Monday, November 27, 2006

Playing With My Wii

Now that I've had more time to spend with the Wii, I'm prepared to offer some additional thoughts on the subject. Gather the children for lo I am about to speak!

I can't say which company will end out on top when this latest generation's battle is over, however I can say that playing games on the Wii is probably the most fun I've had playing video games in some time. There's something joyous about doing simple movements and then seeing those movements replicated on screen that can't be experienced on the other consoles. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy playing Gears of War, and Uno and sneaking around as a corporate whore, both on and off of the 360, however playing Zelda on the Wii is just way more fun.

Now, it could be that it's because I'm playing Zelda and Zelda has always had a special place in my heart. Before we adopted my son, I bought Wind Waker for the Gamecube and told myself that if I could just play a little Zelda before I went on a continent spanning journey to obtain an heir, I'd be happy. At the time, I thought that once I came home with a child, all video game playing would cease, so even a little Zelda would be better than no Zelda at all. Foolish, I know, but you try preparing to go halfway around the world and become a parent at the same time and see how rational your thinking is. I remember playing Zelda downstairs while my wife and her parents waited upstairs for me to finish so that we could go to the airport. Something about riding in my little red boat, searching for sunken chests and the next island to explore gave me great calm before my own trip. Besides, if this little dude in a green tunic can rescue an entire world from evil, surely I can handle a 7 month old child. When we were in Russia, I spent the time in the Wan (not a typo) playing A Link to the Past on my GBA SP, and again, were it not for Zelda all I would have had were my thoughts of potential parental failures and a slight case of nausea brought on by the infernal smell of that place.

Based on this, I can recognize that I'm not entirely objective when it comes to Zelda, however at the same time, these games kick a tremendous amount of ass, regardless of the personal baggage you bring with you on your journey. The game's art direction is something to behold, with the Twilight portions being particularly impressive. When in the Twilight Lands, or whatever they're called, everything has a somewhat blurred, intangible look, with washed out colors and pieces of ash constantly floating up from the ground to the sky. Once you return the light to whatever area you're in, the colors are strong and vibrant and each person has a distinct personality that comes through in their character design. This is particularly important given that there's no voice acting to portray personality. Zelda games have always had somewhat goofy yet completely endearing character design for the various folks you meet along the way and this game is spot on in that regard.

The control scheme works very well. I took a short break from Zelda to play Gears of War the other night and was surprised to see how much I missed being able to control my character with a flick of the wrist, or a shake of the controller. I also missed the ability to use my controller as a pointer of sorts for shooting, as once you have the ability to do that with the Wii, you'll hate going back to the dual stick mode of aiming. Locking on to multiple targets with Link's boomerang is so much easier than it used to be with the Gamecube's klugy C-stick. It's unfortunate that the current crop of shooters for the Wii have been knocked for not having enough content (Call of Duty 3) or just being generally mediocre (Red Steel) because the limited time I've spend shooting things in Zelda has opened my eyes to how much a shooter would kick ass on this platform. I have high hopes for Metroid Prime Corruption as I seriously doubt that Nintendo would allow one of their premiere franchises fail on their shiny new console. That and Retro Studio's talents are such that they could coax life from the cold, unforgiving rock of a barren planet.

Everything isn't perfect with Zelda as I find that in wolf form, attacking is a somewhat haphazard affair filled with me spazzing out and barking like some sort of enraged rottweiler. The speaker on the Wiimote is not quite up to the task, so while it's cute to hear the various Zelda sounds that designate progress coming from your controller, the speaker makes it sound like your Wiimote is calling you from a third world payphone. These are minor problems and in no way reduce your enjoyment of the game but they are "growth points" for the next game in the series.

Wii Sports continues to mock my lack of fitness by giving me an ever increasing Fitness Age. At the rate I'm going, I'm afraid Nintendo is going to disable my Wii remotely for fear that my heart will explode under the stress of trying to hit multiple home runs. The wife and I played some Super Monkey Ball, but because of the shortage of controllers, we were limited to the mini games that had alternating play. The Hammer Throw mini game is an inspired piece of game design. Darts is a mockery of all that is good and pure in the world. With 50+ mini games some are going to be great, and some will be less that great. I'm dissappointed that Monkey Target is a simultaneous play game as the original Monkey Target from Super Monkey Ball was one of the greatest minigames of all time, and it was alternating. Why they had to mess with perfection is beyond me. The single player game is a great deal of fun, and the Wiimote works beautifully for controlling your monkey. The single player game now has boss battles, which seems out of place for a puzzle game. I've only encountered one of these bosses, and quickly dispatched him by using my monkey's protective shell to cave in the boss's skull. Rated E for everyone!

I'm hoping that Nintendo has arranged for a steady stream of titles for this console, as I'd hate to see it go the way of the 'Cube with it's thrice yearly releases. So far it appears that there's plenty on the horizon for it, but I would like to see some more meaty offerings to counter the minigame collections. Don't get me wrong, I love minigames, but sometimes I want a story to go along with my gameplay. I'm funny that way.

As I said before, I have no idea who will win this console war, but I'm having more fun than ever playing games, and when that happens, we all win. Well, at least I win, and really, that's all I'm concerned with.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the good old U S of A. For those in foreign countries, happy Thursday the 23rd of November!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Team Wiinky

Huzzah! The era of the Wii is upon us. As the title of this post suggests, I have named my Wii "Team Wiinky" to coincide with my Xbox gamertag "Team Binky". I find it important to have synergy across my gaming platforms. No doubt, you agree.

Boy, what a weekend this was. Two, count 'em two console launches in one weekend. I'm wondering how the folks at Sony feel. On the one hand, they sold every console they put in the retail channels and they got a whole bunch of press while doing so. On the other hand, most of the people who bought the console seemed to be doing so to sell it, and a lot of the press around the launch had to do with people being shot, stabbed and forced into lampposts at jaw shattering speeds. Granted, that last one was more a result of retail level stupidity, but given the abysmally small number of units available at launch, it's hard to be surprised that stores resulted in such shenanigans to ring in the event.

The Nintendo launch sold every unit put into retail, as long as every extra goddamn controller imaginable, and got a whole bunch of press while doing so. In contrast to the Sony launch, the press for the Nintendo launch seemed to be around how much fun the damn thing is. Granted, press is press, however if I had to choose between being known for being fun, and being known for people having violence befall them by associating with me, I'd choose the former. Sony appears to be in their own little world in regards to their console business, so who knows which they'd prefer.

Before we go any further with my impressions of the Wii, I need to share something with you. Today, I purchased a video game that might very well go down in history as one of the strangest games ever. It is "Sneak King", made by the fine folks at Burger King, and stars the Burger King as a stealthy purveyor of Burger King products. My reasons for purchasing the game were twofold. One, is that my sisters is freaked out by the Burger King as much as I am, and when she comes to visit at Christmas, she will undoubtedly find this game to be as hilarious as I do.

My other reason is that the game has undeniable charm. The back of the box outlines your mission, which is, as the Burger King to "unleash your hot sandwiches" upon the hungry citizens of your immediate vicinity. I find that phrase to be particularly compelling, in a number of literary situations, however erotic fiction is what first comes to mind. For example:
"Unleash your hot sandwiches" he murmured to her, breathless with passion.

She did so with a fleshy "Whump!". They were double whoppers.
See? Genius! Your job, as the Sneak King is to skulk around unsuspecting people and provide them with food before they collapse with hunger. The more burgers you deliver, unseen, in a row, the more points you get. If you do something particularly skillful like get very close to your victim, or hide in a trash can or other suitable container, or provide the food with a Flourish move suitable of your regal trappings, your score increases. Make no mistake, despite his cheerful grin and jaunty dance moves, the Burger King is every bit as lethal in his mission as Sam Fisher is in the Splinter Cell series. The only difference is Fisher strikes with lethal precision while the Burger King strikes with dance moves and heart disease. To be honest, I'm not sure what is more disturbing, the fact that you spend your time hiding in a refuse container with a food item, or how happy people are to see you spring out of a trash dump with an omelet sandwich.

But enough of that, on to the Wii. I'll be brief and just say that so far, I am having a tremendous amount of fun with it, and not just me, but Linda is also sharing in on the mirth. The unit is very small and sleek looking and was a breeze to set up. The sensor bar is much, much smaller than I expected it to be and is easily mounted with the provided double-stick tape. In fact, peeling the backing off of the tape was the hardest part of the whole set up. My fingernail still hurts!

Once we had the unit set up, I made the mistake of configuring the internet connections, which then caused TW to go out and obtain the necessary firmware upgrades to enable the Virtual Console and the Wii Shopping Channel. Given that everyone and their mother were doing the same thing, this took roughly nine hours. In fact, it took so long that we fired up the 360 and played some Uno while waiting. Luckily, the use of the Wiimote made it much easier to enter in my 8 hojillion character WEP key than doing so with the 360 controller, however what I made up in character entry time, I lost in sitting around and waiting time. Eventually we were all connected, could see the games to download and opted instead to play Wii Sports.

Wii Sports is a ton of fun, and while it may not be a game you keep on playing for months and months, it does a good job of getting non-gamers playing, and it shows what the console is capable of. Tennis is fun, as is bowling and the hitting part of Baseball. The pitching part isn't particularly challenging. Boxing seems unresponsive to me, however I may just need to spend more time with it. I haven't played golf yet but hope to soon. Controls are simple to use and are very accessible.

On the aforementioned bowling, it would appear that Linda is a natural, while I have carried over my real life bowling problems, only magnified about a billion times. While she was throwing straight ball after straight ball and closing out frames, I kept hooking to the left and missing completely. At one point, Linda turned to me and said "This must be frustrating for you. This is how you bowl in real life." Ouch. That's my wife ladies and gentlemen, put a controller in her hand and she gets in your head and starts destroying your will to compete. At the end of the game, she had bowled in the 130's, while I had bowled in the 30's. Since then, I have fixed some problems with my stroke and have managed to break 100, but only after some serious tinkering.

I have also found out, thanks to this game, that my Fitness Age is 57. That seems about right. In fact, it's downright generous.

I haven't played much of Zelda, 28 minutes to be exact, thanks to my daily Wii message, but so far it's a lot of fun. The game looks good, not 360 good, but pretty damn impressive for the platform. The jaggies that come with progressive scan are a little annoying, but they're easy to overlook once you get into the game. The controllers seem to be a good fit, however I haven't done anything combat related yet, so my opinion may change. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. Hopefully the soreness in my arms as a result of Wii Sports will fade once I have to start swinging the Master Sword. Otherwise, we're going to have some problems. Note, this is not a condemnation of the Wii's control scheme, but of me being an out of shape slob.

Super Monkey Ball has yet to be opened, but I think I need to spend more time with the controllers before I attempt to take Linda down in a fit of simian oneupmanship. I fear her Monkey Boxing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flying Solo

The wife is traveling on business, hence the title of this post. Invariably, when this happens, one of the children pees all over the bathroom floor. Not sure what it is about the absence of a mother figure that makes this happen, but it's happened the last two times now, so I'm thinking the events are connected. Last time was a result of Ben not making it to the bathroom in time. Easy enough to clean up, what with the tile floor and all. This time, Abby was running around naked, waiting for her bath to be ready and decided that the bathroom didn't have enough water in it. She seemed pretty proud of herself so it was hard to be mad, but having one more task added to the list wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Ah, children, they sure do know how to make more work for you, don't they?

The era of the Wii has officially begun at our house as today I picked up my first Wii game, Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz. Granted, I don't have anything to play it on, and won't for several days, but when Gamestop calls to tell you that your game is in, it is in your interests to go and pick it up. They had a drawer filled with Wii offerings including Red Steel, Call of Duty 3 and Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam. To say that the drawer looked delectable would be an understatement. Before he could relinquish the title, the clerk had to call someone of authority to inquire as to which titles, 1st party or 3rd party he could sell. As Super Monkey Ball is 3rd party Nintendo was comfortable with letting the game out of it's steely grasp. Why this is an issue at all, given that the console, an integral part of the game playing experience, isn't out until Sunday is beyond me. I'm sure Nintendo is just looking out for our best interests and don't want us to mar the Zelda disc with copious amounts of drool.

I am happy to see that the initial Wii game reviews are, for the most part, positive, with folks saying that the control scheme works for both puzzle games such as the aforementioned Super Monkey Ball title, action games like Zelda and shooters like Call of Duty 3. The review I'm waiting for is Red Steel as I have more of an interest in the story of that game than I do reliving WWII yet again, however if COD3 is the only way I can get my shoot on until Metroid Prime 3, then so be it. I find it interesting that some reviews state that the controls are kind of wonky and then some say that the controls take some time getting used to and calibrating but once you do, it kicks ass and anyone who thinks that the controls are wonky haven't spent enough time with the game. I guess this is really going to be a case of personal preference, so I'll have to make sure I tread with caution as if I find I don't like the controls for a game, it's not like I can go and return it. Then again, there's always Costco.

I am currently watching "Hellboy: Sword of Storms" the latest Hellboy animated movie. It's quite good and is voiced by the actors and actresses from the movie, including Doug Jones who did Abe Sapien's body motions. Ron Perlman is his usual fantastic self and, at this point, any non-print Hellboy project without Perlman as Hellboy would be tantamount to blasphemy. The movie has a lot of cool Japanese imagery and mythology and, more importantly, big beasties getting the beatdown by Hellboy, something I felt the feature film lacked. They're currently in the midst of editing the next animated film "Hellboy: Blood and Iron" and Hellboy 2, the live action pic is a go, so fans of Big Red have a lot to look forward to.

Finally, without getting into too much detail, we found out today that our daughter does not have Cystic Fibrosis. As you can well imagine, this is a huge load off of our minds. Something still isn't right in the state of Denmark as she's not growing as much as she should be, but thankfully, the thing that's not making her grow enough isn't a disease that would cap her life span at 30. I am perfectly content to have my daughter grow up to be the world's smallest octogenarian, just as long as she grows up.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Honey, I Shaved the Dog

"And I bought clippers so I can shave the dogs!"

I'm standing in my kitchen, watching my wife's obvious excitement regarding her most recent purchase and thinking that perhaps coming home for lunch wasn't the best idea. A bowling trip at work had fallen through so I thought I'd come home and play a little Marvel Ultimate Alliance. When I called Linda to tell her, she told me that she was out getting her hair cut. Fair enough. Along with going to get her hair cut, she also stopped at Target and purchased the implements sher was so very, very excited about. I had no response.

"The clippers were only 25 bucks and we spend 100 dollars every time we go take them to the groomer. I mean, how hard can it be? And look, it came with a DVD! Besides, I think it'll be a funny story."

There aren't a lot of ways to respond to your wife when she comes home with clippers and every intention of shaving your dogs. You can try and offer token resistance to the idea, but doing so will only delay the inevitable. No sir, when your wife wants to shave the dogs, there's really nothing else to do but strap in and go for the ride.

Lunch was uneventful. We had Wendy's, I beat up some folks with Ghost Rider and then went back to work. About an hour later a message from Linda pops up:

"These clippers aren't working so well."

Before I can respond, the phone rings. It's Linda and she's laughing hysterically. Things have not been going well. I can't say I'm surprised. A brief background on my dogs. Due to her Pomeranian nature, Maggie has wiry hair that could be gathered, tied to a stick and used as a brush for cleaning grill grates. She's also on a hair trigger and is not the kind of dog that would react well to loud, whirring blades just inches from her person. Henry is the calm one, however he's covered in warts that are in various stages of scabbing over, has large deposits of fat roaming under his skin and has teeth that are held in his mouth by only plaque and whatever pieces of dog shit he just ate. Between his mouth and whatever seems to be eating him from the inside, his odor ranges from somewhat unpleasant to horrific bordering on assault. He's not a dog that you'd want to have panting around you due to being clipped, nor is he one you'd want to have to, you know, touch and certainly not clip lest you gouge a wart or a fat deposit. What I'm saying here, is that attempting to groom these dogs on one's own is the very definition of "not going well."

Linda proceeds to tell me that she started shaving Maggie but the clippers weren't doing a very good job with Maggie's hair. Then the clippers started making a weird noise. Then the clippers started heating up to the point that they burned Linda's hands. Then they started making even weirder popping noises. Wisely, she chose to unplug them at this point. She said that she was going to switch over to the clippers that I use to cut my hair, and just buy me new clippers. Why clippers that are used to cut human hair, hair that isn't used as the organism's sole protection against the elements would be better than clippers used to cut dog hair is beyond me, however I've used my clippers on a number of occasions and never once have I lost use of my hands as a result.

An hour or so later I got another message:

"Maggie half done. I'll finish her later."

Later? Later when? This did not bode well for the lack of involvement on my part, something which had been promised up and down, backwards and forwards. At this point, I got up from my chair, went over to my teammates and said "I bet I'll be shaving my dog tonight". A word of caution. This is a statement that, when said without prior qualification, will be greeted with stares of quiet befuddlement mixed with a fear that you might become violent at any moment. Once I described the situation, my team was in agreement that I'd be spending my evening as a canine hairstylist.

When I got home, I was greeted by a dog that was, in fact half shaved. Her head, shoulders and top half of her was shaved, the bottom was not. It looked like she was wearing some sort of hair skirt. It was not pretty. There were also random tufts of hair in places where her hair kind of grew together at weird angles. In short, it looked like the work of someone who had watched a DVD and then attacked their dog with a set of molten hot clippers.

Abby was in a mood that night, and it was my night to put her to bed. Afterwards I heard the sounds of the tv mingled with clippers coming from our bedroom. Ben was sitting in our bed watching TV while Linda was shaving the dog in the bathroom. The amount of hair on the floor and on the ottoman that Maggie was standing on looked like someone sprinkled a litter of puppies around the bathroom. Maggie was pretty calm, I'm assuming from grim resignation. Linda wasn't faring any better than earlier. It was at this point that the good husband in me took over and I told her to give Ben a bath while I finished shaving the dog.

Surprisingly enough, I am a particularly adept dog groomer. The key is to go with the hair, cutting it to one length and then shaving it down to the length you want. It's still not perfect as I don't know how to trim around the paws. I did not watch the DVD. Maggie also has rows in her fur that look like she's a piece of farmland, a casualty of whatever guard we used on my clippers. When I was done, I vacuumed up the dog hair, cleaned said hair out of the vacuum and threw it out. It was a relatively unsettling sight as it looked like a rabbit died and we were trying to dispose of the body.

Henry I refused to touch for the reasons I mentioned before so Linda is on her own with him. At present he's half way finished as well. Apparently my clippers weren't very useful on him as they just kind of pushed the hair around rather than cut it. As a result, his head and body are shaved, but his legs aren't which makes it look like he's walking on the legs of a dog twice his size. It's all very unsettling. All weekend long he had a tuft of hair sticking up between his eyes and three long hairs coming out of his chin. Thankfully Linda trimmed those up as they were starting to freak me out.

Now the search is on for new clippers for the dogs. Most of the models we've seen cost around 100 bucks, but given that one trip to the groomer's costs that much, they'll probably be worth it. I'm assuming that for 100 bucks they'll actually cut hair and not singe your hands. I'm not sure which one of those is more important. Probably the latter as I can deal with long haired dogs but not with a wife with gnarled, blackened stumps for hands. We've already purchased new clippers for me, complete with a cape, something like 3 dozen guards and an apparatus for trimming my eyebrows. This last one is intriguing, yet scary at the same time.

The next day I told my team that I spent my evening shaving the dog. Again, the lack of a qualification before that statement caused them to look at me as if I could hurt them at any moment. This time I didn't explain as it's fun having them think I could snap at any moment. Maybe tomorrow I'll come in with some clipper hanging off my belt and really freak them out.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An Open Letter to the Democrats

Howdy. Please excuse my getting political today, but the recent elections were pretty dang important and I don't want them to pass without dishing my completely useless opinion on them. Don't worry, we'll be back to stupid posts about games on Friday. As a sneak peak, me likey Gears of War!

Ahem, yes, where was I? Right. Yay Democrats, you won! Or is that the Republicans lost? Hard to say, and as of right now, it really doesn't matter, however you can bet your sweet bippy those particulars will be pretty damn important 2 years from now when it comes time to pick a new president.

My personal opinion is that the traditional conservatives and Reagan era Republicans just put the Republican party on time out until the party can stop acting like assholes and play nice. Now, if the next presidential election were a reelection campaign, I wouldn't be too optimistic about the GOP changing up what it does, however it isn't, so rest assured that the Democratic nominee won't be the only person running an "I'm not Bush" campaign. If you don't think that a nominee would attempt to distance themselves from the previous president from the same party, allow me to introduct you to Mr. Gore. Mr. Gore, the Democrats. Democrats, Mr. Gore. This being the case, it is vitally important that you, as a party, start figuring out just who the hell you are and what the hell you stand for, independent of who is running against you.

Given that you have 2 years to do this, I wouldn't say that it's insurmountable, however you do need to stop being so goddamn afraid of how the Republicans portray you. Granted, now is probably the best time to be portrayed as the opposite of the GOP, however Americans have notoriously short memories, and it won't be long before people start buying into the same old GOP bullshit about Dems being soft on terror and anti-freedom and blah, blah, blah. You need to come up with a platform that addresses the salient criticisms of the Republicans, ignores the inflammatory bullshit ones, and more importantly, gives the average voter an understanding of what they're voting for when they vote Democrat. You've bloodied the bully's nose at this point, do those few things and you'll kick the living shit out of him.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty happy at what went down yesterday, and with the recent stepping down of Rumsfeld, I'm approaching gleeful, I just want to make sure that 2 years from now we're not where we were 2 years ago, which is to say watching from the sidelines as the country gets reamed. So, enjoy your victory, put the President on mute during his conference call with you so that you can all snigger and make faces, but when Congress reconvenes in January, don't take anything for granted and get to fucking work.



Monday, November 06, 2006

Gears of Commerce

Greetings friends and neighbors and welcome to the first November post. This November is shaping up to be the cruelest month, in terms of cash outlay. In fact, this week alone has a barrage of retail offerings like none I have seen in recent memory. Between Gears of War, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Call of Duty 3, FEAR, Guitar Hero 2 and Elite Beat Agents, you're looking at a cash outlay of three hundred and twenty five American dollars. Granted, three of those games are niche games for those who long to skate, rock out and beat elitely, but even if you just like straight up shooting shenanigans you're looking at 180 bucks. More if you can't resist the super collector's editions with their art books and their shiny tins.

Next week brings the PS3 with it's $500 minimum price tag. The weekend after that is the Wii at $250 for the console and upwards of $180 to allow others to play with you. With the Wii, you could get away with just purchasing the console as long as you're content to bowl and play other sports until you can save up enough to buy some other games, but with the PS3, unless you're lucky enough to score a Blu-Ray copy of Talledega Nights in the box, you may want to purchase some games for your newfangled video game player.

By my estimation, the only way you could play everything that will be available by the end of this month would be to have the gift of foresight and seen these times in a vision, so that you started squirreling money away several years ago. For those of us who are not prophets, well, renting games is always an option, as is selling bodily fluids.

As for me, I'll most likely be picking up Gears of War. Guitar Hero 2 will have to wait until the 360 version is available, or until my steely resolve crumbles in the face of the game's barrage of rock. Call of Duty 3 and FEAR won't be gracing my disc tray any time soon but are viable Christmas options. My Wii is half paid off and Zelda is fully purchased, so have no fear on that account, however extra remotes are in no way definite purchases.

Speaking of Zelda, that sound you heard over the weekend was the sound of millions of gamers breathing a collective sigh of relief. Various gaming journalists were allowed an appreciable amount of time with the game last week in Redmond and they all came back with tales of gaming excellence and, most importantly, a control scheme that did not suck. This was my biggest fear, that the Wiimote control scheme would feel tacked on and well, silly. It would appear my fears were ungrounded. Halleluja. Hopefully other games are similarly well controlled as I don't think I can justify a $250 purchase for just Zelda, as much as it pains me to say it, and with a play time of roughly 70 hours, I can't purchase the console, play the game and then return the hardware. Tough decisions lay ahead should every game but Zelda suck the big one.

I have been spending an astonishing amount of time with Marvel Ultimate Alliance and I have some tips for you. First of all, make sure you want to play as all of the heroes in your team. Here's why. As you progress you'll be able to use Xtreme powers, which can only be triggered once you've built up enough momentum. You build up momentum by using non-special powered attacks. The AI is pretty durn smart about using special powers, so if left to their own devices, your teammates will always use special powers and never build up enough momentum to use their Xtreme powers. So, in order to use everyone's super special powers, you'll need to take control of each person on the team and beat the snot out of things. The added bonus to having everyone all supercharged is that if one person's powers trigger, all of the powers will trigger, causing a play of destruction in 4 acts.

My other tip to you is to not use any of the cheat codes save for the codes to unlock Daredevil or the Silver Surfer that you got when preordering. Allow me to tell you my tale of woe. As you progress through the game you can unlock various costumes for the heroes. These costumes can be upgraded by purchasing points. Unlike skill points for your powers, once you purchase these points, they can not be reassigned, so you need to make sure that the outfit you're powering up is the one you're going to stay with. Me being the idiot that I am, I put in the code to unlock all of the outfits so that I could make sure that the outfits my heroes were wearing were the ones I wanted to start upgrading. Little did I know, this bout of curiosity would cost me all of my future achievements should I continue down the path of whupping up on supervillains. Yes, that's right folks, using cheat codes disables achievements. Whoopsie.

Now, I can understand this, to a point, as some of the cheat codes allow you to make money at the drop of a hat or unlock all powers or be invincible or have the Touch of Death. Clearly, enabling these cheats would not make you worthy of the various achievements as you could simply cheat your way to victory. In my case, getting the new costumes don't actually do anything for you other than make the heroes look cool, so this cheat doesn't make the game any easier for me, just considerably more stylish. I guess if you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound, so all cheats have an amazing achievement disabling power. Oh well. I tried to go back and find a save game prior to my indiscretion, but alas, none existed. Had I just spent 30 seconds with Google I could have found screenshots of the alternate costumes and never used the code in the first place. Ironically enough, I didn't even use any of the costumes I unlocked. Yes, I am in fact an idiot. Let this be a lesson to you my gaming friends, that cheaters never prosper. And, if you have a friend who is playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance and their list of achievements for the game stops halfway through the list, they're either a quitter or a dirty cheat. Continue your association with this scoundrel at your own risk.

Finally, tomorrow is election day, so please be sure to get out and vote, several times if you have to. I don't care if you vote for the same party that I do, but I do care that you vote as it is the singularly most important thing you can do as a member of this glorious nation. For the record, I'll be voting mostly for the Democrats, however I think I'm leaning towards keeping our Republican governor, Sonny Perdue in office. I haven't been particularly impressed with his Democratic opponent, Mark Taylor, and I'm not unpleased with the way the state is being run. My main problem with the Taylor is that he seems to be running on a platform of not being Perdue and that's just not enough for me. I mean, if Perdue was running this state into the ground, then sure, I'd be happy to pick someone other than him, but from where I'm standing that isn't the case. I'm voting for the Democrat candidate for Lieutenant Governor, partly to balance things out, and partly because the Republican candidate's attack ad called the Democrat "alarmingly liberal". Here's a little secret for you, I'm a liberal. So, if I see that someone is alarmingly liberal, that's like saying something is alarmingly cheesy, which is to say, delightfully appealing. Also, the things that this guy did to be so damn liberal, banning prayer in school for example, I happen to be behind 1o0%. What a coincidence. I'll probably vote for Democrats for state legislative candidates too in the interest of keeping things balanced.

There are several constitutional amendments on the ballot, all of which I'll be voting against. I tend to hold constitutions in pretty high regard and am not a fan of fucking with them, especially for something like keeping alive the tradition of hunting. Surely there must be some other way to ensure that squirrels continue to fall to the canny hunters of the great state of Georgia without writing a fucking amendment. I'll leave it up to the newly elected state legislators to figure that one out, as it will be, you know, their job.

So there you go, that's how I'll be voting. Please take the time on Tuesday to go out and make your voice heard, even if it won't be tracked correctly by whatever voting machine your state has chosen to implement. Ain't democracy a beautiful thing!