Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday updates.

I've been in pain and am still in pain so the reviews and assorted mumbo jumbo have taken a backseat. If someone knows of a good, cheap dentist in Austin please let me know. I'm eating Tylenol like Skittles.

On a lighter note:

1) Earlier this week Penny Arcade had a comic about the very recently - July 17th - created Chore Wars. I had seen mention of it here and there. Today I received an invite and's my character and the party I belong to. Silly but a fun way to make chores funner.

2) Finally got around/broke down and watched the pilot to Six Feet Under. It wasn't really all that bad, pretty reasonable in fact. It was pretty much what I was expecting and in all honesty was the reason why I hadn't made the effort to see it. I knew it was going to be good HBO family melodramedy with hip/too slick/hyperreality dialogue and characters. Hell it even has the "music". If you're familiar with the show and shows like it then you'll know what I mean. I'll watch more episodes but I'll be surprised if I can make it past a season.

3) Finally got around/broke down and watched Harry Potter 1-3. A review of those will be upcoming.

4) While I personally don't give a flying squirrel fart about The Simpsons Movie - fifteen years too late - Sunshine also opens this weekend. A good sci-fi movie is always welcome in my book.

More news to follow...eventually.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter & the little somethin somethin.

Looks like The New York Times has released a review of the new Harry Potter book two days before its release. J. K. Rowling is up in arms about it,

"I am staggered that some American newspapers have decided to publish purported spoilers in the form of reviews in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children."

Hey, I read the review and this sounds like the first Potter book I would read though I'd have to wade through the first couple of books in order to get to this one. Man I am glad that I don't work in a regular bookstore with this release coming up.

Goddamn Rangers!

As I slowly get sucked into the tarpit that is MLB2K6 I find that I am forced to quickly learn about baseball stats and assorted mumbo jumbo. I've never really given any sport much of a chance besides bush league hockey or rugby but after going to a Texas Rangers game last year I got the baseball bug. I realize I should be a Washington Nationals fan and they don't seem like a bad team but here in Texas they won't be on TV. I have to admit that I like being a Rangers fan. I like playing the Rangers in MLB2K6. They suck. It's no fun if you like a team like the Yankees - super powerful team that just buys the opposition. I may not know anything about baseball but I know that. I like the crappy team that when it does something good or right or just doesn't set anything on fire then it's good and when they do something bad it's a catastrophe. However they have a good attitude - example pitcher Kevin Millwood, "I made some good pitches, but I didn't get a couple of calls or they hit them and found a hole. There's not a whole lot you can do. But I still feel like I threw the ball well. It's not a step back."

I wish I could have that kind of outlook. Whenever something goes to shit in a game I have to admit that I turn into a yell-bot. If I could kick dirt and cuss out the pitcher or god damn fucking outfield then I would. Oh wait. Oddly enough I find myself really enjoying the game despite the aggravation. Baseball is enjoyable. I just wish I could assimilate all these stats quicker. After nearly thirty years of RPGs and assorted fantasy & sci-fi stats, lingo, and assorted crap you'd think a few dozen stats would be no trouble.

Now I have to figure out who my starting pitcher is gonna be against LA tonight.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Game-stravaganza weekend.

Kind of spent the entire weekend gaming and doing chores. Have some first impressions and semi-reviews and assorted mumbo jumbo. Thanks to Farley for the lending of the games.

1) Gears of War is/was pretty awesome fun. Amanda proved her skill with third person tactical shooters - at least providing very useful assistance in fire fights. She delights in "brokeback squad" humor though - chasing my character around with amourous intent.

2) Crackdown is fun but sort of a one trick pony. Basically a cyberpunk superhero game you control a cybernetic super cop who - after finding numerous hidden power ups - is literally able to leap tall buildings and whomp the living hell out of the gang menace that plagues the city. It looks pretty neat and it's great fun to leap from rooftop to rooftop - think Spiderman without the webslinging - and just wandering and blasting stuff. After awhile I kind of wished that there was something else to do. I'll play a bit more and see if anything worthwhile happens.

3) Just Cause is a sandbox game set in Robert Rodriguez-esque world. Some island run by a junta. El Presidente is not friendly towards Uncle Sam. CIA wants to support local rebels in order to have someone in command who understands our goals in the region. CIA sends you in. It's not all sand and surf. That's the long and short of Just Cause. The player character looks and sounds like a cheap knock-off of Antonio Banderas and moves around kind of weird - like his mariachi pants are riding up. Other than that the game seems like it's going to be right up my alley. I like being thought of as a liberator and freedom fighter.

The island the game takes place on is massive, huge massive. Maybe it's just first impressions but it took me quite some time to get to the capitol city - I eventually borrowed a Cesna and just parachuted into the city. The game looks great but is almost too vibrant - the colors are just super saturated and kind of put the zap on my eyes. I'm used to grey and muted colors of destroyed cities and smooth greens of MLB outfields so when confronted with crazy jungle and beach and sunlight it takes some getting used to.

4) MLB2K6 is my new addiction. I - quite unexpectedly - have started down the path of baseball videogaming. I haven't really ever played any sports games so it's a new experience and am very slowly learning the controls. So far it turns out I can pitch and clobber foul balls deep left. I started a season yesterday playing the Rangers. I like the Rangers - they were the first MLB baseball team I ever saw play. Of course I start the season playing Boston. Bastards. Did okay the first game - won 3-2 in OT. Second game went fine - actually awesome. Young HR w/bases loaded awesomeness in the fifth. It was magic. Led 6-3 and then in the 7th the entire game went to shit. My idiot clod third baseman got an error - the ball bounced off his foot and into the outfield. The Sox demolished my defense. My relief pitcher went noodle armed. The 7th and 8th innings were shameful. The 9th was fine. Pitching was great no problem. Couldn't get on base though and ended the game 11-6. If I had a hat I would have thrown it in the dirt and jumped up and down on it. I'll play game three tonight and see if I can't prevent another wholesale slaughter.

And that's all the news for now.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rockstar goodness.

PS3 price drop...only for 60GB?

Interesting...I read this article on GP about the price drop only being on the 60GB PS3. Awesome but they aren't going to manufacture any more? Once they are gone they're gone and there will only be 80GB available - the 20GB are no more. Maybe I'm not sophisticated or savvy enough to understand global business but doesn't it seem like that's a crappy idea? The PS3 isn't selling the way it should because we - gamers - can't afford it. The Wii is turning into a market grabber because it's affordable and familycasual gamer friendly. It doesn't have Blu-Ray or a Flux Capacitor or a lot of the hardware that drives up the cost of the 360 & the PS3. That being said there are no games I want to play on the Wii. If I had munchkins running around I'd own a Wii. No kid of mine won't be a gamer.

The PS3 will hit its stride soon enough if the price can become managable and if their exclusives can convince me to trade in my X360. Maybe.

Friday. Trailers! Updates! Mega post(s)!

I'm not sure how you folks feel about several updates or one massive tsunami of awesome - maybe some feedback would be nice *cough* *hint* *cough*.

First out of the gate:

I'm a little behind on my game trailers but we watched two of the above last night. I've been hearing good things about Army of Two over the last couple of weeks. Apparently if you put your partner in danger and just generally act recklessly the AI will start to refuse to work with you and won't have your back in a firefight. However if you play smart then the AI will like you and go the extra yard. What that extra yard is I'm not sure but it probably doesn't involve candles, a bubblebath, and whale music.

More news after lunch.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gears of War (2006)

Despite the fact that I'm about to rent my third copy of this from Blockbuster - the first two have been scratched - and have only gotten a few hours of play in I have to say that Gears of War is a pretty cool game.

It's a futuristic third-person shooter that pits massive gravelly-voiced dudes against The Locust - warriors that look like Draks from Enemy Mine and sound like pissed off daemonic Helghast from Killzone. The combat is possibly some of the best and well programmed third person combat I've played. Gone is the ridiculous "jump" button - seriously who jumps? Vaulting, steepling, hauling ass yes but jumping? It's pretty much just an action button that allows you to take cover and do perform various actions. Cover is essential as is not staying in one place too long. The firefights in Gears of War are intense when they really get going - trying to take down heavy gun emplacements are kind of a nightmare. The Locust are real bastards to kill due to heavy armor and pure meanness. I have actually gotten into drawn out gun battles with Locust only to finish the fight in close combat.

The game looks amazing, sounds amazing, plays well, and still can't manage to have competent squad AI. These guys love running into machine gun fire, charging balls out deep into enemy territory. Sure you can revive them but they are often in such an inconvenient spot that it's easier just to take on the Locust hordes on your own and then patch up your buddies later. There is a bare bones amount of squad control and the squad is successful at drawing attention away from you - allowing you to sneak up on emplacements and better firing positions. I just hope that some day squad AI will be better than cannon fodder/buller magnet.

Gears of War is definitely worth playing and is the first game I'm actually considering playing online because it's that fun. Just expect to die. A lot. Fortunately there are many checkpoints to make life easier. Now if only Blockbuster had a copy I could play.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brains of Darkness.

Haven't posted in a couple of days but then again haven't had much to post about. E3 - the Electronic Entertainment Expo - has started up so prepare yourself for trailers and previews galore. Kicking this off is the bad ass trailer for Resident Evil 5. Dude. Africa. Zombies. Bad juju.

I don't think that enough games are set in Africa. Sure there are some "stop the warlord/dictator/generalissimo" levels here and there but nothing serious. I suppose that it's not terribly PC to have a game showcasing child warriors, blood diamonds, evil oil companies, warlords, ineffectual UN Blue Helms, genocide, corruption, rampant poverty, mercenaries, and bad juju. Personally it sounds like it could be a really good game plus I've always had a soft spot for "adventures in Africa" movies and books. Because of this fact this is the first RE that had peaked my interest.

More game trailers as I find them.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Brian Lara International Cricket 2007

Cricket (1): Rules and crap.
Cricket (2): Some cock-a-mamie Brit game involving throwing a ball and trying to knock down a bunch of sticks defended by a guy with a cricket bat.
Cricket (3): Only awesome because of cricket bats.
Cricket (4): Almost as much fun as rolling a hoop with a stick.
Cricket (5): All that's left to play after banning violent American games.

Do any any of these things sound like they'd make for a kick-ass video game?

Brian Lara is some kind of West Indian ninja warrior of cricket.

I have to admit that I am kind of intrigued but not enough to play it. I can barely stand American sports let alone crazy foreigner games.

Carcassonne - a strategy board game turned into pixellated crack.

Two of the greatest things about the X360 are the Live Arcade and Marketplace. The Marketplace allows you to download all kinds of media entertainment crap - i.e. movies, tv shows, trailers, and miscellaneous crap. The Arcade allows you to download free trials and, for a pretty reasonable fee, games. Granted, some of these games are rehashes of classics with a bunch of spit and polish to make them look and play better on a modern console - Contra for example. Some of these games kick ass - Worms, Hexic, and a couple of other puzzle titles. The revamp of Doom looks great but the music is completely asstastic, really terrible metal garbage that replaced a truly creepy score. Lately I've been fiending for puzzle/strategy games and have found a good one - Carcassonne. From what I gather there was a German strategy board game Sierra Games got a hold of and made a nice little game out of. When I say "nice little game" I mean crack. Not just crack, I'm talkin' nuke - the stuff from Robocop 2. It took willpower not to play a few games after getting home from the movie last night. I would have if I didn't have to work today.

Basically it's a tile based game set in the Middle Ages. One player puts down a tile with a castle wall or road or monastery or something along those lines then the other player places a tile. The whole goal is to build castles, connect roads, and build up your areas before your opponent.

It's a lot more fun than I am making it out to be. I'm actually thinking of buying a second controller so Amanda and I can play against one another...though I don't know if we'll kill each other or not.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dead Rising (2006) - First Impressions

Zombies are constantly on the razor's edge of over saturation but when it comes down to it zombies are fun to kill. Dead Rising has zombies to kill in droves and it looks awesome doing it. I'm at around the halfway mark and am finally progressing nicely.

The Good:

The game is a horror game. Sure, zombies, mall, survivors, mayhem ensues but there are certain points where the game just decides to go sideways. Bring in the psychopaths - assorted "bosses" in the game: a Nam Vet with a machete, the Cult Leader, a bunch of escaped convicts in a Jeep with .50 mounted on the back, and probably some more I haven't seen. So far I have only been able to take down the Cult Leader but it had a very satisying kill cut scene.

I like the fact that the game has a fairly strict time limit on missions and story - it ratchets up the tension and severely cuts back on the aimless wandering factor. While I love the "sandbox"
style of game - exploration is one of my favorite aspects of gaming - there are times when aimless wandering doesn't make sense for the plot. Example: Dead Rising's main character is a journalist dropped into a zombie infested mall with 72 hours to "get the story" and maybe save some people on the side. The clock is ticking. There's not exactly time to find hidden packages or scour every corner of the place for goodies.

Saving people in distress is a profanity inducing nightmare of fun. I like saving people from the ravenous hordes and assorted loonies but when they lag behind or flounder I start cursing them, their lineage, and their pets. I also have become very callous towards people who refuse help or are emotional wrecks. Thus proving in a zombie-pocalypse I would be a complete bastard - i.e. "Leave them! They're goners!" My next step will be shooting the goners...when I have rounds to waste.

The save system has caused a lot of confusion. You only have one save file. If you get stuck or fail to complete the storyline before the 72 hours is up or die or miss your helicpoter you have the option of restarting the game with your stats intact. The restart is actually pretty handy because at the actual beginning of the game you are in no condition to fight zombies. By racking up some levels and abilities it makes the game much more managable. I have to admit that I like this system. It removes the Choose Your Own Adventure style of cheating - marking the page you are on and seeing what are your best choices before carrying on.

The Bad:

Dead Rising was designed to be used with HD. Wheee! While this means the game looks awesome it also means that most of the font can't be read on a standard TV. This means you can't find out important mission information, deadlines, locations, and assorted useful information. This drives Amanda insane. Sure it pisses me off but I can figure out what I'm supposed to do...eventually...after getting pissed off and swearing. It really is an inexcusable screw up on Capcom's part.

The controls are pretty good...for a Capcom game. I wish there was a target lock-on. Not a realistic function I know but there are certain times when I was butchered simply because I couldn't get a bead on the target. Profanity ensues.

All in all it's a good game that I will pick up when it's used and reasonably priced. If you like zombie movies and/or games then definitely rent Dead Rising.

This is the reason to buy a DS Lite.

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