Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Resident Evil 6 demo launch

I didn't blog at all last week?  Really?!  Wow, well time flies when you're busy playing Resident Evil 6, finding lost cats and trying to install a television above your fireplace (more on the last two later)...

So!  We ran through the demo of Resident Evil 6 (due out Oct 2nd).  Then we thought about it.  Then we ran through it again.  Some initial reactions:

- is that really how their arms move when calling to your partner?
- Leon sounds like a creeper at some points (notably when saying "get back here" at the start of his demo)
- the game looks fantastic, graphics-wise.  This is (in my opinion) a step up from RE5, where Chris was shiny shiny to the point of being distracting.

I have to be honest, my first reaction to the game (back when PAX was happening) was... lukewarm.  I walked away feeling confused, a little frustrated and more like I had just played a round of Call of Duty, not Resident Evil (in fairness, I did play the Chris chapter.  My mistake, apparently.)  Having now played this game in the comfort of my own home (without judgmental gamer eyes on me!!) Jake and Chris have both grown on me, and I'm actually excited to see both of them (I think Jake wins out a little over Chris, just because Jake is such a heart-pounding adrenaline run... Chris is more of a run-and-gun thing from what I can tell).  Leon's is far and away the best scenario though, and I'm definitely the most excited for his game.

The motions are either really good (dodging, shooting, running) or laughably awful (calling to your partner).  I hypothesize (read: I'm hoping) this is because it's the demo version and things weren't fully tightened before this was released.

In celebration of the launch, DM and I have been running through all the main games in the Resident Evil franchise.  And by "DM and I" I actually mean DM plays while I sit on the couch and alternate between providing annoying commentary ("why is the kitchen down the hall and downstairs from the kitchen?") and falling asleep.  So far we've done:

Resident Evil Remake (Chris and Jill)
Resident Evil 2 (Leon and Claire)
Resident Evil 3
Resident Evil Code Veronica
Resident Evil 4

We still have some of RE4 and RE5 to run through, but I think we're gonna make it.  (To do this, it helps if the person you marry is insane and knows every Resident Evil game like the back of his hand and can run through them in his sleep...)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Homemade Tortillas

I have a confession: DM and I have been living off tacos for the past four/five nights.  Not because we had to (we have plenty of food... probably too much), but because we recently discovered the joy that are homemade tortillas.  Warm.  Soft.  Fluffy.  Perfection.

Even though this is becoming a fairly regular occurrence in our house, I'm still amazed at how much better tasting homemade anything is over store bought.

Homemade tortillas are... deceptively simple.  You know those recipes that always say "oh, you probably have all the ingredients right now in your cupboards!" Then you look and they want flour, sugar, salt and vanilla beans grown on the north slopes of the Himalayas between the months of July and August ONLY?  That is not one of those recipes (I hate you, tricky recipes).  You actually probably do have all the ingredients in your cupboards - flour, salt (if you want), baking powder and oil.  I'm going to make the bold guess that most of us have hot water.

You just mix all your dry ingredients together, then add in the oil and hot water and mix...

...Until it all forms a doughball.  Then, rest for 30 minutes.  You've worked hard.  Go take a break.  Watch some TV.  Eat a KitKat.

After the dough has rested, it's divided into 12 balls (I didn't weigh them, I'm just that lazy).  Someone on the TastyKitchen blog left a comment saying to pat them out on foil, as when they start to cook they'll lift right off.  Genius!  Bonus: it totally works.  I've tried it.

Here is my not-quite-round tortilla, happily cooking away in the pan.  I was having issues where I would burn the living daylights out of them and they'd get all stiff and Frisbee-like, but by the end I was doing warm, soft tortillas.  Mmmm.  My mouth is watering just thinking about them again.

These are my second batch (yes, we ate TONS of tortillas over the past week...) I love how they get so puffy.  These are seriously addictive - I can already tell I'm going to have a problem knowing that these are readily accessible in my home (hopefully my laziness will win out over my desire to cook and devour a dozen tortillas).  DM and I were sitting on the couch inhaling the smell of the tortillas because they just smelled that good.  (Also, we have issues.)

So good.  TastyKitchen was right, I'll never buy store bought again.

Homemade Tortillas @ Tasty Kitchen

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WiiU Experience and Refinishing Furniture

Last Friday we attended the Wii U Experience, which was essentially a big room set up with Wii U consoles around playing different games.  Some of the titles we saw: ZombiU, Wii Fit U, New Super Mario Bros. U, Just Dance 4, SiNG, Project P-100, Game and Wario and Nintendo Land.

The party itself was fun, if only to be in a new environment for a while.  Everyone was given a lanyard and allowed to roam around between games, photo booths and the refreshment table.  We were also fed delicious cookies that I'm pretty sure were 98% sugar (the rest was frosting, which is also sugar!)

I couldn't wait.  It was delicious.

DM (formerly A, since I've been advised that A as a name and a letter are difficult to differentiate) and I stood in line to try out ZombiU, which was honestly kind of a let down.  I'd consider myself a pretty decent multitasker but even I was having a lot of trouble keeping track of which screen I was supposed to look at.  Nobody (Nintendo or Ubisoft) can tell us if it's co-op multiplayer yet, which is a huge minus for us.  At one point the gentleman running the game had me pull out the crossbow, which you fire by holding the Wii U tablet parallel to the TV. But before I could use it I had to dig through my inventory, which involved looking down at the tablet and tapping things.  (In fact, all the up and down and up again looking had me thinking of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLL90q3as4M  "Look at your TV.  Now back to your tablet.  Now back to your TV.  Now back to your tablet.  Now back to me... sadly, your inventory isn't on your TV.  But it could be.")

To be honest, I walked away from that party hyped up on sugar but not really feeling the love for the Wii U.  In all fairness, they've got a hard sell with me because I'm also not a huge fan of touch tablets, but the Wii U tablet just feels like its riding along on the coattails of the Wii (case in point: New Super Mario Bros. U uses 4 Wii Remotes to play as characters while the Wii U tablet is a "5th player" that places blocks that can help/hinder teammates).

This weekend we also tried our hand at refinishing our kitchen table and chairs (have you seen them?  They're completely embarrassing.) This is the first time either of us have tried anything like this, so I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.  And satisfying.  There's just something about scraping up layers of ugly, scratched and splotchy paint to reveal a pretty okay looking surface underneath (I'm all about instant gratification, and this is about as instant as it gets).

We decided to test our mettle on a chair seat, which is relatively small and flat, so (ideally) it would be easy to clean up or abort the mission, if necessary.  Also, the chair we chose was covered in paint blots - white, blue and probably some red in there as well (it's not a patriotic statement, somehow I just manage to get paint on everything.  Never invite me over to paint.  Ever.)

We did this outside, even though the product we used (Citristrip...which I like a lot) said it could also be used for interiors.  There was a minor blip where we had to figure out where to find a metal container and odorless mineral spirits/paint wash, but then we were ready to go.

This is... pretty easy.  Just slop the Citristrip on where you want the veneer/paint/etc. to come off, then leave it alone for 30-60 minutes.  Here's what our seat looked like, fully covered.

About 40 minutes later (I got lazy) we came back and started to scrape with metal scrapers.  This stuff works (at least, in my limited opinion it does).

Bam.  Finished seat.  Looks pretty nice compared to the original, doesn't it?

So then we got bold, and decided to try our living room table... (also heavily damaged).  Once again, we were pleased with the results.  We only bought a 1-quart size and it's almost gone, so we're kind of at a standstill.  To make things interesting, we also discovered one of the chair backs has a huge crack in it that makes it unsafe to sit in, so we're either going to have to remember the brand of this furniture and try to finagle a replacement chair, or buy a whole new set of chairs (though now that we know how to strip old finish off, maybe that wouldn't be such a terrible thing).

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

PAX 2012

This is going to be a post mostly of pictures, because my brain is fried.  This weekend was a blur.

A glorious, colorful, sleepless videogame-filled blur.  Awesome awesome awesome.

I love PAX - maybe you've heard.  I'm a great big nerd, and I'm especially prone to nerddom when it's not only encouraged but in fact celebrated.  I've heard rumors they're going to extend PAX to four days next year - to be honest, I'm not sure I could handle that.  We did Friday and Saturday (8 hours and 10 hours, respectively) and I was burned out by the end.  I spent Sunday and Monday on my couch, alternating between sleeping and lolling my head back, staring at the ceiling.

Things that stood out:

NINTENDO As usual, the Nintendo booth was awesome.  And crowded.  They were showing ZombiU, Super Mario Bros Wii U, Epic Mickey 2 and various assorted other games (handheld and console).  Then, because it wasn't enough to take up a good chunk of the exhibition hall, they also had satellite lounges on the 2nd and 3rd floors.  It's never enough!

We tried a demo of Epic Mickey 2 which has co-op play, which is awesome.  It actually prompted us to come home and play the first Epic Mickey (shamefully, we have never finished it!)

The Wii U is pretty fun, though I never did really figure out its purpose with Mario Bros (player characters (ie Luigi) use Wii Remotes, while the person with the Wii U acts as an "assist", placing blocks to help teammates).  It seemed to fare better with ZombiU, where you would use it to do things like pick locks and look through your backpack.  There was also a giant event with Kirby for his 20th anniversary where they tried to break the world record for most people chewing gum/blowing bubbles in one place (I think they broke it?!) A came back from the restroom at one point with this photo for me:

We also saw a demo of Paper Mario Brothers wth Stickers (I have no idea what the actual title is); it was fairly entertaining.  To be honest I've never really played the other Paper Mario games so I couldn't really say whether it was particularly innovative or anything.  Then we made a half-assed attempt at their sticker scavenger hunt but couldn't get past the second sticker (find the guy with the Mario hat.... there are like 10,000 people wearing Mario hats, you guys!!  Boo.)

CAPCOM was showcasing a Lost Planet game along with something called Remember Me but we were really there for Resident Evil 6.  It's amazing, graphically speaking.  We stood in line for 2 hours to play it; A opted for the Leon scenario (classic horror) and I got overconfident and tried my hand at the Chris scenario.  Chris is hard.  HARD.  It literally just spits you out into a warzone, and you either find the shoot button really fast or die trying.  I'm intrigued by Leon's scenario, as it had plenty of moments where it made me jump (zombies coming through windows, etc).

PS. Dear guy who played the Chris scenario for like 40 minutes and never did finish, just gave up:  You're terrible.  Please don't ever join my online games.  Please please please.  Thank you.

At one point everyone disappeared to go participate in the Kirby event so we took advantage of their absence to check out the SONY booth.  It was okay.  The big thing there was the Battle Royale game (Brawl for PlayStation).  I could only name about three characters from their roster, and I'm pretty sure some of the characters aren't just for the PlayStation (I distinctly remember a Big Daddy from Bioshock, which I've seen on the 360).

We did a weird circling thing (not entirely unlike sharks) around the booth for the Walking Dead game, which we still haven't purchased and were hesitant to spoil for ourselves.  But how can you resist a booth that looks this awesome?

You can't.  So we went in for a bit.  We didn't play too much - just enough to remind ourselves that we really, really need to get this game. 

We're really console gamers (not huge tabletop or PC fans), but there was plenty of that stuff, too.  PAX takes up 6 floors with panels, demos and the exhibition hall (where all the companies showcase their new stuff). The sixth floor was a League of Legends tournament, PC and console freeplay and some leftover scatterings of smaller companies that didn't make it onto the main floor.  We found Deep Silver (Dead Island) hiding up there, showing a demo of Dead Island Riptide.  I honestly walked away from that demo feeling that Riptide will be a noticeable improvement over the original.  The demo was Logan defending a dilapidated church from an incoming horde.  The big thing I noticed was that all four characters were there, even though only Logan was the player character.  It always confused me in the first game how you'd be running along minding your own business alone, then suddenly there would be a cutscene and, hey -- where did those two people I've never seen before come from?  And where did they go after the cutscene?  It was disjointing, to me.  The dialogue seems to have improved, and the character animations (we realized the reason the first game looks so odd is because the top half of the player's character never moves.  Ever.  Not while walking, swimming or jumping.  Weird!)

There was also a free arcade that we played House of the Dead 3 on.  Thank God it was free, or we never would have made it to that final boss.  The sad thing was, I'm pretty sure the game was on easy.

LINES.  DEAR GOD THE LINES.  They were everywhere.  Lines in the bathroom.  Lines to play a game.  Lines for the lines.  At one point, we contemplated making a line of our own that led to nowhere - how many people would line up for it and how long until they figured out they were standing in line for no reason?

In closing, here is a photo of Deadpool with a Pikachu hat on his head.  It feels right.