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2:22 PM on 08.17.2007

Masters of Code

Clive Barker's Jericho, Turning Point Fall of Liberty, Overlord, Rise of the Argonauts, DiRT... Maybe I'm just reacting because they are making games closer to genres I'm interested in or that Jim Sterling touched on this earlier but where the hell did Codemasters come from? I know they've been around forever (Micro Machines for the NES!), but still next to the Unreal Technology logo that's everywhere, their logo seems to be just as prominent.

Along with Activision toppling EA this past quarter, 2K games shamelessly expanding their brand. I'm just glad to see we are getting some diversity with developers and publishers of the games with mass appeal, it's no longer restricted to EA, Ubisoft, or the big 3's first party developers. Hopefully this trend continues.   read


5:14 PM on 08.16.2007

Justin Bailey Needs a Daddy (1)

As I count my nickels and dimes and glance at possible trade-worthy games in my classic collection, I'm clueless as to how I'm going to afford, let alone play, the games I want that are coming out in the next few months.

The current debate of choice was raised by some demo you may have heard of that came out this week: BioShock vs Metroid Prime 3.



First of all, I'm of the mind that none of us have the right to tell Nintendo how to do anything until after the sales numbers are in from NEXT years holiday season. I'll be the first one in line to defend their next niche' idea, but I can't help but be a little jealous of the ignorant Wii and DS owners who have become their target audience.

The classic Nintendo gamer has been forgotten. The stubborn of us who lapped up the scraps falling from their barren N64 and Gamecube tables, while Nintendo limped along until their current meteoric rise. I'm happy for my old friend, but I wish he'd impact a few games designed specifically for the old guard.

Buying into everything about the Wii, pushing aside the graphics and technology debates, the online friend codes, and their new target audience - I'm excited for Metroid Prime 3. Honestly, I salivate at the previews that I read about how solid the gameplay is and its amazing innovations in First Person Shooting/Adventuring control. If I focus on the positives, and never look away, I can't be disappointed.

Then, the BioShock demo comes along and jars me back into reality. Until this demo Gears of War was the stand out game that welcomed us to next gen gaming. The BioShock demo easily trumps the initial Gears experience and brought forward the awesomeness of a totally immersive gaming experience built on both the latest in gaming technology and gameplay. I admit that 80-90% of the 360/PS3 games are garbage and most sell on style over substance. Which is why I support Nintendo's focus on gameplay. I cannot however, help but be frustrated at Nintendo when games come along that I want to hold up to Nintendo and say, "We can have both!"

I know I will buy both games. I will enjoy both games for completely different reasons. There will be moments when I'm playing Metroid and I'd wonder what jumping around using the Screw Attack would look like in the Unreal 3 engine, or that I'd like to voice chat with one of my friends that just showed up online. There will also be moments in BioShock where I'd think Telekinesis would really feel better with a wii-mote than an analog stick.

You know the team at Retro has to wonder what their game could look like with more power behind it, their end vision of Samus couldn't have just been a polished and smoother running version of the Gamecube game. At the same time, if the team at Irrational chose to implement some wii-mote abilities into their game, it would be used for something pretty wicked. While I'm dreaming you may as well just combine the teams and make the ultimate Metroid game, complete with nerve-wracking exploration of an unknown planet which has, oh, I don't know, a wrecked ghost ship as one of the areas.

I'm going to stop for now so I'm not disappointed in both games.

This does just barely scratch the surface of the wealth of knowledge and creativity that Nintendo is holding back from established 3rd party developers. We would all benefit from future collaborations as gamers and industry supporters.   read


3:18 PM on 08.13.2007

The Grunting is Getting Closer

First Halo, now Madden. Where has my elitism gone? Next thing you know I'll be buying GTA 4 and trying to retroactively join a fraternity.

I did it. I "preordered" Madden '08 for the 360. My first Madden game since '94 on the SNES and my first sim-sports game since 2004.



In the end the jump to getting it for the 360 only came down to a few factors.

- I had already conceded I was going to be getting Madden on the Wii, so that brand-name hurdle had been crossed.

- I was extremely disappointed in the presentation of All-Pro Football 2K8 and would rather just play my copy of ESPN 2K5 rather than drop $60 to buy the same gameplay.

- None of my Wii friends were interested in online play without a mic.

- The gang tackling videos and physics make me want to tackle people in public just to see "if they'd really bend like that if I hit them there."

- All signs and reviews point to EA finally taking the time to polish the game for a true next-gen experience, rather than a HD graphics tech demo.

[embed]38394:953[/embed]
Gametrailers video review helped seal the deal.

Like all impulse online purchases the tension leading up to the final submit button was much more satisfying than reading the receipt in my email box. But it is done. I will either not be posting anything in two weeks as I'll still be Hitsticking 2.0 on some fools trying to see just how many different tackles Bob Sanders can do.

Or in two weeks I will have written more than one post about how I gave into temptation and sacrificed my ego once again for nothing as I had already traded in Madden to preorder some obscure and awesome Japanese title that only I know about to try and regain my posterity.

Now, I'm going to go play Odin Sphere to hold onto my former gaming self until the testosterone takes over tomorrow.   read


3:40 AM on 08.08.2007

Why Did You Make Me Do It, Mom?

MrRed made me think about my childhood. And you know what, Mom? I'm bitter.

You see you made up this rule that I could only have one game system at a time. Which means I had to sell ALL of my NES games, system, and accessories in order to even buy an SNES. Granted, any 10 year-old at the time should have been thankful to own any system, let alone the newest and best one. And let's face it, probably half of my friends remained or became my friends because I had Super Mario World.



This trend continued to the following generation. After doing my "research" (consisting of my Nintendo Power magazines and an infant internet full of low-res images), You made me sell my 30+ SNES games and system in order for me to buy a N64 on launch day. Which in turn was sold with its library when it came time to buy a PS2 before leaving for college.

I'm sure you had good intentions about teaching me the value of money at the time. But Mom, I've grown up now and I can do maths. Your logic is flawed.

Keeping in mind the horror of actually realizing the details has caused me to black out some of my game collection, there are two major issues:

1) I estimate I owned close to a hundred games between the 3 systems. A lot of which, especially in the SNES collection (not even counting Chrono Trigger and FFIII(VI), are worth more than $20 today. Our garage sales never sold any of my games for more than $7.

2) I've never stopped playing them, so I'm still having to buy them back in some form at more than we sold them for.

But Mom, I have the last laugh.

The entire time you told me I couldn't have more than one system, you had forgotten about the Atari 2600 hidden away in my closet. And I can still play MY copy of Combat any time I want, even past my bedtime.   read


1:41 AM on 08.06.2007

It was so... and then there were two fake-guitar games

So there's this game called Rock Band, you may have heard of it, whose hype is consuming me. After scoffing at Guitar Hero 2 less than a year ago. Here I am, still drowning in my own saliva secretions from E3 videos and the announcement that Enter Sandman is going to be in the game. That clinched it. I was dropping whatever ridiculous cost EA deems it will take to fake rock with my fake rock band in my living room.

This would be easy. I mean I'm saving $90 bucks by not buying Guitar Hero 3 since I have no use for it. So I decreed that Slash will not rock on my 360, and it was so.

Back in the days before I accepted rhythm games as a gaming genre, I decreed that the only thing that would make me buy a game with tiny toy guitar would be the chance to fake-play One by Metallica, being my favorite song by my favorite band. Well damn it. Those crazy skateboarding programmers had a trick combo up their sleeves by catching me in a fake-guitar-game-starring-Metallica-decree paradox. Then, before I can even start to comprehend the paradox, my face was melted by Scorehero's Dragonforce video.

[embed]37698:840[/embed]

This whole healthy competition thing is really down playing the impact of my decreeing ability and exposing me as the elitist hypocrite that I am.

Here's to our wallets being >$300* lighter and our living rooms being filled with plastic instruments come "Holiday Season 2007."

^JDevL^

*still cheaper and able to rock harder than your band "that's going to make it"   read


4:54 AM on 08.03.2007

microsoft 180

As UPS decides to take the full 5 days in their 3-5 day estimate of the delivery of my newly revived Xbox 360, I can't help be surprised at how smooth the process has gone to bring it back from the red ring of death. Although, they can still be criticized for how they have handled the hardware malfunctions, I was relieved to know that Microsoft is standing by their hardware and supporting their customers. I am still very anxious over the future of the console that presently gets most of my attention, for several reasons. Apparently, maybe not as anxious as my 360 is to get to game again. I do, however, have good news to pass along to any newly initiated members of the Red Ring, as well as a challenge to Microsoft.

Once my initial anger and controller throwing passed at the sight of that horrific red ring, I retreated to the internet and began reading the first posts about the 360 warranty extension. Ironically, my crash happened the same day as the announcement. This calmed me a bit to know I'd at least be taken care of in some fashion. Between the painless phone call with the well versed technician, the constant email updates from Microsoft updating me on the status of my packaging, arrival of my system to their facilities, and subsequent departure, I really couldn't have asked for a large corporation to handle my problem any better, given the circumstances. It took roughly a full week to get my shipping materials, a week for my console to ship to their facilities, 2 weeks to repair the system, and now a week to receive the console. I do believe I beat the rush after the warranty extension as I'm reading some horror stories about a 2 month wait time for repairs, which is unacceptable. However, in my case I asked for a estimated turn around time and every stage has been within their estimate, so in that regard my expectations have been met.



The core group of gamers that I shotty to the face on a regular basis on LIVE were a bit shaken to see one of their comrades become a statistic. My console is at least 6 months older than most of theirs, and a good number of them are gaming on Elites. They'd like to believe their consoles are untouchable, but you can't ignore the reports that all 360's produced to this point have the defective design flaw at the source of the red ring. Yet, there is no recall in sight.

Microsoft is looking at a defining holiday season coming up. M$ has the chance to set the stage to knock out Sony completely as their only direct competitor, since Nintendo is right now untouchable in their defined market. The living room though is big enough for both a Wii and either a 360 or PS3 at this point. Sony is clinging to Blu-ray to pull them through until their 2008 game lineup can breathe some life into the gaming side of their console, as if, saying to themselves - "If we can just get through this holiday season without any more damage, we can get back on top." After putting on the best show at E3, dodging a PR nightmare around their price-drop, the PS3 is finally managing to generate some decent sales numbers. Well, this week Sony was slapped with yet another patent suit, this time over their parallel processing Cell chip. I'm not sure that the pain will ever stop in this generation for Sony. Every time they seem to right themselves, on their very next step they trip themselves all over again.

Honestly, I'm of the opinion that I'd like to see them fail miserably or pull out completely in this generation. Regroup, start fresh and innovate for the next generation, as I'm all for healthy competition. Innovation is my main problem with both Sony and Microsoft right now, as neither one of them is really initiating any major change to the gaming industry. They are growing and maturing it surely, but that's almost de-facto growth due to time. I'd love for one of the two of them to completely blindside the other one with a significant new feature or leap in the gaming experience, challenging the other one to make drastic changes as well. Nintendo has proven there is interest and money in previously untapped gaming audiences. We gamers are thirsty for something new, stop sequelling us to death with your games and your technology. Let's leave Nintendo out of this for the moment as they are making their impact elsewhere and no one really has the right to tell them how to run their business for a while. The best way to initiate a major change in the rest of the gaming industry at targeting the traditional gaming consumer, is for either one of the 360 or PS3 to fall soon and fall hard. Let's face it, if either company is committed to the industry, they will make a comeback. I'd rather see Sony fall now just to pay for taking their gamers for granted and not understanding what got them to the top in the first place. It's also fairly obvious from a business profitability stand point, that the PS3 has a much bigger risk of failure than the 360.

So what can Microsoft do to put themselves in the best position to dominate Sony? It's as simple as reinvigorating your existing fan base and gaining a loyal community. It can start tomorrow.

1) Admit the 360 design flaw causing the malfunction in all 360's
2) Allow repairs to include 360's that have the flaw but have not failed yet.
2) Detail the fix that's being implemented to repair the console.
3) Guarantee the fix will last.
4) Guarantee a shorter turnaround time for the repaired consoles.
5) Get the Falcon processor in production.
6) Get a new Peter Moore.
7) Have him announce all of this to the gamer's himself along with the expected price drop for the consoles.

Microsoft, if you want the gaming market, take the hit. You've got that money for a reason, and if you are serious about owning the gaming community you are going to need to sacrifice a bit for this crowd. Both you and Sony are corporate giants that we will never trust farther than we can throw our controller. However, in the last 2 years the gaming division at Microsoft has become a lot more easy to relate to, humanized, and gamer friendly. The division has the illusion of being the cool brother within the huge, rich, and out of touch family that we all love to despise. Sony has the same PR problem as Baghdad Bob and they seem to be run by soulless, methodical, robots with no sense of their flaws. This is your chance, Microsoft, to embrace the gaming community. You've already taken a huge step forward, for you, in extending the warranty and paying back those that endured other useless repairs. Take that last remaining step and admit the entirety of the issue. Be transparent. We know the console is flawed, you know it's flawed. Either issue a recall or allow anyone that hasn't had an issue yet to send in for a fix preemptively. The last thing you want is for 360's to give out during the Halo 3 launch. Boost production and give us a drop dead date so we know that if we send it in, we will have the game back in time for Halo 3. Hell, use it as a promotional tool for the game. If that game, does what you need it to do, you've pretty much guaranteed your targeted Xbox LIVE yearly subscriptions for the rest of the consoles lifespan. Stand confidently by your product and to your solution. Give us details so we can be confident in the fix, and give buyers on the fence a reason to trust you again. The undecideds' are having to choose between two flawed consoles. It doesn't have to be that way. If it's left as is for the rest of the year, Sony is liking it's chances in 2008.

How does all of this get announced? Well, you need a new face for the 360.



Love him or hate him, Peter Moore was a great fit for promoting the 360. I thought he was great at handling the entire warranty situation (even if he was just smirking about the whole thing since he knew he was on his way out the door already). He was relatable, confident, well spoken, accessible, and is as good as you can hope for at having humility in bad press situations. It took me a while to warm up to him, but honestly a lot of us are a bit shaken by his exit. It doesn't help that Steve Ballmer is now taking about the console, scaring us almost as much as we laugh at him. I'm also less than optimistic about Peter's replacement, Don Mattrick, as he has yet to make any waves since the announcement. He may end up being the face, but whomever it is, they are going to have to make an impact. You can power that by giving that person something to make an impact with - a chance to wipe the slate clean for the 360.

The foundation gamers that establish consoles as a success or a failure are getting fed up by the constant PR spins of Sony and Microsoft. Everything about their rivalry is stale and repetitive. If one of the companies would just step up and own up to their audience about their obvious mistakes with a plan to right them, it would be so unexpectedly refreshing that our loyalty would be all but guaranteed. They would distinguish themselves from their competition which would only reinforce their fan base. Unfortunately, right now neither company has to take the stand to do something great for the industry. Both companies are accepting flawed practices and wasting resources to pick up the pieces. Until one of them completely rights the ship and issues a true challenge of establishing a quality experience, product, and service - we will all be stuck in mediocrity.

^JDevL^   read


11:30 PM on 07.29.2007

on heroing



before i start i'd like to join in by saying that Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s is a huge rip off. it's an expansion pack and should be priced accordingly.

once that negativity had cleared and i plugged into enjoy the 30 new songs at my disposal. (luckily one of my friends is a bigger guitar hero junkie than i and let me borrow the game)

it had been a few weeks since i had played a solo session in an empty apartment. and we all know we are all much different rockers when we are alone.

during one particularly animated attempt at No One Like You by Scorpions, i had my first major issue with Star Power.

Star Power was the reason I first considered even playing this ridiculous game. before i read about it, i dismissed the game as one of those "silly, rhythmn games" and placed along my elitest list of games i will never be seen playing right next to DDR. but the simplicity and subtle genius behind having to raise your guitar to ignite Star Power made me think for the first time, "i could have fun with this game."

well i'm still having fun with this game. and evidently too much when i'm rockin out solo. because on my first run through No One Like You, i realized it was easily the most fun song to play to that point in the game. so after i beat it i quickly hit replay. i was ready to melt some faces. my problem was that i kept moving the guitar around too much and inadvertently triggered my Star Power. usually not a problem. but on three adventures through the song, i don't think i ever used Star Power when i intended to.

well i have a simple solution for Rock Band. (Guitar Hero 3 is dead to me, sorry Slash)

allow me to scale my trigger for Star Power. some songs a simple raise of the guitar neck is fine. but you know what, there are some songs where playing the guitar from your knees while crawling around on the ground is simply part of the song. you'll know when i want to rock some Star Power. just make sure the sensor can tell when i jump off the couch.

^JDevL^   read


1:40 AM on 07.18.2007

the best video game movie yet

i didn't want to hijack the comments on Ambulance-Y's blog here about Resident Evil: Extinction. but it did get me riled up enough to warrant it's own post.

i remember enjoying the first RE movie and saying at the end of it "this is the best video game movie yet" knowing that wasn't saying much. RE2 pained me to watch. so i have no interest in the third one.

i just don't get what is so difficult about making a movie based on a video game, especially now with games being even more mainstream and having more accessible narratives than when RE started.

we're supposed to be content with our best examples being barely passable popcorn flicks?

i don't know if its the directors and writers just being told to take liberties with game's plot and characters or what. but if it's not broke, don't fix it. there's a reason we are playing these games beyond the gameplay. and it's not hard to translate to film and capture a new audience.

i'm not even talking about Uwe Boll's miscarraiges that manage to make it to theaters. i'm talking about major franchises like DOOM not having core plot elements from the game. when you think of classic DOOM, you think of what? hundreds of demons and the armies of hell fighting against a marine. not 4 or 5 mutated humans against a group of soldiers.

i mean just look at this arguable list of our best game movies:

Mortal Kombat
Tomb Raider
Resident Evil
Silent Hill

It's no wonder a Halo movie has trouble getting off the ground.   read


5:09 PM on 07.17.2007

Rediculous

Being an exception is something all us geeks, gadget seekers, and early adopters like to use to stroke our e-egos. I just experienced my third strike against my pride of owning a 360.

As if just becoming a statistic wasn't annoying enough. My 360 red-circled (1) the very night that the 3-year warranty extension was announced (2). I finally got my shipping materials late last week (ironically they arrived during the Mario Galaxy demo during Nintendo's E3 Press conference). I boxed everything up today and drove to my nearest UPS Store. Being from the Midwest, trends are slower to take a hold around here so I was a bit surprised when box-boy behind the counter issued the final comment to remove all possibility of my experience being unique.

"Ha-ha. 360?" (3)

Damn you box-boy, damn you.   read


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