Thursday, September 27, 2007

By the way

Yes, the avatar in my Skate video was supposed to look like me. I think it's funny that I can put at least ten minutes into such an advanced, multifaceted character creation tool and end up with a guy who barely resembles me, but taking less than five minutes to slap together some cartoon features can result in an eerily accurate simulation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stranglehold review

As much as I love the film Hard-Boiled -- and believe me, I love it a lot -- Stranglehold left me a bit cold. It starts off great and goes downhill fast, so in that respect it'd make an ideal rental.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is pretty neat

Skate allows you to edit a replay of your last 30 seconds or so of gameplay, so if you do something awesome you can make a movie and hopefully become the next Spike Jonze. The replay editor isn't terribly robust, but it is easy to use -- much easier, in fact, than signing up at in order to actually view your uploaded video. It took three separate confirmation emails and several different EA web portals before I finally found my video, but here it is.

I do this for you, the readers.

Also, I am not good at this game.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The PS3 has taught me a valuable lesson about early adoption

I could deal with the price cuts, and even to some degree with the lack of quality software on the PlayStation 3. For some reason, the announcement of a Dual Shock 3 really bugs me. Besides spending $100 more on the hardware than I had to, and besides leaving it powered off for months at a time, now it turns out that my controller is lacking a fairly significant function. It would be nice if Sony sent a free Dual Shock to those of us who've kept them afloat for the past year, but of course that wouldn't happen. I'll get to spend even more money on these bastards without getting much in return. Ratchet & Clank had better be good.

Although I guess I wouldn't have gotten a PS3 yet if I didn't need one for work, so I guess it's a wash. Nevertheless, I plan to apply what I've learned here to other kinds of technology. I won't be dropping twenty grand on a 3D display any time soon, no sir!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The review falls short of what I really wanted to say, but the takeaway is that Metroid Prime 3 is inexplicably dull. It almost hurts me to admit it, given how big a fan I am of the series. I spent the whole time waiting to get into it. And just kept waiting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paste reviews online now

I just moseyed on over to Paste's game section and found that some of my reviews have finally been posted. These are a little different than the usual Phoenix reviews. With only 200 words to play with, it becomes more important to give the review a narrow focus. You've got to whittle an entire video game down to one sharp point. On a professional level, I think writing for Paste has helped me develop a more incisive critical faculty, thanks in no small part to the help from (now former) games editor Chris Dahlen.

Anyway, check out the reviews of Odin Sphere and The Darkness.

There's one thing Rock Band needs that it doesn't seem to have

Double kick drums.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fall preview

The fall games preview is up now. This year's is exciting for two reasons: first, because it's one of the most exciting slates of games I can recall, and second, because nothing in the piece got delayed after it went to press. In 2005 they postponed Bully, and last year Super Paper Mario got pushed back right after I filed the story. This year, we actually got confirmation of one of the release dates after I'd sent the story in (Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, if you were wondering).

I think it's a sign of great things to come!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Victory strikes again

I finally did it: I completed Guitar Hero 2 on hard mode. "Carry Me Home" was the final stumbling block. I'm not entirely sure how I made it through, in fact. I'd never even made it past the intro riffage before. It's not a good song.

I know this isn't terribly impressive to at least two of my expert-level readers, but I'm pretty proud for a couple reasons. One is that I had never played beyond medium difficulty at all until shortly after I picked up the 360 version, so playing that fifth fret button was all new to me. Second is that I don't typically stick with things that don't come easily, so taking this kind of time to accomplish something is uncharacteristic.

More important, I think it speaks to Guitar Hero's quality that I have continually found time for it over the course of five months. Sometimes it's frustrating that I have to drop a game I enjoy in order to move on to the next one. As great as, say, Rainbow Six: Vegas was, once I no longer had an obligation to play it, I stopped. (Had to make time for Tomb Raider Anniversary, you know.) Since I picked up Guitar Hero 2 in early April, I've reviewed well over a dozen other games, including three that I've given equal or greater scores to. And yet I keep coming back to it in a way that I won't to The Darkness or even BioShock.

Mostly, that's because those more complex single-player games will require an extraordinary amount of effort and dedication every time I sit down with them. It would be hard to revisit them for less than an hour and feel like I'd gotten the full experience. They require a commitment that Guitar Hero doesn't, and as a result I've paradoxically been able to commit to Guitar Hero as I have to few other games. If I were trapped on a desert island, I'd want those immersive, narrative games to pass the time. In the life I live now -- the one that juggles a day job, a family, and friends -- I'll take Guitar Hero.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Uh oh, another BioShock post!

And I said I was done. Oh well.

This isn't really news, but the Cult of Rapture web site has BioShock's orchestral score freely available for download. It's pretty good, if you like strings. You like strings, don't you?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The impending Xbox 360 holocaust

Microsoft has never really owned up to the problem with the Xbox 360 hardware, but at this point it seems pretty clear that unless your system is well-ventilated and rarely used, it's going to crap out on you. It occurs to me that Halo 3 may be the death knell for thousands of units that are already on the brink. It's going to be like the scene in Star Wars when the Death Star blows up Alderaan: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." I can't think of a more hilarious time for people's systems to die, and I look forward to reading the furious NeoGAF threads.