Thursday, September 22, 2005

Too Much TV and Games This Week

Holy cow this is a busy week. First off I'd like to say I have reviews upcoming for Rainbow Six: Lockdown on Xbox, WWE Day of Reckoning 2 on GameCube and Metal Slug 4/5 on Xbox. I recently finished the reviews, so I would expect them up on the Console Gold Homepage within the next few days.

There are a lot of games this week: Tiger Woods 06 (which sounds like it has a problem on the Xbox version in this forum post), X-Men Legends II: Rise of the Apocalypse, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Ultimate Spider-Man, Batallion Wars, Myst V: End of Ages (*sniff*) and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Winter Assault. I think I caught them all, I may have forgotten one or two though. Welcome to the busy season of gaming!

UPDATE: Thanks to Jeremy for pointing out that Ninja Gaiden Black also came out this week. Forgot about that one. I also forgot Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.

For TV I'd like to touch on two series this week that started their seasons:

Lost: I love this show no matter how little or how many answers they get. I still don't think this show can last beyond a 3rd season at most simply because the fans will revolt if they don't start seeing some answers that they want. I just can't see the story going on for that long, but I hope I am proven wrong.

Nip/Tuck: Rescue Me is off the air and this show takes its time slot. This show is fantastic as long as you can handle a show that has more of an HBO-like slant to it than your standard cable shows. WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD: So, Christian was raped by the Carver...damn, that's tough! I was surprised to see him turn 180 at the end there with the policewoman though...and he got a threeway with her and Kimber. Sheesh, what a lucky guy! Kind of weird that Julia screams "Sean!" even when it isn't him doing the sexual favors on her. This show is still running on all cylinders here in its third season and I can't wait to see more.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Games and DVDs This Week

Well, the big release to me this week is obviously Burnout Revenge on the Xbox and PS2. IGN was a bit hard on the game, but Gamespot really liked it (and I know, .2 points is not much of a difference, but the tones of the two reviews are very different). Well, either way I will pick it up, but I will feel dirty because I know EA has an Xbox 360 version up its sleeve, although I'm not sure how much they can boost the graphics because this new one looks better than the last one.

For you PSP players there is also Burnout Legends coming which Gamespot gave a 9.0 to. I'm surprised IGN doesn't have a review up yet considering they had to be the first one out of the gate with the Revenge review. This game takes parts from the 3 already out Burnout games and fuses them together into a new game. No talk of long load times ala Midnight Club 3 on PSP, so that is probably a good thing. I don't own a PSP yet, but I would pick this up if I had one probably.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sees its Xbox re-release this week with "Hot Coffee" taken out. Sims 2: Nightlife expansion and Tecmo Classic Arcade (Xbox) round out the big titles of the week. I note the last one simply because Tecmo Bowl is in it (minus the player name rights sadly) and so is Rygar.

2 big DVD releases come out this week (well, that depends on your definition of "big" I guess): Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the 4th season of Smallville are coming out tomorrow. Have I mentioned yet how sucky Thursdays are going to be this year? There is literally something on every major channel that I watch at 7pm, but that's a story for another day.

Weekend TV Wrap-Up

Busy TV weekend considering Fox decided to premiere the Sunday shows early this year (I don't know if Fox has the World Series this year or not, tough to find on the internet). Let's get to them:

Stargate SG-1: Pretty boring honestly and not a very powerful setup for the 2-hour "half season" ender next week (well, the second episode is the ender).

Stargate Atlantis: Was actually a pretty good show, except for the quick resolution to Shepard's problem. Now why couldn't they do that to the Lieutenant that has been missing on the show for a while now? I know Shepard got attacked by the antigen, but come on. I am guessing this will come back for its ender in 2 weeks.

Battlestar Galactica: Excellent episode although I hated the twist at the end. Does this mean that Lucy Lawless will be a more regular guest star or was this a one-shot? She looked excellent and it was weird to hear her use her regular New Zealand voice instead of an American accented one. Really good episode and I guess I wasn't thinking far enough ahead to see the twist.

The Simpsons: An okay episode, next week looks good though.

The War at Home: This show started off really bad with the horrendous laugh track, but as the episode went on I started to not hear the laugh track (which was still there) and found the show to be pretty good and funny. I will watch this at least for another episode.

Family Guy: The actual season opener was pushed back because it revolved around a hurricane, so one of the other episodes was used as the season opener. This one revolved around Brian trying to impress a black teacher by renaming the James Woods school to Martin Luther King, Jr. Peter was against this and brought James Woods in who brought immediate comic gold into the show. This show seems to be firing on all cylinders, although I still didn't get that sheep joke (anyone want to let me in on that one) that had to do with Meg's period. I loved the Star Trek flashback because all the voices were the actual cast members and they made no qualms with making Patrick Stewart look just like Bullock from American Dad.

American Dad: I swore off this show after about 5 episodes this summer, but I decided to give it another try. It now seems to be hitting somewhat on all cylinders. Haley getting with Stan's boss (played by Patrick Stewart) was very weird though, but it was hilarious to see Stan get Peter to be a man...heh.

Friday, September 09, 2005

For SciFi Friday Watchers

Remember that all the shows are new tonight after taking the Labor Day weekend off. The only real continuation is for Atlantis where Shepard will start feeling the effects of being bit. Battlestar should be interesting as well as Lucy Lawless guest stars as a reporter given the opportunity to see the innerworkings of Galactica.

Age of Empires III

Well, I got to play a little bit more last night and I am sad to report that my initial feelings are the same now. I was not at E3 and didn't get a chance to play the game, but the overwhelming majority of the press gushed praises upon the game. At this point I'm not sure what game they were playing, maybe they've confused Rise of Legends with Age of Empires III, they are published by the same company after all.

The GUI really hasn't changed all that much since Age of Mythology, a game that came out almost 3 years ago. In fact, the overall character graphics haven't changed much, but the map graphics have. The gameplay doesn't seem that far removed from Age of Mythology and maybe Ensemble feels that they didn't need to fix what wasn't broken. Thing is there have been many RTS games since that have had a better GUI and better control interface than AOM had.

Then again, maybe my hope was too high on this game. My hope may be too high on Civilization IV as well, but we shall see.

Fox Buys IGN for $650 Million

Well, it was first rumored that Fox was going to pay $800 million for IGN, but that got dropped down by $150 million. I remember when IGN put itself up for sale after buying Gamespy and Rotten Tomatoes they were thinking they could go for $1 billion or more. It is true that IGN holds a lot of cards, let's just look at the sites that encompass IGN:

IGN Xbox
IGN Xbox 360
IGN GameCube
IGN GameBoy
IGN Wireless
IGN Gear
IGN Babes
IGN Movies
IGN Comics
IGN Music
IGN Cars
IGN Gear
IGN Sports
IGN Vault
Gamespy Arcade
Gamespy Arena
Gamespy Planets (Battlefield, Half-Life, etc.)
Team Xbox
Voodoo Extreme 3D
3D Gamers
Rotten Tomatoes

I think I've named them all. That's probably why IGN thought it was worth over a billion, the problem is that now that Fox has bought it they will probably pare the company down by quite a bit. Gamespot covers games and probably has less than half the staff IGN has with all their game sites combined, so I would expect a possible fusion of all gaming news into one portal (probably Gamespy) and the staff will be cut quite a bit. That's just me thinking aloud though because Fox may just keep everything the same. I just think IGN has become overbloated with staff on specific channels and the purchases of Gamespy and Team Xbox.

I wonder if this will be the start of another buying spree as online media becomes a more centralized idea. Maybe the dot-com rush is coming again, this time with creating huge media empires in print and online.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Adventures in Gaming

I just got done with my latest round of reviews/previews for Console Gold. You can read my Cossacks II: Napoleonic War Review for PC and my Jak X: Combat Racing Preview and Ratchet: Deadlocked Preview if you wish. A review of Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike on Xbox is upcoming.

Outside of that I've actually gone back and played some Top Spin since becoming entranced by the U.S. Open, something that happens every year around this time for me. On computer I've downloaded the NHL 06, Fifa 06 and Age of Empires III demos. I need to get myself a dual analog stick on the computer so I can play the former two, but I enjoyed them quite a bit.

I just got the AOE3 demo last night and played a bit with it. I like the game quite a bit, but was disappointed by the graphics since every magazine was calling it the best looking ever. A part of the problem may be that so far the missions have centered around the central U.S. and the building of the railways so there isn't much in the way of cityscapes or water as of yet. I was also disappointed by the GUI and how big of a piece it takes out of the screen. I'm hoping the piece will be a little smaller when the game comes out. There is no tutorial at all, so you're on your own. The game is much like other RTS games, but you have to figure out early which buildings extract which weapons/people. I'll probably play this a bit more soon. The game is due out on October 18th.

In other RTS news, 2K Games has announced that Civilization IV will be out before Halloween and probably may be out the same day as Age of Empires III. Talk about a heavyweight battle! The two crown jewels of this section of the RTS genre coming out right around the same time? Be still my heart.

Also of news is that Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Winter Assault comes out later this month and just went gold. Dawn of War was a superb game and I think there are still a lot of people playing it and are probably looking forward to Winter Assault.

Of course we can't forget that Burnout Revenge comes out next week. This is another possible double-dip opportunity since this game has been rumored heavily to be out for the Xbox 360 later this year. However, more Burnout is always a good thing in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Entourage/Rescue Me/Lost Season 1 DVD

Tuesday was a one-two punch for me. Not only was there a new episode of Rescue Me, but Lost Season 1 came out on DVD. I've already seen all the episodes, but people around me have not and have started to become interested in the program after watching some of ABC's re-airings. I can't wait for September 21st and the premiere of the new season. I have one caveat though, J.J. Abrams has a habit of creating a far weaker second season than first season in his series (see Alias), let's hope it doesn't happen with Lost.

Entourage: OK, the ending was not what was promised in the preview from last week. It was not a "Hollywood ending like no other" or whatever they said. In fact, I have to say this was one of the weakest episodes in the series so far. Everything just kind of meandered along and sadly I think we all knew whether Vince was actually going to quit Aquaman or not and we all knew whether Eric was going to take the job offered him or not. The best parts of the episode belonged, as always, to Jeremy Piven. I don't know if it was BS or not, but when Ari said that Vince was the only actor he ever felt close to, it really tugged at me. Here's a guy who has been an asshole to the people around Vince, but in this episode he seems to be pouring his heart out to Eric and letting him know he's just as much a part of the Vince entourage as the other three are. Could Ari be turning a corner into a more compassionate man? I guess we'll have to see next year...I can't wait.

One more thing about HBO, be prepared for September 25th as that is the night Curb Your Enthusiasm starts up and Ricky Gervais' new show Extras begins. I have heard that the latter is more hilarious than the British version of The Office that Gervais was in.

Rescue Me: Yeah, I really can't give anything away about the episode since some people haven't seen it yet. Let me just say it is a powerful episode and I'm sad to see what I was fearing with the preview last week came true. I was actually surprised to find out the season ender is not longer than an hour because they certainly put some extra pizzazz into the preview for the next episode. It looks powerful and may leave the characters off worse than they were at the end of season 1. If you aren't watching this show by now, go out and rent or buy the first season and then try to catch the replays that I am sure FX will be airing of the second season.