Sunday, January 25, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

2008 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Results and Super Bowl Prediction

One more game left in the entire season. It seems like I wait all year for football season, and then it's over just like that. Oh well.

Cardinals 32, Eagles 25
This game was out of control in the first half, until Donovan McNabb brought the Eagles storming back in the third quarter. It was too little, too late, though.

Steelers 23, Ravens 14
Exactly what I expected, except for the final result. A close game all the way, much closer than the final score shows.

2008 Playoff Prediction Record: 3-7

Super Bowl XLIII: Arizona Cardinals vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cardinals are like the late, great Rodney Dangerfield: they get no respect. They've got a QB whose career should have been over years ago, a couple of wide receivers who are great on the field, but not so much off of it, and a running back who was cast off a Super Bowl team because he didn't have it any more, even though he clearly still does. The Steelers have the best defense in the NFL, a QB who looks like he's got at least one more Super Bowl in him, and a 2-man rushing combo that's been the hallmark of the last two Champions. I have a soft spot for underdogs, and I'm tempted to pick the Cardinals. Defense wins championships, though, so I'm going the other way and picking the Steelers.

Check back in two weeks for the Super Bowl result.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2008 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Results and Conference Championship Predictions

A weekend of upsets! Here's the rundown for this weekend's Divisional games, and my predictions for next weekend's Conference Championship games.

Ravens 13, Titans 10
The Ravens still have a stifling defense, but they've proven they can score points, too. Look out!

Cardinals 33, Panthers 13
Are the Cardinals really for real? Or are they just extreme overachievers?

Eagles 23, Giants 11
And the champions have fallen! Eli goes home one week after his brother does. Guess we'll have to wait til next year for a Manning Bowl. Here's hoping!

Steelers 35, Chargers 24
The Steelers still have that stifling defense, but they've proven they can score points, too. Look out!

2008 Playoff Prediction Record: 3-5

Now on to next week's games.


6 Philadelphia Eagles at 4 Arizona Cardinals
A 9-6-1 team goes up against a 9-7 team for the NFC Championship. Welcome to the NFL, where the postseason is almost as wacky as the BCS! The Cardinals simply aren't good enough to beat the Eagles, even in Arizona. Eagles win.


6 Baltimore Ravens at 2 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens and the rookie QB are for real. The Steelers are going to be tough, and while they beat Baltimore twice during the season, both wins were very close and could have gone the other way. Ravens win the upset.

Check back next week for results and my Super Bowl prediction.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Tale of Two Sequels

After I finished Fallout 3 (I ran through the story once as a good guy, then got halfway through a second time as an asshole before getting bored) and got my own copy of Rock Band 2, I needed a new game to rent and play. After 5 minutes at the video store, I decided that game would be Saints Row 2.

I had purchased the original Saints Row for my 360 and enjoyed it, even with the bugs and other assorted bullshit. At the time, it was the only GTA-like experience on the current-gen consoles. Since then, GTA4 had hit, and I wasn't sure how well Saints Row 2 would stack up.

Turns out it stacked up pretty well, just for different reasons. Saints Row 2 doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as GTA4, and isn't even half as long as GTA4 (I finished the main storyline in about 24 hours), but it's a whole lot of fun. There were only a handful of aggravating spots, and almost no bugs to speak of. Controls, story, graphics, and voice acting were all great. Thumbs up for Saints Row 2.

Since I was done with Saints Row 2 after a couple of weeks, I needed another game, hopefully one that that would last a bit longer. After checking online, the consensus was that Far Cry 2 was a free-roaming sandbox type game that boasted 60 hours of gameplay. One trip to the video store later and Far Cry 2 was in my possession.

For the first 5 hours, it was great. It took some getting used to, as it's not only an FPS on a console, but getting shot is much more fatal than GTA or Saints Row. Once I tackled the learning curve, though, I was off gathering conflict diamonds, shooting people, and blowing shit up. Far Cry 2 is kind of like if GTA was set in Africa. Go here, get mission, kill people or blow something up, get paid, buy weapons, shoot more people, get another mission, etc.

There was just one problem. In Far Cry 2, you have "buddies" which help you out with main mission objectives and rescue you if you get dropped in the field. Just like you, though, they're very mortal, and if they get dropped, you have to heal them or they'll bleed out and die. Once they're dead, they're dead forever. You can also "mercy kill" them if you don't feel like healing them, but there's absolutely no reason to do that. You don't get any money, you don't get their weapons, and you lose them as a resource. So the bottom line is you should protect your buddies and heal them if they're injured. Which I did.

But then I had a mission where one of my buddies derailed a train and set up an ambush. I was tasked with helping him clean up. Imagine my surprise when I rode up in my truck to his ambush location to find him dead and enemies swarming the area. I went on a hate-fuled rampage and then loaded game, because I didn't want to lose my buddy. Take 2, this time I roll up, only to see him blast a guy, and then two seconds later drop dead. At first I thought someone had shot him, but there were no enemies left in the area, not even a hidden sniper. What was stranger was that he wasn't injured and in need of healing (like would usually happen), he was just dead, game over, end of story. At this point, I was supremely pissed. I really didn't want to do the whole thing over a third time, because from my last save to this point there was a shitload of combat and driving to be done. I managed to reason with myself that this was part of the storyline. I drive up, too late to save my buddy, and he goes out in a hail of gunfire. Sure, fine, whater.

I continue on, now with only one "rescue-ready" buddy, not a mission helper buddy. There's another potential buddy back at base, but she doesn't trust me enough yet to help me out with missions. So I'm rolling along doing side missions trying to avoid the story until I can get another buddy, and I get taken down while I'm out hunting down an assassination target. My buddy rescues me, we gun down the rest of the enemies, and I go off on my merry way. I stop by the arms dealer to spend my ill-gotten gains, then save my game. I go out on another side mission, get taken down again by enemies, and am confronted with the loading screen, rather than being rescued by my buddy.

My Spidey-sense tingles, but I load game. I check my journal, and my buddy shows as "mercy-killed." What the fuck? I didn't mercy kill anyone. Out of curiosity, I check the status of my earlier buddy, and he shows "mercy-killed" too. It's at this point that I realize not only was his death a bug, but this death was also a bug. I had left my rescuer alone in the wilderness, but like all times before it, I expected him to get back safe, and instead, he just dropped dead at some point and became listed as "mercy-killed."

Nevertheless, I was still having fun with the game and soldiered on. I went to the main faction's HQ to get a new mission, but there wasn't one available. Instead, I was tasked with rescuing a prisoner. Ah, finally, a new buddy. I go to the place, gun down the guards, and open the prisoner's cell. She says she's glad to see me, and tells me to go ahead and eliminate any reinforcements. I leave, expecting her to follow. I wait at the main entrance, watching for reinforcements, but none show. I shrug, and get in my truck and start driving back to base. I then realize that my GPS is still showing the rescue target. So I turn around and go back, expecting to see my buddy still standing in the cell or something equally stupid. But there's no one there. Yet my GPS continues to blink, "You're supposed to rescue someone here." I wander around the camp, hoping those mysterious reinforcements will show up so I can gun them down and advance the mission, but still nothing. Furious now, I drive back to base. What a surprise, there's the rescued prisoner. But she has nothing to do with me, because the game still thinks she hasn't been rescued. I rest, thinking that will do it. No dice. "You're supposed to rescue someone here."

Load game. Get rescue mission again, gun down guards, unlock cell. Go on ahead, reinforcements, we'll meet back at base. I lead the way backwards, trying to see if she'll follow me, but she just stands there dumbly in her cell. I leave the camp and return, and the guards have respawned, but I pretend they're reinforcements and gun them down. She's gone from the cell. I return to base, she's there, but I still can't talk to her. I can't take another mission because this one isn't completed. I can't finish the mission, even though I did what I was supposed to do. At this point, I hit the PS button, select "Quit game," eject the disc, and am forever done with Far Cry 2. It took me 9 hours to hit a game-killing bug. Fan-fucking-tastic. Big thumbs down for Far Cry 2.

Monday, January 05, 2009

2008 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Results and Divisional Predictions

Could I be any more wrong? Here's the rundown for this weekend's Wild Card games, and my picks for next weekend's Divisional games.

Cardinals 30, Falcons 24
Matt Ryan looked like a rookie quarterback, mostly because the Cardinals D-line made a living in the backfield all day. Kurt Warner may not be the future of the Cardinals, but for now, Arizona moves on.

Eagles 26, Vikings 14
Having one amazing rusher doesn't mean much when the other team has a pretty damn good rusher and a pretty damn good QB to boot.

Chargers 23, Colts 17
I'll let Indianapolis' Defensive End Dwight Freeney sum up this game: “Those were the worst [expletive] calls I’ve seen in a long time. To have a game of that magnitude taken out of your hands, it’s just disgusting. It’s not like they made one [expletive] bad call – it’s three calls, in overtime. On one the ball’s 50 feet over [Chambers’] head. And they have the nerve to call defensive holding? When they can’t even call one friggin’ offensive holding the whole game? What’s going on? They need to start investigating some other [expletive].” Well said, Mr. Freeney.

Ravens 27, Dolphins 9
Joe Flacco did not look like a rookie quarterback, but Chad Pennington did. I'm curious to see if any team throws the ball Ed Reed's way ever again.

2008 Playoff Prediction Record: 0-4

Now on to next week's games.


4 Arizona Cardinals at 2 Carolina Panthers
From beating a team that no one expected to go to the playoffs to meeting a team that could very well go all the way, Arizona's playoff road ends here. Panthers win.

6 Philadelphia Eagles at 1 New York Giants
The Eagles are surprisingly good when it counts, and it's for that reason I'm picking them in an upset over the champion Giants. Eagles win.


4 San Diego Chargers at 2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Fuck the Chargers. Steelers win.

6 Baltimore Ravens at 1 Tennessee Titans
Remember how no 6th seeded team had ever won a Super Bowl, and then the Steelers did just that 3 years ago? I think it might be time for that again. Ravens win.

Check back next week for results and more predictions.