Jun 28, 2010

Three Weeks Later

Did you see the BET awards last night? The after show was popping last night. It was basically a commercial sponsored by Diddy which meant endless bottles of Ciroc, Diddy Beats, and spins of the song "Hello Good Morning" by Dirty Money. Lots of stars were in the house drinking Cocoloso's (Coconut Ciro & Pineapple) having a good time. Most of the show was improvised which was cool since the Ciroc was flowing heavy. It kept me entertained.

Watching the after show kept me away from playing Mass Effect 2. Today is my fourth day with it and I've invested 18 hours so far. This is my second time playing the story, and it feels fresher than the first run. This time I created a female character by the name of Tameka Shepard. The story feels a lot more natural with a female lead. The characters in your team seem less superficial to me. For example I always had the feeling the Miranda never liked me when I was a male Shepard. Every time I interacted with her she just seemed like she didn't want anything to do with me. This time around she seems to like Tameka Shepard, and as a result I've become more interested in learning Miranda's story. Everything is different this time around. Characters that were loyal the first time around aren't, and stories are more interesting. The first time around I just wanted to shoot shit and see the end credits. This time I'm following the side stories a lot better. The best part about Mass Effect 2 is it's pacing. There's just enough time between gunfights for me to be entertained with cut scenes and load screens. If this game is not brought up in Game of the Year discussions than something is seriously wrong in the universe.

Jun 24, 2010

Every Dollar Counts

December 2008 I had a collection of over 30 games I had purchased over the past two years. That same month I was laid off from my job due to my boss not having anywhere to put me in the budget. My gaming collection today consists of two games, Grand Theft Auto IV and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle which I purchased this past January. Since then I've played through at least 7 games that were rented through either GameFly or Blockbuster. Renting games has become a norm in my life. I can't rationalize spending $60 on a game.

GameFly is where it's at. $15 dollars a month allows you to rent a game for as long as you want. I usually keep a game for a month which has allowed me to play Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain, God of War 3, and Splinter Cell Conviction for the price of one game. GameFly's shipping has gotten better. They've got a feature called Fast Return which allows them to ship out your next game before the game you sent back returns to their warehouse. They do it by receiving a scanned confirmation from the US Postal Service. Deliveries to my house have been great. Every game I rented this year has shown up 2 days after I got the confirmation email. They've been so consistent that I can forgive them for having to wait an extra day for the game I'm waiting on right now.

There are the times when the hassle of shipping a game and waiting for a new one is too much. By the time the game shows up I've forgotten why I wanted to play it in the first place. That's where Blockbuster fits in the picture. It's about $10 to rent a game today. I shop at two different Blockbusters, and I've yet to have a problem with a game being sold out. It doesn't hurt that I've got both the PS3 and 360. The 5 day limit with games can be tough. It puts me in a mode where I have to put a little more concentration on finishing the game. Small consequence for not having to wait a week.

Nintendo executives need to get off of their high horse. The economy has something to do with this "slump" in games. These executives don't ever mention that used game sales are on the rise. Why do you think places such as Best Buy are starting to sell used games? Don't downplay the economy like people aren't trying to save money. How would Nintendo know? The Wii's in the lead and software sales are great. I bet if these executives lost their jobs to recent college grads they wouldn't be on that bullshit.

Jun 21, 2010

Two Weeks Later

I saw too much Hideo Kojima at E3. First he's gassing up Metal Gear Solid: Rising at the Microsoft show, then he's in the 3DS commercial at the Nintendo show. I try to get away from it all by going on Twitter and all I see is #MetalGearSolidRising & #HideoKojima. I didn't know what to do. I started thinking about where I was in the Metal Gear Solid series. I revisited the first Metal Gear Solid on the PSP, but I'm still not buying Peace Walker. What about Metal Gear Solid 4? I never finished the last act. Maybe now's the time to see how Old Snake is doing.

I rented Metal Gear Solid 4 on Friday. The game is a classic. It felt like I've been playing it for the past two years. I managed to finish the first two acts in two days. I'm still on the 3rd act as of right now. I'll probably be at the 4th Act by the time the sun comes up. Wish me luck.

I sent Alan Wake back to GameFly. It's been in my backseat for at least a week. That game is wack. It's not worthy of an individual post so I'll review it here. The game took 5 years to develop. The developers spent at least four and a half of those years trying to figure out how to make the game interesting. It's a pathetic Silent Hill clone at best. I can't believe that game even made it's way into my 360. I want an apology from Microsoft Game Studios for deciding to publish such garbage. I'll settle for a refund for my HD DVD drive.

Jun 19, 2010

The E3 Circus: Microsoft

One thing I respect about Microsoft is they are different. They are the youngest in the field of video games, and they don't do the same tricks as Nintendo and Sony. The Japanese Giants rely way too much on reviving old franchises. I don't understand anymore why gamers get excited to see the return of an old hero. It should expected at this point just as much as you can expect Master Chief to be in a new adventure.

Their show which mostly promoted the Kinect started off bad. They emphasized the fact that it's hands free and voice commanded too much. I thought they were promoting a new car stereo after a while. After a boring 20 minutes showing the way Kinect does music, movies, and video chat it was time to show the video games.

Every first party game for the Kinect looked lame. Kinectimals was a no for me. The kid they had playing it did a great job at showing how the game worked, but I would never buy it. Kinect Joy Ride looked like a bootleg Mario Kart. With no gas or brake petal you find yourself in front of the TV holding an imaginary steering wheel. No thanks. Kinect Adventures is the party game that nobody wants to play. Party games run the risk of having alcohol in the systems of the people playing the game. It looked like you have to be pretty coordinated to make things happen in the mini game they presented.  Ubisoft kicked off the 3rd party Kinect support with surprise surprise a fitness game. I didn't see that one coming. Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is trying to become your new personal gym. The game didn't look interesting except for the Chi Gong exercises the girl did at the end. I wouldn't buy Kinect for it. At this point I was convinced Kinect was nothing more than a gimmick. Why get rid of controls if nothing for the Kinect is innovative? Everything they showed at that point was possible on the Wii 2 years go. Then the music came on.

Poison by Bel Biv DeVoe began playing and a woman began busting out some dance moves. I was shocked when I noticed her dance moves were being replicated on the screen by the Kinect. She was playing the game, and her dance moves were the way to a high score. Dance Central by Harmonix had stolen the show. I don't know whether or not Sony had a game like this for the Eyetoy, but as far as I know this game is critical for the evolution of dance games. No longer do we have to rely on a controller, dance pad with four directions, or just our upper body movements. It's time to use our whole body to replicate over 600 dance moves. Not only does it look like fun, it's also good exercise. I especially like it because I sometimes feel like my dance moves are stale after a night of dancing. Maybe I'll learn some new moves to keep my dancing fresh the whole night.

I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll buy the Kinect. The rumored price is supposed to be $150 which I think is ridiculous considering there's no controller. I could buy a used PSP at that price. It's also not clear how long this $150 accessory will be around. Will it support hardcore titles of the future, or will it only cater to the casual gamers? Will Microsoft continue to support Kinect if it flops? Dance Central looks like fun, but I cant see myself spending close to $200 to play it. If the Kinect were $100 I'd be more inclined to buy it, but the price right now seems too steep. I'd hate to spend $150 for the Kinect to turn into my HD DVD drive.

Jun 16, 2010

The E3 Circus: Sony

Sony Sony Sony. Your show was lame. It was too long and not all that interesting. You spent the beginning of the show gassing up 3D technology that's coming soon. That's cool, but you could have answered this simple question. Do I need a 3D television to get the 3D effect from the video games? If I do then no wonder why the PS3 is still in last place. I'm playing games from my 19" LCD monitor that I've had since 2005. I don't have an extra $2000 lying around to buy a brand new 3D TV. Don't you know it's a recession? It would be amazing to play a game like Killzone 3 in 3D with the PlayStation Move, but it's looking like something for people with a lot of time and money on their hands.

The presentation for the PlayStation Move did not inspire me to want to purchase it. That Sorcery game looked repetitive while it was being demoed. I swing my arms to do some sort of magic trick to kill enemies... No thanks. That Harry Potter knockoff can sit down as far as I'm concerned. I had the opportunity to use the PlayStation Move back in March, and I was not impressed. It's clear that Sony is after that Nintendo Wii customer base. None of the games presented on the PlayStation Move seem original. There's the party games, the sports games, and the shooters. I will say Resident Evil 4 blew me away on the Wii, so I bet Resident Evil 5 will be a lot more fun with the PlayStation Move due to the graphics and co-op.

During the show everybody at Sony kept talking about Kevin Butler. The spokesperson for Sony for the past year. They kept mentioning how he wasn't there and blah blah blah. Then they mentioned their sponsorship with Coca Cola, and that's when Kevin Butler showed up. He was definitely the highlight of the show. He started his segment with a joke about the Cirque du Soleil show for Microsoft's Kinect before going on about how everybody who plays video games is a gamer. We already knew that Jerry. He also took the time to introduce Marcus the new spokesperson for the PSP.  Besides the "Step your game up" marketing campaign, the PSP had a horrible show. While Nintendo is introducing a new portable hardware system with the 3DS, Sony's promising 70 new PSP titles by the fall. That's it? No new PSP, price cut, or games that I care about. Next.

Like I said earlier Sony's show was way too long. It was over 2 hours while the other 2 kept theirs to about an hour and a half. I had to leave my laptop to get food. Before I left they were talking about PlayStation Plus the $50 subscription service to the PlayStation Network. They promise exclusive things such as games and trailers, but didn't mention anything about a faster connection. I think I missed a trailer for Infamous 2 and nothing too important since nobody's going crazy. When I came back an Ice Cream truck driven by a clown was on stage. Twisted Metal is back. The demo looked chaotic. I was a little confused as to what the demo was trying to accomplish, but I think it was showing off a new multiplayer mode. For the sake of the fond memories I have of the series, I'll say welcome back Twisted Metal. I hope you still have what it takes.

Jun 15, 2010

The E3 Circus: Nintendo

Reviving old franchises seemed to be the theme for the Japanese giants at this years E3. Nintendo announced the return of Kirby and Donkey Kong at their press conference earlier today. Link's making a return as well in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. The demonstration today by the godfather Shigeru Miyamoto experienced technical difficulties, but it looks interesting. I'm a little concerned that this controlling the sword with the Wiimote and the shield with my nunchuck might be a lot on my wrists, but it's all good. Zelda's coming back, and that's what matters. The game is coming next year so I'm sure they'll have it down when they present again at next years E3 in Boston.

Kirby's back with a new adventure in Kirby's Epic Yarn. The game is a 2D side scrolling adventure with a really cool art style. Everything is made of yarn which looked really cool. Better than the graphics for the remake of Goldeneye that was also presented today. The graphics for this Wii exclusive looks dated which makes me wonder why they would even bother to remake the classic. On top of that James Bond's character is played by Daniel Craig. Pierce Brosnan must be salted right now. There better be a cheat or something to play as him because it's not GoldenEye without him... or Oddjob. It just wouldn't be a remake if Pierce Brosnan doesn't shoot the camera in the beginning. Diddy and Donkey Kong are making a return in Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii. As I was watching the trailer I couldn't help but notice that the gameplay remained mostly the same. You still collect bananas, try to get the K-O-N-G letters, and ride carts. I still was entertained, and would love to play it. Maybe Donkey Kong Country's return is like Punch-Out!! Disappear for 20 years then come back like nothing happened. Gotta stay fresh.

Nintendo gets a thumbs down for it's presentation of the 3DS. After watching the show I have more questions about it than I do answers. What is the color of the system? Does the outside have a glossy case while the inside is matte? What exactly is the 3D effect? If I don't need glasses than why weren't you able to demonstrate it for the people that aren't at E3? The games that are being developed are promising. A brand new Resident Evil and a new Metal Gear Solid sound good to me, but those games probably wont be around until at least 2012. Prove me wrong developers.

Overall Nintendo did a good job this year. They introduced new hardware which is something Sony and Microsoft seem to know nothing about. I hope Nintendo takes a hint from Sony and does a tour of the 3DS so people around the country can have an opportunity to see the 3DS in action. They kept the show at around an hour and a half and left me looking forward to a bunch of games to play.

Jun 13, 2010

One Week Later

I was tripping last week pretending like a drought is a good thing. I had Super Mario Galaxy 2 in my Wii at the time believing it would last me all summer. One week later Bowser's defeated and it's back at Blockbuster. I have nothing to play. I could download Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on my PSP Go. Actually I can't. I have enough money to rent it at Blockbuster, but I can only buy a digital copy from the PlayStation Network since the PSP Go doesn't have a disc drive. As much as I want to buy it I can't. Every dollar counts these days so I guess I'll check out the games I've skipped. I wonder if Blockbuster has a copy of Bioshock 2.

Jun 10, 2010

Real News

In Racing news Gran Tourismo 5 still doesn't have a release date in North America, but Sony has announced MotorStorm Apocalypse. Due next year, MotorStorm Apocalypse says goodbye to the middle of nowhere and hello to the city. I'm a little skeptical of this move. The game takes place in the Bay Area of California. Does that mean I should expect lots of hills? I loved how the graphics made the Pacific Rift look like a paradise. It was almost a way to escape the city life I know too well. They say it's not post apocalyptic, but Fallout: New Vegas is. Isn't that game set in Northern California as well? I'll still give Motorstorm: Apocalypse a try.

Looks like music games are trying to be more realistic this year. Word on the street is that DJ Hero 2 (due this fall) is all about "two turntables and a mic." While the formula may be more accurate when being a DJ, there is no way I am paying for more plastic accessories to play this game. It's bad enough I have one turntable taking up space on my computer desk. The multiplayer sounds like it could be hot as two rappers and two DJ's battle for the title. Everything else I've heard about this game sounds formulaic. They're adding a story mode which everybody saw coming. The music in the game will include songs by Lady Gaga and Kanye West. Fame Kills.

Rock Band 3 is out for blood against the new Guitar Hero this fall. Not only has Harmonix added new instruments such as a keyboard and full guitar they are also introducing a new Pro Mode. The Keyboard is a 25 key MIDI Keyboard which has the standard green, red, yellow, blue, and orange buttons that can be used exclusively throughout the game. Pro Mode allows you to use all 25 keys giving the game a more authentic approach as it requires more skill. The Rock Band guitar is also supposed to get a face lift with a new six string design with touch sensitive pads on the neck. I wonder if it will be compatible with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. The set list includes a bunch of songs I've never heard of.

In ass kicking news Mortal Kombat is coming back. Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment released the trailer for the upcoming Mortal Kombat 9 due next year. The trailer shows a return to the blood and gore that made Mortal Kombat so famous in the 90's. Developers are promising the series return to it's mature roots after 2008's Teen rated Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. They are also promising the "most gruesome fatalities ever." I just hope they aren't too complex to perform.

Jun 9, 2010

Go East E3

Has E3 always been in Los Angeles? Why not bring it to Boston? PAX knows the deal. They went East and decided to use a bigger venue for next years event. E3 could come to Boston and introduce a new logo. It's time for change. How about if the Celtics beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals the next E3 will be held in Boston?

Jun 6, 2010

Don't Get Gassed

There's always a game that comes along that I intend to play, but never get around to playing it. It happens for many reasons. Maybe it came out with other games that were more interesting. I could have been turned off by the reviews that were released after the game. I also could have simply forgotten about it as was the case with Bioshock 2.

I thought reviewers gassed up the first Bioshock. The game was good, but it holds your hand the whole time. There's an arrow telling you where to go, a button designated to give you a hint just in case your too high too remember what your doing, and killing enemies wasn't ever too difficult. I get that it sacrifices difficulty to tell you a story, but it's too easy. I think reviewers gassed it up because it was the game that ended the summer drought in 2007. After a summer of boring games, any game that is remotely good is bound to get gassed up. Just look at Batman Arkham Asylum. The game ended the drought of 2009 and got rave reviews. Was it fun? Yea, but there wasn't anything about it that made me think it was a classic. Had that game come out in October 2009 with Uncharted 2, Assassin's Creed 2, Forza 3, Ratchet & Clank it would have easily been swept under the rug. Why do you think Bioshock 2 got delayed from all of the madness? It's all about timing.

I don't know why reviewers were surprised that Bioshock 2 felt like the first one. They made the first one seem like it was the be all end all underwater game. Why would the developers do too much to change the formula? I was going to rent Bioshock 2, but after looking at the previews and video reviews it looked like the same game I didn't finish in 2007. Mass Effect 2 was also hot at the time so Bioshock 2's chance of rave reviews were slim due to that. I was rolling with John Shepard at the time so the thought of leaving Mass Effect 2 to play Bioshock 2 was not happening. Oh well. I heard it sold well so there will probably be a Bioshock 3. It'll probably it come at the end of next summer.

Jun 5, 2010

Hip Hop Gamer

I had the opportunity to meet the Hip Hop Gamer in Boston during PAX East. I met him at a Sony event in Boston where they introduced the PlayStation Move. When I walked in, I saw a group of people standing in a circle listening to somebody talk. That's when I realized the person talking was the Hip Hop Gamer.

I told him I knew who he was, we talked, and he's a cool dude. No doubt about it. The reason why I bring him up is because he is technically my biggest competition in this journey to be "that dude" in the gaming industry. He's an established name with fans, haters, and everything in between. I can't be mad at that. I just want to say that even though he's competition I won't throw any shots to start beef with him. At the end of the day him and I are young black men trying to break new ground in an industry that is predominantly white. It's not a good look having two young brothers take the focus away from their talent to attack each other.

Check out his site hiphopgamershow.com

The Circus is Coming

E3 is a little more than a week away and all I can think about is the circus that's coming to town. I'm interested in what the clowns at Microsoft have in store with this whole Cirque Du Soleil x Project Natal presentation that's invading the Staple Center. Microsoft has too much money. They bring in Cirque Du Soleil and they're presenting it on MTV. Project Natal is starting to feel like a gimmick with all of the clowns involved in this show. I hope they can pull off something innovating because there is no way I'm spending over $100 on a gimmick. Other than that I want a trailer for Gears of War 3 and I'm good... I'm having a hard time remembering 360 exclusives at the moment.

Jun 4, 2010

Drought Season

It's finally here! Welcome to the drought ladies and gentleman. I could sure use a break. I managed to make it through a crazy semester while finding the time to play through:

Mass Effect 2
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Heavy Rain
Battlefield Bad Company 2
Just Cause 2
Splinter Cell Conviction

I'm at the point where I can't sit through a cut scene without getting annoyed. That's what happened with Red Dead Redemption. The game is good, but it's way too story driven. The first half had me interested in knowing what was up with John Marston and his government ties, but after a certain point I found myself skipping every cut scene. A cut scene meant I was riding my horse with somebody which meant a long talk that I didn't want to hear. "Just let me shoot something already" I'd think to myself as the person would blab until we got to our destination. What's that? oh somebody wants to shoot at us before we get there. I got so bored of shooting while riding my horse. It was fun until it felt like it was the only thing I was doing.

Then there's Alan Wake released the same day as Red Dead Redemption. Another story driven game except this time the main character is narrating everything. Not only was I thoroughly confused after the first episode. I was incredibly bored. The intro reminded me of Silent Hill. Your riding on a cliff with barely enough visibility when all of a sudden you hit a person that you didn't see until the last minute. Instead of looking for help you run away. Before the 2nd episode the game did a recap of the key points from the first episode and I was still lost. The games still in my Xbox and it's rented from GameFly so I might finish it. It's not looking good right now.

I'll leave em alone. It's Friday night. What I will say is bring on the drought. It's time to focus on why Errol Games. I've got to get some more nominations and maybe even an award or two.