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Getting Started Early
Posted July 18, 2007, 4:59 pm by Steve
Categories: Video Games, Life

I had another very proud father and son moment this morning. Iím doing my normal early morning routine about 7 am when my 4 year old son, Jacob, walks in sporting a big smile and bright eyes. Under normal circumstances itís usually a somber face covered by tiny hands rubbing their eyes. This morning was different. The cheerful one was holding a DVD-sized jewel case. All my kids love movies and watch them all the time - morning, afternoon and night. I instantly noticed it was not a movie he was holding by the bright green plastic case. Instead it was the Spiderman video game!

So pleased with my sons choice in early morning activity, I stopped mid-shave to lend him a hand in powering up the console, setting the HDTV inputs, etc. He specified what game mode as the menu screens loaded. I went back to finish my routine. As I left for work awhile later he was happily planted on the sofa with controller in hand guiding Spiderman around the rooftops.

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination
Posted July 13, 2007, 6:09 pm by Steve
Categories: Tech, Movies, Life

My oldest son and I went to the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit at the Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, CA. Only 3 words can describe our experience: A-freakin-mazing! The only issue was I forgot my camera! So sorry, no photos :-(

The exhibit was a first-of-its-kind that combines costumes and props with real-life technology, video interviews with the filmmakers, scientists and engineers. Displays ranged from engineering design labs (where you can build and test speeders and control a robot's walking behavior) to props from all six Star Wars films.

Xbox 360 Number 4
Posted June 27, 2007, 11:45 am by Steve
Categories: Video Games

For the 3rd time my Xbox 360 has broke Ė now Iíll be playing on my 4th console since it launched. What makes this even more upsetting is I just got a malfunctioning unit replaced 8 days ago! Fortunate for Microsoft Iím a big fanboy of their console, operating systems, games and online services (i.e. Live). With that said, the option of switching camps to Playstation 3 is not even a considering factor (maybe if I didnít want to stress over which games to purchase out of the large selection of AAA titles coming out for the 360). To top off my frustration, the GameStop extended warranty Iíd have to repurchase each time Iíd return a unit at $50 a pop now requires the hard drive to be included with the exchange. That means everyone in my family loses all their saved games. My son would cry if his 80+ hours invested in Viva Pinata was lost, and I probably would too. Also, transferring saved game data to a memory unit does not work for all games since some data is DRM protected (like Forza 2 and Viva Pinata).

The issues with the GameStop warranty are 1) you have to buy a new one each time they replace a console since itís tied in with the unitís serial number and 2) you now have to exchange the entire package (hard drive, controller, cables, etc). The advantage is you get a brand new console and its same day service. The issues with the Xbox warranty are 1) more than likely they send you a refurbished unit and 2) itís about a 2 week process. The advantage is itís free for 1 year and you only have to send the console in, not your hard drive (unless they determine itís a hard drive issue). So which one?

Fortunately, GameStop will refund my recent warranty and I will start to use Xbox support instead. Itís not nearly as convenient but Iím tired of spending $50 on warranties especially with the new policy in place to return the hard drive. Iíll be sending my console in after this weekend so I can get some time with The Darkness which just came out yesterday. Hopefully my console will last that long.

Very Proud Father And Son Moment
Posted May 7, 2007, 12:09 pm by Steve
Categories: Video Games, Life

First of all, I'm an average gamer, not great but not horrible either. In multiplayer games I usually rest somewhere in the middle of the stats boards, but still have fun. In single player campaigns it usually takes me a bit longer to win the game then it does most of my friends.

I love Gears of War! It's simply one of my all-time favorite video games. It probably ranks only below the Halo franchise. The end boss, General Raam, is a real challenge to defeat. My first time through the game I played on the Hardcore difficultly level (there is Casual, Hardcore and Insane) and it took 30 plus tries for me to finally beat the boss. Second time my son and I played coop and it took us 3 times to defeat him, but this was on the easiest difficulty setting. I've spent weeks and weeks working my way through the campaign on Insane difficulty. It's brutal!

Fortunately, I've had some help with a friend, DaStuph (Chad), and my son, Gladiator Ninja (Justin). Some levels I was brave enough to take on my own, however. But, not the last fight in the game with General Raam. I assumed it would take 50 or more tries to beat him spanning a weeks time. Last night I fire up a game inviting my son to play. First try we gear up before the end boss battle with grenades for both, a sniper rifle for me and a torque bow for my son. I consistently snipe Raam to lower his shields and get a few headshots while my son launches the exploding arrows from his bow once the opponent protection is depleted. As Raam gets close I blindly toss a couple grenades in his direction. Next, I tell my son I'm running to the barriers on the other side assuming he'd follow. Instead my dash for safety distracts Raam away from my son to focus on my fleeing character. My son takes this opportunity to equip a grenade, get close enough to melee tag Raam with it and ninja roll away. Cut scene, achievement(s) unlocked, high fives! A very proud father/son moment! Defeating General Raam on Insane the first attempt is quite the accomplishment!

Another Fett Will Be Mine!
Can you really put a price on snagging quality Action Figures? As always, I recommend hooking ASAP whenever a new dude is found. This course of action however can prove to be...a bit unsettling on the homefront from time to time :)
Posted July 9, 2007, 2:30 pm by Chad