TF2 sappin' my life!

PC Gamer calls it "the most fun you can have online" and I'm inclined to agree. Perhaps not as challenging or mature as other online games, Team Fortress 2 is an essential addition to any gamer's library, regardless. And it's usually on sale--I've seen it for as little as $6 on Steam (I got mine for $10). So what's the hold up? Go download it already and start playing!

Okay, so maybe you actually want to know a little about the game. I guess I can do that. Well, not only is it filled to the brim with cheeky humor (it reminds me a lot, stylistically, of classics like Ratchet & Clank and Crash Bandicoot), but its nine distinct classes (offensive, defensive, and support) make for satisfyingly variable gameplay. With well over a dozen different maps and a handful of different games to play like "Arena", "Payload", "Capture the Flag", etc., all involving two opposing teams--RED and BLU--every time that you log on to play TF2, you can usually expect a unique round. Not to mention, depending on what classes are on the field and how many there are, the interaction between players and the tactics demanded can change completely.

What first got me interested in the TF2 was Valve's series of "Meet the Team" videos meant to promote the game. The videos are not only immensely humorous and entertaining, but they do a good job giving you a sense of each class's abilities and purpose within the team.

The three offensive classes of TF2 are the Scout, Soldier, and Pyro. According to Team Fortress 2's official Wiki page, the Scout is a young'n from Boston who "flies like a butterfly and stings like a Shotgun blast to the face." He is the fastest of all the classes, making him useful in pushing Payload carts, stealing enemy intel, and capturing control points, among other things. Along with his in-your-face attitude, the Scout is equipped with a shotgun and a baseball bat as his primary and secondary weapons. Since his max health is low, it is critical for the Scout to utilize his ability to hit and run and attack opponents at close range.

Then there's the Soldier, who was designed to do the most damage, long-range, of all the classes. The Soldier uses a rocket launcher, which, not only does a considerable amount of damage, but allows the Soldier to attack from safer distances.

The final offensive class--the Pyro--is my favorite class to play by far. Not much is known about the Pyro in terms of his personal life...in fact, no one can even say for sure that it's even a "he" in that suit. His mask makes it nearly impossible to understand what he's saying most of the time, but his fighting methods are perfectly clear. As his name might suggest, the Pyro is most savvy with his flamethrower, which has a short range but deals impressive damage. Those who manage to flee the Pyro's flamethrower will still remain on fire for several seconds unless they die first or seek health before the flames go out. If the Pyro manages to ambush his enemies, though, you can pretty much expect them to be toast. Perhaps the Pyro's most important task is Spy-checking, which he accomplishes by setting invisible or disguised Spies on fire, revealing them and usually killing them.

The defensive forces are made up of the Heavy, the Demoman, and the Engineer. Arguably the most essential defensive class is the Engineer, who, instead of engaging in direct combat with his opponents, has a number of buildings he can set up, such as the sentry, teleporter, and dispenser. The Engineer's sentry can be incredibly lethal and problematic for the opposing team, while his teleporter and dispenser can be of great use to his own.

The Heavy, a giant Russian with a thick accent, has the most HP of all the classes and uses a minigun (which he shows more affection and concern for than any of his teammates). Essentially, it takes a lot to kill him and he can easily take down anyone who gets caught in his way of fire, but he's slow and easy to sneak up on. Regardless, he's a pretty good guy to have on your team, all in all, and while he's easier to play than some of the other classes, the Heavy is often crucial to a good defense. As one might expect, he can put quite a hurtin' on his enemies, and he makes a good Medic buddy as well.

The Demoman is, quite simply, "a black, Scottish cyclops" who can often be found with some sort of booze held tightly in his grasp. And, you know, is also a tactical, explosive-damage-dealing, defensive class. Armed with grenade and sticky bomb launchers, the Demoman is best played when he uses his sticky bombs (mines that stick to the ground, walls, ceilings, etc.) to set up traps for incoming enemies or send grenades ricocheting around corners. This is especially effective in situations where the enemy has to stand on or get to a specific area like a control point. Even more so than the Heavy, players will find that they can use the Demoman in circumstances that demand offensive action as well as defensive, such as taking down an enemy Engineer's sentry gun. Overall, a fun and diversely useful class.

Lastly, there are the support classes, which are the Sniper, the Medic, and the Spy. The Sniper and the Medic are both pretty self-explanatory, but the Sniper is obviously in charge of picking off targets with his sniper rifle from a distance where he is barely even noticeable and is, more or less, safe from harm. Don't get too comfy, though--you're usually pretty easy to sneak up on. While a sniper typically doesn't make as many kills as an offensive class, he has the ability to wait for high-value targets like Medics or Spies to make their way into his scope. If a player is feeling a little more ballsy, though, they can equip the Huntsman bow and arrow instead of the rifle, which is a more offensive weapon that demands attacks that are at a shorter range. Because of their specialized abilities, there should only be so many Snipers (like, two or three, tops) on the team at a time. The Sniper is from the Australian outback.

The Medic, who's quite obviously from Germany, is primarily responsible for healing his teammates when they take damage, of course, but he can also be an essential asset in taking down an Engineer's sentry turret or keeping enemies away from a control point or base. When the medic uses either his standard Medigun or the Kritzkrieg to heal his teammates, he charges up for either a temporary period of shared invulnerability between himself and a teammate or a bout of critical hits (or "crits") that his target can unleash upon the opposing team, depending on what weapon he's using. For most situations, the Medic's Über (invulnerability) is more necessary than a Kritz, especially when playing on an offensive team. While the Medic's role is a relatively simple one, you'll find yourself in big trouble on a team without him.

The very last class in the game is the Spy. The Spy can be incredibly useful, sneaking into enemy territory while invisible or disguised, backstabbing his opponents, and sapping Engineers' buildings until they are completely destroyed. They are arguably the most difficult class to play, however, and you usually only want one or two on your team.

With all that said, I seriously suggest that if you enjoy playing games online, you consider purchasing the game or at least giving it a try, cos it really does have something in it for everyone. It's fun and it allows for all sorts of different gameplay. Valve also puts out frequent updates which keep the game from going stale, even after months and months or even years of playing.

Expect a post on my love affair with the Pyro in the near future.

Images were found in several different places around the web and are (presumably) the property of Valve.


Head Trip

I've never been very good at keeping up with webcomics. Even the popular ones like Ctrl+Alt+Del and xkcd somehow slip from my regular web-browsing rounds after a week or so. Sure, I come back to them, now and then (usually when sent a link from a friend) but there's only one webcomic out there that has fully captivated me. As of right now, I am fully up-to-date and in love with four years' worth of Amanda "Shinga" Bussel's Head Trip.

Maybe it's the hilarious moments (these "moments" make up a good 75% of the series, mind you) of Mal's irrational yet somehow relatable rage that makes me love it so much. Maybe it's the poignant nerd humor--or even better, the poignant, feminine nerd humor. Whatever it may be, Head Trip is most certainly the webcomic for me.

Started back in March of 2006, Head Trip has come a long way while still maintaining its brash, borderline-offensive-at-times charm (Shinga, herself, makes a number of allusions to how evil her writing is). The comic mostly follows the main character, Malory (presumably a sort of iconic representation of the author), through all of her rants, raves, acts of violence, and nerdgasms. Aside from Mal, there's her sisters, Kat and Lilian, their friends and family, the "devil guy", and so on, all used frequently by Shinga to make some sort of social or personal commentary. From time to time, the comic strays from Mal's storyline, usually with an addition of "Emokid and Chemokid" (see what I mean by "brash"? It's delightful, really).

Full of a most spectacular and bedazzling array of geeky references (TV shows, video games, books, anime, D&D...), Head Trip is the perfect webcomic for any nerd. Especially the girls--not that it's overwhelmingly feminine, just more so than any of the other geek-tastic webcomics out there that us girls have access to. Females represent, yo! Head Trip is probably most known for its recurring stabs at the Twilight Series and Stephanie Meyer (that's how I got into it--my dear friend and fellow Twilight-hater linked it to me, once upon a time). Don't worry, though. Shinga very amusingly rips apart lots of other stuff, too.

Make no mistake, though...Head Trip is definitely enhanced with the occasional "d'aaaaw" moments throughout the series, all of which are executed with the same care and precision as all of the funny stuff. All in all, readers will most likely find themselves enjoying the series in its entirety immensely. If you don't like it, it's probably because you're not one of the cool kids. In which case, GTFO!

No, but seriously. If you're in touch with the passionate nerd inside each and every one of us (including you--YES, you), Head Trip has something for just about everyone, whether it's references to Firefly or LOST, or making fun of horrific cosplayers and fanboys...and best of all, Shinga's got love for BSG coming out the wazoo. That's good enough for me. Well, what are you waiting for? Go check this stuff out! Do it now!

Head Trip
Shinga's deviantART


Some Sweet Cosplays

We've all seen it before--some fat, hairy guy cosplaying as Link. Or even better, Sailor Moon (e.g. Peter Griffin, as seen to the right). What? You haven't seen them? Well, consider yourself lucky, because most of us are not so fortunate. What is seldom acknowledged, however, is that there are actually some pretty sweet cosplays out there that their respective cosplayers have put a lot of care and effort into. So I decided to do a little browsing on deviantART.com and found some cool cosplays/cosplayers that I figured I'd share with you.

The first is a Kingdom Hearts II cosplay featuring Riku and Namine. Aside from the well-made costumes (Namine's hair looks so pretty) and the skillful photography, what I particularly like is the setting. Spiral stairs are always kind of cool, but those of you who have played the games should appreciate the appropriateness of the background. The cosplay was uploaded by Lillyxandra on deviantART.

Next is the Spitter from Left 4 Dead 2. Not nearly as pretty as the first, but equally awesome, in my opinion. She is genuinely scary and the makeup on her face is perfect. Also, I love the high heels. The pose is spot-on, too. I guess the girl's a GameStop employee and dressed up like this for the midnight release of the game Also, kudos (I hate that word) to any woman willing to set her femininity aside for the sake of creativity. This cosplay was uploaded by tycho on deviantART.

This fantastic cosplay of Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2, my favorite FF character of all time (though, I preferred her in X), was done by blackmage9 on deviantART, who has tons of other cool cosplays in her gallery. This chick is pro. Obviously, the photo has been manipulated, but the costume is the best I've ever seen of Rikku. Her hair is amazing as well. Great costume, great photo, great cosplay. Definitely check out her other stuff as well.

I absolutely adore the Pyro from Team Fortress 2 and this humorous cosplay struck a chord with me, big time. The costume is one of the best I've seen and the pose is brilliant. Also, it's a girl underneath that costume, and I'm totally all about the Pyro turning out to be female, so big points there. The cosplay was done by tehcate on deviantART and she has another shot of her Pyro costume in her gallery that I suggest you go and find if you like this one.

Another Kingdom Hearts cosplay. What can I say? It's a very aesthetically pleasing and inspiring game. This is obviously Kairi (first-KH style), looking as cute as ever. Seriously, this girl did a spectacular job. The costume is nothing short of perfect and it's just a good look for her, costume, hair (I really want that hair), pose, and all. I have no idea how she made/got ahold of that charm, either, but it's awesome. Cosplay by LiL-KRN-YUNA on deviantART, who's got lots of other sweet cosplays in her gallery for you to enjoy.

This one's another that's been photo-manipulated (I know, I thought that was a real colossus in the background too!), but it's still quite impressive, nonetheless. The character is Wander from Shadow of the Colossus, of course, on his faithful steed, Agro. One of the colossi from the game has been Photoshop'd into the background. Well-designed costume and a cool setting, all in all making for a creative shot. Uploaded by ikarus-exe on deviantART.

This cosplay is the last one and I think it's one of the coolest I've seen, like ever. It's Shiva from Final Fantasy X! The hair is especially cool, I think, and looks very labor intensive, which is always a plus (look at those crazy hoop/ring things!). Or at least, makes it seem more impressive, which is something that this one certainly is. Seriously though, it looks like a lot of work went into this cosplay and it definitely pays off. Photo uploaded by tanknstar on deviantART, who is also the cosplayer.

Well, those were just some cool ones that I came across. I'd love to see any that you, yourself, have done, or have found elsewhere on the internets. So long as they aren't, you know...scary.

Oh, and I lied...

(Knightfourteen on deviantART)

Be sure to check out all of these guys' awesome galleries!


Michelle Phan

Alright, this blog post is largely intended for the ladies...and maybe all you guys out there who want to look like ladies.

Michelle Phan has the 19th most subscribed to YouTube channel and is the #1 subscribed to "guru", and for good reason. Not only are her videos well-made and her makeup tutorials rockin', but she also has a really attractive personality, and that, above all else, is what makes her stuff enjoyable to watch. Now, you might find yourself asking why I'm posting about a makeup artist on a video game blog, and you're right to do so. To be honest, Michelle Phan doesn't have much to do with video games, except that she is, herself, a huge fan of them. On her YouTube page, she cites Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, WoW, and Call of Duty as some of her favorite video games. She also says, "I may be a huge nerd but it does not mean I have to look like one. Here to represent fashionable nerds!"

While most of her looks are pretty thematic and perhaps not something you'd wear out every day, Michelle does a good job adding some variety to her many different looks, and there's almost certainly something for everyone. She also offers some awesome tips on how to do things like make your own skin care scrub, turn sushi into a facial, and so on. Here's one of her videos that I'm particularly fond of:

Now, if you're like me, you don't have the touch to pull these sort of looks off very often, but throughout all of Michelle Phan's videos, there's lots of practical advice in basic, everyday makeup use.

Michelle now has her own skincare line called iQQU, which can be found here: http://iqqubeauty.com/index.php/

If you like the video posted above, I highly suggest you subscribe to Michelle Phan's YouTube channel

You can also find her on...

UPDATE: Michelle Phan now co-hosts a gaming channel on YouTube with pro gamer, sW00Zie: Press Start. Be sure to check out my post on the channel, as well.


Left 4 Dead: the game that got me playing on the PC, and its worthy sequel

I was raised a console gamer from the age of 6. More specifically, a PlayStation gamer (PlayStation, PS2, PS3...). In fact, to this day, I still remember when my dad first brought home the original PlayStation and all of the game demos that came with it. I was so fond of my PlayStation gaming experience that until two or three years ago, console games were really the only ones I ever considered playing. Afterall, the most popular games on the PC that I knew of were things like WoW and Call of Duty, which didn't really interest me in the slightest. So for a long time, I stuck to my Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Prince of Persia, Shadow of the Colossus, and so on. But one day, that all changed.

My dad got an issue of Game Informer in the mail and after bickering with my brothers over who got to read it first, I finally got the chance to flip through it. About halfway in was a brief preview (with lots of pretty pictures that made it seem not-so-brief) of Left 4 Dead. I was instantly enticed. Not only did it star hordes zombies, which I have had a sort of infatuation with for as long as I can remember, but it emphasized the idea of tactical cooperation and the delicate functionality between the four playable characters. Basically, if you couldn't work well as a team, you were screwed. How cool was that? I didn't even know about being able to play the Special Infected or Versus Mode until later. After all of this excitement, however, my heart was effectively crushed when I searched the page for its system availability, only to find that it was for the XBox 360 and the PC only. At the time, I didn't have my own computer so the possibility of playing it on the PC didn't even cross my mind, and I certainly wasn't going to be able to afford a 360 any time soon.

So some time passed and when I had forgotten about the game almost completely, it was released and my boyfriend showed it to me on his computer. At first, I was stubborn and prejudiced, as we gamers tend to be. I was so familiar with playing on the PlayStation that the PC made me feel like a nub. All of those years of experience with a controller in my hand seemed to mean nothing now, and that made me uncomfortable. But then I saw the intro to the game.

Holy crap. I was thrilled in a sort of terrified way. Not only was the intro exciting and fun to watch, but it revealed precisely what made the game special. As a player, you had to constantly be astute to what was happening around you. Where are your fellow Survivors? Do they need help? What kinds of infected are nearby? Left 4 Dead is a game that has so many captivating and unpredictable elements to it, making it a truly unique gaming experience...if not a little stressful and intense, especially in Versus Mode. There's lots that a player needs to be aware of at all times like which route is the best, what items you should grab, what you should do if you encounter a Tank or a Witch, etc. Not to mention all of the wicked fun you can have as a Special Infected. But even then, the strategy shared between yourself and the rest of your team is crucial to success, which makes it different (and in my opinion, more likable) than most first-person shooters that emphasize little more than your kill/death ratio. If that's not your cup of tea, though (it's totally mine), there's lots of fun to be had in Campaign, Survival, and even Single-Player mode.

About a year after Left 4 Dead was released, its sequel, Left 4 Dead 2, was released as well. A lot of people (including myself) found this kind of annoying for financial reasons if nothing else (who wants to fork over $80-100 for two games from the same franchise in one year?) , but the trailers proved genuinely alluring. So I ended up pre-ordering it, of course.

With the addition of a few new Special Infected and melee weapons, among other features that make the game more variable than the first, Left 4 Dead 2 is very similar to its predecessor in that it sticks to the same line of gameplay. Players must rely on both their intuitive and strategic skills to get from point A to point B, hopefully still in one piece. What is unfortunate to me is that with the new characters and environments, a lot of the original Left 4 Dead's charm and horror seems to have been dissolved. However, L4D 2 is full of funny character quotes and unique settings that make it genuinely enjoyable in its own right. Valve also seems to be taking care to make sure that the game doesn't "get old" any time soon with weekly "Mutation" modes and the occasional new map. If all else fails...Ellis is incredibly sexy. I think so, anyway.

Images were found in several different places around the web and are (presumably) the property of Valve.


MMORPG: not the genre for me

Don't get me wrong--I love a good online game and I've been a fan of RPGs for as long as I can remember, but the two combined? In my admittedly limited experience, I've had a very hard time getting into MMORPGs like WoW and Final Fantasy XI. I often find them tedious and uninspiring, no matter how much time I put into them or which character class I choose.

For most of the more popular ones, I've been told countless times that you really gotta hang in there until around level 40, 50, 60--whatever--before it starts to get really fun. I've only ever played as far as the free trials allow me, but I've played enough to get an idea of just how long reaching that high of a level takes. And that's a really long time...especially considering that right now, most level caps are around 75 and 80, which means that for half of the game, you could very well not be having much fun at all. Let's not forget the $13+ monthly subscription fees. And expansions.

Now, I'd say that the whole monthly fee thing is largely what turns me off, but I find free MMOs like Fiesta and Gaia Online's zOMG just as boring and unappealing. I suppose they're just not linear enough for me to invest my time and money into and get any sort of worthwhile satisfaction out of. I prefer games that allow me to indulge in some alone time, which doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be single-player. I just feel that when the quality of gameplay is determined more by those you're playing with and less by the actual care and detail put into the game's design, it's not really worth the effort. That has been precisely my experience with MMORPGs (thus far).

Most of my friends whose opinions I value highly are avid WoW or Final Fantasy XI players and I wouldn't be so brash as to criticize the overall quality of these games (okay, maybe FF XI...have you seen the controls for that game on the PC?! WTF?). In fact, the MMO subculture has brought about a lot of awesome things like "The Guild", which I have grown very fond of.

I do plan on delving a little deeper into the genre with the release of Final Fantasy XIV in late September. There are still many aspects of MMORPGs that remain a mystery to me and I feel like I should broaden my understanding of this hugely popular facet of gaming. Expect an in-depth review of the game some time in the fall after its release.


"The Online Gamer"

While I'm not a huge YouTuber (though my boyfriend has had me watch more Shay Carl than I can even properly wrap my mind around), it cannot be denied that there are a number of unique gems that have ascended all of the pointless nonsense, destined to become YouTube classics. I believe one of them is "The Online Gamer" comedy sketch series by Reckless Tortuga. Okay, maybe it'll never be a classic, but it's certainly an honorable mention. As of now, there are four videos in the series, and although I'm not sure if there's a fifth in the making, they are all quite funny.

That is, if you play games online.

If not, you may not be able to appreciate the Online Gamer's unmistakable, over-aggressive attitude, akin to that of so many real online gamers', or his awkward and obnoxious declarations of "LAG" and "HEADSHOT, B*@$!" My personal favorite is the fourth video where he is invited to have dinner with his new girlfriend/teammate's family, but all of them contain poignant gamer humor that should speak to just about anyone who's ever played online. His interaction with the WoW player in part 2 sure does tickle my fancy, as well as him making fun of the Wii in the fourth vid.

WARNING: Explicit content--lots of dropping of the "F" bomb. The 3rd and 4th videos are censored.

If you liked the first video, be sure to check out the rest.

Reckless Tortuga's YouTube page can be found here:
Their website can be found here:


About Me

Now, let me make one thing clear: this blog is not intended to really be about me or my personal life so much as my opinions and observations of video games, gamers, and video game culture. That being said, I feel that it is more or less necessary to at least introduce myself. My name is Chloē Bridges (or, if you'd prefer my screen name: Tobuoi). I live in the northern part of Illinois currently but am moving to Oahu (hopefully somewhere in the Honolulu/Waikiki area) within the next year with my boyfriend and family. There, I plan on going to school to study game design. That's right--I not only love playing video games, I want to be a part of creating them as well. I absolutely love (almost) everything about video game culture and couldn't see myself happier as a part of any other industry.

Besides video games, I love art, music, birds, movies, books, religion, and politics, among other things. My favorite TV show in the entire universe is Battlestar Galactica, and I really don't give a frak what anyone else thinks about it. It's the best TV show there is and that's really all there is to it. LOST, The Office, Firefly, and Arrested Development are close contenders, though. As far as music goes, my current obsession is Utada, but I also enjoy Hooverphonic, Robyn, Bowling for Soup, Blue October, Florence + the Machine, Nelly Furtado, The Postal Service, Flight of the Conchords, and The Police, as well as many others. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, and my deviantART account can be found here: Tobuoi on deviantART. Some of my favorite movies are Moulin Rouge!, Kill Bill, The Nightmare Before Christmas, 28 Days Later, Billy Madison, and Spirited Away. My most absolute favorite book series ever is His Dark Materials, but Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite author. I love just about anything he writes.

My hopes for this blog are not only to express my seemingly infinite opinions on one of the most fascinating forms of art and entertainment of this generation, but to also perhaps turn readers onto some genuinely worthy things that they may not have known about or been interested in, otherwise. And, you know, provide something that's interesting to read. That would be quite ideal. I don't think there's really much else to say about me, other than that I own two delightful parrots named Kiwi and Mango, both conures, whom I love very much.

Should you want to find me elsewhere on the web...