Mr. Bill George Presents

Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

I Hate Gamestop

In Society, Video Games on November 15, 2009 at 10:42 AM

I find that with each and every visit to Gamestop I find myself hating the establishment just a little bit more.

My disposition towards the game vendor has slowly festered to a blackened husk, and my resentment to myself only grows as I keep returning there to buy games. It’s not that they don’t have a great selection, or that their prices are too high, quite the contrary actually. Typically when I go to GameStop I leave with the product I wanted for the price that I was expecting. What makes me want to beat the employees to death with the claw end of a hammer is the goddamn INCESSENT nagging about reserving games and taking advantage of their used game selection. As time wears on I regard these two policies as affronts to humanity, though I realize my position may be seen as somewhat extremist.

I used to go to GameStop, get my games, and be content. When they first started the reservation policy it was actually convenient, no more worries about having to wait for a new shipment to come in for popular games. But now it has devolved to the point where the employees seem to be trying to harangue you into believing that it is a privilege for you to buy these games from them. That they are a rare commodity that must be “reserved” lest you miss out on the initial release. WTF is that? They are a video game retailer they should be well stocked with video games.

My rage for this reservation system began with the release of the first “Gears of War.” I had reserved the game a month prior, eager for “E-DAY” as the clever marketing advertisements painted it. I received a call from the automated Gamestop calling system telling me that my copy had arrived and it could be picked up during store hours. So I make the drive to the mall, fight my way through throngs of people, get to the store, and…. “Out of stock.” “Sorry,” they say, but I’ll have to wait for the next shipment, “come back tomorrow.”

Disheartened I made my way to Best Buy in the hopes that they might have the product I sought. Upon 5 minutes in the store I saw displays with DROVES of copies of the game. So I bought it, returned to Gamestop, patiently explained that they could fuck off, and got my reservation deposit back. Since then I have scorned the idea of reserving a game.

I’ve been jaded towards GameStop ever since, yet I keep returning to buy games from them for they are the closest video game distributor in my area and I don’t abhor the policy enough to spend more gas money.  I do refuse to reserve games however and I also refuse to buy used games since they are usually priced only 5 dollars lower than a brand spankin’ new copy. I spent five minutes one day arguing with a employee on why I wanted a new Little Big Planet and not simply a used one. I tried to laugh it off and chuckle about how I like opening the shrink wrap but I resolved to giving him an icy stare and uttering, “Just give me the new copy” between gritted teeth and a twitching cornea.

The other day I went in to pick up Uncharted 2 and when I asked the clerk “Could I got a copy of Uncharted 2?”  he responded with,

“Did you reserve it?” with the undertone that I was stupid if I didn’t.

“No,” I replied.

“…. Well we have one right here, you got lucky.”

So I kind of just gave him a “wtf” look and paid my total. I’m sure that he must say such things lest he be sodomized by the corporate entities behind the individual retail stores but I still can’t help but want to spew ulcerous fluids at such encounters. Maybe because I was such a whore once for Staples and such exchanges bring to light suppressed memories of being a puppet for those empty and tainted policies that my hatred is both internal and external. Nightmares resurfacing of dancing to the strings of some malevolent entity running the company from afar, his invisible eye ever present.

I just can’t seem to be okay with the idea of supporting a company that buys games from little kids and confused parents for a pittance of the original costs, sells them for $5 less than retail robbing the developers of money, and then creates this disillusionment that every new game NEEDS to be reserved or else the customer will miss out. I’m not even going to delve into the new gimmick of giving away special in-game features with reservations for fear of bursting into flame. I DON’T WANT YOUR STUPID SPECIAL IN-GAME BASEBALL BAT, LEFT 4 DEAD 2!

… Yes I do 😦

Advertisements

Odds And Ends #2

In Film, Music, Video Games on September 23, 2009 at 10:28 AM

– Friend of TIAW and frequent commenter, ‘unofficialitguy’ is doing a site revamp over at http://www.unofficialitguy.com/ . Make sure to check it out this Friday, September 25th. When the time rolls around I’ll edit this post with updated details but I wanted to make sure you all were prepped and ready to go. He’s also been added to our links list on the bottom left of this page. Can’t wait to see it!

– The long awaited DS game Sribblenauts came out recently and I picked myself up a copy. It is unbelievably fun at times but can be frustrating at others. As a 5 minute demo to show off for friends, it’s unrivaled. But when you really sit down and starting putting time into it and slog through the hundreds of levels, it starts to wear. Sure, you can create any object you want and use it to help you solve puzzles, but often those objects don’t act the way you expect them to or hope they will.

If I create a construction worker and put him in a backhoe and place the whole thing above a dig-able surface, I expect results! Instead he sits idly by twiddling his virtual thumbs (essentially). In fact, whenever you create any other human characters they either act as a guardian for you, an enemy of you, or neither and just meander around.

The game’s database is a marvel to behold with no stone left unturned, and as an appetizer the game succeeds tremendously, but hopefully this will flourish into a franchise. Maybe then they’ll focus on adding depth to what happens on screen instead of just deepening their glossary.

– Speaking of games, I recently played The Beatles: Rock Band for the first time. I had about an hour and a half with the game and went through 3 or 4 sets with a handful of songs a piece. It is what I expected: a Rock Band game full of Beatles music. But it goes so far above and beyond in terms of detail and presentation that it really blows all other music games out of the water. The amount of effort that must have been poured into this game is palpable in the background videos, loading screens, menus etc. It’s truly a sight to behold, and I’m not even a huge Beatles fan. (Though I am becoming one. It’s so much easier to comprehend just how much they did when you see it all in one place. And it helps when that one place is a video game franchise I already know intimately and love.)

– Steven Soderbergh’s new film The Informant! came out last week and I had the pleasure of seeing it. It tells the unbelievable true story of Mark Whitacre and his work with the FBI as an informant in a price fixing scandal involving one of the biggest companies in the food industry in the early 90’s. Sounds like a snoozer, but Damon’s performance as Whitacre is inspired. It’s a fascinating story that’s told so well that it is nothing short of riveting. Worth a watch for sure.

– I downloaded the song from the new Nano commercial. It’s a good time. You can find it HERE, track number 9, “Bourgeois Shangri-La.”

(Real) Life On The Farm

In Video Games on July 27, 2009 at 11:34 PM

These days it seems like every new video game on the market is playing a game of “can you top this,” with a million possible story lines and insanely realistic graphics. Sure, for uber nerds gamers that want to devote the time, these developments in gaming technology are fantastic.

But what about the regular people who don’t feel like scouring the internet to discover the correct code to unlock Vault 9 in such-and-such game? (OK, Fallout.) I don’t need to see a character’s pumping veins or the gruesome details of a chemical spill to be impressed by the “realness” of a game. You want to see real? I suggest you pick up a Game Boy Advance SP and play a little Harvest Moon.

Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town was developed in 2005 by Natsume Inc., and is one of many versions of the RPG. While each model of Harvest Moon is slightly different, the premise of the story remains the same: Your character inherits a farm for X amount of time, and must make it profitable while also building a life for his or herself.

In the 2005 version the lead character is female (a blonde which I have some issues with), but there’s certainly no gender discrimination in Mineral Town. Clearing land, tilling, planting and harvesting crops are all a must to survive in the game, and, if you want to survive past your first winter, you’ll need to purchase livestock, learn how to fish, and collect logs to make home improvements with. If you can find any free time in between all that intensive labor than you’d better take a walk through the neighborhood, because in this game you’re also expected to socialize with the residents of Mineral Town (something that may be traumatic for the agoraphobic gamers out there).

Me, or my character Angie-Poo, has been living on Jaded Field Farm (I started playing the game after a breakup) for almost a year, and I have three chickens (all named Minski), one cow and one sheep. And a horse that was given to me by the mayor, but I think he might be lame because he’s legitimately been with me for a ten months and hasn’t grown at all, or maybe I should remember to feed him more. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so distracted if one of the game’s biggest features wasn’t to get married and have kids. That’s right folks, just like life, if you don’t get a mate during your time on the farm everyone in the town will think you’re a big fat loser, and you’ll probably die alone while everybody else couples off and then you’ll be the only person in North Adams– uhh, I mean Mineral Town, to not have a boyfriend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cooperatively Evil

In Video Games on June 17, 2009 at 11:53 PM

Recently I have been growing increasingly irate with certain gimmicks that seem to be growing in video games. In the past few months I have played through Resident Evil 5 and inFamous, both fantastic games despite one aspect that really, supremely “grinded my gears.” And these two facets of these otherwise wonderful games are the heavy centering on the “Cooperative Experience” in RE5 and the “Moral Choice System” in inFamous. Back in the day I welcomed such additions to the gaming medium. I must say I spent countless hours in the original halo’s co-op just stockpiling grenades and sending warthogs soaring out of the atmosphere, and watching my first Fable character degrade into a horned ifrit was just joy.

However, as time has gone on I’ve found that games are trying to make the co-op experience more centric to the game experience as a whole, rather than an addition to be kept separate from the main experience. And moral choice systems are now a way to have gamers play through a game twice to experience slightly different halves with no middle ground. Maybe I’m just an old school single player enthusiast but when I have to play through all of RE5 while having Sheva follow me like a machine gun wielding puppy I get rather annoyed. Not saying I wouldn’t love to have a machine gun wielding puppy follow me around, but for the purposes of the RE5 game it isn’t ideal.  I love to be able to play with a friend, however, I would prefer if it wasn’t forced upon me.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is I would much prefer a game that is meant to be single-player, to stay single-player. Left for Dead is meant to be a team experience which is why it’s awesome with other people. The Resident Evil series has always been an incredible single player experience, and when they try to hop on the goddamned buddy-system band wagon I get a bit peeved.  Maybe if I had a good teammate on-call all the time to play with over Live I’d be singing a different tune, but when I have a 11 year old eunuch with a broken mic trying to knife zombies to death in order to get some crack-ass achievement as my teammate the gaming experience is cheapened somewhat.

Now onto moral choice systems which is the fresher of the two subjects in my mind. I completed inFamous about a week ago and for those of you who are not in tune with the PS3 side of things you play as an electric-powered superman who must make things right in a shattered city all the while choosing whether you want to be the cities benevolent beneficiary or its “infamous” electrically charged asshole. I opted for the latter because one of the evil powers is an Emperor of the Sith-esque arc lightning, which, when upgraded, makes people explode (and writhe!).

I suppose it was pretty cool that your powers would change depending on what moral choices you make but what annoyed me is that the choices were either on complete dastardly side like sodomizing a little girl or the radiating Christ-goodness side like saving that girl from a fire instead and then showering her with ponies and goodies.  I mean why can’t I choose a healthy medium? But no, it doesn’t work like that, by the end of the game I get to be either the cities righteous savior (bitch) or be its immoral resident super-being who coasts along power lines blowing up cars because it looks cool on his HDTV.

Also when the evil powers tend to be more “flashy” then the good powers I find myself making the “moral” choices based along the thought process of,  “hmm this lightning grenade would look cool if it turned into a cluster lightning grenade!” (which is the evil power) Which leads to me choosing to pump black poison tar into a citizen apartment complex because I’d rather my grenades split into 7 explosive bits rather than just one.

I can’t gripe too much however since I still am playing the game and it is rather good, I just wonder what the game writers were thinking when posing these “powerful moral choices” to the gamer. They are too black and white, wouldn’t you say? A shade of gray would be nice once in awhile. And co-op, ugh co-op, please don’t force me to play with a sub-par computer controlled twat (Sheva) that is integral to the game when I am lacking a competent human to play with. Maybe I’d be happier if the computer controlled twat (Sheva) could die without repercussion, but she doesn’t, so I’m not.

Do The Loco-Motion(Plus)

In Video Games on June 9, 2009 at 9:29 PM
Wii MotionPlus is finally available and I just happen to have my self the shiny new gadget and a copy of Tiger Woods 10. First of all, let me just say that I know many of you are crying foul and that big, bad Nintendo is nothing but a money grubbing company who “lied” to everyone about the capabilites that their new “Wii” machine had. The Wii has quickly gone from apple of the gaming world’s eye, to sell out, meaning they have gone outside the gaming worlds normal audience and tried and succeded to bring in new people to gaming. Ladies and gentlemen…MotionPlus.
In true Nintendo fashion the MotionPlus comes with two instruction manuals, both of which outline nearly the same thing. The nice folks at Nintendo also throw in a new Wiimote jacket that accomodates the added length of the MotionPlus. Once you spend the few seconds assembling the device, the Wiimote now feels like a little more serious piece of equipment. After all 1:1 response is a very serious matter is it not?
You may be thinking to yourself, “How can the_skeptic be qualified to review MotionPlus, Tiger Woods can’t possibly be that motion intensive?” Your right, in fact you have the option to completely bypass the whole thing altogether, but, the guys at EA Sports added a new game…within the game that is the perfect vehicle to examine the greatness of 1:1 control response. Disc Golf, or “Frolf” is a seperate game within Tiger Woods 10 that I’m quite sure was thrown in just to show off the accuracy of MotionPlus. I tell you, it IS just like throwing an actual Frisbee. There is no lag, no glitch, no nothing.
But here within lies the problem. It’s perfect, almost too perfect. Have you ever played Frisbee with someone who can’t throw it straight, meaning it curves and sails wildly and unexpectedly because they can’t grasp the concept of the “wrist flick”? These woes with be perfectly recreated when they play disc golf. I think the biggest problem that people will have with MotionPlus is that it still has a learning curve. 1:1 doesn’t mean that everything gets easier, it means that if you stink at golf, tennis, baseball, darts, or anything in real life, you stank will be perfectly captured in a digital environment. Ain’t that great.
I forsee MotionPlus getting many mixed reviews because it does require a fine touch, something not too many video games have. Gone are the days of button mashing and in are the days of maybe video game…practice?!?!?! I won’t go that far, but i will say this Nintendo gave us everything the Wii was promised to be and then some, at what I see as a reasonable price of 24.99. Once you use it for a minute or so the games will be infinitly more fun if you are willing to work at them a little longer.
The Bottom Line: (To steal a review tatic to Wii-abandoner MrBillGeorge)
MotionPlus absolutely is worth it, and will probably be necessary for most Wii games in the near future. So swallow you pride, and experience the Wii the way it was meant to be.
Grade: A+

Wii MotionPlus is finally available and I just happen to have my self the shiny new gadget and a copy of Tiger Woods 10.

First of all, let me just say that I know many of you are crying foul and that big, bad Nintendo is nothing but a money grubbing company who “lied” to everyone about the capabilites that their new “Wii” machine had. The Wii has quickly gone from apple of the gaming world’s eye, to sell out. Meaning that they have gone outside the gaming world’s normal audience and succeeded in bringing in new people to gaming.

Ladies and gentlemen… MotionPlus:

In true Nintendo fashion the MotionPlus comes with two instruction manuals, both of which outline nearly the same thing. The nice folks at Nintendo also throw in a new Wiimote jacket that accomodates the added length of the MotionPlus. Once you spend the few seconds assembling the device, the Wiimote now feels like a little more serious piece of equipment. After all, 1:1 response is a very serious matter is it not?

You may be thinking to yourself, “How can the_skeptic be qualified to review MotionPlus, Tiger Woods can’t possibly be that motion intensive?” You’re right. In fact, you have the option to bypass the whole thing altogether, but the guys at EA Sports added a new game within the game that is the perfect vehicle to examine the greatness of 1:1 control response. Disc Golf, or “Frolf,” is a seperate game within Tiger Woods 10 that I’m quite sure was thrown in just to show off the accuracy of MotionPlus. I tell you, it IS just like throwing an actual Frisbee. There is no lag, no glitch, no nothing.

But herein lies the problem: It’s perfect… almost too perfect. Have you ever played Frisbee with someone who can’t throw it straight? Meaning it curves and sails wildly and unexpectedly because they can’t grasp the concept of the “wrist flick?” These woes are perfectly recreated when they play disc golf. I think the biggest problem that people will have with MotionPlus is that it still has a learning curve. 1:1 doesn’t mean that everything gets easier, it means that if you stink at golf, tennis, baseball, darts, or anything in real life, your stank will be perfectly captured in a digital environment. Ain’t that great.

I forsee MotionPlus getting many mixed reviews because it does require a fine touch, something not too many video games have. Gone are the days of button mashing and in are the days of maybe video game… practice?!?!?! I won’t go that far, but I will say this Nintendo gave us everything the Wii was promised to be and then some, at what I see as the reasonable price of $24.99. Once you use it for a minute or so the games will be infinitly more fun if you are willing to work at them a little longer.

THE BOTTOM LINE (To steal a review tactic from the Wii-abandoning MrBillGeorge):

MotionPlus is absolutely worth it and will probably be necessary for most Wii games in the near future. So swallow your pride and experience the Wii the way it was meant to be.

Grade: A+

Sony At E3 2009

In Technology, Video Games on June 2, 2009 at 4:18 PM

And last, but not least (well, technically it is in terms of sales) Sony had its own media briefing. And here is what went down:

Uncharted 2, M.A.G., Assassin’s Creed II, GT5, God of War 3 DemoedUncharted 1 was one of the PS3’s big exclusives that helped launch the system and the sequel looks pretty amazing in terms of graphics and intensity. M.A.G. is the 256 player online war game announced last year. But now we got to see it in action.

Is It A Big Deal? Uncharted 2, not so much. We’ve seen it already, this is just more of the same. Showing M.A.G. is a huge deal because everyone has been wondering how it looks and how it works. And if you ask me, it delivered. And of course God of War 3 is gonna be a huge, huge release and a major system seller in March.

PSP Go! Debuted50% smaller PSP with a slide up screen revealing the controls. 16 gig internal memory, downloadable games using built in Wifi etc. Sony says it won’t replace the full-on PSP but both will exist and be supported simultaneously. Available in October for $249.99.

Is It A Big Deal? Not for me, that’s for sure. Never been a big fan of the PSP (or handhelds in general) and the Go! is no exception. But if that’s your thing, then enjoy life without UMDs.

New PSP Games: Gran Turismo, MGS: Peace Walker, Resident Evil Portable, Little Big Planet, SOCOM et al. – Many games were announced and previewed including the next GT game for PSP and a new Metal Gear game made by the main team behind MGS4. Kojima says it isn’t a spin-off or a side story but a legitimate part of the canon. (Too bad it’s for the PSP…)

PSN News Final Fantasy VII now available for full download. And Home… well, it still exists…

Is It A Big Deal? FF7 is huge. Everyone loves that game (I’ve never actually played it… ssshh!) Home still stinks. Period.

Rockstar’s Next Game Will Be PS3 Exclusive – Sony announced the game Agent, made by the guys behind GTA etc.

Is It A Big Deal? Big time. Rockstar North seems to have the golden touch and the fact that their next game will be PS3 only is a big win.

Final Fantasy XIV AnnouncedIt’s PS3 exclusive (for real this time) and it’s online.

Is It ABig Deal? Yes. The announcement of a new FF is always big, not to mention it’s PS3 exclusive which helps Sony save face after last year’s surprise. And it’s an online game which will excite most fans.

Something Totally Original, Innovative and Never-Before-Seen in Video Games: Motion Controls! – Oh, wait… Anyway, in the spring of 2010, Sony will be releasing a motion controller that looks like a wand (similar to the Wiimote) with buttons on the handle and (for the tech demo at least) has a glowing sphere on the tip that the EyeToy tracks with 1-to-1 precision.

Is It A Big Deal? Believe it or not: yes. The Wii is finally getting 1-to-1 controls, Microsoft is doing controller-less motion and now the PS3 has its own 1-to-1 tracking that actually looks even more accurate than Nintendo’s (after watching the Resort demo at their briefing and comparing it to this). They made a  jab at Microsoft saying that buttons are necessary for motion controls, especially for FPS’s. And since it tracks the sphere itself and isn’t based on an IR sensor, you don’t have to worry about room lighting and sensor bars. Just the camera. It’s an interesting technology that could spice things up even more in the console war.

New Game Announced From Team-Ico The Last Guardian is a PS3 exclusive made by the team behind the phenomenal PS2 stand-outs Ico and (one of my personal favorites) Shadow of the Colossus.

Is It A Big Deal? You betcha. A lot of people have been waiting long and hard for what this team has to offer. And I’m sure it will not disappoint (even if it looks a bit weird).

Sony’s Overall Showing – Not too shabby. God of War 3, The Last Guardian and motion controls definitely stole the show and will keep people talking. Gonna be an interesting year for gamers, no doubt about it.

Nintendo At E3 2009

In Technology, Video Games on June 2, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Nintendo just wrapped up their press conference from this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo, so let’s look at what we can expect from the Big N in the near future:

New Super Mario Bros. Wii A new Mario game for Wii in the classic style of a 2D side scroller. The twist being: 4 players simultaneously. Someone plays Mario, another Luigi, and two toads.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes. Almost anything with the name ‘Mario’ means sales and going back to the series’ roots sounds like a good idea to me. Looks pretty fun.

Wii Fit Plus Announced – A new release of Wii Fit you can purchase as a bundle with a board if you don’t have one yet, or as stand alone software.

Is It A Big Deal? Not really. Just another add-on to an already successful game. More activities and options, blah, blah, blah.

Wii Sports Resort and Wii Motion Plus Discussed – As previously alluded to in my Microsoft post, Nintendo is releasing an add-on to Wii-motes that actually support one-to-one motion and make them work the way they should. More parts of Resort were demoed on stage including sky diving and basketball. Also included was the announcement of games that will use motion plus such as Tiger Woods 2010, Grand Slam Tennis, Virtua Tennis and Red Steel 2.

Is It A Big Deal? In the grand scheme of things yes. As for importance to this conference, no. We’ve known about it for a long time, this is just reinforcement.

New DS Games Final Fantasy: Crystal Bearers, a new Kingdom Hearts. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, C.O.P., Style Saavy, some book club game, Mario & Donkey Kong with level creation etc.

Facebook Integration – Much like Microsoft, Nintendo has announced the ability to upload photos taken with the DSI directly to Facebook. Including the opportunity to edit them.

Is It A Big Deal? Just like I thought it was for Microsoft, I see it as a good move for Nintendo. Anything that gets people to spend more time on their platform and get more use of it, the better.

Vitality Sensor -Iwata gave us a sneak peak of a new device he is working on that clips to your finger and keeps track of your pulse and biometric information.

Is It A Big Deal? No idea. Depends on what they can do with it. This was a very brief glimpse.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Announced – Full sequel to the last 3D Mario game that won many ‘Game of the Year’ awards. Oh… and it has Yoshi!

Is It A Big Deal? No doubt about it. I said they needed a flagship game announcement and they delivered.

Metroid: Other M AnnouncedA new Metroid game made by Team Ninja that looks to be a Samus Aran origin story of sorts.

Is It A Big Deal? Absolutely. I’m confused by the gameplay in the video and am unsure of how it actually works, but it sure looks pretty and will sell a billion copies.

Nintendo’s Overall Showing – Lackluster. Too much time wasted on numbers, stats and the DS. But a new Mario and Metroid should satisfy most people.

Microsoft At E3 2009

In Technology, Video Games on June 1, 2009 at 6:53 PM

So, my fellow gamers, it is time once again for the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Of the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) Microsoft kicked things off with its press conference this morning and they announced no small amount of stuff. So here’s the breakdown of what you may have missed:

The Beatles: Rockband – We’ve known about this one for a while. It’s coming out 9/9/09. Ringo and Paul came out to say how pleased they were with it. Ten of the tracks for it were announced and it was demoed on stage.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes, because it’s the first time the Beatles’ music has ever appeared in a game or anything of the sort. And whatever helps edge Rock Band over Guitar Hero, I’m all for it.

Tony Hawk: Ride – Mr. Hawk himself came out to demonstrate his latest game that includes a skateboard controller.

Is It A Big Deal? Umm, if you like skate boarding, sure, I guess. I couldn’t care less.

New Games Shown: Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Forza 3, Alan Wake, Halo: ODST – I loved Crackdown, so a sequel will be nice. I missed out on the original L4D but have played it a few times and enjoyed it so maybe I’ll get 2. The new Splinter Cell has been delayed a million times so it’s nice to hear from it again. Forza I don’t care about. The Alan Wake project has been plauged with issues just like Conviction so it’s good to see it up and running. Halo: ODST we’ve known about for a while, I’m still not all that interested to be honest with you.

Is It A Big Deal? A mild yes in most cases.

Halo Reach Announced A new Halo game and it’s a prequel. Not a gap-filling half-game like ODST, this is the next big one and it’s looking at a 2010 release.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes. Any new full entry into the Halo series is huge for Microsoft.

Last.fm, Facebook, Twitter Coming To NXE – Streaming radio and the ability to check your favorite social networking sites will now be integrated into the dash.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes and a smart move if you ask me. Yet another way to get people sucked into spending time on the platform. I know I’ll try it out. Doing it through the PS3 or Wii in a browser is one thing, but having it integrated into the system and allowing screenshot uploading to Facebook walls etc, that’s something else. Good thinking.

Metal Gear Solid: Rising Coming To The 360 – The MGS franchise has been exclusive to Sony for years (just like Final Fantasy, but we all saw how that went last year). It has been their bread and butter and MGS4 is how they managed to get as many PS3’s out the door as they have.

Is It A Big Deal? More like HUGE. Big win for MS.

Project Natal – Probably the biggest bombshell of the conference. Microsoft announced a camera add-on for the 360 that will include facial and voice recognition and full body motion capture. No need for a motion controller like the Wii, instead you are the controller. They showed a video of a kid in a fighting game, two girls video chatting, operating the dashboard menus by waving your hands around etc.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes… on one condition: that it works. Just like when the Wii came out, it talks a good game but when you try it yourself something feels off. And Nintendo admitted something was wrong in the form of announcing Wii Motion Plus, the controller add-on that will make the system as responsive as it should have been from the get go. But as far as controller-less video gaming, I don’t see it taking over the industry anytime soon. I’ll believe it when I see it in action.

Ability To Download Full Retail Games From XboxLive – PS3 has already done it with a handful of games but now you will finally be able to purchase full retail games and download them directly to your 360’s hard drive.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes! Finally! I can’t wait until we get to the point of disc-less media and this is another huge step in the right direction that they have been dragging their feet on.

Microsoft’s Overall Showing – Impressive. A lot of content to the presentation this year as opposed to last. Nintendo is going to need a new flagship game (Mario, Zelda etc.) and Sony is going to need more than a new PSP to counter Microsoft’s early momentum.

Be A Society Hero

In Music, Video Games on May 11, 2009 at 10:32 PM

I have a headache, and do you know why? I don’t know what the word “hero” means anymore. No, this isn’t a long, political filibuster about the way things were in the good ole days; it is a call to action for all of us to just say no… to rhythm based video games.

Wait, did I really just try to put down the multi-zillion dollar industry that has been created by the game Guitar Hero? You’re damn right I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning the whole organization but I am saying enough is enough. Do you people realize how close we were to getting a Guitar Hero: Prince? (Prince had the dignity to decline and say kids would turn out as well adjusted individuals if they played actual instruments.) But I guess it makes sense, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was a huge hit, the only thing it was missing in my mind was unlockable wheelchairs and walkers for Steven Tyler to use as he shuffled around stage. But enough about my dislike for Aerosmith, I’ll try and spell out it out for you a little more clearly.

Since 2005 when Guitar Hero burst onto the scene there have been 8 games that have come out with 3 more due out this year. Not including the Rock Band franchise which people still pretend is somehow different or more advanced than Guitar Hero, that’s around 1.6 games every year. That’s faster than MADDEN people! I do believe that the fine folks who program these games know that they are running out of room to make these games because in the 2009 lineup is a game called Band Hero. Probably up after that is Group of People in Close Proximity Making Noise Hero, or is that just another name for Aerosmith? Burned.

Basically what I’m driving at is that our whole media industry is far too consumed with reproducing something until its returns are so diminished that it ends up in the bargain bin at Dollar Tree. Don’t believe me? Toy Story 3 is in the works (I know it’s in 3D MrBillGeorge, relax), a new Beverly Hills Cop, a new Jurassic Park, a new Rambo for God’s sake, he (*spoilers*) DIED in the first book. Somewhere the carnage must end.

But there is in fact no end in sight. Activision is coming out with DJ Hero, which I’m absolutely sure will spawn a line of niche games in this vein. Maraca Hero, Slide-Whistle Hero, Nails on a Chalkboard Hero: Aerosmith, Triangle Hero and people will probably eat it up.

I put it to you America, play these games, but don’t discuss that Buddy Rich style drumming got you through ‘Hot For Teacher’ on drums. Be a society hero, go out, socialize, bang on a real drum or two, you just might find that not everything needs a USB port to be worthwhile.