Sunday, July 29, 2007

Revisiting Gears of War

An XBL friend invited me to play Gears tonight, and I figured, "Why not?" I expected to get my ass handed to me since I never really got into multiplayer. I'll tell you one thing, going from Halo 2 directly into Gears is like slowing down time. The pacing is so much different, and without respawns it's difficult to care once you're dead. Thankfully the controls only took me 3 rounds to re-figure out.

I remember the shotgun being midrange and extremely powerful. This wasn't needed to be toned down a bit. Epic tried to fix it, I guess. Now the shotgun is near worthless, unless absolute point blank. It's really annoying. F.E.A.R is the only shooter I've played where the shotgun does what you expect...well...a little beyond, but it's as effective as it should be.

Apparently, I've missed out on all the glitching, liking shooting during a barrel roll, and climbing up to places that weren't meant to be climbed. It's really frustrating. I shot a high-ground sniper who had glitched to a ledge. He was downed, but he recovered while I was reloading. I kept shooting, even with a shotgun, and he still managed to kill me. That was enough for me.

It makes me wonder what kind of annoying glitches will be found in Halo 3. And how quickly? Will Bungie repair them this time? I hope so.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

PS2: Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's Review

I mentioned a few posts ago that the latest installment of Guitar Hero received poor reviews. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to add another tally mark and agree with them.

As mentioned by others, this game is Guitar Hero 2 with the clothes changed on the character models. While this would have been forgivable, the poor song selection leaves the player noticing the overuse of individual charcter models in the crowd.

There's no bonus tracks, and the track selection is picked out of the bottom of the barrel for the music decade. Out of the 30 tracks, I liked a couple of songs, but they weren't fit for the game. The majority of tracks are very low on guitar action, leaving me feeling more lame than heroic.

I can't really recommend this game, which is sad. Guitar Hero is my favorite game at the moment, but even if this comes out on Xbox 360, I won't be buying it. If you liked the oddball songs of the 80's, grab this game, otherwise, you're better off buying GH1 if you haven't played it yet.

Wailing Riffs:
-Same gameplay we love
-Charcter models have fitting outfits for the context

Needs Practice:
-Poor song selection
-No Bonus Tracks

Resembles/Feels like: Guitar Hero II with crappy songs.
Rent or Buy: Rent
Personal Appraisal: $19.99
MSRP: $49.99

Other opinions:
7.0/10.0 @
7.2/10.0 @ IGN
7/10 @ Destructoid

Ninja Gaiden Sigma: Noobified NG

I'm watching my friend play Ninja Gaiden Sigma, and we're anti-admiring how much easier they made the platforming elements on this game.

Running on Water: This used to be difficult. Now you can back-flip off walls and land on water and run off. Talking about plunging from semi-believable to unbelievable.

Platforming: In the underground tunnels, there used to be a bridge with moving blades and floor spikes you had to navigate. All while undead were shooting arrows at you. In NGS, the bridge and blades are it's just a puddle of water. This makes it ridiculously easier.

In the Dworku Monastary, there were some thin bridges up high that you had to jump between to get treasure chests. Now there's a nice little stair pathway.

Items: There is much more life lying around, even in regular mode (not Ninja Dog mode).

I'm sure there's more. Note that some enemies are little bit more difficult than before, although the new double-sword setup makes the difficulty increase negligible.

That's all for now. I'll add more as we find it.

PS3: Heaveny Sword Demo - Too short, not great

My previous post was about the PS3's uncanny ability to cause a gamer to wait and get annoyed. There's more. After remembering the Heavenly Sword demo was probably downloaded, I returned to find that there was more waiting. The demo had to be "installed". The process was somewhat short, but it seemed like an eternity. Not once have I had to install a demo on the 360, with the exception of FFXI (which makes sense).

Question to Sony: If the PS3 is so great...why is there so much damn waiting involved with it, in-game and out-of-game?

An unrelated side-note: my room mate can't figure out how to sign in to my other account. I had to show him how irritating and non-sensible the process is. Apparently his Ninja Gaiden save is under my European account.

To the media who claimed this "isn't Goddess of War", I have a hard time agreeing. The mini-games are there, the blades on chains are there (not the main weapon), and the combat format is quite similar. However, there is no jump or block button, which is annoying as hell. That means there's probably not going to be much of a platform element. But I can say this game will most likely be multitudes harder than God of War (read: back off, "noobs").

Continue reading...

The graphics aren't quite as expected, but they are better than what we've seen for the PS3 so far. Nariko's pores show up during close-ups, just like in Dead Rising. Aside from that, nothing stood out. I'm sure the final product will be cleaned up heavily. To answer the inevitable question: Nothing indicates this game couldn't be run on the 360.

One HUGE complaint is that the SIXAXIS motion control was forced into the combo system. Who the hell wants to shake the stupid controller in the middle of a combo? How long do you shake it? Can you turn that crap off? Developers, if it isn't natural, then don't bother.

After playing the demo...all I can think of is that the "install" was just decompressing the download. This demo is short. So short in fact, that it fails to sink any hooks in to make you want the game. Ninja Theory is going to have to give a little bit more next time. It's a new IP, which needs to show it's individuality; this demo fails at that. Only the full game can reveal if HS has what it takes.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

PS3 Futility Chronicles: Heavenly Sword Demo...

All I want to do is download the Heavenly Sword Demo. Apparently, Sony doesn't want me to do that. I HAVE to update first. Great. =\

It seems like every time we decide to use the PS3, there's a system update. Compared to XBL updates, PSN updates are the most annoying process ever, and take 10x as long to do. This time, I was prepared with a USB cable at least; you know, the one I shouldn't need because wireless is supposed to be convenient.

In the time the update took, we downloaded and watched the Resident Evil 5 trailer on XBL. Now I'm trying to get into the Playstation Store...and it's hannnnngggggggiiinnnnnnggggg. Apparently, I have a friend request from a month ago. See how often this thing gets used? Back to XBLA while we wait for the stupid store to come up.

At least Version 1.90 seems to have some good features. Like setting a background...something I've been able to do with the 360 since day one. Oh, and accessing shared media...something I've also been able to do since 2005.

This kind of thing makes RRoD almost worth it. I've wasted more time trying to get fun out of the PS3 than the whole return process of my 360 took.

Final Fantasy better not suck, that's for sure.

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More Sony Mumbles: Bad Guitar Hero, Good PS2 playthrough, etc.

More rollercoasters of information for the much berated Sony.

Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's was released this week, but unfortunately it was boo'd off stage from multiple reviewers. I've played through the first sections of songs, and the reviewers are right; they changed the songs and character models; that's it. The songs leave a lot to be most fans will frown that their favorite 80's classic isn't present. Unlike it's predecessors, this game isn't worth the money. Wait until the price is cut $20.

Speaking of the PS2, Sony gets a pat on the back for the PS2 being the "most played console in June" according to a research company. This is hardly a surprise, since there are 100 million PS2's out there.

On the consumer-pro (*GASP*), Sony is seeking ways to allow homebrew "safely" on the PSP. Before getting too excited though, Sony is thinking more along the lines of XNA than a complete free-for-all minus pirating. Continuing custom firmwares will be their bane.

Like Microsoft, Sony's game division is taking some heavy hits with their latest console. As proclaimed, the blame lies with "strategic pricing". Or lack of content. Or both. But they aren't losing as much as Microsoft is.

In any case, contrary to fanboy rantings, none of the consoles will be stepping on out of this "war". The PS3 may stay in 3rd-place due to high prices and lack of content, but it won't be going away any time soon. 3rd place will be healthy in this situation; they just need to keep selling consoles and bringing new content to the table.

Hopefully the last review on the Messenger kit

Gamespot brings a Messenger Kit hands-on review which should be the last one I cover. I'm confused as to why Microsoft is waiting so long to release the product (09/06/2007), but I'm still glad it's coming. I'm getting annoyed at manual text entry, wireless keyboard batteries dying, and/or plugging in a keyboard because messages are too difficult to do.

Indirectly, it looks as though the thumb board doubles as a headset adapter. This is a plus, although most normal headsets don't have a dedicated muting function. I'll probably be sticking to my wireless headset for the most part, but if the battery dies at an inopportune time, it's good to know I can use any of my original Xbox headsets if needed. And of course, the kit comes with a mutable headset as well.

Surprisingly, the mating of the contoller and thumb pad doesn't look unweildy. I can't wait to try it out.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"...the HD DVD specification is better in a lot of ways" -cnet

For example, all HD DVD players are required to support Ethernet connections, dual video streams (picture-in-picture), Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD soundtrack decoding, and "persistent storage" (onboard flash memory). That makes for a much more uniform experience on HD DVD players (of course, it helps when only one company is making them). By comparison, none of those features are required on Blu-ray players. And while Blu-ray uses Java for its discs' special features, HD DVD uses a Microsoft alternative called HDi. It's great that Java is a widely used standard, but when it doesn't work, who cares?

Pwnd. Better standards, and special features that are CURRENTLY AVAILABLE. And non-Java. Apologies to Java-lovers, but Java is horrible, and has no solid tool standards. It's a waste of time, and ends up costing just as much as Visual Studio users, which is better all-around anyway.

For the moment anyway, the proprietary HDi is proving superior--one reason you'll find The Matrix Trilogy and Batman Begins, both with ample interactive features, on HD DVD, but not yet on Blu-ray.

As part of the IME mode, you'll be able to view in a small PIP-box how the scene was shot using a blue-screen background while the CGI-enhanced final screen version runs on your TV. There's also a minigame you can play. On the Web-enabled front, you can choose your favorite scenes from the film and share your bookmarks with other users.

The source article is a good read. Blu-ray owners/supporters can stop blowing smoke up their own asses for the time being. And yes, I still do not own HD-DVD, but will happily purchase it when the prices come down. As for Blu-ray, it actually seems to be the "rushed" format, whether it supposedly holds more data or not. HD-DVD was prepared well; it's only drawback is that the studios don't want to pay DVD licensing anymore.

Microsoft should just buy N-Gage - Nokia goes for "community"

It sounds like the unwavering folks at Nokia are still pushing forward with the forgettable N-Gage. I say that, yet I had the desire to be an N-gager several years ago. The only reason I still haven't purchased one is because I hear it's cell phone functions are "teh suck".

Anyway, if Nokia is going to mimic XBL and put the same types of services in the cell phone world, one wonders if MS should just get their mitts in there. Not only could they scam their way into the handheld market, but the phone market as well. Hmmm. Nokia could probably use the funding help. LOL

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Xbox 360: Tenchu Z Review

Ninja Gaiden fans looking for "hot" Ninja action should stop here. Tenchu may have Ninjas, but the idea is to "appropriately" slow things down and go from full-throttle aggressive, to "stick and move" with stealth in mind rather than unapologetic domination.

However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Ninjas are technically supposed to be stealthy. The premise behind the game is perfect. Take guns out of the Splinter Cell environment, and you should have a non-shooter stealth action title. Unfortunately, the series has not progressed along with the hardware it runs on. If the gameplay was as perfect as the premise, Tenchu could return to it's former glory.

Continue reading...

Admittedly, it is fun for a while to run around and slaughter the herds of dumbfounded Samurai that stand between the ninjas and their goals. Tuning out the bad physics, lighting, and polygon collisions happens naturally after a while. A little twist of the imagination makes this game fantastic. However, we put money down so someone else can have the imagination and we can have the experience.

Don't get me wrong, Tenchu Z has some enjoyable moments. The first dozen or so stealth kills still make the player feel like a bad-ass, so it's not a complete waste of time. But many of the games coming out now leave us expecting a lot more than this paltry effort for our hard-earned dollars. For those new to the series, definitely pick this up, when he price is stealth-killed to the bargin bin.

Perfect Shuriken Throws:
-Character creation was a good idea: create-a-ninja! BLAM!
-Online co-op was a good idea
-Newcomers to the series will find enjoyment here

Ninja Dogs:
-AI is pathetic; hiding 20 feet away in the open works
-Repetitive levels, and repetitive missions
-Graphically disappointing. Shadows go through floors and solid walls.

Hits like: Every Tenchu before it.
Rent or Buy: Rent
Personal Appraisal: $24.99
MSRP: $59.99

What Other Reviews think:
5.2/10.0 at IGN
2.5/5.0 stars per
5.0/10.0 from

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Microsoft finds the brick wall in the bumpy road

Sales are down. Console problems are costing them. PS3 usage exceeded 360 usage last month. Peter Moore is off to EA. More appeal is needed.

It sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? The tables have turned, at least temporarly on the media's take of the 360 vs the PS3. There's been a lot of negativity toward Microsoft as of late, and most of it revolves around the RRoD problems some consumers have had. That includes me and my room mate, although we've not had the problem multiple times individually like others have. Moore does make a great point about checking history when it comes to consoles and hardware issues.

Microsoft has some clean up to do it looks like. I will still stand by the 360 admist these problems, because I still believe it to be the best console all around in this war. XBL, downloadable content, online play, game library, controller, etc. will keep me coming back. Although I do admit that I've lost some tenacity about it.

Keep the games coming MS, and prove to us you'll be a console contender to stay. The rest of this years top line up is a good start. Now get us those reliable 65nm chips in Elite form and wave goodbye to the core!

Metroid is coming, and it still sounds good has some positive things to say about MP3 and their hands-on time. Surprisingly, we are gifted with a potentially deeper story (completely with better story-telling). The controls are anti-suck, allowing for three different modes and full view control with the remote. The game is about a month away.

On a side note: I want to slap the author silly for saying that Metroid Prime 2's multiplayer was "laughable". I'm an avid Halo 2 player, and I still loved MP2's multiplayer. It was a bit short on maps, and the lack of online play hurt it the most...but it had a lot of potential. To see Retro drop multiplayer altogether, is highly disappointing. Then again, the lack of improved graphics is disappointing. We can't have it all I guess.

Catching the PS3 news on the run

My room mate is playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma at the moment. The game is really..."pretty". My only complaints are that Rachel looks like she has a stick up her ass when she runs, and the boob physics are silly. NG is still a great game, but after playing it on the Xbox a few times a while back, NGS doesn't really bring enough to the table to justify its purchase for the experienced. To those PS-fans, pick up the game you missed out on years ago. And I must say without joking...that they "noobified" the game to make it a little bit more accessible (even in non-Ninja-Dog mode).

My "starred" items in Google Reader are going back to two weeks ago. I was on my business trip back then! I've also joined a band again, which is taking up my time, and spending quality time with old friends. Here is yet another attempt to "catch up". We'll start with the PS3, which seems to be the usual.

I would say Sony's product portfolio has had more to do with holding them back than the price point of the hardware itself. -Mark Beaumont, Capcom Europe

The above quote is the truth. I always glance at the PS3 section, and don't see anything compelling that's not already (or going to be) on the 360. They are fixing the problem, but the fact that Final Fantasy XIII has been delayed so long makes me fully regret the timing on my PS3 purchase.

Continue reading...

It probably doesn't help that their higher-paid staff is getting ally emo-whiney about their product.

But then we can turn this rollercoaster around and hear that Heavenly Sword is going to be a solid game that isn't "Goddess of War". It sounds like a little mix of Mortal Kombat: Deception, God of War, and Ninja Gaiden. And that's OK; all those games are great.

It looks like the PSP is finally getting a slim version as well. Check out the comparision here. I can't say I'm excited, since I don't use my PSP. But PSP-lovers will be all over it.

Back to the dark side, it looks like Universal is sticking with HD-DVD. I don't see why Blu-ray supporters are already assuming Blu-ray has won. Neither has won. The majority of people still don't care. But it's good to see the more open product with fierce support.

And back up: PS3 sales are up 135%. That's got to show there are people hanging out waiting for a realistic price.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Darkness Demo: Brutal

It's been months since an non-Halo FPS has immediately gripped my attention. The last was F.E.A.R., which unfortunately, none of my friend's list plays or you'd see me on there a lot more.

In comes the Darkness, with its unforgiving assault on the lesser-than-mature ESRB ratings. Heads getting smashed, necks getting saws, hearts being devoured from corpses, necks getting removed, impalement, kamikaze demons...get the picture? The gunplay includes in-firefight executions, getting trigger-happy, and making pie-holes neck-deep. Check out the demo if any of this seems enticing.

I grant the demo "perfect", just like the F.E.A.R. demo. A demo should make you want to go buy the game immediately, right? The Darkness succeeds.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

PS3 getting attention in the market...mine literally has cobwebs.

There's much to be stressed about in life, and these stresses are stealing the bread from my gaming market. There's so much news I want to cover, but time has faster legs than I do.

One thing is for sure, although the console war rages on in the market, it's already decided in my living room. I took a close look at my PS3 the other day, and found that it had some cobwebs on it. There's dust over the power "button". I guess we're kind of tired of the Ninja Gaiden thing...we've played it too many times. The Wii fares better, but it only sees action when we have plenty of guests. Both consoles have yet to provide a compelling game that entertains for more than an hour at a time. Since the 360 gets used every day, whether it is by me or my room mates (who have access to all three), it's the clear winner here.

However, the news for the PS3 is getting more positive, which is good for Sony. Sales have seen a spike since their 60GB clearance sale. This holiday season will finally grant the PS3 some games as well. Blu-ray seems to be sucessful (in context, not in the overall movie scene).

I constantly see attacks on the 360's quality, which is understandable. But the guff of games are on the 360, so if the hardware hiccups are keeping people away, they might as well not play anything for now. The PS3 and Wii sections in stores might as well be empty. I doubt these hardware problems will be too severe of an issue; Sony made faulty PS2's for the majority of the console's life cycle, yet people kept consuming. The 360's new-found unprecedented 3 year warranty will be more impressive than a deterrent. To me, that's stepping up to the plate. My refurbed console is good for another 2 years now.

I'm starting to doubt the Wii, although it's still selling through. While a round of bowling or tennis is great...other types of games just aren't translating to motion control very well. It's been very disappointing so far, and I can only hope that Metroid Prime 3 is as awesome as I'm expecting it to be. I'm finding that I'm definitely NOT the target audience for the Wii, which is proper. However, it leaves me questioning whether it will be anything more than a party console. If people complain about graphics on the 360 and PS3...then the Wii is a complete mockery.

If anything, does "different strokes for different folks" become the cliche that will define this generation? All three consoles will be strong throughout the war...but being without a definitive leader has to be a historic mark in the industry.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Killzone 2 might not suck?

Looks like Crecente has some positive words for the highly-mocked but somewhat anticipated Killzone 2. It sounds like the graphics are better than expected, and we'll be looking at 2GB levels. However, Brian also comments that it's not any one thing that's spectacular, it's a combination of everything.

Maybe the devs will make this game as it should have been the first time? Killzone 1 should have been a cool game...but it was much too repetitive, poorly animated, and lacked presence. With the powers of the PS3, they have plenty of room to fix these problems.

One problem I see is that the Killzone world doesn't really have anything for gamers to latch onto. Halo has Master Chief, Metroid has Samus, but Killzone's baddies and goodies don't have stand-out personalities or dramatic looks. The Hellghast lack the personality variance of Halo's Covenant, that's for sure.

We are seeing the versus comparisons already. Gears vs Killzone and Halo 3 vs Killzone for starters.

I will remain here with one eyebrow cocked.

The price is right: $30 for 360 thumb keyboard on Sept 4th

Finally, more information on this thing.

Personally, I always either end up away from my USB keyboard or the wireless keyboard stops working (batteries usually). So this is a definite solution to my woes, although I despise text messaging on my HTC Wizard which has a similar keyboard layout. Then again, phone texting is meant to be a one-handed operation. This thumboard wins out.

*waits eagerly with $30 in hand*

Tenchu Z review on the way

Tenchu may not have the fast-paced, combo-centric gameplay of Ninja Gaiden, but it's still the only new-gen game we have that combines Ninjas with Splinter-Cell stealth. I received my review copy while I was on my business trip, and look forward to spending some time with it.

From popping in the game for a few minutes, I can see that the graphics won't meet "Next Gen" expectations, but the game-play should provide several hours of entertainment. Look for a review soon!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Amazon Xbox 360 and PS3 sales spike...what are consumers watching?

It looks like consumers are at least temporarily executing their interests in the current generation of consoles. PS3 sales are reportedly up 2800% (28 times) on 360 Elite orders are up 1800%.

The obvious correlations are the PS3's price cut and the 360 Warranty Extension. These sales spikes seemed to happen right after these events. Are consumers on stand-by waiting for the PS3 to be affordable? Did an unheard-of 3-year console warranty instill confidence in potential 360 consumers?

My question is, what else will drive sales for our gaming kings? A few high-profile games definitely wouldn't hurt the PS3's efforts at gaining ground. But maybe more price cuts are needed, even if possibly unrealistic. Maybe a Blu-ray solid win would be convincing enough. What about the addition of rumble? What are potential PS3-owners really looking for?

One could guess that the needed 360 price drop would spur sales. Will news such as the cooler 65nm chips and other new guts also give rise to 360 sales? Or possibly the "right" exclusives? What would deter further sales? How important is advice to avoid the 360 overall?

A lot of questions...but time stands in the way of answers. Most likely there's a group waiting for any one of these events or multiple events to occur before they drop the paper or plastic and move into the newest gaming worlds. As for me, I'm waiting for 65nm chips before I upgrade to a 360 Elite. If any readers are still waiting to make the jump to PS3 or 360, what's holding you back?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Yet another business trip

Well folks, I'm off for another week for Cisco training. As I did last time, I imagine I'll still find time to plop a few words here. There's always breaks and after class, although I'm bringing my friend Rachael this time around. So I may be too distracted, but nobody cares anyway.

I'm hoping that extra security isn't going to be an issue. We're flying into DC, and I've heard they've tightened their sphincters a little bit because of recent problems in the U.K. We're leaving extra early to ensure we make our flight.

Anyway, I'm going to see if I can get a hold of an Xbox 360 over there. Maybe my friend over there will buy one or something, or I can rent one. I have not been able to play much lately, so the week would be a good opportunity to catch up on the games that I've purchased but haven't been able to experience. Maybe I can finally complete Bullet Witch and whatever other titles I've slacked off on.

The trip will be from July 8th to the 15th. See you soon!

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Review: Xbox 360 - Forza Motorsport 2

Racing simulations have lost their luster for me over the years. The last one that had a grip on my attention was Gran Turismo 2 for the PSOne. The biggest reason was they featured a Taurus SHO, which was my favorite car at the time. After driving in way too many circles, and collecting licenses and was hard to ever repeat the same old shtick. The lack of body damage was a huge detraction, because it felt more like bumper cars than the threat of real racing.

In comes Forza 2 to save the day.

Continue reading...

To start, it has less junky cars leaving for a more desirable collection. From there, the tuning options are solid and detailed enough to help gamers get the ride they want. On the track, the cars handle as they should. Even body damage affects how the cars handle. Thank the praise-deserving detailed physics engine for that. Overall, I'd say Forza 2 is the best-playing racing simulator I've ever played.

The big question is always "graphics?" I can honestly say that the PS3's GTHD demo has better graphics, and looks a lot cleaner. The tracks look better and they are more detailed. The fenders on the cars look a little bit more believable as well, probably due to Polyphony's experience with the genre.

To Forza's defense, GTHD has it's own set of problems. GTHD cars handle like a coagulated bowl of oatmeal. The lack of damage, which will continue into GT5, takes a huge chunk of fun and tension away from GT. The last full iteration of GT didn't do customization all that well either. And naturally, Forza's online mode is quite a desirable addition that GT has yet to bring to the table. The result is proof that "graphics aren't everything" although it may not be coming from the console you'd expect.

Shots of NOS:
-Realistic physics make for excellent play
-Challenging and intelligent AI
-Solid level of customization and online play

Lost Fenders:
-Graphics are a little disappointing
-Frame-rate seems a bit choppy at times
-This game still ends up being the old grind of racing

Resembles/Feels like:
Gran Turismo with more realistic play and customization

Rent or Buy:
A must-buy for racing fans, as this game will swallow a tremendous amount of hours of your time. A rental for anyone else.

Personal Appraisal: $49.99
MSRP: $59.99

Other opinions: 9.8/10
IGN: 9.5/10
TotalVideoGames: 8/10

So they used Machester Cathedral in a what?

People get offended over the silliest things. Game creators make an effort to add a realistic setting, and the source gets whiney. Being realistic, they should calm down and accept that someone liked the design enough to base entertainment after it.

I'm going to start getting offended that all these games take place on the planet Earth. I live here, and it's the most important location in the universe for humans (on it). How dare they depict aliens roaming freely across my streets and lawns!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Microsoft steps up to the plate (if only Sony did this for PS2s...)

Well, I'm proud of Microsoft. This is above and beyond my expectations for handling RRoD.

Let's backtrack to how Sony handled their last gen hardware fiasco. They were charging PS2 owners $40 to fix DRE (disc read error) problems even if the console was still in warranty. One class-action lawsuit later, Sony ended up reimbursing customers and waiving the $40 fee (in warranty). It took Sony 13 versions of the PS2 to eliminate DRE.

Today, Microsoft has their own hardware fiasco: RRoD (Red Ring of Death). Initially, they extended launch console warranties from 90 days to 1 year. Then they extended all consoles to one year. Since the problem is apparently prevalent, they have gone to 3 years, which is unheard of for a gaming console. To me, that shows promise that they are dedicated to fixing the issue. Most electronics in general don't go over a one year warranty, so I can feel confident about my future 360 Elite purchase, whether it has a 65nm CPU or not.

Bravo, Microsoft. Way to take responsibility and set the bar without getting class-action lawsuits and further consumer headache involved.

Kotaku and Joystiq agree: Rock!

As expected, Harmonix has apparently come through again with Rock Band. Kotaku reports that journalists and other media members crowded the demo room to don their pretend stage costumes. They even used the lame "11" joke inherent with these new music games. But if they had fun, who can mock them for anything?

Joystiq effective sums up Rock band as, "Guitar Hero! Plus drums and a microphone!" For the most part, they didn't bring any new information that Kotaku hasn't already covered.

My only concern is how well the drumplay will work out. Both blogsites said it's better than expected, but as a person who played on acoustic and electronic kits, I'm going to continue to edge toward pessimism. I did the same with Guitar Hero, so we'll probably see a 180 degree shift in my opinion. LOL

Playing in real bands have been some of the best experiences in my life. If Hamonix can replicate that feeling in the living room, at a much cheaper price than real instruments, then they are guaranteed to have a hit with Rock Band.

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Multiplatofrm comparison: Eurogamer gives 360 the edge overall

In a fair comparison on 6 multiplatform titles, Eurogamer digs into a PS3 vs 360 comparison to see which console has the greater benefits.

Overall, the 360 takes the "win" by having online options and/or content as well as not having the console with the dirty ports. The highlight of the PS3's side in the comparison is a slight graphical edge in Elder Scrolls Oblivion, although lacking in up-to-date content. The worst seems to be Splinter Cell: Double Agent, where the lighting, textures, and performance take a hit on the PS3 due to lower system RAM.

To be fair, Splinter Cell has always been better on the Xbox platform, so this may not come as much of a surprise.

The article even mentions some annoyances I've covered before, such as navigating the XMB and non-automatic resolution changes on the PS3. The lack of rumble could be considered bad as well, since the SIXAXIS motion control isn't used effectively on any of the games covered.

Looks like I have to continue to stand by the RRoD'ing console for now.

Vampire Rain = Fast-paced Splinter-Cell-type action?

I wasn't exactly expecting this type of game. Thankfully, the graphics look solid. Hopefully, this game won't punish you like Splinter Cell does if you decide to get into a major firefight. The combination of stealth-moves with full-on ballistics action is enough to leave me waiting impatiently to play this one.

Thanks go out to m80 for providing the info!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Metroid Prime 3 gets screens, can't find online multiplayer

Before it gets too depressing, head over to N-Europe for some new MP3 screenshots. Be sure to look at them again after the next section.

No online multiplayer.

So much for a Halo-Killer. We sure as hell know that Killzone isn't capable. It sounds like the single-player game received all the developer attention, so they didn't want to spill any resources into an online mode. Hopefully there is still local multiplayer.


The Brutes get their own rides

Mike at Kotaku, who previously was in "meh" state about Halo 3 has perked up.

IGN has found out new Halo 3 info. Pictured above is the Brute Chopper, and from the looks of it, it is aptly named. They also were shown some new maps, graphical improvements, and armor customization. And my favorite part, what you can do with the replay footage.

Check out more at IGN's page.

Sony gets hardware right this round; exclusivity is via R E S P E C T

Various store managers are reporting little no failures for PS3's and Wii's since launch, while sticking with the 25-33% failure rate estimates for the 360. It should come as no surprise that Sony made strides in quality after the DRE fiasco. And Nintendo continues to make solid products.

Sony also seems to be believers in "respect" in the terms that they "earn" exclusives. This comes about because of the number of titles "previously known as exclusive to PS3" have gone over to the white side. Check out the timeline. A noble response indeed, but the question is: Does the average consumer care? Likely, many don't care where they get their Assassin's Creed, DMC4, VF5, and Katamari at.

And in other news, some are finding it odd that Sony isn't attempting to "bring E3 home" as Microsoft will be doing for the 2nd time. There really is no excuse; Sony has ignored the consumer at the wrong times in the war thus far.

Still, the PS3 isn't ready to go without a fight.

Monday, July 02, 2007

RIP Red vs Blue

It looks like my favorite machinima series is coming to a close. I've been slacking and haven't quite made it through the last few, but I was waiting for the final episode to take one last laugh at these miscreants at work. I plan on watching the whole series streamed over our network in the near future.

Goodbye, Red vs Blue, you will be missed.

360's...more yay's and neigh's.

It looks like some are ready to get all class-action on Microsoft. Well, a suit may not currently be in the works, but it sounds like it will get there. And here I thought Microsoft wasn't going to emulate the PS2's failure-rate-success.

At least the 360 beats the competition for most-hyped launch. Not that makes any RRoD victims feel any better.

Microsoft is no doubt happy that Sony has to hang its head in shame for losing another exclusive. While I can't say Fatal Inertia had me pumped or anything, it did seem to be an interesting title. Koei has been touting it since the PS3 was launching. Does the fact Koei turned their back on the PS3 mean anything?

Microsoft can stand proud knowing that the PS3 is failing to match their success. In respective launch times. The linked article talks about why this is the case rather than talking about the PS3 being the dusty turd that it is in my entertainment center. Hint: Marketing, games, and PS2.

It sounds like MS is doing right in the software department. Now if they'd just get that hardware to stop blinking red.

In PSP world: Bye Dark_Alex and 3.5 DG blocks

The homebrew/hacking scene has made some strides as of late, while losing it's greatest contributor.

Dark_Alex, the PSP homebrewer responsibilty for emulating firmwares, downgrading firmwares, and making custom firmware is retiring so-to-speak. Who can blame him? Sony is no doubt waiting for the perfect opportunity to turn up the heat on the homebrew scene in poor attempts of stopping piracy.

In other news, Lumines continues to be the best thing to happen to the PSP so far. Some determined individuals found a buffer overload that enabled the creation of a sought-after 3.5 downgrader. Sweet.

And naturally, such a thing left Lumines sales through the roof.

Why is the most exciting things that happen to the PSP NOT provided by Sony?

Metroid Prime 3 is taking too long

It's time to get back on.

Yet another instance of "I bought this system for one game," Metroid Prime is the sole game I look forward to for the Wii at this point. From a play-test review, it sounds as though it may meet my high expectations. MP is the first game to get me to accept the FPS view on gaming. FPS in addtion to the classic Metroid exploratory elements makes for one hell of a game.

Coverart is here. I've waited long enough, but it seems they've delayed MP3 yet another week. Oh the humanity!

Final Fantasy news

There's been several articles on FF that I've been meaning to cover but just have not had the time. Here we go:

FF7: Crisis Core is still coming for the PSP and it's still looking good. Being this game is the sole reason I purchased a PSP...the wait seems like such an eternity.

To satiate our FF-addictions until then, the PSP did get a remake of the original FF. I'm not as pumped about this, but I'll try it out. Final Fantasy has only disappointed me thrice (FF9, FFXI, FFXII). It received decent reviews, although complaints ranged from lack-of-new-content to being disgusted at the number of remakes.

I'm sure there was more, but I'm going to have to cut this short. Final Fantasy, we can't help but love you.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Idiot blames HD-DVD buyers for problems

I was expecting a solid article here, but I was sadly mistaken. I guess you can't expect much from someone who posts at

Benefits of HD-DVD:

Less copy-protection (no BD+)
Better picture (never used lesser codecs like Blu-ray has on some movies)
Guaranteed to have continued DVD backwards compatibility (companies want to get out of DVD ASAP)
Hyrbrid discs can help in the transition (Blu-ray won't do it to avoid licensing)

Blu-ray benefits over HD-DVD:

More movie studios are currently backing it
10GB more per layer (however, it leaves it more hypersensitive to dust/fingerprints)

Furthermore, HD-DVD just makes more sense all around for the context. These two formats really are just middle-of-the-road, that cost over twice as much as what we have now for a marginally improved picture. We either need a more "obviously beneficial" format or digital distribution needs to be able to satisfy the general consumer.

In the meantime, check out the biased article from Microsoft that is surprisingly truthful. Microsoft is also attempting to grow the HD-DVD library. Just add water movies?

As I reminder, I'm not a huge movie fan. However, if I had to pick a side, the choice is obvious. From the background behind both formats, I would go with HD-DVD.

I do have a PS3 and a few Blu-ray movies, and have been quite unimpressed. While I do not personally have an HD-DVD player at this time, what I have seen has been solid, even on televisions with lesser specs than my own.

Multicore vs multiCPU

Wincomputing brings us a brief article on the differences between multiple CPU systems and multiple core systems. This isn't directly related to gaming, but it is interesting. I've not delved into hardware too much, as it's not necessary for me to know the details of performance for my career path.

Anyway, I had always just assumed that multi-CPU would be the better option, but I didn't consider what was explained in this article. Essentially, efficiency is driven down with the required cross-processor communication (organizing and assigning threads). Multicores allow for for less lag in this communication, resulting in better performance.

And the bit about AMD integrating a Northbridge chipset into their X2 explains the larger size, larger price, and larger efficiency. I guess AMD is currently where it's at for PC gamers?

Analysts say Sony not on a path to dominance

DFC, who I believe previously forecast a solid future for the PS3, has since changed their tune. These are analysts which means speculation, but the article is honest and doesn't seem to take sides. Here's some choice quotes from the article:

The problem the PlayStation 3 faced at launch was a $600 price tag and very limited software library. In contrast the competition was exciting new products at half the price and a more compelling software library. The Wii had buzz, brand, price and representation by most of the major Nintendo franchises in the first six months.

In terms of market valuation, Nintendo is not simply competing with Sony Consumer Electronics, but the consumer electronics/media giant that is Sony Corporation.

As Jack Tretton put it, it is hard to evaluate a product designed to last a decade or more based on the first 18 months.

The challenge Sony faces is that competition in the video game market is not sitting still and for this generation Microsoft and Nintendo have clearly turned up the heat. There is no winning by default in this market.

The video game market is simply becoming diversified in multiple respects. Consumers are increasingly willing to buy multiple systems for multiple purposes. This means arguing who will be first or second is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

This seems about right to me. However, I'm noticing that owning too many consoles does leave me in gaming-overload. Aside from my obvious preference, I've pretty much dropped gaming on all Playstation platforms. I just don't have the time and there isn't any compelling software to take my already limited time away from the 360 and the Wii. By this, I mean the PS2, PSP, and PS3. I haven't even played through God of War 2 yet because I've been focusing on the 360 as of late. When Metroid comes for the Wii, it will take my time. It's not that I don't want to use my PS products, I just have to cut something out, and without tantalizing titles, I just can't waste too much time digging through the muck.

I think Nintendo will have a slight edge this time around, but overall the systems will remain about even.

More PS3 vs 360: The Darkness, Madden 08

Looks like the graphics and frame rate are identical. The PS3 might have slightly more colors going on in some of the faces, but you have to look for it.

As for Madden 08, it looks as though the 360 is going @ 60fps vs the PS3's 30fps. I'm curious as to why...I figured the Cell wouldn't have a problem with this? In any case, pwned, I guess. (?)

Microsoft blames Surge/UPS for 360 Problems?

Fellow "Ninja" site has found that official Microsoft tech support is now blaming "extra surge protection" as a cause of problems in 360's. They suggest that 360's should be plugged directly into the wall as the 360's power-brick is already a surge protector (which it is).

Ridiculous. Middle-fingers off to Microsoft on that one. As loot-ninja says, there is absolutely no reason that a UPS/Surge protector should cause a problem.

Don't turn into Sony are REALLY close (middle-finger off to DRE).

Turned on the dustbox PS3 to play Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror Demo (PS2)

I'm surprised the PS3 even turned on! It wants me to update, but we already know how I feel about the ridiculous updating process, so I passed.

I had to create a new virtual memory card (I don't remember deleting the old one...), and the game started.

Right off the bat, it's telling me to plug in a dualshock controller because it cannot sense one is present. I'm thinking, "Does this game need rumble?" No, the PS3 just shut off the controller again for whatever reason. The battery has charge; it holds it for a long time in standby which is impressive. Now if they'd just stop forcing the controller to shut off and such stupid times (updates, exiting a game, etc.)

Dark Mirror is pretty much a Splinter-Cell-minus-stealth wannabe. The controls are horrid, and the only the analog sticks can be swapped. Customizable controls are a necessity guys. Why learn a whole new control scheme for a run-of-the-mill game such as this? Playstation games have severe problems when it comes to games-with-guns. They always do poorly with the controls, and it doesn't help the the Dualshock layout sucks for all analog-controlled games. Can I have the d-pad and slap it on the 360 controller? That's all I want from it.

Anyway, the protagonist can hug walls, has some vision modes, and has a few guns. That about somes it up. Bad guys find you, and you shoot them. Thankfully the AI is stupid, so you have enough time to figure out how the hell to zoom in with your sniper.

If I remember right...this is just a port of the PSP game. I never really paid attention to the series; Sony just sent me this demo. It looks like it gets the toss into the old garbage can.