Monday, January 30, 2006

More Halo 2 complaints from weird Halo CE fans...

Halo 2 whining

I've never seen this article before, so I know I'm a little late to comment. But I'm going to. Live with it. I think all this moping stems from "all my cheap tricks from the original don't work in the sequel. Wah."

Is Halo 2 broken? No. Does Halo 2 leave room for improvement? Yes.

My semi-counter-arguments:

1. "The weapon spawn system." I don't have a problem with this. It isn't impossible to kill someone with a "power weapon". In the Beam-Rifle-on-Colossus example on this article (which has since been fixed), the user mentions the truth in how a team can hang onto the sniper rifle. The main problem here, as far as sniping is concerned, is that it needs to be harder in Halo 2. No swipe trick. Breathing movement. If sniping wasn't so easy in Halo 2, this wouldn't be an issue. Rocket Launchers have extremely limited ammunition, so they aren't a problem. Bungie actually did a good job with non-dual weapons and balancing (except the sniper rifle).

2. "Nerf the vehicles next time." I don't agree. The only vehicle I have a problem with is the Banshee. It can be extremely difficult to take down. You can shoot someone out of a Warthog or Ghost, or stick any other vehicle fairly easily. An entire team can shoot at a banshee all game long and it won't go down. That's just ridiculous. I know it is possible to take them down easier, but it shouldn't be a mystery.

3. "Two guns are not ALWAYS better." Sure they are. It just sucks when you don't have two of them. I personally don't care about the downfalls of dual weilding. Something as simple as having an SMG and a Plasma Rifle can raise your odds against someone with a stronger weapon. Shoot and beat down. Duh. If you only have one gun, I hope your "sticking" is up to par. It's tricky, but you can jump over someone and assassinate them as well.

4. The Plasma Pistol is the best weapon in Halo 2. Is it? What you really mean is that the "Noob combo" sucks. But it is easier to avoid than sniping. The Plasma pistol may "seek" but it isn't extreme. It doesn't go around corners or anything. Plus it makes for a good beat down tool. If you are getting combo'd too much, you need to work on your "stealth". Hang out with DemolitionNinja and you'll see what I mean.

5. Matchmaking and the Host. Sometimes a problem, especially if one or more of the players don't have enough bandwidth. It happens. That's part of playing online. The only time it is a real concern is when the playlists involve close-range, one-hit-kill weapons. Aka the Sword and the Shotgun. The shotgun's effectiveness seems to vary per game. One round, you get a Kill Frenzy, the next you can't get that many kills total. Against what the article claims, Microsoft could put out some servers for this purpose. Custom, unranked games could use the Xboxes for hosting. Ranked/tournament games could use the servers (at the expense of possibly waiting longer for a match to start). Or weirdos could dedicate their own 360s as servers (as in Counterstrike). There's options, but I can live with "the way it is."

See my "Halo 2, the best and worst FPS of all time" post for reasons why Halo CE doesn't compare to Halo 2.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What I would like to see on Xbox Live

I love content. But at the moment it seems that the Microsoft Marketplace is leaving me anticipating something all the time. This is good from a certain point of view, but bad from others.

They need more Arcade games. Obviously, that will happen. The select seems a little short-handed at the moment, but I'm sure developers are still jumping on the bandwagon and well...developing! I really wish there was more of a selection of say...100 games at the moment. That would really kick up the entertainment value of the Xbox 360. It is really a great medium to restore oldies to the market, especially in a way that is legal. Not every gamer knows about emulators, so XBLA can provide them with ways to play old games. Hopefully we'll even see more advanced titles. Maybe even games from PSX, since I'm sure Sony doesn't have the exclusive rights to a lot of those old third party games any more.

Anyway, in short, they need to keep the content flowing. Keeping your customers in anticipation is good, but not everyone is so patient. If a slew of new media came say, every Friday, Microsoft could really twist the market in their favor. However, I'd be surprised if Sony doesn't try something similar.

I downloaded the Full Auto demo last night; the game seems pretty slick. Adjusting to such a "different" control scheme will take some getting used to. Driving and shooting is something I'm not used to yet, as I'm sure others aren't. It was one thing with the PSX and Twisted Metal, but this game really does add a Burnout feel to the situation which changes it up considerably. The only problem I have is that after you finish your game, it kicks you out of the demo and you have to reload it to play it again. Talk about annoying. That doesn't help gamers get addicted to the demo so they buy the game.

Moving on, I'm starting to wonder if they will have to start organizing content better. Obviously, trailers don't need to be there forever and can be replaced with current ones. But games on XBLA should be archived so even someone who is a late-comer to the 360 realm can catch up to their friends.

I'm positive we'll see updates and changes as necessary. I think part of the problem with how Microsoft pushed the 360 is that they are letting the excitement dwindle a bit. Currently, I'm sure they could get enough content to keep it fresh. Let's see it Microsoft.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Geist for Gamecube - The not-so-final word...

Against the ratings of this game, I decided to purchase it. It only ran $15 brand new from a seller on Ebay, so I figured "Why not?"

Prerelease, editors had every right to be excited about this game. The idea is quite awesome; possessing people and objects to accomplish your goals. This game looked to be a semi-new take on First Person games, and the idea had potential to get people interested.

But alas, as reported, this game is somewhat disappointing. I've only played the first few levels, and the most important thing this game is lacking is freeform. It is far from allowing you to choose you own path, such as some Splinter Cell Chaos Theory levels. It feels so preset, and if you can't figure out what you are supposed to do next, then you're stuck. If you kill the only available "host" in a room; Game Over...even though you didn't know that was a "host" that you needed.

Other than that pitfall, the only other concern is a jumpy framerate and unsmoothed polygons. The textures are there on the polygons though, so it makes the graphics close to standard fare. Once into the game though, the graphical hiccups are excusable and may go unnoticed. You'll be too busy figuring out how to procede.

The idea is fun, and I actually hope it isn't abandoned. A sequel would provide ample opportunity to fix the major problem with this game. Freeform is almost an expected feature in a game such as this. If you could go around possessing random objects and some how make it fun, but not necessarily required in the game, they may have a winner on their hands.

Hopefully when I get time to finish the game I'll have good things to say about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back to DOA4 with the DOA4 official Arcade Stick

Honestly, I only played DOA4 a couple of times since it was bought for me. I just didn't like the controls. The game seemed pretty cool, but when it comes to fighters, I always do better with an Arcade Stick.

So I figured I'd go out and buy one yesterday. $60 at first seemed steep at first, but then realizing that a regular controller is $50, and other Arcade sticks can be upwards of a couple hundred dollars, it's actually a good deal.

First of all, it isn't wireless. That's good, because I really didn't want it to be, since the nature of the stick is to be stationary. Second, rotation of the stick is square (instead of round). I don't normally like this, because the last arcade sticks I had were like this, and it made XM VS SF difficult sometimes. But for DOA4, those diagonals are important, so the square base is welcome. We'll see how I fair with SF2 when it comes out on XBL. Anyway, the controller doesn't seem to be useful for any other game. I guess I could try Tiger Woods, but I would have to forget about the shape stick. Analog-sticking is important now, so I figure it will have to stick with Fighters and Arcade games.

I wasn't too excited about DOA4 before, but using the Arcade stick makes the game a lot easier. The buttons are labeled. All fingers can be on the main four buttons. The square rotation actually helped me learn more of the available moves as well.

For me, the Arcade stick is a requirement. I probably won't be buying a 2nd until I know someone else I play with will want to use it. There should be other games it is compatible with as well. But now I can happily play a newer fighter in comfort, I'm a happy camper.

I even got Nicole finally, and she "beats down" just like a Spartan should.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Forbes hints at a wake up call to Sony about the PS3

And Sony needs it. Hence my "What Sony needs to do to keep me interested about the PS3" post. Microsoft made sure to do all kinds of advertising for the 360. And it had the public interested. Sony on the other hand, fails to show anything...leaving excitement very low, except for Sony fanboys. This also just further shows that Sony's claims are faulty again. They need to get on top of it if they are going to win this war.

In short on the article, analysts are saying that Sony could be having potential problems with the PS3, which leaves them mum on the subject. They also are saying that the losses involved with the PS3 will exceed losses with the Xbox 360. Click the link, and have a read.

Forbes says...

Friday, January 20, 2006

New CO-OP maps for Splinter Cell and 360 emulation issues

Well, after finding out that Ubisoft re-released the new CO-OP maps, I made sure to download them and have DemolitionNinja do the same. It's been so long since we played!

The Nuclear Power Plant level is somewhat easy, if not a little uneventful. That possibly explains why Demolition started taking the aggressive approach and using flash grenades and then getting what we'll call "triple kills". It threw me off, because the first time we played this game, I was the one running around shooting everyone. But this time, I was trying to be stealthy.

The UN Building level is definitely worth playing. It involves a confrontation with other spies, which is a bit challenging to pull off aggressively or steathily. No killing innocents either. There are a few spots that are obviously "in the shadows" that your suit reports as being in the open light. A bit annoying, but manageable.

It was nice to play this game again. When we beat both solo and co-op, we wanted more. So much appreciation goes to Ubisoft for providing any extensions to this game. Hopefully Double Agent will provide even more hours of stealth fun.

Now for the bad news. I've never actually played Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory in my Xbox 360. Since GigantorNinja had my communicator, I wasn't able to talk to Demolition the first time we played. I decided to download the updates for the game with my 360. The updates would download fine, but the game would freeze on the loading screens. That really sucks. I deleted everything and started over with the same results. Thankfully, I got my communicator back after that and I just played it on my Xbox.

I hope they are able to provide some good updates for the backwards compatibility soon. I am so accustomed to the 360 controller that going back to the original Xbox controllers really sucks. White and Black buttons now confuse me. LOL.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What Sony has to do to keep me interested in the PS3

I'm getting tired of Sony not putting their "money where their mouth is." They have been talking up the PS3 so much, but they really don't have much to show for it.

What Sony needs to do to keep me, the multiconsole owner, interested in their product:
  1. Stop telling us about how "awesome" the PS3 will be. Show us. And I mean something tangible, not a pre-rendered demo.

  2. Bite the bullet and make a real online service. You owe us from the crappy PS2 Online support

  3. Show and/or talk about more games than your exclusives. Not everyone loves Gran Turismo and Devil May Cry.

  4. Release a price point so we know if it will be worth it or not.

  5. Stop twisting your words to present the PS3 as something it will not be. If 1080p isn't going to be optimal, don't claim that it is what makes the system better.

  6. Make a quality product this time. Remember the "disc read error?" No more of that.

Sony fanboys, I think you should be with me on this. I know you are already going to support Sony until you die, but these are realistic expectations.

PSM is humbled...

Issue 107, page 66

Well, my room mate got his copy of PSM today. Within the first few pages, they felt the need to defend the PS3. To be expected, since they are a Playstation exclusive mag.

After flipping through it, and hardly finding anything of interest, I came across some info on the newly acclaimed Fight Night Round 3. My quick eye caught the words, "Xbox 360 version." So far, I've been impressed and unimpressed with what PSM has published about the 360, so I wanted to see if they decided to talk smack again.

They didn't.

"Okay, we'll admit that the Xbox 360 version looks good..."

"But the PS3 version looks just as good, if a bit different."

Essentially, they are saying that the PS3 version doesn't blow away the Xbox 360 version. They do mention that the 360 version does better lighting effects and contrast while the PS3 handles some of the facial subtleties a bit better.

We do need to keep in mind that this commentary was based on demos for both systems, not the actual games.

Changing the subject slightly, a different article in this issue and a letter to the editors covers the 1080p statements from Sony, and whether gamers should buy a supporting TV. PSM says that most developers will go for 720p, and I agree with that. 1080p is overkill, and not worth the extra effort and data space of programming for.

I was discussing the PS3 vs Xbox 360 with a friend earlier. The first problem is that I don't think he's ever played an Xbox. So he's already under the assumption that Sony will provide a better product (when as far as the PS2 vs the Xbox goes, this hasn't been the case). I felt the need to even the field a bit.

I explained the two consoles in relation to the processors, and I compared the processors to groups of automobile motors.

The PS3 processor is like having 8 x v3 cylinder motors. The 360 is processor is like having 3 x v8 cylinder motors. Would you rather work on eight v3 motors, or 3 v8 motors? More motors equals more work; that is why developers are having a hard time with the PS3. However, the PS3 is plenty capable and even has a slight advantage in reality. But developers can produce fantastic results on a 360 in less time than the PS3. That means the potential for the 360 to release a high number of quality games in less time. But this also means that neither system will "blow the other out of the water".

I think the fanboyism will have to move on to the games and features as opposed to the specs.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Aliens vs Predator 3 for Xbox 360....please?

I know. PC fans everywhere start threatening to kill my mother. Good luck with that by the way, she's a freaking Ninja. Or more accurately a Karateka. I wouldn't mess around with her in any case, she's tough as nails. Ever have a foot hit your spine, from the front? I have. And she has a gun too. Bad combination.

Anyway, I loved AVP2...maybe not so much AVP. But that's probably because I started playing them at the same time. With a little cleanup and some serious updates, I personally believe that an AVP FPS would dwarf Halo. And I like me some Halo to be saying that.

Okay, okay. So it should come out for the PC, too. Personally, I do NOT like the mouse and keyboard combination or even my computer for that matter. Why? Because I sit at a damn computer for most of my day at work, and don't want any part of mine when I come home. If it came on PC, you can sure bet I would be using my Xbox 360 controller to play it. In fact, I think I'll try it out for AVP2 when I get home tonight.

So what is the deal with me? I am special. I am probably 1 of about 3 people on the planet who says the Alien race destroys the other two. Marines are marines, and Predators have their cute toys. Aliens are %100 lethal without weapons, without active camoflauge, and without armor. Trust me, I've jumped off some walls in my time to rip Marines and Predators apart.

Okay, I'll stop. I'm just frustrated that:
  • AVP3 has had no news in years

  • Halo 3 hasn't come out yet

  • Metroid Prime Hunters hasn't come out yet

  • Metroid Prime 2 doesn't have online multiplayer

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Finally, a realistic article on the PS3

First off, I know I bash Sony a lot. It's not so much that I'm a fanboy of Microsoft (because I love games for all systems), it's just I hate them for putting so many faulty products in my hands at HIGH prices. What it really comes down to is I firmly believe that Sony fanboys/girls need a reality check. I wouldn't say the Xbox 360 is technically better than the PS3 (or likewise), but I believe the 360 featureset will be better and the system will end up providing more entertainment in the long run than the PS3.

The following link shows an ex-sony insider's take on the PS3. He sure was humbled in thinking that the PS3 would "blow the Xbox 360 away":

Sony Insider Deleted for PS3 Comments

It's true. The demos we are shown aren't real time. It's business. It's like informercials; you never get what you think your getting. The reps are quick to use tricky wording into fooling you into improper conclusions. The truth is, the strongest engine in any console is the "hype engine".

Are Sony fanboys really that upset that they currently love the weakest console on the market (PS2)? If brand-loyalty didn't exist and exclusives didn't taint the mind of gamers, I really think PS2 owners would have been disappointed in all the quality and fun they've missed out by not playing an Xbox for the last couple of years.

GTA, Splinter Cell, Burnout Revenge, Tiger Woods PGA, the list goes on of games that provided a better experience played through the original Xbox. It's not just that the graphics are better. The controls, animation, and online support/features are all better. There really isn't much room for argument sans maybe people love the dualshock controller too much (I dont' know why; personally, I've always hated the L1/2 and R1/2 buttons and the analog stick on it).

Personally, I think the industry is in a slump because of Sony. They have failed to provide anything exciting in a long time, and they've failed to meet expectations since the incarnation of the PS2. Their current system is dated and the new system hardly exists yet. Plus they aren't talking about it. They aren't making a very good market leader.

If Sony and Microsoft's numbers were more even, I think the close competition could drive the industry. Hopefully, that is what the next generation will bring us. Many are already happy with Microsoft's offering. Sony, it's your move.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sony is either hiding something, or they really have nothing up to this point

I found yet another comment about how the PS3 is a pain to develop for and the 360 is much easier to exploit power from (via Kotaku). Is Sony sitting back and taking the abuse? They apparently didn't have much to say at the recent CES as far as the new Playstation is concerned. They have also failed to show anything interesting since their original prerendered game demos last year. So much so that they showed the same demo again this year. How lame is that?

In the midst of all the 360 screenshots, game news, and Xbox Live Arcade excitement, what is Sony going to do? I'm not saying that the Playstation is going to be poorly received. But they really should be taking attention away from Microsoft instead of hiding in a corner. Isn't that what they usually do? Overhype themselves in order to deface the competition? Such as when they "stole the show" last year at E3. But that is only because we already knew about the 360. It was on TV. They let people play them. So of course an unseen system will get attention.

Does Sony think that one demo and a Bluray drive is all they need to mention? I'm sorry, but I won't be saving my tax return for a PS3 unless I have good reason. We know Fight Night 3 and Metal Gear Solid 4 are in the PS3's future. But we can already play Fight Night 3 on the 360. Many games will be on both platforms, and for those who have a 360 will just get it for that. Metal Gear Solid, although popular, is not a system-selling game. They need to beef up and start showing some exclusive games.

I like DVDs, so a Bluray drive doesn't get me excited. In fact, nearly nothing is exciting about the PS3 at the moment. I do want to see a dual-screen game. But I'm not buying two HDTVs. I don't even have one, let alone two. The console is ugly, the controllers are essentially the same, and they will have non-unified online again. Sony calls the PS3 a supercomputer, but that's just ridiculous. If it had 2GB of RAM, a RAID array, and multiple processors (multiple SPE's aren't the same thing) I might take them seriously.

Nintendo on the other hand, gives us a peek every month or so at something. And it's interesting. We want more. We want to try this controller. We want to see the new Zelda. We want to play the Nintendo back-catalog. We want more WiFi DS games. Sounds like they are providing something without giving away everything.

Sony could learn something from Nintendo's public teasing and Microsoft's content-providing.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Suffering: The Ties that Bind - XBox

Finally, a "different" FPS/TPS! Right off the bad, I must say that giving the player the option to be in first-person or third-person at any point during gameplay was an excellent idea. Good job, Miday.

Anyway, I bought this game because it was cheap (Media Play went out of business). Second, it looked interesting. Although it came out after, I will say that it has a Condemned (Xbox 360) feel to it, without abandoning the firearms. It was a good choice, although it's yet another title that won't work with the 360 (yet). Oh well.

Graphically, this game is a toss-up. In some areas, the graphics really shine, and in others they are a bit...standard. However, during battles the weapons and the character will become covered in blood which I thought was pretty cool given the circumstances of the game. Other than that though, there are some quirky animations and other bugs that I've run into. I had the same types of problems with Shaolin Monks, so I hope Midway beefs up their QA a bit.

The controls take a bit of getting used to. The d-pad is used to switch views and to reload. Possibly other things, but I'm not sure. The only reason they don't come naturally is that they are somewhat different to Halo.

The developer definitely made this game to be replayable and does change up the action at times. I personally enjoyed riding in the back of the truck with the "big-boy" gun. The option of going good, evil, or neutral is pretty cool. You can help people (who in turn, help you) or just kill everything that exists and moves. I've not reached the ending, but I believe the ending changes per your choices.

Must-have game? Maybe...but I can say I enjoy it more than Doom 3. If you are looking for a gory FPS involving a delusional nutcase, then this game is for you. If you are tired of blowing up demons, then this may not be a game you'll want to visit. I've enjoyed most Midway games, and this is another to add to the "good" list.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

High Definition aka HD: The scam

All this talk about HD is bugging me. Between the PS3's befangled Bluray drive and Microsoft's would-be external HD-DVD drive, one has to wonder if movies in this format are even worth it? The first Bluray player starts at $1000. No thanks. At least it will go down eventually.

I've seen HD. It's nice, but it's not impressive. People discuss it like it is Virtual Reality or something. That couldn't be further from the truth. Unless you are a video FREAK, you really won't be rushing out to get your HD setup. The image is a bit sharper, but you can get this by simply moving to an LCD TV or simply by using S-Video. The colors seem a bit better, but you can get this by using component cables. What is it really about? Resolution. If you increase the resolution on your Windows desktop, you'll get a similar idea. Nice, great, wonderful, but not that exciting.

I have a 27" Flatscreen TV (component). One room mate has a 27" HD LCD (receiver/component). Another room mate has a 27" Flatscreen HDTV. Barring the slight fuzz associated with CRTs, I can't really tell the difference between mine and theirs. We tried multiple games, and the only thing I'm jealous of is the widescreen format (of the LCD). Everyone else in the house (including the owners of the HDTVs) really don't think HD is that big of a deal.

I watched a couple of movies last night on my TV with my 360 (component cables). Crystal clear and it looked great. I don't see a need for a higher resolution or HD. I'm happy with my DVDs. And I just barely started to get rid of my VHS tapes.

I really hope these companies aren't banking on success with HD-DVD and Bluray for High Definition movies. The consumer market isn't in need of a new video format. HD is fluff. Like leather seats for your car. Nothing more.

But they are banking on it. If Bluray fails in favor of HD-DVD, what good will the PS3's bluray drive be? An expense to developers. It is also very confusing for the consumer to have to deal with different formats. Personally, since Sony sucks at making drives, I think Bluray should automatically be disqualified from the race. I don't care what they claim the storage capacity is. If it won't last more than 6 months, then what is the point?

Pesonally, the only interest I have in these new formats is the storage capacity. If I could backup my hard drive on 2-3 discs, that would be great. Maybe they should have just started this with the computer. They probably would have seen more sales that way.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dead or Alive 4 - Xbox 360

My girlfriend purchased this for me last week. I was getting mixed messages from forums, blogs, and news I didn't know whether to be excited. To be brief, I say there is no rush to get this game.

In an earlier post I was mentioning character graphics vs backgrounds and environments. DOA4 is an example of a graphically unbalanced game. More specificly: the backgrounds are excellent, but the character models seem a bit a out of place. The costumes are highly detailed and look really good. But the faces, muscles, and skin look extremely...anime. I think that was the idea, but it just doesn't feel right. It somewhat works for the female characters, but the male characters it seems odd with clay-looking muscles.

Graphics aside, the question is: Is it a good fighter? Maybe. I come from the 2D fighting era, and have not been able to enjoy any 3D fighters except for the console Mortal Kombats. Even those had difficult moves to pull off (even if the move recorder says you did it right). From those, I'm used to fights lasting roughly 30 to 60 seconds. In DOA4 they last about 15 to 30 seconds. Since when do fighting games have A.D.D.? You can lose a match before you even get a chance to attack. Learning the counters is a must, but far from easy.

What I do like is the interactive backgrounds; kicking your opponent off cliffs, through windows, in front of moving vehicles, down the stairs, etc. Doing so results in your opponent suffering a HUGE life bar (?) drop. I also like the counter attack system, but it could be a little bit more forgiving since the game revolves around it.

I really want to try Nicole, but that means I will have to beat the game with all the other characters...not a simple task. I guess we'll see how I do, if I'm not too distracted by my recent purchases of The Suffering: The Ties that Bind or Beyond Good and Evil.

All these new games...and we always end up playing Halo 2 and the end of the day. That just doesn't seem right.

A snapshot of my gaming systems...

Here is a snapshot of my PS2, Gamecube, 360, and Xbox. The PS2 (although you can't see it here) has a Kasumi skin on it, and the Xbox has a Ninja Gaiden Skin. Once I get my hdd custom mod done on my slim, I will replace the bulky PS2.