September 05, 2009

September 04, 2009

Moving On

This is not goodbye but cya later. I started this blog because of my enjoyment for gaming. As gaming has changed over the years so must this blog change for the better. I hope you enjoy the new blog Gamer Chatter. We post our first entries from Seattle PAX 2009. I cannot contain my excitement as this is my first video game conference I have ever attended. Of course I am attending with Juan aka Tanis the main contributor to the blog. Cya later and game on!!!

September 02, 2009

This is goodbye . . . sort of . . . ok, not really.

Well, as Gabe and I mentioned in an earlier post, we're both off to attend PAX 09 this year. Needless to say we're both pretty ecstatic, this being our first experience at PAX or any type of gaming convention.

We're taking advantage of this opportunity and we're going to be switching over to another blog. www.nonewbiesallowed.blogspot.com has been fun, but it is time to find a new blog title that better projects what this blog is about. "nonewbiesallowed" after all sounds a bit elitist and off-putting. So, beginning on Friday, our new blog can be found at:

www.gamerchatter.blogspot.com


Other than the name change, not much will be changing on my end. I'm still going to be writing about gaming, and I predict with far greater frequency than Gabe will. :p


What I do hope to do is provide some decent coverage of PAX. I plan on taking plenty of notes on all the games I see and play, give impressions, take pics, and just have a great time. I anticipate getting very little sleep this weekend, but hopefully it will be well worth it.


So, to anybody out there who might have read nonewbiesallowed (I know, I know, who I am kidding), I hope you join us on Gamerchatter. All zero of you.


Wel, I'm off to pack for PAX!!! Heedoggy!!!

August 31, 2009

Madden

I've been messing around with different slider sets, trying to find that perfect match to give me realistic results for my play style and skill level.  The core gameplay in Madden this year is the best the series has ever seen, but like always, there is plenty that is broken and needs to be addressed via slider adjustments (luckily, the sliders really work this year).  Then there are other problems that can only be fixed via patch, which I hope is released soon because I don't want to start my franchise until they are fixed.  And I really, really want to start a franchise this year.
 
I actually haven't played this as much as I would have liked.  Been pretty busy and Batman has taken up all my time for the last week (the game is awesome!).
 
I really hope EA is working on a patch to fix issues like CPU QBs not taking sacks and throwing into triple coverage instead, CPU defenses sending 4 guys blitzing every three plays, and most important to me, some really messed up simmed stats in franchise.
 

August 28, 2009

Quick Update: Batman Arkham Asylum

I picked up Batman: Arkym Asylum on Tuesday.  I beat the game yesterday.
 
The short version: This is my favorite game so far this year.  I simply could not stop playing.
 
More detailed impressions later, but not only is this the best Super Hero game ever made, it might be the best licensed game ever made.
 
Great job Rocksteady Studios!
 

August 24, 2009

I have a problem . . .

I went almost a year without picking up Fable II, yet for some reason I decided that the best time to pick it up was a week before Madden, which itself was a few weeks before Batman: Arkham Asylum.
 
So I now haven't played Fable II in a week and a half, since I have been spending all my time with Madden and Batman comes out tomorrow.  So, it is safe to say Fable is going into my HUGE pile of unfinished games.  I really only played it for a few hours and I was really starting to get into it.  Now by the time I pick it up again I would have forgotten what was happening and I won't be able to get back into it.
 
Why can't I finish games anymore?  Why is my attention span getting so damn small?  I'm 100% positive I am finishing Batman, no question about that.  Once a patch is released and I find my perfect sliders I will probably be playing Madden until football season ends (will be putting up impressions shortly), but with this growing list of incomplete games I really don't think I am EVER going to be able to go back and finish these.
 
I really need to make sure I don't pick up Red Faction: Guerilla in the next few weeks, because I have heard nothing but good things on that one and I really want to save that title for when I can devote time to it.
 

August 17, 2009

Fable II

Even though I have no business buying new games when I have so many left to finish, I found myself at Best Buy last week with $15 of Reward Zone money and a copy of Fable II in my hands.
 
I know I should have resisted, but I didn't.
 
After playing for about 5 hours, some impressions:
 
- I found the game pretty "blah" at the beginning, when you're playing as a child.
 
- Once you grow up and start getting new quests, things pick up.
 
- Visuals are solid, with a nice color palette and nice lighting, but something about them keep me from being really impressed.  Some scenes are on the verge of being breathtaking, especially in the early morning with the sun filtering in through the top of trees, but it never reached that point where I sit back and am just amazed at what I am seeing.
 
- Part of the problem might be the camera.  For some reason the camera in this game bothers me and I never feel like it is in the right spot.  Can't really explain it.
 
- I'm also not terribly impressed with your character's animation.  Especially his running animation.  It doesn't really look like his feet are interacting with the ground.  And when you sprint by holding down A, you move ridiculously fast and it looks pretty bad.  Your walking animation also doesn't change at all when walking up or down stairs or slopes and this looks off.  Man I like to nitpick.
 
- Combat is fun and easy.  Pulling off combo attacks and switching between melee, range and magic attacks is simple and intuitive.
 
- Voice acting is very well done.
 
- The magical trail of light that points you in the direction of your current quest is very helpful but it really does take away from the sense of exploration and discovery.  The map system is pretty dreadful, since you have a very small map to view from the start menu and I can't seem to zoom in on it.  I would have preferred a better map system and for the light trail to be an option or as something you can bring up if you are lost.  As is though, you basically need the light trail, otherwise you won't have any idea where to go because of the lack of a decent map.
 
- The way you interact with people, by choosing different actions from a circular dial, is pretty silly and extremely shallow the more you break it down.  You can basically spam one action until you get someone to reach whatever level of "like" or "dislike" that you want.  It is great in concept, but the execution is just flawed.
 
- Your dog is very well animated, but can be a bit glitchy as well.  He tends to get stuck while trying to show you a treasure and runs around in circles when trying to get to a certain location.  Odd.
 
I'm going to stop now because I can sense I am being pretty harsh on the game.  I've actually enjoyed my time with it.  I haven't been blown away, but I've enjoyed it.  It seems to get better and draw you in the more your play.
 
Unfortunately, my playtime with it is going to really limited in the next few weeks.  I also picked up Madden on Friday and I can tell that game will take up a lot of my time (will post impressions soon) and next Tuesday is Batman: Arkham Asylym, so Fable probably don't be in my disc tray for thenext month.
 

August 07, 2009

Been a while . . .

I've been meaning to post for a while.  Been really busy.  A quick update on what's been going on:
 
- Picked up Battlefield 1943 from the Marketplace.  Since buying it I think I have played twice.  I haven't had time to game lately.  The game is a lot of fun though.  It can be really frustrating if you are stuck on a team that has no concept of how to win a match and just treat it as a team-deathmatch scenario.  It is all about capturing and controlling those bases people!!  Play the tutorial!
 
- Played the 1 minute quarters Madden Demo and hated it.  Not the gameplay itself, which seems to be much improved, but I CAN'T STAND when they release sports demos with such short quarters.  It is impossible to get a feel for the game or the improvements made since you are stuck in basically a two-minute drill the entire time.  Get off two plays, 1st quarter is over.  Two more plays, bam, halftime.  So annoying.  I'd prefer to just have ONE quarter, make it 5 minutes, and let it end after that.  At least then you'd be able to get a feel for a proper drive (whether it be on offense or defense).
 
I ended up pre-ordering Madden and got the Gamestop exclusive, 5 minute quarter demo anyway, which obviously gives you a much better experience.  This should be the default demo though.  Or at least one half with 5 minute quarters.  When are game companies going to realize that a demo is supposed to get a potential buyer to buy your game.  The 1 minute quarter demo does not do that.
 
- The Batman: Arkham Asylum demo is fantastic!  The demo starts with the opening of the game and is about 15 minutes long, depending on how much exploring you do.  I do plenty so it lasted like ½ an hour for me.  Great visuals, great voice-acting (Mark Hamill as the Joker is perfection) and it looks like finally a Batman game will have the gameplay this character deserves.  The demo gives you a taste of both combat and the stealth aspects of the game.  Swinging around from gargoyle statues is insanely fun, as is hanging upside down from one and swooping down to silently apprehend a bad guy.  Sweet!  Can't wait for this game!!!
 

July 20, 2009

Secret of Monkey Island

I've been playing The Secret of Monkey Island on the 360 for the last few days.  My virgin experience with the series.  I'm in love.
 
As I've mentioned before, I was never a pc gamer.  I didn't own a computer growing up.  Yet, I'm a big fan of these classic point-and-click adventure games.  In my limited experience with them (playing them at a friend's house for a few hours,), I have always been intrigued by them.
 
About 5 hours into the game I can see that all the praise this title has received has been well earned.  The writing is exemplary.  I have laughed out loud plenty of times.  The setting and atmosphere is also fantastic.  Since, like I said, this is the first time I play this series I was pretty surprised to see how much this game seemed to have influenced the Pirates of the Carribean movies.  Pretty cool.
 
One feature I absolutely love with this "Special Edition" is the ability to switch between the original version and the new version with HD graphics and audio.  I'm constantly changing between versions to compare them and the effect of the transition is very impressive.  Even though it is almost 20 years old, the original version's visuals have a lot of charm to them.  I'm actually looking forward to playing through this game again using just the original visuals.
 
Best Live Arcade game I have purchased in a while.  I hope they release the sequels.
 

July 17, 2009

Door-to-door flan salesman

The other day I was leaving my apartment and as I was locking my door I look down the hall and see a gentleman knocking on someone's door, about 3 doors down from me. He was holding a box and saying something towards the door. I could tell he was selling something. I begin walking in his direction just as he was giving up and moving to the next apartment. He sees me, and takes out a small container from his box and lifts it towards me. "Tengo flan!", he exclaims and stares at me as if I'm supposed to be very happy about this.

"Umm, no, gracias", I say, and continue on my way.

Are you kidding me? This guy was a door-to-door flan salesman? Home-made flans? Who buys flan from a complete stranger who walks up to their door? Isn't flan supposed to be refrigerated? It was all pretty bizarre.

I wonder what his success rate was?

P.S. - Gabe, I know you would have bought one if he knocked on your door.

July 13, 2009

Weekend notes

Had a pretty fun-filled weekend.
 
- On Friday we made it out to a karaoke bar in South Beach.  Wasn't planning on singing, but four cranberry-vodka's later I'm on stage with my sis belting out Santaria.  But the highlight was doing Bohemian Rhapsody as a quartet.  Wish there was video of that.  Or maybe I don't . . .
 
- Yesterday we went out to the Everglades to hit a few local dives.  Some really low-key hang out spots.  Cold beer, fried food and good music.  Can't beat that.  Tried some gator bites.  Very unique flavor.  Can't say I'm a fan of gator meat, but worth the experience.
 
- On the gaming front, some big news.  Gabe and I purchased our tickets to PAX!  So come September, we'll both be attending our first gaming convention.  We can bring live coverage from the show floor.  Can't wait!
 
- Didn't do much gaming this weekend.  I was at Best Buy and came close to purchasing something new.  I was between Red Faction or Fable II.  My will power actually kicked in and I didn't buy anything.   Just played some CoD4 and a bit of Dead Space (still trying to finish it on Impossible.  Almost done).
 

July 07, 2009

The Hangover

I don't think I mentioned it, but The Hangover is one of the funniest movies I have seen in years.
 
I was laughing from beginning to end.  The concept might have been done before (a bunch of friends go to Vegas for a bachelor party), but the execution is fantastic.  You don't see the "partying", you see the aftermath.  It is almost like Memento in a weird way.  The main characters have no recollection of what has happened (like the viewer) so you're piecing everything together along with them.
 
Do yourself a favor and go watch it.
 

June 29, 2009

Weekend notes

- Are you kidding me?  Billy Mays now suddenly goes down as well?  What is going on?  Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays . . . if you are even slightly famous I suggest you visit the emergency room asap for a thorough check-up.  You never know when you'll just fall over dead.
 
- Good run by the USA soccer team.  First we upset Spain, then we go up 2-0 on Brazil.  It was fun while it lasted.  On a separate note, every time I put the game on I had to mute the tv.  What is up with that non-stop, annoying, giant bee-swarm sound that was constantly in the background?  How can they stand it?
 
- Marlins got swept by the Rays.  Damn.  We were doing great going into this series.  1 game out of first place.  Over .500 for the first time since like April.  Oh well.
 
- Now that I've finished inFAMOUS, I haven't been doing much gaming.  I started a new game to play as an evil character, but I haven't devoted much time to my 2nd play through.  I haven't played the DS in a bit either.  Looks like I am going back to my gaming rut.  Should I be looking for a new hobby?
 
- The only game I still play with any consistency is CoD4.  2 years after release, I still think it is the best multiplayer game on Xbox Live.
 
However, since I don't play the game as much as I used to (I'll play once or twice a week, for only an hour or so) my skills are not as sharp as they once were.  Add to that the fact that the only people still playing this game are the hardcore fans, and the competition is very tough.  I'll still have a great match here and there and it is not like I finish last on my team or anything, but I used to consistantly be one of the best players stats-wise after every game and that is no longer the case.  Since I can get very competitive when it comes to multiplayer games (I hate losing), this has made my last few sessions very frustrating.  I can't help but get upset everytime I get killed and the fact that it happens more now than it used to does not help.
 
I need to meditate before playing and find my inner peace, because I've been belting out plenty of f-bombs lately  (luckily, my mic has been off).
 

June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, R.I.P.

The world lost one of its greatest entertainers yesterday.  A rare talent that doesn't come around to often.
 
His life and image might have been tarnished a bit in recent years, with law suits and his eccentric behavior/actions, but there is no doubt that Michael Jackson was an icon and contributed greatly to music.
 
You will be missed Michael.
 
Michael Jackson, 1958 - 2009
 

June 23, 2009

inFAMOUS impressions . . .

Wow, I haven't posted in a while.

Well, I did pick up inFAMOUS (the week before last actually). Some thoughts after completing the game:

- Overall, I really enjoyed it. Mostly because controlling your character is a lot of fun. He can climb virtually any surface and can fall huge distances and not take damage. Once you unlock the ability to glide across power cables, quickly covering ground by scampering on roof tops and grinding on cables is pretty exhilarating.

- The controls are also extremely tight. You can unlock a large number of powers and they are all easy to pull off. The game also features a sort of auto-lock for determining where you are trying to jump. This greatly assists you when trying to land on tight spaces, such as power lines. It works very well for the most part and the only time it becomes a hindrance is when you just want to descend quickly, since the game thinks you are falling and makes your character latch on to the nearest object. That can get a bit annoying.

- Visually the game is alright, but it won't make your jaw drop. As is the case with all open-world game, sacrifices in detail are made to render the large open environment. I never thought the game was ugly by any means, but I can't say I had one single "wow" moment graphically in my entire experience with it (I had like 14 of those my first 20 minutes with Dead Space for example). Cole (your character) animates well for the most part, but while climbing up surfaces his movements seem a bit too quick and erratic. They probably did that on purpose to keep the pace fast, but compared to Altair's ultra realistic climbing animations (from Assassin's Creed), Cole's come off as just a bit weird.

- The structure of the game is similar to many open world games, like the Spider-Man games. You can traverse the city however you want and there are certain points on your map that unlock story missions. Then there are usually civilians you can get side-missions from. Many of the story missions are fun and interesting, yet a lot of the side missions are pretty repetitive. But, since controlling Cole and dishing out punishment is so much fun, you don't notice as much.

- I'm a big fan of games that make you feel powerful and untouchable. inFAMOUS does that well. For the most part. See, Cole's powers are very impressive. Once you unlock them all you have a huge arsenal at your disposal, including raining down lighting from the skies (my favorite power). Yet for some reason, towards the end of the game, I didn't feel quite as powerful as I would have liked since enemies can take quite the beating before being defeated. Now, this might be attributed to two factors. First, the game automatically switched my difficulty to "hard" at the beginning of the game, I guess based on how I completed the first mission (pretty cool feature actually). Second, since I played as a "good" character (the game offers paths like KotoR, which determine which powers you unlock), I'm thinking my attacks weren't as lethal as they would have been as an evil character, since the good powers lean more towards restraining enemies rather than killing them. So, towards the end of the game my default lighting attack seemed to take about 15 shots to down one enemy!!! Granted, you should not play this game by just shooting everyone with your default attack, the best part is stringing together combos with all of your other devastating powers, but that was just an example.

- Overall, the game was just fun. I actually want to go back and play through it again as an evil character, so that says something about how enjoyable it is. I wouldn't mind a sequel too.

June 04, 2009

InFamous

I've been surprised at all the positive reviews InFamous has received.  Not because I have anything against the game, I have just been indifferent to it since I first heard about it.  Nothing about it attracted my attention.
 
As I've mentioned, I haven't been doing much gaming outside of the DS at the moment.  This means I haven't really been checking the 360 Marketplace or PS Store.  Which is why I didn't even know that there was an InFamous demo available.  I gave it a try the other day.
 
I'll be damned.  The game is a lot of fun!
 
I must admit, I was VERY impressed with the demo.  The controls feel great.  Navigating the environment is fun.  Can it be that I might end up picking this game up?  Probably.  I am off all of next week, so this game is looking very intriguing.
 

June 03, 2009

Old School Mario

I mentioned in an earlier post that I picked up Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Bros. 2, SMA 2: Super Mario World, and SMA 3: Yoshi's Island for the DS (they are actually GBA titles).  In between sessions of Professor Layton and the Curious Village, I've been spending some time with them.
 
Before I start with impressions though, there is one thing I want to point out.  Since these are actually GBA titles that I am playing on a DS Lite, I've come across a slight annoyance with the controls.  The GBA only had two face buttons, B and A.  The layout of those had the B button slightly lower than the A button, but not by much.  Mario games require constant use of the B button in conjunction with the A button.  The standard practice is to hold down the B button with your thumb and when you need to jump with A, you just adjust your thumb slightly so that you press down on A without having to release B.
 
The DS however has four face buttons.  B, A, Y, X, just like the SNES Pad.  Unlike the GBA, the DS has the B button much lower than the A button.  As a result, trying to hold down B with your thumb and then adjusting to press A is downright painful at first, and just plain annoying after you get used to it.
 
"New Super Mario Bros." on the DS remedies this by just swapping B with Y, and A with B.  This works like a charm.  Of course, when these GBA titles were created, there was no DS on the horizon, so there is no option to configure the controls, and even if there was, the cartridges wouldn't know of any X or Y button.  So, controlling these games takes some adjustment and it is just not as comfortable as it could be.  Anyway, now that I got that of my chest, on to the games . . .
 
Super Mario Bros. 2
 
This is the black sheep of Mario games.  Technically it is not even a true Mario title, hence why it stands out as being so different from every other game in the series.  I have a really soft spot for this game though.  As a kid growing up, I was limited to getting only two games a year.  One for my birthday and another for Christmas.  That's it.  I had to rent or borrow all the other games I played.  This was one of the titles I actually owned and I played it to death.  And I loved it.
 
This is an enhanced version, with improved graphics and remixed sound.  I've played through a few of the worlds and the nostalgia is great.  I have been frustrated with the controls however.  And not the problem I mentioned above.  I am missing jumps, and constantly falling off vines/chains/ladders while climbing.  Not sure if it is the DS d-pad, but I am having few issues.
 
Experiencing the game now as an adult, I can see some of the complaints people have with the game.  I am still having a good time, but it doesn't really have that Mario feel to it.  I mean, you jump on an enemy and he doesn't die, you just ride on his head?!
 
Super Mario World
 
Ah, Super Mario World.  My favorite 2D Mario title.  I was obsessed with this title on the SNES.  I loved its look, the Mode-7 effects, the vibrant colorful graphics, the great score.  The gameplay was perfect as well, with the series' trademark pinpoint controls and feel.  This was also Yoshi's first appearance.  The game also had a crazy amount of levels and many, many secrets.  Any level marked with red on the world map had two different ways to beat it and finding these alternate exits resulted in secret pathways and additional levels.
 
This port is spot on.  This is the tile which I have been spending most of my time with so far.  I just can't put it down.  Since this was a SNES games, it also utilizes a few extra buttons (first time a Mario game used more than 2).  Mario could do an alternate jump which causes him to spin like a top.  This is used to destroy certain blocks below you, or dispose of certain enemies.  Again, since this is a GBA title, this action is performed by pressing the R trigger.  The original game performed this move by pressing the X button, and while the DS does have an X button, once again, you cannot configure the controls.  Shame.
 
Yoshi's Island
 
I never played the original on the SNES, even though there are many that considerate it 2D platforming at its absolute best.  I haven't really played this title much yet, since I want to really give it my attention and don't plan on starting it until I am done with the other two Mario games.  I did pop it in just to make sure it works (bought it used) and played a few levels and really enjoyed it.  Can't wait to finally experience this game.
 
Ok, This post ended up a lot longer than I anticipated.  I'm in nostalgia heaven with my DS.  I also have Zelda: A Link to the Past waiting for me and I can't wait for that one, since I never completed the game as a kid.
 

June 02, 2009

E3

E3 is in full swing this week.  I haven't been able to follow much of the action yet.  A few notes though:
 
- Modern Warfare 2 looks sweet!!  I have total faith in Infinity Ward
 
- The Beatles Rock Band game trailer was phenomenal.  Simply phenomenal.  It might be one of the coolest trailers I have seen for a game.  The trailer's art style and polish was simply breathtaking.  Granted, it did not show the actual game itself, and that usually goes against everything I believe in with game trailers, but lets be honest, we don't need to see gameplay video of another music rhythm game.  Nothing exciting about those.
 
- I read a bit about this "Project Natal".  Sound impressive from a technical standpoint, I just can't imagine it being too engaging in the long run, nor see its immediate game applications.  We'll see how this goes.
 
- Haven't seen any of the Halo: ODST footage.  Interested to see if it looks/plays differently than the regular Halo games.  Seems a new Halo project was announced for next year also.  Halo: Reach?  A prequel covering the the Fall of Reach?  Could be very interesting.  Halo has always been a great co-op game, but with a Fall of Reach title they could really add co-op to the storyline, since there will be more than one Spartan around at that time.
 
- Saw some quick footage of Epic's upcoming 2D arcade game.  The visuals looks amazing for an Arcade title.
 
- Alan Wake is back and it looks like Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill.  Why has this game been delayed so much?
 
- It was leaked before E3, but I'm psyched for The Secret of Monkey Island's upcoming Arcade release.  I've never played the Monkey Island games but I always wanted to.
 
- Guitar Hero 5.  Meh.
 
- Just caught a glimpse of the Nintendo conference.  Mario Galaxy 2 was announced.  The big news?  Team Ninja working on a 3rd-Person Metroid action game?!  WTF?!  Seriously?  Pretty damn sweet!
 
- Nothing too surprising out of the Sony Press conference.  Seems like everyone is getting into the whole motion-control thing.  I hope it is used properly to change the way we experience games and not just as a gimmick to cash in on the Wii's success.
 
I've only been able to skim the E3 info so far.  I have seen very few videos myself.  Hope to give further thoughts after I digest everything later this week.
 

May 31, 2009

The Simpson's Game

I was at Best Buy on Friday and saw The Simpson's Game for $9.99 (360).  Seemed like a crime not to pick it up, considering I'm a Simpson's freak.

Managed to play it for about 2 hours earlier today and it is not bad.  How much fun you get out of the game is greatly determined by how big a fan you are of the show.  Me, being a huge fan, am having a great time.  I haven't laughed this much playing a game since Portal.  The writing is on par with the great writing the show is known for.

Being able to explore Springfield and all of its landmark locations (Moe's Tavern, Krusty Burger, Springfield Elementary, Android's Dungeon, etc.) and even the Simpson home, is a fanboy's dream come true.  Everything screams authenticity, even though the layout of the actual town is shrunken down for obvious reasons.

Gameplay is a mix of exploration, standard platforming, simple puzzles and combat. Each Simpson member has their own move-set and special powers.  Nothing revolutionary, but it does keep things fresh.

The hilarious one liners from characters kept me in stitches and all the easter eggs thrown throughout the game world were great to see.  I enjoyed my play session, although there were several sections of extreme frustration coming from the game's controls and camera.  Sometimes making simple jumps or reaching certain locations is alot harder than it needs to be, because the camera refuses to cooperate.  This does put a damper on the fun factor.

All in all, for $10, it looks like a great investment.  Given that I haven't seen new episodes of the show in years (yes, as big a fan as I am, I never see the show on Sundays, just the reruns) I am enjoying getting my Simpson's fix through other means.

May 28, 2009

Update

- Aside from occasionally popping in Professor Layton to take a crack at a puzzle or two, I haven't been doing much gaming lately.  Just waiting for Batman.
 
- Infamous has been getting great reviews, yet that game has never interested me.  Even now I'm indifferent to it.  Which means I will probably buy it soon.
 
- Haven't been able to check out Terminator yet.  Reviews have been mixed, but I still want to see it.  And even though he chews out lighting personnel, I think Christian Bale is a phenomenal talent.
 
- Marlins have won 3 out of their last 4 games.  The Apocalypse is here!
 

May 14, 2009

Wednesday notes

- I've been on the road the last few days for work.  Been to Ft. Myers, Tampa and Orlando since Monday.  My newly purchased DS was put to good use.  Of course, for some reason I left Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass at home!  D'oh!!  So, I spent some more time with New Super Mario Bros. and started Professor Layton and the Curious Village.  Prof. Layton is pretty interesting.  Some of those puzzles are trickier than they seem.  If you think you know the answer immediately, take a step back and really try to think outside the box.  It is usually not that simple.  Looks like a fun title.
 
- Did I mention that I went totally bonkers about a week or so ago and purchased Super Mario Advance, SMA 2, and SMA 3 from Amazon? I received them today.  Sweet deal for all three titles.  Looks like I have a lot of old school platforming in my future.  Oh yeah, I sorta, kinda also ordered A Link to the Past and Hotel Dusk: Room 15.  I have serious, serious problems.
 
So in just over 2 weeks of ownership I already own more  games for the DS (counting some GBA titles) than I have for the PSP, which I have had for 3 years.
 
- Last night's Lost season finale was freakin' crazy awesome!!!  One more season to go!!!  I was kinda iffy on this series somewhere between season 4 and 5, but the second half of this season really picked it up.  I am totally hooked again.
 
- The Dolphins signed Jason Taylor.  1 year deal.  1.1 Million dollar.  That is win/win for the Dolphins.  Welcome back Jason!
 
- The Marlins totally suck.  After starting the season 11-1 (one of the best starts in MLB HISTORY!), we have gone 6-17 since then.  6 and freakin 17!!!  We are now 17-18 and one game under .500.  ARGH!!!  How does that happen?!?!?
 
- Logged on to Live last night for the first time since getting my DS I think.  Downloaded some demos (Wolverine, Bionic Commando, forget what else) and a few videos and then shut down.  Will check them out another time.
 
- Being a Qore subscriber does have some perks.  Looks like I will be participating in the Uncharted Beta.  Curious to see how this plays, since I am assuming that more resources were put towards the single player experience.
 

May 09, 2009

Star Trek

Just saw Star Trek.  It was fantastic.  My favorite movie of the year so far.  In fact, it was the best experience I've had in theaters in a while.

I've never been a Star Trek fan.  I've seen a few of the movies and the odd episode here and there, but I've never gotten into it.  But I really hope they make a few more films using this cast (and production team) because it was stellar.

Good job J.J.

May 06, 2009

Battlestar Galactica

Yes, I know, I am late to the party.  Seems to be my motto lately.  I finally buy a DS after about 5 years of it being released.  And I just now started watching Battlestar Galactica (finally).
 
Gabe has been raving about this series to me for years.  I have always been intrigued by it, being the sci-fi fan that I am, but for some reason I never started watching it.  And it was not just Gabe, several of my friends would comment that is was not just one of the best "sci-fi" series out there, but one of the best series on tv period.
 
I watched the 3 episode "mini-series" this weekend and you know what?  Everyone was right.  From what I have seen, this show is stellar.
 
It all begins with the writing, which is superb.  The story really focuses on the characters and the human element of the show.  Yes it takes place in space and there are space battles and special effects, but the show really does focus on the drama and the effect of what is happening on the characters.
 
Then you add in some great acting.  Solid acting can really go a long way, in not only convincing the viewer to believe what is happening (even more important in a sci-fi setting) but in developing the characters.  After just 3 episodes you get a really good sense of who these characters.
 
Then there are the production values, which are just fantastic.  This is not filmed like a tv show, but like a movie.  A lot of hand-held/steady-cam shots.  The opening shot within the Galactica in fact was an extremely long single take, going from character to character, in what must have been a terribly difficult shot to coordinate.  Very impressive.
 
The special effects and details are also great.  I love all the little air-pulses the fighters use to maneuver while in space, a nice touch.
 
I know it is premature for a detailed review, like I said, I've only seen the mini-series so far, but going in with high expectations I can honestly say I was not disappointed.  I am actually even more impressed with the final product.  Can't wait to continue this series.
 

May 05, 2009

Of course I caved!

It should be a pretty known fact that when it comes to videogames, I have ZERO will power.  Once I make up my mind that I want a certain game, I get it.  So, when I wrote last week that I was really leaning towards getting a DS, but that I would be waiting a bit to get it, it was pretty much set in stone that I was getting one sooner rather than later.
 
So, on my way home from work on Friday, I stop by Best Buy and walk out with a DS.  That's just the way I roll.
 
Along with the DS, I had shiny new copies of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and Tecmo Bowl (TB was on sale for $9.99, it would have been stupid of me NOT to buy it!).
 
I was initially planning on grabbing Zelda and New Super Mario Bros., but for some reason they didn't have any copies of SMB. (more on this later . . . like I said, once I set my mind on something . . .).
 
I ended up getting the DS Lite instead of a DSi for a few reasons.  First, I want to be able to play GBA games.  There are many GBA titltes that I always wanted to play.  Second, my iPhone can basically do all the things the DSi can do, only better.  Third, DS Lite is cheaper.  Easy choice.
 
As I mentioned in my Batman: Arkym Asylum impressions post, I was at Gamestop on Saturday.  What could I have been doing there?  Well, getting New Super Mario Bros. of course!  Why wouldn't I go completely crazy and pick up my 4th DS title?
 
I've spent a few days with the DS now.  I have only played Zelda and SMB at this point.  Probably won't start Professor Layton until I beat one of these.  Thoughts?  Do I have buyer's remorse?  Was this impulse buy because I am in a gaming funk going to backfire?
 
Doesn't look like it.  I freakin' LOVE this thing!
 
New Super Mario Bros. is just that, a new Super Mario Bros. game.  I haven't played a side-scrolling SMB game since Super Mario World on the SNES.  This game does not use much of the DS's touch screen capabilities, but it doesn't really have it.  You still only need to use two buttons.  And it works perfectly.  Having a lot of fun with this one.
 
And then there is Zelda.  Zelda is the opposite of SMB.  You basically ONLY use the touch screen to control this game.  No d-pad.  No face buttons.  You only use the left shoulder button and the stylus.  And you don't have to use the shoulder button if you don't want to, there is a touch-screen version of that too.  Controlling the entire game with the stylus had me worried at first, but it works wonderfully.  Almost no learning curve too, it just works.
 
As to the game itself, I don't know what it is about Zelda games.  They are all very similar.  You start off with no weapons.  You find your sword and your shield.  You eventually find a bomb bag and a boomerang.  You enter dungeons where you acquire a new item and then have to defeat that dungeon's boss with the item you just found.  You can then return to previous areas in the game with your new items and find new secrets or locations.  But this formula works so well, it doesn't seem to ever get old.
 
I am totally loving The Phantom Hourglass.  It is the most fun I have had playing a game all year.  Maybe all I needed to get out of my boredom was just a little Nintendo.  No fancy graphics, no blood and guts, no shooting, just good, classic, fantastic gameplay . . .
 

Arkham Asylum hands-on

I was in Gamespot on Saturday and they had a PS3 with the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo.  Hell yeah!!!  Quick impressions:
 
- The visuals are great.  The animation is what really sets it apart.  Batman's movements are very smooth.  Counter attacks especially look great!
 
- The combat was very intuitive and in just a few minutes, I was stringing together combos and counters with little trouble.  On the default difficulty, it looks like hand-to-hand combat might be a little too easy.  The counter button maybe works too well.  But at the same time, you're Batman, you're supposed to be putting down random thugs with ease.  Combat was engaging and most importantly, fun.  I like challenge as much as the next guy, but I have always believed that it shouldn't come at the expense of the "realism" of the game world/character.  I LIKE the fact that it is easy to fight off a group of nameless criminals as Batman.  While the challenge is not there, the fun still kicks into high gear because you FEEL like your character is supposed to feel: a badass.
 
- The demo was actually very limited.  You just fight wave after wave of enemies (their numbers increase each time).  This was only a combat demo and I was disappointed that I couldn't explore the other game-modes (which I am far more interested in).  So I wasn't able to swing from the rafters with my grappling hook, silently take down enemies, use my x-ray vision, or dispatch enemies with my batarang.  Oh well.
 
Even though all I got to experience was combat, I was VERY happy with what I played.  This game is still at the top of my list of upcoming releases.  Looks like it is going to be delayed slightly (end of summer now), but if that time is going to be used to continue to polish the game, then by all means, release it in the fall if you have to!  Just make it a great Batman game please!
 

May 02, 2009

Ghost Recon News

Ubisoft announced today that it's working on a new Ghost Recon, currently titled Ghost Recon 4. Some of our more observant readers likely remember this game coming up in a previous Ubisoft financial report. Sadly, it's still a ways off, with Ubisoft crossing its fingers for a release sometime before April 2010. 

Gaming Today I am Bored!!

As gamers we have more options today than ever in the history of video gaming.  Numerous consoles and hand held devices.  Even great games appears on our mobile phones.  From casual puzzle games to hardcore first person shooters the gaming possiblities seem endless.  Then why do I feel bored?  Am I just getting spoiled and used to games with their mulitmillion dollar high production games.   I am going to explore this subject further in future posts.  Until then, game on. 

April 28, 2009

New system?

As I mentioned last week, I am in a gaming funk.  I think I am worn out on FPS Shooters, 3D Adventure games, and just about any game that requires you to move with the left analog stick and aim with the right.  I need a change.
 
So, I am considering buying either a Wii or a DS.
 
As Gabe will tell you, I love Nintendo.  Which is why it boggles my mind that I don't already own both these systems.  Nintendo is my favorite developer.  I consider Shigeru Miyamoto to be an absolute genius and I feel confident purchasing any game he creates without even seeing a screenshot first.  And yet I have been gaming sans-Nintendo since the last time I fired up my Gamecube about 5 years ago.  How'd that happen?
 
I probably got swept up in the technological aspects of this "new" generation.  I was dumbfounded when Nintendo released the specs for the Wii.  It seemed more like the Gamecube 1.5.  Worst of all, I was just getting in the wonderful world of high-definition and the fact that the Wii would only output 480p video seemed ridiculous (I still think Nintendo dropped the ball by not having HD video output for the Wii.  Fine, it won't be pushing millions of bump-mapped polygons, but everything looks better in HD!).  And then of course, there was the controller.  In hindsight, Nintendo knew what they were doing, but c'mon, you know that the first time you saw the Wiimote you thought Nintendo had lost it.  I know I sure did.
 
So, even though I knew the Wii was the only place I could continue my Mario and Link adventures, I allocated my gaming funds to my 360 and PS3, both of which could feed my corneas the HD goodness they were craving.
 
The DS was never really an option for me.  Prior to the PSP, the only other handheld I owned was the very first gameboy.  Handheld gaming was not something I did much of.
 
But fast forward to today and that DS is looking pretty sweet.  It can offer two things I am looking for, Nintendo games and something completely different from what I am getting now.  The Wii also offers that, but for some reason, I am really leaning towards the DS.  I already have a list of DS titles that I would love to play.
 
I'm going to hold off for now.  I have some credit card bills to pay off first (that iMac wasn't free!) but once I am done, I definitely see myself finally getting some Nintendo back in my life.
 

April 27, 2009

Weekend notes

- Well, the Marlins suck now all of a sudden.  After starting the season 11-1 and coming off series sweeps of the Braves and Nationals, we have now lost 6 in a row, getting swept ourselves by the Pirates and the Phillies.  Ouch.
 
Maybe we're just not that good after all.  In fact, thinking back to that Nationals' series, we could easily be in a 9 game losing streak right now, since we won all three of those games by coming from behind in the final innings.  They could have easily been loses.
 
Here's hoping things pick up.  We start a tough series against the Mets tonight.
 
- On the gaming front, I played some Rock Band for the first time in months on Saturday.  Well, actually that is not accurate, I should say I played drums for the first time in months, since I purchased Pearl Jam's Ten album when it was released last month and I have sung Jeremy and Black many times.  :)
 
But I hadn't played the drums ever since breaking my third bass pedal a while back.  My buddy brought over his pedal on Sat. night and we jammed.  Man, I was extremely rusty.  Still a lot of fun though.
 
- Gabe and I played 18 holes of Hot Shots golf on Saturday.  It was a lot of fun.  I was on fire too and ended up finishing 14 under par I think.  Gabe didn't stand a chance!  lol.  Rematch!
 
Speaking of Hot Shots golf, it is time for another Sony rant.
 
Sony's PS3 does a lot of great things.  As a piece of technology, I love it.  Bluray playback is top notch and it offers a lot for tech heads (web browser, slide shows, SACD playback, dvd upconversion, etc.).  One the gaming side it has proven to have plenty of horse power and games designed specifically for the system have really shown what it can do (Uncharted, MGS 4, Killzone 2, MLB: The Show).
 
That being said, the system does a lot of things terribly.  I've previously commented how un-user friendly it can be, especially with game or system updates (especially compared to how the 360 handles things).  But on Saturday, Gabe and I were struggling with what is the systems biggest weakness by far.  The entire online network/infrastructure.
 
It is TERRIBLE!
 
First of all, you cannot send Friend Invites.  I've taken for granted how convenient this is on the 360.  Want to pay an online game with a friend on the 360?  Just send him an invite.  Once he accepts, he is automatically placed in your lobby.  Simple.  Easy.  Convenient.
 
Can't do that on the PS3 (unless the game itself offers the feature).  So, here is what we have to do to get into a match of HS Golf.  I call his cell phone.  Yes, I have to call his cell and say "Hey Gabe, ok, I am going to be in the 1st Clubhouse, 2nd floor, 1st lobby.  Go in there and then look for the match that I will create."
 
That is all types of fail right there.
 
We've also played for about 3 weekends in a roll now and only one time have we been able to play with voice chat.  Now, this is not a Sony problem as much as it is a Hot Shots problem, but hey, if you could do a private chat like you can on the 360, this wouldn't even be a problem.
 
This is the main reason why I always choose the 360 version of a game over the PS3.  As a "gamer", the 360 does just about everything better.
 
The PS Network may be free, but I'll gladly pay for my Live service and get a fully functioning network.
 
Ok, rant over.
 

April 22, 2009

Marlins

The Marlins have lost two straight to the Pirates after going on a 7 game winning streak, sweeping both the Braves and the Nationals on the road.  We're now 11-3.
 
I guess going 161-1 was just wishful thinking on my part.
 

April 21, 2009

Gaming notes

I'm in a weird gaming funk at the moment.  Even though I have several games left unfinished, I'm not in the mood to play any of them.  Fallout 3, Prince of Persia, Little Big Planet, FEAR 2, Far Cry 2, CoD: WaW, Ninja Gaiden 2, Lost: Via Domus, Condemned 2, GTA IV, I have yet to finish any of those titles.  But the thought of popping them in my disc tray is not very appealing for some reason.
 
My gaming for the last 2 weeks has consisted of MLB: The Show 09 and CoD4 multiplayer.
 
Maybe I am getting tired of the type of games I normally play and need something fresh.  Of those 10 incomplete games, 5 use firing a gun as their main gameplay mechanic, 5 are played from the 1st person perspective, 8 use combat as at least 50% of their gameplay (I'm thinking Lost doesn't require too much combat and I don't considering jumping on enemies as "combat" for LBP).  I also could just be tired of sequels.  Only LBP and Lost escape the sequel category.
 
Yet, I am clearly drawn to these type of games, since I've come close to purchasing both Riddick and Fable II to fill my gaming "void", both of which are sequels, and both of which fall in some of the other various categories I've just mentioned.
 
And on the horizon, here are the games that I know I am interested in:
 
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Mafia II
- Lost Planet 2
- Madden 2010 (not sold yet, but this new team seems to be heading in the right direction)
- Modern Warfare 2
- Halo: ODST
 
Again, practically all sequels, and more shooting and combat.  lol.  I need to get addicted to a new genre!!!  I'm in a gaming rut!
 
Any suggestions of quality titles that don't conform to the usual gaming trends are appreciated.
 

April 13, 2009

Weekend Notes

- Well, the Marlins are 5-1 after sweeping the Nationals and taking 2 of 3 from the Mets.  Hell of a game yesterday.  Santana vs. Johnson looked like a great pitching match-up on paper, but the real thing was even better.  Both pitchers were at the top of their game.  Santana probably had better stuff than Josh (even though Josh took a no hitter into the 6th) and the Marlins were just lucky that the Mets' error resulted in a couple of runs in their favor.
 
We begin a 3 game series against the Braves in Atlanta tomorrow.  Should be a great series considering both teams are tied for the best record in the majors.
 
- I am once again addicted to CoD4 multiplayer.  I played until 2am on Saturday night and have been playing every time I turn on my 360, even though I have Fallout 3 and Prince of Persia sitting there incomplete (well, I actually have a ton of games incomplete).  On the PS3 front I am loving The Show (as always).  Played some Hotshots and Killzone with Gabe this weekend too.
 
- Looks like my A/C is broken.  That is never a good thing when you live in Miami.  Fun.
 

April 08, 2009

Marlins baby!!!!

The Marlins are 2-0.  I think we might go undefeated this year.
 

April 03, 2009

Completely random post

For no reason whatsoever, other than I was just thinking about this, here is a list of all of Pixar's full-length movies in order of my favorite to lease favorite.
 
Finding Nemo
WALL-e
The Incredibles
Ratatouille
Toy Story 2
Toy Story
Monster's Inc.
Cars

April 01, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum

I have been thoroughly impressed by all the media I have seen on Batman: Arkham Aslylum, especially the latest first glimpse of actual gameplay.  Batman is a great character and there has never been a good Batman videogame to my knowledge.  I really hope Rocksteady comes through and delivers a satisfying game.
 
Visually, the game looks solid, running on the Unreal III engine.  They have the proper voice-talent, so I just have to hope that the story and gameplay comes through.  I am glad that it looks like it won't just be a standard beat 'em up, since stealth and gadgets seem to be a major factor in the game.  I am hoping the game plays semi non-linear and lets players explore Arkham island as they see fit.  I wouldn't mind some Zelda-esque backtracking, coming back to previous areas with new gadgets and abilities to access new areas.
 
This is actually the only game I am really looking forward to in the near future.  I have my fingers crossed.
 

March 31, 2009

Weekend notes . . .

- I've been playing MLB: The Show 09.  Once again I am playing Road to the Show mode as a pitcher.  What I can I say, looks like deep down inside I always wanted to be a pitcher in the majors.  In The Show 06, I was a closer.  In 07, a starter.  Now in 09, another starter.  I should create a first baseman or something to mix it up.
 
Actually, what I would like to do this year is play a normal franchise.  I've yet to play franchise-mode in this series ever since RTTS was implemented.  Think I'll try that . . . if I can stop myself from playing RTTS mode.  I wonder if there is a way to import your RTTS character to a franchise?  Would be cool.
 
- Gabe and I finally got together on-line to play a few games Saturday morning.  We had our much delayed "rematch" in Hotshots Golf: Out of Bounds.  Since we hadn't played the game in months, we had a few updates to download.  And by "few" I mean we both spent about 30 minutes downloading and installing updates.  My God, why are updates so annoying on the PS3?
 
On the 360, when I get the message that an update is available, I am glad and begin to wonder what was updated and generally feel that the game is improved somehow because of the update.  On the PS3, when I see the update message, I just groan and my mind just wonders how damn long it is going to take.
 
Anyway, I digress.  After all the updates were installed (there were three of them) we got to play a few matches and it was a lot of fun.  This game is fantastic and I urge any golf fan to give it a try.  The game is actually very deep and the engine is very solid.  I look forward to many more matches with Gabe online (just get your bluetooth headset synced Gabe!)
 
- Saw the "leaked" footage on Youtube of Uncharted 2 and the game is looking great.  It looks similar to the first title as far as camera perspective, animations, and gameplay (granted, this is from a low-quality one minute video), but you can immediately see the increase in environmental detail and level geometry.  The detail in the run-down city was phenomenal.  Can't wait for this game.
 
- I saw the remake of Halloween on Sunday.  I was against this remake from the start and while it wasn't terrible, I still feel it was completely unnecessary.  The original is still a classic and stands on its own just fine.
 

March 27, 2009

TGIF

Man, today is just dragging and I can't wait for the weekend to get here already.


Posted with LifeCast


March 26, 2009

The Orange Box

I was at Best Buy yesterday and I saw that they had The Orange Box for $19.99.
 
That is a ridiculous price.
 
Here is what is in The Orange Box:
 
- Half-Life 2
- Half-Life 2 Episode 1
- Half-Life 2 Episode 2
- Team Fortress 2
- Portal
 
This package was a fantastic deal when it was released for $59.99.  At $20, every 360 (or PS3 owner) should buy it.  So, go out and get it!!!
 

March 24, 2009

New toy

So, as you can tell from my previous post, I now own an iPhone.  I never thought I would.  I've always found it to be an amazing phone technology-wise, but I'm not much of a phone guy.  I've never owned a fancy phone for personal use (I have a Blackberry for work, but it is used strictly for work. 98% of its use is just for e-mail).  So I am surprised I took the plunge.
 
It also didn't help that my sister has owned one for a few months now and she doesn't hesitate to rub it in my face how damn cool it is.
 
So, with my T-mobile Contract ending at the end of February, I went for it.  I got the 8GB model.
 
So far, no complaints from me.  Well, I mean, I have all the regular complaints: No MMS Messaging, no video recording, no copy & paste, but it looks like most of that is being fixed with the new iPhone OS 3.0 which is out this summer.  But considering everything else the phone does, all the great apps available for it, and how responsive and cool the touch screen is, all is forgiven.
 

March 16, 2009

Test (iPhone Post Test)

Hello? Is this thing on?


Posted with LifeCast


March 09, 2009

2008 Game of the Year Awards

Ok, last year's Games of the Year Awards post was kinda long, so I am hoping to streamline it this year and be less wordy.  At least I will try.
 
Like before, my overall Game of the Year is not eligible for the individual system GotY award, to share the wealth a bit.  Also, keep in mind that I can obviously only choose from games that I played last year, so don't hate me if your favorite game didn't make it, I probably just didn't play it.  I also only did gaming on the 360 and PS3 this year, so no PS2 or PSP titles, unlike last year.  Ok, I'm already getting wordy.  On to the big award first!
 
2008 Game of the Year
 
Dead Space
 
There was no other game that I played in 2008 that wowed me as much as Dead Space.  Plain and simple.  Visually, it is the most impressive title I have seen to date.  Atmospherically, I was drawn in from opening sequence to closing credits.  Everytime I picked up the controller to play this game, I had a great time and an ear to ear smile (when I wasn't terrified that is).
 
Runners-up:
 
Gears of War 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3
 
360 Game of the Year
 
Gears of War 2
 
As I mentioned in my impressions post (HERE), I really did not enjoy GoW 2 the first time I played it.  The second time however, was some of the most fun I've had this year.  It was a long session too (played for about 6 hours straight) and I was enthralled the entire time.  I'm surprised that this ended up being my 360 GotY, but I couldn't think of another title I enjoyed more (aside from Dead Space of course).
 
Runners-up:
 
GTA IV, Fallout 3, Rock Band 2
 
PS3 Game of the Year
 
Metal Gear Solid 4
 
This game was an experience.  Visually, its the pinacle on the PS3 at the moment (at least until Killzone is released).  Gameplay-wise, the Metal Gear series has never been better.  Its refined controls and new default camera angle finally take the series to next level in the playability department.  It answers all the questions you might have had in the series too.  At least, I think it does.  This series' story-line is so intertwined and incoherent at this point, it is hard to tell.  As expected, the game delivers the best directed cinimatics in the business.  Kojima always excelled in this department and each MG game has taken it to another level.  That being said, as I mentioned in my impressions of the game, it is overdone.  This is both a game and a movie.  You spend at least ½ your time just sitting back and watching.  Really, you can go over ½ an hour without having to tough your controller.  That is a bit much and the game's only major negative.  With a gameplay to cinematics ratio of 70/30, this might have been a contender for 2009 GotY.  But since it seems to be more in the 50/50 range, the overall experience really suffers.
 
Runners-up:
 
Little Big Planet, MLB 08: The Show
 
Xbox Live Arcade GotY:
 
Braid
 
Braid was just unique.  And fun.  And satisfying.  And special.  Its puzzles fiendishly clever.  Its art direction beautifully surreal.  It might not be for everybody, but it was definitely up my alley.
 
Runner's up:
 
Bionic Commando, Castle Crashers
 
Sports Game of the Year:
 
MLB: The Show 2008
 
For the second year in a row, The Show gets my vote.  A huge visual leap from last year, The Show just looks and plays like baseball.  No other sports game does a better job of translating a sport's nuances, sounds, look and feel like The Show series.
 
Runners-up:
 
Hot Shots: Out of Bounds
 
Multiplayer Game of the Year:
 
Left 4 Dead
 
Considering this game should only be played co-op, it better be a great experience.  And it is! 
 
Runner's up:
 
Rock Band 2, Castle Crashers
 
Best Graphics:
 
Dead Space
 
In my opinion, no other game looked better.  Sure, others might have had larger scale, and done certain things better, but no other game impressed me visually as much as Dead Space.  Gears of War came close, and Metal Gear was technically fantastic, but Dead Space had me at "hello" this year.
 
Runners-up:
 
GoW 2, MGS4, Far Cry 2
 
Best Sound:
 
Battlefield: Bad Company
 
Dead Space basically had this category locked up, but I made a really late purchase of Bad Company and I was blown away by the sound design.  No other FPS has done a better job with gunfire and explosions.  Everything sounds different depending on distance and even environment (everything sounds different indoors).  For a game that relies so much on destruction, BC's sound design made that destruction sound absolutely delightful.
 
Runner's-up:
Dead Space, GoW 2
 
Best Gaming Moment of 2008:
 
(Possible spoiler ahead!)
 
.
 
.
 
.
 
.
 
Returning to Shadow Moses Island (MGS4)
 
Wow!  Talk about fan service.  Kojima and his team pulled this bit of nostalgia off to perfection.  The whole scenario was set up beautifully too.  Heavy snow storm clouds your vision and just as that familiar helipad and base come into view, the theme from the ending credits of MGS1 kicks in.  I was floored.  Definitely one of my favorite gaming moments, not just from 2008, but of all time.
 
Runner's-up:
 
Zero Gravity (Dead Space)
 
The airtight doors open and I feel all the air getting sucked out of the compression chamber.  Ahead of me I see that the hull of the ship has been completely breached, the beauty of open space lies beyond.  All sound is muted and distant, although I clearly hear my breaths as I consume my now limited air supply.  Everything has a hazy look to it.  Up ahead I see a pipe has ruptured and see the beads of water floating away.  It is a surreal, peaceful experience, almost making me forget about the horrors I have already seen, and the ones that await me.
 
Leaving Vault 101 (Fallout 3)
 
Similar to exiting the sewers in Oblivion, finally escaping the confines of Vault 101 and stepping out to the Wasteland was exhilarating.  The vast, post-apocalyptic landscape is hautingly beautiful and the sense of freedom I felt to to go anywhere and do as I wanted was even more apparent than in Oblivion.
 
Biggest Disapointment of 2008:
 
(Tie) Ninja Gaiden 2 / Brother's in Arms: Hell's Highway
 
Anyone who has read this blog for a while (which is nobody) knows that Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox is one of my favorite action titles ever.  Played through it (in its many incarnations) MANY times.  But Ninja Gaiden 2 just never did it for me.  It didn't seem to evolve enough.  Its gameplay felt stagnant.  Complacent.  Sections felt extremely cheap.  I still need to beat it, yet, I find the urge to go back to it gone.  Shame.
 
As far as BiA, going into this new generation of gaming, this game was actually in my top 3 of anticipated titles.  Ever since the 360 was released, I was looking forward to this one.  What a disapointment.  A lot of what the developers showed, as far as walkthroughs and demos, turned out to be bogus and the final game was not what I was expecting.  Technically, it suffered, despite what seemed like ages of develoment time.  And the gameplay felt right out of last generation.  A big disappointment.
 
Runner's-up:
 
Additional Portal levels only part of full game re-release, Madden 2009 (like always)
 
Biggest Surprise of 2008:
 
Dead Space
 
Who would have thought that a game I was not interested in until a week before its release would end up being my favorite game of 2008?
 
- - - - -
 
Alright, that's it.  I am tired of typing.  Another year, another batch of great titltes.  here's hoping 2009 is another great one.

March 05, 2009

Watchmen

I got to watch an advanced screening of The Watchmen on Tuesday.  It was an interesting experience.   I have attended several advanced screenings in the past.  They have all been pretty standard.  You get there early with your pass, get in line, and aside from seeing a movie before it is released, it is a normal theater experience.
 
This wasn't.
 
They begin letting us in and instead of being greeted by your regular movie theater usher taking tickets, we're greeted by a bunch of guys in black suits.  They have metal detectors in their hands.  As I go through screening they ask me if I have a phone.  I show it to them.  They tell me they have to see me turn it off before I can go into the theater.  I advise them that I am still waiting for my sister to get there and that I have her ticket (I show them the extra ticket) and need my phone on for her to call me.  They again tell me that if I want to go inside I need to turn off my phone now.  So, I need to stand off to the side while I wait for my sister to arrive.  Eventually we get in and we're advised that we cannot leave the theater, even to go to the bathroom, until the entire auditorium is full and they have a feel for how many people are here.  I spot more guys with suits towards the front of the auditorim scanning the crown with small scopes (like a single-lensed binocular).  WTF?  Is this movie really so special to warrant Secret Service type security?  It was bizarre.
 
As for the movie itself, I liked it.  It was shot very stylistically, as Zach Snyder tends to do.  Lots of cool shots, plenty of slow-motion, and the man does not shy away from the gore and violence.  Which was one thing I enjoyed, even though this can be considered a "super-hero" movie, it is not for kids.  It is dark and violent.  I was surprised the studio didn't force them to cut it down to a PG-13 to maximize its box-office.  Bravo.  Sin City and 300 also had R ratings, but even at a glance a viewer can tell those movies are not really for kids; by the trailer alone I can see people thinking Watchmen is just another comic book movie ala Spider-Man and X-Men and be very surprised by what they find.
 
The movie had its share of flaws.  I applaud them for trying to be as true to the graphic novel as possible and release this as a 2hr 40 minute flick, but aside from pleasing fans of the novel, it could have probably been trimmed down to make it flow better as a movie.  It can also be a bit overwhelming for those that know absolutely nothing about the source material.  They will be left wondering who all these costumed heroes are and what their background is.  Some of their origins are told throughout the movie, but until that point you are left wondering just who all these characters are.
 
The movie definitely has a lot of polish and flair.  Special effects are a mixed bag, but I suspect most of it is intentional.  Some special effects don't look particularly "real", but I believe it is because they are going for more of that graphic novel/comic book look, rather than trying to emulate the real world.  If you can make that adjustment, then things are fine.  If you cannot, then everytime you see Dr. Manhattan on screen (the glowing naked blue guy who can bend space and time to his will), you will just think he looks silly.
 
Overall, I really enjoyed it.  The Watchmen is a very tough graphic novel to translate to live-action and in the hands of most directors this could have been a laughable experience.  But, Zach pulled it off.  So far he is 3 for 3 in my book.