Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Monday, January 31, 2005

I watched the first episode of Tilt the other night. The basic plotline that's been revealed so far is that $imdb(Michael Madsen)'s character, Matador, is a former 10-time world poker championship winner, and now he's in cahoots with the casino president who lines him up cherry games to take the money from “outsiders”. Enter the other 3 characters, who all have reasons for card-table revenge against him. We see some flashbacks in their backstory as to why they have such a hate-on for him. It was also really violent, and in the last scene, he and a couple of his... crew I guess, for lack of a better word lay the smack down on some kid who's been watching the games and making notes or something. They do a really brutally graphic, realistic shot of them holding him down and breaking his leg. It was real-looking enough to make you flinch while watching it. The final shot is them walking away leaving him bleeding and unconscious in a stairwell.

There's a subplot with some Sheriff who's brother was a gambling addict and lost everything to the Matador a few years back. The brother was convinced that Matador was cheating, that the other players at the table had elaborate tells so he always knew what everyone at the table had. The Sheriff comes to Vegas looking to prove his brother right, and tries to get into a no-limits $g(Texas Hold-Em) game with Matador. The pit boss describes the Sheriff as a “hometown hero” here to try his luck.

That's where I got the analogy for Xbox Live... big fish in little pond becomes big fish in massive ocean.

I played Halo when I was home for my 30th birthday nearly two years ago. It was four player Slayer mode on Blood Gulch. I sucked, I got my ass kicked all over creation by the other guys, who had been playing it six months already, but damn was it fun! The next day, after the birthday bbq I went shopping and bought an Xbox that came with Halo and an extra controller. I quickly bought two more controllers and we had a fairly regular game going: Me, George, Inaki, Matty, John, Zac, Chopper and even TJ came and played once or twice. I won most of the games, sometimes by landslide, sometimes it was close because I was screwing around trying to go for 'pretty kills' like sticking a grenade to the back of someone's head.

Forearmed with a buttload of confidence, I stepped into the Halo 2 Xbox Live Rumble pit and got my ass so thoroughly thrashed that I was stunned. The first game I played I think I got one kill, while I GOT killed 16 times. The next game I played in was an unranked practice game, and someone who was really high-ranked went 25 kills and 0 deaths and won the match quite quickly. Holy shnoogies.

I played some more, and I also played a bunch of “Big Team Battle” games which pit 8-on-8 Capture-The-Flag or Assault gametypes and was a little more balanced. Knowing the maps intimately makes a huge difference. I knew Blood Gulch in Halo like the back of my hand but the maps in Halo2 are all still pretty new to me. Ergo, I got killed. A lot. Nothing promotes learning like getting your squishy poo squeezed out of you over and over and over again though.

The Xbox Live Communicator has “voice proximity” built into it. What that means is that if you speak into your headset mic, ANY players who are physically close to your player will hear you, and as you get further away, the volume diminishes. Sweet. You can also press the white button on the controller and send a radio message to your entire team. It shuts off automatically when you stop talking and you hear a little squawk of static ($imdb(CHiPS) style!) to let you know that the message has ended. Pretty neat stuff :)

Last night I played in a Big Team Battle 8-on-8 Capture the Flag and was matched up with some other pretty good players. At one point, I grabbed a sniper rifle and made my way out onto a perch overlooking the enemy's base... and found one of my teammates already there. I scoped out to 2x and saw one of Team Red guarding the entrance to their base and sniped him. I said “Im going to make a run for the flag, cover me” he 'heard' me and replied “Roger...” and I switched to a shotgun, jumped off the ledge and ran into the base. I grabbed the flag and, weaponless, ran out of their base. The guy who I sniped had respawned near his base and came chasing after me. I called for a little help on the radio and (while running backwards so I could see this guy chasing me) saw a tracer reach out and BLAM. he fell over dead. I ran to the bridge and across it back towards my base with 3 or 4 Red Team chasing me and stopped dead in my tracks... a Wraith Tank was sitting there staring at me. Oh crap... Suddenly I hear in my headset “RUN, Im covering you!” Wahoo! It was a friendly! I run up to it and around it and hear it fire it's plasma mortar at the bridge. I turned around and ran backwards to watch what was happening behind me and saw a hail of gunfire, grenades and plasma mortar annhiallating the bridge deck, and red team with it. I turned back around and ran into our base and planted the flag. Score one for DocJelly! w00t!

Most of the other games werent as successful or exhilarating, but it did give me a good idea of the kind of games I can get into once I've played more and 'met' other players that I worked well together with. I was up until 1am last night playing “one more game” and since our cable is STILL OUT, I'll probably be back at it again tonight, too. :-D

Monday, January 31, 2005 1:14:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Gaming | Microsoft#
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