Thursday, December 28, 2006

Final Blog Post of the Year

Well, as mentioned in the title, this will be my last blog post of the year. During this time I'll be hanging out with the family, catching up on some old games, finishing up some projects I’m working on (articles, reviews, stories, etc.) For the duration of the break I’ll be on Xbox Live (probably playing Gears of War, my newfound gaming addiction :P) and AIM so if you wish to contact me, you have both of those options…oh and there’s email. As 2006 comes to a close, I think I use my final blog post of 2006 to reflect on the past year of gaming.
The Year 2006 in Retrospect (Abridged version)

The Xbox 360 has really hit its stride this year after its pretty rocky launch in 2005 spilling over into the first few months of 2006. March however saw the releases of several highly anticipated games for the Xbox 360, GRAW, Fight Night Round 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, all worthy of your gaming dollars even today. There was a bit of a lull after that point, as there were no really good titles until the summer. Early summer was met with Chromehounds, a vastly underrated and underappreciated game in my opinion. Late summer saw the releases of two much talked about and surprisingly good games, Dead Rising and Saints Row. These managed to tide 360 gamers over until the fall when some of the best quality Xbox 360 games released. November saw the releases of many great games such as Viva PiƱata (which was another shocker) Rainbow Six Vegas and the most hyped game this year, Gears of War. It completely lived up to its massive amounts of hype and as such, has been named GameSpot’s 2006 Game of the Year. In the end, I think it’s safe to say the Xbox 360 has done an incredible amount in its first full year on the market, and I hope it continues to deliver.

The runaway hit Playstation 2 also had another exceptional year, and with the release of its big brother the PS3 looming on the horizon that was no easy feat. But the six year old PS2 showed everyone it still had some legs and stood strong once again with a killer lineup of exclusive games proving that you don’t have to upgrade to the next generation of consoles to have great gaming experiences. Throughout the year there were a ton of stellar releases including the much hyped Okami, Final Fantasy XII, Guitar Hero II, Singstar Rocks! (which I really want to play), and Bully.

The Playstation 3 on the other hand didn’t have such a year leading up to its release this past November 17th. E3 2006 was not too kind to the Playstation 3 (I’m pretty sure everyone remembers the “Giant Enemy Crab” and “Ridge Racer” debacles during the pre-show press conference) and for some time afterwards it had its fair share of bad press in the months that followed. Even after launch, it still had bad press coming from all angles, including Time Magazine and the New York Times. Still though, the launch of the Playstation 3 was pretty smooth, despite missing intended shipment marks (an estimated 200,000 consoles reached North America on launch day instead of the promised 400,000). There were very few of hardware malfunctions that plagued the Xbox 360’s launch (and quite frankly, even now) and despite missing their original shipment targets, they have kept up a steady stream of PS3’s coming to keep retailers relatively well stocked (I recently called a local Best Buy store and they told me they had some PS3’s in stock). The actual launch titles fared about as well as 360 titles did the previous year with a few highlights (Resistance: Fall of Man) and a few flops (Genji: Days of the Blade, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom). All in all, the PS3 was a bit on the disappointing side this year but, to its credit, almost all consoles have a shaky start (as did the PS2, and we all see what happened there) and its first full year on the market and some of its biggest blockbuster titles are coming up in 2007.

The Nintendo Wii on the other hand has seen its share of good press. At E3 2006, members of the gaming press got their chance to play the Nintendo Wii (some for the first time) and see how their new fangled motion sensing controller affected the way games would be played on the system. Since then, very little bad press has come Nintendo’s way, as those who had the chance to play it often left with great first impressions. Nintendo also decided to give gamers across the United States the chance to try the Wii out for themselves before it released at the Nintendo Fusion Tour this past fall. After my first time at the controls, I was very satisfied as were many others who had the chance to experience it. The launch went very smoothly, and although Nintendo didn’t meet their goals of shipping 1 million Wii consoles to North America on launch day, they still managed to get 600,000 units stateside. The launch titles were as expected, with one really huge game (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) and a bunch of other great titles (Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Rayman: Raving Rabbids) to round out the collection. Surprisingly, there was a pretty big flop in the form of Red Steel, but other than that, there wasn’t much to lose sleep over. 2007 looks to be a good year for the Wii with three big name titles (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers Brawl) on the way.

All that said, this was a very good year for gaming. I plan on expanding this short feature in the next week so look for it when it’s finished.

Well, that’ll do it for my last blog post of the year. I’ll be back next year in full force so be on the lookout! :D. I hope everyone here has a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

First impressions of the Wii

On November 19, 2006, the Nintendo Wii console was officially made available to the public. I had my console preordered at my local GameStop, so I didn’t make a fuss about rushing out to pick mine up when the store opened. At around 2 PM that day, I made my way up to the store and finally picked up my Wii console. Excitement rushed through me as the clerk went into the back room and brought out the small white box containing the object at the root of much excitement and anticipation over the past few months.

The Wii remote itself is everything I remember from my experiences with it before. In hand, it’s one of the most comfortable controllers I’ve ever used. It’s got a good feel to it in terms of balance and weight, and it fits naturally in your hand. The nunchuck attachment is incredibly light (almost to the point of feeling a bit cheap) but is well designed, and is comfortable for long playing sessions. I also noticed the analog stick is a bit smaller than the one found on the Gamecube’s controller, but that’s neither here nor there. The only gripe I have regarding the Wii remote is the speaker. The sound quality just isn’t that good. The sounds are tinny and lack the clarity you’d find from most good quality headphones or speakers you’d find today.

The Wii console’s interface is well designed and is easy to work around. Flipping through the Wii “channels” is oddly reminiscent (in a good way) of flipping through channels on a television. Due to the similarities (at least in a physical sense) between the Wii remote and a traditional television remote, the channel interface was probably intentional. It’s simple, it’s easy, and very intuitive.

After playing my share of Wii Sports (the only game I have at the moment), I have to say that I am very pleased with how this game turned out. It’s pretty much every thing I expected and more. If you recall, I had a chance to play it last September at the Nintendo Fusion Tour event. After that small taste of Wii Sports, I was itching to play more. Wii boxing and Wii bowling are easily my two favorite modes, and boxing is great fun with a friend (but then again, all these games are great with a friend).

So far, the Wii has lived up to my expectations. I’ve had a ton of fun with it so far, and the only way I can go is up. I’ll be picking up some additional games soon and I’ll post my impressions on those as I get them. Has the novelty of actually swinging my arm (or flicking my wrist) to control my games worn off yet? No, not yet. In time, it probably will. It’s up to developers to come up with innovative and exciting ways to use the Wii remote’s motion sensing capabilities to keep the gameplay fresh and keep gamers and non gamers alike coming back for more. It’s certainly got me intrigued.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I feel like making another blog post, so here's what's on my mind at 10:19 AM as I sit in the Library to kill time between classes.

Gears of War has lived up to my expectations and in many ways, exceeded them. The game is just awesome on so many levels. The singleplayer game is great but what really takes the cake is the multiplayer. It's so satisfying and fun. Unlike Halo 2, where people just run at each other guns a blazing, Gears of War actually requires teamwork and effective use of cover. You can't just run off and do your own thing. If you do, you'll likely end up overwhelmed by the other team. I love it. It's not the deepest game ever, but its fun and rewarding. Nothing beats sneaking up on someone and taking a chainsaw to them or gibbing an opponent with the Gnasher Shotgun. I could go on and on, but I won't. It would take far too long. Trust me, if you have an Xbox 360, get this game. Odds are, you won't be disappointed.

The Playstation 3 and Wii will be launching soon and I will be in line on launch day for one of them. Can you guess which one? I'll give you a hint. It starts with a "W" and ends with a...well, I think I've made it easy enough. The PS3 is looking better and better the more I hear from it, but it's not five or six hundred dollar worthy yet. I'm waiting until it gets a few more games I'm interested in before I take that plunge. Resistance seems to be getting rave reviews though, and since I love FPS games, that'll likely be my first purchase when I do pick up a PS3.

The Wii on the other hand has me extremely excited. I can't wait to play some more of Wii Sports and Red Steel. Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz seems to be getting some good reviews as well so I might end up picking that up at launch too.

Okay, looks like it's just about time for me to be heading off. I'll be back later with more updates on Gears and the impending launches of the Wii and PS3.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Late Night Final Impressions of Gears of War

Gears of War, the single most hyped and hotly anticipated game on the Xbox 360 to date. It’s been called a number of things, ranging from “The next Halo” to “The reason to buy an Xbox 360 this fall”. Who could blame people for generating such a buzz? Apparently, there is much to be praised, from the excellent graphics (probably the best you’ll see this year, on any platform), to the exciting tactically based “stop and pop” gameplay, Gears of War seems to have the total package. Well, I guess I’ll know soon enough, as I’ll be picking up my copy of the game around 3 PM Tuesday.

When Gears of War was first revealed, I was only mildly interested in it. It looked like it had potential, but didn’t look all that great to me. That quickly changed as the months passed, and more information regarding the gameplay, multiplayer and oh so sweet graphics emerged. While I’m no graphics whore, I don’t think I would feel quite the same if Gears didn’t look so damn good. But I digress…

(Click the image for a larger view)

As the months passed, drawing ever closer to the release date, my anticipation grew exponentially. The previews that have popped up in nearly every gaming related periodical or website I’ve seen. It’s pretty amazing. One preview in particular that got me the most excited was the 14 page spread (not counting the advertisements thrown in on just about every other page) in the November 2006 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. It revealed a lot about the game that I had previously been unaware of (the curb stomp in particular) and clarified some things I had been confused about. It left me with a newfound interest in the game, one that has only grown since then.

Since reading that preview, I actively sought out any and all Gears of War information and media on the net, and found my fair share. I stumbled upon some videos of Gears of War multiplayer (which have subsequently been removed for some reason but were uploaded again by users) on Videos Four and six are my current favorites of the 12 or so that were once up there. An almost ten minute video preview over at made by the 1up crew, also has my interest through the roof, particularly because they discuss just how fun the game is and how all their worries about the game becoming repetitive have been put to rest. One of the speakers said something that really got me going. “This is probably the most polished game Epic has ever put out.” Wow. That’s certainly saying something, considering the Unreal Tournament series that has received pretty much rave reviews across the board. There's also the "Mad World" TV spot that popped up on the Xbox Live Marketplace a few weeks ago which managed to whet my appetite for all things Gears of War, if only for a short while.

Well, that’s my two cents regarding this massively hyped game for the Xbox 360. If my preorder turns out to be good, I might have a video of my initial impressions up soon (possibly Thursday or Friday). Well, if I can manage to tear myself away from the game long enough to set up and shoot the video.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Editorial: Microtansactions, The Wave of The Future? Dear God I hope not...

Developers have found a new way to eke a few more bucks out of you even after you’ve purchased a copy of their game. To expand the shelf life of their game, some developers release little packs of content, such as a few new multiplayer maps, weapons, or cars. These “microtransactions” as referred to within the industry are a growing trend, and I can’t say I’m pleased. Most content packs I’ve seen are pretty overpriced for what they offer.

I’m not going to condemn all developers who utilize the microtransaction system, because many developers don’t overcharge for very little content. While anyone who’s ever played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion likely remembers the horse armor fiasco, Bethesda has made up for it by releasing the rest of their far more worthwhile content for a much cheaper and more reasonable price.

I wouldn’t say microtransactions are a really bad thing (even though I do not really support them) because the content they offer does cost money to produce, and I understand development costs are rising but I draw the line when developers begin abusing them. Recent examples of a developer (or in this case, a publisher) milking the system include EA’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 content. The only way to unlock the “Sunday Tiger” is to buy him off of the Xbox Live Marketplace, and, while you’re there, why don’t you pick up a cheat code or two. Yes, you read that right. EA is selling cheats.

Making the case for overpriced content is the Chapter 2 expansion for GRAW. For 1200 Microsoft points, you get eight “re-lit” maps, four new co op missions, a few new weapons and some other stuff, as outlined in the link I included above. You may be thinking, wow, that’s a lot of stuff and it is, but not for that price, especially since the new maps aren’t so new. They’re just “re-lit” meaning at different times of day. So wait, let me get this straight, I’m paying 15 bucks for five (WOW!) new weapons and a few reworked maps where all you’ve done is change the lighting? You have got to be kidding me. For die hard fans, this might be worth it, but then again, to those die hard fans, the developers could’ve charged more than just $15 and they would eat it up. A guy like me, who is only casually interested in the game, will say “nuts to that”.

For about two months now, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Xbox Live Arcade game Lumines Live. The full game retails for 1200 Microsoft points, or about $15. Actually, I don’t think I should’ve used the word “full” when referring to the game, because what you get for that price is not the “full” version of the game. For that price, you get the “base” game. Key features, such as the majority of the VS CPU mode and single player skins have to be purchased separately. The “Advance Challenge Pack” has to be purchased on Xbox Live for 600 Microsoft points. Very disappointing.

Therein lies a potentially huge problem. What if these microtransactions take off and developers decide to omit content from the final version of the game and sell it to you later for an additional five dollars or so? It seems EA is already doing that With the aforementioned "Sunday Tiger" content, but another developer seems to be abusing the system even more grossly. Polyphony Digital is doing the same thing in the upcoming Gran Turismo HD for the PS3. According to recent reports and rumors, in the final game, there will be only 30 cars and two tracks, none of which can be played online. To play the game online, you must buy additional cars and tracks separately.

So what’s next? I’ll tell you. If gamers support these microtransactions, developers will take bigger risks, to see what they can get away with. If they succeed again, what’s next? Paying for gas in a racing game? Paying for ammunition in a first person shooter? You may immediately think, “oh hell no!” but that’s capitalism at its finest folks. These little microtransactions now potentially pave the way for that, and little by little, this is becoming a reality.

Monday, October 02, 2006

So a few days ago, I got to play the Wii...

The Nintendo Fusion Tour rolled into my neck of the woods yesterday, and a friend of mine and I decided to go. When we heard the Wii (a console we had already been very excited about) would be playable at the event, we knew we had to be there. Nintendo’s mantra as of late has been playing is believing, and after my first hand experience, I agree with them 100%.

In my few short hours at the event, I managed to get some play time on Wii Baseball, Wii Tennis and WarioWare Smooth Moves. I would’ve played Metroid Prime 3, but the line was incredibly long.

The Wiimote itself is definitely an amazing controller due to its motion sensing capabilities, but the first thing that became immediately apparent as the attendee handed me the controller, was the comfortable ergonomic design. The remote itself was smaller than it looked and felt natural in my hand. The B button sat perfectly above my index finger and the A button sat below my thumb. I instantly got a feel for it as soon as I began playing my first game, WarioWare.

WarioWare was the perfect first game to play, due to the many ways it uses the Wii controller features in quick succession. The many microgames I played all used the Wii controller in different ways. One game involved holding the Wii remote sideways like a handle bar and pumping up and down to pop a balloon, another had you putting the controller on your head and squatting, and the final challenge had you holding the controller like a steering wheel and guiding a car along a track to the goal. The game itself was fun and made great use of the Wii remote.

The next game I played, (after a rather long wait) was Wii Baseball, part of the Wii sports compilation that comes bundled with the Wii at launch. While waiting in line, we watched a few gamers ahead of my friend and I really got into it. We looked at each other, thinking we could never get that into it, especially in public. Well, once we got our hands on the controller and started swinging for the fences, we were just as immersed. Seriously, it’s just that fun. The two of us played simultaneously, one of us pitching while the other swung. It was incredibly fun, although it’s a lot harder than it looks. Your timing has to be excellent to score big.

The third game I played was Wii Tennis, which was just as multiplayer focused as Wii Baseball. It was awesome. I liked the fact that it splits the screen to give each player an optimal view of the action. It was a very nice touch, and one I would like to see implemented in future tennis games. The controls were spot on, and actually felt like we were in a real tennis match (okay it wasn’t that real, but it was close). While playing I remembered reading that you could actually spin the remote to add topspin or backspin to the ball, I decided to try it out for myself. It works. Another plus to the realism and immersion.

After playing these games, it’s clear that Nintendo is still the unchallenged king of the multiplayer game. Every Wii sports title I plated seemed like it was designed for multiple players, and they were all incredibly fun. I think my friend said it best when he said the Wii is the next generation of multiplayer gamplay. I agree with that on so many levels after my experiences. He and I developed a bit of a Wii Sports rivalry during our time at the controls. After he completely slaughtered me at Wii Baseball (9-0…) I took it to him in Wii Tennis, winning three straight games and the match, with a blowout round in there too. When the Wii launches, we’ll have our rematch at both. Stay tuned for updates on that.

In the end, the Wii turned out to be even better and more fun than I originally expected. I will definitely be picking one up on launch day. I don’t think I can wait any longer. The worries I had about the Wii controller (lag between movement and on screen action and the novelty of the motion sensing wearing off quickly) were put to rest now that I’ve experienced it for myself. The only thing that would’ve made the already great trip even better was if I brought my camera. Ah well. I know a few of you might remain skeptical, and I can’t blame you. It’s hard to put into words exactly how much gameplay has evolved on the Wii. All I can say is wait until you play it. Reading about it and actually playing it yourself is totally different. I truly believe the Wii is ushering in the next generation of gameplay, and I can’t wait to play it again. If the Fusion Tour is making a stop in your town in the near future, go there. You’ll be blown away.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Editorial: Developers slam Capcom in recent issue of Famitsu

In the most recent issue of the popular Japanese publication, Famitsu, many Japanese developers such as Konami, Square Enix and Namco Bandai, slammed fellow Japanese developer, Capcom, due to a recent comment by Capcom in which they stated “Japanese developers are cold to developing on the Xbox 360”.

Takashe Nozue had this to say,
Xbox 360 has limited potential and therefore only deserves limited development

Tetsuya Takahashi (Namco-Bandai) also made similar comments, citing “poor Xbox sales as a reason to limit development on the console”.

I hate the fact that Japanese developers are so damn stubborn and resistant to give the Xbox 360 a try. That's why it's doing so poorly in Japan, because developers won't give it a shot. The Japanese culture as a whole has been resistant to try American products for years now, so this comes as no major surprise, but when one developer takes a chance on the console and makes a statement that is entirely true about the general mood of Japanese developers, they are berated for it.

I think this is complete Bullshit, and I will address both of these statements in order.

Xbox 360 has limited potential and therefore only deserves limited development

They're blaming the Xbox 360 for its "Limited potential" (in Japan). The Xbox 360, as all other consoles, has limitless potential. It all depends on whether or not the developers are willing to find and make use of that potential in their games. As a whole, Japanese developers have not been trying to pull that potential out of the Xbox 360. How can they honestly say the Xbox 360 has limited potential when they themselves have never even tried to exploit the Xbox 360 to its fullest?

Poor Xbox sales are a reason to limit development on the console”.

Now they are blaming the 360 itself for its poor sales in Japan. How is a system expected to do well in a foreign market when the people in that very market refuse to give it a chance? If Japanese development support picks up, then sales will pick up. You can't have one without the other and it's a shame they are too stubborn to realize that. When the 360 sees some of the top quality development that they’d give to Sony and Nintendo consoles, buyers will reciprocate and purchase the Xbox 360 and those games.

Bottom line, Japanese developers, YOU are to blame for the 360's lack of appeal in Japan. If you don't support it, don't expect it to do well on its own and damnit, don't blame Capcom for taking a chance on it and succeeding. Capcom is absolutely right; they are cold to developing on the 360. They basically just admitted it in those statements they made. I applaud Capcom for calling them out, it's about time someone slapped those developers with a dose of reality.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rumor: Lumines Live will charge players to advance in the game?

Keep in mind that this is only a rumor, nothing has yet been confirmed.

According to gaming website Gaming Bits, upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game Lumines Live! will be charging gamers who advance far enough in the game.

From a review in OXM (rating Lumines Live 8.5):
"You'll be prompted to buy the Puzzle/Mission Pack (400 MS Points extra)" once you start "getting on a roll with Mission Mode".

Also, in the VS CPU mode, when you are "knee-deep" in the VS CPU mode, "you'll be blocked by signage declaring: 'You need the VS CPU Pack (300 Points)."

This is of course in addition to the 1200 Microsoft Points the full game costs. So wait, to get the full version of the game, I need to pay an additional 700 Microsoft points (around eight or nine dollars)? That's ridiculous. This is the first time I've ever seen a developer penalize a gamer for doing well in a game.

I haven't seen the official OXM review to confirm this for myself, so I'm going to reserve judgment on this until it's been confirmed one way or another.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pretty in Pink

Sony has recetly unveiled a new color for the PS2. Pink.

According to Sony, the recolor was designed to symbolize the growing and diverse demographic the Playstation 2 has developed since its European launch in November of 2000.

“PlayStation 2 is the accessible, affordable way to enjoy new social, communal and interactive entertainment experiences, through software titles like SingStar, Buzz and EyeToy”, said Dan Hill, PlayStation 2 European Brand Manager. “The Pink PlayStation 2 is funky, fresh, and fashionable, and will further broaden the console’s continuing popularity and relevance with a fun new twist”.

As of now, The new Playstation 2 has only been announced for European customers looking to add a bit more "diversity" to their enterainment centers. The limited edition PS2 will come packed with two pink DualShock 2 controllers, a pink 8MB Memory card and will retail for €159.99. In the UK it will come bundled with Singstar Pop for £129.99 The new PS2 bundles are expected to go on sale on November 6, 2006, shortly before the release of the highly anticipated Playstation 3.

The new Pink PlayStation 2 will make its debut European appearance on the Sony Computer Entertainment Stand at the games convention, Leipzig, August 23 - 27th.

More to come as this story develops.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Snakes On A Motherf***in Plane

I saw it today. And it was awesome. Before I go into details, let me get one thing out there first. There are indeed Snakes on the Plane.

Okay, now that I’ve said that, I can begin to speak at length about how truly awesome this movie is. I have to admit, I went to see this mainly on the hype alone. Snakes on a Plane quickly became a cult favorite and an internet phenomenon long before its release.

The story begins in Hawaii. After local surfer Sean Jones witnessed the brutal murder of a Los Angeles prosecutor by a mobster named Eddie Kim, he is the target for assassination before he can get to LA and testify. He was attacked soon after in his home by two of Eddie Kim’s thugs, and was saved by Agent Neville Flynn. When it is discovered that he will be on a flight from Honolulu to LA (Pacific Air Flight 121), Eddie Kim arranges for the plane to be filled with venomous snakes. The leis, given to the passengers as they boarded the plane, were soaked in pheromones, which caused the normally calm snakes to become highly aggressive. Midway through the flight, the snakes were released, and were granted access to the cabin through a previously tampered with panel. As the passengers realize that the cabin is full of the poisonous snakes, panic ensues, as the snakes begin to attack.

The movie was great, as I said before. I was at least partially surprised that this was more of a thriller than a comedy after seeing the publicity (commercials and such) and the jump-out-of-your-seat moments were plentiful. I am usually not a fan of such movies, but I enjoyed this one.

The violence is pretty intense, as expected, and the after effects of some of the snake bites (swelling, foaming at the mouth, etc) look relatively graphic, but it wasn’t terrible, not nearly as bad as some of these horror/slasher flicks you see today.

A few of the funniest moments in the film weren’t exactly things people should be laughing at but still funny in a twisted sort of way. Actually, that’s a great way to summarize the comedy in the movie. Twisted humor.

When Sam Jackson uttered his famous line (seen in the video above), the whole theatre began to get excited.

Bottom line, it was a good film. Samuel L. Jackson was perfect for the role he was assigned to play. If you’re a fan of the thriller genre or you enjoy a bit of twisted humor, this is a good movie for you. It was funny, exciting and pretty much everything I expected from it and more.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The State of the Next Generation As I see It

The next generation of console gaming is upon us and once again, three consoles are competing for a spot in your home entertainment center. The three contenders, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's Playstation 3 and Nintendo's Wii, have all just about shown their hand at E3 2006. The Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii are both ready for their next gen debut this fall after the Microsoft Xbox 360 enjoyed a one year head start over the competition, they are well on their way to having a 10 million unit lead over the competition before consumers are given a choice of which next gen console to buy. Here's my brief summary on all three.

The Playstation 3, hot on the heels of the runaway hit Playstation 2 is once again the favorite to win the console wars. After the first Playstation, which upset fan favorite (prior to the release of the Playstation) Nintendo's N64 and Sega's Saturn to win the console war of that generation, the Playstation brand has been a household name. Both previous Playstation consoles, have sold over 100 million units worldwide, with the first Playstation becoming the first console to ever do so and Sony is hoping they can repeat that success with the Playstation 3. The Playstation 3 appears to be the most powerful of the three consoles and it shows in games such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and Heavenly Sword, two of the most visually impressive games I've seen so far. Its controller has also been confirmed to feature six-way tilt sensing. This was demoed at E3 in a tech demo and a short Warhawk gameplay session. The PS3 has a lot of potential, and it's up to developers to realize that potential.

The Xbox 360 is currently the only next gen console you can purchase and it is sitting pretty, using its head start over the competition to gain a sizeable lead and a huge library of titles to choose from once the competition does launch, giving the person shopping for a next gen console this holiday season, a choice of titles to choose from. With titles in the works such as Gears of War, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Forza Motorsport 2 and Splinter Cell Double Agent, they will have a very impressive and diverse selection of games to round out their library well into 2007. The announcement of the "Live Anywhere" service, which promises to unify PC's, the Xbox 360 and even Cellular phones, allowing for cross platform gaming in certain titles is one of the strong points of the Xbox 360's showing. Forza 2 was used as an example. Gamers will be able to upload their cars to Xbox Live, customize them on their PC or cellular phones when on the go and then send them back to the Xbox 360 game was impressive and shows a lot of potential.

The Nintendo Wii prides itself on being different from the competition. Nintendo has stated that they aren't trying to compete directly with the PS3 or Xbox 360, and is trying to expand the market to include people who are only casual gamers and those who don't play videogames at all. In terms of raw horesepower and graphical potential, the Wii cannot compete with either the Xbox 360 or PS3. According to Nintendo, this is intentional. Their main focus is on delivering stellar gameplay experiences via its innovative motion sensing controller. Based on games such as Wii Sports, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Excite Truck, Project H.A.M.M.E.R, and Super Mario Galaxy, it seems that it will deliver on its promises.

So far, the Xbox 360 is my favorite of the three, followed closely by the Wii and then the PS3. I'll post more on the subject later if I decide to elaborate on these points.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Saints Row Demo Impressions

Well, after hearing about the demo you receive when you pre-order Saints Row, I decided to go down to my local Gamestop (only about a block away) and reserve a copy. I'd been hearing good things about it from others so I figured I would probably be picking it up anyways.

This game has been touted as a "GTA killer". That's been thrown around a lot recently, and every game that earned that tile before release has failed to even be half as good as the game it was meant to top, one of the biggest examples was True Crime: Streets of LA.

Anyways, I got the demo and popped it in my 360. The first thing I noticed were the graphics, which weren't anything special. They certainly could've been much better, but then again, I didn't expect much after seeing the screenshots. I did observe some framerate issues as well. It was pretty bad in some spots, slowing down to a crawl. On the bright side, I've heard the demo was from this years E3 and was pretty much rushed to make it in time for the show and that the developers have already cleaned up the framerate issues.

The character creation system is very deep. You truly can create a character that looks at least similar to you if you try hard enough. Even with the limited demo options, there were at least thousands of different characters you could create. Very impressive.

Of course, the gameplay is all that matters and surprisingly enough, Saints Row Delivers. The game starts you off in the middle of the city, and your first mission is becoming a member of the 3rd Street Saints, which involves an initiation fight. The hand to hand fighting controls are a lot deeper than in many other third person action games. Impressive. Then you're tasked with driving one of your fellow gang members to a weapons store to pick up a weapon and take out a few rival gang members. The driving physics felt a little floaty but it wasn't terrible. It just took some getting used to. The same goes for the camera and aiming controls. The default controls felt overly sensitive and needed to be scaled back. After that I found it enjoyable. It was a lot easier to use in a hectic shootout than GTA's. After completing the mission, I drove down to the "Sloppy Seconds" clothing store to pick up some new clothes. Again, much more customization. I like that. Then it was on to another three missions, the first involving picking up ummm... "street walkers" (I'm not going to write exactly what was printed in the game) and delivering them to a brothel. The second involved taking over an abandoned liquor store for use as a hideout. After that, I teamed up with two other high ranking gang members to take out lieutenants of rival gangs who were meeting down by the docks. I've got to say I'm impressed with the mission variety I've seen so far.

All in all, I was highly impressed with this game. Could it live up to the hype and become a GTA killer? It certainly has potential. I will be keeping a close eye on this one until its release next month.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tired as all hell...

Geez. I haven't been getting much sleep recently. I've been to busy working on all these projects I've got going at once. It's exhausting, but every time I really want to go to sleep, i come up with some sort of killer idea I just need to write down. Then I just get rolling again writing or whatever. I've been doing a lot of writing recently. I'm working on two stories for two seperate games I plan on developing, a short story that really started as a joke that eventually became more than that, and a few short stories for the hell of it. I might post the short stories I'm writing on my Deviant Art page after I finish. I haven't decided.

I've been working on mixing some audio together on my PC too. It's time consuming as hell, getting everything mixed together and sounding right. This is also something I'm doing for the hell of it. I don't plan on really doing anything with it.

Game development is also a bitch. It's not programming, it's all the writing you have to do before you even get started. The storyline has to be perfect. If there's a plot hole anywhere, it can all break apart at the seams. Then comes the other stuff, such as level design, audio and everything else.

I think that's enough for now. I'll post more later.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Quick Rant on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD

Well with a new format war being waged, both competitors vying for a position in your home entertainment center, I thought I'd get my thoughts on the issue out there and voice my concerns

I think both formats are on the road to ruin very quickly. The fact is, they are ahead of their time, and not in a good way. I have several reasons for having this position and here they are.

First off, HDTV penetration is only about 20% in the US for sure, (I'm not sure what it is abroad, but as it stands, that percetage is far too low for either format to get a real foothold in the market. This percentage is expected to grow this year and next but I don't see a significant HDTV "boom" coming in the future. The really good quality HDTVs are still expensive, placing them outside the budgets of many consumers. Blu-ray and HD-DVD players aren't exactly impulse buys either. Currently, HD DVD players are going for $500 and Blu-ray players are coming in at a whopping $1000. I don't think the added quality is worth spending the money for the HDTV and an extra $500 or $1000 for an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player respectively. That purchase is going to hurt even more if the format you side with loses the format war. Meaning you're stuck with an expensive player that you can only use for the movies you already own, as no new releases will be coming down the pipe.

Another reason is that while they offer a few new features, such as upscaling DVD's to the higher 720p, 1080i or 1080p resolutions, Blu-ray and HD-DVD players seem to be more of an evolution than the revolution DVD's were. Even when they were first released to the market, DVD's completely obliterated VHS in terms of features and quality. The added convenience of being able to quickly skip to the exact moment you wanted to see, being able to repeat any scene as many times as you wished without having to rewind over and over, and having easy access to special features without having to fast forward through the entire movie, and all the other features made possible by DVD's made VHS useless for anything other than recording your favorite TV shows (and with DVR's becoming more and more common, that one reason for their existence is slowly disappearing). Blu-ray and HD-DVD on the other hand don't do much more than DVD's besides the obvious quality and space advantages, there's not much that makes me believe DVD's are obsolete.

Third, I think Sony is putting to much behind Blu-ray. Throwing a Blu-ray drive in each PS3 may be a mistake if the format goes south. There are advantages, such as the extra Space Blu-ray discs provide, but other than that, if Blu-ray fails, they have nothing. Last generation, the PS2 was marketable as a cheap DVD player. That helped get a lot of PS2's into homes. This gen, Sony is doing the same thing. The only problem with that is, last gen, people didn't have to buy a brand new TV to fully enjoy the benefits of DVD. This gen, you need an HDTV to get any real benefits of the Blu-ray movie playback. As I stated before, only a small portion of the market owns HDTV's. Blu-ray in the PS3 is a double edged sword. It could seriously help Sony in the electronics market or knock them out.

Well, that's all I have to say on the issue. Feel free to let me know how you feel.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Racist or not? I say "not"

Recently, Sony has come under fire for a recent ad campaign which was considered by many to be blantantly racist.

This ad is part of an ad campaign coinciding with the release of the White PSP (Playstation Portable) in Europe a place where race has never been a really big issue Here in the US where slavery and racism is a big part of American history, many have taken offense.

Now Sony's recent ad campaigns in the US have been considered to be racially insensitive which you can view here here and here but this ad comes as a major shock to those in the US. Many supporters of racial equality in the US such as the NAACP have spoken out against the ads as seen here.

I honestly don't see what the big fuss is about. I don't really like Sony as a company but this isn't making me hate them any more than I already do. When I first saw the ad the first thing I thought was,


But then I really began to look at it and I soon realized that it wasn't meant to be that way. It was meant to show off the contrasting colors of white and black and that's what it did.

In the end, the two people in the ad are just that. Two people. Race is a non issue in this situation because it's only being used to show the contrast. If it had been two white people, one in a white suit and one in a black suit no one would say anything, it would just be an ad. Since it features a white woman and a black woman, the white woman being in a position of dominance, people immediately think there's a racial undertone.

That's not what it is. Pure and simple.

These two other pictures seen here and here have surfaced, the first showing the Black woman in the dominant position and the second portraying the two women locked in conflict.

After you look at the entire campaign, its clear that race is not a huge factor in either one. It clearly shows both women in a position of power over the other and the two at a stalemate. How can this ad campaign be racist?

That's my take on the issue.

P.S: Tim Buckley, creator of the Ctrl+Alt+Del webcomic series has taken a much more humorous approach to the issue with this comic

Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns!

I just got back from the movie theatre. I went to go see Superman Returns. I had heard some great things about this movie and I had reasonably high hopes myself so I finally decided to go see it today. After seeing it, one word pops into my mind.

"Wow". With a side of "You have to see it".

It was three hours of amazing. I don't know how else to put it. You have to see it. I knew from the beginning it was going to be good but geez...

Few movies can grab your attention and keep it there for nearly three hours. This movie did just that. The Airplane scene you see in the commercials... let's just say the commercials do it no justice. You have to see it in theatres. The actors were perfect. Brandon Routh was an excellent choice for the character, and played his two characters (the different personalites of Clark Kent and Superman) flawlessly. I don't know if they could've picked a better guy.

But before you run out to see it, let me warn you, this is not an action flick. Don't go there expecting non-stop action, because that's not what this movie is about. But, while few in number, the action scenes are incredibly well directed, with just the right amount of tension to keep your eyes glued to the screen.

In summary, go see it. It's an excellent film, and one that should not be missed for fans of Superman and the old movies starring Christopher Reeve. Director Bryan Singer and his team have succeeded in creating an excellent (I seem to be using that word a lot) spiritual successor to the classic films. I am amazed. As I said before, I knew it was going to be good, but it blew me away. it ranks up there with Batman Begins as one of my favorite movies of all time. Go see it. I can't say that enough.

I don't know what it is about DC comics but they seem to make great movies.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New Games!

It's after 1 AM here. I'm bored. So I decided to make a quick blog post.

I picked up two new games today, Brain Age for the DS and Breakdown for the Xbox. After playing the demo on my Ds, I knew that I would eventually own a copy of my own. After playing it for real today, I have to say…

If you own a DS, this game should be in your collection. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

I'm addicted to it. Sure, the concept borders on homework, but somehow, this "game" (I use quotes because it's not really a game in the conventional sense) actually makes me want to do math problems. As soon as I discovered that my “Brain Age” was 32 (actually, at first it was 59 then I got it down to 37 and now 32), I immediately got to work doing some of the many training exercises. The Ideal Brain Age is 20 and that’s what I’m aiming for. I’ll have a review posted on this game soon.

When I walked into EB games, the bargain bin caught my eye. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. As I began sifting through the games, Breakdown caught my eye. In last months OXM, there was a list of the 20 most overlooked Xbox games. Breakdown was among the top three. As soon as I saw it and the price ($6.99) I had to have it. So I took it to the counter and bought it, along with my copy of Brain Age. The clerk asked me if I wanted to purchase the $1 warranty on my new copy of Breakdown. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. It was only a buck.

Boy, am I glad I got that warranty.

When I got home and popped the game into my Xbox, I hadn’t even looked at the surface of the disc. My Xbox gave me a message about how the disc was unreadable and was likely scratched or dirty.

Oh crap.

I took the game out of my Xbox and looked at it. It was scratched to hell. How did the person that traded it in manage to get EB games to even take it in this condition? I immediately started trying to clean the disc using a combination of water and my T-shirt. No luck. I began to frantically search for the receipt, which also had my warranty information on it. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I ran out to the car, frantic, hoping that I didn’t just waste seven dollars (eight with the warranty). There the receipt was, sitting on the seat. I breathed a sigh of relief and proceeded to take the game back to the store to get a working copy.

The game was cheerfully replaced and I went home happy, thanking my lucky stars that I bought the warranty.

The game itself is awesome. I don’t know why it didn’t sell better than it did. It’s sort of a First person shooter / fighting game that takes place entirely from the First Person perspective, even the cutscenes, which I have to say, are done incredibly well. I’m about an hour into the game now and I’m amazed. The controls are a bit strange, but aside from that, I don’t have any other complaints.

While I was in EB Games, I managed to get my hands on the new Nintendo DS Lite and play a little bit of New Super Mario Bros as well.

The DS Lite really is small, but despite its smaller size, the dual screens themselves don’t shrink in size (in fact, due to the DS Lite’s proportions, the screens actually seem bigger). The face buttons have a more satisfying feel to them. The original DS (often called the DS Heavy or the DS Phat) face buttons have a “clicky” feel to them, like on a cell phone keypad. They don’t have the satisfying “give” that the DS Lite has. The Ds Lite is certainly more attractive, and I will soon buy one for myself.

As for the game, I enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. It brings back memories of the old school side scrolling games and somehow manages to feel fresh at the same time. This will probably be my next game purchase.

Well, that's it for my (not so quick after all) blog post for today. I'll post more updates soon, including a list of the most criminally overlooked games last gen. That I didn't feel like posting at the moment.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Oh well...

This is a little late but, The Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in game six to win their fourth game in a row and their first NBA champoinship. Oh well. The Mavericks tried but in the end, the Heat was a little too much for them.

I guess there's always next year. GO PISTONS!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Time for another rant about HDTV's and stuff.

Before I get into the topic at hand, I want to let you guys know that I have posted a few more reviews. I have a new primary reviews site, as Gamespot is a bit more user friendly and I seem to be getting more feed back. I also have a secondary blog there. It has some stuff that I didn't really feel would fit into the theme of this blog (even though it's about gaming). The link is still in the "links" section as it always was.

Oh and by the way, The Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks to win their third game in a row and put them one game away from winning the NBA Championships. Those games were so close. There was no way they should've lost. I'm hoping Dallas can win games Six and Seven and win the NBA championship (and of course, put an end to The Miami Heat's season).

Onto the topic, after seeing pics of Xbox 360 games on a High Definition TV in this message board, I can't wait any longer. This summer I will be picking up an HDTV for sure. Now it's only a matter of how early I can get the money.

Here are a few models I've been considering.



HDTV Three

As you can see, I'm not really interested in a huge screen. I don't want or need anything bigger than 32 inches at the moment and these fit the bill perfectly.

I plan on taking my Xbox 360 into a Best buy or Circuit City store to test out the different HDTV types to see which one works for me.

Personally, I'm leaning towards an LCD TV for the time being. before now, I was thinking about getting a CRT TV, which is generally cheaper and in some cases, have the best picture quality of all the HDTV types (Plasma, DLP, etc.) They don't get much bigger than 36 inches, but that wouldn't be a problem at all. Only problem is, CRT's are huge. The ones over 30 inches can weigh in at over 200 pounds. There's a whole bunch of technical reasons to pick one over the other but it's far too complicated to get into right now.

Too bad they're so expensive. 1000+ dollars isn't chump change, especially to me, with the rising gas prices and such. Gotta make sure my money is well spent.

I'll post more updates later as I close in on the HDTV of my choice.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What happened?

I want to start off my rant with some terrible news. The Pistons were eliminated last week by the Miami Heat in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Damn.

All I want to know is, what the hell happened? The Pistons had the best win/loss record of any team in the league last season, but they had a very terrible (in comparison) playoff performance. After eliminating the Bucks in round one, they seemed to fall apart. They had one blowout game against the Cavaliers, won again by a much smaller margin and then the next thing you know, we lost three in a row and faced elimination.

What the hell? We are talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers right? The Pistons should've swept them.

Anyways, we came back in game six and seven to win the series after two straight wins but we were still sliding downhill. After losing game one to the Heat, we won one and lost two in a row, won one, and were subsequently slaughtered in game six and eliminated.


The Pistons had a 3-1 record against the Heat in the regular season, and all those games were away from the home court. What the hell happened? All I can say is that the Heat wanted it more. Perhaps the Pistons were tired. They sure looked that way. The Memorial Day game was ridiculous. The Pistons came back in the third quarter and took the lead, and slowly lost it as the game went on. I'm not sure of the exact score but I think we lost by nearly 20.

What. The. Hell.

Oh well, I guess there's always next year. Good luck to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. I'll be damned if I'm going to be rooting for the Heat.

In other news, I'm currently writing a few more reviews. I've actually been considering starting my own gaming website for news, reviews and other gaming related info but all that is a lot for just one person so I'm looking for writers. If you're interested please contact me. My email address is below:

I'm going to place a permalink on the side of the page soon (past midnight right now, tired as hell) Now I have to find some cheap webhosting.

Okay, it's officially past 1 AM now. I think I'm going to wrap things up. I'll be back with another post soon.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eastern Conference Finals

I knew it was going to happen. The Detroit Pistons have defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Now, they are up against the Miami Heat. I have full faith in the Pistons and I know they can beat the Heat (no pun intended) and advance to the Finals.

Friday, May 19, 2006


The Pistons put an end to the 3 game losing streak they had against the Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs and tied the series at 3-3. I wasn't able to watch the game myself (lack of cable or satellite TV) but I caught the play by play over the internet. I knew the Pistons could bring themselves back from the brink. They have now delivered a blow to the Cavalier's confidence and now, it's anybody's game.

Good luck to the Pistons in Game 7. If there's any team in the NBA that can come back and win this series, it's the Pistons. GO PISTONS!!!

Deeetroit Bas-ket ballllll!!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nintendo's Pre E3 Press Conference

I know I'm a bit late with this coverage but bear with me, I've been trying to see Nintendo's conference for quite a while but my internet connection has been down.

I am very impressed with Nintendo's Pre E3 conference. Nintendo has blown the doors off the Nintendo Wii and I have to say, Out of the three big conferences, Nintendo's was arguably the best.

First off, Nintendo has shown off a very slightly redesigned version of what has been dubbed the "Wii-mote" (an obvious reference to it's similarities to a television remote) pictured below

The remote features motion sensing capabilities that surpass anything seen in console gaming. The controller can be used many ways, as demonstrated during the conference, such as a tennis racket (twisting the remote affects the spin of the ball as you hit it), a gun (for FPS) a sword, and a bow and arrow.

Several games were demoed, showing off the controllers unique features. Table tennis, a collection of Japanese themed minigames including Paper shredding and key unlocking.

A fan favorite and previously delayed game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, was revealed to be launching in both Gamecube and Wii compatible versions. This comes as a surprise to some fans and a relief to others, as it was rumored that the Gamecube version of the game was simply going to be cancelled and moved to the Wii. The Wii version will feature unique controls, taking advantage of the Wii controller.

A large number of games were announced, and more demos were shown of ones previously announced. The games shown include: Project H.A.M.M.E.R, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Disaster, Rayman and Red Steel.

Several New DS games were shown as well. These games include: Yoshi's Island 2, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Final Fantasy III, Mario Hoops 3 on 3, and Star Fox DS.

Nintendo did leave out a few crucial details that I think should have been mentioned, such as the launch date and price. All they told us is that the Wii would launch in 2006. Well, we already knew that. You told us that last year. I don't expect the Wii to retail for more than $200 but there have been some rumors flying around that the Wii will retail for $250 but I think they are unfounded. Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait a little while longer for that information.

Personally, this conference has given me a lot to look forward to in the coming months with the launch of the Wii and the arrival of several potentially AAA titles for the DS. I can't wait to try the Wii controller out for myself and see how it works in my favorite games, shooters. I have little doubt that Nintendo will deliver with the Wii.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Microsoft's Pre E3 Press Conference

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Microsoft has stolen the show with their Pre E3 conference. Sony’s lackluster conference pales in comparison to Microsoft’s. Here’s all the latest info…

First, The new Xbox Live Arcade games

Microsoft has recently announced a boat load of new arcade games that will soon be available to Xbox 360 gamers through the Xbox Live Marketplace. The full list of games confirmed is as follows:

Pac-Man, Contra, Galaga, Frogger, Sonic, Defender, Street Fighter II, Time Pilot, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Rally-X, Dig Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, PaperBoy, and Rootbeer Tapper.

Secondly, the next wave of new Xbox 360 games has been announced. There are a lot of big names in the line up such as Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Lost Planet, FEAR, Too Human, Enchanted Arms, Prey, 99 Nights, Gears of War, Mass Effect, Forza Motorsport 2, Fable 2 and two of the biggest gaming franchises on the planet, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Halo 3.

Speaking of GTA 4, This game was mistakenly announced as an Xbox 360 Exclusive but it turns out, Rockstar themselves confirmed that the game would release simultaneously on both PS3 and Xbox 360. This is still incredible news, Last generation, the Grand Theft Auto series was time-exclusive to the PS2, only appearing on the Xbox after Rockstar’s exclusivity deal with Sony ended. Now, the 360 owners will be able to play this game as soon as the PS3 owners.

Microsoft has signed an exclusivity deal with Rockstar to provide exclusive episodic content for the game. Meaning the 360 owners will have access to exclusive downloadable content to extend the life of the game after they have finished it.

Both versions of the game will be available on October 16, 2007.

Halo 3 was perhaps the biggest announcement of the conference. A brand new announcement trailer was shown and the crowd went wild. The trailer is available for download on either Bungie’s Web Site or through the Xbox Live Marketplace.

The HD-DVD add on for the Xbox 360 was also revealed and it is pictured below:

This device adds HD DVD playback functionality to the Xbox 360 and will be available this holiday season. HD DVD is currently in contention with Sony’s Blu-ray disc format, similar to the Betamax and VHS war that occurred a while ago. The last thing Microsoft wants is Sony gaining superiority in the High-Definition Media market.

I am very impressed by Microsoft’s Pre E3 press conference. After Sony’s Pre E3 Press Conference, which failed to show anything new or particularly exciting, Microsoft has officially stolen the show from Sony and struck a major blow to Sony’s upcoming PS3.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pre E3 PS3 Conference Wrap Up

Well, Sony's Pre E3 press conference has come and gone and the gaming community is in uproar. I will try to break everything down for you guys.

First, the Launch details.

Sony has officially announced a launch date for the PS3. It will go on sale on November 11, 2006 in Japan and on the 17th in the US. But, that wasn't the most surprising thing. Sony has also released a final price point for their Next gen console. In a move similar to Microsoft's last November with the Xbox 360's launch, Sony will offer 2 SKU's. One package will feature a 20 GB Hard Drive, and the other "premium" version will feature a 60 GB Hard Drive. The prices are as follows.

$499 for the 20 GB version and $599 for the Premium version.

My personal take on this?

This is not surprising at all. I knew that the PS3 would be $600 from the beginning. It remains to be seen how the gaming community is going to take this price. My thoughts are that only the most hardcore gamers and Sony fans are going to pick one up on launch day until the eventual price drop. I think a lot of gamers and parents of gamers are going to see that price and the words "Fuck that" are immediately going to pop into their minds.

Moving on...

The PS3's controller has been revealed. It looks a LOT like the Dual Shock controller from both the PS2 and PS1. After seeing the "boomerang" controller from last years E3, As seen below, I am very happy that they have scrapped that design.

Sony has also revealed that the PS3 controller will feature motion sensing technology. This technology was showcased in a brief demo that showed a 3D version of the PS3 controller moving in real time with the movements of the demonstrator. This comes as a major shock to much of the gaming community, as the Nintendo Wii's most marketed feature is its controller's revolutionary motion sensing technologies.

Sony has long been criticized for stealing ideas from other compainies, particularly Nintendo. The two SKU idea , taken from Microsoft and the motion sensing technology stolen from Nintendo.

Personally, this is very shocking. I was expecting Sony to really wow me into buying the PS3. I have never liked Sony products, including the Playstation family of products. All I've gotten from this conference is more reasons to sit out on the PS3. The Xbox 360 and Wii (which is my preferred combo) seem to offer the same things as the PS3 for a cheaper price.

Until Sony shows me some really original and mind blowing things, I will sit out on the PS3. I also think that Sony had shot themselves in the foot with this conference. We will all see what happens as the convention progresses and come November when the PS3 will be available to the public.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Rant for the day.

Man, since the second semester of classes ended, I have been a LOT more relaxed. I've had a lot more time to do the things I've wanted to do recently. I finally got into Final Fantasy XI. Man that game is like crack. Square-Enix gives you one free taste (30 day free trial), knowing that you'll be back. I will definitely be continuing to play this one even after the trial period is over. It's a bit hard to get into for new players but that's the same with all the MMO's I've played. Luckily, I've got a few friends to help me out as I level up.

Yesterday, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Washington Wizards to win the best of seven series. That means they are up against The Pistons in round 2. Oh well, I hope the Cav's had a good run in the playoffs, because it's all but over for them now.

Since Class ended, I have also had a lot more time to devote to the development of the RPG I am working on with some friends. It is entitled Project UNIX at the moment. More details about the project and other projects I have in the works are at the GameTime Productions Website

Well, that’s all I have to say for now. I’ll be back later with more news.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The Pistons have just put out the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 to win the best of seven series. Who's next to have their post-season ended by the Pistons?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nintendo Wii?

Nintendo's highly anticipated next generation console has finally gotten an official name.


The first thought that flew into my mind was

"What the Fuck?"

The earlier codename (Revolution) sounds so much better than "Wii". From the looks of it, I'm not the only one in the gaming community that thinks this either. I don't understand Nintendo's reason for changing the name even after their explanation which you can find Here.

The name isn't going to deter me from getting one but it will be strange to walk into my local Gamestop and say "I'd like a Wii please." Or "I'll take a Wii."

Well, I guess Nintendo thinks it'll catch on but I don't. I'm already fixed on the Revolution name which, as I've stated before, is a much more catchy and "next-gen" sounding name.

I'll post more updates as I hear more about it.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fight Night Round 3 Review

After numerous delays, my review of Fight Night Round 3 is finally up. Check the "My Reviews" link on the side of the page if you want to read it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Game Updates

Recently I recieved The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (X360) as a gift and I've been playing it for quite a while. This game is simply massive. I've been playing for hours and I've barely scratched the surface. It's that huge. The graphics have to be seen in motion to be believed. It's amazing. ALthough off in the distance, the textures are completely washed out and it looks like an N64 game. It's not really a bad thing when you consider how good the game looks close up but it would've been nice to see this addressed. As for the combat, it's a little off and gets finicky in a heated battle. with no lock on command, there's going to be a lot of times where you'll just be flailing your sword at thin air. This can be quite frustrating in an intense battle situation.

All in all, it's a great game and I'll have more information (and possibly a full review) as I get some more play time in.

I also picked up Final Fantasy XI. For those who don't know what that is, It's a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG (MMORPG) My friend has been an active player of this game since it released on the PC three years ago. I have wanted to play it but before I got DSL, couldn't. The beta version has been available on the Xbox 360 since mid January and I played a little bit to see what it was like (and it was free. Always a good thing.) and I liked it. So I went out and bought the retail version when the beta ended.

Well, after dealing with PlayOnline (Sony's online service), I've almost been driven to take the damn game back. First off, when the beta concluded, beta players were allowed to carry their beta characters to the retail version of the game. I signed up to be carried over. When i did the entire registration process on the retail version, it said I needed my PlayOnline ID. I couldn't remember it. I went to the site and tried to find a way to retrieve it. No luck.

All that work in the beta, gone.

To be fair, that was my fault, but there should be some way of retrieving your ID if you can't remember it. I knew everything else but that. Then there was this whole thing about needing a credit or debit card to play (requires a monthly fee) and my debit card was declined. It's not like I can walk up to someone on the street and say "can I borrow your credit card?" So until I find some other card, I can't even play it. Even for the 30 day free trial. That's bull****.

I'll have more news to come later, right now, I have to finish up some homework, (just a 6 page paper and a take home exam, no biggie) and then I'll try to get FFXI working again (by that i mean scream at it and yell curse words until i get too frustrated and play something else).

Friday, April 14, 2006


Recently I have been totally overloaded with work. My reviews are going to be late. Let's get that out of the way now. I've been hit with 3 papers, a take home exam, and a lot more work. I've been trying to write (reviews, short stories) but it's becoming harder and harder to do as of late. Gaming is on hold until all of this stuff is done as well. Yeah, it sucks but it's just another distraction that I don't need right now.

I've just recently joined a friend in developing an RPG with a program called RPG Maker XP. At the moment we're in the planning stages, getting a concrete storyline down, characters, and all the other stuff we need. Due to all the work I've got I only have a little bit of time each day (if any at all) to dedicate to development. This is a very complex program and it's gonna take us a long (I mean really long) time to really learn what we can do with it. I'll post updates as they come in, and possibly a downloadable demo.

Well, that's it for now. I'll post more later after I've made a dent in this stack of work I've got.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The lateness

Well, I was supposed to have my Fight Night Round 3 review up a couple days ago but it's taking a bit longer than I expected. I wanted to put in a little more review time before I settled on a final score.

The same thing applies for GRAW. I already have a score in mind but I'm gonna put in a little more time playing the multiplayer and finish off the singleplayer campaign before I finish the review.

Both reviews will be up sometime this week for sure. Keep checking back.


This is the teaser trailer for the Simpsons Movie coming in July 2007

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Just a couple of random thoughts...

Still working hard to get my reviews of both Fight Night Round 3 and GRAW done. Well, I guess I can't really call it work since I enjoy doing this. My Fight Night review should be posted on my reviews site later tonight or if not tonight, mid afternoon tomorrow.

I just wanted to bring this to every one's attention. If you like pizza, then you should get one from the Gregg's pizza on Livernois near McNichols. It's honestly some of the best pizza I've had.

For all you RPG fans, Kingdom Hearts 2 has arrived in stores and from what I hear, it's pretty good. My friend DeWayne has been very excited about this game in the past few...months leading up to its release. I tried IMing him today and he's not responding at all. He told me that the day he got it he was going to drop off the face of the Earth (meaning no contact whatsoever), so I'm assuming he's playing it as I write this.

Well, that's all I can think of right now, keep checking my reviews page for the Fight Night review if you're interested.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

GRAW First Impressions

I just recently picked up GRAW (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter) for the Xbox 360. I'd heard claims about it being "awesome", a "killer app" and a "must buy" for the 360. I was a bit skeptical about it personally.

I don't feel that way anymore.

Simply put, If you have an Xbox 360, you should strongly consider picking up this game. If you have an Xbox 360 and an Xbox Live account, run to the store right now and get this game. Seriously. It's that good.

The Single player campaign is awesome. There's hardly any downtime throughout the course of the entire game. The only slow points are the between mission cutscenes prepping the next mission. From time to time, you'll get to man the chopper's minigun and be tasked with clearing out the landing zone. These sequences are fun. It's a bit disturbing how fun it was chopping up the enemy troops but then I remind myself that it's just a game and hell, they started it.

I did notice a few A.I. hiccups while I was playing, especially concerning your own teammates. These guys are supposed to be the best of the best. Too bad they don't know how to use their training all that well. They run around outside of cover and when one of them goes down they won't heal their teammates when ordered. There's more but I really don't have the time to get more in depth.

The multiplayer is a completely different story, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It alone is the reason to buy this game, the single player campaign, in all its greatness, pales in comparison. There are so many ways to customize games to your liking. From your character's appearance to what type of weapons you can choose when you respawn. You can go up against 15 others in either adversarial or co-operative modes. The co-op missions pit you and up to 15 others against the aggressive and rather intelligent computer A.I. My favorite mode so far is co-op territories which tasks you and your teammates with defending a base from wave after wave of enemy troops. The matches I played were easily some of the most fun I've had playing an online shooter.

That's all I have to say about it now. I should have a full review up a little later after I spend some more time with it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

TeH High Sp33D!!!

Okay sorry about the L337 Speak (internet language), but I just got DSL. I can't properly express in words how excited I am. This comic I found on Ctrl Alt Del (Web comic site, check the link on the links section) does an excellent job.
Right now, we're in the process of getting everything up and running. The DSL will soon be activated and after that, I'm going to set up the Wireless network. I'm really excited about getting online with my 360 and playing some games. I'm most excited about playing Perfect Dark Zero, Halo 2, Fight Night Round 3 and Project Gotham Racing 3. My gamertag is The Game21xx just in case some of you wanna play a few games later.

Speaking Out Against Videogame Regulation

Recently this website ( has been brought to my attention. I've signed up and I believe that all gamers should sign up to help prevent Congress from regulating the sales of violent videogames.

I don't think Congress should have the right to tell us what we can and can't play. This way, the gamers have a collective voice to let Congress know what we think about it.

If you're a gamer, consider signing up and speaking out against the politicians in Congress. Make your opinion known.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fight Night Round 3

This game has taken over my life (okay it's not that bad but I'm really addicted to it). Before I picked up the retail game, I had downloaded the demo to my Xbox 360 and I couldn't stop playing it. It was that fun. Now that the game is out and I have it, the demo has been discarded like an old piece of trash. The game has not left my 360's disc tray since I bought it on Saturday. I am that addicted to it. As soon as i fired it up for the first time, the very first fight I played was perhaps the biggest rivalry in all of boxing. Ali versus Frazier. The first time I fought against Frazier as Ali I tried to overpower him. This was definitely the wrong approach to take and resulted in me getting knocked out at the beginning of the second round. The second time I learned from my mistakes and started fighting like "The Greatest". I moved around sticking him with quick combos and the occasional power punch and moving away before he could strike back. The fight ended much more favorably for me, a second round knockout. I'll be writing a review of this game soon.

Speaking of reviews, I write reviews of some of the games I've played on You can read these reviews at:

Friday, February 17, 2006

Obtuse Meanings

I was online a little while ago and I came across a couple of very interesting photographs. After I'd looked at them for a little while, a deeper meaning became apparent in each photo and I wanted to share my thoughts on that.

My first picture
To some this picture just looks like a huge pile of videocassettes. To me it symbolizes the rapidly advancing technologies today. Today, VCR's are being replaced by DVD players and videocassettes replaced by DVD's. The VCR's recording function was all the rage when it was first introduced, but today it is becoming outdated and obsolete in a world in which DVR's are becoming much more common.

My second picture,

This picture is of a little girl with a cigarrette in her mouth and a beer can in her hand. This to me symbolizes how people are getting into drugs and alcohol at a much younger age. In today's society, more and more teenagers are getting into drugs, many more than in previous years.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Superbowl XL

This year's Superbowl has come and gone. How was it? I think it was great. Of course, it wasn't without its faults but was still a great game. The festivities held leading up to the Big Game (Mowtown winter blast, numerous concerts, etc.) were pulled off excellently. Okay enough about the pre-game festivities, how was the actual game? Other than a couple of very controversial calls, it was good. What calls am I talking about? Anyone who watched the game knows what I mean. FIRST: A controversial play involving supposed offensive "pass interference" by WR Darrell Jackson. In the end zone, Jackson looked like he pushed off his defender to change direction and make the catch. He did indeed stick his arm out and graze the defender but he didn't make enough contact to warrant the call. The defender complained about it to the referees and in comes the flag. I think he was just upset that he was scored on so easily. SECOND: A Ben Roethlisberger TD giving Pittsburgh a 7-3 lead. This touchdown never happened. Simple as that. Roethlisberger pulled a daring and clearly ineffectual move by trying to run the ball in himself on a third and goal play. He made it around and seeing no other way in, he dove. In the air, he crossed the line. Too bad it doesn't count in the air. On his way down he was hit by a Seahawks defender and pushed back some inches. He hit the ground. The ball was down, just inches away from the goal line. A second or two later, he pulled the ball out from under him and put it on the goal line, looking at the referee the entire time. The referee ruled it as a touchdown. The Seahawks coach called BS on the ruling and challenged the play. The play was reviewed. In the replays it was clear that he did NOT score that touchdown. Obviously the referees saw it differently. The ruling on the field stands. Seahawks fans around the world hang their heads in disgust. There are many more controversial plays that I don't feel like talking about right now but these are perhaps the biggest. Otherwise, it was a pretty good game. I think it was set up though. Jerome Bettis is back in his hometown, there has been talk about his possible retirement and he's playing in the Superbowl trying to win his first Championship. What a perfect way to end your career. I can't think of a more perfect way to end it. Maybe the referees were sitting together thinking, he's had such a great career, why don't we let him win this one and retire? Do I think the Steelers could've won without the referee's help? Yep, but that doesn't stop me from thinking this game was set up.

Friday, January 27, 2006


My current obsession right now is with an HDTV. I want one so badly right now. Watching the Superbowl (which is being held in my Hometown!) on a big High-Def screen would be great. With the release of the Xbox 360, the HD Gaming revolution is here. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both use HD resolutions to enhance the graphics. You don't need an HDTV but the picture quality is greatly improved when you use it. HDTV's are great and I want one in my room. Only one problem. I lack the High-Def money (college is a bitch).

Entertainment. A Reflection of Popular Culture.

There have been several assumptions made in regards to entertainment as a whole. One of these assumptions is that it is a reflection of culture. This is entirely true. Forms of entertainment that may be popular in one culture are not as popular in another culture. In our culture, it is popular to For instance, in America, the sport of soccer is not nearly as popular as it is in say, Spain or certain regions of South America. Even the tastes in videogames differ from culture to culture. In another for instance, In Japan, First Person Shooters (my favorite videogame genre by the way) aren't very popular and here in the US they are some of the most popular videogames on the market.
I assume that entertainment is a reflection of popular culture because only those things that are popular to us sell well and keep us coming back. Soccer was never a really popular sport to Americans and thus, no one is tuning in to watch the big Soccer game on Sunday instead of Football. Football is popular in our culture and that's why it continues to thrive and merchandise related to it such as the Madden Football games fly off the shelves year after year.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Future

When I think about the future I wonder what I’ll be doing. I have my own dreams and plans for the future but, before now, I never really thought about the future. I imagine in five years I will have graduated from college and will have a job working at a newspaper as a result of my degree in the field of journalism. In ten, I hope to be an accomplished writer, with at least one of my novels appearing on the New York Times Bestseller list. After this happens I guess I can devote myself to writing novels full time and writing a freelance column in a magazine or newspaper. Even now, I have a number of ideas for potential projects that I could write someday if I have the time so this reality is the best for me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Fast and the I'm Furious that i can't afford these cars!

I am really into cars. Ever since seeing the Fast and the Furious movie, I have been into the whole "tuner car culture". While at the moment I lack the funds to buy and tune the car(s) of my dreams, I know that someday I will. So below is a list of my 10 favorite cars. By the way, these are in no particular order. Well, except the Supra. That is my favorite car of all time.

1. 1998 Toyota Supra Twin-Turbo
2. 1997 McLaren F1 GT
3. 2006 Corvette Z06
4. 1998 Nissan Skyline R34 GTR
5. 1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT
6. 2006 Dodge Viper Coupe
7. 2003 Enzo Ferrari
8. Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Concept (Theoretically capable of 265 mph!)
9. 2005 Lamborghini Murcielago
10. Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren

Friday, January 13, 2006

This is a pic I took at my open house. Posted by Picasa

This is a pic I took right after taking the first one. Posted by Picasa

Xbox 360 vs PS3

Hey everybody, as I stated before in a previous post, I am a huge fan of videogaming and the console wars are heating up again for the "next-gen". Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few months, you already know that Microsoft has already released its next-gen console known as the Xbox 360. If you know this then you probably know how hard it was to find this past holiday season. I wasn't lucky enough to find one before Christmas but my luck changed on New year's day when I finally got one of my own. The games I've played look incredible running on the system and they should considering the technology under the hood.
The Xbox360 is running a triple core CPU, each core running at 3.2 Ghz. This is significantly faster and more powerful than even some of the fastest gaming PC's on the market today as the fastest CPU available for PC's is a Dual-Core setup. Microsoft partnered with ATI to create the systems GPU or Graphics Processing Unit. This chip operates at 500 Mhz and is even more powerful than ATI's most powerful chip the Radeon X1800 XT.

To the right is Sony's upcoming contender in the console wars, the Playstation 3. Sony seems to think that the key to winning the console wars is power and the PS3 is no slouch in that department. Sony has even gone on record saying that their console is twice as powerful as the Xbox 360. These claims are supported by the fact that the PS3 has a seven(!) core CPU with each core running at 3.2 Ghz dubbed the "cell" by Sony. It is also powered by a 550 Mhz GPU, created by Nvidia and dubbes the RSX. The two of them claim that the chip is more powerful than Nvidia's current powerhouse, the 78oo GTX.

I will leave it up to you to decide which one is better, but personally, I give the edge to Microsoft in this console war. At the moment, the PS3 is scheduled for a Spring 2006 debut, but I don't believe this date will be met. At the moment, besides Metal Gear Solid 4, none of the PS3's big "games" have been shown running in real time on the PS3's hardware. They have all been shown as "visual target" demos.
The Xbox 360 is in my opinion the better system and I strongly believe that it has the best chance of winning the console wars. The games I've played have all been great, and have some of the best graphics I've ever seen on a console (just look up the game Project Gotham Racing 3 and take a look at some screen shots). Another advantage is Microsoft's unified online service called Xbox Live. This gives gamers a universal nickname friends list and more features than you'd find in Sony's online services.
I'll be back to add more on this later on so stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

First Entry

Hey everybody, as you may have guessed, this is the first entry into my new blog. First I'd thought I'd tell you a couple things about me. My real name is Justin McBride. I am eighteen years old and currently attending Wayne State University. This blog was actually created because of a school assignment. I plan on using this mainly for school and I will be updating at least three times a week.
One of my major interests that will be communicated through this blog is my interest in Videogames. I am a huge fan of videogames and just about everything related to videogames. While you won't see me dressing up as a characther from a videogame for halloween, (or...ever) I still consider myself a hardcore gamer.
Another of my various interests is writing. Writing has always come sort of naturally for me since the first grade when I had to write a short story for an assignment. After that, I began my long running "career" with writing. I may post a couple of my short stories from time to time if I feel like it.
Well, that's it for now, stay tuned later this week as I will be posting more of my thoughts about... whatever I want to talk about.