Wednesday, June 29, 2005

TV Highlights

I still have yet to see Six Feet Under from Monday, hopefully catch that tonight. I've seen everything else (except American Dad), so I shall comment now.

Family Guy: The Stewie ponderings about Brian's book on both occasions was a bit too long. I realize this show likes to extend moments, but that got a bit tedious. The episode itself was pretty funny, especially how Quagmire got into the Bachelor and Peter getting Cleveland ready for the audition.

Entourage: Things were bound to go wrong around Vincent and they may just be starting. James Cameron (who is indeed going to be on the show coming up) is now set to direct Aquaman and the Warner chief is in Paris working out the details with him. Ari is a bit scared since he hasn't heard anything (nor did he know Cameron was on it), but he gets the answer he wants...until the end. It seems Leo (I'm guessing Leonardo DiCaprio) is in Paris working something out with Cameron about some "fish movie" (i.e. Aquaman). The boys feel like they're screwed...we shall see. In other news, Queens Boulevard is hitting Sundance and I know they go to Utah at some point this season.

Rescue Me: Powerful stuff. Tommy's daughter calls and says they are in Ohio and Tommy joins the Staten Island Barbershop Quartet in order to get time off (and the competition just HAPPENS to be in Ohio). Every time Tommy attempts to drink alcohol he sees a vision of Jesus and his blood dripping down, which stops him from drinking. Tommy gets to Ohio and sees the kids and talks to Janet. She says to give her 15 minutes and she'll be ready to go. Well, she ends up bolting out and Tommy loses them again. Things can't get lower for Tommy...heck he was even saying he'd get rid of Sheila in order to have Janet and the kids back home. Mike also seems to be very obsessive/compulsive about his former lover who dumped him. Kind of scary, but he evidentally found more solace in her than he can find banging a skinny chick I guess (or so it sounded like last night). Franco and Laura almost get together, but Laura lays out exactly what is going to happen and Franco backs off...nice move! The chief's wife is lashing out at things done 30 years ago thanks to the Alzheimers. In the funniest moment, the chief and Kenny think they have something on their boss so they can get Tommy back, but it ends up being his cousin that had an illegitimate child and not himself.

Sorry About That...

It's been a few days since my last entry. Work has been busy and other things have taken me away, but I'm back now and hopefully to a regular entry type of thing.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

City of Heroes - Day 13

I haven't played CoH since Thursday night. Went up to my parent's place today to get my car back (it seems to be back to normal...yay!) and just got back not too long ago after we all went out to eat. First thing I did when I came home was to go onto NCSoft's website and deactivate my City of Heroes account. I enjoyed the game early on, but as time went by it started to become boring. The death debt seems almost insurmountable after you get into the teen levels. I'm not sure how other MMORPGs handle death debt, but from what I've read it seems this game deals a lot of debt while others do not. Now, this is what I read and therefore it necessarily isn't the truth.

The game got deleted off my hard drive, but if there is one lasting thing that City of Heroes did it is that it makes me want to play my unopened copy of World of Warcraft, although I fear that game may end up being boring in the long run as well. I could be wrong though and it may well be worth the $15/mo. to at least get a character up to level 60.

The more I read about Guild Wars the more I seem to be turned off by it. I like going solo in many cases and this game doesn't sound like one of those. Now, it's nice that they give you AI players to do your instances with you, but I wonder how good the computer AI is in these situations...whether you have to go it alone for the most part or they actually help. If anyone knows, e-mail me please. FiringSquad didn't give it a very favorable review and basically called it boring (they say the same about WoW. I have a feeling I may end up feeling the same as they do, but I just don't know. It would be nice for Blizzard or ArenaNet to allow a 14-day trial or whatever like City of Heroes does. I would expect ArenaNet to do it before Blizzard does though. Blizzard doesn't even give game reviewers free time to play, each place has to pay for their own account. This just goes to show how powerful Blizzard is in the industry.

Anyway, I had fun with City of Heroes, but I just couldn't see myself grinding through to the higher levels and I just didn't feel "grabbed" by the game. When I was in the beta for WoW, I felt grabbed; however I didn't get much past the lower levels simply because I had other games to play and review for Console Gold.

Friday, June 24, 2005

BF2 Kicks Ass!

Battlefield 2 is literally everything I wanted Battlefield 1942 to be like. I got into 2 different servers last night. The first one was okay, but there was very little squad or commander interaction and no headset talk at all. Kind of made me feel like I was in Battlefield 1942 all over without Teamspeak and my friends. Granted, the game was extremely fun, but not as fun as my other server I got on.

I found the Brothers of War server and entered knowing it was probably a clan-type outfit for a server. Looking at their website after I played they are indeed a clan-type outfit, but they seem to be open for anyone. I may eventually decide to join them, although there is talk of a combined Console Gold/Octopus Overlords server via user Harkonis. Contact him via e-mail (the address is in that forum if you are interested). I believe the price is $5/seat.

Anyway, the Brothers of War server was extremely fun to play on. It was a 32 player server with very little lag (I did experience it here and there). I jumped on the Alpha Team on the US side and had the time of my life. At least 3 other people in the squad had headset capabilities and we coordinated attacks and all that. We also had a very good commander who must have been listening to the squad leaders or something because everything was well coordinated. I was switching between Anti-Tank, Sniper and Special Ops kits as I was going depending on the situation. At one point a squadmate and I sat on top of a building and sniped anyone that came into range. We had a lookout on the ground to alert us of infantry or armor being spotted. It was a bunch of fun and showed how much better this game is than Battlefield 1942 (and I love that game). The simple addition of being able to spawn to your squad leader is a godsend in this game because the maps are big and if planes or helicopters aren't going down you won't see the re-spawned ones for a long time and you may be far away.

I expect to be playing this game tonight as well, hopefully on the same server. My nick is AgtFox (just like everywhere else), so join up with the team I'm on if you can.

Game Reviews Upcoming

After a relative drought of games to review (I think the last one I did was Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on Xbox). That was early in the month of May and after I was done with that game I pretty much didn't touch anything outside of backlog computer games (Far Cry and Max Payne 2, both of which I beat) for over a month. My Xbox and PS2 have literally been in their carrying cases for a while until last night.

I will be reviewing Wrestlemania 21 on Xbox, Enthusia: Professional Racing on PS2 and Madagascar on GBA. I played the first two games last night and have not touched Madagascar yet.

Early word would be that Wrestlemania 21 stinks to high heaven with lots of problems related to control and some end of match audio problems. I have yet to play it online, but I'm willing to bet it is no better there either. Why in the heck can't anyone duplicate the coolness of the N64 games from AKI? The Smackdown series lately has come close and although I never played it Day of Reckoning seemed to also get close, but none can make a great wrestling game that ends all arguments for this generation.

Enthusia is a different beast all to itself. It sits above even Forza Motorsport (although I've only played a little of this as Microsoft never sent me a copy as of yet) in the simulation world. It is almost a driving simulation with that takes things a little too seriously. You also almost need the Logitech Driving Wheel that came out around Gran Turismo 4's release because playing it on a gamepad will make you want to return the game. The same sort of control is not here in Enthusia as it is in GT4, a game you could play with the gamepad no problem. Enthusia isn't a fantastic game, but if you can handle the uber-simulation aspect of it (where you literally throttle back going into a turn and throttle forward out of one versus doing a power slide or taking an angle) you may find it a good driving simulator. Expect this reviews to be coming in the next few days.

City of Heroes - Day 12

I am finding it very frustrating to level up to 12 for the past few days (granted, I didn't play Wednesday). If I touch this game again before my 14 days runs out I think I'm going to find a team to join and see if I can boost up my level to 14. That of course is IF I play this game again. I've found that City of Heroes is very frustrating for someone wanting to go at it alone. From the time I spent in World of Warcraft I found it was easier to get to level 14 alone than it has been getting to level 14 in City of Heroes. I haven't played Guild Wars, but chances are it will not be as solo friendly as something like WoW is (or at least what I remember from the beta). However, I believe I have several groups of people I could join in Guild Wars should I pick the game up.

We'll see if I play this tonight or not. The game is getting very frustrating with my need to play solo. Yeah, teams are fun, but I rarely get any offers to be a part of a team. I've gone beyond the Hollows (I'm in Steel Canyon, Kings Row and Perez Park for my missions), but I could probably stop in the Hollows and see if there are any groups that want to go through the Frostfire battle which is easily the best mission so far in the early levels.

Chances are 99.9% that I won't continue past Saturday with City of Heroes. It can be a very fun game, but it can also be very frustrating and almost feel like I'm going through the motions.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Battlefield 2

The game is excellent from what little I played last night (I played more Battlefield 1942 with my co-workers than this). There aren't a whole lot of ranked servers out there and it is tough to get into one if you want to build experience and unlock weapons and other things for each military class. I noticed a lot of lag in the servers I hopped on, although that could be because of the new anti-virus software I upgraded to in-between the demo release and the full game release. I'm going to try to fix that tonight and see if there is any change.

So far I'm liking BF2 better than 1942 simply because I feel like I'm a better shot and can see if I'm hitting the target better here than in 1942. The graphics are also nothing to sneeze at so to speak. I still have yet to hear anything from a squad via Voice over IP. I'd like to see if my new headset works well or not and if I need to tweak it or not. Console Gold will have a server up here and there it seems like. When I got on last night I couldn't find it anywhere, even via direct IP access.

30 Days and CoH - Day 11

Well, the news is that I didn't play City of Heroes one second yesterday, was too busy playing Battlefield 1942 with my co-workers and Battlefield 2. So, this entry will be mostly about 30 Days from last night.

I wasn't very impressed with last night's show, but that is more because of the people involved in last night's show. I loved Spurlock's little things here and there (like going to Mexico and buying steroids without a prescription or talking to that 69 year old lady), but the guy that was using the anti-aging regiment just didn't catch my interest. It could have been because of his wife, who although very protective of her husband was a big pain in the ass early on in the 30 days. Early in the program I was like, "If you're going to act like this you never should have signed up to do the show or let your husband take these risks, no matter how small they may be."

The guy didn't even make it 30 days on the anti-aging products. I think he started on Day 3 with the first testosterone and growth hormone injections and he stopped at Day 22 (I think) after finding out his sperm count had gone from 75 million to less than 1 million and his wife breaking down about it. Never mind he also had heightened liver functions that they were also worried about...but kept going with the regiment when the anti-aging doctor told him it was fine.

One of the best parts, and I wish we would have seen more of this helper, was when the guy talks to his physical/weight instructor who is a professional bodybuilder. He looked at the guys amount of drugs he was taking (I think he takes over 50 pills a day) and the guy says, "too much of a good thing is a bad thing" and he was surprised about all the stuff the guy was taking.

Moral of the story is that the guy lost weight more likely because of his change in eating habits and his cardiovascular and weight workouts versus the anti-aging medication. I was most disappointed that Spurlock didn't talk about what I said above, that idea comes from me. The good news is that the guy's liver is back to normal and his sperm count is back up.

Next week a devout Christian man spends 30 days with Muslims. Looks interesting and I hope it is a lot better than this week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Battlefield 2 Will Actually Show Today

OK, I was a bit premature by saying I'd have Battlefield 2 in my hands yesterday. Stopped in at EB and they said it would be in today. I wonder how many CDs the game is for those that don't pick up the DVD version (like myself)? I've heard rumors that the final game runs better than the demo version on computers, I'll have to see that to believe it. I'm all set with my headset for this game, can't wait to try the Voice over IP with my squadmates.

There is talk of a clan starting up for Console Gold, I'll link to it once it is established. I'm not sure what kind of server we'll be on or anything because I had offered up the idea of renting a server from EA for at least 32 people, but no one really responded outside of the CG staff, pretty sad if you ask me. Everyone seems so excited about the game, but $4/mo. is too much or something *shrug*.

Rescue Me

Finally one of the best series on television made its return last night and there was also a commercial saying one of the other best series on television (Nip/Tuck) was coming in September. Rescue Me's first episode of the season was fantastic. Tommy is now in Staten Island working (or lack of working given how few jobs they get versus Tommy's old team) and he is full of angst. His wife left last season with the children and she sold the house for $500k, enough to live on for a long time as long as she doesn't trip up by spending a lot. She has the kids call Tommy for about 2 minutes each so he can't trace her.

Obviously Tommy is still on the sauce, possibly even more heavily than before. He screws up with his cop brother who will now not be doing Tommy any favors until he at least cleans up. Probie is on the outs with the big lady after he saw her talking to another guy in a bistro and she tells him the sex wasn't that good. Franco has scars from his run-in with Tommy in the fire. Tommy calls him to make amends, but Franco doesn't answer the phone.

At the end Tommy goes to an AA meeting after pouring vodka all over himself and almost lighting it on fire with a lighter. He just got done watching happier times with the family, including his dead cousin and Tommy's now girlfried (and cousin's widow). I think all Tommy wants to do is get his kids back and it is obvious from previews that is one of the things he's going after. It also looks like his girlfriend tries to get him back on the wagon because he does sex the best when he is drunk AND it looks like she drinks (and she's pregnant!).

Can't wait for next week...

City of Heroes - Day 10

Made it through another mission by myself and am starting to get the hang of ways to handle combat when solo. I'm lucky I was smart enough to buy some Awaken inspirations before I went on the mission, they came in very handy. I find those damn Reapers and Morticators from the undead group a pain in the ass to handle. Sometimes they pull with their underlings, sometimes they come alone (the best way for me). They always seem to have some of the best accuracy around though and I can die often or be really low on health by the time I'm done facing off with them. The Abominations are nothing compared to these bad guys.

I have 2 missions to do tonight and I'm still stuck on level 11 thanks to my debt incurred by dying a few times. I want to get to 14 before my trial is over, but it is looking less and less likely at the moment. Hopefully I can get some good playing time in tonight, but with Battlefield 2 finally showing up that may not be an option.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Battlefield 2 Today!

The day has finally come, Battlefield 2 should be in my hands later today. There are reviews already out (Gamespy - 5/5, IGN - 8.9, Gamespot - 9.3), but reviews really don't matter to me in the case of this game. The thing that made Battlefield 1942 exciting is how much fun it could be just to play with a bunch of other people. The experience was even better if you had some friends to play with instead of just playing with strangers. I'm not big into online FPS games, but Battlefield 1942 was just different in my mind and I still fire that game up to play with my friends.

Now Battlefield 2 comes out and from the demo I can ascertain that the fun is still there, but now we get to fly planes and helicopters and drive around in new vehicles. I am guessing the mod community will be out in force for this one and I can't wait to see what they come up with. I've already read some things about this one group who is making a Battletech mod for Battlefield 2 and the pictures lot HOT.

I didn't plan out my 14-day City of Heroes trial very well because I'm guessing Battlefield 2 will be getting a majority of my playtime now that it is out. See you guys on the Battlefield...

Television Wrap-Up

OK...finished watching Entourage and watched Six Feet Under from last night. Entourage is still a fantasic show and I think they're hitting a groove. Vincent agreed to be Aquaman simply because he decided to buy Marlon Brando's old house for $4 million (his tax person said he could spend $1.2 million tops) and he actually liked the script (he read it?!?), but didn't like the idea of dressing up in tights. So, the boys get out of a sticky situation again as always. Ari is still pretty darn funny. He tries to sneak out of the house to go to the Playboy mansion and his wife catches him and tells him to be home by 2am or she'll yell something about Ari's sexual prowess to the neighborhood.

Six Feet Under seems to be trying to grab that magic that it had in the first and second season, but the time has long passed for that honestly. I'm starting to understand George because of the death of his mom 54 years ago that he blames himself for (she was a drunk, mean woman it seems). Also explains him liking the bunker, probably because it was a "safe place" for him when he was younger. The rest of the Fischer clan seems to be going through the paces. Nate is mostly a wuss, not the driving character he once was. Brenda is trying to expand from what she truly is, Billy is off the meds, Claire is once again at odds with Ruth and David and Keith have probably found a surrogate. Frederico is also trying to find a woman now that he and Vanessa are in splitsville, although I see them getting together before the end of the series. If there is one person who will be happy in this show at the end, it will be Rico.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Rescue Me's second season starts tonight at 9pm Central on FX Networks. This is a fantastic show and I hope the second season is as good or better than the first.

City of Heroes - Day 8 and 9

Couldn't find much time to put my day 8 experiences up yesterday, so I'll combine it with my day 9 experiences as well. My character is now up to level 11 and almost to 12. The missions are becoming more manageable for me whether I'm in a group or on my lonesome. I no longer fear going deep into the Hollows or Perez Park (where some of my missions are taking place) and I've gotten pretty good with the whole combat stuff. I ended up taking my enhancement slots and adding them to my hover so that I can fly a bit faster than usual until I hit level 14 and can actually get Fly. I could be setting myself up pretty badly though in regards to leaving other powers in the lurch, but it is the chance I take.

On Day 8 I spent some time with a team taking on Frostfire in the Hollows. Later on I found out that was my next mission from Flux, but I wasn't too excited to go through it again and I figured going through it solo may be a death wish. I do think the number of enemies goes down when it is you alone though, but I could be wrong.

I believe Saturday is the end of my 14-day trial and I'm still pointing toward not going for another month simply because City of Heroes hasn't grabbed onto me enough to want to keep playing it past the 14-day trial. I feel my sole purpose in this trial is to get to level 14 so I can experience the Fly power. I may or may not get there at the rate I'm going, but I hope I do.

I am still interested in Guild Wars and may try that out. I think it is $44.99 at Circuit City this week. I may also finally open World of Warcraft, but I am afraid the $15/mo. fee will turn me off after my first month is over. However, everything will probably be taking a back seat for a while because of a game I'll talk about later.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Games, DVDs and Movies This Week (6/20 - 6/26)


Battlefield 2 (PC): The biggest release for me this week since I've had this pre-ordered forever and a day. Tomorrow is the big day, at least I hope my EBGames gets it in tomorrow. We need to figure out what we're going to do so all the CG (Console Gold) and OO (Octopus Overlords) people can get together so we don't have asshats running around that we don't know. There is a forum thread at CG talking about this very thing, but it is in the later pages.

Conker: Live and Reloaded (Xbox): This game finally comes out after who knows how many delays. I have heard both pros and cons about the online component, but I've heard nothing but good things about the update to the N64 version of Conker. I'd love to pick this up, but I think I will attempt to rent it.

Destroy All Humans (Xbox/PS2): Pandemic (Full Spectrum Warrior, Mercenaries) brings out its next game and this one looks like a lot of fun and has a pretty big marketing push behind it (I've seen it both at the movies and on television). So far the only reviews are Game Informer and Play Magazine (both 8/10). Probably not going to pick this up simply because I'll spend most of my time with Battlefield 2 and finishing my 14-day trial of City of Heroes.


Nothing of note here other than Coach Carter, which I never saw and won't rent.


Bewitched: Is it sad to say that this actually looks interesting? At least they aren't going for the whole total re-do of the television show. I like Will Farrell, although I hear his and Nicole's chemistry isn't all that great in this movie.

Herbie: Fully Loaded: I don't know if it is true or not, but rumor is that Disney digitally altered Lindsay Lohan's breasts to make them look smaller on the screen. I liked the Herbie movies quite a bit while growing up and I wouldn't be surprised if this is a relatively good movie even with all of Lohan's exploits outside of movies. She has the uncanny ability to make a movie you wouldn't think would be good actually turn out good.

Outside of Battlefield 2, Conker: Live and Reloaded and Destroy All Humans, things don't look so bright this week in entertainment. Oh well, at least we have the season premiere of Rescue Me to look forward to tomorrow.

Sunday TV

Another Sunday goes by and another Sunday to watch TV. The only regular show I missed was Entourage and I will probably watch that tonight. For what I did watch:

The 4400: Hmmm...this show seems to be getting weaker as we go on. Jordan likes to bang hot women, including his secretary who almost commits suicide after Jordan bangs a pop singer who devotes herself to the 4400 Center. Shawn finds out that he will be the benefactor of the Center should anything befall Jordan. Another "4400 Survivor of the Week" shows up, this time the doctor from Star Trek: Voyager who seems to be able to make people lose weight by swapping spit with them. Of course, nothing is as nice as it seems when they just keep losing weight. At the end of the show with Richard and Lily having to leave again when someone tattles on them, I didn't see the baby in the truck or anything. In fact, the baby took a back seat in this episode. I'll check it out next week, but things aren't looking so good.

The Dead Zone: Weak episode here as well, although anything non-Stinson related really has to stand out in my mind to not feel weak. There were a lot of cliches in this show tonight, especially toward the end with the explosions and the slow motion as the characters get out just ahead of every explosion as the soap factory blows up.

Family Guy: Peter finds out that he is mentally retarded and starts to take advantage of it, including such things as kicking in women's restroom stalls and saying, "I don't know any better" and one woman down the line says, "here, let me show you how these things work"...heh. This show is consistantly funny, but it seems to have lost a step in its time off.

American Dad: This was the week that was going to decide whether I would keep watching this show or not. If you are at all into politics, tonight was hysterical. Karl Rowe coming in to help Stan become deacon at the church in order to upstage Chuck White was fantastic. Karl Rowe is the guy behind GW Bush's election to the presidency and many people on the left consider him to be integral in many conspiracy theories it seems. This episode kept me on for at least one more, this show is getting funnier. However you have to know the political landscape to have any clue what is going on.

The Comeback: Much like American Dad, this was a make or break episode. People are still piling the crap onto Valerie and this show is honestly going nowhere. I still have no idea how the creator of Sex and the City made this crap.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Batman Begins

Finally saw it yesterday and I have to say I came out very impressed by Nolan and the actors playing the characters. The latter is easily the biggest difference of why Batman Begins is leagues above Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in the summer movie battle. The whole Batman franchise needed a breath of fresh air and Nolan has brought it to us. Everything was fantastic and I would dare say that this is better than X-Men 2 or Spider-Man 2 in the modern era of superhero movies. I know I am probably one of the few that thought Spider-Man 2 was better than the first, but in the realm of comic books Spider-Man comes first with Batman right after in my favorites column. I can be very critical of both, but it was fantastic to see the Batman franchise back to better days.

Christian Bale is an excellent actor as well. The most amazing thing to me was showing Bale as a man in his late teens or early 20s. His hair looked just right to be of college age versus the man shown in his times overseas. Sometimes Bale does push the Batman voice over-the-top, but he makes it sound enough unlike Bruce Wayne to make it believeable. Batman is not an easy role to play simply because of the dual identity, but Bale did a great job.

I would like to talk about one thing with the movie though and I'd like to give you guys a SPOILER WARNING before I do in case you haven't seen Batman Begins as of yet. OK, next paragraph starts it...

Obviously the comics weren't adhered to as well as they could (Smallville on TV does much the same with Superman...not everything is taken from the comic canon), but I like the changes they did make. Ra's Al Ghul as played by Ken Wantanabe was pretty cool and I figured when he supposedly died in the monastary that he would come back via the Lazarus Pit (how he often comes back in the comics from death). Little did I see the swerve of Liam Neeson actually being Ra's Al Ghul and I think that was a fantastic swerve. I was so caught up in the movie that I wasn't even thinking he could be Ra's. When the train went into the street my wife asked, "Do you think he's dead?" and I said, "Probably not given the comic book history of the character and the fact his group is still around".

It is quite interesting to insert Ra's in to this part of Batman's life. Ra's Al Ghul was a later entry into Batman's rogues and in many ways stands right up there with Joker as Batman's most feared enemies. Neeson played Ra's to a T with the whole ecological warfare and the need to bring down the big city ideas and I'm glad to see that they went with Ra's as projected in the comics. With Ra's showing up so early I can justify the reasons he isn't calling Batman "Detective" as he does in the comics. Yes, Ra's does know Batman is Bruce Wayne in the comics, but he never calls him by name. Making Ra's Bruce's mentor in his formulative years makes for a great setup for using his real name. The only thing I wished was that Wantanbe had a larger role than he had in this film. I do like that they kept people in the dark about the whole thing though, much like they are doing with Spider-Man 3 in regards to the hiring as Topher Grace and Thomas Hayden Church as villians (only people working on the movie know what roles they play).

Anyway, I thought Batman Begins was a very good movie with some slow parts at the beginning, but it is much like Spider-Man in this regard simply because they have to build the origin instead of getting straight into the action like Spider-Man 2 or X-Men 2 did. Preview for Fantastic 4 was shown before the movie. My wife would like to see it, but I warned her that the cool trailer could be nothing like the full movie. We'll have to see. Can't wait for Nolan and Bale to join up again for the next Batman movie.

City of Heroes - Day 7

I'm up to level 10 and almost to 11 after my 7th day in the 14 day trial. I feel pretty good that I can get up to level 14 by the time my trial is up. Team play is definitely the way to go with this game because going solo just does not pay off in the experience section. From what I remember of World of Warcraft in the beta it seemed to lend itself more to the solo adventurers, something I have grown quite accustomed to growing up without anyone my age or anyone interested in video games around me when I grew up. Sure I had friends in school, but I rarely saw them outside of the school environment.

I finally got past another of my difficult missions (thanks to a good team) and I also learned a valuable lesson. I had run into one of the Hero Corp people and changed my reputation to Invincible. I figured it might strike fear into other people, but it actually is a difficulty leveler and I just happened to pick the hardest one. This is what happens when you don't have instructions. Even if I had the CoH instructions I doubt I would read them. That is just the kind of person I am.

Do I like City of Heroes? It's pretty fun, but at the same time it can be very boring. I know I will not have touched on all the zones by the time my trial ends and I'm willing to bet there are some pretty fantastic experiences as you grow in levels, but down here in the 10s levels nothing is really grabbing ahold of me to keep playing beyond the 14 days. Different strokes for different folks I guess. If there is one thing CoH has done it is to make me interested in opening up my copy of WoW and playing that as well as pick up Guild Wars, the one that you don't have to pay per month for. We'll see how that goes...there is Battlefield 2 on the horizon afterall.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

City of Heroes - Day 6

Almost to the halfway point of my 14-day trial with City of Heroes. I am now up to Level 9 with my Magical Blaster. I realized something last night that I probably should have figured out before. I shouldn't have worried so much about adding enhancement slots for my electrical powers and added ones for my sprinting and Hover abilities. Adding slots and then putting in Level 10 enhancements makes Hover not seem so slow. Oh well, live and learn I guess. I'm hoping to have my hero up to level 14 by the time my trial ends. I really doubt I will go farther than that trial honestly.

Thanks to reader Daryll France I took his ideas to heart and joined a group last night for the first time since Monday. Things worked pretty well and we even got through my mission that was in the deep recesses of the Hollows. It took a while to get through the base, but we did it and I can scratch off another mission from my list.

Probably will get some playing time in today and tomorrow as plans have changed a bit for today.

Friday, June 17, 2005

City of Heroes - Day 5

Day 5 I spent getting experience, adding the Hover ability (with my Normal Blaster I picked faster sprint at this point. Hover is a better, but slower moving power I feel) at level 6. I also finally got through the 2 Outcast hideouts in The Hollows. Thanks to my hover ability I was able to go by the large Troll and Outcast populations without anyone seeing and killing me, but I had to get hover before that was possible.

My next mission is to find some contact in the Hollows. We'll see how that goes, I hope his missions for me will find me in more advantageous situations than the Hollows where most of the enemies are at least 3 levels above me in power. I still feel City of Heroes is one big grind, but I hope I can get to level 14 relatively unscathed so I can fly or whatever. Tonight will probably be the last opportunity I get to play CoH until Sunday, so I hope to at least get up a level.

30 Days - Great Show

I'm now sold on 30 Days after watching Wednesday's episode. Morgan Spurlock did an excellent job showing what life would be like living on a minimum wage income for 30 days with his fiancee Alex. They both ended up having to go to the hospital with no insurance (her for a urinary infection, him for a hurt wrist while working) and they got the bills for those somewhere in the 20s for days, I forget the exact date. Anyway, her bill was below $500, but his was over $700 including $40 for an Ace bandage.

Spurlock is a lot like Michael Moore, except that he is more of an everyman compared to Moore. Moore likes to go up against the big boys while I think Spurlock showed that he can go after the social problems of the nation after he did his McDonalds thing with Super Size Me. One of the funniest parts of the episode was he went to the library to find something free and fun to do in Columbus, OH with his nephew and niece. This one site had such things as calling your bank to set up a tour of the facilities. Spurlock was literally laughing his ass off, but he was trying to keep it quiet in the library.

The show is very interesting, although I believe this is the last time that Spurlock will be doing the deed for the 30 days at least this year. Now he takes a more "behind the scenes" role it seems. I have a feeling he'll be doing the voiceover information stuff like he did last night, but we'll see. This is pretty darn good television and it goes to show just how well us with insurance and a nice job are versus those that work at minimum wage.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

City of Heroes - Day 4

Didn't get a whole lot of City of Heroes gametime in last night because I had a bit of car trouble and had to drive the car up to my parent's house where my dad can look at it. The radiator needs replacing and he hopes that's the only thing that needs to be fixed (me too).

Anyway, I just went up in levels for the roughly 20 minutes I played CoH last night. I was actually able to traverse beyond Atlas Park with my Sciene Blaster (w/electricity), unlike my Natural Blaster with the Assault Gun. I have a mission that will take me to a cave to go through tonight. Hopefully gain at least one level through that and get some more powers or whatever.

I am now on my 5th day of the 14-day trial and I am interested in the game, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is very much a grind game where all you do is take out the minions and lieutenants out there. I'd like some variety, but something tells me it isn't here.

Some of you may be wondering what I thought of 30 Days last night as well. Since I had to drive my car up to my parent's house I was unable to watch it but hope to watch it tonight and give my thoughts tomorrow. My co-workers said it was quite good so I look forward to it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

TV Tonight

The big thing tonight is that 30 Days premieres on the FX Network. This is a show created by Super Size Me's Morgan Spurlock that will follow people around for 30 days doing something in opposite of what they currently do. Tonight's premiere sees Spurlock and his fiancee live on a minimum wage for 30 days. They move to Ohio to do this and they find it pretty hard to find a decent apartment and all that.

Upcoming shows include:

Anti-Aging: 30-something year old ex-athlete (who has gotten a gut and lost libido) takes anti-aging medication for 30 days. They follow him and see his highs and lows

Muslims and America: A Christian goes into a Muslim home for 30 days and struggles with a religion that does not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Straight/Gay: A 24-year old homophobe from a "red state" travels to San Francisco to live in a hugely homosexual area. He joins a gay sports team, caters to gay clientele, attends pro-gay church services and even lives with a gay roomate.

Off-The-Grid: A couple that loves to live off of the environmentally hazardous fossil fuels (electricty, gas in cars, etc.) move into a Bio-Dome in Missouri for 30 days and lives off of natural power and life. After 30 days will they be changed or will they go back to the old days?

Binge Drinking Mom: A mom concerned about her daughter and alcohol consumption at college agrees to do 30 days of binge drinking to get through to her.

The last one sounds interesting, but I'm not sure what they are going to pull out of the situation. Anyway, I think this show sounds really interesting and given how good Super Size Me was I'll be watching this tonight. It is on at 9pm Central Time on FX Network.

City of Heroes - Day 3

After reading through some primers I decided to start over. I had a Normal Blaster with the Assault Rifle and wasn't getting much of anywhere. I now have a Science Blaster with all electrical powers. He's having a much easier time dealing with the bad people of Paragon City. I'm up to level 4 and hope to play a bit more tonight so I can attempt to get up to the level of my other character and see if I can traverse things I couldn't before.

City of Heroes on a whole still feels quite boring honestly. I hope that changes before my 14-day trial is up. It's cool to be a superhero, but it is kind of boring facing the same type of enemies time and time again.

Batman Begins (The Movie)

Well, it looks like Batman Begins is a good movie. Locally the movie got 3.5/4 (St. Paul Pioneer Press) and 4/4 (Minneapolis Star Tribune). Roger Ebert even gave it 4/4. It currently stands at 82% on Rotten Tomatoes with even Rolling Stone's stickler Peter Travers liking it (although Variety and Time were not too keen on it).

I'm pretty excited now although I doubt I will see it before the weekend. I'm not to high on going to nighttime movies simply because it's expensive compared to daytime matinees which cost less than half the price per ticket of the night showings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why, Phil...Why?

ESPN is reporting that Phil Jackson is coming back to coach the Lakers next year. The press conference is scheduled for 5pm ET. My only question is why he would do this. Yes, he's dating the owner's daughter, but he doesn't have the team anymore that he had when he left.

City of Heroes - Day 2

I signed up for the 14-day trial for City of Heroes on Sunday. I'm very apprehensive about the whole MMORPG genre simply because of the monthly cost to play the game outside of the initial purchase of the product. I played in the beta for World of Warcraft and I found it pretty fun, but I also found myself not playing it for days and weeks at a time while the beta was going on (not a good indication if I was going to pay per month to play the final game). I have a copy of the retail WoW, but I have never opened it. I still think about selling it instead of keeping it. Anyway, back to CoH.

For the first day, CoH was pretty exciting. I'm pretty sure I picked the wrong type of class to be (Normal Blaster) if I wanted to do any single playing after I've gone through about the first 5 levels of my character. It's dangerous to put him in close quarters battles while his guns recharge. I got through the initial missions without a problem, but then I was sent to the Hollows and to King's Row and things haven't been so nice since. I get my ass kicked by anyone I run by and the Oscillators are the worst.

In RPGs I tend to want to get things done as quickly as possible. I like to just do my job from quest to quest and I absolutely hate when I have to gain experience points so I can simply continue on. City of Heroes, at least for my character, is a lot like that. In order for me to even GET to King's Row I'm going to have to up him in levels (I'm at Level 6 or 7 now, I forget). Same goes for getting to the second Outcast hideout in the Hollows. I can't fly, so taking those major dives onto another section of roads doesn't help my character in the health department much.

I will say I had a lot of fun on Monday night when I got together with a group and we finished some missions. I mostly stood back and fired off my guns, something I am guessing the Blaster class is quite adept at. Yesterday trying to get to King's Row just pissed me off. They should have had more missions in Atlas Park instead of thrusting you into these difficult ones where you are outclassed by overwhelming numbers and more powerful enemies than yourself. Tonight I will probably create a different class character and maybe I'll check out some primers on the internet to make sure I make the right choice this time. I wanted to be Batman, but my character so far has not turned out the way I thought he would.

T-minus 12 days until deactivation. It could be less than that though with Battlefield 2 coming next Tuesday. City of Heroes has taken my time lately over the BF2 demo (shocking!). Hey, I have to use as much of the 14 days as I can.

More TV Stuff

Well, I'm all caught up now and I'll give my opinions here.

Family Guy: The first half was not very good (I'll get back to this in a moment), but the second half had some of the funniest stuff around. My problem with the first half is that Loretta not a few episodes ago was one of the women that wanted Quagmire gone. Now all of a sudden Loretta decides to have an affair with Quagmire? At least the second half saves the show with Peter and his modes of transport. I loved Joe's line after the blimp crashes into his house: "Peter, where are you getting all the money for this stuff?"

American Dad: There have been glimmers of greatness on this show, but they are fleeting fast. Had a co-worker say to me that they should drop this show and put all their efforts into Family Guy because he feels the quality of that show has gone down. I tend to agree with him. There are pieces of hilarity in this show, but it just doesn't have the characters that you can understand or care for.

Entourage: This is still one of the best half-hours on television right now. Yes, the guys may act like assholes, but at least they are assholes we can care about. Eric finally got his cake and eat it too. I'm glad that Shauna was the one that blurted out that she cheated on him and then Eric slamming her by saying he did the Perfect 10 model twice. My only question at the end with the group going to Las Vegas is whether Eric brought the Aquaman script to read or not as he had promised Ari. The previews sure make it look like Ari isn't pissed, so I'm guessing he did. It also looks like the boys lose the house rental and have to find their own place (Vincent: "Man, $1 million doesn't go so far").

Six Feet Under: The series feels like it is spinning the wheel still. Nate has almost become a background character instead of the true lead. Could he and Maggie have something going on in the future? The previews make it look like it, but I doubt it. If anyone was going to fall off the wagon it would be Brenda in that relationship. Billy decides to not take his drugs, so he'll be crazy soon enough. I have no sympathy for Ruth in how she is treating George. I'm not a big fan of George, but Ruth honestly got herself in this mess and she has to be the one to get out of it and not have help from Maggie. She can sit there and bitch and moan thinking that she married a guy that lied to her, but she did this whirlwind marriage and was a willing participant. Sometimes you have to pay the piper.

Nothing on tonight that I know of. Rescue Me starts next Tuesday though...can't wait!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Games, DVDs and Movies This Week (6/13 - 6/19)

I dropped TV shows from this since I will be updating those as the week goes on and I can't think of anything starting up new this week either, so onto the rest.


Batman Begins: Will this game be good or not? I don't really know. I'm not even sure it follows the movie because I read in EGM that there are no boss battles and since Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul are in the movie and they are going for the Splinter Cell feel, chances are that may be true. I plan on renting this.


Hitch: Never saw it in theaters, will be seeing it on DVD. I've heard good things.

Tarzan II: I just heard about this last week. Chances are since this is a direct to video release that it will be animated by the television arm of Disney and not have such things as shadowing and cool effects. I could be wrong though because Disney as of late has been giving a little more love to its direct to video releases in the animation section. Tarzan as a little kid though, that I may not be able to get over.


Batman Begins: No surprise here since the game comes out this week as well. Early word is that this movie is really good and I have a co-worker who saw it and he thought it was pretty good as well. (MAJOR SPOILERS UPCOMING) I hear the end sets up the entry of the Joker. Christian Bale is signed on for this and 2 other Batman movies. I just hope this is good because we desperately need a return of a good Batman movie.

The Perfect Man: Heather Locklear and Hilary Duff star in this one. Evidently Locklear is having problems finding the perfect man (is this a believable film with this premise? I mean this is HEATHER LOCKLEAR we're talking about). Chances are excellent this movie will suck, but maybe I'll be surprised.

A relatively quiet week outside of Batman Begins. I didn't get a chance to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith as of yet, hope to soon.

Sunday TV and City of Heroes

I was unable to watch all of my Sunday TV yesterday because I got caught up in City of Heroes thanks to the 14-day trial NCSoft is running. Damn, that's a fun game although I am sure I won't be playing it past 14 days. I'm not big on the whole $15/mo. to play games. Maybe I should check out Guild Wars, the one where you don't pay per month although I honestly have no clue what type of game it is. Is it a hub-type game where you get missions that then load from there or do you actually get to walk around a city much like City of Heroes? What do you guys think? E-mail me about it. I'm looking for some good info.

Now on to Sunday's TV shows that I did watch:

The 4400: I just started watching the show this year and I missed out on the ones from last year. I'm liking the show quite a bit, although I think the writing could be a tad better honestly. What's with the "devil child" (as I shall call it)? The mom seems to be devolving into evil ways even though she knows she shouldn't do it. I'm forseeing her going to Collier's HQ and leaving the guy, but that's just me. And was it just me or was that professor hot for the kid? Looks interesting.

The Dead Zone: Oh yeah! Thank God the show didn't end last season as it was originally supposed to. They did a good job of re-writing the "final episode" and putting the series back on track after all signs were pointing to its end. I won't miss Greg Stilson's dad in the least bit and actually I am glad that Greg just choked him. I think that one guy with the ring is supposed to represent the Illuminati, but that is just a guess on my part. I forget why Purdy was in jail, was it fraud or something because I forget from last year. It will be sad that there will be no more visits from future Johnny or the guy from Swimming with Sharks (I forget his name).

The Comeback: This episode was better than last week, but I'm still not liking the show overall. I literally think this is a show built around piling a ton of crap on Valerie Cherish. Yes, you can get treated like crap in Hollywood, but this goes beyond even a modicum of human morality. The one creator that barely talks (and was busy playing games on his laptop last week) just pisses me off. I want someone to just slug him a good one. I think the blonde star of Room & Bored actually does care about Valerie, although she did leave her after setting up plans for dinner. Is it sad that the funniest part of last night's show were the fictional TV shows that were shown at the "up front"? The one with the couples hitting each other with shovels and 2x4s was hilarious. "100,000 points for the body; 200,000 for the head" and then the wife saying "Go for the head" and the guy chickening out and her saying, "You were always such a pussy" and the guy then smacking her in the head. That is funny...the rest of the show, not so much.

I still have Family Guy, American Dad and Entourage to watch and Six Feet Under tonight. Hope to have impressions up tomorrow.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Battlefield 2 Thoughts

Well, I could sum this all up in one word and say "wow", but that would be a pretty boring blog entry, wouldn't it? Even though there is only 1 map available via the 560 MB download(!) it is more than enough to satisfy me for a little over a week before my DVD version of Battlefield 2 arrives (I'm beginning to think the DVD pickup was a good idea given the size of the demo).

First off the graphics are fantastic. I upgraded my card a bit ago to an ATI X800 XL 256MB graphics card and this demo didn't blink an eye at 1600x1200 with everything but lighting at a high level in singleplayer or stable multiplayer gameplay. Yes, this is another nVidia backed package, but the 6800 was a bit more expensive than I got the X800 for, so I'm not too worried.

Although there is not any animation that I saw in the grass or trees that I walked through in the demo, they still looked top notch. The water looked beautiful as my plane took a nosedive into it. The vehicles (both land and air) looked fantastic. It is obvious that DICE spent a lot of time upgrading the graphics from Battlefield 1942; there is basically a night and day difference. One of the bigger changes is the flag overturn. When you come up to an enemy flag, the flag now descends from the pole to the bottom. It is then exchanged with your own flag and it goes up the pole until it hits the top and you control that area. No longer do you wait looking at the white flag to see if it changes to your flag or not.

Sound so far is phenomenal. Tanks firing sounds a lot different inside of the tank than outside of the tank. The planes and helicopters sound different as well. You also have the option of listening to chatter via the native language of the troops (American and Middle East Coalition in the demo, China is added in the full product) or chaging it to English voiceover only. It's cool to hear the other language, but you honestly have no idea what they're saying unless you look at the text in the upper left.

Gameplay is excellent as always and I enjoy the little tweaks they've given that I've seen. You can now double hit the W button to sprint ahead (or hold down the Shift button) and the different troop types have different levels of sprinting stamina. Once the stamina is gone you're back to slow walking again until the sprint level keeps filling. You can't jump as high, which isn't really bad thing because the jump in BF1942 seemed a little much honestly.

You can choose weapons via the mouse wheel and a click of the left mouse button or the traditional number button hit. You can also change the rate of fire by hitting the number button again to change from automatic to single shot. New in this game are the Commander and Squad leader. I have not had the chance to be either, but supposedly the Commander can see a lot of things on the map temporarily as long as their communications station is still up. They can also send out a bunch of different things, such as a weapons drop or spy drone. Squad leaders run the various squads that can be set up via the spawn menu. Although I haven't noticed that VoIP (Voice over IP) is working yet there is a chain of command that allows only the Squad Leaders to talk to the Commander and the Squad mates talk to the Squad leader. This should all be very cool once people understand the line of command and don't go lone wolf. The only minus is that the different Squad Leaders can't talk to each other. Another cool thing is that you can now spawn nearby the Squad Leader as long as he is alive. This allows you to spawn even if there is not a spawn point available.

This game is going to eat away at the time of everyone that buys it. With expandable maps (same map, smaller to larger areas), 12 maps (with new ones probably coming quickly) and all the neat gameplay tweaks I think it is easy to say this is going to be one of the top games so far this year. Battlefield 2 is scheduled to ship on June 21st, I would expect a lot of EBs and Gamestops to have it available that day.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Enjoying Battlefield 2 Demo?

Well, I sure hope you are because I'm certainly not. I'm not at the homebase currently, but I was smart enough to get myself the dialup info (yeah, I'm in 56k land right now) so I could get on the internet.

Tomorrow (well, today actually) I should be getting back to the homebase and can finally download the demo and play it. I can't wait. I hear the minimum specs are pretty high, but I shouldn't have too much problem with my machine.

We evidently already have a Console Gold game server going via Ron. You can check out the info on this page in a thread at CG or here is the info:

Gamespy name: "Console Gold's Server"

I have no way of checking to see if the Gamespy name is working, but it sounds like it is from the forum. Expect a longer blog tomorrow from me, probably talking about Battlefield 2 after playing it for a bit. Hope to see you guys on tomorrow.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Battlefield 2 Demo Tomorrow

It was rumored earlier this week, but Gamespot will have exclusivity to the Battlefield 2 demo download for who knows how long. Although they don't give a date in the article, the demo supposedly drops tomorrow. Here's the info:
The demo will feature three variations of the Gulf of Oman map from Battlefield 2, which is set in a near-future conflict between three clashing powers: The United States, China, and the fictional Middle Eastern Coalition (MEC). The single-player, 16-player, and 32-player versions of the map included in the demo will pit the US against the MEC in time-limit-based combat. (China is not playable in the demo.)

However, the demo will not include any additional maps or other features found in the retail version of Battlefield 2. Besides the Chinese forces, the full BF2 will feature 30 vehicles and 20 soldier kits from all three sides. It will also sport a total of 12 maps, each available for 16, 32, and 64 players. Online play will be enhanced with voice-over IP and persistent character scoring, while the new battlefield commander mode will give players a tactical edge on the, er, battlefield.

I can't wait, although I have to wait until Saturday probably to play with any of you guys. The game is only a little over a week away...I'm a bit excited!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005're out of a job!

Big news today is that DICE has decided to eliminate their New York office of 12 people. This team was basically the Trauma team that created the widely used Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942. It was understood (at least by me) that DICE bought them so they could utilize their talents with the upcoming Battlefield 2, a game in modern times...much like the Desert Combat mod.

I'm not sure what happened, but in many ways I see this as a "use you, abuse you and throw you away" type of deal. Not only does Trauma only get $300,000 out of the $500,000 they were promised (it was a 12-month collaboration deal), but they get the small token of being offered jobs in Sweden. Why didn't DICE offer them jobs at the Canadian headquarters, one they plan on keeping open?

Maybe Trauma's work didn't turn out exactly like DICE had planned or maybe it is a situation like I explained above. It is sad that on the cusp of the release of Battlefield 2 that the people that created the mod this game is conceptually based upon get canned. Could EA have been behind it too now that they own a majority of DICE stock? Who knows, it will be interesting to watch though (and remember, I'm not a big anti-EA person). I hope that if they don't take the jobs in Sweden that they find some other place they can utilize their talents.

Six Feet Under

Well, I watched the show last night and I have to say I liked it more than many of the reviews I was reading about it. I'm not hot on Nate and Brenda getting married, especially with Brenda having lost the baby before, but I can get used to it. I'm still in the camp that thinks they need to get rid of George ASAP. Ruth doesn't need such trouble on her hands and James Cromwell has brought this show to its knees. I like him overall, but he's just wrong for this series.

I'm one of those that thought Six Feet Under peaked after the second season finale where you see Nate and a bus comes along...basically him deciding whether to leave the world or stay in it while being operated on for his tumor. Third season started and everything was fine from a health standpoint in Nate-land...I along with many others felt cheated by the whole thing. The series started to spin its wheels in the third season and much of last season, but I really liked the ending even though I figured out that Lisa had an affair with her brother-in-law.

We start this season without any real jump-off from that season ender. It is many months later (who knows how long) and Brenda is now pregnant and watching Nate/Lisa's wedding video to understand what not to do for their wedding the next day. Some fill in would have been nice outside of Nate having the flashback of Lisa's brother-in-law shooting himself.

Overall though I liked the episode and now Brenda is seeing dead people. I think it is sad that the father isn't around much anymore and the corpses for the most part do not talk to the workers at Fischer and Diaz. Out of HBO's lineup at this time of year I'd have to say Entourage is the best, followed by Six Feet Under and way down on the list, The Comeback.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Games, DVDs, TV and Movies This Week

I'm going to try to make this a weekly thing with Virtual Viewpoints where I talk about the major games, DVDs, TV shows and movies coming this week. Before I was writing for Console Gold I did writing for DVD Talk reviewing DVDs and theatrical movies. I also wrote movie reviews when I was back in college and I still wish I had them around, I wrote some pretty good ones. Anyway, onto this week's releases.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Xbox/PC): yep, the game finally comes out tomorrow for systems outside of the PS2. Supposedly the graphics are improved much like they were for the Xbox double-pack (GTA III and Vice City). I never picked this game up for PS2, but I may do so for the Xbox or PC...we shall see.

Medal of Honor: European Assault (Xbox/PS2/Cube): the next game in the series. From early reviews it sounds like Electronic Arts Los Angeles has righted the ship somewhat after it took a sharp left turn with Rising Sun on the consoles and Pacific Assault on PC. There is no multiplayer though on any version, which kind of makes me disappointed. Medal of Honor used to be the top WWII game out there.


Sopranos Season 5: We're still almost a year from new Sopranos episodes and the recent rumors are that there will be an abbreviated 7th season of Sopranos since David Chase has supposedly come up with more scripts than would fill the final 6th season. Season 5 brought the series back up to top form in my opinion, although I've heard many people saying it didn't. I personally think this is one of the best shows on television and it's worth it to pick up the DVD.

Be Cool: The sequel to Get Shorty starring John Travolta and Uma Thurman (trying to re-create the old Pulp Fiction magic I guess). Why did it take so long to make this movie? I reviewed the original when I was in college, it's been 10 years. I never saw the movie in the theaters, I'm not sure I'll rent it either given the bad reviews.

The Machinist: Christian Bale lost a lot of weight to be in this movie. He then bulked up to play Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, one of the bigger summer movies I am looking forward to. Never saw this movie and it is probably geared more toward the art flick crowd than the mainstream. It is just cool to see Christian Bale as almost a skeleton on this DVD and then see him 2 weeks later as the buff Bruce Wayne.

The X-Files: Abducted: 16 episodes from the first 3 seasons of X-Files. It all centers around the mythology of the X-Files and the episodes are shown in order. This is probably a pretty cool set if you don't already own all the season sets and want to understand the whole mythology behind the show.

TV Shows (all times in Central)

Six Feet Under (Mondays, 8pm - HBO): The final season begins tonight. I wasn't too enthralled by last season, although it ended both surprisingly and disturbingly. I'm not sure I want to see Nate and Brenda together at the end of this, but I know one thing for sure: Ruth better get rid of George in the first few episodes! James Cromwell is bringing this show down IMO

Entourage (Sundays, 8pm - HBO): I note this only because the season opener was last night. I liked this show last year and I liked the first episode last night. I was sad to see that Samaire Armstrong is no longer Ari's assistant (she was also on The O.C. for a time) and Piven is still the best actor on this show.

The Comeback (Sundays, 8:30pm - HBO): I say "put it back". The opening episode was crap and I can't believe the guy that made Sex and the City thought up this crap with Lisa Kudrow. I will watch next week just to see if it was a weak opening episode and I'm missing something

The Dead Zone (Sundays, 9pm - USA): Oh yeah! Johnny's back! Season 4 opens this coming Sunday and it will be interesting to see where they go after last year. Technically the producers didn't think USA would want them back for a 4th season, so they had written the series ender, which would have been part 2. Now they've written a new part 2 that is the season opener for this year. I love this show and think Anthony Michael Hall has established himself very well.


Mr. and Mrs. Smith: I will be honest, I am really interested in this movie after the preview I saw before Star Wars Episode III. Even with all the hooplah surrounding the movie (are Brad and Angelina an item?) I think this movie could be good. We'll see what the critics say late Thursday.

This was quite a long post, I think I will stop now.

Football Games

I talked about Madden 06 and NCAA Football 06 at the tail of my last update. As I sit here I realize it is kind of sad that I will end up double dipping on Madden (Xbox and Xbox 360 version), but that's what happens when a new system shows up. I've been hearing rumors that stuff will be cut out of the EA Sports Xbox 360 releases in order to get them available at launch...that may keep me away for this year on the 360 side. Things don't look so good if you have to drop features in order to get a product ready for release.

Unlike my friend Bill Hunt (Dubious Quality) I'm not as into the EA bashing. I've been playing EA Sports games since they started coming out on the Genesis and haven't really had a problem with them over the years. Yes, EA is a massive company, but I think they bring out a lot of great products and let developers do what they do (The Battlefield series (minus Vietnam), The Sims series, Criterion Games (Burnout), some of the Bond games, etc.), but also realize they bring out crap or put developers into the grave (Bond: Rogue Agent, Catwoman, Westwood (Command and Conquer, etc.).

I'm even one of those people that think Madden NFL 2005 (my review) was better than ESPN NFL 2K5 (CG writer Keith's review) last year. Yes, the graphics were better on ESPN NFL 2K5, but I've never been one for the playbook style of the 2K games (I've played them all since it released on the Dreamcast, so I'm not a "Johnny come lately" on this) and the overall gameplay mechanics were just not as smooth as Madden in my opinion. Other people have other opinions and I respect that. Both games were strong in different areas and many people feel ESPN NFL 2K5 was the better overall game; I just disagree.

Of course, this year we don't really have anything to argue about since EA now owns the NFL rights. Many love to point their barbs at EA in this case, but to be honest it was the NFL that was looking for someone to get exclusive rights to the NFL license; EA just happened to be the highest bidder. This is no surprise of course given that Madden is a multi-million unit seller for EA, but last year EA had a weak year for Madden thanks to NFL 2K5 going for $20. It really ate into the units sold and it will be interesting to see if people come back to the EA fold or not now that they are the only game in town. I'm thinking they will, but I have been known to be wrong before.

NCAA Football 2005 was a bit weak last year, the game didn't run nearly as smoothly as it did the year before on the Xbox. I also certainly hope EA has plans to broaden the Xbox Live game options, such as setting up seasons in both this game and Madden. I hope they make NCAA 06 as good as it was in years past because it is a great compliment to Madden and it sounds like this year you can hone in more on the players and groom them for drafting into Madden...that sounds pretty cool.

I can't wait to see the sales numbers to see if EA will be hurt in any way by being the exclusive holders of the NFL/NFLPA license. The same holds true for 2K Sports when they release the only 3rd party baseball game next year.

Twins and the Backlog

Well, it looks like the Twins got 2 out of 3 from the Yankees...way to go team! Didn't do much this weekend, although I did finally beat Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne and Far Cry. They had been sitting in the backlog pile for quite a while and I didn't feel like undertaking the rest of Half-Life 2 this weekend (another backlog holdout).

Being a game reviewer I end up having quite a big backlog simply because when a new game to review comes my way that takes top priority even if there is another awesome game I just bought. That's just how I go about reviewing, I put the stuff provided before the stuff purchased. As I continue to build up purchased items while getting reviews done for provided titles I increase my backlog. RPGs are the games that get hit the worst simply because they take longer to beat than your average action game like God of War (my review). So, I have a good backlog of RPG games along with a backlog of other games. It would be nice to ram through the backlog, but if Max Payne 2 and Far Cry taught me anything this weekend, it is that there are some awfully long games in my backlog.

I had not played a game in basically a month before I sat down to beat those two games this weekend. It's been a pretty busy month with work, E3 (and other CG stuff) and life things going on so I haven't really felt the need to sit down and play games. Luckily it is a pretty quiet time in the gaming year, although things will heat up soon with the release of Battlefield 2 on the PC and Conker: Live and Reloaded on the Xbox June 21st. Then things get pretty quiet again until the major sports games start showing up (NCAA Football 06 and Madden NFL 06). I'll talk about those games more in my next update.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Hobbled Twins Beat Yankees!

Some of you may or may not know that I hail from the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. I'm a pretty big Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Wild and Gophers fan; have been all my life.

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to watch the game against the Yankees tonight, but it looks like we did pretty good. The fact that 3 big Twins players are out (Nick Punto hurt his hamstring yesterday which put him on the DL, Justin Morneau is day-to-day with a strained left elbow and Joe Mauer is supposedly day-to-day now with a groin injury) makes this victory against the high-priced Yankees all the more sweet.

We're still 3.5 games back from the White Sox, but what is really surprising is that so far the Central Division in the AL has not been the weakest division as it has been the last few years when the Twins won the division. The White Sox and Twins are #1 and 2 in the AL for record and #1 and 4 in the overall league...pretty good.

Friday, June 03, 2005

ATI vs. nVidia - Round 2096

So, this past week ATI comes out with its Crossfire solution (HardOCP Preview) to go up against nVidia's current SLI (Scalable Link Interface) configuration. The big draw here is that unlike nVidia's SLI setup, the ATI Crossfire will be able to be used on more games than the SLI because ATI has given 3 processes to go through whereas nVidia has to write the profile into the driver.

Then nVidia announces that they will be showing off their next generation GPU (the G70, supposedly what the PS3 graphics card will be based on) on June 21st (same day Battlefield 2 comes out. According to Gamespot there will be Battlefield 2 LAN play with the cards).

Early indicators for specs are:
0.11 micron process TSMC
430Mhz core / 1.2GHz 256MB GDDR3 memory
256-bit memory interface
38.4GB/s memory bandwidth
24 pixels per clock
10.32Bps Fill Rate
8 Vertex Pipes
860M vertices/second
NVIDIA CineFX 4.0 engine
Intellisample 4.0 technology
64-bit FP texture filtering & blending
NVIDIA SLI Ready (7800 GTX only)
DX 9.0 / SM 3.0 & OpenGL 2.0 supported
G70 comes with 3 models; GTX, GT and Standard
Single Slot solution
Single card requires min. 400W PSU with 12V rating of 26A
SLI configuration requires min. 500W PSU with 12V rating of 34A

Pretty impressive (and thanks to VR-Zone for the info). Now we shall wait for ATI's unveiling of the R520, the graphics chip that will be powering the Xbox 360. PC and console game graphics cards are starting to meld together.

ATI vs. nVidia is always a fun and expensive hobby. nVidia will be first out of the gate, but can ATI match them?

Welcome to the New Virtual Viewpoints

Welcome to my new version of Virtual Viewpoints, a short-lived roundtable discussion column I started at Console Gold, a video and computer game website I've been a part of for over 3 years. For those that read Console Gold, I'd be the real person behind the forum nickname AgtFox. With that out of the way, we'll start things off...

Ron and I are working on our first "Versus" column that was first suggested in this thread at the CG forums. We hope to do this regularily and hopefully enough people will read it so we can keep it going and it doesn't feel like a chore. Ron and I have different tastes in games (Non-arcade racing games...I love them, he doesn't; Sports games...I love them , he doesn't; RPGs like Morrowind...he loves them, I don't), but some of our columns may have nothing to do with games...we'll just have to see.

The first "versus" subject will be E3. Ah, E3, you and I have had a long past together relating to the CG site. Up until around the early part of last year (2004) we did most of the CG pages (reviews, previews, etc.) by hand. Yep, I did a lot of pages with HTML with all the reviews I did. I still put in HTML tags into our nice automatic system (I like to italicize titles of games for instance), but not nearly the amount I used to. And I'll never forget E3 2003 when I had to re-size all the pictures and put the CG watermark on them by hand via Photoshop...hundreds of pictures and I was the only one left that had FTP access to the server, the others that had that access were on the floor covering the event.

The next game I see myself buying is Battlefield 2 on June 21st. I have two co-workers that I play Battlefield 1942 with, but only one of them will be buying Battlefield 2 as it stands now. We are certainly trying to push him into buying it though, but he has a moral problem with killing characters from the modern era. Hopefully he will check out the upcoming demo and see if he likes it or not.