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Time for my yearly push for Extra-Life where we support the VCU Children’s Hospital! Every dime you donate goes towards them and trust me when I say the kids can use the money to help improve their stay while they’re sick. Please help support them and help me reach my goal!

http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=97650

Introduction: As many of you know Jasmine and I went to LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN last weekend for their 26th annual convention. This is a science fiction and fantasy convention that is currently being held at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel in the middle of downtown Chattanooga. This is an AAR (After Action Report) of the weekend and the fun that we had.

Wednesday - I left the house around 0945 on my way to Rockwood-Harriman, TN where Jasmine lives. The plan was to spend the night at her house with her parents and then leave early Thursday for the convention. This way we’d avoid the mad Friday rush to get there and have time to relax before the con began (we’ll get into my ideas of relaxing in a minute). I made a couple stops on the way to her house, including a stop at McKay’s Used Bookstore in Knoxville as well as a very nice Goodwill. I made a few purchases including a game for Amanda Drake that she has been searching for, “Tales of Symphonia” for the GameCube. I got to Jasmine’s around 1730 and had a fantastic dinner that her mother prepared as well as a tour of the garden. The landscaping her mother can do would put most professionals to shame! We settled in for bed around 1am to get ready for the long day.

Thursday - Jasmine and I left about 1330 for the hotel and the convention. It was a straight shot down 27 with only a couple turns downtown to get us there. We checked in and that is where we ran into our first guest, Michael Z. Williamson! He and his daughter Morrigan were checking in right after us and I chatted with him for a second. Jasmine and I got settled into our room and decided to grab some dinner about 1700 after wandering around the hotel for a bit. We ended up at the Pickle Barrel where I had, of course, a very large dill pickle with my dinner. Having sated ourselves, we went back to the room to rest for the remainder of the evening. Then, as I am wont to do, I got bored. I mean really bored. We are talking “There was nothing on TV and I had brought books in the middle of a series”-bored. So I decided to head over to the main building where the convention was taking place to see if they needed any help. A very nice woman whose name eludes me at the moment asked me what I knew and could do. My response was “I ran a radio station for 6 years, I work in IT, and I can gofer.” Her answer was to point me at John Greever, their head Tech, and suggest I help him. We ended up running cables and sound equipment for the rest of the night which was AWESOME! I had not done that since I graduated Longwood and I missed it. I must have gotten there about 1900 and we finished up right about 0000. John said that he could use some more help around 1000 in the morning so I planned to be there to help him finish up. I headed back to my room, strangely relaxed (though sore from running the cables) and passed out.

Friday - I woke up around 0700 for some reason and I could not get back to sleep. After puttering around on the internet for an hour and a half I got ready to head back over to the main building to see what needed to be done. Donning my “+5 Shirt of Awesome” and my “Bag of Holding” (remember, I am geek hear me code) I went back to the building where I ran into Bill whom I had met the night before. We started neatening the cables up on the floor (lots of gaffer’s tape was used) and doing sound checks. John got there right about 1015 and blessed the work that we had done since we put him a bit ahead. Jasmine arrived shortly thereafter to help as well and after a bit more work, John invited us to the staff luncheon that was going on at 1200. At this point I was basically made Staff for the convention which was something I was not expecting nor planned for! Jasmine asked to not be made staff so she could concentrate on getting to the panels though she volunteered to help if they needed anything at all. There at lunch is where I met Tish, Rich, and Peggey, the two heads of programming and their second-in-command respectively. John explained who we were and why he had invited us and we began eating. Peggey brought up that they needed people to sit in on the panels and act as the time keepers as well as count the attendees in each session. I had a pretty booked schedule so I volunteered to help with all of the panels that I had scheduled. At this point I was officially made a staffer so I could carry out those functions. I would like to add that at this point (and for the entire weekend) everyone there was incredibly nice which is why I had no problems volunteering. I was not “volun-told” I actually volunteered. After we finished eating Peggey took me over to Registration to get myself set up and ready to go. I got a quick tour of everything since, of course, I had not had the normal staff briefing on anything. It was there I also met Brandy, the Con Director, who was just awesome. At this point we were nearing the time for registration to begin so it was nearly 1400. The very first thing I ended up doing was actually line maintenance to make sure we got the Pre-Registered people and the On-Site people in the correct lines. I met Johnny at this point too (not sure of his last name but he went by Johnny-Minion) and shortly thereafter Derek, Brandy’s Husband/Photographer. The panels started at 1500 and my first one was a reading by Larry Correia.

Friday – 1500 – Reading: Larry Correia: Ok, I have been Facebook/Twitter friends with Larry for a while but this is the first time I had gotten a chance to actually meet him in person! If you look at my profile picture on Facebook you can see that I barely come up to his armpit. I was able to introduce myself to him before the panel began and he recognized my name which was awesome. His panel was half reading and half “shoot the bull” session. I assisted with the A/V and made sure to time everything. A lot of the panels I went to that weekend were ones that he was on so I hope he did not think I was stalking him all weekend!

Friday – 1600 – Free Hour: I wandered around assisting where needed (mostly running water and ice to several of the rooms) as well as hit the dealer’s room. I picked up a shirt from Mike’s booth and got him to sign one of my books. I also got a chance to pass my mother’s Thank You note to Kevin J. Anderson which thanked him for signing my mother’s books at RavenCon and for selling her his personal copy of the third book in his series that was not even due out yet! He told me that the letter absolutely made his day which made me quite happy. Beyond that it was just getting ready for the Opening Ceremonies.

Friday – 1700 – Opening Ceremonies: I found out that there are a LOT of guests at LibertyCon as Larry read them all out. We also got to hear more about the history of the con and all of the awesome things going on during the weekend. It just got me even more pumped up!

Friday – 1800 – Reading: John Ringo: I had met John before and as well as being friends on Facebook he has killed me off in one of his books. Needless to say I was definitely looking forward to the reading and I was not disappointed. He read and talked about his new series, the “Dark Tide Rising” series which has the first book out as an E-ARC on Baen’s website. He also took question and answers and while I was disappointed that there will probably never be a sequel to “Von Neumann’s War” I have a TON of other things to look forward to from him.

Friday – 1900 – World Building for Writing and Gaming: This was more of a panel for Jasmine than I but I really enjoyed it from the perspective of a gamer. I did decide at this point though that I have to get some of Sarah Hoyt’s books though as they sound awesome!

Friday – 2000 – Free Hour: more running around helping. I went by the Con Suite and grabbed some food as well as helped there for a few.

Friday – 2100 – Meet Our M.C. Larry Correia: This was pretty much an interview that was conducted by Stephen Cobb. We learned more about Larry’s writing process, what is in store for both the Monster Hunter and Grimnoir series, and more about Larry himself. I did feel a few of the questions were trying to provoke Larry into giving certain answers but he handled those with aplomb. Overall I really enjoyed the discussion.

Friday – 2200 – Messiest Ways to Kill Zombies: This has to be one of my absolute favorite panels from the con. The entire room was PACKED with people; it was standing room only! You had three of my favorite authors on the panel with Mike and John sitting on it and Larry moderating it. It mainly focused on, of course, zombie fighting techniques but each person on the panel brought a unique perspective to it. One of the best parts, for me anyway, was when I made the ENTIRE room groan from one of my puns. What happened was that Larry had asked the panelists what one item, besides firearms as that was a no brainer (no pun intended there), each of them wanted. Most were sensible answers but those were quickly taken so one of the panelists said that he wanted as much sodium as he could possibly have. My response to that was “So you are talking about ‘assault’?” After the groan I was told by Larry that I would be the first to die in the apocalypse. We also learned not to piss off Ted “Speaker to Labrats” Roberts as he can and will turn you into a zombie.

Friday – rest of the night -
mostly spent in the Con Suite talking with people before bed. Jasmine turned in early though I was not far behind. I believe I was in bed by 0130.

Saturday - Not as busy as Friday for sure. I did have several panels but nothing like Friday. Today was more of when I volunteered for other duties besides timekeeper and A/V.

Saturday – 1000 – Kaffeklatsch: Larry Correia: This was a LOT of fun. It was literally a “shoot the bull” session with Larry and he answered everything we threw at him. He also brought some of the original M.H.I. patches and he gave me one. I cannot wait to have it added to my shirt. It was nice to just be able to relax and chat with an author and Larry was just fun to hang with as was his wife the “lovely Mrs. Correia.” She is just as gracious and fun to talk to as her husband. I did get my picture taken with Larry afterwards which was pretty cool too!

Saturday – 1100 to 1300 - running around helping everywhere. If I was not helping Tech I was helping Programming or Con Suite. Lots of work but awesome people to do it with.

Saturday – 1300 – Reading: Chuck Gannon: I got to meet Chuck at RavenCon this year and absolutely loved his book “Fire with Fire.” He is one of the most personable authors and was a pleasure to see again. He read from some of his “1632” works with Eric Flint and from “Fire with Fire.” He answered all of the questions posed to him by us and I think everyone had a great time.

Saturday – 1400 to 1600 - Baen Traveling Roadshow: Baen put on their traveling roadshow again and this was my third time attending. As with the last two times I really enjoyed myself and I think Toni outdid herself with it. Tons of books were handed out and I even ended up with a printed ARC of Ringo’s “Under a Graveyard Sky.” I ended up texting my little brother about a contest Baen is doing for an animated, exploding starship so I’m hoping he will enter it and maybe win some money! I got to sit next to Chuck as well and talk with him a little more so all in all it went very well. During the show though one of the speakers started acting like it was going to explode so I had to run over and power it off before it did any damage. That was a bit wild!

Saturday – 1600 to 2230 - This is where I got the bulk of my volunteering in. From this point on I did everything from inventorying and moving ice, and washing dishes, to pouring beers and mixing drinks for people in the Con Suite. I had an absolute blast though as I got to meet a LOT of interesting people. I actually ran out of business cards by the end of the night. I did manage to get Larry and John to sign my books before I really got into the swing of things. Several people thanked me profusely for helping as it enabled them to go to some of the really popular panels that they would otherwise have missed. One of my highlights was earning some extra tips (which went to help pay for the food and drinks and then onto charity if there was extra) by pouring perfect beers for people. This meant that it was full to the brim with just the right amount of head. It took me a while but I finally got the hang of it! I worked there from pretty much 1730 to 2230 when my feet finally gave out. Everyone kept checking on me to make sure I was ok staying that long which was really nice of them! :D During this time is also when I really got a chance to meet and talk to Jason Cordova as well which was a lot of fun.

Saturday – 2230 to bedtime - I got to cross something off of my bucket list as well. One of the attendees (not a guest) had some of his homemade “mountain lightning” with him and I got to try some. That has spoiled me for any of the watered down kind and for some other kinds of alcohol! It was incredible. I did not get drunk that night though I did have a few drinks. Jasmine came by around 2215 and after I got done helping we went and hung out with a lot of different people. After a while we ended up sitting and chatting with John Ringo and his wife Miriam and listening to their stories. Eventually Jasmine and I entered the discussions they were having and just had a blast! We sat and talked for probably 3 hours with John and Miriam and Jasmine and I both learned a lot. The funniest part was when John lost his lighter. He checked all of his pockets like 3 times and then about an hour after he could find it, he put his hand in the pocket WE WATCHED HIM CHECK, and pulled out his lighter! We were all gobsmacked! Miriam had left just before this and we figured she had it with her. Eventually though it became time for bed and we made sure that John got hooked up with his ride and then Jasmine and I crashed.

Sunday - Another light day for me. I picked up some breakfast for Jasmine from the Con Suite and then we headed to our panels.

Sunday – 1100 – Things I Wish A Pro Had Told Me: Again this was more for Jasmine than myself but I did really enjoy finding out more about the writing and publishing process. This was headed up by Kevin J. Anderson, his wife Rebecca Moesta, and Toni Weisskopf. It was a lot of fun and even though there was a lot of stuff you would assume was common sense, it became apparent from some of their examples that it was anything but. If you can ever get to this panel when Kevin and them do it, you should!

Sunday – 1200 – Monster Hunters: This was strictly a panel on Monster Hunter International and the crew with only a brief mentioning of the Grimnoir universe. At one point Larry had referenced the MHI RPG from Hero Games several times but did not have an example to show of it with him. I pulled it up on my iPad and showed it around the room for people who were interested. Yet again this was a really fun panel and one that gave a LOT of insight into the series, it origins, and some fun trivia about Monster Hunter.

Sunday – 1300 – Free hour: Jasmine and I went to get another autograph from John Ringo but unfortunately he was not feeling well so he was not able to make it. It was fine though, we were able to chat with a few of the other authors and peruse the dealer’s room one last time.

Sunday – 1400 – Celebrity Jeopardy: This was where my A/V and Computer skills came in handy. John Greever and I got Fitz’s laptop finally talking to the projector and got the game started. It was Larry against Speaker and Paul Bielaczyc (an artist). Larry managed to pull ahead of Speaker by 600 points which put him in First Place until Final Jeopardy came around. The final question was about NASA space vehicles which Larry admits he knows nothing about. Speaker, on the other hand, did and bet everything which put him nearly double Larry in points at 10600 with Larry at 5900 having bet nothing. Sadly Paul decided that the answer was “Your Mother” and lost it all, with 0 points.

Sunday – 1500 to 1645 - Closing Ceremonies: This is also, as they like to call it, the “Bitch at Brandy” session. It went for well over an hour with a lot of good ideas and suggestions as well as valid criticisms being thrown her way. I grabbed the mic at one point and explained how it was my first LibertyCon and that it is one of the best run cons I had ever seen. At that point Brandy jumps in, as well as John Greever, and tell me how much they appreciated all of my hard work this weekend. I know I was beet red by the time they were done but I really appreciated it. My only suggestion was that they should maybe add a panel or two on gaming/video games.

Sunday – 1700 - Jasmine and I headed home to her place. We were both exhausted but super happy with how the weekend went. We have already started planning for next year! :D

Overall: The con was an absolute, incredible, awesome time! I have no reservations saying it was one of the best, if not THE best, con I have ever been to and its all due to the awesome staff, guests, and attendees. Not one a-hole was met the entire weekend! Were there problems? Sure, there are always issues but from everything I saw they were handled quickly, professionally, and they obviously never came to light for me. I made a lot of new friends at this con and I think reinforced some older ones. Several people asked me if I would be coming back and volunteering and I DEFINITELY will be. :D You guys are stuck with me now MUAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA! >:D

Before there were Zerg in “Starcraft” and the SPARTANS in “Halo,” there was “Warhammer 40,000.” This series, which started as a tabletop miniatures game in 1987 by Games Workshop, has evolved over the years into a role-playing game as well as various computer games. The newest in this illustrious series is “Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II.” It was released on February 19th, 2009 by Relic Entertainment (makers of the wonderful “Homeworld” series and “Company of Heroes”) and has since occupied a spot on my hard drive.

Why do I have those examples from much more modern games? It is because they took those ideas from the iconic figures of the Warhammer 40k universe and tried to make them their own. The Zerg from “Starcraft” are the Tyranids, insectile hive-minds that feature a prominent role in “DoWII.” The SPARTANS from “Halo” are the Space Marines that are the feature of the single-player campaign in “DoWII.” Other races you will encounter are the Orks who are just as orcish as they sound, the Eldar who are your requisite Elves, and the Imperial Guard who are the massive armies fighting with you on the side of the Emperor, the immortal savior of humankind. The introduction to the game sums it up well, “It is the 41st Millennium, and there is only war.”

Unlike the previous title in this series, the original “Dawn of War” and its myriad expansions, this game focuses more on squad combat than cranking out units and trying to fight with massive armies. This fits the universe more as your Space Marines are designed to be small squads with no more than five to six members a piece. You also do not crank them out of a base structure in single-player, they are sent down from your orbiting battleship as reinforcements. You can only reinforce at certain points so it behooves you to maintain close control over your squads as you advance through the game. It is still very much a real-time strategy game in its control scheme and viewpoints though you can zoom all the way down to ground combat. I highly recommend this as there are some impressive finishing moves.

The tutorial to the campaign brings you into “DoWII” very smoothly and is a baptism by fire. You immediately begin by having to retake your home planet by reinforcing Captain Davian Thule of the Blood Ravens Space Marines and fighting to him. The game mechanics are introduced to you slowly but in a manner that makes sense. As you progress through missions for the first fifth of the game things such as “orbital strikes” and “automated factories” are shown and control is turned over to you of them. The story stays coherent throughout and there are several surprises in store for you as you play. There is intrigue aplenty and you never know who is up to what. If you are familiar with the “Warhammer 40k” lore through the novels of Dan Abnett, Ben Counter, and others then it will not be as surprising but still pleasant in how they are carried out.

The other races are designed well as they should be considering the amount of established lore that exists. Games Workshop has dozens of manuals that exist and the “Black Library” of fiction for the universe is huge. The Eldar “psykers” are as ethereal and elf-like as you would expect and the Orks are as brutish and bloodthirsty as their regular “Warhammer: Age of Reckoning” counterparts. Watching an Ork pick up one of your men and throw them across the screen does not get old. Having your Space Marine slice them nearly in half with a chainsword is better as it means one of your men is not dying. Multiplayer allows you access to the other races for play but it changes the mechanics of the game by requiring some base building and construction of units. It is here that “DoWII” feels like a regular real-time strategy game. I understand that it is necessary in order to provide a multiplayer experience but I prefer the squad-based format from single-player.

There are a few problems with the game that do need to be addressed and some of them have been already through patches. One issue is that in order to play you must have a “Steam” account through Valve. This is nice because it will automatically update the game for you but if you are not permanently connected to the internet it will mean you have to connect every time you want to play. “DoWII” also has the same achievement system as a normal Xbox 360 game because of its association with “Games for Windows Live.” I do not have an issue with this as they do give you goals to shoot for but they can be disruptive during gameplay as they issue a sound and appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. As long as you have a system that is no more than two years old you should be able to run “DoWII” with no problems but I do recommend having a decent graphics card if you want to see the bloodshed in all its glory.

Overall, I would highly recommend buying this game. If you like a dark, dystopic, gothic science-fiction game with extensive lore it is right up your alley. If you like a squad-based game with excellent tactical AI and beautiful graphics, this game is for you. If you prefer your elves with bows and arrows and your humans puny and week, this is not the game for you. Want to see the source of all of your current gaming heroes? Then “FOR THE EMPEROR, KILL THE MUTANT, BURN THE WITCH, PURGE THE HERETIC” and buy this game!

To paraphrase Francis Ford Coppella’s character Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore “I love the smell of METAL in the morning.” If you, like me, love the smell of heavy metal music or enjoy playing a fun hack and slash game with some real time strategy thrown in for fun then you will really enjoy Brutal Legend. This game has been many years in coming as it has been in development since early 2006 by Double Fine Productions and has had issues with publishers over the years. Double Fine currently has a contract with Electronic Arts to distribute Brutal Legend. It arrived on store shelves October 13th of this year, or “Rocktober 13th” as the Double Fine team, headed by Tim Schafer, put it.

Tim Schafer has been in the game creation business for over 20 years. He started at LucasArts during their golden years of game development and helped work on such series as “Secret of Monkey Island” and the much lauded “Grim Fandago” which was one of the first adventure games to use full 3-D graphics. Since that time Schafer and his team at Double Fine Productions have put out the highly rated Psychonauts and began work on what we now know as Brutal Legend. Schafer was not alone in this project though; he managed to recruit some very highly know talent across the heavy metal and film worlds.

Brutal Legend takes place in a universe where music has the power to alter the world. The main character Eddie Riggs, voiced by Tenacious D front man and Hollywood actor Jack Black, is a roadie here in our universe. During a show where a self-proclaimed “heavy metal” band called Kabbage Boy, who were in reality a band of tween pop stars, were playing one of the actors manages to bring the house down. Quite literally in this case as the stage itself collapsed. Riggs managed to save both the guitar and the band member playing it but is injured. After doing so he wakes up in this new world and quickly finds out he has the power to help save the small band of humans still alive.

This is where the player takes over. Using a third person perspective that remains constant throughout all of Brutal Legend’s modes, the player begins by hacking and slashing their way through the many denizens of S&M gear and poorly dressed hair metal minions. The first few missions help acquaint you with the characters and factions of the world and begin feeding you all of the weapons, vehicles, and powers you will gain over the course of the game. One of the first things you learn how to use is your axe that Riggs names “The Separator” and his beloved guitar “Clementine.” Rocking out powerful riffs causes massive damage to enemies and can unlock some very powerful moves. Some of the major powers such as the “Facemelter” and summoning your vehicle “The Deuce, aka ‘The Druid Plow’” require following a quick pattern of notes on your controller. If you have seen “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” you will be very familiar with this game mechanic.

Slowly you also get worked into the real time strategy parts of the game. Controlling your troops and building structures is quite easy though I did not find it quite as intuitive as the controls in Halo Wars; the only other real time strategy game I have played on a console. Directing your units uses the directional pad while creating new units uses the right button on the Xbox. New units get added to your army as you meet them throughout the campaign and each has their strengths and weaknesses. Your Headbangers, “What do you do with a group of kids who don’t know how to do anything but bang their heads all day long? ‘You start a revolution Lars,” are powerful infantry units but can be quite slow. Your Razor Girls are the ultimate long range troops but can be taken out by other infantry quickly. All of the units are balanced well, I have yet to come across something that cannot be beaten using the right strategy. You can still hack and slash through the real time strategy missions, Riggs is not delegated strictly to the General’s chair. He eventually grows demon wings and gains the ability to fly above the battlefield which makes giving orders a lot easier. You can still summon “The Deuce” during these battles to have its firepower added to your army. This helps to give the army and its units personality though they had quite a lot of it to spare already.

Besides Jack Black voicing characters, you have quite a few heavy metal greats voicing units as well. Ozzy Osborne voices the Guardian of Metal, a character who helps give you weapons and new moves throughout the game. Rob Halford voices General Lionwhyte while Tim Curry voices the evil Doviculus. The landscape also represents many of the greatest album covers in heavy metal history. I do not want to spoil the surprises so I will not be listing them here. To top it off, they have over 100 licensed heavy metal tracks in game that you can listen to while completing missions.

Overall this is a game I would recommend to almost anyone. If you have an anathema to heavy metal or hate real time strategy or hack-and-slash games then you will want to avoid Brutal Legend. If you love heavy metal, a great story, and interesting, well-voiced characters then Brutal Legend is for you. The controls will take some getting used to in the major strategy battles but they are quick to pick up. My only hope is that the campaign will be expanded by some downloadable content down the road. So pick up your axe and your guitar, get the Manowar or Black Sabbath going on the radio, and play this game. As Ozzy Osborne, the Guardian of Metal, put it “What *&^*$#@ took you so long?”

In the beginning there was Halo: Combat Evolved for the original XBOX system. Developed by “Bungie, LLC” which is now a subsidy of “Microsoft, Inc;” Halo: Combat Evolved put you in the shoes of a human super-solider by the name of Master Chief. Master Chief is a SPARTAN, the creation of a super-secret program that combined alien technology with human combat tactics to create one of the most power sets of soldiers the future had ever seen. Possessing super-human strength, regenerating shields, and able to wield massive alien weapons; the SPARTANs were the first line of defense against the alien incursion called the Covenant. The Covenant is bent on the destruction of mankind in accordance with their religion and is seeking the ultimate weapon to destroy us. Over the course of three games, you played as SPARTAN-117, aka “Master Chief.” You got used to the armor, the shields, and the sheer power of the character and now, you have NONE of that. Welcome to the ODST trooper!

Only previously mentioned in the Halo franchise lore the ODST are shock troopers that, until the advent of the SPARTAN program, were the frontlines of human defense. Their full title is “Orbital Drop Shock Troopers” and the affectionately go by the moniker “Helljumpers” because of how hellish their drops from orbit to the battlefield are. Until this game, the only time you got a chance to play with the ODSTs was in Halo Wars a real-time strategy game that did not give you direct control of the characters as you have now. These soldiers are incredibly tough and are considered the UNSC’s best non-modified soldiers but make no mistake; they are nowhere near as indestructible as someone like “Master Chief.” This game is going to change the way you play Halo, requiring you to switch from the gung-ho tactics to something more stealthy and for die-hard Halo players it may be a shift they will not like.

The story begins in between Halo 2 & 3 in orbit above New Mombasa, Africa. The Covenant have managed to discover earth and a huge ship has gotten into position over the city and Covenant forces are furiously searching for something in the area. As “The Rookie” you have been assigned to drop into the city and find out what the Covenant is searching for and stop them at all costs. As you drop to the earth, the Covenant ship warps out and the shockwave from it decimates the city and throws your pod off course causing you to black out. You wake up about six hours later with no idea what has happened to the other three members of your team or what is going on in the city. Your mission now is to find out what happened to your teammates and find what the Covenant is looking for before they do.

As you progress through the city you will gain the help of the city’s Artificial Intelligence known as the “Superintendent.” You will also find traces of your other five teammates: Buck, Dutch, Romeo, Mickey, and Dare. As you find the traces they will trigger “flashbacks” which will have you playing in the shoes of that missing teammate to discover what happened to them and fill in the story. This highlights one of the other major changes to the Halo template; you will be able to play the campaign in a non-linear manner. Each teammate has their own weapon specialty so you will have to adapt to that style as you progress though you will have the option of swapping weapons with dead enemies as in previous Halo titles. As of now, dual-wielding is not a possibility as you lack the extra strength that a SPARTAN has though you do have something to mitigate that. As an ODST trooper, you have a new vision mode, called “VISR” that will allow you to see in darkened places and help to target enemies. It lacks the radar that previous titles have but it does still have a compass and targeting reticule. This will be incredibly important as you progress, allowing you to spot different routes to get around the large groups of enemies or outflank them for attacks. Remember, you are not a SPARTAN so you cannot take large groups head on! Should you be injured though, health will be available through terminals that the “Superintendent” will point out to you.

Once you tire of the campaign, you will have the usual Halo multiplayer fare with a brand new mode called “Firefight.” Similar to the “Survival” mode in Left 4 Dead, you face infinite waves of even more difficult foes coming at you. There is no way to win and it ends when both you and your friends run out of the preset amount of lives. The rest of the multiplayer line up consists of the standard Halo game types and remakes of many of the previous games’ maps. Currently, cooperative playing of the campaign itself has not been confirmed but considering the other games in the series it is highly likely.

I personally am really looking forward to this game and what it means to the Halo franchise. It is a reimagining of what Halo is and is poised to be a breath of fresh air into what was becoming a case of “sequel-itis.” The game releases on September 22nd, 2009 and if you preorder the game you can get an unlock code for Sergeant Avery Johnson in the “Firefight” mode. As an added bonus, if you buy Halo 3: ODST you will be given a code for the future beta test of Halo: Reach which is scheduled to drop in 2010. Good luck and god-speed “Helljumper!”

These are all the Cons I’m going to or have been to already this year:

Mysticon – Feb. 22-24

Madicon – March 8-10

RavenCon – April 5-7

LibertyCon – June 28-30

Otakon – Aug 9-11

Escapist Expo – Oct 4-6

I cannot wait to go to all of them and I hope to see you there!

Gerry

Kevin J. Anderson has a Zombie Detective series out now that my mom has read and LOOOOOVES. Well Mom gave me the first book to have him sign since, why not?

So at the con I told him how much my mom loved the book and he tells me that he has the second book there for sale. I pick that up for mom and he signs that for her too. He mentions that he had just gotten HIS copy of the 3rd book in, that won’t be on sale for a few more weeks.

Well I think nothing of that except to tell Mom so she can buy it when it comes out. On Sunday as Dalla and I are walking around, Mr.Anderson passes us in the lobby and I mention to Dalla how cool it is that we just passed the Author GOH. Not two seconds later Mr. Anderson grabs my arm and asks “Are you the one who’s Mom really likes the series?”

I go “Yes sir, that was me.”

He says, “Well I just finished my reading of part of the 3rd book and do not need it any more. Would your Mom be interested in buying it?”

My response “Yes sir, I definitely think she would!” so he says “Follow me back to the Dealer’s room and I’ll get it for you.”

Well we get back there and he goes to give it to me (for the cover price of course, $15 which is SO WORTH IT). His wife, Rebecca Moesta who is also an author, goes “Well hon, I was just telling people I couldn’t sell that copy.” He went “Well I’m told him I was selling it to him so its gone. Sorry hon.” I was a bit mindblown still at this point so I may not have quoted that 100% accurate.

He also said “I’m going to do something special for this one” and put in there “First Signed Copy” because that is the VERY FIRST COPY OF THE FREAKING BOOK printed. This was his Author’s Copy that he sold us which is just incredibly awesome.

Thank you for that Mr. Anderson! :D

r600x600

Well I want to try to go through some of my collection and actually play some of the games. Here is my question:

What games out of my collection would you like to see me play and/or beat? I’ll do my best to stream them on Twitch. :D

As always the collection is located at: www.gerrymartin.info/videogamecollection.htm.

Well I love my ability to find a game, game soundtrack, or game novel pretty much everywhere I go!

This time my haul wasn’t bad (total spent about $30). This was via several Roanoke area Goodwills and a store in Lynchburg called “The Collector’s Lair.” I recommend that store for the adventurous and/or deep pocketed.

I managed to get:

Star Trek: TNG: Echoes From The Past (Genesis) w/box & manual
BattleTech (Genesis) w/box & manual
SimCity 3000 (Soundtrack)
Midnight Raiders (SegaCD) w/box & manual
Supreme Warrior (SegaCD) w/box & manual

I will be updating my collection later today to add these gems. As always, the collection is located at www.gerrymartin.info/videogamecollection.htm.

In case I had not mentioned it before, I do posts on DaxGamer.com for both news and now REVIEWS as well! Come check out my stuff! DaxGamer.com