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Friday, December 7, 2007

Tis The Season: Fruitcake and Zombies

I've actually been spending time with my Xbox 360 on a fairly recent basis lately. In fact, my Xbox 360 is once again in its blissful state, according to its very own blog. It's been a lot of fun just sitting back and playing video games again without worrying about anything else. Video games really are a great escape for those of us with hectic lives and tons of responsibility.

Speaking of responsibilities, I've been negligent in updating my readers on the achievements that I've been clearing while playing Portal, Half-Life 2, and Carcassonne. Let's get to it!

Portal: Now that I'm playing through the advanced maps for Portal, achievements are getting harder to come by. The game is hard, plain and simple. And after suffering through that slight glitch the other day, I was worried that I'd have to start all over again. Luckily, the glitch was but a blip in a fantastic game and everything is back to normal.

Fruitcake [20 GamerPoint]: Since my last achievement-related post, I've only managed to pick up one more achievement in Portal but it's a good one. After beating the level 13, 14, and 15 advanced maps, the level 16 advanced map was a real slap in the face. Talk about difficult! The level itself involves a lot of angry turrets and a seemingly impossible task. Without spoiling anything for those planning on beating this map, I'll just say that the key to my success was using each and every weighted companion cube I could find. Why? Turrets can't fire through metal...


Half-Life 2: Half-Life 2 is an intense game to experience. You spend the first third of the game running for your life and scavenging anything you can find to help you defend yourself against the Combine. And then, just when you think you're safe, you're forced to make your way through a zombie-infested hell-hole called Ravenholm...

Heavy Weapons [5 GamerPoint]: When you get the airboat in Half-Life 2, you may think that all is hunky-dory: well, it's not! What good is a vehicle without weapons? How are you supposed to defend yourself against countless foes while riding around in nothing more than a go-kart on water? Once I picked up the Heavy Weapons achievement, I suddenly became the hunter and it felt good!

Revenge! [10 GamerPoint]: Is destroying helicopters going to be standard fare in video games nowadays? After doing my very best to take down a helicopter as Jackie Estacado in The Darkness, I was once again faced with a similar task as Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2. Throughout much of Half-Life 2's first two chapters, you'll find yourself constantly running from an ever-present threat from above: the hunter-chopper! Although it's much harder to take down the chopper in this game than it is using the Black Hole darkness power in The Darkness, it can be done!

It took me a few tries to do it but the hunter-chopper finally fell before the might of the laser-gun-thingy mounted on my little airboat. The trick for me was making sure to avoid as many of the chopper's attacks as possible, thus trading offense for a little more defense. Maybe it took a little longer but it's better a little late than dead, right? So when you're facing off against the chopper, determine which attack is coming and take measures to get out of the way. Bombs can be avoided by travelling perpendicularly to the chopper's movements and turret gun fire can be avoided by taking up a hiding spot behind some rocks or landlocked ships.

Zero-Point Energy [5 GamerPoint]: Zero-Point Energy? Oh, you mean the Gravity Gun! Sweet! The first time you grab hold of a large object with the gravity gun then send it flying up into the atmosphere, you'll know the feeling of power. The gravity gun is the definition of awesome and is one of the things that separates Half-Life 2 from many other games. I've included a little clip of the gravity gun in action below!

All this and 5 gamer points too! Thanks Valve!

Bone Breaker [5 GamerPoint]: The Bone Breaker achievement is simply an extension of getting the gravity gun. Once you're in possession of such an awesome weapon, it's hard to use anything else in your aresenal. This is actually a good thing as you'll be awarded 5 gamer points for taking out a mere 30 enemies with thrown physical objects. As for selecting which objects to "throw", might I suggest big rusty sawblades or explosive barrels!


Carcassonne: When I was glitched by Portal and completely stuck in Half-Life 2, I decided to play a little more Carcassonne. I can see the appeal of Xbox Live Arcade games: fast, simple thrills. Carcassonne is an addictive little game and I can't figure out why. I guess I have a deeply ingrained predisposition towards placing tiles on a board and getting frequent and unexpected achievements!

Big City [5 GamerPoint]: By creating a city on the board that spanned across three tiles, I picked up the Big City achievement. Extremely easy, especially when playing against the Easy-level Carcassonne AI...

Farm Boy [10 GamerPoint]: According to Carcassonne, I had a farm that supplied 4 or more cities, thus unlocking the Farm Boy achievement. I'll take the gamer points but I'm still not sure how I ended up with a farm in the first place...

Mirror Monk [25 GamerPoint]: What's better than a monestary in the countryside? How about two monasteries?! This achievement's pretty easy to pick up against the weak Easy-level computer opponent. You'll need a bit of luck to get two monastery tiles to place but when you do, simply spend the rest of the game trying to get the monasteries to "count" for you and you should walk away with a bunch of gamer points!


Weekend's here! I'll be sticking with The Orange Box for the most part: Half-Life 2 and Portal are calling my name. But I may also dip into one of my other games if Portal gets too frustrating or Ravenholm too scary. Have a great weekend everyone!