Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Return of 2k Football

Hey all, in case you haven't seen this, 2k Sports has announced that they will be returning to the football field this year. As you probably know, NFL 2k5 was the last football game that 2k Sports made (and was also the first that I can recall to really put together some legitimate competition to Madden). The game was released for $20 in the Summer of 2004, and featured some of the best presentation seen in any sports game to date. EA was forced to drop the price of Madden that fall, and were not very happy about it. Then came the football video game apocalypse.

The NFL struck a deal with EA giving them exclusive rights to all league intellectual property, and the NFL 2k series was no more. EA's Madden is a good game mind you, but even this year's edition pails in comparison in some important respects to NFL 2k5 . That's why you can still find 2k5 fan boys trolling the boards spoiling for a fight with those Madden fanboys that they perceive to be representing "the man." But all that has changed now.

While still stripped of the rights to use the NFL and all of its licenses, 2k Sports has decided to go the "fake football league" route. They haven't really yet said much about what the game will entail, but if 2k5 is any indication we should be ready for a game created with impeccable presentation that closely approximates watching a real football game on TV. Whether or not this development will spur Madden to stop resting on its laurels is anybody's guess.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Re: Blu-Ray Doom and Gloom

Incognito, while its true that Sony has backed failed technologies in the past. I think its way too soon to call this match. Especially if porn is your magic bullet. As the biggest segment of the video industry, porn makers are no fools. They are going to be hedging their bets until a clear winner is decided, and I think there is reason to believe that the clear winner will be Blu-Ray.

Outside of the fact that I belive the higher storage capacity makes Blu-Ray the definitive leader in the clubhouse in terms of raw technology, there is also the marketplace to consider. Blu-Ray has an installed base of every Playstation 3 owner. HD-DVD can't say the same about the X-Box.

Take a look at this site. It tracks sales and stock trends on While its clear that the two sides are in a war, I think that you will agree that the current trend is that Blu-Ray products are generally doing better than their HD-DVD counterparts. To the extent that this trend continues, there is little doubt in my mind that Blu-Ray will prove the victor. You are right, however, to identify the only problem with making such a predicition: Sony. Sony is notorious for trying to squeeze every dime out of content providers using proprietary formats. That being said, Sony has been successful in attracting powerful movie studios. For my money I'll take the offerings of Fox and Disney over those of Universal, but your mileage may vary.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Blu-ray gloom and doom

All this talk about the PS3 and you forgot to mention 1 thing: Blu-ray is doomed. You payed extra money for a format that will be obsolete in the very near future. Here are 2 reasons why:

1. Sony. Formats they back don't usually do well: see Betamax, Minidisc, UMD, etc.
2. pr0n. The adult film industry has sided with HD-DVD, and they basically decide who wins format wars. Notice that formats they have backed in the past (VHS and DVD) have greatly succeeded, while others (Betamax) have failed. No (.)(.)=doom.

I could be wrong, but look at those bullet points. Those are two very large mountains to climb. I certainly wish Blu-ray luck. It's probably going to need it.

The Future of the PS3

First of all, I think it's just you and I that own a PS3, Sidious, at least right now.

As for the overall performance of the PS3, I'd say just give it time, it's barely been out over two months and there are plenty of systems that have taken longer to hit their prime. Sony is aiming at a long haul strategy and that may take a little while to come to fruition. I mean there are at least two "emerging" technologies in the PS3: the blu-ray drive and the cell processor that are bound to trip up developers initially. The technologies available in the Wii and XBox 360 are much more conventional and much easier to develop for. I think time will tell who will emerge victorious, whatever that means, which brings me to my next point...

This is a debate that I've had a few times and for a long while, what determines the "winner" of the console war? Is it installed base? Better library of games? More AAA titles than any other? Better exclusivity agreements? I'm not really sure there is an objective criterion that can be used to differentiate which system is "better." The closest thing I could think of would be if you took all the gamers that owned or at least had significantly played all three and then had them vote on their favorite system.

Also, I don't think it's really possible to determine a winner in the middle of the battle. The Xbox 360 got a headstart and I think is maintaining it's early lead, but the Wii may be closing in. The PS3 is mostly suffering from a poor launch lineup (excepting Resistance, which is excellent) and a high price tag due to the high cost of its components. I think that if Sony is able to garner as much third-party support as it has in the past, the system will hit its stride and take off, but if they fail in that critical dimension, the system will ultimately fall. The only thing I can say in Sony's defense is that great games are still coming out for the PS2 so if they can leverage that support for their new platform (which I think they can, by the way), they may win this generation by a landslide. The PS3 is still the horse I'm backing, as it was before any of the "next-gen"systems launched. I plan to own them all (2/3 of the way there...stupid Wii), but I imagine the PS3 will be my favorite.

Quick Survey

Hey everybody,

I was surfing the net this morning looking at various articles about how the Playstation 3 is a "disaster" and how the Xbox or Wii will rule this generation. I realized while reading these articles that I didn't know who of us has the shiny black behemoth. I know that I do, and as I think I have indicated previously I'm quite nervous about its future.

I have seen little reason to believe that it will be able to outperform the 360, and while I think the price difference is overstated given the blu-ray player and hard drive included with the PS3, I don't believe that the public sees it the same way. For those of you who own a Playstation 3, how do you feel about it? Are you cool and confident? Are you nervous and concerned? Are you too busy playing your Wii to care?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Did someone say RTS?

Darn, I started this post so I could suggest Dawn of War...stupid Sidious...

Recognizing your last post was mostly about how you don't have the time to play games, you also mentioned you were looking for an RTS to play, and with that, I may be able to help. Dawn of War is a terrific RTS and probably the best one since Starcraft. It has seven different sides, each of which have reasonably different units and play styles. Each side needs to control the "requisition points" across the map in order to build up their army and base (and force the players into conflict over them). Outside of that, each side plays very differently, from the strange requisition-free units of the Necron to the cheap but effective hordes of the Imperial Guard. It's a good time and you can pick up Dawn of War: Dark Crusade (the newest "expanasion") for about $20. You won't be able to play as all the diffferent races online with just Dark Crusade, but the single-player campaign is completely standalone and should be able to stratch your RTS itch for quite a while.

Just a thought.

Re: Time if of the peasants


I can certainly empathize with your lack of time. I myself have had so little time to play games that I am only playing WoW and I'm only playing that because I purchased the Burning Crusade. Unlike your dwarf avatar, I had never invested a substantial amount of time into WoW before the expansion's release so I had no problem starting over as a Paladin Draenei. That being said, I hope to get more time to play games as well. If you're looking for a speedy RTS I highly recommend Warhammer: Dawn of War. (Though admittedly I would probably recommend the game to anyone needing RTS action of any kind.) The matches usually take less than 20 minutes though they can, of course, run longer if players are of roughly equal skill. But either way let us here in the Den know what you ultimately wind up playing...when you get the time, of course.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Time is of the peasants

Instead of contributing to the current discussions here, I would like to lament my lack to time to play games and discuss. I have been playing WoW, but I don't have the Burning Crusade cause my character is only level 30. I haven't had time to build the squatty dwarf girl up any more than that, so it sure won't be worth my time to re-roll. There are many games I would like to play. I really feel like playing an RTS right now, but I've got nothing. I don't have the time to dedicate myself to a game of Civ or even C&C: Red Alert, one of my favorite games ever. Next week my time will become extended. Does that mean I'll be able to play more? I sure hope so. At the very least, I'll have more time to argue with these folks here. They could use an intelligent comment from time to time.

Less than a week until Rogue Galaxy!

So after reading some of the initial reactions to Rogue Galaxy I was a little worried, mostly by the way the game was described as "feeling like an MMORPG." Not that I am outrightly attacking MMORPGs, but they aren't what I desire from my single-player experiences. I want compelling storylines, interesting characters, and exciting battle systems from my RPGs, not just a vast world to explore and approximately 1,545,457 quests in which to partake. After reading some of the early reviews however, I feel that I can safely put my fears to rest, and there are three reasons why:

  1. The game is made by Level 5. I LOVE Level 5. Dragon Quest VIII and Dark Cloud 2 were amazing experiences that oozed production values and storyline even while you were slogging through the latest dungeon. I am sure that Rogue Galaxy has been polished to such a mirror finish that even if the story is "predictable" it will still be an engaging and enjoyable experience. Add to that all the interesting weapon development, character development, and item factory systems along with the Insectron tournament (largely considered a game unto itself) and you've got a lot of interesting content to look forward to.
  2. GameSpot described the game as an anime Star Wars. I don't think I really need to belabor this point: Anime = awesome, Star Wars = awesome, Anime + Star Wars = super awesome. 'Nuff said.
  3. When you load your game you are given a summary of what's going on. I don't understand why this isn't more common, especially as the average length of games continues to increase (or at least polarize). Every game that can't be played over the course of a couple days should have some system of tracking your adventures: a journal, an loading update, the ability to watch previous cutscenes. I requires virtually no extra effort on the part of the developers and allows more casual gamers (like myself) to enjoy these extended experiences without having to dedicate all our free time to it. I applaud you Level 5, I applaud you.
There's certainly a lot more to like about Rogue Galaxy than just what I have listed here, but these are the points that have me sold without knowing anything more about the game's characters, storyline, or battle system. Including what I know about those points, I think it's pretty obvious that I am very excited about the game's imminent release.

And you should be too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Re: Save Kairi...


You might also know her as the tomboy coach's daughter in Remember the Titans or of course as Britney from that sequel near and dear to all our hearts: Bring it On: All or Nothing.

Check here for more.

Save Kairi, save the world

I've been watching Heroes over the past couple of days, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen Claire before. Well, it turns out that I hadn't seen her before, I heard her. She's the voice of Kairi, from Kingdom Hearts. This has been bugging me since Sunday, and now my mind can finally be at ease.

Re: The Traveling Gamer

Kitten, hope you are enjoying your trip. In answer to your question, if I am going on vacation, I am only likely to take my PSP. Quite frankly, my PSP gets 80% of its play when I'm away from home, so I guess I use it as one of my main sources of trip entertainment.

This calculus changes a bit if, for instance, I'm visiting geographically distant relatives. When that's the case I still bring my PSP, but I will also usually bring some mechanism to bring over the larger console experience. Whether that is simply a memory card, or the whole system packed in a backpack depends on what kind of set up the relative has. The more the relative has the less I need to bring. As you can tell I very rarely go anywhere without some form of electronic entertainment.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mark your calendars

February 20th: Crackdown hits a store near you!

Well, the Crackdown demo finally went on Marketplace today, after being delayed for 5 days to some licensing issues, or whatever. It was well worth the wait. Do yourself a favor and go download it now (and I mean now, it's 1.24 gigs so it'll take a while).

You get access to half of one of the three islands in the game to roam around in and fight crime. You'll have plenty of time to explore, since the demo is long. It lasts for 30 minutes after you get one of your five traits up two levels. For me, this demo was well over an hour long.

3 initial impressions:
1. At first, I thought that the targeting system was stupid. Then I realized how easy it was to shoot someone in the leg, then walk up and shoot them in the head when they were down. That won me over pretty quick, but some people will probably still hate it.
2. Colors! In a 360 game! ZOMG! No, really, I love the comic-book-esqe art style.
3. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop rules. I could do it all day. I only got into approximately 3 vehicles, I was having so much fun moving around on foot.

I need to play it again to see how co-op is, and because I felt like I didn't rip off and throw enough car doors.

Re: Re: The Answer is...

My opinion on achievements and the gamerscore is decidedly split. On one hand, I really like achievements in the single-player/co-op parts of a game. They give me a little motivation to press on and attempt things that I normally would have just passed by, which can lead to hours of extra enjoyment from a game. Plus, when I reach my goal, I get something that I can proudly show to my friends that says, "I did this!"

On the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of multiplayer achievements. I think that the motivation for playing online should come from a desire to test your mettle against wily human competition. However, when you add achievements to the mix, you end up with a lot of people playing only for the achievement, which sucks since they are changing their play style in an attempt to make more kills with the pistol, or whatever to achievement requires. This means that they are handicapping themselves in an attempt to achieve a few measly points for their gamerscore, and I for one an insulted by it. It's like they see me as not worthy of their full effort.

The bottom line is: even though Live is the best online system of the consoles, it's not perfect. It seems like some people (Microsoft) forget this sometimes. I think it's only a matter of time before the people at Sony pull their heads out of their collective asses and realizes that Live is not the perfect, untoppable online platform that people make it out to be.

The Traveling Gamer

Hello Gamers and Gamegals. This week I am traveling and I was just wondering if anyone plays games while they travel and if so, what? Do you take your PSP or do you simply pack up a couple of games? Being a computer gamer myself (for the most part), I take my laptop, but I sure don't like playing games with the built-in touchpad. A real mouse is much better. Who has some advice for me???

Re: The answer is...

"...because, of course, your Gamerscore is some measure of your worth as a gamer and thus a person."
Avenger and Incognito, I think this is an excellent time to discuss with you what your feelings are with respect to the vaunted gamerscore. What most thought would be nothing more than a novelty of the Xbox 360 has, in my experience, become something else. As Avenger notes, the action by Microsoft (or the game developers, it gets a little unclear as to who is pulling the strings on this point) to limit Achievments to Ranked Match participants (which, by the way, can't be played with friends unless by happenstance) would seem to be fueled by the notion that there are those that would game the system to gain acheivements both in-game (badges, medals, and the like) and for gamerscore.

There are almost innumerable problems with this system. The most obvious, of course, is why anyone would want to play video games with people that aren't fun to play with. Why is Halo 2 the most popular multiplayer game in existence (excluding MMO's like WOW, of course)? I would argue its because of a Bungie invention called the couch. For those of you that haven't played much Halo 2, the "couch" is essentially a group of people that move through the interface together. That is, you and your six buddies become linked and will stay together no matter what options the couch leader picks. Want to play 7 v. 7? You'll play together. Want to Play CTF? Want to Play Deathmatch? With vehicles? Without? You'll stay together. And thus camaraderie is born.

In the "Ranked Matches/No Friends" system, not only can you not play with friends, Microsoft (or other powers that be) won't let you play with the same group more than once. This is the antithesis of the couch, arguably the most successful multiplayer system ever. Not only does this prevent camaraderie of any kind, it also forces the player out to a menu between matches. For games that can take only 5 minutes to play a "round" this means that the player will spend as much time finding a match as playing it. This is unacceptable.

And why? To prevent people from "cheating"? As Avenger says, who cares, "their dead in side." Do real gamers actually care that there might be cheaters? Is that concern worth eliminating the ability to play with friends (or at the very list with the same core group)? Seems like using a cannon to kill a fly to me. And the collateral damage is devastating. Your thoughts?

Monday, January 22, 2007

The answer is...

be mad at the Microsoft, or whoever decided that player matches don't count or that you can't play with your friends in ranked matches, but also at the gamers that make such a situation "necessary."

For the most part, gamers want to play with their friends, even if they are just people in their WoW guild or the writers of Penny Arcade. It makes no sense that if you want achievements you have to be matched with however XBox Live so chooses, and I think it hampers some of the system's multiplayer success, especially with very team oriented games.

Take Gears of War for example, it has a great multiplayer component. It's fun, it's very team oriented, and it has chainsaw bayonets. I remember one game where me, two of the writers here, and an old friend from my Chromehounds squad were playing togehter on one team. We easily formed two man squads that actually managed to pincer the entire enemy team into a warehouse and then proceed to systematically destroy them. That was quite possibly one of the best multiplayer experiences I have ever had. We were able to quickly communicate with one another, cover each other's backs, and we all rocked, however, we recieved no credit for it, any particular reason?

Did the fact that I was playing with friends make me shoot straighter or make me otherwise a better player? In short, no. But the fact of the matter is, there are those people who would use this system to pad their stats by forming a game with some friends and then proceeding to allow each other to do whatever they wanted in order to gain achievements, because, of course, your Gamerscore is some measure of your worth as a gamer and thus a person. It is because of these people that this unfortunate dichotomy exists so if you want to be mad at anyone, be mad at them.

In the end I think player matches should count, and if a few people pad their stats, I couldn't care less, they're already dead inside.

My Greatness goes unrecorded

Yes, that is "Greatness" with a capital G.

Could someone explain to me why all the normal people playing Lost Planet online are playing in player matches instead of ranked matches? I mean, there really is nothing to gain my doing a player match: no experience, no achievements, no nothing. And yet, everyone seems to flock to the player matches, leaving ranked matches generally populated by douchebag power-levelers, and/or absolutely ridiculous gametypes (fugitive with the rifle?! wtf?!). This is distressing to me, since I am now forced to play in player matches to find a good game, but this means that when I get a 10-kill chain (which I did) it doesn't count! That's a 50 point achievement!

As you might be able to tell, I'm a little irritated right now, but I'm no longer sure what I'm mad at: the lack of friendly competition in ranked matches, or Microsoft for making multi-player achievements attainable in ranked matches only.

Re: The Wasteland

"Sony fanboys should be seriously concerned. The PS3 needs some games to gain traction and I just don't see them on the horizon."

Sidious, you're not looking far enough on the horizon. Even though Sony has seriously botched some deals, like losing GTA 4 as a PS3 exclusive, they still have the two games that really matter: MGS 4 and FF XIII. Sony doesn't need to beat Microsoft right now, they only need to tread water until Squeenix waves their magic wand and moves a few million PS3's off the shelves. Now, Sony doesn't have a stranglehold on Squeenix, they're still going to make games for other platforms like the DS, but even Sony isn't stupid enough to let them release the big titles for any other system. I really don't expect to see the important Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior titles on another console anytime soon. Of course, I've been wrong before. In fact, I'm wrong frequently.

Re: Winter Wonderland

Well Avenger, you're not wrong that all of those games are coming out over the winter. I guess what I was trying to express was my disappointment that there weren't more AAA, AA, or even A quality titles. I can appreciate your argument though and I'm glad you made it. I have always wondered why game companies don't spread out the wealth a little bit more. Take for instance the November-December Christmas Season.

During the Christmas Season there are generally more games than one can even accurately keep track of. Yet games keep coming until the season has passed. Then you have the winter season proper, in which nothing (or virtually nothing as you pointed out Avenger) comes out. Why not spread it out a little bit. I mean I'm sure the game companies are working off of a substantial amount of data suggesting that they will make more money if they release over Christmas, and all things being equal, I would have to agree.

The problem, of course, is that all things are not equal, a AA quality title released in November might not even get notice in November, when it would be treated as something of a savior in January or February. Am I missing something?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Why I Won't Play WoW

Okay, so I was cleaning out a file box and found this little clipping from 5/9/2003 from The Week magazine:

"Women have a tough time finding their way around virtual reality. Female architects, trainee pilots, and computer gamers are generally 20 percent slower than men in figuring out where they are in a computer-generated world, say Microsoft researchers. Men, on average, can quickly create a mental image of their surroundings, and orient themselves. Unfortunately, 'women have lower spatial ability,' computer scientist Mary Czerwinski tells New Scientist. But the gender gap disappears when women are given a wider screen. Researchers found that women were just as adept as men at virtual navigation when their monitor offered a viewing angle of 100 degrees, instead of the standard 35 degrees."

I don't think that I necessarily agree...especially about that whole spatial thing...since I seem to be able to pack the car more efficiently than my male-counterpart. But, at least I have an excuse for why I'm not any good at these games. :)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Winter Wonderland...

While, I think that Sidious is right, there isn't a breadth of content coming out (especially for the PS3), I think there is a lot of quality to be had. Also doldrums after a system launch aren't uncommon it's just that two systems launched at the same time so a lot of effort was soaked into making launch or near-launch titles so it will take a little while before things get back to usual.

Still there's Fusion Frenzy 2, Supreme Commander, Rogue Galaxy, Burning Crusade, God of War II, Rathet & Clank: Size Matters, D&D: Tactics, Battlestations: Midway, Crackdown, Bullet Witch, Maelstrom, and Tital Quest: Immortal Throne, just to name a few all available by early March.

I'm not saying these will all be great, things could be a lot worse, much like "The Mild Recession" (if you get that reference, thank you). So stop worrying about your ailing PS3 and go play some Resistance: Fall of Man.

Gene Splicing

Jimmy, look up Impossible Creatures or Gene Wars. I think you might be pleasantly surpised.

As for Spore, that game looks sweet, any idea when it's supposed to come out?

The Wasteland

Well folks, here we are in the middle of January. Aside from the cold weather, this time of year usually means only one thing: No Video Games. Of course the "no" part of that statement is hyperbole. There are of course some video games being released. But compared to the holidays, well there simply is no comparison. Now IGN has created a series of articles under the moniker "Games of Winter." I highly recommend you check it out here. (The link goes to the PS3 games of winter, but all of the relevant links to other platforms can be found on the bottom of the page.) I have to say, even after checking out the entire list of games that IGN has compiled (which by the way includes a number of games from late March...stretching as far as I am concerned), I remain less than impressed. Sony fanboys should be seriously concerned. The PS3 needs some games to gain traction and I just don't see them on the horizon. Does anyone else here have a different impression?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Idle Hands

Avenger has recently been critical of the film known as Idle Hands. I protest this. Seth Green, Jessica Alba, and the rest of the cast of that movie provided me with a highly enjoyable experience. It was ridiculous, but who can dislike a movie with quotes like:

"Guy: I mean, there was this bright white light at the end of a long tunnel, right, and there was these chicks' voices, and that music... kinda uncool music, like, Enya. And these chicks' voices, they were saying, "come to us, come towards the light".

Other guy: So what happened?

Guy: We figured, f*** it, I mean, it was really far! "

What does this have to do with games? Campiness! I love movies like Idle Hands or Not Another Teen Movie. Other than games like Simpsons: Hit and Run and a few other series (mostly platformers like Jak and Daxter) dorky comedy is sorely lacking. I would like to see campy games come out with silly plots that are supposed to be silly, not just poorly written stories that are so stupid they are funny.

Overheard at the Bar-B

"Gene mutations are overrated"
"Would pig people taste better than normal pigs"
"I don't think the world is going to end in the next three hundred years"

Valid points all, but what is sorely missing here is a video game. Spore may be part of this, but that's not exactly what I'm talking about. Spore needs to add in the ability (in an expansion, it'll take long enough to be released in current concept) to splice the genes of one animal with those of another. I think this would be a great gameplay dynamic.

Or else it could be a whole game, probably for the DS. You can take over the world but have to create your own army. You can create horses crossed with dogs that pig people ride upon. You get the biology part, which could be mucho fun, and then also get the stratgy part. You could even fight your bizarre creation with someone else's. Other games do it, but they have set systems of character building. This would be more freeform. I'm excited already!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Games I Want Made...

Been playing a lot of Sword of the Stars lately and also talking to Sidious about Galactic Civilizations II and it has identified in my brain two titles that I would like to see made:

Alpha Centauri II -
Dude, Alpha Centauri was sweet, it had a bunch of cool future techs, a neat sci-fi "plotline," and the ability to design your own units. Just fantastic.

Imperium Galactica III -
I loved the way the Imperium Galactica games combined the RTS and 4X genres AND tried to have interesting stories at the same time. Imperium Galactica II actually had different storylines for each of the different sides (there were 3). That was a great series I'd like to see more of.

Re: Best Sim Ever?

Hahahaha, you got served, Sidious, you got served...

As for me, I'm never sure exactly what falls into the "Sim" category. I think there are a lot of games that combine Sim aspects with other genres like the Stronghold series adds RTS elements to what is largely a sim game, or The Sims has many RPG elements included in it's "life simulator".

For me, I think I would have to go with Zeus by Impressions. While arguably not as good as Pharoh (by the same company) I think I played through pretty much every mission this game had to offer and loved every minute of it. There was a complex economy that involved trade between several cities, a military RTS aspect that wasn't particularly complicated but was fun nonetheless, and also exciting mythical monsters and heroes that your city would have to deal with (i.e. Cyclops running around, Odysseus will only show up if you have x and y). Good times.

What ever happened to Impressions? Did they get absorbed, or close, or change their name? I haven't heard anything about them in a while...

Re: Re: Best Sim Ever?

Seriously? Railroads? I mean don't you think for something to the BEST EVER it should maybe be INTERESTING? I have absolutely no reason to want to play a game that would make me a 3-piece-suit wearing, cigar chomping, mustache twirling robber baron (not that I have anything against robber barons). But come on....roller coaster are much more FUN and EXCITING. And that's why you're just wrong. RCT ROCKS!

Re: Best Sim Ever?

Well, Kitten already knows this, but my vote is for Railroad Tycoon. That game has it all, building things, ruthless business tactics, a dynamic stock exchange, ruthless business tactics... I mean, the games not for everybody. Stock manipulation in 19th century industrial transport enterprises may not sound like a good time to everyone. That's why Roller Coaster Tycoon is so successful. Everybody loves theme parks. And perhaps if they could figure out a really good way to have your parks in Roller Coaster Tycoon compete with other parks, I might promote it to best sim ever, but for now if you want the best you have to ride the rails.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Best Sim Ever?

Over the weekend I went through my pile of games, weeding out the good from the not-so-good and stacking up the truly great. In the process a great fight started, one that I think belongs on the blog.

I love to build things. I don't mean bookshelves. I mean roller coasters, sim houses, and zoos. When I judge a sim game I measure it against the greatest Sim game of all time...Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Roller Coaster Tycoon has it all: the ability to manipulate a lot of items, challenging scnearios, fun graphics and gameplay, great music, and awesome expansions. I'm not exactly sure what controls making people buy more sodas when the price goes down, but the cause and effect of gameplay is right on (in some other knock off sims I am greatly disappointed). It's addicting and fun, exactly what a video game should be.

So make your case...Roller Coaster Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon...which do you think is best? I'd love to tell you why you're wrong.

OMGICBTJBDSTSNO24!!! [Spoiler Warning - Highlight to Read]

Oh My God I Can't Believe That Jack Bauer Didn't Stop the Suitcase Nuke On 24!!!

Nuff' Said
[Post Edit: Text turned white to prevent readers from unintentionally spoiling the 24: Day 6 premiere for themselves]

Monday, January 15, 2007


This s#$% is ridiculous, according to GameSpot:
Woman dies after Wii contest

28-year-old who took part in 'hold your wee for a Wii' radio show competition dies of likely water intoxication, reports

Mother-of-three Jennifer Strange was hoping to win one of Nintendo's next-gen consoles for her children. But the KDND 107.9 radio show contest she took part in had a tragic end when the woman was found dead in her Rancho Cordova, California, home.

Coroner Ed Smith, performing a preliminary investigation, found evidence that was "consistent with a water intoxication death."

The winner of the Wii game console was to be the person who managed to not go to the toilet for the longest amount of time, despite consuming large quantities of water. Contestants had to drink an eight-ounce bottle of water every 15 minutes--one quit after five bottles. In the later stages of the competition, the remaining entrants were given even bigger bottles to drink.

It is not known how much water Ms Strange consumed. She told a colleague after the contest that she felt sick, and had a "really bad" headache. The woman was later found dead in her suburban home. It is not known if Ms Strange succeeded in winning the console.

A spokesperson for the radio station commented, "We are awaiting information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred."

No real comment. Just thought you all should careful out there...

Fun with glitches

You know what I love? I love when an update (aka a patch) is available the day a game comes out. You know what's even better? When there are still huge glitches that said patch doesn't address. This is a warning to everyone out there playing Lost Planet: THERE IS A GLITCH WITH THE LAST BOSS. Sometimes, he will simply not die. Ever. You can wail on him for 5 minutes with no health and he just keeps on coming. So, as a note, if this happens to you, reload your save and it should be fixed.

Hopefully you don't spend an hour trying to kill a glitchy boss before thinking that there might be something wrong. That might make you as frustrated as I was last night.

Good to know

Thanks, Sidious. I wouldn't call those two people "stars," but it's good to know that there IS a connection. Working out of my apartment last year I ended up watching a lot of DS9 in the middle of the day, so I just thought it was funny. Especially since it still took me a second to recognize him. It must be that beard, or his sticking a knife in that guy's knee, not very Dr. Bashir at all...

Re: 24

Well, Avenger. Manny Coto is executive producer of the show. You might recognize the name from the credits of Enterprise. While he had no direct involvement in DS9 as far as I can tell, he was part of the Paramount sci-fi powerhouse for a number of years. As such, it should probably come as no surprise that he incorporates stars from Star Trek. As for not recognizing good doctor Julin, I can only offer an admonishing "tsk, tsk."

Re: Symphony of Retro Games

Thank you Kitten for your analysis of my situation. I think you are right. Games are like movies, and retro games do remind us of an earlier, simpler time. Of course, I may just be clinging to any indication that I'm not a crazy person for potentially enjoying my time with Sam and Max better than Lost Planet (blasphemy I know).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Note for the 24 Season Premier

Anyone else recognize the "peacemaking" (intentions not entirely identified at this point) terrorist Assad in the new season of 24 is Dr. Julian Bashir from Deep Space Nine? Along with Sherry Palmer they mark two clearly identifiable DS9 connections and it just amused me as it took me a second to identify him (though many in the room thought he looked "familiar"). I'm curious are there other DS9 or general Trek connections that people have seen throughout the show's five seasons?

Re: Symphony of Retro Games

My short answer to your question is: I don't think all the good ideas are gone.

First, your question is also like asking "Can Hollywood really make an original movie?" We still keep going to movies even though we know that in the end the boy will either get the girl or he won't. We still keep going to movies because they are fun! I think that the same is true of video games. They are re-released because even if the graphics aren't as great as the PS3, they are still fun. I still play Pharoah's Tomb (yes, from like 1991) because it's fun.

Second, I think that there is some nostalgia associated with retro games, just like old movies. They remind us of a different time, whether we lived it or not. For me Pharaoah's Tomb is everything great about my childhood. We were the first kids with a computer since my Dad worked at home. You know the ones with the old floppy drives? My Mom used to take us to the Sav-On drugstore on Saturdays and sometimes we'd talk her into a shareware game for $5. I can still picture the big stand with all the games on it in the aisle at the store. My brother and I would play and play and play and shared this hobby together. It was a way we could relate to each other (especially when we finally figured out that on level three if you hit the arrow button one extra time you can actually make the jump).

To Sum Up, I think that not all the good ideas are gone. Maybe just all the good endings are. I think there were only like three endings to begin with anyway. Gameplay, challenges, and advances in technology continue to change what games can do. You actually bowl on the Wii for crying outloud! Liking retro games doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. I'm sure you probably have some great memories that they remind you of when you play them. Plus, Super Mario Bros. Rocks!!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Whither the Adventure Game

Well now that I know that there is in fact something wrong with me, I feel as if a great burden has been lifted. Now I can talk about whatever random thoughts enter my mind. Those of you who visit the mothership regularly (and that should be everyone, the site's great), and who obsess over what all of us here are playing, know that one of the things I am currently playing is Telltale's Sam and Max series of games. I can't tell you how happy they make me.

I grew up typing commands to King Graham and Roger Wilco, clicking on drunken pirates, and helping save the world from an evil tentacle, and all in games which offered me no direct control over the main characters. These were Adventure games with a capital "A" and they have almost completely gone by the wayside thanks to a negative media that would apparently rather play 600 RTS's when they aren't cruising through 357 FPS's. Sam and Max is great, but it represents the exception to the rule. I would argue that the "death" of the adventure game genre nicely corresponds with the death of story-telling in at least a segment of the video-game field.

Will adventure games ever get the comeback they so richly deserve? Only time will tell.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In short, yes.

There is definitely something wrong with you.

Re: Re; Symphony of Retro Games

Your points are well taken, Incognito, but outside of the fact that I am sure that I am not as excited about Lost Planet as you are, I still can't understand my current fascination with retro games. I mean taken on face, the games I have been playing as of late are outmatched by current offerings in: graphics, audio quality, often story, sometimes design, length of play, and often raw innovation. And yet...I still find myself playin' Super Mario Bros. every night. To a lesser extent this also applies to the Playstation 3. I haven't played a "PS3" game on the PS3 in maybe a month. Instead I play FF XII, and currently "24" (to get mentally prepared for Day 6, oh yeah!!). I know that this is largely a function of the lack of superb games on the PS3, but still, I'm beginning to think that there is something wrong with me. Are any of the rest of you experiencing a sort of Retro-renaissance in your own lives? Or am I an outlier?

Re: Symphony of Retro Games

No, I do not think all the good ideas are gone. References: Gears of War, Lost Planet, Okami, and Shadow of the Colossus, all of which have been released in the last fifteen months or so. That's enough proof for me that there are still original (and good) ideas out there.

I also disagree that this season is a "barren wasteland." In the next month, we get the following:

Lost Planet
Rogue Galaxy
Forza Motorsport 2
Persona 3

That seems pretty bountiful to me, and that's only what's coming for the PS2 and 360 that I can think of off the top of my head. And yes, I did come up with Persona 3 off the top of my head: I'm always excited about a game where you execute attacks by shooting yourself in the head. I'm serious! Find a gameplay video and see for yourself!

Stay cool baby!

For everyone else who loves the Cole Train, I'd like to direct you to this official forum post with an .mp3 of the song that plays during the credits of Gears of War.

Woo! Bring it on sucka!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Symphony of Retro Games

Maybe its just because I have been immersed in the world of retro games since the Wii Launch, or maybe its because I have a sub-conscious longing to relive the days of my youth, but for the last little while I have been thoroughly enamored with retro gaming. And this news from gamespot does little to end my courtship. Still, I find it a little concerning that the games I am most looking forward to this year are largely the same as the games I was most looking forward to in 1997. Even Comand and Conquer 3, the game I am most looking forward to this spring, I expect to be largely unchanged from the "fight, win, prevail" days of old. Is this a trend? Are all the good ideas gone? Or am I just overreacting in the face of the barren video-game wasteland that we see every January?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Preordered Lost Planet and Rogue Galaxy today. I already know Lost Planet is going to be awesome and I trust Level 5 pretty implicitly at this point (Dark Cloud 2 was great). I just hope I manage to get one of those little vital suits with my preorder. I'd love to have one of those on my desk at work.

As a note, can someone explain to me why EB/Gamestop employees insist on trying to get me to preorder stuff that doesn't even have a confirmed release date yet? The guy tried to get me to preorder Mass Effect or Bioshock. At the earliest those are what? Fall? I'm pretty sure they're not about to run out just yet.

I just don't get it, so if someone could explain, please go ahead...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Embedding FTW

Good Catch!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Blue Dragon Goodness has a video review of the import version of Blue Dragon, and it certainly looks interesting. I would recommend checking it out, especially if you are a fan of ridiculous Japanese theme music.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Do you buy or rent?

Hello's a question for you...Do you buy or rent your games? What decides which you do?

Most of the games I play are games that you can't you rent, so I can't really try them out or even play them all the way through by renting. Even so, games like the Sims or Roller Coaster Tycoon are my favorite and since they have no beginning-middle-or-end I can't really say they are worth renting since they are best played at any time. So I suppose my answer is I buy my games because they can't really be played "straight through."

And when you consider that I only play games I really like, I don't really spend a lot of money buying games I don't finish or don't play.

I won't lie, I'm kind of jealous...

According to this article from GameSpot, their editor-in-chief Greg Kasavin is leaving to pursue a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" as a game developer:
The name Greg Kasavin is synonymous with GameSpot. As one of the veteran members of this Web site, Kasavin has helped shape GameSpot for more than a decade.

Next week marks Kasavin's last at GameSpot, as he has decided to pursue a goal he has had since he was a child and approach the industry from the other side. He has accepted a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" at an established development studio.

"My friends, family, and close colleagues have known that making games has always been my goal," says Kasavin in a farewell blog post. "But breaking into that business is hard, and I wasn't going to do it until I was ready. At last, when faced with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get my foot in the door and contribute to one of my favorite gaming franchises, I still didn't have an easy time making the choice. That's because, in case it hasn't been abundantly clear, I love this job."

has been writing game reviews for GameSpot for the better part of 10 years, and began working for this site as a college intern in 1996. Outside of GameSpot, Kasavin has served on the judging panel for the Game Critics Awards, which offers post-E3 honors to games "that will shape the future of interactive entertainment," and was featured as the subject of a 2002 Penny Arcade Web comic.
While I personally was never particularly fond of Kasavin's reviews, you have to respect what he has done as GameSpot's editor, and if I could manage to be in his shoes six years from now (he is 6 years older than I am) I'd be pretty pleased. Farewell, Greg, we barely knew ye...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

RE: PS3 Woes Pt. 2


That's right Sony, you OWE it to us and our significant others, so get crackin'!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

PS3 Woes Pt. 2

I do not own a PS3, nor do I frequently play it (although I did convince someone to download the Lemmings free trial so I could try is everything I thought it would be). However, I have felt the residual PS3 woes myself watching my poor video-game obsessed fiance mourn his lost saves. How can Sony do this to me??

I deal with the inevitable football loss every fall, the yearly nail-biting of NBA playoffs, and the week-long mope session after hockey playoffs turn into a joke. Why must I endure the mood swings of a gamer who lost his saves too...through no fault of his own???!!!

This kind of gross electronic malfunction should be fixed....for women everywhere....because I just can't take it anymore.

PS3 Woes

Now, I personally believe that the current tendency of the media to bash the launch of the PS3 is a bit unfair. A system does not generally show its true colors at launch, and while I agree that the launch could have been better there is still much to like in what amounts to the cheapest Blu Ray player on the market. That being said, Sony is severely testing my patience this week.

In order to play PS2 and PS1 games on the PS3, a user is made to create what Sony calls an "internal memory card." Essentially this internal memory card is simply a block of data which is formatted to look like a memory card to those games from earlier Playstation eras. In general, the system works wonderfully. On Monday, however, I awoke to play a quick hunt or two on FF XII when much to my surprise, though the card still existed in my system's memory, the contents of said card were nowhere to be found. 71 hours of FF XII...gone. 15 hours of Okami...gone. 20 hours of Bully...gone. And it turns out that I am not the only one to have this happpen. Its amazing to me that the media hasn't seized on this as a major problem. Compared to the hullabaloo about Backwards Compatability (which as far as I can tell is mostly well executed on the PS3), this problem is far the more serious. In a mere two months Sony has managed to make my expensive new toy feel like junk.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Re: Game of the Year?

Well while my game of 2006 may well be FF XII, I am not willing to concede victory to it just yet. On the one hand FF XII does offer a great deal of RPG fun. On the other hand, I think that the size of the game, both in terms of side quests and geography, serves to hurt what might otherwise be a strong narrative flow. As a result, I am at least partially inclined to award the honor to Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The problem is that I don't feel qualified to do so, since I have only played the game to about half way. Still, I can't imagine that one of FF XII and Legend of Zelda will eventually be my game of the year. Does that answer the question?

Re: Which is the Better Game?

Avenger, I would have to say that Rainbow Six: Vegas is the better game. First of all, I much prefer dealing with terrorists in the hustle and bustle of a tachnically advanced American city. I have always enjoyed video games that deal with a real threat to America rather than a distant threat in the slums of, oh I don't know, Mexico City. That being said, I think its a little bit sad that the Rainbow Six series and the Ghost Recon series now play so alike as to be darn near indistinguishable. On a certain level, it feels like where the gaming population used to have two different game series we now only have one. Its a good one, but still...