v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Remember me | Done

Another one of my "finish before putting the 360 away" games.  This game is Remember Me  and I finished the game on "script kiddie" (easy) back in January 2019. This game is not backward compatible to the xbox one (yet), but I think it would make a nice addition.

The plot from wikipedia:
The game begins as Nilin (Kezia Burrows), an Errorist imprisoned in the Bastille Fortress, is having almost all her memory wiped by Memorize. As she is taken to have the last of her memories wiped, a mysterious man called Edge, the leader of the Errorists and a man she only hears over her comm device, helps her escape. Edge tells her that she is an Errorist with the gift of both stealing and remixing memories. After escaping into the slums of Neo-Paris, Nilin encounters Tommy, a fellow Errorist. Nilin and Tommy are attacked by Olga Sedova, a bounty hunter chasing Nilin. Nilin dives into Olga's mind and remixes her memory to make Olga believe that her husband was killed by a Memorize doctor. She then becomes an Errorist ally, and transports Nilin to her first destination. Arriving in the Saint-Michel district, Nilin, who is aided by another Errorist codenamed Bad Request, is told by Edge to steal secret codes from Kaori Sheridan, Neo-Paris' top architect. After retrieving and uploading the codes to Edge, he uses them to open the Saint-Michel dam, flooding the district. Due to the flood draining out the slums, Nilin is able to infiltrate the Bastille and heads to the memory servers to free the stored memories of herself and the inmates while taking down Madame, the sadistic manager of the Bastille. With Madame defeated, Nilin releases the memories of the inmates and partially regains some of her own. She remembers the crime that landed her in the Bastille; on a mission, Nilin remixed the mind of a Memorize commander and made him believe he had killed his girlfriend. The altered memory pushed him to commit suicide.

Nilin reluctantly goes along with Edge's next plan: to remix the CEO of Memorize, Scylla Cartier-Wells, to make her see the harm her company's technology is causing. Nilin makes her way into Scylla's office and enters her mind, remixing the memory of a car crash which left her with a bitter taste against the world. As she changes the memory to make Scylla a more compassionate person, Nilin discovers that she is Scylla's daughter. Nilin is then told by Edge to head for the Bastille basements to save Bad Request, who has been taken captive. She finds Bad Request, but discovers that his memory has been fully wiped. It is revealed that Memorize scientist Doctor Quaid means to control the Leapers through their Sensens and thus breed a private army for Memorize. However, Johnny Greenteeth, a former co-worker of Quaid's who was experimented on and turned into a Leaper, kills Quaid and prepares to self-destruct the Bastille. Bad Request helps Nilin take down Johnny at the cost of his life and Nilin escapes the destroyed facility.

With all of Memorize's secret operations taken down, Edge presses Nilin to find the Conception Cube, Memorize's central base, and destroy H3O, the Memorize Central Server. Once there, she encounters her father, Charles Cartier-Wells, the creator of the Sensens. Upon finding him, she sees that, fuelled by the car accident that injured his wife, he has become lost in a dream of an ideal world free from painful memories, all inspired by the desire to help Nilin forget about the accident. Nilin makes him see the harm his technology causes, and Scylla arrives to convince Charles to help Nilin enter the Central Server. Once in the presence of the Central Server, it is revealed to Nilin that Edge is a self-aware entity created by the amalgamation of unwanted memories within H3O. Nilin, who unwittingly started Edge with the memories of her unhappy childhood, enters the Server and, at H3O/Edge's will, she destroys him and releases the memories back into the general population. As the memories are released, Nilin remembers Edge's words about the mind being a fortress, and says that Edge died to remind people that memories should not become open to all, and that painful memories should be lived with rather than forcibly removed. She comes to the conclusion that outside her now-restored mind she has a family again and a damaged world to heal.

I actually liked the story of the game a lot, and the visuals for Neo Paris and the places it takes place were pretty good.  I like that technofuturist look in video games.  Even though I find the story interesting (reminding me a bit of Johnny Mnemonic and Dollhouse), I think the game starts off with a bad trope of it's time: You're all-powerful, but something happens and you lose all your powers...and you need to get them back. I think if this were the first game I played that had that theme I'd be fine with it, but as an xbox player for the past 10 (?) years I find it all a bit tiring at this point - which is why I chose to play the game on easy and breeze through it.  I would consider playing this game again if it ever became backward compatible with the xbox one, but for the time being it's going into deep freeze, along with the 360.  I'd give this game a 7/10.

Gamerscore: 340/1000
Achievements: 23/50
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Robotech Battlecry | Tried

Earlier this year, before I put away my xbox 360, I decided to try out Robotech Battlecry for the original xbox - which is backward compatible with the 360, but not the one (come on Microsoft and TDK!).  I ended up trying this game but I didn't finish it.

The plot from wikipedia:

The game follows the exploits of ace pilot Jack Archer. After serving as a mercenary in the Global Civil War, flying both with and against Roy Fokker impressed him enough to recommend Jack for the RDF. The early stages of the game cover Jack's final training and his fighting during the Battle of Macross Island, Jack not being close enough to the SDF-1 when it space folds to Pluto and being left behind on Earth, rejoining his friends upon their initial return home. The majority of the game is set in the Post-Rain of Death era and involves Jack and his Wolf Squadron defending various human outposts against Malcontent Zentraedi forces led by the warlord Zeraal.

The final mission has Jack taking on Zeraal at his base, which is a crashed Zentraedi Carrier. However, the ship makes a spacefold jump with him on it, and it leads him to a distant region of space. Out of contact with the RDF, he seemingly dies from a loss of life support.

Overall, as a Robotech fan, I found this game enjoyable. The controls are acceptable and the plot reminds you of watching an episode of the eponymous TV show. There was one issue with the controls which really annoyed the heck out of me:  The analog sticks don't behave the way one expects them to behave in a flight-based game, which makes for some really odd controls and camera angles at times. I think that this game would really benefit from having a modern-day remake (if people are still into Robotech) with the controls updated to modern expectations, and the graphics updated.

One thing that really surprised me about this game was that there were proto-achievements included in the game!  While the awards don't get tracked through xbox, they are an interesting addition.  They get awarded for completing stages, destroying certain amounts and types of enemy fighters, and completing certain special missions.  I did earn a few of them, but I forgot to take an (actual) screenshot :-)

Overall I'd give this game an 8/10 (if the controls were better, it would certainly deserve a 9/10)

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Review: Tiamat's Wrath

Tiamat's Wrath Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fast-paced installment of the series (hard to believe that there is only one more left!!!). This one jumps a bit into the future with a slightly older crew, with different responsibilities. Some of our crew die, and some make miraculous comebacks! The bringing together of former crew members reminded me a bit of Star Trek (but I forget which movie...)

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Καλό μήνα! | Δεκέμβριος 2019

Καλό μας μήνα!  Είναι λίγο δύσκολο να το πιστέψω, αλλά το τέλος του 2019 είναι σχεδόν εδώ. Τι έχουμε να κάνουμε αυτό μήνα;  Στην δουλειά έχουμε να κλείσουμε το εξάμηνο, και στις σπουδές έχουμε να τελειώσουμε αυτή την γκαντέμικη πρόταση για την διδακτορική διατριβή μου. Επιστροφή στο διάβασμα...

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Bionic Commando xbox 360 | done

One more game from the "completed a while ago" pile that I have not written about.  This one is Bionic Commando for the xbox 360, and I completed it on 5/18/19.  This video game felt like a sequel to the NES version of the game (which I haven't played a ton).

The game is a 3D world interpretation of what the classic bionic commando game. You use your bionic arm to attack and swing around the city to meet your objectives.  While you're trying to get from point A to point B baddies (humans, robots, humans with lots of guns) come at you.  I think the most satisfying attack in this game is grabbing someone with your bionic arm and rappeling into them. It's almost like a dance.

That said, the game does get a bit tiring after a while since the combat is pretty repetitive. I do like the environmental puzzles but I dislike that you can't float.  If you fall into the sea you sink.  yes, I know the bionic arm is heavy, but you mean to tell me that you've developed such a level of technology and you can't figure out how to make a bionic man float?  The other annoying thing is that the city has pockets of radiation, which harms you, and you need to figure your way around.  This isn't a bad thing, but it does serve as a game mechanic to keep a seemingly endless world contained.

Here is the synopsis from wikipedia, if you're interested in the plot:

The events of the game take place ten years after the original game. The game follows Major Nathan "RAD" Spencer, a government operative working in the fictional Ascension City and an Operative named Joseph Gibson aka "Super Joe" (voiced by Steven Blum) for the Tactical Arms and Security Committee (T.A.S.C) that trains bionic operatives like Spencer. After he is betrayed by his own government and falsely imprisoned, the Great Bionic Purge begins. Before his execution, an experimental weapon detonates in Ascension City, unleashing an earthquake along with a radioactive shock wave that leaves the city destroyed and wiping out its populace. The terrorist force known as the "BioReign" claims responsibility, threatening invasion. Spencer is freed to redeem his name along with the T.A.S.C's and is reunited with the bionic arm of which he was stripped.

During flashbacks the player learns that two years prior Spencer and his bionic partner Lt. Jayne Magdalene failed to eliminate two rogue bionics who had allegedly murdered a handful of people. Spencer resolved to help the two bionics escape when he and his partner discovered that the FSA were actively rounding up and forcibly rehabilitating bionics; something that both Spencer and Magdalene were themselves. Soon after the two rogue bionics and a wounded Lt. Magdalene escaped, Spencer was arrested by the FSA and sentenced to be executed for his treason.

Returning to the present, Gibson releases Spencer on the condition that he assist the FSA against the threat to Ascension City. When given this ultimatum in exchange for his freedom, Spencer initially turns it down, but Gibson tells him he has knowledge of Spencer's missing wife. As Spencer progresses through Ascension City, he discovers information on Project Vulture, a super weapon being sought after by the terrorists. Spencer is ordered to retrieve the item before the Bio-Reign terrorists can. After finally gaining access to the item, he is betrayed by Joe who reveals himself as the leader of Bio-Reign. Joe has also enlisted the help of Gottfried Groeder, a character introduced in Bionic Commando Rearmed.

Joe then reveals that Spencer's wife never left, and alludes to the concept that she is actually part of Spencer's bionic arm. According to Super Joe, in order for bionics to work perfectly, they have to sync with their host on both an emotional and physical level. In this case, Spencer's wife was the perfect candidate. After this revelation, Spencer hastens his pursuit after Joe who activates Project Vulture before Spencer reaches him. Magdalene tries to stall Super Joe, now in a Bio-Mech suit, but she is killed while Spencer is forced to helplessly watch. In a fierce mid-air battle, Spencer kills Joe and ultimately stops Project Vulture. He falls back into the hole of The Vault from which he, Joe and the vultures had ascended earlier.

In the epilogue a brief conversation in Morse code is shown between the sniper (Thomas Clarke) who'd been following Spencer, and an unknown party. The first message reports that the Vault had been occupied and the Vulture Sentry System had been "disabled" before requesting further instructions. While the coded reply was not decrypted from Morse code for the audience (encrypted message is in German once decrypted), it apparently reveals the following declaration in response: "Execution of Phase Two Prepared. Activate Project Albatros [sic]."

Overall, this was a quick run for me.  I got 26/49 achievements making for  415/1000 points. I am sure there were other achievements for collecting the various collectibles throughout the game which required some fancier acrobatics than I had time for 😃. It wasn't a bad game, but I am not sure if it's worth pulling my 360 out of storage to play again.  I wish it came to backwards compatibility so it would be an option for playing on the xbox one (or future) consoles.

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Nostalgia sells...and it's expensive!

As I was browsing my RSS feeds the other day I saw that Motorola has a new RAZR phone coming out.  I still have my old RAZR 3G in a drawer somewhere as a backup phone in case my smartphones die 😁 (wonder if the battery is still any good).  The original RAZR phone was an insane $500 (if memory serves me right) for a "dumb" phone that was network-locked.  This is at a time when I could buy an unlocked SonyEricsson phone or Nokia phone for about the same amount of money.

Some key specs for this phone (from TechRadar) are:

  • Main internal folding screen: 21:9 aspect ratio, 2142 x 876 pixels, 6.2-inch POLED (plastic OLED)
  • Front screen: 4:3 aspect ratio, 800 x 600 pixels, 2.7-inch GOLED (glass OLED)
  • 16MP main camera, f/1.7 aperture (no ultra-wide lens or zoom lens)
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB storage
  • 2510mAh battery capacity
  • Android 9
  • 15W TurboPower fast-charge
  • Fingerprint scanner on the front in the bottom 'chin'
  • Speakers also mounted in the front chin
  • One USB-C slot on the bottom of the phone
  • No expandable storage slot
  • No SIM slot (the phone uses eSIM)
  • No headphone jack
  • No wireless charging

I do like the form factor (I miss flip phones from time to time), and I like that external notifications display, as well as the folding display design.  I am not as enthused about the lack of headphone jack and  use of eSIM. I still like the idea of SIM swapping when I travel (and not everyone supports eSIM as far as I know).  I also don't see any support for SD cards.

I don't see this replacing my Z-series moto phone anytime soon, despite the nostalgia factor (also don't want to spend $1500 on a phone) 😜

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Titanfall | Tried

Before I put away my xbox 360 (hermetically sealed to keep the dust out while it goes on cold storage), I had an opportunity to try Titanfall. This was back in September of 2018 (yeah, this review has been in my drafts for a while).

Originally I was a bit reluctant to get this game because it can only be played online (so no single-player content) and at the time I didn't have xbox live.  Fast forward to an incredible sale (was it only $5?) and the fact that I had xbox live at the time, and it seemed like an opportunity to give this game a try.

The game takes place at a time in the future where humanity has moved to colonizing the stars.  There are two factions: the IMC (the presumed "good guys") and the Militia (the presumed "bad guys") but you aren't given a choice as to which faction to play.  You enter a match-making lobby and the system chooses for you.  So, sometimes you play as the IMC, and other times as the Militia.  This gives you a sense of what's happening form both sides of the conflict (for the entire story check out the wikipedia article).  If you play enough you get the story from both side and I guess you can make up your own mind as to who the good and the bad guys are.

The mechanics of the game are interesting.  You play as a human pilot who can run around buildings and open areas, but you can also summon giant mechs (called Titans) that you can pilot. You can change between human and titan within the same match.  When your titan is damaged you can eject, take cover, play a traditional FPS, and when your new titan is ready to drop from orbit, you can resume by piloting the mecha. You can also have the titan follow you around the map on autopilot while you're on foot.

Generally, I really dislike PvP games because I totally stink at them (I get killed within the first few minutes). However, this particular game made PvP fun. The matches are rather short, and everyone seemed to be on a fairly even footing. I really wish this game played on the xbox one because I could totally see myself playing short matches here and there.  I know there is an xbox one version of the game, but in all honesty, I don't want to pay for it again.

Gamepoints: 395/2000
achievements: 16/88

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Batman Arkham Original Blackgate Edition | Done

This is another game I completed back before I put my xbox 360 away for a while.  This game was completed 10/20/18 (also this review has been quite a long time in my drafts folder 😜)

This game took 8 hours, 40 minutes of playtime for me to complete, according to in-game clock.  For the rundown of the game's story check out the wikipedia article (here).  The game was pretty interesting, and I wasn't sure what I was starting when I started it.  Having played other Batman games on the 360 I was expecting something in the 3D realm, but I was surprised to get a 2.5D brawler.  I must admit that the game was rather fun, and it brought me back to the NES and SNES days where these types of games were pretty common (or so it seemed).  The game feels like a pretty standard Metroidvania game (games which I often need a walkthrough at times to complete) where the player needs to clear some areas before others, in order to get tools and weapons, that enable him to progress into other game areas that they have visited before. Yes, I did use a walkthrough at times to get unstuck.

The story was pretty interesting, which served as motivation to get through the Metroidvania elements of the game. The story does end in a cliffhanger (or perhaps an opening for a subsequent game), but I don't recall if this game has a sequel.  The game is not backward compatible on the xbox one (boo!!!), so I won't be coming back to it any time soon.  Overall, not a bad game:  7/10.

Gamerscore: 175/400
Achievements: 15/30

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Review: TNG/DS9: Divided We Fall

TNG/DS9: Divided We Fall TNG/DS9: Divided We Fall by John J. Ordover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The art style is definitely of its period in comic books, but the story was rather enjoyable. It gives us a look within Trill society, and what happens when the unjoined Trill look upon the worm-trills as parasitic and controlling of a society (definitely some stargate overtones here). It would be interesting to get to learn more about Trill society and the joining at some point in the Star Trek Lore.

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Review: Star Trek Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos

Star Trek Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos Star Trek Prometheus: In the Heart of Chaos by Christian Humberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Overall, not a bad story. The crew is likable and they could easily be an on-screen crew if this story is adapted for television. I wish we saw more of the EMH in this story. My only critique is that the plot feels like something that was done in Prey. Not the same details, but the overall plot. This was completed in 2016, and more novels don't seem to be forthcoming.  Too bad, because I rather liked this crew and the adventure that they were in.

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