Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Next-Generation Stuff

The Xbox 360 is really starting to look like a good machine. They've unveiled movies of Frame City Killer and Project Gotham Racing 3 and I have to say it looks hot (links courtesy of Gamespot because they have the movies).

Frame City Killer is a Japanese produced cyberpunk hitman game (or at least that is what it seems) based on the Unreal 3 Engine that everyone and their brother is licensing from Epic. It looks pretty cool, although I am interested in what type of a game it is (FPS, 3rd person, etc.). It could be a Shadowrun like game, but of course that game has been rumored to be in the works at FASA (i.e. Microsoft).

The Project Gotham Racing games hold a special place in my heart. Before Forza Motorsports came around, PGR was the best racing games around. I am really excited about PGR3 even with the possibility that it may have to be locked down to 30fps again like PGR2 did. If they can do all the things they've talked about at E3 and beyond (like having hundreds of people watching races in spectator mode on Live) I won't be bothered by the 30fps. The video they unleashed looks awesome and they say it is in-game. If it is I am floored by the city graphics and the car graphics. There are also inside the car views, although that may just be a camera in the passenger side much like NASCAR races have. It would truly be monumental if they allowed a dashboard view with the same smooth fps as a non-dashboard one. It has been a long time since a game had that in it. This is a day one purchase for me when I get my Xbox 360 on release doubt!

Bill over at Dubious Quality has been talking about this a bit, but I agree with him on Ken Kutaragi's craziness. I also agree with him that we probably won't see the PS3 until late next year here in the United States. I just don't see Sony doing a worldwide release of the PS3. They'll release it early to mid 2006 in Japan and mid to late 2006 here.

I know people have been going off on the "it will be expensive" thing that Ken said. I think it will be expensive and I think Sony is betting on people picking it up. Think of it much like buying a Sony TV versus other models. You pay an extra amount for that Sony name even though it might not be the better TV. Sony is betting on people paying extra to keep the Playstation line alive and well. Sony knows it has the Japanese gamers in its back pocket until Microsoft can show something that Japanese gamers will pick up in mass quantities, so why not push the price higher? Sony knows it will have a tough fight in the U.S. and Europe where the Xbox is quite a bit stronger than at home base in Japan.

I think they are going to sell it at $399 or $499 here in the U.S. I think the price depends a lot on how expensive Blu-Ray is to produce at the time the console comes out. It is Sony proprietary hardware, but Blu-Ray may still be in the "hardcore only" category by the time the PS3 comes out over here, which means it will be expensive. Betting on the future is not always the smartest thing to do when you're Sony...remember BetaMAX and MiniDisc. It is unknown at this time how long it will take Blu-Ray players to integrate into the mainstream outside of the PS3 (if people buy it). Microsoft is smart with putting a DVD drive in the 360 with the possibility of a future add-on in the air. For the record I think Micorosft will sell the 360 at either $249 or $299 simply to get market share.

Ken Kutaragi has always had some crazy things to say, but I think ever since he got demoted and a non-Japanese person stepped in as CEO of Sony that he's really flown off the handle. At one time Ken was considered to be a front runner for the CEO position, then the shakeup happened and he ended up being demoted. I am a bit surprised Sony hasn't put a piece of duct tape on his mouth. Maybe the Japanese press and population like hearing about all the cool gadgets and how expensive it is going to be, I really don't know.

It is also weird to think that whichever side controls Square-Enix may once again win the war. Square-Enix is a big company in Japan whose games have a legion of followers both there and here in the U.S. If Microsoft can coax Square-Enix into developing more games for them outside of Final Fantasy XI and make them exclusive to the 360 you will see Microsoft's share of the cake in Japan go way up. Nothing has been announced from Square-Enix beyond Final Fantasy XII and it will be interesting to see where they go with next-generation systems.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Burnout Revenge - September 20th

I was reading through my GamePro that came today (for some reason they keep sending me issues even though I've never paid them a cent) and came upon a 2-page ad for the upcoming Burnout Revenge on the Xbox and PS2 (and Xbox 360 in the future, even though the ad talks nothing about it). In large type it says "Coming September 20th" and that there will be a demo of the game in the Xbox and PS2 versions of Madden 06.

I am pretty excited about this game even though it will be about a year since the fantastic Burnout 3: Takedown came out (check out my review to see how much I liked it). Hey, if Insomniac Games can put out a new Ratchet and Clank title every year, why can't a team like Criterion bring out a Burnout game every year as well?

Even better news is that the game is currently pre-selling for $39.99 at EBGames and Gamestop. If this game is as long or longer than the previous one that's a savings of $10 on an unmatched level of enjoyment.

Everyone likes to spit in EA's face (except me), but picking up Criterion was one of the best moves they've long as they don't move them to EA headquarters or swallow them whole. I think EA is going to have a big year even with Godfather being pushed back. If they can release the expansion pack for Battlefield 2 by Christmas this year could be very good for them.

Burnout Revenge is less than 2 months away...are you ready?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

30 Days - Season Ender

Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days ended its first season last night with a mom binge drinking for 30 days to show her college-aged daughter the problems with binge drinking. Let's just say the daughter didn't heed anything her mother was going through or decide to change at all. So this was basically another episode where the intended target doesn't see the light of day.

The best parts of the episode were Spurlock talking to the mother of a girl that died with a .437 (I think that is what was said) blood alcohol level and Spurlock doing the driving test after having 5 shots. Had the people at the party taken her to the hospital instead of putting her in a room in the house she probably would be alive today.

Looking over the episodes of this series I have to say the standouts were Spurlock and his fiance doing the minimum wage deal and the guy who lives in San Francisco's Castro district for 30 days. Outside of that the episodes were pretty weak, including the Christian living the Muslim life for 30 days. I hope this series comes back, but I also hope that Spurlock does more than one episode next time around.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

GTA: SA Goes Bye-Bye

I'm sure most of you have heard the news by now that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been re-rated as an AO (Adults Only) game thanks to the "hot coffee" debacle. There's a further story about two major local companies (Best Buy and Target) and that they immediately took the game off the shelves (story via Minneapolis Star Tribune). As much as we may have blown off the attack by groups aghast by the inclusion of a sexual minigame, the fact is this is a pretty major step.

Rockstar and Take Two could be irreversibly hurt by the former's stupidity. Take Two trading is already down 7% and chances are tomorrow it will drop even more. Take Two was on top of the publishing world with a lot of big deals ahead (they're publishing Sid Meier's Civilization IV and Microsoft's old sports games Top Spin 2 and Amped 3 on the Xbox 360 for instance). Now they could be seriously hurt by this whole thing.

In my opinion, all the blame rests with Rockstar. They've always liked to push the edge of things and their stupidity may have finally caught up to them. Their little "plausible deniability" that it was all the modder's fault went by the wayside when it was found you can unlock the sex minigame in the PS2 version (the one that was out over 6 months ago) and I can only guess you can also do it in the Xbox version.

The ESRB is likely to change their overall ratings as well because the explainations of M and AO ratings are pretty close to each other, nevermind the ratings are just one year off from each other (M is for 17 and higher, AO is for 18 and higher). This is also likely to spark legislation on the state level to hold retailers at fault for selling to people under the ages specified. I like this idea, although I know the retail industry will be against it because they will be the ones to get hit by fines.

Some of you may still blow this off, but this is not another situation where someone is blaming a shooting or child neglect on video games. Instead the developer left in gameplay that could be unlocked that goes beyond the realm of an M rated game. When you use buttons and motions to physically thrust into the woman, making it fully interactive, that goes beyond the M rating in my opinion. I have not seen the "hot coffee" mod at work, but should I get my hands on the PC version I'll be sure to check it out.

I just hope Rockstar and Take Two are ready because their glass tower is shattering apart. Take Two did announce they would have the game available in the fourth quarter with the offending section deleted; we shall see though.

Beam Me Up, Scotty (RIP - James Doohan)

Sad news to report this morning. James Doohan, who played Scotty in the original Star Trek TV series has died. You can read it on CNN if you like. He died from pneumonia and complications from his long bout with Alzheimer's disease. He will be greatly missed by the legion of Star Trek fans out there.

Rescue Me - 7/19

Another good episode, although not as strong as some of them this year. Next week looks a bit more exciting than this week was. I'm still not sure why Jesus and Mary Magdeline are appearing for Tommy. It was quite weird to see Tommy having sex with Mary, who you wouldn't have known was her until Jesus comes in with a gun ready to take names.

Tommy has a step-brother and at least one step-sister. I think Tommy should go after the kids even though his brother seems against it. He thinks the family is already too screwed up for Tommy to bring the kids back into the equation.

Franco is treading a dangerous line. I don't think he should continue a relationship with Laura simply because I think Laura can turn into an insane woman if she gets the chance. Expand relations with the pharmacy girl even though he only uses her for the drugs basically.

The sensitivity training section showed why a show like this could never be shown on broadcast TV. I wonder how much better shows like this and Nip/Tuck would be if HBO had them. They're already gritty enough, but I wonder how much more gritty they could be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Weep for Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

I'm sure most of you heard last week that John Romero got booted out of Midway San Diego and off the Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows team. Many people thought he was booted over a power struggle with J.E. Sawyer (of Black Isle fame) on the game. Well, today comes news that J.E. Sawyer has also left Midway San Diego and the game, so the theories were unfounded.

Unlike Romero (who supposedly won't announce where he is going or went for months), J.E. Sawyer is moving directly to Obsidian to work on Neverwinter Nights 2 and join up with a lot of the old crew from Black Isle. Of course these two departures can only mean bad news for Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, a game I was actually excited about for a while there. I have a feeling, even though Midway is saying neither loss will affect the game, that this game will come out at a NARC-like price point of $19.99. Even though Romero lost a lot of luster over Daikatana, J.E. Sawyer at least brought a "name" to the game. Now the game is nameless unless Tom Hall is still working on it and chances are he would go wherever Romero would.

Weep for Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, but be happy that Sawyer has joined Obsidian for Neverwinter Nights 2 and future projects.

NCAA Football 06

I also have not had a chance to sit down with NCAA Football 06 yet, but I notice Bill Harris has voiced his displeasure on Dubious Quality about the game. I won't let that get me down though. He is somewhat right about the reviews and reviewers, but he also has to understand that reviewers of sports games have to look at the whole picture and not look into the hardcore side of sports games (where places like Bill's blog and Operation Sports goes more deeply into).

You see, the majority of people who buy games like Madden or NCAA Football are not your hardcore sports gamers. They're Joe Gamer (my term, but I'm sure many have used it) who just enjoys playing football on a television screen and isn't so worried about the nuances of the game. Yes, they'd like to see a competent defense for example, but I don't think they are worrying about what is or isn't happening. Joe Gamer is the reason games like Madden and NFL 2K5 from last year sell so well and the reason Madden is usually the #1 selling game when a Grand Theft Auto game doesn't come out. That's as much as I'll speak about it for now, time to go to bed.

Catch Up

I had a pretty busy week with a lot of stuff going on in my life, but I'm here to talk about things in television, books and movies from the weekend.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: When I saw the preview before Batman Begins I was not too enthused to go see this movie. Then I started hearing the early word about it and I got stoked again. After watching it I have to say this version by Tim Burton was better than the previous movie. Most of the enjoyment comes from the fact the movie could be made using today's technology versus the technology available for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This movie should solidify the idea that Johnny Depp is one of the best actors alive today. I wouldn't say this movie was better than Batman Begins, but it is right up there and gives Warner Bros. a second fantastic movie this summer.
Score: *** 1/2 out of ****

Monk: Monk was another really good episode. It's always nice to see Ambrose in an episode and this time he even made it out of the house. I wonder how sincere Natalie was with going out with Ambrose and I hope we see John Turturro again this year.

Family Guy: I think since the episode last week that the series is starting to hit its groove again. Peter was not in this episode as much as he usually is, I'd even say it was a Lois and Brian one. The beginning with Chris going into A-Ha's "Take on Me" video was hilarious.

The 4400: An excellent episode, although I am quite interested in whether Tom and Alana will continue to be an item or not given they just spent 8 years together in her mind and got married. I'm also glad to see that Tom is hopefully getting a love interest, now Diana needs to follow suit. I was going through the episode figuring it was Collier under the sheet since he seemed to like Tom and would show that powers can live beyond the grave, but no dice. Collier's body is still missing.

The Dead Zone: Another terrific episode. I find it very rare where USA has a perfect weekend, and this one pretty much wrapped it up. Had nothing to do with Stinson (actually, are they going to touch that story again this year?) and was a stand-alone episode. The autistic child was spot on and although I knew it was the partner all along, I still enjoyed the episode quite a bit.

Entourage: Can't say enough about this show and I hope people are watching it. Every episode seems to get better and better. James Cameron makes an appearance at Sundance, but only sees 10 minutes of the 4 hour (?!?!) Queens Boulevard. At the end he offers Aquaman to Vince and everything is right with the world of the gang again...well, until Mandy Moore shows up next week.

And of course there is that little book that came out...

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: I have no clue who dies or what happens. I picked up the book on Saturday, but probably won't read it for a while and I'm going to be very careful this time around to not know what goes on. I knew about Sirius' death before I read the last book, so it was a bit of a downer. This time I hope to not be spoiled. My money is still on Dumbledore though.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Best Laid Plans...

That is one of my favorite phrases from a book: "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Anyway, I'm stuck at work again tonight, so I doubt I'll get any NCAA Football 06 play in, so you'll have to wait for my thoughts for another day unfortunately.

I'm interested in 30 Days from tonight (it has already been shown) with the two people who go "off the grid" (i.e. use nature as a power and liveable force). I wonder how it was, I missed it since I was busy at work. Hope you guys liked it.

Rescue Me and Other Stuff

Had a rather busy weekend including working long hours on Friday, hence you haven't seen any posts from me unfortunately. Now I'm back though and ready to talk about Rescue Me and some other stuff.

Rescue Me: Another fantastic episode. Not sure why Tommy is seeing Jesus, but his dead cousin finally made an appearance for the first time this year. It's also nice to see that Uncle Teddy is still alive, although now dad wants in on Teddy's big break becoming a coverboy for a sports fan magazine. Laura's problem with Lou's derogatory word has gone straight to the top, although the rest of the gang is seen telling her that it isn't the worst thing to be called and that they call each other things all the time. It looks like next week Lou goes to sensitivity training and I'm guessing in a sign of a team effort everyone joins him. Sheila is extremely screwed up and seems to be living her life like she is still pregnant even though she took two shots of mini-glass booze. Tommy still doesn't know the baby is no longer coming, so he's in for a world of hurt soon enough. I'm also glad to see Tommy stick to his guns on the alcohol, although that little segway towards the end made me hope it was all a daydream...and it was. Next week looks great as Tommy's oldest daughter showed up at the end of this episode and it looks like the two of them will be paying back mom come next week. Good stuff!

My reviews of Psychonauts and Arc the Lad: End of Darkness (both for the PS2) are now up and ready to be read. My preview of Codename: Panzers, Phase Two should be up soon. I ask everyone to go out and get Psychonauts especially after the news of a stock drop and CEO resignation yesterday for Majesco (via Gamespot). Majesco is the company that took up Psychonauts publishing after Microsoft dropped it.

In other news I picked up my copy of NCAA Football 06, but have not gotten a chance to play it yet. If work doesn't go late tonight I hope to at least play a little tonight, but we shall see.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Not Sure What's Happened...

I'm not sure what's happened to Console Gold. I'm not able to get to it and I don't know if any of you are able to get to it. I'm still stuck at work (I'm in hour 17 right now) and honestly haven't checked the site since around 4pm my time I think.

UPDATE: Nevermind, it's back. See, I write something and it magically comes back. Amazing!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

T-minus 8 days until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince arrives on store shelves. I am a 29 year old man with no children who absolutely loves the Harry Potter books and movies. I probably won't be able to get through the book quickly, so many people will already know the secrets of the book before I will.

I started up a CG Forum discussion on it, but haven't seen much action as of yet. I still stand by my thoughts that it will be Dumbledore that bitess the dust in this one simply because the final battle in the next book must be Harry vs. Voldemort without the help of Dumbledore. I can't believe they'd kill off Ron or Hermoine, but who knows. I think most people were caught by surprise about who "died" in Order of the Phoenix, although it is still up in the air whether the person is totally dead or not.

As for the Half-Blood Prince, the guessing is still going on. Hagrid seems to be the most likely, although I'm thinking it is a student at Hogwarts. It is either someone who has been in the story all along or someone that will be introduced in this book. The question is whether the prince is a friend or foe of Harry. We'll find out in just a little under 8 days.

Fantastic Four (not 4)

I've been a bit lax on my upcoming stuff on Mondays simply because I've been pretty busy, but I thought I would take some time out to talk about the Fantastic Four movie coming out today. Ron saw a press screening and thought it was a good film, but the critics joined together at Rotten Tomatoes think differently. The movie currently scores a 24% on the Tomatometer (11 Fresh, 46 Rotten reviews via critics) and that doesn't bode too well in my mind. Makes me think about possibly not seeing it in fact.

I'm not as big on the Fantastic Four (I refuse to change the latter into a 4) as I am other superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men or even Superman. They are the original super team, but the comic has had its bad runs in the recent past and before Mark Waid took over about 2 years ago the comic was headed toward disaster. I think Waid's "Unthinkable" story re-introducing Dr. Doom with a new set of armor and a more interesting way of attacking the family was fantastic and now Doom is supposedly stuck in Hell, but I'm sure he will be back. The followup story, "Authoritative Action", is also a great one as the Fantastic Four take over Latveria in Doom's absense and find themselves on the bad end of the public relations spectrum both in the United States and around the world.

Now Waid is gone (after getting a reprieve earlier from Marvel when the backlash came over him being taken off the book) and J. Michael Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame) has taken over the comic. Anyway, getting back on topic (I can go off on comic tangents easily) all signs for this movie pointed toward it being bad. It took a long time to make, there were reshoots late in the game (like 2 months ago late) and the early previews made it look like crap.

I think the guy who plays Johnny Storm is probably going to come out of the movie looking the best simply because the role is a hothead one and he makes jokes just like Storm does in the comics. I think he alone will probably rise above the ashes of this movie as its brightest spot, but I think Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis may not be helping their careers with this movie. Alba is there for the "hot woman" factor, but I wonder how well she acts in this movie. I may never know until DVD, but I wanted to send out some warning flares to people interested in this movie. Chances are very good it will not be anywhere near as good as Batman Begins.

Sometimes I Just Shake My Head

Maybe some of you have heard about this, maybe some of you haven't. There was a thing going around the net about a woman whose cat was set on fire and her need for donations to pay the $5000 vet bill. Well, I guess she came on later and said it was all an experiment and the cat was never set on fire. I forget where I first heard about this story, but it may have been on 8-bit Theater.

Looking more into the user's livejournal page it looks like she is 22 years old. I was figuring she may be a teenager before I looked at the profile given how absolutely stupid doing this was. I have no clue how much money she received through Paypal (which she is supposedly refunding), but I am guessing she made well over $5000. She says she was going to donate the money, but given that this was a scam that she probably wasn't going to own up to if it wasn't for some investigative digging by one of her friends chances are she was going to keep the money. The best intentions are not always paved with gold. This whole thing got me to thinking about another story like this from my online past.

I was a moderator over on Anime on DVD for quite a while. I don't remember what year it was, maybe 2001 or 2002, but we got word that the woman who had been working on this art print that was going to be sold to users had died in a terrible car accident with her husband. Her sister contacted Chris Beveridge (the owner of AoD) and told him that she was going to get the art prints to everyone and to just give her some time. Months later none of the buyers had heard anything nor had Chris (I was not a buyer of the art piece btw).

One of the users contacted Chris saying they swore they saw the woman in the Seattle area and that she may not be dead. Some users in the forum decided they were going to do some investigation and I also joined in with them. We checked the Seattle papers (this happened around Seattle) during the time the fatal accident happened and never saw any obituary nor any story on a fatal accident. We went so far as to call and try to corroborate the story.

One of the users was just about to hire a Private Investigator when the woman came back onto the forum and said that she faked her death in order to get out of the hole she was in. As the story goes the art print she was making had been a copy of a Japanese artist's print and she had gone through the motions of getting copyright authorization. From what I understand the price was quite large and she couldn't pay it and her personal debt kept growing and growing, so she left the people that had pre-ordered high and dry. She was the one that called Chris pretending to be her sister. She came back saying she would refund everyone their money but as far as I know she has not paid them back to this day. Many people on the forum just kind of brushed it off, but the buyers and myself (remember, I didn't buy, but I did a lot of work looking for her) will probably carry a grudge for a long time. When she came back I really railed against her and could never really believe anything she said. I no longer frequent AoD as much as I used to, so I don't know if she is still around or if the money was ever paid back. If the money was paid back my grudge would probably be gone simply because she swindled a lot of money off of people.

Much like the cat story, there was a far better way to go about it than she took. Things like this make you very apprehensive about believing any sort of tragedy told on the internet. It's the nature of the beast I suppose, but at some point someone won't be crying wolf and people may not be there to pull them out of a rut. That will be a sad day, but because of the actions of a few people the ones that really need help may not get it.

I'm going to guess the cat lady has a few less friends today after this and I certainly hope it was worth it to her in the end because she may never get those friends back and she'll remember this "experiment" for the rest of her life.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Upcoming Reviews/Previews

Just a heads up for those that care. You will be seeing reviews for Arc the Lad: End of Darkness and Psychonauts on the PS2 from me. You will also be seeing a preview of the upcoming Codename: Panzers, Phase Two, an RTS game coming this month to the PC.

From what I've played so far the Arc game is not very good. It's been a while since I played an Arc game, but this game is just not a very good RPG. I never played the previous game, but that one was supposedly turn based whereas this one is straight action for battles. It was probably made that way for the online component. The AI is dumb and the first few hours are agonizing as you go through tons of text in order to even start the meat of the adventure.

Psychonauts on the other hand is a really good game. This isn't much of a surprise given that Tim Schafer of LucasArts adventure game fame is behind it. It is surprising the game is so good though after going through development hell of losing their original publisher (Microsoft) and being picked up by Majesco and a PS2 version being made as well (the version I'm playing). The framerate is jumpy on the PS2 version (I've heard the Xbox one is pretty clean comparatively), but it doesn't get in the way of the gameplay.

Codename: Panzers, Phase Two is also an excellent game for the roughly 80% finished version I got. I never played the first game, but it was well received by critics even though it came out around the time of the RTS glut of late last year (Rome: Total War, Dawn of War, etc.). The tutorial is exceptional and really helped me get into the game. It's quite nice that you don't have to mine resources and build stuff like you do in the Command and Conquer games and its ilk. Instead it is a straight forward strategy game. You can even choose the Allies or Axis at the beginning and if you pass both you can also play as the middle ground. I haven't been able to play online yet because I don't see anyone on, but I hope to catch someone to see how good that is. Expect a preview from this soon and the game will be released later this month.

Battlefield 2 obviously takes a back seat to these games, but I will try to continue to get some time in for it. With NCAA Football 06 coming next week things will get a bit hairy possibly.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Rescue Me

Tuesdays are always nice because it means a new episode of one of the best dramas on television: Rescue Me. Last night's episode was good, but not great. Some major things happened:

- Franco and Laura slept together
- Sully transferred after the boys found him at a fire dressed up like a girl
- Tommy is back at the station
- Mike (Probie) is still caught up on his ex-girlfriend
- Sheila has lost the baby, but did not tell Tommy or her son at dinner
- Tommy's dad has re-married and lives with tons of cats
- Uncle Teddy is most likely dead

Tommy really wasn't the center of attention in this episode, which was a welcome change but the overall episode gets brought down because of it. There are good actors in Rescue Me, but the show has to be steered by Leary and his acting. If left alone the rest of the cast can bring the enjoyment down quite a bit. Granted, I may be a bit overdramatic about that since I think Leary is a great actor, but the sub-sections this week just seemed a bit off. For once Tommy wasn't shown as a total self-centered asshole all the time, but that is because he wasn't chewing up every scene. Rescue Me is good fun, watch it if you haven't already.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Battlefield 2 Keeps Rolling

I've been playing Battlefield 2 whenever I get a spare moment. I've started to play on ranked servers and can see I obviously suck, but I think I play better than I ever did in Battlefield 1942. There is supposedly a patch coming out soon to fix such things as the slow server listings, some coming up as 0 for ping, etc. This weekend I noticed things were a lot faster in the server menu, but the patch is not out yet that I know of (unless it came out today).

I still think this game is the most fun you can have on a PC out there. I picked up Unreal Tournament 2004 when GoGamer had its 48 Hour Madness sale on it. I installed it and played it a while and then decided everyone was probably far better than me in this game and proceeded to uninstall it until my love of Battlefield 2 subsides, a game I know I actually have a chance in.

UPDATE: I go to check out the BF2 main page at EA and it seems the patch client will be available at noon PT tomorrow. Great news!

NCAA Football 2006

It seems Bill Abner has gotten his hands on the final Xbox copy of NCAA Football 06. Some local store was nice enough to give him his copy a week before release. This just goes to show you that stores lie through their teeth when they say they don't have major games in the back a week ahead of time.

Anyway, his early impressions look pretty good. I know Bill can be very meticulous in his sports reviews, so I look forward to more information from him. I also got my EGM on Saturday and NCAA Football 06 shared Game of the Month with GTA: San Andreas on Xbox. The big thing they lauded was that the visuals were far improved (I can only hope the running slowdown is no longer there in the Xbox version as well) and the Heisman feature is pretty cool. One of the minuses they talked about was that there is still not a season mode for online play. I'm not as peeved about this for NCAA considering it is based upon the engine from Madden 2005, but if they don't have online season options on the Xbox when they release Madden 06 next month I may raise holy hell. It was one of the major things missing last year and I could forgo bashing on it since it was the first year EA was on Xbox Live.

Anyway, I'm getting more excited about next week now, although I do have to go and pre-order my copy so I can most likely get it on Monday night instead of Tuesday at some other store.

After the Long Weekend...

I'm back after the long weekend. Got to see a few movies and do some fun things over the birthday weekend. I saw War of the Worlds, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Bewitched over the weekend. I'll start talking about them now along with my view of Sunday's Entourage.

War of the Worlds: After seeing this movie I still have to say that Batman Begins is so far the best movie of the summer season. I liked War of the Worlds, however I did not think it was as good as the other Spielberg/Cruise collaboration, Minority Report. There were a lot of lucky coincidences going on in War of the Worlds (plane crashes into ex-wife's house, but the van is okay; oh, and there is a path going perfectly out of where the plane landed as well as other things), but when you walk into a summer movie you really have to turn your brain off in order to fully enjoy it. This movie was good summer fun with a total thud at the end. The ending could have been done better and more could have been explained. Many people call this type of ending a "Spielberg Ending" simply because it is a happy ending, but I think he could have still made a happy ending AND explained a few things or had more of a reaction once the endpoint was reached.
Score: *** out of ****

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: This was an alright movie, but wasn't great. Pitt was in Ocean's Eleven (forget about Twelve, that movie sucked rocks) mode in this movie. He had some good and funny dialogue and Jolie was there purely for eye candy. This movie had another ending that just kind of landed with a thud. I mean, are they still being sought out for a hit or what?
Score: ** out of ****

Bewitched: I love the television show even though it was on before my time. I liked Nicole Kidman in the movie, but it just seemed to move at a slow pace and I managed to fall asleep when Kidman shows Ferrell that she is a witch. Ferrell was in good form, but watching him here just made me long to watch Old School or Elf over this movie. It was gutsy to go in a different direction with this remake and I think it could have been better had Ferrell not been put into full comedy mode when matched up against as good of a dramatic actress as Nicole Kidman. Ferrell needs something good soon, I didn't like Anchorman either and haven't seen Kicking and Screaming as of yet.
Score: * 1/2 out of ****

Entourage: The lone TV show in my wrapup. Once again this show was excellent. It seems Vince is now running out of cash given that his acceptance into James Cameron's Aquaman as the lead is in limbo. Vince sits down with Eric and Ari and tells them to get something done or he'll find someone who can. They go with different angles. Eric contacts Cameron's office and reaches Emily (Samaire Armstrong), Ari's old assistant. Ari goes after Dana Gordon a little more personally. He and his wife show up to pick up their kid and his wife is all happy he's taking an interest. Then he sees Dana and he drops the kid in his wife's hands and goes after her. He sets up an appointment with Cameron and Vince. Queen's Boulevard, the indie flick Vince is in, needs some loop work done with Vince and Eric sets it up so that Cameron can see the movie and finalize his choice. Ari calls Eric and tells him the ball is in his court. Eric goes to see the director of the indie and he says Cameron can see it at Sundance just like everyone else, which puts Vince and Aquaman more into limbo than before. Should be interesting...

Friday, July 01, 2005

NCAA 06/Madden 06

It was kind of weird when I went into EB to pick up my Battlefield 2 on June 22nd. I realized that NCAA Football 06 was coming just a week after my birthday (so a little over a week away at this point). I've heard barely anything about the game, but I always pick them up nonetheless. I have a bit of a quandry this year though since chances are this game will come out on the Xbox 360 later this year. Do I buy now and then double-dip when it comes out on 360? Early rumors are that features will be taken out of the 360 EA Sports games that will be present in the current generation games and that has me kind of anxious about the whole thing.

Same problem comes up for Madden 06, which comes out in just over a month(!?!). Chances are I will pick both up on Xbox and the question is if I will pick them up on 360 as well. Remember, I'm in the camp that doesn't have a problem with the EA Sports games or the exclusive licenses they've grabbed. I may have a problem with spending $200 to pick up both versions of both games though. A simple graphical upgrade wouldn't be enough for me to bite on the 360 versions, it has to have the same features available in the current generation system releases. If not I may just rent and not buy...we shall see.

Shadow of the Colossus

Thanks goes out to Bill Harris' Dubious Quality for bringing up Sony's upcoming Shadow of the Colossus and the Sony site that just opened with a trailer tied to it.

Back when ICO came out (my review) and I did a review for it we had a big discussion at CG about whether a 4 hour game really deserved to be in the 90 percentile or not. My argument was that the art, gameplay and immersion combined to totally dwarf the length of the game. There has simply not been a game like ICO since it came out. The game itself feels like a successor to the Delphine games of years past (Out of this World, Flashback and Fade to Black) and the immersion is just unparalleled.

When word first started churning a while ago that there was a NICO in development by the same developer I got really excited. When I later found out it wouldn't be a direct sequel to ICO I felt disappointed, but I was still really interested in the game. When the first shots of Wanda and the Colossus (as it was once named) came out I was hooked again. Then at E3 I was watching the Gamespot Live program when they showed off Shadow of the Colossus and I was just floored by how beautiful it was.

This game will be an odd one simply because the only enemies to your character are the Colossus monsters and the whole game is supposedly made up of you finding them, finding the weak spot with your sword (in an LoTR type homage) and getting to that weak spot and defeating the Colossus. If this game plays anything like ICO it is going to be one of the best games of the year. Chances are it won't sell very well, but the legion of ICO fans will probably snap it right up. The game is due in September and I personally can't wait!

Nothing like a Friday...

Sorry for my sparseness of posts this week, work has been very busy with some long nights this week. I still have yet to see Six Feet Under from Monday or 30 Days from Wednesday. I hope to do so this weekend as long as we don't have to work and convey my feelings on them right here on Virtual Viewpoints.

Luckily it has been a relatively quiet week on the game front. My 3 reviews are now up: Enthusia: Professional Racing (73%), Wrestlemania 21 (42%) and Madagascar on GBA (74%). It's obvious I didn't like Wrestlemania 21 very much and I think that might be the lowest score I've ever given a game. I didn't think there could be a worse wrestling game than the RAW series (take note: I've never played Legends of Wrestling), but I was so very, very wrong.

The weekend is upon us. I hope to get some Battlefield 2 gaming in simply because I've had little time to play it. Hopefully I won't have to come into work tomorrow, but who knows with the way things are going around here. Maybe catch a movie like War of the Worlds if I'm lucky (Bewitched and Mr. and Mrs. Smith are also ones we'd like to see).

Monday is my birthday. I'll be one year from 30 and it seems like since I hit 21 the years have been speeding on by. I look back at my school years and think about how long they felt compared with 21 to now. Yes, I'm a bi-centennial baby and yes it sucked growing up because almost no one was around for a birthday party. If I had one they were usually before or after my birthday and rarely right on my birthday. It's the curse of being born on the big summer holiday I guess. I'm still trying to figure out what to ask for on my birthday. You guys have any ideas? Feel free to e-mail me, because the immediate families would probably like to know. I'm finding it hard trying to nail down something I want simply because I'm either unknowing of something I want or I already feel I have everything I need.

Well, this went for too long I think. I could probably wax poetic about my birthday for a long time. I have no idea what plans are for my birthday and I honestly don't remember what I did last year and no one else remembers either. I wish to give a Happy Birthday to CG owner Ron Burke as well. He's exactly one day older (but possibly not wiser) than me.