Archive for July, 2008

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Today, in the “Get a Life” Department…

July 25, 2008

MGS4 Crybaby

Today is the day that SIREN: Blood Curse is released on the PS3 as a downloadable game on the Playstation Network.  I’ve always had a healthy facination with survival horror games (even though I have practically no interest in movies of the same type).  So I decided to go to metacritic.com to see if there were any review scores up yet, or even better, links to articles that might tell me a little more about the game.  There isn’t much yet, but there was a little link that said “Discuss this game in our forums.”  I clicked on it, and that’s when the fun began…

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Rant: Why am I such a happy gamer?

July 23, 2008

I guess I don’t get it.  I’m a relatively HAPPY gamer.  I have more games than I can get around to playing.  I’m still only halfway through Grand Theft Auto IV.  I haven’t even started Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.  I’m still collecting stars in Super Mario Galaxy.  I’m only a few chapters into both The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the DS and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII on the PSP.  I have a pile of untouchedgames waiting for my attention, such as Okami, Boom Blox, Zack & Wiki, No More Heroes, Call of Duty 4, Super Stardust HD, Penny Arcade Adventures, The World Ends With You, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and so on.  Yet all I seem to read about in the gaming press is bitching and moaning.  Cases in point:

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Free Tor eBooks

July 22, 2008

Tor.com

Tor Publishing’s science fiction and fantasy news and discussion site at Tor.com has been giving away a free eBook every week in preparation for the launch of their redesigned site.  This week, through Sunday, July 27th, they are making all of the free books available at once, free to download and read without site registration.  There’s some good stuff there, like a novel based on the current Battlestar Galactica series.  Check it out here and get them before Sunday.

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Final Thoughts on the Big 3 Press Conferences at 2008 E3

July 17, 2008

If I had to say who had the “won” the press event war, I’d probably put them in this order:

1.  Microsoft

2.  Nintendo

3.  Sony

I think Microsoft brought a lot to the table.  The Netflix announcement could even spur 360 console sales for people who want one just to use as a Netflix download box.  And some games like Gears 2 looked great.

Sony was a disappointment.  They keep saying “wait for us, it will be worth it” but they still seem stalled.  There was a lot of talk about Resistance, like it was Halo or Mario, but let’s remember that the original was not the stellar title.  It’s metacritic score is an 86%, which to me means its good but not system-defining.  There are 12 titles with higher metacritic scores right now.  Resistance 2 looked great (although why that guy running up the building couldn’t shoot through the broken window walls at the monster is beyond me), but since the beginning of the year, they barely sold more PS3’s than PS2’s.  I didn’t see anything that would break that trend.

In the last few days I’ve read a lot of grumbing on the internet about the Wii and how they continue to bring nothing to the table for “hardcore gamers.”  If “hardcore gamers” continue to insist that there is nothing for them on the Wii, then they are missing out on a lot of good gaming.

While I think Microsoft had more interesting announcements, the thing that struck me about Nintendo is that there was something in there that every person in my family would like.  I loved the original Animal Crossing, and so AC: City Folk is exciting to me.  I thought Call of Duty: World at War looked interesting too, as did Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  My wife, a complete non-gamer, said “they are going to have a recipe game thing for the DS?  Neat.”  And my kids (6 and 4), who are not coordinated enough yet to play a Rock Band or Guitar Hero game, but are dying to play every time they watch me, will just go apesh*t over Wii Music.  Neither Sony or Microsoft announced anything that would be of interest to the rest of my family.

In my mind, it’s that business philosophy that puts Nintendo in the catbird seat.  They will continue to do very well, while Sony and Nintendo continue to draw from the exact same, smaller market pool.  By that standard, history may show that it was Nintendo that came out #1.

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2008 Sony E3 Press Conference Thoughts

July 15, 2008

Last but not least, the Sony press conference.  My thoughts….

2008 is the Year of the PS3.  Hmmm.

Talking about their 10 year plan and how it’s all going according to plan.  Sounds like a bunch of spin on a disappointing console to date.

Blu-ray won the format war.  Very true.  Metal Gear Solid is only possible on PS3 because of Blu-ray.  Really??  Hmmm.

Recapping software in 2008.  Grand Turismo 5 Prologue. Grand Theft Auto IV.  Metal Gear Solid 4.  “This is why you buy a PS3.”

“Exclusive downloadable content is nice.  Exclusive games are what make up consumers minds and drive the business.”  Shot at Microsoft.  Kind of weak, considering they have good exclusive games too, plus some high profile exclusive DLC.

Resistance 2.  Looks decent, although it uses that some annoying brown gray palette that game designers seem to love these days for FPS.  Maybe a little more color.  Seems more Gears-ish.  I tried the demo of Resistance 1 and didn’t really like it, so this doesn’t get me excited.

Little Big Planet.  Still looks good.  I don’t know why I would want to design something in LBP, but they say you can download other people’s levels.  If they add a sorting method to separate the good user levels from the crap, it would be good.

Talking about gaming industry revenue.  Seems like a distraction from Sony’s less than stellar numbers.  They sold 1.8 million PS3’s in 2008, and 1.5 million PS2’s in the US.  Doesn’t sound like people are embracing Sony’s version of “next gen” like they would wish.  Touting Playstation and Playstation 2 numbers.

Greatest Hits for PS3 for $29.99.  The only one I might go for is Ninja Gaiden.  I already have Rainbow Six Vegas, Assassin’s Creed, and Oblivion on the 360, and don’t want the rest.  No Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.  I was so-so on the demo but thought I might buy it at a lesser price, so I was hoping it’d be a GH title.  Glad they’ve started the GH program though.

130 titles coming to PS2 in 2008.  EA Sports games.  Star Wars Force Unleased.  Singstar.  Yakuza 2.  Madden of course.  Mercenaries 2.  Interesting how much they tout the PS2.  It’s being supported by developers because of the hugely slow start of the PS3.  New PS2 bundle!  What about PS3 other than Resistance 2?

All Playstation network users will have a single logon.  I guess I didn’t realize that wasn’t the case.

Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty.  Seems like a bastardized version of a full Ratchet and Clank game for $14.99.  Why?  So you can get another R&C game out and have something for the Playstation store?

Other PSN download games:  Crash Commando (reminds me of Undertow on the 360), Fat Princess, Pixel Junk, Pain: Amusement Park, Flower, Siren: Blood Curse, Ragdoll Kung Fu.  I think I’d buy Siren.  The rest… meh.

Grand Turismo TV?  Not a big fan of car racing games.  Or TV shows.  It loks the the Speed network on the PS3.  Meh.

Talking about trophies (cough: Achievements).

Playstation Home.  “Your patience will be more than rewarded.”  No announcement of the release STILL??  Not even a generic “later in 2008”??

Playstation Network video delivery service.  Finally.  Rental and purchase.  Standard and Hi-Def.  Portable to PSP.  That’s very cool.  Other than that, it’s playing catch-up with Microsoft.

PSP talk.  New “family friendly” bundle.

Resistance: Retribution for PSP.  Looks pretty decent.  Not squad-based like the PS3 Resistance games.  Spring of 2009.  If I was more into Resistance, I might pick it up immediately.

PSP software highlights.  Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.  Nice.  Madden 09.  Meh.  Not a Madden fan.  LocoRoco 2.  Looks decent.  NBA 09.  Meh.  Super Stardust Portable.  Looks very good.  LEGO Batman. Wow, looks awesome.  Patapon 2.  More of the same.  Buzz.  Who cares?  Valkyria Chronicles.  Might be good.

Life With Playstation. Not quite sure I get it.  Coming within the month.

DC Universe Online.  MMO from Sony Online Entertainment.  Trailer looked interesting… I wonder how it will be implemented.  Free on PSN with disc purchase with no monthly fee?  They didn’t say.

80GB PS3 that “has the same functionality of the 40GB PS3” for $399 in September.  Another SKU?  Maybe they are trying to make it “the SKU.”

PS3 2008 titles.  Little Big Planet.  Motorstorm: Pacific Rift.  MGS4, Quantum of Solstace, SOCOM Confrontation, Soul Calibur 4, Resistance 2, The Agency, Naratu, Mirror’s Edge, Resident Evil 5, Singstar, Guitar Hero World Tour, NBA 09: The Inside, Buzz! Quiz TV, Killzone 2, Eternal Sonata.

God of War III announcement.  Trailer with no gameplay footage.  Not until Spring of 2009 though.  Probably a must buy.

Infamous.  Looks like Star Wars The Force Unleashed meets The Darkness.  Meh.

Massive action online game.  256 human players.  Eight-man squads fighting each other.  Meh.  Doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

Well that’s it.  Overall I’m disappointed.  I don’t think they hit it out of the park like they needed to.  Maybe I’m just not a fan of the types of games they are focusing on, like Resistance, Gran Turismo, and so on.  Not excited about much on the PS3 that I can’t get on the 360 except maybe Little Big Planet, maybe DC Universe Online, and God of War III, which doesn’t come until next year. On the PSP, LEGO Batman looks really sweet, as does Super Stardust Portable.  And the video tranfer from PS3 to PSP is nice, although I generally prefer to own media on disc over downloading it.  Didn’t see anything that my wife or kids would get excited about at all.

Too tired to add hyperlinks.  I’ll do a press conference wrrap-up tomorrow after I’ve had time to digest it all.

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2008 Nintendo E3 Press Conference Thoughts

July 15, 2008

Ok, on to the Nintendo press conference.  My thoughts…

Paradigm shifting… can’t argue that Nintendo has done some of that this gem.  Speech is a little dry.

Animal Crossing: City Folk.  I loved the original Animal Crossing, so I’m glad this is finally official.  New big city, auction house…  The style is very much like the previous one.

WiiSpeak community microphone… it’s good to see Nintendo finally bring voice chat to the Wii.  Don’t know how well a whole room microphone will work in a busy house full of kids, though.  Fits the Nintendo philosophy where parents can monitor online chat.

Wii software sales and total library in the first 19 months of console life, compared to 360, PS3, PS2, is leading the pack.  I thought there was nothing to play on the Wii??

Star Wars: The Clone Wars looks good.  Holiday 2008.  Doesn’t use the new motion thingy.

Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party…. uses the Balance Board for some things.  They show some young kids playing it, and I bet mine would probably like it.

Call of Duty: World at War.  Looks decent.  Obviously won’t have the graphics of other systems, but it seems pretty good.  It will support the Wii Zapper too.

Guitar Hero On Tour Decades for DS.  Song share between versions.  I’m enjoying the original, so I’m sure I’ll like that.

Spore Creatures. Meh. Looks a little Pokemon-ish to me.  Announced awhile ago.

Speaking of… Poekmon Ranger for DS.  Meh.  Not my thing.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.  I think I’d like that.  No screenshots though.  Could look like ass if they don’t do it right, but I’m not a graphics whore if the gameplay is good.

Wii MotionPlus.  Announced a couple of days ago.  Should quell the bitching of waggle-hater crowd.

Wii Sports Resort.  Bet they’ll sell a ton.  Packaged with Wii MotionPlus and a new jacket.  “That’s why they call me The Reginator.”  Heh.  Not launched until next Spring 2009.

Wii Music.  It finally arrives, after being talked about since 2005.  Certainly a different take on the music genre.  50 instruments.  Another use of the Balance Board too.  The kids are going to go totally nuts over this!  They get really frustrated that they can’t play Guitar Hero or Rock Band yet because the control schemes are too hard.

That’s it.  No rumored Kid Icarus.  No storage solution.  Overall I think it’s a steady pace for Nintendo.  Nothing mind-blowing, but then Wii and DS have been selling like crazy, so why change what isn’t broken.  I don’t think they needed to hit one out of the park this year (Sony does!) , and they didn’t, but it was pretty solid I’d say.  I’m sure the “hardcore gamers” will say they are disappointed again though.

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2008 Microsoft E3 Press Conference Thoughts

July 14, 2008

Just watched the Microsoft E3 Press conference.  Here’s some random thoughts:

Fall Out 3 looks really fun.  Exclusive 360 DLC.

Resident Evil 5 co-op confirmed!  And it looks good.  Although they are using that same drab-looking brown gray color palette that Gears of War uses.  Not until March ’09 though.

Fable 2 looks great.  More co-op!  And they have color!  October 2008.

Gears of War 2 looks like more of the same.  Not that more is bad.  I hope it lasts longer than 6 hours this time.

The new dashboard looks like the PS3 crossmedia bar on it’s side.  How funny.  Microsoft innovates again!

Speaking of… avatars?  Didn’t Nintendo do that already?  Ever heard of Mii’s??  I wonder if the “hardcores” who made fun of Mii’s when the Nintendo Wii was released are suddenly going to love avatars.

Xbox Live Primetime??  A game show channel??  Are people really clamoring to play game shows?  It looks like they took a bunch of shovelware, added Mii’s … er, sorry, avatars, and made it all prominent on their dashboard.

The NetFlix partnership looks promising.  Rent movies from NetFlix and stream them right to the 360?  Sounds good.  And the new party system means you can watch a movie with someone who is not in the same room as you.

New Uno game… cool!  More Geometry Wars…. meh.  Galaga sequel… looks overly busy.

Portal: Still Alive!!  I think I died and went to heaven.

You’re In The Movies just looks stupid.

Lips.  Karaoke.  Looks ok.

Guitar Hero World Tour… Rock Band… blah blah… nothing major there.

Infinite Undiscovery… stupid name.  Star Ocean: The Last Hope…. like me some Star Ocean.  Neither had footage.  The Last Remnant did, but it was short.

Final Fantasy XIII on the 360… sweet!  I really liked FF XII.  I should finish it.  G4 had a totally crappy camera angle on the trailer though.  “At the request of Microsoft” it says on the bottom of the screen.

No new rumored motion-sensitive controller.

Well, that’s about it.  Nintendo and Sony tomorrow.

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