A Needed Expense

I got my brakes done today. I was fortunate enough to have the money to do so, because they were making a lot of noise, and it was quite irritating. I got a pretty good deal, because a friend from work told me about a place in town that had a special on brakes, so it didn’t cost me as much as I would have thought. So it was a needed expense, but I still wish I had the money in my pocket.

I did have a bit of fun with my money though, prior to the brake job. I ended up going to wally world the other day to look at a couple things, and ended up spending more than I had originally planned. But, I’m happy with the purchase, so no harm no foul I suppose. I ended up buying the Nintendo DS Lite, as I had mentioned thinking about purchasing previously. I wasn’t going to, but then I just said “fuck it” and did it. I wasn’t disappointed. I ended up picking up two games as well, the newly released Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 and Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Both games are great, and I love the DS. I can see where the Nintendo has taken leaps and bounds as far as coming up with innovative hardware, because the Wii is interactive and a whole lot of fun, and the DS follows in it’s footsteps.

FFTA2 is very similar to the original FFT game I played on the PSOne, way back when I was in high school. The gameplay is nearly identical, though the info displays and other bits of the game are more stylized. Having two screens is nice too, because a lot of information is displayed on the static screen, while the action takes place on the touch screen. It keeps you from having to switch to different menus constantly, and allows for more fluid gameplay. I haven’t gotten too far with it, but I know that the game will keep me entertained for many hours, just as the original did. I’m a fan of the series.

I now see why so many people have raved about the Lego games. I was always of the opinion that they were meant strictly for kids, and wouldn’t provide a challenge for an adult. I was wrong. Granted, nothing has truly challenged me about the game, but there is a level of depth that adds to the replay, and I have only cleared Raiders of the Lost Ark thus far. I still have many adventures ahead of me. The part of the game that sucks you in is the fact that it’s just like playing with Legos (which I did a lot of as a kid), where you get to build things, and run around fighting and whatnot, but it also follows the story of the original Indiana Jones trilogy, movies which I’ve always enjoyed (and just recently purchased). There is a ton of hidden content, things to buy, things to find, it’s just a lot of fun. And for the first time in a long time, I was able to get into “the zone”, where I played a game for a long period of time without paying attention to the time, and hours passed in what seemed like minutes. The DS has been a worthy purchase.

I have yet to activate my LOTRO account, and I know that my trial has expired. I will be doing so soon, because I do want to continue to delve into that game. It’s another movie-related game that I can really get into, I just went about so casually during the trial. So things have been interesting on the gaming side of life.

In other news, I’ve been talking with Ted more seriously about getting a place. I’m not too thrilled sleeping on an air mattress at my sister’s house, so I want to be out of here by the 1st of August. That gives me a month to get my shit together and go. It’s still up in the air as far as who I’ll be moving with, or if I’ll be getting a place by myself. I did find out that there are some apartments in a pretty decent area of town that are quite affordable, so I just might end up going there to get a place by myself if that’s the path I choose. Otherwise, Ted and Tyler want to get a 3 bedroom house, but I don’t really see that happening. Pretty much at this point I either want to get a 2 bedroom house/duplex/apartment with Ted, or just an apartment by myself. I’m starting to lean towards the latter. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Where Does The Time Go?

June has nearly passed, along with half of 2008. Honestly, where the hell does all the time go? Before I know it I’m going to be 30, then 40, and so on. I remember when years used to seem like years, and now they seem like months… I assume the older you get the faster it goes, so soon enough the years will feel like days, and then only moments… and then I’ll be dead. Hopefully it doesn’t come too quickly… there’s still a lot of things I want to do.

I’ve spent a little bit of money on myself the past couple of days. Yesterday I called off because I didn’t feel much like working. When I got up I lounged around for a while, and then I decided that I was going to go buy a movie, grab some food, and come home to eat and watch. I went to Wal-mart and was unimpressed by any of the new releases. I looked through the cheap DVD racks, and was still unable to find anything I couldn’t live without. I continued to browse though, and eventually fell upon “The Adventure Collection”, which is the original Indiana Jones trilogy. This is something I’ve wanted to pick up for quite some time, and having recently watched The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I wanted to watch the originals. Out of the original three, the first was released before I was born, the second when I was a year old, and the third I got to see in the theater (plus I had watched the first two before then). So of course I’m a fan, and I will purchase the fourth when it’s released on DVD. All great movies, and I’m surprised how well the originals stood the test of time. I watched Raiders yesterday, and it was a real treat, despite being 27 years old.

In the interim I got some calls from friends and found out about a group of them going to someone’s house to go swimming, barbecue and all that. So after the movie I headed out. I had to stop and buy some board shorts since I haven’t had any in years, and then I bought some beer, and then headed over. It was a friend from work’s mom’s house. There were a few other friends from work there, along with more of her family, and a bunch of kids. Overall it was a good time, I ended up in the pool for a little while and then in the jacuzzi drinkin beers til around midnight when everyone decided it was time to call it a night.

Today I lounged around some more, until I decided I needed to buy a new pair of shoes. The ones I had been wearing were looking pretty shitty; falling apart. So I headed over to my favorite place to buy skate shoes, and took a gander at their selection. I ended up liking a couple different pairs, but decided on the pair of DVS I’m now wearing.

I got tattooed the other day. Amanda’s (my ex-girlfriend from way back) boyfriend Keith has a friend named Scottie who does tattoos, and I was invited to partake. He ended up hooking me up with the Tiger Army bat, then some fill on existing line work. For $60 it was fair-priced, and he did good work. I’ll be going back to him again some day. Today I had an appointment with my normal tattoo artist Mike, but he ended up pushing me back to Sunday, so I might be getting it done then. I don’t know yet, because I have some more pressing things to take care of and after I get my pay check today I will know what I’ll have left over. So that’s pretty much up in the air for now.

Later on tonight I’m supposed to go to a friend’s and then possibly to a club in Riverside. Not sure exactly what’s going to happen. I’ve talked to a few other people with other plans, and I’m not sure what I’ll choose to do, but nonetheless I’m going to try to have some fun tonight. That’s about all for now.

Cabal Sucks, Back to LOTRO

So as I mentioned I downloaded the free-to-play MMO Cabal Online. I played it for about 10 minutes after character creation, and just couldn’t get into it. I died more times than I can count just trying to get into the swing of moving and combat. Click-to-move is a dated system, that is for sure, and I disliked not having an auto attack. Graphically the game looked pretty nice, and I did like the effects in combat, but I wasn’t really feeling it otherwise. It has since been removed from my computer.

I finally got my stimulus check on Monday. It was 3 days late, but much needed. I had planned on buying a Nintendo DS with that money, but decided better of it, mainly because I’m trying to hold onto money and not blow quite so much of it now. So instead I went in search of a copy of LOTRO. I had previously looked at a couple stores in town without luck, so I decided to stop by Game Stop and see if I could get lucky. I did, as they had two copies. One was the regular version of the game, the second was a “collector’s” edition, but in an effort to save money I picked the regular version. Well, to my surprise, they were charging the same for both, and because the game is a year old I got the collector edition for $20. It came with some in-game bullshit and a DVD. I have yet to check any of that out. I actually haven’t even activated it yet because there’s a day or two left on my trial.

Otherwise, I’m waiting for my pay check next week to go get my brakes done on my car. They’re beginning to squeal and it’s getting pretty fuckin’ annoying. Aside from that I have a couple other bills to pay and then I’m golden. I ended up hanging out with some old friends the other day, and went to their apartment. The guy is a friend from way back, and his wife was one of my old friend’s ex-girlfriends, so I’ve known ’em both for years. Anyway, we ended up bullshitting about their apartment, and they had a pretty decent sized 2 bedroom that was town-home style (two stories). He told me they only pay $600/month and that’s just awesome. I told Ted about it and he seems interested, so I’m gonna try to get some more info and maybe we’ll be moving soon. Time will tell. I’ll keep ya posted.

So long, George.

I just read that the comedian George Carlin died at 6 p.m. on Sunday from heart failure. It’s a damn shame to see such a great artist die. We’ll miss you George. Read the story here.

In other news, via Cordanim, I’ve downloaded the free to play MMO Cabal Online. I’m about to get started with it, the updates are just about done downloading, so I’ll have another First Impression post coming soon.

I’ve been playing LOTRO quite a bit, but my free trial is nearly over. I’ve pretty much decided that I like my Elf Hunter, Thuirandil, the best out of the characters I’ve tried, but knowing me and my obsession with alts, if I do buy the game he won’t be the only toon I play. I’m still debating on whether or not I want to actually purchase the game, but right not its not feasible since I’m a bit low on funds. My stimulus check has yet to come and I’m hoping it will arrive on Monday. I need to get the brakes done on my car along with an oil change, and I’d like to buy a DS still. I’d also like to get tattooed, because it’s been a long while, so I’m not sure how I’ll spend the money, I just know it’ll be gone sooner than I want it to be.

LOTRO: First Impressions

So as I mentioned last post, I went and downloaded the LOTRO 14 day trial. The first day of the trial was pretty much wasted, because downloading 6 GB in one sitting tends to take a long time, so I ended up just going to bed before it was even done. The next day after work, I managed to get on it and check things out. Overall, I’m pleased with the game in some aspects, but in other aspects, it’s a re-hash of the same shit I’ve seen in all the other MMOs I’ve tried. I guess the tried and true aspects of the game are what make it somewhat appealing, but there really doesn’t seem to be any new concepts introduced. I suppose though, that I haven’t played far enough along to really know, that’s why this is a first impression post and not a review. From here I’m going to break things down the way I’ve seen them, and give a little side by side comparison with other MMOs I’ve played.

Races/Classes:
This is one of my first complaints with the game. I realize that in the books and movies, they really only concentrate on Dwarves, Men, Hobbits, and Elves. But it seems to me that in a fantasy world they still could have added more races… there really isn’t much to choose from. And the fact that each race is limited in what classes they can be kind of hinders the character creation phase. I think limiting classes is ok when you have a lot of races to choose from, a la Everquest, but when you have four races to choose from, I think you might want to broaden the horizons. There is a “monster play” feature, but I have yet to unlock it (and am unsure if it can be unlocked on the trial account), so maybe that adds to the fun but I doubt it does much of anything.

Graphics:
Graphically, LOTRO is beautiful. I had seen screenshots around the web for the past year since the game had gone live but I didn’t really think too much of it. I was too wrapped up in EQ2 at the time. Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer the graphical style of EQ2 as compared to WoW, but I think LOTRO is a lot better looking. I’d say it looks graphically much like WAR is going to look, at least from screens I’ve seen. It’s like a combination of EQ2 and WoW’s graphical styles, and though that’s hard to describe, It’s a good thing. The game looks good and my system was able to run it on a higher graphics setting than I have been able to on EQ2. The only downfall I’ve seen is the lighting effects during combat. They’re a bit lacking compared to what I’m used to. Maybe that will change later on, but in the early levels it’s pretty pathetic.

Sound:
The background music is nice, the sound effects are standard. The fact that there are dynamic sounds during the “drama” that unfolds during quests is immersive. Otherwise, sound is sound, and most people will most likely turn it off in favor of listening to their Ipods.

Gameplay:
Gameplay is standard faire. The hotbars are set up more like WoW’s (at least to begin with), and I haven’t really tried to customize things much, it’s been effective for as far as I’ve gotten with the game. Otherwise, the targeting and combat systems are just like every other MMO out there that I’ve played. It’s no more or no less innovative. Click to target, spam hotkeys, rinse, repeat. The quests are standard. The leveling system is a little different than EQ2, but I believe is similar to WoW’s, where you have to train new skills as you level, instead of getting them automatically. You also don’t get new skills every level, but there’s plenty of info out there on the internet to find out when you do. Overall, the game is just like most MMOs out there, it just stands out because LOTR is a huge franchise. So if you’re looking for a new game, just consider that this one will be much like the ones you’ve already played. But then again, all of them are the same, with little tweaks here and there, so I guess it really doesn’t matter which one you pick.

I’m going to continue playing this until the trial runs out, then I’m not sure if I’ll actually buy it or not. So far when I’ve been out and about in town, I haven’t seen any copies of it on the shelves. But I had that same problem when I tried to find EQ2. So if I do end up playing it, I suppose I’ll just have to digitally download it or have it shipped to me. I have to make the decision soon, as my trial only has 8 days left.