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I iz bak!

Amazing how everything can change in a matter of minutes. For me, the world turned upside down about three week ago when my father had a heart attack. I never saw it coming as my father had no history of heart problems. Nonetheless, there I stood in the local emergency room early one Sunday morning wondering how we wound up in such dire straits. Interestingly, neither the ambulance techs, nor the emergency room doctors, could definitely conclude that my father was having a heart attack as the EKG was inconclusive, and my fathers symptoms were not the classic symptoms of a heart attack (pain down the arms and/or jaw, trouble breathing, etc.). In fact, for some three hours, the docs were thinking gallbladder attack or a bloodclot in the lung (his only symptoms were a severe pain off near his shoulder, and falling blood oxygen levels). However, the blood test showed that at some point he did have a heart attack.

Fortunately, after about 12 or so hours, the hospital managed to stabilize his condition. Two days later, they performed an angioscopy and discovered that two of his arteries were totally blocked and he needed open heart surgery. This freaked my father out as he never had surgery in his 79 years. After being transferred to St. Francis Heart Hospital (one of the best in the country according to US News and World Report - and now I would have to agree), they performed a 5 1/2 operation that was a blessed success (I can't tell you what a hellish morning that was! All I remember of it was saying the rosary until the surgeon came out with a welcome smile on his face).

His recovery has been slow (two weeks: one in ICU, one in a cardiac "half step" room) but steady. We were hoping he would be released by now, but the docs are being real careful about getting the right mix of blood thinners. What is more, he was really weakened by the surgery, so physical therapy has been difficult. As a result, my dad will need to go to a rehab center for a week or so of additional PT, something we hope happens this week.

So that is why I was gone for just about all of September! Sorry about that!

Hopefully, with things slowly returning to normal, I will be back around these here parts. 

After having no time for gaming, I was expecting to find a lot of great headlines about hot, new titles on the horizon that I had missed over the past few weeks. So, with eager expectation, I dived back into my news sources and discovered...oh. How sad.

  • Yup. Looks like the end of 2012 is going to present another problem for my Christmas list. Sure, there are some interesting titles out there - Planetside Next looks interesting, as does XCOM:Enemy Unknown (October 9!) - but the only really big title that I truly can't wait to get my hands on is CoD: Black Ops 2.
  • With that in mind, I am starting to feel that miniatures itch. There definitely could be some lead on my Christmas list once again.
  • Speaking of Call of Duty, I am continued to be amazed at how much I have taken to Modern Warfare 3! The game is absolutely addictive because of it's e-sports elements. It is telling that since I haven't had time to play it the last few weeks my performance is now noticeably lacking. Just like any other sport, CoD requires constant training - which is something that just fascinates me.
  • Also speaking of CoD: I recently upgraded my video card to a XFX Radeon HD 6770 (recently nominated by New Egg for the "best product of the year" award category) and was amazed by the immediately apparent improvement in MW3's gfx. I mean, it was like a whole new game (I never knew what I was missing!)! I am very pleased with this card, doubly so considering it is considered a mid-line budget card.
  • Ironically, one of the reasons why I needed to upgrade my card was so I could play Battlefield 3. Well, I have now done so - and as a premium member - and can report nothing but disappointment. This isn't Battlefield 3 as much as Bad Company 2.5. I really don't know what EA/DICE was thinking. The Origin/Cloud Computing combo is just a horrid idea that makes getting into a game a nightmare (I average 3 tries before it eventually works). The game itself, while still possessing that Battlefield "big battle" magic, displays a decided lack of innovation (sure the graphics are slightly better, the maps a bit bigger, the server cap higher, but that is about it), and what innovation the game contains arrives in the form of watered-down Call of Duty copycatting (halfhearted weapon customization, smaller "CQ" maps that lack the visual panache of COD's maps, over-powered AC-130 Gunship strikes strangely similar to a COD killstreak reward, squad perks that clone COD's individual perks, "assignments" that ape CoD's "achievements", etc.). I was shocked to see that BF3 even stuck to its arbitrary US vs Russia theme (is it still 1985?). If this is EA's strategy to beat COD...well, good luck with that. AFAIAC, this strategy has accomplished little more than to make BF a shameless and muddled clone of COD. Don't get me wrong, BF3 does scratch the big battle, destructible environment itch...but little else.
  • Having said that, I expect Black Ops 2 to set new records for the franchise (I expect a lot of the "COD has peaked/is dead" crowd to have to eat their words next month). Unlike EA/DICE's reticence to take BF3 in a bold new direction (perhaps this is why they are already rushing off to BF4???), Activision/Treyarch are boldly moving BlOps 2 in many new directions. The change from modern warfare to a near-future cyberpunk/Sino-American War scenario alone makes me excited. Then there is the campaign with a branching storyline and perma-death for team members; a zombie campaign that early reports indicate could be a stand alone game in its own right; new ranked leagues to make it easier for the newb to be competitive; new "pick 10" customization options; and inbuilt video streaming and shoutcasting at the "touch of a button". Now that is how you keep a well-trod franchise fresh (and all the more reason why Battlefield is going to remain an "also ran" franchise)!  Expect an editorial on this soon.
  • Anybody play Carrier Command Gaea Mission yet? From what I am hearing, it is a typical BI release: buggy and rough around the edges, and not yet worth its $50.
  • Also, I see War of the Roses went live. Anybody try it? I'm gonna wait for a F2P weekend before I jump in.
  • I see Fallen Enchantress nears completion, according to this blog posting from Mr. Wardell: I am pleased with the present state of the game and expect FE to redeem the fiasco that was EWOM.
  • When you're exhausted, it affects your gaming. This fact recently came to mind when I booted up Crusader Kings 2 today and fell in love with its leisurely pacing where you can sit there for some time awaiting something interesting to happen, and when it does, it usually only requires a quick "command decision". Like I wrote about X3TC, it can be nice to play a game that isn't trying to rush the experience along. CK2 remains my pick for "2012 Strategy Game of the Year". And maybe "RPG Game of the Year", too! BTW: for this game I am playing a customized Swedish duke. Stay tuned for details on that.  Not much has happened yet, but I did get married and made my duchess a spymaster. She rewarded me with a pregnancy.
  • Has X: Rebirth become vaporware?
  • I recently resubscribed to Eve Online. Don't know why - I never get my money's worth. I guess it was because I passed many trucks on the highway as I drove to the hospital. Reminded me of space ships transporting goods, especially at night.  Still, I am already tiring of it.
  • Fall is here! And Halloween approaches!  I love this time of year. The crisp days and apple spiced air always raises my spirits.
  • Speaking of Halloween, I am suddenly interested in Left 4 Dead 2. As far as I am concerned, the MP is ruined by fanbois who make CoD fanbois seem tame by comparison. However, I am enjoying playing the campaign SP. If only Dead State was near completion. Maybe I will check out Project Zomboid as Halloween nears.
  • Romney won the first debate...and big!  It generally is an easy thing to argue and win against an empty chair, but country club republicans make everything so needlessly difficult.  Still, it looks like Team Empty Chair is going down for the count.

That's about it for now.  More as time allows.  Hopefully things will go back to normal soon.


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