May 23, 2007

Assassins Creed Trailer

Check out the latest Assassins Creed trailer. From what I can tell it is in real-time. And looks amazing . . .

May 11, 2007

King Kong (360)

In my continuing saga to be real late to the party, I am currently playing King Kong on the 360. Ok, I'm actually playing God of War 2, but I took a break from it last night to try out King Kong. This was one of those launch games that I was interested in playing (the demo was cool) but I didn't feel warranted a purchase. Especially at $59.99.

I found the game online for $14.99, new, so I went ahead and snatched it up. I received it in the mail a couple days ago and I took a short break from GoW 2 to try it out.

From the demo (which I played when I first got my 360), I thought the game looked very polished and I was impressed with the graphics. Now? Not so much. Even after playing GoW 2 for two days (a last gen game), jumping to King Kong on the 360 failed to impress me. I was glad to be playing something in true HD again, but overall I am way more impressed with GoW 2 visually on last gen technology than King Kong running on a 360. The character models and details are all clearly from a game designed for the regular Xbox and the PS2. Shame.

The gameplay so far is at least intriguing. It plays more like a 1st person adventure game than a straight up FPS. I'm enjoying the completely HUD-less display too and I think it works very well. Even aiming your weapon with no targeting reticle is intuitive.

After 20 minutes though, I turned the game off and continued GoW 2. I do not know if that says something about King Kong or GoW. I'm thinking the latter, since I'm just really into GoW right now. King Kong looks like it will at least be worth the $15 and I look forward to the time when I can give it my full attention. Which unfortunately won't be until Kratos' story comes to an end . . .

Forza 2 Demo

The Forza 2 demo is available on the Marketplace. This is one of the games I am looking forward to. I've had my fill of Gran Turismo and their indestructible cars and invisible walls.

My impressions of the demo? The game runs smooth, controls realistic (which I like), and looks . . . umm, not as good as I hoped.

I'll cut the game some slack since it is a demo after all and does not represent final code, but I am a bit underwhelmed visually so far. The tracks don't look as realistic as I would like and the cars suffer from some serious jagginess, making them standout from their surroundings and making them look "tacked on" to the scene. Kinda like a bad blue screen effect. I really hope they fix that.

I still plan on picking up the final retail copy, I just hope it has an extra layer of visual polish to it.

May 09, 2007

Dashboard Update

The Sping Dashboard update is now out. Joystiq has a walkthough of the more apparent new features.

I will say this, Microsoft's system is unbelievably user friendly. I've commented how updating the PS3 is a pain in the @$$. The update takes forever to download, then after the DL it needs to install it, then after that you need to connect your Blutooth controller to the system with a USB cable and press the PS button. Total time? Could be anywhere between 5 - 15 minutes.

This 360 Spring update? Took me about 30 seconds and the only thing I had to do was confirm that I wanted to download it. That's it. Fast and easy.

The way it should be.

GoW 2 further impressions

Ok, I've delved a little deeper into God of War 2. A few more impressions.

First, I am now playing the game in "HD Mode". You need to basically press some button combination as the game loads to get it to run this way. Why not just have an option in the game itself? It is kinda tricky to get it to work on a PS3, since the PS3 controller turns off when it is loading a PS2 game, so you need to quickly try and turn it on and hope you can input the code in time. Annoying. Also, it is not a "real" HD mode (720p/1080i), I forget the exact resolution, but it is only slightly higher than 480p. That being said, to me, it makes a huge difference. Really. The game running in just regular progressive scan had a soft, almost blurry look to it. In this enhanced HD mode, it looks very, very crisp. I like.

I played for about an hour yesterday and I was having a fantastic time! This game is just fun. And visually (and not just because of this new HD mode), the game is now looking absolutely gorgeous. I just had to "adapt" to non-HD again, but I have been floored by the game's graphics. The section I am by now, which takes place on some ancient ruins, floating by some island (hard to explain) looks absolutely phenomenal. The colors and lighting really come together, and again, the sense of scale is fantastic. Everything looks large and vast! This series is going to blow people away when it is released for the PS3.

I'm really looking forward to my next session. I do not want to put it down.

May 08, 2007

Super Rub-a-Dub

I purchased my second game from the PS Store. Super Rub-a-Dub.

You control the game only with the PS3 controller's motion-sensing aspect, tilting a floating virtual tub/maze filled with water, trying to make your rubber ducky go where you want it to. You can jolt the controller upward to make it jump as well.

The premise is to "free" smaller rubber duckies who are stuck inside a bubble and then lead them to the exit. That's it. Later on you have to deal with obstacles like wind-up shark toys and currents that make controlling your duck harder.

Sounds a bit odd (and it is), but man, I'm enjoying it. The game is simple, yet addictive when you try to beat your best times. I've read reviews that claim that the controls don't feel right but they feel extremely solid to me. Yes, it is sometimes hard to get your duck to go exactly where you want, but with practice, you can master it well enough.

Besides, the game is only $6.

Game Drought

Looks like we are now in the usually summer gaming drought. There's nothing on the horizon that I am looking forward to. At least not until August.

I played some CoD 3 the other day (still haven't beaten it). That was ok, but I want something new.

Like I mentioned, I've been playing Ninja Gaiden Black again, but . . . I want something new.

So I was in Best Buy yesterday, looking through the racks, and I had two choices. In one hand, I had Motorstorm. In the other, God of War 2.

Motorstorm. $60, good reviews, but not enough depth or game modes.

God of War 2. $50, Great reviews, but not in high-definition (I'm telling you, once you go HD, it is VERY hard to go back).

I went with God of War.

So far I defeated the first Boss (the giant statue) and I am by I guess the 2nd level. Or maybe third, since I passed the Pegasus flying sequence.

I am playing on Hard (Like I did with the 1st game in my first play through). It basically plays the same. The graphics were pretty painful at the beginning, but I have since adjusted. For a PS2 title they are insanely impressive . Smooth animation and HUGE characters/levels. The first level is plenty hectic, with a giant statue following you around and tormenting you. The following Pegasus flying stage was pretty fun, especially the sequence towards the end when you fly into a cave and are flying around what appears to be another giant statue that is alive. Really impressive visuals in that section and a great sense of scale.

Since I have been playing Ninja Gaiden Black a lot lately I am finding it extra frustrating that you cannot manually rotate the camera in GoW, or even go into a 1st person mode. This did not bother me as much in the first game, but now it feels extremely restrictive. Also, since GoW and Ninja Gaiden have similar control schemes, I find myself trying to do the evasive roll by holding block and moving the left stick, instead of just using the right stick. I wish I could actually configure it this way, because I am so used to it by now and like the way it feels.

So far the game is a lot of fun and I am enjoying the cinematics and story. I really enjoyed the first game's premise and story and this one seems to be entertaining as well. I'm actually looking forward to see what happens. Something I can't say about most action games.

May 07, 2007

Spider-Man 3

I saw Spider-Man 3 Friday night. It was . . . uh, how can I put this? Pretty bad. Spoilers ahead.

Being a huge Spider-Man fan (I still have boxes full of Spidey comics) and having thoroughly enjoyed the first two movies, I was pretty excited going in. I did have one concern though. Ever since this franchise started I preached that it should always stick to introducing one villain at a time. The old Batman franchise started off fine until they began cramming 3 villains into each movie. When I heard this 3rd Spidey movie was going to feature The Sandman, Green Goblin and Venom, I was worried. First, because that is three villains that need to share screen time, how can you devote enough time to develop them properly? And 2nd, VENOM CANNOT SHARE SCREENTIME WITH ANYONE!!!!! Venom is Spidey's greatest villain. His arch-rival. He needs his own movie!!! Not to mention that in order to even get to Venom, you need to set up his story properly, since it is not just a matter of a person getting hit with radioactive, uh, something. Venom's origins are a little more complex. If they wanted to do things right, they should have introduced Venom's story in this movie, set it up, and saved him for the next one.

Anyway, back to the flick. Why did I not enjoy it? Well, aside from the aforementioned Villain problem, I also did not like Tobey McGuire as Peter Parker. His character was just too damn goofy. That was fine in the first movie. But after two flicks, I would like to see Peter begin to develop a bit more and not come off as such a damn dork all the time. Where is his character arch? He's basically the same character he was in the first movie. A few years of being Spider-Man should have toughen the kid up a bit. He was never this pathetic in the comic book.

The main fault with the film though is that it takes a turn to Cheeseville and doesn't look bad. It is almost like Sam Raimi was purposely trying to go for really bad, melodramatic, B-movie qualities. Every time they show scenes of a crowd staring up at some dramatic event (mostly Mary Jane or some person in peril), the acting is so bad is looks like they just pulled people off the street and asked them if they wanted to be in the movie. It looks as if something someone filmed these scenes with their camcorder, not footage from a $250+ million dollar production. Terrible, terrible, terrible! The Stan Lee cameo was awful. There were so many scenes that made me roll my eyes that I lost count. But the worst offender, by far, was the portrayal of Peter Parker succumbing to the "dark side". Watching a goth-up'd, Emo-like Peter Parker patrolling the streets, flirting with women and pulling of a "John Travolta" was bad, but watching him perform a full dance routine in a night club, in which he starts off by playing piano and ends with a tango, was the most perplexing, surreal, and bizarre moment I think I have ever experienced in a theater. I thought I was in the twilight zone. Was that scene really in the movie? You mean to tell me that scene went from a script, to being filmed, to having effects done for it, and at no point did anyone stop and say, "Wait a minute, what the fuck is this?!" Really, it was that bad.

The theater erupted in laughter many times . . . in scenes that were not supposed to be funny. The death of Harry Osborne was particularly bad. His Butler, was a joke. The movie was flawed on so many levels it is hard to come up with many positives. The special effects were well done for the most part I guess. The Sandman effects were great, although I can't say I was a fan of the building-sized Sandman towards the end. Venom, who I was super siked to see, ended up disappointing as well. He screeched like a Velocirator, looked pretty silly when talking, and just wasn't as big or menacing as I would have hoped. Didn't help that he probably had about 10 minutes of screentime. What a waste of a great Villain. Like I said, they should have saved him for the next movie.

I always thought this franchise was in good hands with Sam at the helm. I felt the first two movies succeeded because of his talents and in another director's hands they might have been terrible. Now, I desperately want him to move on to something else. I want Tobey to move on. Kristin . . . uh, I never wanted you there to begin with. Sorry. If there is going to be another movie, I want a whole new direction. Something serious, something without the cheese, something that will make me sit there with a smile on my face (like in the first movie), rather than me grimacing and shaking my head in disbelief.

May 06, 2007


So, here I am 3 months into my PS3 purchase and I still own zero games for the system.

Well, I did purchase Lemmings from the PS Store.

I was really looking forward to MLB: The Show, but with the game's delay and the less than impressive screenshots and videos thus far, I am not even sure about that one.

Spider-Man 3 is a game I was considering, but looking at the reviews, it appears it is the new Superman.

Actually, there is one PS3 game that has recently gotten in my sights. Ninja Gaiden Sigma.

I wrote about my love affair with Ninja Gaiden Black a few times on here. I really do think it is one of the best action games ever. Hard as hell, yes,but extremely rewarding.

A Sigma demo became available on the PS Store a little while ago. I will like to take this moment to point out again how annoying it is to download demos/updates for the PS3. You need to download it first and then then install it, which takes a while. Nowhere near as fast or intuitive as the 360.

Downloading updates are especially annoying since after you download and install, you need to connect your controller to the console with the USB cable and press the PS button.

Anyway, I downloaded the demo and fired the game up. It gives you the entire first chapter of the game (up until you defeat the first boss) and it gives you a "Special Mission" in which you play as Rachel in a closed environment and fight off a few waves of enemies.

One cool thing I have noticed with a few of the PS3 demos available is that the demos are pretty substantial. The Gran Turismo demo lets you unlock many, many cars to try out (only the one track though), and the demo saves your information and settings, so it feels like more of a finished game than just some demo you have to play from the beginning each time.

The Ninja Gaiden Sigma demo is like this. You start off only able to play the regular game on normal difficulty. Beat it, and you unlock hard, as well as the special mission. Keep beating it and you unlock harder difficulties. The game saves your progress so you won't need to start over when you want to stop playing. It even saves your controller settings. I like that.

Anyway, upon firing the game up, I was not very impressed. Sure, the game looked great, but the original game on the Box looked great. The graphical jump to the PS3 did not appear to be very large.

Gameplay wise, the game felt identical. Maybe a bit smoother, with the new animations and rock solid frame rate. But then again, I remember the Xbox game having a rock solid frame rate too. The demo gives you many weapons to choose from (all fully powered up) so it increases its replay value even more.

So, I was underwhelmed visually, but it was still a lot of fun to play. I hadn't played Ninja Gaiden in a while and it rekindled my interest in the game.

I decided to pop Ninja Gaiden Black in my 360 for comparison's sake. Upon starting a new game on the 360, the graphics looked a little worse than I remembered, so maybe the PS3 game is alot prettier afterall. After a while though, you realize that the Xbox game is still no slouch in the graphic front. It is still a gorgeous game. Next thing you know . . . I cannot stop playing it. I am hooked. Fast forward a few days and I am now fully engulfed in Ninja Gaiden again. I'm playing it any chance I get and now the thought of picking up SIgma for the PS3 is practically a sure thing. I am even using this playtime with the original game as practice to hone my skills for Sigma. I am about ½ through the game and still loving every minute of it.

Looks like my first PS3 game purchase will be in June (if the game is not delayed).