready for.

Then again, I’ve been playing Demon’s Souls and Metal Gear Solid 4 for the past several weeks, so by comparison; just about anything would seem fast…

Being a newb really hurt me in Black Ops.

At times, I found myself getting killed quite rapidly, to the point where it felt downright embarrassing.

Despite this, to it’s credit, Black Ops, like any COD game I’d imagine, manages to counter this quite well with it’s quick pacing.

In short, you simply aren’t given enough time to feel shitty about anything in the game, ’cause in most cases you’ll be back in the fight in no time anyway.

That being said, it should be noted that I felt myself “going numb” at times.

That is to say, I would kill and die, (mostly die) and do something cool every now and again, but everything came so clustered together, that I would just stop caring after awhile.

When you don’t care whether you live or die in a game, that either means that the stakes of the game aren’t all that important, the actual gameplay experience isn’t as meaningful as one would hope, or the player is someone that truly doesn’t give a fuck.

I was somewhere between the first and the last portions of the above statement, however I’d imagine it would really ruin someone’s day to find that their feelings coincide with the second.

Make no mistake, playing COD online is a very different beast from playing something like Demon’s Souls that severely punishes failure.

It’s an instant gratification game that punishes and rewards by inches, with all the worthwhile rewards only coming as a result of logging a great deal of playtime hours.

Personally, I prefer my games to have tangible stakes tied to my performance, however this is simply a case of personal preference.

Regardless, I died all the time when I was playing Black Ops, and while that pissed me off from time to time, particularly when I was getting my ass handed to me mere seconds after respawning, I’d usually forget about it once I got my legs back under me and scored a kill or 2.

In a sense, playing COD online is a strangely bipolar experience, with pleasurable and frustrated emotions coming and going as rapidly as they can manifest.

And they say A.D.D. isn’t a problem among the current generation…

From a features standpoint, while I can’t really compare it to the previous COD games all that much, I have to say, it seems like Black Ops has a lot going for it.

The equipment and perk customization is back, largely unchanged from it’s previous iterations.

The map selection is well varied, and seems adequate in quantity, with a number of the maps being tailor made for the Ground War mode in the sense that close-quarters engagements are almost a guarantee.

The Nazi Zombie mode from World At War is back, and seems to be a little more forgiving than it’s previous iteration.

That is to say, the weapons are more effective for the most part, and the initial map is far more spacious, lending the player a great deal more survivability due to their ability to turn tail and run if need be.

Outside of that though, Nazi Zombies feels largely the same, albeit with a lighter tone, a few campy power ups, and a more frantic pace.

Anyway, I only played Black Ops for a few hours, but those are my thoughts.

It seems like a pretty good game, though my lack of skill, combined with my recently adopted positive stance towards “deeper” gameplay experiences, leads me to believe that I probably won’t be buying another COD game anytime soon.

Sorry peoples that told me to by Black Ops, while I did indeed “like it,” I think I’m gonna’ hang onto my $60 for now.

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Metal Gear Online Is Fun. Like, REALLY Fun…

I’ve had a PS3 for less than a week now.

The only game I own at the moment, is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.

So far it’s pretty much all I could’ve hoped for in a next-gen, excuse me; “current-gen” Metal Gear.

Hell, for once the controls are actually, y’know; manageable…

Having played all of the “Solid” series pretty much to death, every element of the story feels like a wink from Hideo Kojima to his fans.

The scale and execution of the game’s story and cutscenes are far larger and Hollywood-ized than previous entries in the series, such that the whole thing feels a little cheesy and melodramatic, thusly making it somewhat hard to take seriously.

Huh, guess that’s actually a bad thing.

Hadn’t realized until I wrote out the words.

In either case, I’ve just reached Act 5 of Metal Gear Solid 4, and so far I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The fan-service is just enough to be “cute” rather than forced and annoying, but I’m really hoping that everything comes together at the end for a dignified and appropriate ending.

It’s the least they could give us after the awesome-ness that was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Anyway, that’s enough about the single-player mode of Metal Gear Solid 4, let’s get to the real reason I’m making this post tonight, namely the Metal Gear Online aspect of the game.

I have to admit, upon purchasing the game, I had no idea that Metal Gear Solid 4 had any sort of online component.

How that MASSIVE bit of information managed to skirt my periphery, I honestly don’t know; but regardless, I’m glad the folks over at Konami included it.

I’m not an online gamer.

Hell, these days it’s kind of hard to call me anything more than a “nostalgic, yet casual” gamer.

Other than a fair amount of Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike way back in middle school, I really haven’t invested much time in online gaming.

And no, I’ve never played an MMO game before either.

Despite this, being as my PS3 is my new “toy” at the moment, I figured I would play around online for a bit to see if it was any good.

Well, other than the fact that it took me an hour or 2 to register, create my character, log-in, and then find a server to connect to, I can honestly say, it’s very good.

For me anyway.

The whole game plays out using the same control scheme as in the single-player mode, ensuring that everyone that could beat the story mode, can at least be competitive in the multiplayer mode.

For whatever reason, I feel that the third-person gameplay monumentally improves the experience when compared to a first-person shooter.

I like being able to see my character on-screen, and I also enjoy the fact that the camera system has been tweaked in such a way that it remains advantageous to the player, while at the same time doing little to prevent ambushes from behind.

In short, the camera shows as much as you are accustomed to from the single-player game, while at the same time doesn’t allow you to see your backside or flanks.

Speaking of flanking, I love how much of the game is based around getting the drop on your opponents.

Because of the camera system, ambushes are not only easy to pull-off, they also occur at a much higher rate than you’d expect from an online shooter.

I remember back in the day when I’d try to get the drop on people in Counter-Strike, only end up being shot to shit on account of my opponent’s faster and more accurate mouse handling skills.

Either that or I wouldn’t be able to hit someone because they were bunny-hopping all over the place…

*Ahem!* Anyway, though it comes as a great surprise to me, I’m really enjoying Metal Gear Online.

I love that they implemented the CQC mechanics into the gameplay.

I love that they incorporated Solid Snake as a third-party participant in some of the online matches.

And I love that after all these years I’ve finally found a multiplayer game I actually enjoy!

Anyway, sorry about the somewhat flat post, I’m busy with trying to fix my computer and play around on my PS3 at the same time…

Filed under: Games, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Azn Badger Bought A PS3

"RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!!!"

Let me tell you a sad story.

Well okay, not a real sad story, but as sad and as, uh, story-ish as a true tale from the life of a middle-class blog writer can be.

There once was a boy, half-Japanese, and vaguely badger-esque, who bought an HD TV without having any HD devices.

The boy spent the next 4-5 months with all the visual splendor that is 1080p just beyond his grasp.

For 4-5 months, the boy played Gamecube and Super NES on his brand new HD TV.

Mostly Super NES though, 'cause as we all know; Gamecube is ass.

Finally, after years of being a very cheap, and decidedly “pussy-ass” badger the Azn Badger has gone and bought himself a PS3.

That being said, with my new “toy” finally bringing the true wonders of HD to my home, it’s been a little bit hard to find the time and inspiration to write a post for tonight.

Hell, you guys should be happy I even remembered to write anything.

Anyway, expect to hear my impressions of my new console, and the various softwares I inevitably purchase for it, in the very near future.

Oh yeah, I typed this post half-blind on account of my laptop getting another malware, and my dad’s monitor resolution being so freaking messed up that my WordPress interface is covering half of the text field.

Also, I can’t post images from dad’s computer on account of “IO Error.”

Hopefully there are no typos, ’cause I can’t see them if there are…

See you tomorrow for more PS3 goodness!

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