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6:01 PM on 07.14.2009

The Future of Consoles?

With the increasing cost of manufacturing consoles (and more and more consoles not becoming actually profitable until they are firmly entrenched in the retail populace), the lifespan of the general console has been increasing steadily over the past few years. Digital distribution has taken center stage in terms of software sales and marketing, with many quality titles (expanded from simple arcade fare to full fledged, high production games), no longer is the population of gaming enthusiasts set to purchase a console every 2-3 years. Consoles are now reaching 5-10 years in lifespan due to the complexity of their inner workings, developers taking longer and longer to push a system to it's limits; thus reducing the need for a faster, more powerful system to do the things they need.

In addition, little separates one console from another anymore. The Wii is a bit of an anomaly in all of this, but the detractors of the console will say that it's nothing but a N64 with added motion detection. Not having owned a Wii myself, I can't say whether one side of the argument is true, but for the sake of argument I'm leaving it out. Sure one console can say they have Blu-ray this, HD that, but in the end they play games. For the most part, those games are identical, and look almost exactly alike. It's come to a point where media is more for the video watching enjoyment of the owner and not linked directly to the quality of the games released.

All of this got me thinking. Are we nearing a future where the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony will no longer feel the need for a console war? With the ever increasing costs for R&D of new consoles, the price of new tech to be the "first" at something, and the production values of class A games rising to the point where it doesn't make financial sense to be loyal to a single console (see "The Final Fantasy Debacle"), what is there to win? Microsoft has just finally started making money on 360's sold after a good 2-3 years of production, and Sony still losing money on every PS3 sold (last I heard, please correct me if I'm wrong); where is the money being made in all this?

Microsoft makes it money from it's first party game studio, Xbox Live, and the sales from the Marketplace. Sony makes it money on it's own marketplace. So why even bother with hardware? Let's combine efforts. Let's take the best of the best, smartest of the smart from each of the big three companies and let their knowledge be combined. One console, every 10 years or so. Let each of the companies offer it's own services to those who want it. Microsoft will makes it money from it's own offerings in the Marketplace, Sony will make their money in theirs and Nintendo in theirs as well. First party game studios will continue to push out the hits, and all the companies will get a cut from the cost of the online service.   read

9:26 AM on 06.26.2009

What's wrong with a generic shooter?

For a while, I held off on getting Ghostbusters. It had gotten middle of the road reviews, nobody had anything spectacular to say about it and nobody I knew played it (or was going to). All I kept hearing was the terms"generic shooter" being thrown around in each review.

But that got me thinking - what's wrong with that? It's become almost a reaction to think of "generic" as not up to par. You hear it every day. You'd rather eat Cheerios than "generic brand" Toasted Oats. Even if the game is a generic shooter, it doesn't mean it doesn't have polish. Sure, Ghostbusters had it's flaws. But you know what? I had fun. Something kept pulling me back to the game, something kept me saying "Just one more level". The game isn't terribly long or even original, but it certainly doesn't lack in entertainment.

It seems that every new game that comes out that doesn't have some sort of gimmick or "revolutionary" new feature gets labeled with "generic". But certain days, I don't have to have to think more than I have to. Perhaps I just want to go out and shoot some ghosts, or henchmen, or whatever it is in that game. I purchased Red Faction: Guerilla at the same time as Ghostbusters and I've put RF:G in the Xbox exactly twice. For a total of 20 minutes. I'm just not grabbed by the game although every review I've seen has made me think that it was the second coming of Jesus. Yes, blowing shit up and letting it crumble to the ground is fun, but it feels like I'm playing GTA on Mars.

There needs to be a little more care in labeling something as generic, as it can really hide a game that is fun.   read

7:11 PM on 06.05.2009

Recommending Games to Friends

I tend to find that my friends and co-workers generally have the same taste in video games and movies as I do, but I can't seem to shake the feeling of strangeness whenever I make a recommendation to them. I have faith in the game I recommend, but I suppose it's that inkling inside that if I make someone blow upwards of $60 on a game and they hate it, I know it's because of a recommendation I made.

Am I crazy, or does everyone else get the same feeling?   read

6:54 PM on 06.04.2009

Review: Wolverine Uncaged

I finally beat it. I can't say that it was a long journey, totally roughly 4 hours or so to complete it (albeit not at 100%, but pretty darn close to it). I'm not exactly a fan of movie tie-in games, hell for the most part I avoid them at all costs; it's almost a given they are a stinkbomb and a waste of time. Wolverine, however, left me pleasantly surprised.

To start, the graphics are great. Not photo-realistic great, but good enough that I let out a nice "Wow" the first time I saw it in full HD glory. The visceral tone of the game fit in great with the art style; I barely noticed the sometimes bland environments after they were stained with the blood of my foes. The use of flashbacks in the game brought me back to certain environments a few more times that I could have hoped for, although the developers did a good enough job of changing the mechanics of the game in those situations that it doesn't warrant any sort of points off. The ability to unlock new outfits is nice, but it kinda ruins it when the cutscenes don't match up with the outfit your wearing.

The lunge, one of the greatest moves in the game.

As I stated earlier, the gameplay element of the game is short. It would be even shorter if you didn't have to fight the same boss multiple times, which felt like a crutch towards the end of the game to make it artificially longer. The experience during those few hours was top notch; the controls were tight and responsive for the most part (a few of the jumping puzzles had some frustrating ends) which made combat a blast. Nothing beats the feeling of lopping off heads and arms, chopping people in half and impaling them on various spikes and feeling like you have full control over it. There is definitely a dark tone to the game and it really feels good to kick some ass after a hard day.

The game isn't exactly "hard" either. Sure, there are some frustrating parts, but for the most part you just breeze through it. For those looking for a challenge, look elsewhere. The Hard difficulty is unlocked after you beat it on Normal, but in all honesty I didn't feel the urge to replay the game again. I'm sure someone will be able to comment on how tough the game is on the harder difficulty.

Overall, it's tough to recommend this game for $60. Yes, it is an excellent game, but the lack of real replay value and short campaign length leave me torn. For now I'd say it's best left as a rental; once the price drops, I'll be recommending it to everyone I know.

Overall Score: 4 out of 5   read

5:50 PM on 03.25.2009

I'm on a boat!

[embed]126310:18298[/embed]   read

2:52 PM on 03.24.2009

Where did the turn-based RPG go?

The question is a bit easier to answer than it seems: portable. However, as someone who doesn't have enough time on a train/bus/backseat to warrant the purchase of a DS or a PSP, I'm feeling the pain. I've tried multiple RPGs for the 360 lately and they all ended up having real-time battles.

I understand for the masses that turn-based is boring and a big plodding, but I grew up with that stuff. I still break out the FF7 and FF8 every once in a while to fill the void. The real time battles allow the game to flow better at times and give it a sense of urgency in certain situations, but it feels less and less like an RPG and more and more like I'm playing through Dynasty Warriors.

I recently purchased Infinite Undiscovery on recommendation from a friend and it just sits there on my shelf, gathering dust after playing it for about 2 hours and getting ultimately frustrated with the gameplay mechanics. I kept thinking to myself, "This game would be so fucking cool if it at least gave me the option to play turn based". Every review for a 360 RPG that I look at has the words "real-time battles" in it and I get turned off. Even Fallout 3 included a pseudo turn-based system with VATS and I spent 90% of my gametime in it.

Does anyone know of any upcoming turn based RPGs for the 360?   read

4:36 PM on 03.22.2009

Tabletop Gaming: Where to start?

I've been a gamer all my life. I started off in the PC world, moved onto consoles a few years later and I mix the two now. However I've always wanted to play tabletops, but living in the urban community, people to just simply meet on the street are few and far between. I saw a few people posting ads for playing partners on Craigslist not too long ago when I was looking to sell my couch, and it got that fire burning in me again to try and pick up the whole tabletop thing.

My problem is that I'm a giant noob when it comes to these things. I've never played a round in my life. I have a loose understanding of the D&D rules back from when I played Neverwinter Nights, but I don't think I can equate that to playing a live game.

Does anyone have any tips on how to get started and not seem like the giant nub bringing the entire game down when I finally have the courage to hit one of those people up on Craigslist and join a session?   read

6:34 PM on 03.16.2009

3 Best Missing Street Fighter 4 Characters

Just like many others in the world, my current addiction resides with Street Fighter 4 (and Rock Band, but that thing is like crack cocaine). Despite the fact I get my ass handed to me online at times, I have a terrific times doing the local multiplayer with friends of the same skill level. My one gripe, however, would have to be some of the lame new character additions. While funny, El Fuerte is pretty lame in both skillset and both playability, but that could be due to the fact that I can't stand to play for more than a few matches with him. The following is a list of Street Fighter characters that I would love to see in the future.

1) Geki - One of the original characters in the Street Fighter series, he's a badass mix of Akuma (with the teleportation) and Shinobi with the throwing stars. I'd love to see how he'd be envisioned in the stylized artwork of SF4.

2) Alex - He was sort of re-envisioned in the new SF as Abel, but Alex was much more hand to hand oriented and was surprisingly fast (and super fun to play).

3) T.Hawk - Ultimately a cheap character with his flying birdstrike move, this is a character that gave me fits when playing on the harder difficulties. A fight between T. Hawk and Zangief was always fun to watch.

Anyone that I missed?   read

7:28 PM on 03.15.2009

I'm sick of MMOs

It's all the same shit. Over and over. Bring me this, bring me that. Kill this, kill that. I'm tired of being outleveled by a fat lard that sits in his house all day collecting the unemployment or disability I pay into every fucking week.

Fuck MMOs.

I'm gonna go play me some SF4.   read

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