Archive for October, 2010

[Online Gaming] Blessing, curse, or both

Posted: October 31, 2010 by Tim Utley in Editorials

The "Gold" Standard

I want to first start off by stating that I love Online Gaming.  Xbox Live and the Playstation Network offer a great deal of features that only enhance a game’s playability.  Having the ability to download demos, new game content, and original titles really has revolutionized the way we play and enjoy videogames.  The most defining feature of online gaming is online multiplayer.  For me being able to sit in the comfort of my own home and play with people all over the world is something that i couldn’t have fathomed in my youth.  With all the incredible offerings that come with online gaming, there are a few things that i miss about the days of old.  When i was a kid videogames were abundantly more social than they are now.  I know i have a greater access to more people with online gaming which in theory is exponentially more social than a LAN party, but the lack of physical interaction creates a disconnect for me.  We use to have 4 dudes crammed into a small room with soda cans and pizza boxes everywhere kicking each others asses in Goldeneye on a small ass TV.  That was gaming to me at its finest.  I can still have that today, but its 4 dudes sitting in their own small rooms playing against each other on their own small ass TV, scattered across the city.

As these online services become more capable i fear that gaming will inevitably become an anti-social experience.  It is already bad enough when i ask my friends to come over for a gaming session they would rather stay at home and tell me to “Yo, hop on LIVE”.  That is fine and all, but i have always felt that gaming has some intrinsic quality that necessitates social interaction.  Arcades are all but dead, but anyone who has gamed in there life has spent some quality time in an arcade and more than likely misses the hell out of those kinds of experiences.  Some games are meant to be played alone and some games are too boring to play in front of others, but for those outings that are not get your friends over and drink some cheap beer and LAN up some original Halo.

Thank you to the Readers

Posted: October 27, 2010 by Tim Utley in Editorials

Lets go for a 1000

This might not seem like a large accomplishment to most, but my blog has hit 100 views and that means a lot to me.  I just wanted to say thank you to everyone is coming back and hearing what i have to say about videogames.  I’ll keep writing as long as you keep viewing.  Thanks again.

Media Achievements…maybe?

Posted: October 27, 2010 by Tim Utley in Editorials

Food for thought

With the advent of the gamerscore Microsoft made people actually give a shit about finishing games or trying different parts of titles to get a more fulfilling experience.  The gamerscore not only represents bragging rights for gamers worldwide it also represents how agoraphobic you are.  But the gamerscore has only been relegated to accomplishing certain feats in videogames.  Don’t get me wrong i love getting me some gamerscore points after a good romp through a game, but just imagine if you could get credit for everything else you do.

Media Achievements could be the next wave of excellence to hit the Xbox 360.  The media achievements would independent of your gamerscore as its not gaming related.  You would have a separate score that would be displayed under your gamerscore.  You could unlock achievements for having a certain amount of songs in your music library or syncing up a Zune device for extra functionality.  Just imagine getting rewarded with mediascore points for viewing an entire season of your favorite show on Netflix or listening to Last.Fm for an hour straight without changing the channel.  Microsoft has all these great media options available on the Xbox 360 and i believe that the implementation of such an idea would definitely create a greater desire to use these options.  So think about it Microsoft, because giving gamers more incentive to use your products will only benefit you more in the long run.

PSPgo, How far did it really “go”?

Posted: October 27, 2010 by Tim Utley in Editorials

PSPgo, Who was this really for?

I am all about innovation when it comes to hand-held systems.  I also believe that if something is not broke do not fix it.  Sony’s original Playstation Portable (PSP) entered Sony into a market that was being dominated by Nintendo.  The PSP had features and options that set it apart from the Nintendo DS.  The ability to listen to music, view photos, and even view movies (which was originally a huge pain in the ass to do).  UMD movies were also a novel concept that could have given the PSP an even greater edge had they not been outrageously overpriced.  It had potential not only as a gaming platform but as a portable media device.

The system’s name did not lie either.  The PSP was capable of generating graphics that were comparable to that of a PS2 (now more so than earlier, but you get the idea) and had a great lineup of software.   Nintendo wasn’t going to just move over though, they had a few tricks left in their bag.  To make a long story short Nintendo repeatedly revamped the DS into different models, but made each subsequent model better than its predecessor.  Sony would retaliate with 2 more PSP models that offered features like a TV output feature to game on your TV (component only with the PSP 2000, but composite was added with the PSP 3000) and a more study design that featured less vulnerable mechanical components (UMD Bay for example).  The newer PSP models still had that original aesthetic to them, but were made into a more functional hand-held systems.

So what compelled Sony to redesign again?  Who knows, maybe they were still not satisfied with the current models available on the market.  Enter the PSPgo.  Sony’s latest re-imagining of the PSP looked more like a fancy cell phone than a hand held gaming system.  Just the thought of that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Remember this piece of shit?

The PSPgo had taken a slightly different route than its brethren.  It was completely digital, no UMDs required.  Equipped with either a 16 or 32gb on board hard drive the PSPgo offered gaming on the “go” with no extra baggage.  In theory this idea sounds great, you don’t have to swap games anymore or worry about them getting scratched or some shit like that.  But the thing that at first glance seems so appealing completely deterred me from ever considering buying this product.  I guess i am just a analog guy living in a digital world, but the collector in me likes having physical media.  I don’t like the idea of having to purchase a game code from a local retailer or charge my credit card on the PSN to download a game i could very well hate.  Yes some games have demos, but for those that don’t you are rolling the dice with your hard earned greenbacks.  So if i buy a game that i don’t like, guess what, i can’t do shit with it besides delete it.  Aside from how games are purchased i had a beef with the new design.  They made it smaller for some god awful reason.  Small might be cute for some people, but its completely ineffective for anyone’s hands that are larger than Verne Troyer’s.  The last nail in the coffin was the price.  250 big ones.  Returning to the price of the original PSP that had launched 4 years prior.  The system just received a price drop recently of $50, but i don’t know how far that will “go” in enticing consumers to purchase a glorified Sidekick.  I don’t think that this system will ever have a following or remain in production much longer.  I have high hopes for Sony’s hand held division in the future, just be conscious of your design choices and the repercussions they carry.

Happy Birthday PS2!

Posted: October 27, 2010 by Tim Utley in Editorials

This little beauty took the world by storm

Today marks the 10th birthday of the Sony Playstation 2.  This venerable machine brought a lot of great memories to not only me but the entire gaming community.  I still remember the day my dad walked up my front steps with that big blue box of awesome and would forever change my perception of what was capable in videogames.  I remember running out to EBX and buying Madden 2001, SSX, and a 8mb memory card.  This system not only has one of the largest libraries of games, but also some of the greatest games ever conceived.  The PS2 ushered in a new era of gaming for me by taking tried and true franchises and realizing them with even greater detail, depth, and performance.  Playing Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec for the first time blew me away with its incredible attention to detail unlike anything i had ever seen before.  We can’t forget the first time we as a community laid eyes on Metal Gear Solid 2.  Truly great things happened on this platform and will be not long forgotten for many years to follow.  If you have a particular PS2 memory you would like to share, disclose it in the comments section.  Once again Happy Birthday little buddy, you changed all of our worlds on that fateful day in 2000.

What I expect from Fable 3

Posted: October 23, 2010 by Tim Utley in News and Updates

Ever since Peter Molyneux announced Fable for the original Xbox i have had high expectations for the the franchise.  Fable was promised as being an evolving narrative that was constructed around the player’s actions.  For the most part Molyneux lived up to that, but the game wasn’t really as unique as he claimed.  With a relatively linear narrative with a few moral decisions to be made along the way it provided a standard action-rpg experience (and an enjoyable one at that).  But with most of the original features being cut from the first title it really cried out for a sequel.  Enter Fable 2, Molyneux’s second outing on a Microsoft platform.  Fable 2 did incorporate some of the missing components from Fable, but the experience for me wasn’t as enjoyable as the first.  I invested a significant amount of time into Fable 2, but most quests and duties to perform were not entertaining as much as they were laborious.  The online co-op allowed for another friend to join your quest, but their character was not their own, but a generic character.  Valiant effort Molyneux, but the whole point of questing with a friend is to experience the adventure with “our” own unique variations of Sparrow.

How will you rule Albion?

Aside from the shortcomings of Fable 2, Fable 3 is on the horizon (3 days) and i hope for a more invigorating outing from Molyneux’s third entry into the series.  I am interested to check out the new and tighter combat system implemented in Fable 3 and also the cinematic set pieces that seem to happen frequently (I like story elements that are  presented formally, Fable 2 didn’t accomplish that for me).  Another thing that i am excited for is Molyneux’s promise of a truly unique world for each player.  By that i mean that your actions will not only shape a communities vision or feelings toward you, but your actions will now actually shape the world you are living in.  If you decide to be an Industrial Titan your world will look dirty and the people will look like they just got off  an 18 shift at a factory.  Or the opposite and you decide to be a benevolent ruler and your land looks pristine and everyone is frolicking around without a care in the world.  Lastly is the revamped co-op feature that was botched in Fable 2.  Now when you enter a friends world you will be entering not only what they have done with their world, but you will be also representing your presence with your character not a generic hero.  Molyneux has promised big things for this upcoming title and i really hope that my next trip into Albion will be a more enjoyable one.

Preorder Bonuses from Amazon

Posted: October 20, 2010 by Tim Utley in Video Game Deals

While perusing around amazon this morning i stumbled across some preorder deals from some upcoming titles.  You can either search Amazon for these games or each game has a link attached to its respective page on Amazon.  Just keep in mind that these are PREORDER bonuses and they will not be awarded to anyone after their respective launch dates so don’t wait if you are interested.

Rockband 3 – $10 Videogame Credit w/ an In Game Guitar

Gran Turismo 5 – $10 Videogame Credit w/ an In Game Car (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Stealth model Car)

SWTFU 2 – $10 Videogame Credit w/ 2 Bonus In Game Trials (The Trial of Dagobah and Defending the Core) (Standard Edition Only for the $10 Videogame Credit)

Fable 3 – $20 Videogame Credit w/ 2 Bonus In Game items (Champion Hammer and Balance Tattoo)

NFS Hot Pursuit – $20 Videogame Credit

James Bond 007 Bloodstone – $10 Videogame Credit

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – $15 Videogame Credit w/ Amazon Exclusive Armor (Helmschmied Drachen Armor) (Standard Edition Only for the $15 Videogame Credit)

Amazon Lightning Deals = All Videogames

Posted: October 20, 2010 by Tim Utley in Video Game Deals

Today’s Amazon’s Gold Box Deals are all videogame related.  Also with the Deal of the Day being Super Street Fighter IV for both Xbox 360 and PS3.  So head on over to Amazon and see if you can’t find yourself something nice on the cheap.

A look at Super Meat Boy

Posted: October 19, 2010 by Tim Utley in News and Updates

Is this the return of Classic Platforming?

This game has been getting an adequate amount of buzz on the web and i felt the need to look into it.  Super Meat Boy comes from developers Team Meat and they are looking to rank amongst other classic platforming greats.  From what i have discovered thus far this game is attempting to recreate that classic/frustrating platforming experience seen in games like Super Mario Brothers and Megaman.  With rudimentary controls seen in platformers of yesteryear, retro-style pixelated graphics, and an unforgiving difficulty really make this game feel and look like an instant classic.  I will be investigating this game more in the coming days as it launches tomorrow on Xbox 360, Wii, PC, and Mac.  If i get hooked like so many other early viewers i will be providing a review later in the week.

GTAIV meets Heavy Rain in the “Mastermind”

Posted: October 19, 2010 by Tim Utley in News and Updates

While doing some early surfing this morning i came across this video via Kotaku.  It is a short film that was shot entirely using the PC version of GTAIV (Pretty cool concept).  It is about 15 minutes long and just like me you will probably have no clue what is going on.  It follows around a more disheveled looking Niko Belic (character has no name, and isn’t actually Niko Belic) as he gallivants around Liberty City.  Running,murmuring comments, and seeing weird shit comprises most of this film.  I admire the directors vision, but overall he didn’t create something to encapsulate a large audience.  I would recommend watching it for its technical achievements (Great camera work, editing, and sound), but if you are looking for something action packed look elsewhere.