December 31, 2007
December 29, 2007
December 27, 2007
December 17, 2007
I did not particularly like the fact that they removed the vampires from the novel and replaced them with infected humans. Maybe it is a more plausible take on the novel, but dammit, I like vampires and I was looking forward to vampires!! Seems like this "rage virus" is the new trend to eliminate the supernatural element in horror movies. First zombies, now vampires. If the new Wolfman movie tries to explain lycanthropy through science, I am not watching it!!! Just leave it supernatural and unexplainable!
My other problem with the movie was its heavy reliance on CG. If you're making a movie about an abandoned NY City, granted, you're going to have to use computer trickery to get that across. But I felt like the director leaned on it too much. The scene involving the lion and the deer seemed unnecessary. I hate CG animals. They never look convincing. Peter managed to nail it with King Kong and the lion in Narnia looked damn good, but these CG lions were only slightly better than the atrocious CG wolves in The Day After Tomorrow. Why couldn't they just use a real lion for the close ups? C'mon, stop relying on CG for everything!
Same goes for the vampir . . . uh, I mean infected humans. Or Dark Seekers as I believe they were referred to. Why were they all CG as well? For wide shots of them running around at superhuman speeds I can understand, but for facial close-ups why not go the make-up route? I'm a firm believer that anything that can be done with practical effects should be done so. The creatures in The Decent looked great and they were far scarier than these CG creations. I just can't get scared by CG. Not yet. It still has a way to go.
These issues aside, the movie was still entertaining. It might not have lived up to what I was expecting, but I'm not screaming for my $9 back. I'd watch it again on Bluray one day.
December 12, 2007
December 11, 2007
December 05, 2007
December 04, 2007
December 03, 2007
Uncharted to keep me busy. I beat it this weekend. Some impressions.
- Production values in this game are extremely high. Everything
screams quality and attention to detail.
- The cinematics and voice acting are fantastic. Again, going back to
the high production values, the game feels like a fun summer
blockbuster. The script, while not incredibly original, has cool
characters and keeps you entertained throughout.
- The controls feel great. Given the realistic animation it is great
to see that did not come at the expense of responsiveness in the
- Drake's clothes actually get wet when you jump into water. It looks
fantastic. That attention to detail is what more games should be aiming
- The game is a good length for a rental (I purchased it). It took me
a bit longer to complete than some since I started playing it on Hard.
I found the challenge to be right on. Gun fights definitely required
quick cover and enemy AI tried to flank and rush me when I was
outnumbered. Lots of grenade tossing on their part too, which was cool.
Only a few frustrating sections which I think won't be present if
playing on the normal difficulty. I can see myself definitely playing
through this one again (although not right now).
No real glaring negatives. The game was very polished, I didn't come
across any bugs, it was gorgeous, fun, and entertaining throughout. I
hope Naughty Dog continues to tweak and utilize this game engine because
it is very, very impressive.
Meaningless number score: 8/10.
November 27, 2007
November 26, 2007
November 14, 2007
November 07, 2007
November 02, 2007
October 26, 2007
October 24, 2007
October 19, 2007
October 11, 2007
October 03, 2007
September 28, 2007
September 19, 2007
September 16, 2007
You can see the footage over at Gametrailers.com. Here is a LINK
Being the big Ninja Gaiden fan that I am, I was ecstatic when I heard there was a live demo. After watching the footage . . . umm, I not so sure how excited I am for this game anymore.
The game looks . . well, similar to say the least. Yes, it is prettier than the original Xbox game. I am sure it is prettier than Sigma on the PS3 as well. But still, it all looks very, very familiar. Gameplay looks the same, graphics and animation (while faster and prettier) also looks the same. I guess I was expecting a bigger jump for next gen Ninja Gaiden. Oh well, I don't doubt the game will play exceptionally well . . . but after playing through about 3 versions of the last Ninja Gaiden with minimal improvements for each iteration, I was hoping for a pretty drastic change for the true sequel.
September 12, 2007
Sega Rally Technology interviews - These videos were pretty entertaining. The track deformation technology developed for the game does look intriguing. Unfortunately it looks like it might go to waste on a title that tends to gear towards an arcade racing experience, but maybe the engine will be used for other, sim-rally titles.
Soul Calibur IV Trailer - I've lost track of the Soul Calibur games after II. Soul Blade for the PS1 was fantastic (still one of my favorite intros to any game ever) and the Dreamcast port of Soul Calibur II is practically legendary. This trailer did little to impress me. The video quality looked washed out and I am pretty much over fighting games at this point.
Team Fortress 2 Soldier Video - Awesome. Simply awesome. The animation and overall look of this game is amazing. The production quality in this trailer is damn impressive. I think I can watch a full length movie done all in-game. Thanks to the CoD4 Beta, I am actually looking forward to trying this on-line fragfest. Should be a riot.
NBA Live 08 Demo - I played about 2 quarters. I can't really give an opinion. I just don't like basketball. I know so little of the sport in fact, that I can't even tell if the game is good or not. I heard last year's game was crap, but I have no way of knowing if this one fixed those problems.
NHL 08 Demo - I probably watch hockey even less than basketball, yet I enjoy the sport much more. This demo was actually a lot of fun. Sure, I was pretty lost most of the time (I'm no hockey expert by any stretch of the imagination), but the graphics were great, the animations smooth, the controls very tight and it was pretty exciting overall. I don't see myself buying a hockey game ever, but I did enjoy the demo.
Tiger Woods 2008 - I haven't gotten into a golf game for many, many years, and the ones I used to play have been of the more cartoony variety. I have never played (aside from demos) any version of the Tiger Woods games. It was Hot Shots or nothing for me. Actually, my favorite golf game ever was Swing Away Golf for the PS2. That game was fantastic!! At least it was to this semi-not-really-hardcore golf fan. I still own it and I think I am going to try it again on my PS3 . . .
. . . oh, as to the Tiger Woods demo, umm, it did nothing for me. Swing Away Golf here I come!
Call of Juarez Demo - This demo seems to be many months too late, since this game came and went many moons ago. That being said, I really enjoyed this demo. I've noticed lately that I am not very impressed with most demos and it takes a lot for me to sit through one, but this one had me entertained the whole time. I think it was the western theme. I hope more games come out with a old west theme to them.
The game itself definitely does appear flawed. It plays well enough, but there is never that extra level of polish to really "wow" you. Graphically, the lighting effects are very good and the blurring, out-of-focus effect when aiming is very well done, but the character models don't look as good and you can just tell that this is not a AAA title. It is not ugly, but it is not showcasing the 360's power either (doesn't help that I've been only playing Call of Duty 4 and Bioshock for the last few weeks).
I would actually consider picking this title up if I see it for a discount price. I still have this demo in my HDD and will probably play through one more time before I delete it (that says something right there).
September 07, 2007
August 31, 2007
August 27, 2007
August 24, 2007
August 16, 2007
The smoke parts momentarily and I catch the glimpse of a deep penetrating light in the distance. A light house? I force myself to swim onward, hope fueling my aching muscles and decreasing spirit. As I clear the thick wall of smoke I see a huge structure silhouetted against the moonlight. Waves crash against its rock surface. The beacon of light once again illuminates the night. It is a light house!!! Swimming towards it I am greeted by stone steps leading directly into the dark waters. I crawl onto the cold stone surface and collapse, taking one last backward glance at the crash site. The plane is almost completely submerged now. The fire is dying down. Soon the only remnants left will be the debris which floats on the surface.
I take a moment to catch my breath and turn my attention towards the top of the stairs, which curve around the giant structure. I begin climbing, making sure to keep my balance on the slick stone surface. The sound of the surf crashing on the rocks below get drowned out by the whistling wind as I ascend higher. I begin to shiver, cursing my wet clothes which offer no warmth, just a chilling cold which seeps deep into my body. I reach the top and see a pair of gigantic bronze doors, the left one slightly ajar. They are a magnificent sight. Each door carefully carved in intricate detail, only the earliest signs of rust from the salty air creeping up its edges. Beyond the entrance there is only darkness. I hastily step inside, preferring the unknown within to the bone-chilling cold outside.
As I enter I hear the buzz of electricity and the room is suddenly basked in light. Squinting from the sudden blinding flash, I make out a statue of a man, sculpted in solid gold, and a large banner behind it with a message:
"Welcome to Rapture"
- - - - - -
That was the first 5 minutes of the Bioshock demo, available now on the Marketplace. A game which I have only the highest of expectations for. And one, which from just the short demo, has already surpassed them.
To go into more detail on the brilliant demo would be a disservice to those that have yet to play it. I implore everyone to give it a shot and just enjoy the ride. It is a game crafted by a truly talented and passionate developer. And the demo alone proves that Irrational Games is working at a differentl level than almost every other developer out there.
The full game is out next week. And that already feels like an eternity.
August 06, 2007
Off the field, the game fumbles. The groundwork is set for a fantastic non-licensed football game, but it seems that Visual Concepts did not go that extra step to really deliver the game (with the options) that it should have.
The game offers over 250 "Legend" NFL stars from the past. You are able to create your team using 11 of those Legends as your base. Legends are broken into 3 tiers: Gold, Silver, and Bronze (depending on their skill level). You are allowed 2 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze players on your squad. Picking and choosing how to distribute talent is one of the game's best aspects. Building your team is a whole lot of fun.
In fact, before you even make it to the main menu upon firing up the game for the first time, you need to create a team. I thought this was pretty cool. Why beat around the bush right? Creating a team with your own Legends is what this game is about, lets get right to it. It wasn't until later that I found out why the game does this. It appears that Visual Concepts (for some unknown reason) decided to ONLY let you play the game with your created team(s). Sure, there are pre-made teams that you may play against, but you cannot play as them. Those pre-made teams do not follow the 2 gold, 3 silver, 6 bronze rule that you are restricted to, which is cool and makes some teams better than others (like in the NFL). But the fact that you are restricted to using only teams you create baffles me. If your friend comes over and you want to play against him, you better hope you have more than one team created, otherwise (unless you want to pit the same team versus itself), you will have to quickly create another team for a quick versus game. And after that game is over, if you want to play another one with different teams, you are going to have to keep creating teams to use (you can create up to 8). This seems like an unnecessary restriction to put on the game, especially if all you want to do is play a few games in Quick Play. For on-line play, I agree with only allowing created teams, but off-line it is just stupid.
The game offers an impressive array of options for customizing the look of your created team, and already many people have used it to create NFL teams that look very convincing. One big issue I have though is that the game does not let you customize the generic players on your team in anyway. After you choose your 11 legends the rest of your squad is filled with generics that are created by the game. You are able to choose what you want your generic players to specialize in by squads (finesse, balanced, or power for running backs; run blocking, balanced, pass blocking for offensive linemen, etc.). That is kinda cool but very limiting at the same time. It is not very realistic for your entire squad to have similar skills. If you chose "possession" receivers for your generic wideouts, they run better routes and have better hands, but they are all painfully slow. Unless you have a speedy legend receiver on your team, your entire receiving core consist of a bunch of pretty slow guys with semi-decent hands. I would have liked a bit more variety.
Like I mentioned, you cannot customize your generics in anyway. Many times you have players on your team that share the same jersey number. That is a big no-no. If we could edit these guys we could prevent that from happening (the game should really prevent that from happening itself, no excuse for it). Another problem with the generic players is that, well, they are TOO generic. APF does not have any ratings for its players (visible ones at least). The legends are assigned a certain number of "skills" that give them certain specialties, but generics get none. And since there are no other ratings, we have no idea how good (or bad) these guys are. Does that mean that every generic receiver in the game that is a "possession" receiver has the exact same speed, hands, etc.? If so, that is incredibly lame! And it leads to my biggest gripe: season mode.
I'm a big fan of franchise modes. I'm not a big on-line gamer, so I need a pretty robust single-player experience. This game offers no franchise mode, just a season mode in which you play one season. Adding to the fact that the season mode is as barebones as it gets, you are dealing with a league that has zero history behind it and is made up (for the most part) of generic players that basically have no determinable ratings, hence, they have zero personality. Obviously the season leaders in every stat category is going to be a legend, and get ready for some amazingly inflated stats at that! Eight games into my season every single QB has a passer rating over 110!!! Warren Moon is leading the league with a 91% completion percentage! After eight freakin' games!!! Give me a break! The stats are so incredibly inflated that it kills season mode for any simulation fan. And the experience is made all the more shallow because most of your team is made up of a bunch of nobodies with no attributes, skills, or anything to make you care about them in any way. As an example, pretend you are in a game, it is 3rd and long, you only have one WR legend, but he's been double covered the entire game. Who is your next "go to" guy? The other 4 WRs on your team are generic, but in real life surely one of them has better hands than the rest. Your coach will know this. In this game, you do not. You can try to force the ball to your legend, or just hope for the best and throw it to one of your "no name" players. Now, some might say that will be your own fault for only having one legend receiver and no back-up plan. But my problem is not that I only have one star receiver, it is that I do not know at least who my second best option is. If I at least know that the guy with the 2nd best hands on my team is receive X, then even if I throw it to receiver X and he drops it, at least I know I was going to my second best option. That is all I want. I want to know who these guys are.
I am not completely against not having ratings for players. After all, what really is the difference between a 98 overall rated player and one rated 97? But I think every player needs to have some sort of scouting report, letting you know what they excel at (or don't excel at). Even if it is just something simple. For example, for your WRs you can have just a few relevant categories (hands, speed, route running, etc.) and then have a scouting report that rates them either: awful, below average, average, good, excellent, elite. That's all. Add that and all of a sudden your generic players have some traits you can look at. Keep every other rating hidden, you now at least know who your 2nd best receiver might be for a given situation. Apply this to every position and you just improved season mode by 100%. Throw in a few generics having a shot of having at least one special ability and things can get even more interesting. It could even be based on your performance on the field during a season. Have a generic TE all of sudden come down with a few nice catches over a few games and he might acquire the "Soft Hands" skill. If he doesn't keep up his performance he could lose it, but he was rewarded for his performance and that opens up the possibility of some "generic" players being diamonds-in-the-rough and actually making it to the top of some stat categories.
Another thing that could have greatly improved season/franchise mode is a little background information about this "APL" League. Maybe if you select any team and press a button, you could get a short clip of that team's strengths, their best players, how they've done the last couple of seasons and what their outlook is for this year. Blitz: The League had something similar in their marketing for that game by creating a fictional league website, with news stories and team bios. To this day that has been one of the coolest marketing ideas I have seen for a game yet, and if the game would have been a simulation of football (instead of an all out arcade-fest with cheating A.I.) I would have purchased the game in a heart-beat. APF would have greatly benefitted from some league history like that.
I don't play on-line so I cannot comment on that portion of the game, but they have on-line leagues available and if I were to play on-line, leagues is where I would want to do it.
Graphic-wise the game is a mixed bag. Overall, I am pleased with the visuals, although my first impression was that they were not very next-gen like. The more you play it though and begin to notice all the subtle details in the animations, the visuals grow on you. Up close, surprisingly, the game looks absolutely fantastic. You know how in most games the closer you zoom in the worse the graphics get (I'm looking at you Gears of War!). In APF the opposite is true. Go into replay mode and zoom in as close as you can. The level of detail and the cleanness of the textures is just phenomenal! Zoom in on the ball and it almost looks photo-realistic. You can see the seams and tread in a player's jersey and their faces react realistically when getting tackled, showing pain and closing their eyes. Animations (as I mentioned in previous posts and in the youtube video I posted) are so far beyond anything out of EA that it is almost laughable. QB's animate better than any other football game ever made. Different QB's have different throwing animations and speeds at which they are able to get the ball off. It is a beautiful thing to see. O-line and D-line interaction is again fantastic (2K5 was already great) and seeing gang-tackles again after a few years of Madden's solo-tackle extravaganza is a welcome sight. There are some negatives though. Like I said, during regular gameplay the graphics don't scream "next-gen". The grass textures are beyond terrible. The lighting is pretty blah. I don't get that great sense of "sunlight" versus stadium lights, not enough shadows on the field, etc. Stadiums are a mixed bag. Some are inspired (if not a bit over the top) and some look pretty boring. Madden definitely has this won (although they do have the benefit of having something to work off of). And my biggest graphical gripe are still the transitional animations. I guess they bother me so much because all the animations in general are so life-like, that when you see some of the transitions and how abrupt or unnatural they look, they can be a bit jarring. There is still a ton of clipping too, although mostly only noticeable in replays. Lastly, sometimes the speed of some of the tackles is too fast and violent for the momentum the tackle player had before engaging.
Audio-wise, I find a few problems with the game First off, the game's "Field-Pass" feature - which occasionally shows you cut-scenes of the players on the field either trash talking or communicating with their teammates - is terrible. It comes off as a bit corny and the player voices and personalities don't always match their real-life counterparts. Unless you are going to have the actual players record their own dialogue, then this feature should be dropped. Next up, the commentary. Dan and Peter are back from 2K5. To some that is good news. Personally, I cannot stand these two guys. At least not anymore. It doesn't help that a lot of the dialogue is recycled from 2K5. A lot. For the most part their banter just doesn't sound real. Not by a long shot. MLB: The Show's commentary has just totally spoiled me. Crowd reaction and volume is actually pretty good. My only other gripe is that I wish you could rip sections of songs from your HDD and set up the stadium to play them after certain plays (sacks, TDs, ints), that was a really, really cool and underrated feature from 2K5.
Overall, I am very grateful that 2K has decided not to abandon us fans in light of EA's NFL license acquisition (although these last 3 years have seemed very, very long). I really hope the game generates enough sales to warrant an APF 2K9 because there is a solid foundation here and huge potential for an authentic and deep football experience. Gameplay-wise, the game is solid. Not perfect, but still the most fun I have had with a football game since 2K5. With additional tweaks, a lot of added features, more customization, and a revamped engine (those grass textures are painful!), then APF will have all the tools to be the best football game ever made.
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