Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And the PS2 keep chugging along

So long as I live, I will never, ever, EVER get tired of animated sprites. Also, this is some of the best 2-D animation I've ever seen. Odin Sphere just jumped from "I know about it," to "must have" on my list. Long live the PS2 (sorry PS3 owners, there's always MGS 4)!

Rumbling and Grumbling

Every time I hear anything about the PS3 controller, the same point is brought up: there's no rumble functionality. Lots of people seem to be really upset about Sony's decision to implement a rumble-free Sixaxis. Recently, these people have been pointing to Nintendo and saying, "look, they have motion sensitivity and rumble in a wireless controller, why don't you?"

My question is: why? Perhaps it's just me, but I've never seen the rumble feature as a huge selling point for a controller. Sure, it's nice with shooters, and maybe driving games, but past that, what does it offer to adventure games, RPGs, or most other genres? Honestly, the only time I usually notice a controller rumbling is when I put it down on a table and it makes that horrible sound (you know, that awful plastic-vibrating-on-wood sound).

Now, it's possible that I don't notice it because I've gotten used to it. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that when it's gone, I'll suddenly become cognizant of its absence. I don't think that's really likely, since in the last few years I've gotten in the habit of turning off the rumble feature on almost everything, save for the occasional TPS or racing game, but I'll admit that it's a possibility.

As everyone continues to make a big stink about the Sixaxis's rumble-less design, I think that they need the stop for a second and think, was gaming so bad before (correct me if I'm wrong) Starfox 64 gave us that humble (not so) little rumble pack? I don't know about the rest of the gaming community, but I still enjoyed games back when my controller was incapable of self-locomotion. Also, it's not like a lack of rumble functionality ever mattered in PC games. I've definitely never heard anyone say, "yeah, Half-Life 2 was good, but I think what it was really missing was a rumbling keyboard."

So, what do you all think? Is Sony's much ballyhooed lack of rumble a big deal, or am I not alone in my apathy towards controller rumble technology?

My PS3 Makes Me Cry...

Yep, Sidious and I have long been lamenting the state of the PS3 and it would appear that Sony lacks the simplest understanding of the market, or understands it at such a level that their strategy seems completely insane. My guess is the former, but I've been wrong before.

The PS2 gave Sony pole position in this market, but it would seem that they are trying to do everything possible to lose this race. Does that mean that the PS3 is circling the drain or even close to it? Of course not, but there are a few key things that need to happen to turn this ship around:
  1. Developers need to crack the code on the cell processor. Right now programming for the PS3 takes longer and tends to produce worse results than on your "conventional" machines. Once developers figure out how to unlock the latent power theoretically contained within the cell processor, games produced for the PS3 should easily surpass their cross platform brethren (this was the spot the Xbox had in the last generation).
  2. The PS2 needs to be officially abandoned. Sorry for all you PS2 fans out there, but part of the reason that the 360 and Wii are proving so successful is, once the next generation hit, that's where they focused. With some of the best games of the last several months and into the future coming out for the PS2 (Okami, Valkyrie Profile 2, FFXII, God of War II) it's clear that Sony hasn't thrown it's full weight onto their new horse. There's no excuse for producing first-party software on the old system (I'm looking at you God of War II), and generous incentives could easily "convince" developers to make the move more quickly. The fact is games move systems not the other way around.
  3. The PS3 needs exclusives. With several former PS3 exclusives jumping ship and going multi-platform, most of the games for the PS3 are ports of old Xbox 360 games that are virtually indistinguishable from their original versions. That's clearly not a winning strategy. Again I say, games move systems, if Sony manages to release a Halo or a Twilight Princess, they can easily get back in the running, but looking out right now, there's no such system-seller in sight.
I have faith the Sony knows these things and that they are moving in the right direction, just very, very slowly. As of right now, however, my PS3 is a glorified Resistance arcade machine and The Last Samurai HD movie projector.

Seriously Sony

Well apparently this week is the week that Sony finally comes clean and admits that it has no idea how to market the PS3. In an effort to ensure that (Sony-developed) Blu-Ray beats out its rival HD-DVD in this generation of the format wars, Sony announced this week that it will be releasing, get this, a $600 Blu-Ray player.

This is all well and good except for one thing. Up until now, there has basically been but one reason to purchase a PS3. Its a $600 Blu-Ray Player. The next closest competitor was $1,000. Thus, if you wanted to experience Blu-Ray as cheap as possible, you would buy a PS3 regardless of whether or not you wanted to play games on the system (of course, considering the system's current selection of games, those not wishing to use it as a video game console are probably the better off). But with this brilliant move, Sony has effectively cut-off the PS3's best sales point. Avenger, you may be mocking for my references to ancient Mel Brooks movies/Broadway plays, but you tell me: Is it or is it not starting to look like our favorite Japanese technology giant is in fact secretly being run by monkeys?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

C&C 3 Demo Now Available!

Just FYI for anyone who is interested, there is a Command & Conquer 3 demo now available!

I've been trying to download it off Fileshack but apparently it is so popular their queues can't handle the stress and are thus malfunctioning. Oh well...


Wow, a 'The Producers' reference....weird.

Sony Missteps...Again

Well for those of you who haven't been tracking the launch of the PS3 in some foreign markets, it would appear that Sony is ceding the one advantage it currently has over the 360. That's right, for a mere $999 European and Australian video game players can experience the wonder, the mystery, and the awe, that is a PS3 which doesn't play PS2 games using the PS2's native CPU. Like the 360, the European and Australian model of PS3 will "emulate" the games of the system's immediate predecessor, resulting in players being able to play PS2 games that "mostly" work , some of the time.

What makes this particularly worrisome is that there is nothing preventing Sony from switching their American and Japanese systems over to this cheaper emulation model of system. Since Playstations of any generation are notorious for breaking down (usually days after your warranty ends, remember flipping the PS over to make sure it would run) it is possible that the next time you or I go to purchase a PS3 we could be getting the crippled version. Way to go Sony. The only thing I can figure is that the heads of Sony are actually trying to destroy their game division. You know in some kind of scheme straight from the mind of Max Bialystock. Yeah, that must be it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

RE: Mercenaries vs. Crackdown

I tend to agree in a lot of ways as Sidious well knows. Though I accept that much of that may be due to my deep love for Mercenaries. What I will say is Realtime Worlds has created an extremely fun sandbox: a beautifully developed city with a fantastic art style that is fun to move around in and shoot stuff. The only problem is there isn't that much to do in said sandbox. More bosses (ala "The Deck of 52" from Mercenaries) and actual missions would have really helped to flesh out the experience.

That being said, the game is undeniably fun and I do have a certain compulsion to pick up every orb I can find. Also, there's clearly something to be said for going online with a friend and sniping enemy gas tanks you ride on the roof of his car. Or letting him shoot people in the leg as you throw grenades at them. Good times.

Also, I got a response to my "enquiry" at Realtime Worlds:
Many thanks for your interest in Crackdown. Unfortunately due to the volume of enquiries we can't answer individual emails.
Oh well, here's hoping I am more than a single voice and I can actually go do missions with a friend. Otherwise, it will have to remain the "make your own fun" proposition that it currently is, which isn't such a bad thing after all.

Mercenaries v. Crackdown

Well since everyone else is doing it, I feel that it is my moral obligation to comment on Crackdown. Like Avenger, I think that the Co-op needs refinement in its execution. Right now the game acts as kind of an old school Game Boy Game. You know, the kind where the cartridge will only hold one save, so if you want to lend your friend a copy he (or she) will have to erase your data in order to not play on your game. This just makes no sense in a co-op situation.

As for the game itself, I can't help but think that its an extraordinarily watered down version of Mercenaries, the LucasArts/Pandemic sandbox game that cam out a few years ago. Like Crackdown, the premise of Mercanaries was to hunt down "bad" people. Unlike Crackdown's offering of 21 bosses and sub-bosses, however, Mercenaries had players capturing 52 of the world's worst war criminals. More importantly, in order to discover a given criminal's location, a Mercanaries Player had to complete a GTA-like mission. In Crackdown, the information is just given to the player if he or she drives (or spider-man jumps as the case may be) near the criminal in question. The lack of any missions in Pacific City really hurts the game. It just makes the whole experience seem that much more empty. Still, Incognito is right, the game is a lot of fun, even if I think that the dynamic of running and smashing is carried out a bit better in Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. Anyone else have any thoughts?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Crackdown Co-Op?

So I finally got my 360 back from the repair center and subsequently went out and purchased a copy of Crackdown. I enjoy the single-player component very much, but in my first experiences with the co-op gameplay I must say I was largely underwhelmed.

I can see where co-op could be fun, where you are both two super-powered agents fighting against almost impossible odds (e.g. Gears of War), but currently I think Crackdown fails to achieve this for a couple reasons:
  1. Getting into and out of co-op sucks. While the system is set up so your friends (or really anyone) can join at any time you choose to accept a co-op request the game reloads and you both have to start over regardless of what you were doing. Also, if your co-op friend decides to leave, the game has to reload you back into the single-player (another reload and start over). The streamlined drop-in, drop-out Gears of War co-op this is not.
  2. The campaign is attached to the host and cannot be restarted. The world that you both play in is attached to the host and short of deleting all your progress (including that of your agent) there doesn't seem to be a way to restart it. Also, the videos describing the gangs and their generals are disabled in co-op. As a result, if you are at all interested in knowing about who these people you're killing are and why, you'll need to play it on your own first, and then you've finished all the missions so you can't do them in co-op. Crackdown is screaming for a New Game+ or some way to reset all the campaign missions so you can do them with a friend. Screaming.
  3. You can't start a new agent or a co-op specific agent. The problem with this is that let's say your friend, oh, let's call him Incog, has been playing Crackdown all week and has completely maxed his character. You on the other hand just got the game and so your agent but all reasonable accounts, sucks. The result is that if you want to play with your friend you're going to have to accept the fact that you are largely going to be observing him doing cool stuff while you run around trying not to die. The ability to start a new agent or scale your agent to that of the host would make for much more fun cooperative gameplay.
These are things that I think could be reasonably remedied, but the question is whether Realtime Worlds would even care to or if they're even aware there is a problem. Personally, I think #2 is the most damning and, oddly enough, the easiest to fix (I mean just have a button that sets all the dead generals back to alive).

Hmmmm, I'm going to send an email to Realtime Worlds and see what they say. Maybe we can make a difference. We'll see how it turns out and I'll be sure to post the exchange here. Either way I feel that Crackdown co-op has enormous potential since the gameplay is very exciting and enjoyable, but right now that potential is largely unrealized.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Things that are awesome

1. Frosted mugs. They keep beer cold for hours, and because of that their awesomeness can not be understated.
2. The Prestige. The DVD came out this week, and it was just as good the second time. It's one of those movies where you notice little things after you know the twist that you missed the first time.
3. Crackdown.

Is Crackdown a great game? Not necessarily. It's not very long, you could probably wrap up the "story" in ten to twelve hours. Also, the missions are all pretty much the same. Approach area, kill grunts, kill boss. Rinse and repeat.

Does this mean that Crackdown isn't fun? Hells no. The fun just lies elsewhere: in things like jumping from rooftop to rooftop, or throwing a semi cab at some pedestrians, or intentionally leaping from a very tall building just to hear the sickening thud when you hit the ground. If, for some reason, you were one of those ten people who didn't download the demo, you really owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Trust me, if you love homing rocket launchers and throwing vehicles (and who doesn't), you'll love it.

Re: Power PC

This isn't quite what you're talking about, but this does bring up something interesting in the computer vs. console game battle. It seems that more women play games on a computer than a console. Part of that, I think is our aversion to sitting down at a console and dumping 14 hours into an RPG (we don't have that kind of article on this particular issue is forthcoming). But, truly, why do I like games on a computer more than games on a console?

Seeing as how the games I play on the computer are the more simple strategy games and I probably wouldn't know a difference in graphics if you showed them to me side-by-side (although that did work when I was convinced of the greatness of DVDs over VHS) there is something about playing computer that works better for me. Maybe it's because I'm a girl and didn't grow up with a controller in my hand or maybe it's because I'm lazy and using a mouse with some button clicking is easier than two hands on a controller. The other hand can be used for drinking something yummy and I don't miss out on some complicated button mashing battle tactics.

I'm not sure what it is but I've played the Sims on both computer and playstation 2 and I like the computer version much better. I think I just have more control over things on a computer.

Games About Books???

Hello all you gamers! What do you think about games that are based on books? I am thinking about things like Rainbow Six. Do you think that these are good for the industry or bad? And while we're at it...what do think about movies based on games? Many times I find myself thinking...WOW! That game would be a GREAT title for a new movie....but most of the video game based movies I've seen just aren't as good. Do you think there is something related to the interactive nature of a video game that makes its plot compelling on a computer or console, but not so much on a movie screen? I'm not sure. What are your thoughts?

Re: Power PC

Ummm...some might say the complete lack of games worth playing (no disrespect to Resistance of course and as a 'proud' PS3 owner) would be reason enough. As for the PC Power complaints Sidious is pretty much dead on. While your average PC gamer would say it's because the graphics were so much more impressive, in the era of HDTV that is becoming less and less apparent.

I know that the big reason for my obsession with the PC is strategy, but if the consoles ever actually manage to crack that nut, they may sway me to stop pouring money into my computer on a biannual basis. BFME II for the 360 was a good attempt, but the controls still weren't quite there and most of the reviewers appeared to miss out on the fact that the game ran like absolute and total crap.

I mean, I was playing BFME II a computer ago and it still ran about 5 times faster than the 360 version. We'll see what they can manage to do with C&C 3 using a completely ground up approach, but seeing as my PC rocks, you can imagine which version I currently have reserved...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Power PC

Ok, so I played the Supreme Commander Demo like the rest of the PC-Gaming universe. Like Avenger said in his review at the mothership. The demo didn't initially wow me. In fact, it kind of turned me off a bit. After giving it a couple of additional chances, however, I found that I quite liked the game and that it was both different from other RTS games that I had played and different from what I was expecting. Because of the experience I purchased the game on Wednesday.

Here's my problem. Apparently the demo never really got the game up to "full steam" as it were. Where as I was able to play the demo at a certain high resolution and with most of the textures and effects turned on, and whereas I was similarly able to play at such resolution and with such textures and effects in the initial stages of the single player campaign, once the **** really started hitting the fan in terms of number of units being displayed the game slowed to a crawl. Turns out that in order to play the game I needed to turn down the settings to the second lowest resolution with the lowest refresh rate with no effects and low textures. While the game functions in this condition, needless to say it fails to impress like the box shots.

Now my computer just isn't that old. I would have called it middle to upper-middle class about 18 months ago, and now it plays new games like its an old commadore 64 or circa-1984 macintosh with the chimney to keep it from over-heating. Obviously this isn't a problem in all instances, but as a consumer relatively new to PC gaming I can certainly see why the console markets have grown while the PC's has suffered. To upgrade my computer I could probably buy a PS3, so (other than the complete lack of games worth playing) why wouldn't I?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fighting with the Playstation 3

Well, the first big name title to be released for the PS3 since its launch in mid-November of last year is finally upon us. My question to you is this: Are you going to get Virtua Fighter 5? It has been fairly well reviewed. Then again, as Avenger would say "It is just a fighting game." Will this help the PS3 sell, or are we still waiting around for a true system seller? (I defy anyone to label Resistance: Fall of Man as a true system seller. Halo that game is not.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Re: Its going to be a long winter

Avenger, fortunately I think the correct name of your post is "It's been a long winter." It looks like the light is finally starting to penetrate the darkness. Supreme Commander, C+C 3, God of War 2, Motorstorm, NBA Street Homecourt, Crackdown, etc. all look worthy of our support. As for the way I play Battle for Middle Earth 2: The match was an hour and a half not two hours, I was beating you to a bloody pulp, and I unfortunately couldn't seal the deal. And then of course, pork chops, 'nuff said.

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's going to be a long winter...

For one of the first times I've seen Game Informer decided not to award a PC game of the month or a Handheld game of the month as they felt there wasn't enough suitable material to warrant an award. Ouch.

At least Supreme Commander comes out this week! I can't wait to have my first 4-6 hour multiplayer match! ;)

Though the way Sidious plays it will probably last about 2 min. Except when we play Battle for Middle Earth II then it will last for-ev-er. Our last 2 hour bout basically made me sick of strategy and all things strategy related for about a day...or at least a couple hours...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Getting fiscally hosed...again

If you, like me, purchased the Lost Planet collector's edition, you will no doubt be pleased to hear that the Battlegrounds map you got with your shiny new game will not be part of a future map pack. No. Instead, it will be released for free. Free?! If that map costs zero dollars, what did I pay for when I got the collector's edition? Are you really telling me that I paid ten dollars for a metal case (and in my case, a dented one), a miniature art book, and a couple months head start on a free map? Honestly, I feel as though Capcom owes me something more, and it's unlikely that I'll get satisfaction. Hopefully this isn't the start of a long history of Capcom sticking it to consumers via Marketplace, since I'd hate to see how far they would try to push people with RE5 DLC.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Seeds of a great new company

From EvilAvatar comes some great news. Some of the old members of the now defunct Clover development studio (thanks Capcom) have started a new one, called Seeds. I am very, very, very exited to see what a development studio with the directors of Okami and RE 4 on board can do. I have no doubt that they will make some "preposterously amazing" games.

Just one more turn...

I should really know better than to start a 4X game so close to bedtime.

Oh well, I still got some sleep and Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar really is that good. I mean, the original Galactic Civilizations II was a fantastic game and Dark Avatar just expands and improves on its predecessor. I definitely wanted to keep playing so I could just research one more technology, build one more ship, subjugate one more race, and that's exactly how a good 4X game should feel. Supposedly Dark Avatar also includes a program that generates a narrative of what occured in your game so once I figure out how to use that I will happily regale you all with the rise of Korxcom and the fall of the other major races under the weighty bootheel of Korx trading and diplomacy.

In other news, I haven't really tried to register since my 360 is in the shop (again), but I did see that the site has basically been down since the kickoff for the challenge. Too bad...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Xbox rewards backdoor

For anyone still having trouble with the broken Xbox rewards page, I have found a backdoor. First, make sure you have a passport account (hotmail, etc.), then go here to sign in. Then go here to register for the challenge.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Xbox Rewards = broken

So, I have been trying to sign up for the Xbox rewards thing since the site went live last night. I have not yet been able to actually get into it. It started last night when none of the pages would load when I tried to sign in. I've been trying every few hours since then, and still nothing. As of February 13 at 5:32 EST, MS Game Studios says: "sorry we are very busy at the moment, please try again later." That's all that you see now when you try to access Thanks, Microsoft. Thanks for making this a smooth process.

If anyone has been able to actually log in, good for you. You must have hit that 5 minute window before everyone broke the site. I find it very surprising that MS may have underestimated the number of people who would try to sign up ASAP.

The original GOW

So did everybody see all of the God of War II reviews hitting the web this week. Its a little bit odd to say the least since the game is not slated to hit store shelves until early March. And these reviews are coming from big sites too: Gamespy, IGN, etc. Do you figure that these guys are reviewing pre-release versions of the game. I can't imagine that they would, and yet we're faced with almost a month-long window before the game is released to us.

Why would Sony hold a finished AAA game until March? Any thoughts?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Re: Re: Gamerwhoring

I agree with Avenger on his points, however, I do think that there is some danger on the margins. It wasn't so long ago that we here in the Den were arguing over whether it was a fair and just practice to tie gamerpoints to multiplayer gaming that mandates that the player play with anyone but his friends. The problems with this system are many: The player doesn't get to play with anyone he or she knows; The system usually boots the Player out of the game once it is completed, leading to a cycle of 5 minutes finding a game/five minutes playing a game; and The Player is far more likely to find him or herself playing with "Gamerwhores" who are not the most friendly of gaming compatriots.

My thought is that the addition of tangible rewards to the Gamerpoint system will practically mandate that all multiplayer acheivments are tied to "Ranked matches." At the very least Microsoft will have to keep better tabs on how developers choose to distribute their points. I mean, do we really want a class of games (see Fuzion Frenzy) that are popular solely because you can get 1000 points out of them quite easily? I know I don't.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Re: Gamerwhoring

Ok, first of all, regardless of what slam I decided to come back at you with you would have criticized it, so I decided, "why waste the effort?" I got across the point that your insult was, in fact, false and that was all I wanted to achieve. I would imagine that you of all people would understand and respect this kind of pragmatic laziness. Anyway, on to the business at hand...

First, I actually like achievements. I can't really explain why but for some reason seeing that little 'achievement unlocked' flash across my screen actually has some level of satisfaction, and I know I'm not alone in this. It's what motivates us to play through Gears of War multiple times, to try to go through a level of Lego Star Wars II without losing a life, or to see if you can manage to get through a level of Splinter Cell: Double Agent without being seen. It's the challenges that gamers have always been giving themselves for their favorite games, but now it has been given form and function.

Next, I like the concept of the rewards program. I don't think it is likely to make anyone more of an achievement whore than they already are (though it might convince to go finish King Kong which is about 8 hours long and a cool 1000), and it actually gives the Gamerscore some value even if it is rather small (I mean the Level 1 and Level 2 prize packages are like $5-$7). Before this, Gamerscore was just some limited measure of status that no one really cared about. Now, it has some purpose, I'm actually surprised it took this long to get here. I always thought that things like cool gamer pics should be tied to your Gamerscore: you want to be Master Chief, rack up 10,000 points and you earn it. Having to pay for gamer pics is completely ridiculous anyway, but that's an argument for another day...

In the end, I don't think that the Reward program will change the way most people play, but I do think it will encourage gamers to play their 360 a little more often and maybe aim at some of the more difficult achievements just a little more aggressively. I think that's exactly what Microsoft was going for, and with that I think they'll be very successful. This is another move in the right direction for XBox Live and another innovation that Sony would do well to downright copy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


"Cram it"? That's your comeback? I really expect better from you Avenger.

Anyways, Microsoft recently announced their Xbox Rewards program, which will reward gamers who enjoy achievement whoring with worldly goods, like t-shirts, Xbox games, etc. I'm not saying that I won't register (1500 in 2 months, especially with Crackdown coming out is a slam dunk), but I'm not excited for the online environment that this will most likely generate for two months. I think I'll just avoid ranked matches for a while (especially in Gears), until the almost certain rampant Gamerscore frenzy is over.

So, what do you guys think? Is this a cool way for Microsoft to reward dedicated fans, or just a gimmick that will cause more harm (for gamers' enjoyment of their favorite games) than good?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Supreme Commander Demo Has Landed

First off, Incognito, I finished Final Fantasy XII less than a month ago (which you'd know if you actually read stuff at the website) and that was about 80+ cram it.

In other news, for those eagerly awaiting Chris Taylor's newest strategic masterpiece, Supreme Commander, if you haven't heard already, a demo for the game was made available yesterday. I am currently downloading a copy from FileShack (my favorite of the download sites) and plan to report back on my findings (either in a short article or a blog post) after I have had a chance to play around with it some. Just thought you all should know!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Wait, you probably won't finish Rogue Galaxy? I'm so surprised by that! Seriously, when is the last time you finished a 10+ hour game? 1998?

No offense intended, it's just that I haven't made fun of you for your poor game-finishing habits in a while. It's refreshing, like a fresh pair of pants straight from the dryer on a cold day.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Galactic Romp for the Ages...

The concept of this post will likely become a one-minute review if I ever get around to writing it, but I just wanted to say my initial impressions of Rogue Galaxy have been very strong. Actually, my initial impressions (like the first hour or so) were somewhat weak, but having now played it for upwards of 15 hours, I can say it has really grown on me.

The characters are likeable and interesting, the combat is fun, albeit repetitive at times, and the adventure would seem to be chock full of stuff to do. You can advance the plot, go on bounty hunts, train your insectors for the insectron tournament, build items in the factory, or just explore the galaxy to you heart's content. From what I've heard of the length of this beast, chances are I won't finish it, but at this point I know I have an overwhelming desire to do so, and that's all I can ask for right now. Good stuff, if you like console RPGs, be sure to give this one a look.

A Day that Will Live in Infamy

All I can say is, it's good I wasn't in command of our forces in the Pacific during WWII...

In no less than three matches of Battlestations: Midway, my forces were handily defeated by the tactically-challenged Sidious. He may have limped across the finish line on a number of occasions, but a win is a win, and I'm not sure how he managed it. I don't know what it is about that game, but I haven't yet been able to wrap my head around it and it shows in my play.

Sidious and I have a long history of playing strategy games together. In Rise of Legends he hasn't captured a single one of my cities. He hasn't managed to win a single campaign in Star Wars: Empire at War (okay, he won one, but that was before we realized it auto resolved neutral battles and I sent the emperor to go capture a pirate planet, poor Emperor Palpatine). In the collective pantheon of RTS matches we've played (Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III, Dawn of War, Company of Heroes, Command & Conquer: Generals, just to name a few) he's probably only managed a handful of victories. Yet somehow he managed three Battlestations victories in a row!

I'm not sure what to make of all this, but it was very unsettling, so I needed to vent (and counter his gloating over our Battlestations matches, with a little "scoreboard!"). Still, I congratulate him on his victories and assure him that he will not find me such easy prey the next time we meet. That is, if I can manage to tear myself away from Rogue Galaxy long enough to get in some practice...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You're a Big Boy Now

Just like in real life, lots of people online are douchebags. People in WoW gank you, people in Madden glitch you, people in Halo say stupid crap. The problem that this causes is not just social, it affects the gaming. There are PC FPS games, primarily MOH:AA, where I have played through the campaign but never touched online play. Why? Because I can't aim. I don't know what my problem is because I have good hand-eye coordination. But I can't aim to save my life...
Do I think I could have fun online without being able to aim? Heck yes I could. But I know that there will be people out there that will feel the need to belittle my lack of aim. In some games, this doesn't matter. In Tribes II it was okay that I wasn't that good at aiming. There were always enough people playing that I just tried to contribute. The smaller the game, the less likely I am to play online, partially cause I don't like losing and partially because its no fun to be that no-aim pariah.
Does that mean anything should stop you from playing Gears online? No. There are going to be some games where you'd rather smack you teammate with a polearm than congratulate him on a win, but other times it will be great. If you enjoy the game with friends, I'm sure you'll enjoy it online. If not, life goes on. It might even work out that the douchebag from the other night is on the other team. Sweet Justice!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Internet Social Anxiety Disorder

For the last 4 days, I've had a really strong urge to play Gears of War online. The problem is, I can't bring myself to do it. I'm just too terrified of joining a match full of douchebags that will ruin my multi-player experience (much like the last time I tried to play GoW with strangers), so I just turn on my Xbox and sit at the Dashboard while I watch TV. Over this time I have only managed to start gears twice: once to play some of the single-player campaign, and once to stare at the multi-player menu. Seriously, how pathetic is that? I should be making fun of myself for being such a wussy.

Not surprisingly, Gears isn't the only game that will do this to me. Just downloading the Lost Planet online demo was a huge leap for me, let alone actually playing and enjoying it. Why was that such a huge feat? That humble Lost Planet online demo marked the first time I had ever (as in: forever) played a console game online.

What I want to know is this: does this ever happen to anyone else, even occasionally? Please tell me that I'm not as crazy as I think I am (because if I ever become that crazy, the end of the world is nigh).

As it has happened many times before, my own insanity has more or less crushed my ability to do something that I should enjoy. In this case, that thing is playing multi-player games. I know that this shouldn't be a problem, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't like playing with people I can't see. I don't know if I will ever be able to shake the discomfort of playing with people over the internets.

So the next time you see me in your Friends list just sitting at the Xbox Dashboard, you'll know that I'm probably just sitting there trying to psych myself up to boot up Gears. When this happens, do me a favor and kick my ass. I deserve it.

I spoke too soon

So, it turns out that my previous information about Blu-ray was incorrect. I was under the impression that Vivid had already announced their support of HD-DVD, but I learned to today that the opposite is true: they are producing Blu-ray movies. My apologies to Blu-ray for my premature prediction of its lack of boobies and subsequent demise. However, I still don't trust Sony not to royally screw it up.

Question for Gamers: Where do you want to see gaming go in the future?

Okay all you gamers out there....Where do you want to see gaming go in the future? There are lots of new games being made and new systems being developed. What would you like to see happen?

I think that I would like better developed sim games. It seems like some games are made so quickly that attention to detail is forgotten and they aren't as much fun to play. I would also like to see a new version of tetris...maybe like a take on Magical Mickey Tetris for the N64.