The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Live

The Good:
Friday morning I get a message from one of the guys on my Friends list. It was a mass mailing to everyone on his Friends list saying that he's finished Forza Motorsport 2 and is "gifting" all of his cars away. If there's any car that I want, I should send him a reply back requesting it. Wow! I immediately leapt at the chance to get my hands on the Koenigsegg, as it's the only car from Sweden I don't have and being that I based my in-game career out of Japan, the Koenigsegg is only available to me through the online Auction House where it's fetching upwards of 500,000 credits. About twenty minutes later, Bigazzbiscuit gifted me the half-million dollar car, thereby not only adding one sweet looking supercar to my stable, but helping me unlock the "All Cars From Sweden" Achievement. I send 'biscuit a thank you note and silently think to myself how wonderful the Xbox Live service is and what great use of it some games make.

The Bad:
The release of new maps and a game update ("general housekeeping" as Epic likes to call it) for Gears of War piqued my interest and, for one reason or another, I dug out my dusty copy and popped it back in for the first time in nearly 5 months. It only took several minutes of multiplayer before I realized what an abomination the gaming public has made of this game. A game that was intended to be all about using cover and flanking the enemy has been reduced to a free-for-all of shotgun blasts, interspersed by teenage profanity-laced screeching, the content of which leaves no part of my mother's anatomy unaddressed. Is this the game I wrote the strategy guide for? Is this the game I had so many incredible multiplayer sessions with during my stay at Epic Studios' offices? Is this the game I was so happy to see win a slew of "Game of the Year" awards? What have people done to it? Matches now last mere seconds and seldom feature any weaponry other than a Shotgun or Sniper Rifle. Teams don't communicate, they curse and swear amongst one another. And as many forum message boards had warned, and I can now see, your online Rep will suffer by playing the game as it seems some only play the game for the sake of filing complaints about others... for no reason at all. I really enjoyed the single player campaign, the cooperative play, and the multiplayer mode for the first several weeks. Then the masses set in and, frankly, ruined it. I can't wait for Halo 3 to come out just so this particular breed of gamer can go back to the dregs of gaming society from whence they came.

The Ugly:
I have a stalker. He goes by the name of Mr. Floppy minus the correct spelling. I received a Friend Request from him the other day and, thinking he was a co-worker of my friend Jim, I accepted the request. In the span of two hours yesterday he sent me nearly a dozen voice messages and invites to play Gears of War with him. I finally put down Forza Motorsport 2 and joined him in an unranked match. He sounded nice enough, but he didn't know Jim. In fact, apparently there's a website that serves as a matchmaking service for Xbox 360 players. It matched up his and mine games lists and Gamer Scores and told him that he and I had similar tastes. After a game of Gears of War I told him that I wasn't in the mood for that game and was going to play Catan. Minutes later I get a voice message from Mr. Floppy saying that he just bought Catan and wants to play it with me. I ignore it. Fifteen minutes later I get another message saying he finished the tutorial and now wants me to join him in an online game. I ignore it again. Five minutes later I get another message from him wondering where I am. By the time I turned off the Xbox I had over a dozen messages from him. I believe I may have figured out why this guy needs to look to online matchmaking sites to find people to add to his Friends list. I've since erased him from my Friends list and, for the first time ever, used the "Block All Communication" feature. I expect negative feedback or a complaint to be filed against me any day now. After all, hell hath no fury like a stalker scorned.

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