Recently my company was acquired by another company and due to the acquisition, all of us here are treated as new employees. As a result, we have to take all of the mandatory new employee training, even if it covers ground we've been trained on as little as 6 months ago. After a day of going through such training, it is safe to say that if I sexually harass someone at work, it won't be because I wasn't trained on it. This course did have the benefit of hilarious photos in it, made even more hilarious by my repeated viewings of them due to various bouts of IE crashing. At one point, a poor woman appeared to be harassed by rejects from The Village People. One man's chest hair was so thick and lustrous that you could wear it in winter to shield your tender skin from Winter's icy blasts. That statement right there may constitute harassment. Honestly, I'm not sure. Perhaps I should retake the training. I would be interested to know if any of this material comes to a surprise to people. What with kids being expelled from middle school for smacking the asses of others, the zero acceptance policy of sexual harassment is being coded in our DNA as we speak. Is there a person working today who does not know that it's inappropriate to tell someone that their boobs look great in that shirt? The mind reels.
By the way, your boobs look great in that shirt.
It would appear that my Mr. Binky column is amassing a following, and even if that following consists solely of the 3 or 4 people who come here searching for humor rather than solutions for squeaky pipes or spider bitten toddlers, I am glad to be entertaining others. For 35 years now, I have entertained only myself. It's about time that someone other than myself got a kick out of, well, myself.
I have played the GH3 demo, back in the wild wooly days of burning iso's to sparkling plastic discs. You may know this time as last Thursday. My enthusiasm for the game has not changed one bit after playing the demo, which is to say that I am just as unenthusiastic about it now as I was before. In an effort to make the game more realistic, they have taken away the crazy guitar spinning antics that used to go down once you activated Star Power. Now, symbols of your guitarist's persona come pouring out of their guitar, held aloft on gossamer wings. Judy Nails, for example, lets loose with a barrage of hearts. Yes, that's correct hearts. I have stood idly by while Neversoft has taken my beloved Ms. Nails and done all sorts of horrible things, including, but not limited to, making her resemble a monkey. This sir, is the last straw. She's not Hannah Fucking Montana.
They've also given the other band members a spruce up as well, and in some cases, like the female vocalists, the changes work. In the case of the male vocalist, on the other hand, it's a very large, chasm like step backwards. In his present form, the male vocalist looks like a massive chin/jaw combo topped with long hair. His teeth unnerve me. I defy you to start up the demo, select "Even Flow" and not feel as you were staring into a gaping maw of madness every time he opened his considerable mouth. Back when the Guitar Hero songs were mostly covers, I was ok with having the fake band singing these songs, as it's a fake song, in a way. However now that my beloved Edward Vedder is being represented by Teeth Incorporated, I must protest. At least with Rock Band, I have control, albeit limited, over my band's appearance, and I can assure you that my lead singer won't look like he can fit Omaha in his mouth.
The game play was exactly the same with the exception that Star Power is much easier to activate. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, given that nothing else seemed different, the game didn't have the same level of excitement that jump from 1 to 2 brought. Maybe it's just me. I can see why they decided to go the boss battle and power-up route as it provides something different to the experience. I'm sure the game will be great and people will love it, however for me, I'm waiting for Rock Band. It certainly doesn't help that the final song is a version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with a horrible vocalist and a switching out of the fiddle for a guitar. It is exactly as bad as it sounds. Knowing that I would have to spend a considerable amount of time attempting a song I can't stand doesn't fill me with glee. It certainly didn't in GH2.
Speaking of Rock Band, the release date has been moved from Black Friday to the more sedate, and infinitely more accessible November 20th. A wise move, this is, however I'm still holding out for some Black Friday sales for the bundle. I'll need something to do on that day as we'll be up in the tragic, frozen north, and dragging my children from store to store in an attempt to save 10 dollars on fake instruments seems as good a way as any to spend the day. I would hazard to guess that you'll find almost a 100% attach rate between Mass Effect and Rock Band on November 20th, so strange and far reaching is this hobby that it appeals to both wannabe space warriors and wannabe drummers alike.
Like pretty much everyone else who has played it, I Heart Portal and want to have like a million of its babies. It's rare when such an enjoyable and complete gameplay experience comes about, but man, when it does, it's like lightning. There are so many moments in the game, and I won't bore you with all of them, however I will bore you with one in particular. But first, some backstory. When I was a child, like many kids in the early 80's, I had a Rubik's Cube. I was quite adept at taking the thing apart and putting it back together "solved" but I was never able to get more than two sides complete through legitimate means. One day as I sat in the chair in the family room, watching some monster movie before dinner I idly turned the cube's many rows and columns, not really paying attention to what I was doing. When I looked down, the cube was in the familar checkerboard pattern. I was astounded. Several turns later and I had a genuinely solved cube in my hands. I showed it to my sister who promptly messed it all up not five minutes later. Curse her.
While playing Portal, I had a similar situation. I was in a room that not only required the use of portals to redirect an energy charge to a receptor, but I also needed to use the same portal to get out of the room as it was an advanced map and the platforms present in the normal map were no longer there. I managed to get myself out of the room but could never do what I needed to do to get the charge out of there. After ten minutes of randomly placing portals about, I exited the room in question, turned around in frustration and found myself staring through a portal right at the emitter. How I managed to do this, I have no idea, but I realized, thankfully in time to move out of the way of the insta-death energy charge, that if I were staring at the emitter through an orange portal, then all I needed to do is place an orange portal above the receptor and the map would be complete. I did so and glory of glories, I was out of there. I haven't had a feeling of raw elation as a result of pure experimentation and general fucking around like that in a very long time. It was refreshingly beautiful and I wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone with a pulse. Oh hell, the undead will probably enjoy it as well.
Team Fortress 2 is also a blast to play and the visual style makes me quite happy. So often, when playing Halo, I don't feel like I can contribute anything to my team other than a place for the enemies to put their bullets instead of in my teammates. In TF2, with it's incredibly well balanced class system, I feel like I can have a role suited best to my talents and do well with it. Right now I enjoy the pyro as he can set people on fire and then run away while his fire still chips away at people's health. The combination of flames and sheer, unabashed cowardice speaks to my soul and I welcome it gladly. The achievements are all easily boostable too, which makes it even more alluring.
I'm sure that the rest of the Orange Box offerings are of equally high quality however I'm having so much fun with the undirected dicking around of Portal and TF2 that it may take some time before I start up Half-Life 2: Episode 1. Plus, soon Crash of the Titans will arrive and I'll need to review it lest GameShark's content editor, a one William Abner, beats me with one of the, no doubt, many OSU tankards adorning his den. The man's love of the Buckeyes is rivaled only by his desire to shame his writers.