360

All posts tagged 360

I watched Dan beat Braid the other day, a quirky, lovable game that takes all time/space game conventions and weaves them into great, satisfying puzzles that unravel into an allegorical tale about the atom bomb. Atom bomb? You are probably wondering what strain of mary I'm smoking. I orginally wanted to do a story analysis of the game, but I think this article does it perfectly, explaining what each puzzle mechanic stands for, and what the game really means.

And that's great that a game can be such a wholly personal and artistic expression. I'm all for that, really. But it does reek a tiny bit of Jenova Chen syndrome, though. These days what I really want to see is the fun. Pure, delicious fun filtered through the natural aquifers of untamed enthusiasm, with no artificial shame and preservatives added.

This will have to do:


Love PC games but hate the mouse+keyboard setup? Want to just kick back with an ergonomic controller in your hand, feet up on your desk? Ever wonder what it'd be like to hook the wiimote up to your computer? Well, wonder no more, Pinnacle Game Profiler let's you do just that and more!

<takes off infomercial hat>

After wearing out the cartilage in my index finger with that brutal combination of WOW and animating in Maya, I started looking for better mice, touch-pens, trackballs, anything that could let me continue gaming on the PC without jeopardizing my hand health. I've tried them all. I finally decided to try using a gamepad for my PC, and after trying several programs, I've found my calling in PGP's excellent and dirt cheap solution. So far, I've connected wireless XBox 360 and PS2 controllers to it flawlessly, and it even supports the wiimote. My co-workers were impressed. …

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The Wachowski brothers are back to their usual pop subversions, borrowing a pulp aesthetic and making it Oscar-ready for the cultural exiles of the Academy. Speed Racer is on its way, rawr. I'm not sure why overly hyper-kinetic movies have always been deemed "videogame-like." Am I so desensitized that I don't find the majority of video games all that fast? Or are they really just not that fast, except the few outliers that the non-gaming populace get exposed to regularly? I imagine if their knowledge of what the "videogame aesthetic" is comes from arcades at movie theaters, then the latter is probably true.

But I don't think it's just us gamers. Look at investors, playing their silly game with the Fed. After two weeks of anticipating a 0.5% rate cut, which was a number pulled out of the ass of the rumor monster, the market got 25 points. And boy did they whine and cry, as if any of the trouble right now has the slightest malleability by the Fed. But it's all a game to them, you see, and it's called Guess The Fed. The market itself is apparently too uneventful as is, they need to keep the market fluctuating to feel like their treading and afloat.

It's a great end to an insanely busy week. Tonight's our holiday party, tomorrow is Xstine's, and on Sunday, Dan has to buy me dinner for betting me Mass Effect would be a bomb. I bet a million sales in a month, and boy did it deliver.

The game is awesome in the way watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica, or Star Trek. It's an unabashed sci-fi space opera with great acting, a great cast, and "cinematic feeling" hard to quantify, but wanting in any other game out there. It captures my long-standing belief that sci-fi differs from fantasy not from being about the future, aliens, high-tech weapons, or any such trappings, but by being about defining how something works, and making that integral to the story. And I haven't even mentioned the graphics, which again show the UT3 engine off, and have beautiful art design pulling in the practical futurism of Syd Mead into a real 3D environment. There are levels that look like real-time concept art… I haven't seen anything like this since Metroid Prime.

This is what makes Star Trek science-fiction, but Star Wars fantasy. Sci-fi strives to explain why things work the way they do, and those explanations have consequences on the choices the characters have to make. Fantasy, on the other hand, assumes a world works a certain way, and expects us to accept it, and often that means that the quick answer to the why is "magic." This is how a game like Final Fantasy can be considered fantasy, and not sci-fi, even though there are guns, robots, and high-tech sets. A fantasy you swallow, but science-fiction you dissect.

There was a time I greatly respected Silicon Knights. Once upon a time they were a brave developer putting out the likes of the nuanced surival horror game Eternal Darkness, and the honest remake Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. And of course they made video game vampires cool with Blood Omen.

Then they drifted aimlessly on the aptly named title Too Human, unable to finish, only to blame the game engine the way a shitty gamer blames his controller. Silicon Knights is now suing Epic for lack of 360 support on Too Human. But get this, the part that really makes me laugh is that they are claiming Epic sabotaged their support to put their resources into Gears of War.

Waaah.

First, if the lawsuit is successful, a huge precedent will be set that will essentially damn future engine developers for things not within their control. The specific issue was that Epic hadn't gotten UT3 ready for the 360, which was because they got their own dev stuff late. So poor customer service due to the realities of console development is now sue-able. Well christ, let's start suing Microsoft and Sony for making things too next-gen, I mean it's breakin' our balls right?

Second… sabotage? Oh I see, because Epic has absolutely nothing to gain if Too Human had been released with amazing UT3 driven graphics. Or I know, Too Human having twice the development time as Gears of War means it's twice as important, right? This is going to be the most difficult thing to prove in court, as there is a fine line between an Epic Games sabotage, and just imcompetent support.

In the end, there's just a couple words that throw water onto Silicon Knights' disguise, melting the witches into the pool of bullshit from which they spawned. Bioshock. Stranglehold. Huxley. Mass Effect. Rainbow Six: Vegas. Fury. None are Epic games. According to Silicon Knights, they all want to sue Epic too, but so far they've been pretty mum. Guess all that praise from the press makes it hard to file frivolous lawsuits.

Let me summarize with just four words what the jury is going to say: shut the fuck up.


I finished up Bioshock and it was quite a tour-de-force in game narrative, and deserves the kind of critique usually reserved for film and literature, even from the most ardent anti-“game-as-art” critics (read: Ebert). So I gave it a shot. Here is my effort at deconstructing the meaning of Bioshock.

Read it, would you kindly?

MAJOR SPOILERS

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Xbox Live is brilliant. Yeah, I know I'm a latecomer to this, but I held out on the next-gen tsunami until this wave of awesome launch titles has crushed me in the tidal fortitude of an endlessly playable holiday line-up. Within the first taste of depth, in the Bioshock demo, I explored the post-objectivist underwater apocalypse that was so beautifully rendered, populated, to the point of being a recontruction, that I haven't been this immersed in the wetting of my panties since… well… just since. I await this game as a leviathan in the famished bathysphere of the game-narrative abyss, wherein we loath surface-dwellers and their shallow byline plots.

Bioshock, save me!

So yeah, I played alot in the last few days. Crackdown, Call of Duty 2, Lost Planet, and the demos for Stranglehold, The Darkness, and Geometry Wars (which is like Smash TV deconstructed by Malevich into a supremacist "essence" of addiction symbology, with my skill level better described as abstract death-on-death). The first five were, in order, crack cocaine, cinematic until you played the idiotic multiplayer, overly-japanese eye candy, bangbangbang, and bangbangbang in the dark.

This smorsgabord was especially exciting for me given its accessibility. I mean, I could just download a shit-ton of random demos and stuff, turn off the 360, come back home after work and I have all the titles mentioned in water-cooler talk awaiting my perusal. And Stranglehold was more fun than I'm willing to admit as well; having long despised John Woo of being reductively derivative of his own work, I found his game was a satisfying Max Payne knock-off with lots more bullets, table-sliding, bullet-dodging, and just sheer mandarin murderin' madness.

Our project got extended, and I sorely miss longer gaming nights, but such is life. Swim with it.

We had a great movie summer this year, but after E3, it looks like we're going to have an even more amazing holiday season for games. Some the ones that really caught my eye:

Call of Duty 4
Echochrome
Mass Effect
Super Mario Galaxy
Boogie

Also amazing was the Wii Fit "game" that Nintendo introduced, causing me to seriously consider picking up more shares in their stock. Their ability to make disposable fads never ceases to amaze me. Or maybe I'm just so shaken by the prospect of Metroid Prime 3, Smash Bros. (this year!!!), and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But even more amazing was EA's admission that "we are boring people to death." Games like Boogie and EA Playground are spreading the crepuscular rays of hope that the industry's great heartless game factory has a human pulse.

And although I keep swearing not to, I can not help but criticise Sony once again for it's utter disrespect for gamers. Hot on the heels of Microsoft's announcement of an awesome retroactive 3-yr warranty for the 360, Sony decided to drop their own bomb. Playstation 3, the 60gb version, is shedding $100 off its tag. Brilliant right?

And then Hirai tells us that that SKU of the PS3 is no longer in production. How disingenous can they get? If that kinda of bait-and-switch is what they think E3 is for (remember the original Killzone 2 trailer? See the latest in comparison), then they've truly lost their minds. And if they haven't, that would be even worse.

Isn’t it strange how little hypocrisy has evolved over the course of human civilization? Invariably, it sticks to a couple simple propositions:

– Believe in an issue.
– Protest an antagonist issue except if it applies to you.

So the Democrats grabbed on to a report pulling selective quotes about how the Iraqi war has only engendered more conflict. The Bush Administration tried to intercept the critics by saying it was going to release specific portions of the document claiming overall threat has decreased. Democrats then scorn the administration for “selective declassification” and dismiss the whole charade as propaganda.

Apparently pulling selective quotes to begin with wasn’t “selective declassification.” Is anyone else getting sick of this game? I can’t believe how many people out there believe more in the game than in reality. It saddens me that 60% of Americans believe recent drops in oil prices is somehow right-wing oil manipulation. Maybe it serves Big Oil right for having such shitty PR, but most Americans do not know that Big Oil is a drop in the barrel compared to other oil barons in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. Exxon ranks a distant number 15 in size, and only half of that even is oil.

The Fed thinks we’ve peaked on inflation. My portfolio has risen precariously on that news. I’ve made enough in the past few days to buy myself a PS3, but that would be succumbing to Harrisonragi’s “selective declassification” of next-gen details. All I can be bullish on is the Xbox 360’s version of Guitar Hero 2 with DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT! I want that wireless X-Plorer dammit! No doubt the chum in the picture is struggling with his Democratic desire to tell all his friends about it, and his Republican desire to rock out against the man.

Shame it’s the other way around today in real politics, where Democrats do nothing but tell all against the man, and the Republicans do nothing but rock out with their friends.

It’s just uncanny how much this recent Gears of War screenshot resembles the fluid imaginations I have of the near-present future when I read articles about how N. Korea farts in our general direction like this. Or when I read about the present future about how Israel and Lebanon are in a war over who can overreact more. Or when I think about the world in general.

I remember when Gears of War first came out, no one believed those shots were real. If they were real, they couldn’t be real-time. If they were real-time, they weren’t running on real systems. Despite all evidence to the contrary, critics managed to keep themselves afloat by treading in their own malarkey. Now the game is playable and real, and their tune is that the framerate isn’t that great. The animation sucks. The character design blows. It’s gettin’ as ad hominem as you can get with a video game now.

And to put it on the same level as epic global affairs, the similarities are impossible to ignore, ‘cept they run back starting a decade ago.

N. Korea. doesn’t have missles. Those aren’t tested missles. They aren’t running on a proven military program. Look, the Taep’o-dong 2 blew up way before its mark. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the U.N. manages to keep itself afloat by making resolutions to agree to be unhappy about the situation. Now the game is playable and real, and their tune is that diplomacy wasn’t that great. Unilateralism sucks. United States blows. It’s gettin’ as ineffectual as you can get with an international crisis by now.

I think Team America said it best:

Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN’s collective mind. I’m sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.

Kim Jong Il: Or else what?

Hans Blix: Or else we will be very angry with you… and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.

E3 pics are up!

Most of the big news probably slaps you in the face at each and every game site, so I'm going to stick with impressions and hands-ons, and leave headlines out of this. Overall, this E3 was probably the best one I've been to, with less focus on graphics and more focus on gameplay overall, with the exceptions of the two you-know-whos. Booth babe quality wasn't bad even with clothing restrictions, and watching Fatal1ty bring some wannabe to the brink of tears on the The Longest Yard conversion to Quake4 had me and Xstine laughing our asses off.

So without further ado…

Microsoft Impressions:
Xbox 360 games continue to look better, and I continue to think about getting one. Games look as a they should on a $400 system. Gears of War looked phenomenal of course, but Huxley was surprisingly fun too considering the amount of lag this FPS MMO had, and I was dukin' it with a roundtable of over 30 people. And its framerate was still a SIGHT better than the Crysis engine game, which when not in that Siberia known as the 10-minute loading screen, was trying to impress us with spring-collision driven foliage bending nonsense at a blistering 4 fps. 3D benchmarks are a FAR CRY from being games, please.
Still, Lumines on XBox Live and the announcement of Windows Vista allowing PC and console gamers to meet in sweet swiss bliss gave the system the edge. In Peter Moore's own words, why buy a PS3 when yyou can get both a Wii and a 360 for the same money? As much as I hate the guy, he's right as rain.
Oh yes, Viva PiƱata looks rad (see pic), and besides some framerate problems, has got real style. Good job Rare… finally…
7/10

Nintendo Impressions:
As fanatical as the gaming media has been so far about the Wii, I have a huge complaint. I never got to play the damn thing since the line of lines, the sweat-infused meta-line that wrapped itself around the vortex of Nintendo's creative navel, was so entangled that I had not the ken to locate its extradimensional entry point. Dammit Nintendo, you spoke of playing is believing, but put your new console in the furthest reaches of E3's 9th circle of hell. My heart wept for a chance to play Super Smash Bros Brawl, but my melatonin begged for just one more day of sunlight.
Still, just watching the announcers playing Wii Sonic on the big screen by just tilting the controller left and right filled me with an instinctual, pheromonal kind of parasymptomatic gravitation back to West Hall over and over. Instead, I settled for some DS games, like Magnetica (aka Zuma) and Brain Training. Why is Sudoku so damn addicting.
8/10

Sony Impressions:
Let's forget about the price for a second, and the feature trickery. Do the games look good? Well, as you can see in the photos, their setup at E3 was still running on a bunch of dev kits, but at the moment it looks good. Not $200 good, mind you, but good. Warhawk wasn't very fun, but had that impressive kind of fluidity and SFX density that reminded me of great Dreamcast rail shooters. Madden looked godawful, honestly, with horribly overdone fur/grass. Heavenly Sword looked pretty good, like a PC version of Devil May Cry, although pixilated self-shadowing and jerky animation need work.
The booth area was pretty packed, and people were cheering like mad at the Final Fantasy trailers, but the actual wait time to get into the private showings was about 5 minutes. There will definitely be a market for PS3, evidenced my the throngs of people in the Singstar booth and the Country Karaoke Revolution game. The PSP, btw, went the way of the N-Gage.

4/10

PC Impressions:
I was pleasantly surprised. Hellgate: London continues to look great, and although the avatars are ugly, the gameplay is smooth and addicting just to even watch. The Conan MMORPG was graphically beautiful, especially the horse animations, but it seems like there was stuff being killed only when I looked away. Boring.
Xstine and I are both excited about Neverwinter Nights 2, and eye-rolly about World of Warcraft's expansion and its new Dranei Alliance race. NCSoft held a pretty exciting Guild Wars: Factions tournament with Koreans slaughtering Koreans, but nothing was nearly as exciting as THIS…..


8/10

Finally, some of the coolest things we saw there were these two toys: