December 27, 2005

Game of the Year

I have decided to go ahead and have my very own Game of the Year awards. Why? Because it makes me feel special, that’s why! I’ll be choosing my overall favorite game for each of the major consoles and then choose an overall game to take home the honors for 2005.

As a side note, I unfortunately do not have the luxury of playing every game released for all systems, so the games chosen will have to be taken from the limited number of games I have been able to get my hands on this year. Until game companies decide to start sending me free copies of their games, this is how it will have to be. (Note: to any game companies reading this who wish to shower me with free games. E-mail me. We’ll talk)

On to the awards . . .

Playstation 2

Winner: God of War

Sweet graphics, super-responsive controls, gore galore, bad-ass main character and hot chicks baring their breasts. If that isn’t the recipe for Game of the Year, I don’t know what is. In all seriousness, God of War is a fantastic action game that serves up a nice challenge, great bosses (if only there were more!!) and a solid story. This game was so much fun and pretty to look at, even my girlfriend used to like watching me play it.

Runner-up: Shadow of the Colossus

I wrote my thoughts on this game earlier. Check here or here. I don’t want to sound redundant.


Winner: Resident Evil 4

This game is just flat out fantastic. It has of the best graphics of any current gen game (prior to 360), amazing atmosphere, revamped gameplay, is pretty damn long, and keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times, even during cinematics (gotta be ready to input commands or you’re a goner). I had an absolute BLAST with this one.

Runner-up: Were there any other Gamecube games released this year? Because really, RE4 is the only action my Cube saw all year and that game came out in January!!! Sad. Just sad.


Winner: Ninja Gaiden: Black

I wrote about this game non-stop on this blog. I can quote my previous comments of God of War actually. “Sweet graphics, super-responsive controls, gore galore, bad-ass main character and hot chicks baring their breasts”. Well, they don’t actually “bare” their breasts in this one, but I’ll be damned if that Rachel doesn’t have some ridiculously large . . . .

Runner-up: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory was great. Close to next-gen visuals and probably the best stealth gameplay out there. If not for the fact that we have seen a Splinter Cell game every year since the series’ debut, this one might have won out. It just felt too familiar after all the yearly updates this series has been receiving.

X-Box 360

Winner: I wouldn’t fucking know since I have yet to get my hands on one!!! Argh!!!

Game of the Year - All systems

Winner: Guitar Hero

This was a tough choice for me. I have been playing Guitar Hero for about a month now and I am still enjoying it as much as when I first started. At the same time I look at it and its design and premise is so simple compared to games like RE4 or God of War. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of rhythm games and I hate to say it, but barely consider those games “games”. But in hindsight, seeing just how addictive, easy to pick-up, impossible to put down and down right genius this game is, I just had to give it the award. Besides, it boiled down to fun. And I have not had more fun with any other game this year.

Runner-up: Resident Evil 4

It was a close contest. VERY close. But Guitar Hero beat RE4 by the slimmest of margins. I couldn’t go wrong with either game though, since both equally deserve it. But I wasn’t going to cop out and hand out a dual-award.

December 23, 2005

King Kong

I watched King Kong last night. Unfortunately the theater I went to is located in a shopping mall. A large one. With another large mall across the street. For some odd reason I completely forgot about the hordes of last minute Christmas shoppers that pollute these places this time of year. Don’t know how ‘cause I used to be one of them. Luckily, my lovely girlfriend handles the bulk of our Christmas shopping now, so I don’t have to go through the torment and downright madness that is the last minute Christmas rush. But I got to experience it first hand last night anyway.

Note to self. NEVER go to a movie theater that is located in a mall the week before Christmas. Actually, scratch that. NEVER go within TWO MILES of any type of shopping mall/center/plaza the week before Christmas, even if the Victoria Secret models are giving away bags of cash and are entertaining bystanders by oil-wrestling in their trademark lingerie.

Anyway, enough about the commute there and the absolute nightmare it was to leave afterward, how was the movie?


King Kong is a roller-coaster ride. The movie has it all. Action, Adventure, drama, comedy, horror - you name it, it has it. You can tell how much fun Peter Jackson had making this film. If you want to nitpick you can say that maybe 10 - 20 minutes could have been shaved off. You can also point out that there are PLENTY of bullshit moments of characters surviving some pretty impossible scenarios and close calls. You can even point out some special effect shots that don’t look quite right.

But on that note, I will just like to say that aside from those instances where the effects aren’t as convincing as you would like (mostly always involving real people in the same shot as CG) the effects are simply mind blowing. Kong Kong himself is as close to perfection as it gets. Lets face it people, this movie will rise or fall depending on how believable its title character is. And believe me, does this movie rise. I am convinced Peter and his crew found some lost continent and trained a 25 foot silver-back to act. Kong is probably the single greatest special effect ever. His mannerisms were hauntingly real, he came across as majestic, innocent, intelligent and completely menacing all at once. It was him that always brought me back into the picture every time some of the aforementioned bullshit moments threatened to pull me out. When you forget you are looking at CG and see the character as something real and alive, then the special effects guys did their job right.

The entire Skull Island sequence had me with an ear-to-ear smile the whole time. I felt like a kid again, staring wide-eyed at the screen, taking in the amazing sights and sounds. I loved every ounce of imagination and adventure that Peter was throwing my way. B.S. moments came and went and yet, I couldn't stop smiling. I was having fun and I know Peter was too. Kong fighting three T-Rexes at once? Bring it on!!! Giant insects? Man, one of my favorite scenes and one that made the skin on the back of my neck crawl. Brontosaur stampede AND Velociraptors at the same time?! Sign me up Peter and may I have seconds?!?!?! Skull Islands gives you an overdose of non-stop craziness and visual splendor that you’ll not soon forget!

I hope that the box office sales for Kong pick up, because really, there are few movies that offer such a fantastically fun time for the price of one admission. Go out and see it, believe me, you’ll be glad you did on the big screen.

On a gaming related note, I know Peter Jackson has said that he is taking a little break from directing, since he has spent the last 10 years of his life working on LotRs and KK. But seeing that that he will be producing the Halo movie, it would be in every gamer’s best interest if he decided to direct one more movie before he takes his break. C’mon Peter, direct Halo! With you behind the wheel, we gamers might get something that has never been done before. A good video game movie. Without you . . . it’s anybody’s guess.

December 22, 2005

Blind luck

So yesterday morning I get to work and go to I notice that every site lists the 360 as “Sold Out” except for the ones selling $2000 “You’re an idiot if you buy this” bundles or eBay with their own overpriced rip-offs. For some unknown reason I leave the screen up and start working. I refresh the site every couple of minutes or so. Then the impossible happens. Circuit City is listing the Premium as “In Stock”. My heart skips a beat and I click on the link. Holy crap! They did have them in stock. I place my order for the Premium Bundle (Premium package, PGR, extra controller and a memory card). Circuit City, being the cool cats that they are, actually let you remove the items from the order that you don’t want, so I immediately get rid of the memory card and PGR. I’m furiously typing in my information, fearful that they might sell out any second. The site refuses my credit card three times before it finally goes through. My palms are sweating by now. I print out my order and wait for the confirmation e-mail that I should be receiving shortly.

Shortly my ass. I have heard horror stories of others that have placed orders on-line only to receive an e-mail stating that their order had to cancelled, or that it was on back-order. I was getting very, very worried.

I call up Powerpuff and tell him to get his ass to because I had just placed an order for a 360. Unfortunately, he was stuck in traffic on his commute to work and he wasn’t going to be able to check for a while.

Finally, around three hours later, I receive my confirmation. My order went through and the 360 is being sent to FedEx for delivery. I decided not to opt for next day delivery considering it was an extra $50, so it should be arriving within the next week or so.

I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. That sense of desperation - of thinking “maybe if I go to Best Buy right now, or Target, I might find one” - is gone. That’s all behind me. If all goes as planned, I can stay home, relax, play Guitar Hero and let the 360 come to me.

Powerpuff wasn’t so lucky. They sold out well before the time he got to work. His search continues, but it won’t be as diligent as it once was. You see, spending a month tracking down a videogame system tends to wear a person down. Add to that bad customer service and rude employees, and after a while you just tell yourself, “To hell with this, I’ll wait until they are readily available everywhere”. It also doesn’t help when you walk into Toys R’ Us - after just coming away empty handed from BB and CompUSA - and seeing 40 Xbox 360 boxes stacked up, not a soul in sight. After you try to contain the girlish scream from escaping your lips and trying your best not to look like a five year old in a toy store running at the 360's at full speed, and once you get up to that ever-elusive box, that you pick it up and notice that they are all empty. All 40 of them. Nice Toys R’ Us, you fucking teasing bastards. Yes, all that happened to my buddy Powerpuff, so one can’t help but understand the frustration he feels. Hell, I felt it myself, and continue to feel it for him.

Fact is, this 360 launch has been an ugly one. Successful for Microsoft? Sure. They have the hottest gift of the holiday season. The system shortage has actually made people want a 360 more now than they probably did before. But what about the gamers out there that have yet to get one? All we wanted was to get a little gaming in, especially with all these great long weekends at the end of the year. Us, the fans who supported the original Xbox and made it what it is today, many of us are still left without systems, and yet hundreds of thousands of systems are collecting dust on Japanese store shelves. Bill, do you think maybe there was a reason why no other company has tried to do a world wide launch of a new system? That’s right, because it is not possible to do correctly. Now your biggest supporters and fans, the ones here in the good old US of A, are left with nothing, while your resources are going to waste elsewhere. That’s a damn shame.

Anyway, hopefully my unit will arrive soon. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give hands on impressions of this so-called “next generation”. And hopefully sometime in the near future, Powerpuff and I can finally do our all night Perfect Dark Co-op marathon.

December 16, 2005


I saw the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe this past weekend. The movie was alright. Entertaining for the most part, although a little slow at times. Anyway, none of that is important. What is important is that as a fantasy fan (I grew up playing D&D and anybody that recognizes where my “Tanis” name is from knows what I mean) this movie serves up heaping doses of fantasy creatures left and right, all of which look better than anywhere they have previously appeared. The centuars looks amazing, the minotaurs ferocious, the satyrs fantastic and the griffons are the coolest fucking griffons I have ever laid my eyes on. The movie’s final battle is a fantasy buff’s wet dream. Man, I want a griffon of my own!!!

Surprisingly, the most impressive part of the special effects are not these amazing looking fantasy creatures, but the utterly believable real-world creatures that are rendered in the film - completely in CG. It is one thing to make a griffon look great, since ther are no real griffons to compare it to. But if you can convince the audience that you are watching a lion, wolf, or beaver talking on screen, you know you did a good job.

Here’s a little project for everyone. Go rent The Day After Tomorrow and look at the CG wolves in that movie. This is what bad CG animals look like. Now watch the wolves in Narnia. Wow. Impressive is not the world. And I really can’t say much about Aslan (the lion) except that he is one of the most impressive CG characters yet (right up there with Golem and King Kong).

Speaking of which, I can’t wait to see KK . . .

December 07, 2005

Rock n' Roll baby!!!

If you like rock or metal, or ever played air guitar while listening to a song, you owe it to yourself to pick up Guitar Hero for PS2.

Let me get the obvious pun out of the way early. This game ROCKS!!!!

No seriously, it rocks hard.

Even if you're not a big fan of rock, if you just want an insanely addicting, extremely satisfying game, pick up Guitar Hero.

If you play guitar in real life and want to trip out with a game that emulates the experience almost to perfection on a video game consle, pick up Guitar Hero.

People, please, just pick the game up so that it sells a ton of copies and sequels will be made!!! Please. You'll be doing the gaming industry a favor.

Now excuse me, but I must get back to rocking!