Monday, December 31, 2007

"WoW" rally for Ron Paul planned


Ron Paul is a little bit like a "whack-a-mole." Just when you think you've got him beat, the Republican presidential longshot pops up again.

"World of Warcraft" insider is reporting Ron Paul supporters are planning a march to support him.

Ok, this is just weird. But Joystiq.com has the best take on this situation....

"Most of us will be too busy attending the "Orcs for Obama" and "Rogues for Romney" rallies to make an appearance..."

Call of Duty time...

So I've been out and about the last week, not seperated from a computer exactly but less inclined to do anything "work-related." (Sue me. I'm on vacation.)

Anywho, I did play "Call of Duty 4" this week until I was about ready to move on to something else. This is a great game, don't get me wrong, but professionally I'd have to put it in the same category of "World of Warcraft." It's a soul-eater, something that will prevent me from playing any other game so long as I write this column.

But it's sooo goood.........droool

On Christmas Eve I met up with my brother and his friends out in Hurley, Miss. near where I graduated from High School. (Map quest that for fun.) We had three PS3s set up on three different television screens, split among five people. It was awesome but it was also Christmas eve. I did that for a few hours then went home.

Christmas day, much the same thing. Sat upstairs in my house in Mobile, played on two different televsion sets and that was that.

I did, however, manage to squeeze in two more stars on "Super Mario Galaxy." I have until midnight to beat it. Think I can do it? We'll see.

Day after Christmas- you guessed it- More "COD." This time it was on my brother's high-def T.V. in Pensacola. I have to say, I must be losing my eyesight at a breakneck speed. I can't tell the difference really between high-def and regular t.v. I swear I can't.

And that's about it- tonight we're going up to Huntsville for a New Year's eve party with some old friends. We're playing lots of "Mario Party" and "Dance Dance Revolution" but I think I can convince them to stay with me while I put an end to Bowser's reign of terror over the universe.

We'll see.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve, Work, Wii

I have about the coolest job ever....Here's why...







I played "Super Mario Galaxy" and got my next grand star. (I will beat this game.) I also played Wii bowling with my Santa Mii. Mr. Claus is bowling about a 130, in case you're interested.

I thought I would get jumped on for hauling it in here this morning and end up on Santa's (or my boss's) naughty list. But everyone was good-natured about it. It is Christmas, after all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More amazing uses for the Wii...




This one is really amazing!




Thanks to Joystiq.com for posting them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

AP lists top 10 video games by Blockbuster

By: Associated Press: Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to retailer Blockbuster.

1. “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock,” (Aspyr Media) for Wii; also available for PS 3; T (lyrics, mild suggestive themes)

2. “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock,” for Xbox 360

3. “Wii Zapper With Links Crossbow Training,” (Nintendo) for Wii; rated T (violence)

4. “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” (Activision) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, DS; rated M (blood, gore intense violence, strong language)

5. “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock,” for PS 2

6. “Super Mario Galaxy,”

(Nintendo) for Wii; rated E (mild cartoon violence)

7. “Rock Band: Special Editions,” (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated T (lyrics, mild suggestive themes)

8. “Mass Effect,” (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated M (blood, language, partial nudity,

sexual themes, violence)

9. “Need for Speed: ProStreet,” (EA) for PS 2; also

available for Xbox 360, PS 3, Wii, DS; rated E 10 (suggestive themes)

10. “Assassin’s Creed,” (UbiSoft) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated M (blood, strong language, violence)

Column for Dec. 22, 2007

Pushing Buttons: Gamefly doesn't fly for me

When the only thing a business can get right is sending you the bill, it's a problem.

Gamefly.com has that down pat. The charges are automatic and, since they do everything via e-mail, you'd be crazy to expect something in writing.

What they don't tell you at Gamefly.com is they can't ship the games as quickly as they promise. Shortly after getting my Gamefly account, I received my first couple of games. These weren't hot titles, mind. The mega bestsellers are hard to snag after they're released.

But I got games. Then, after I sent my last couple of games back, nothing. Weeks went by. I sent multiple e-mails, using their formulaic complaints filing system. (Another sign of trouble.)

Finally, I'd had enough. I got someone to relinquish the customer-service phone number, which isn't obviously displayed on the Gamefly Web site. And when I called between the narrow window of service, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Time, it was useless. The rep wouldn't give me a free month of service, even though I'd waited a month with no games. Nor could the rep expedite my shipping. That's a little weird when you consider that, after reporting a shipping problem, I got my game two days later.

Gamefly told me to call the Post Office to report the problem. I reminded them that shipping the games was their problem, not mine. Then I was told how I could cancel my service. I've got to say, that's new. Don't worry about losing one customer (who incidentally writes a video-game column). There are enough people out there using this service to pay the bills.

So if you're considering Gamefly over a local rental store, you might want to reconsider. After all, your one little old account isn't worth Gamefly's attention. And I'm sure the folks at the local stores would love to see you.

Heed the call

"Call of Duty 4" still has my undivided attention. I picked up my headset Sunday so I could play with my brother. Over the course of the last few weeks, I've picked up a couple of things. It hasn't made me an expert. But they help.

When playing online, always keep your aim up. Head shots mow down enemies more quickly. Also, be sure to crouch and hide whenever possible. Walking out into the middle of a street is like wearing a big "shoot me" sign.

Currently, I'm a fan of the M16 with the red-dot sight. It's a semi-automatic noob weapon, but it gets the job done. You'd be amazed how many people you can drop with a couple of shots.

On my recent experimental class, I chose the customization where you can hold two primary weapons. I equipped each with a grenade launcher and it still only used up one of my "perk" slots. The result was mixed.

When you're in a map that has a lot of enclosed spaces, use shotguns. A shotgun blast turns an enclosed map into a good old-fashioned zombie shoot. I love it.

I'm not as keen on being a sniper. When you're on a sniping mission, set up mines around your position. That'll take care of anybody who's coming up the stairs to cap you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Before I forget

My co-worker Creg showed me this lil' Gem.

More XM goodness

Have I ever said how much I love my XM radio?

I finally found my station: its channel 43 XMU, technically it's the "college" station. I don't know about all that, but it plays some mighty fine music. It's the only channel where I frequently hear bands like Death Cab For Cutie, The White Stripes and The Eels.

My other favorites include:

Channel 107, Special Xmas. Every Christmas Novelty Song ever composed on one station. It's nice.

Channel 70, Real Jazz. Traditional Jazz music is so under appreciated, its ridiculous.

Channel 81, BPM Dance hits. Yes, I love dance music thanks in part to the good influence of my fiance Katrina. Channel 81 features a lot of progressive house music, which is fine by me. Channel 80, the Move, is another favorite but it was temporarily bumped for holiday programming. Lame.

Channel 12, X Country. This is real country music, not that overly twangy pop garbage you hear on commercial radio. (There's a station for that too, but I'd rather you not listen to it.)

Channel 65, The Rhyme. Old School Hip Hop and R&B. Sometimes you just have to go back to the beginning of something to truly appreciate it. After listening to bands like A Tribe Called Quest, Diggable Planets, Wu Tang Clan, etc...I just can't go back to modern pop rap. Everything stems from this source.

Channel 140 and 141, ESPN Radio and ESPN News. Working in a field where everything I do seems like it'll incite a riot, I've grown to appreciate the absolutes of college and professional athletics. I'm not at the point of fandom where I can call plays and tell you whether a game was good or bad based on the statistics. But I know what the big stories are, so I have a foot in the circle gathered round the proverbial water cooler. (It's like Sports for dummies.)

Any of you have Sirius or XM? If so, what are you listening to these days?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

MacBook Pro is love

I haven't posted in a while. My apologies! World of Warcraft has definitely gone and ate my soul. I started playing with my brother on his PvE server (meaning I don't die all the time) and I have my new character up to level 47 now. Not bad....thanks to Blizzard for that new patch that makes leveling up from 20-60 even faster!

Dan gave me the go ahead to get the one thing I wanted for Christmas/my birthday this year.

The lovely, shiny, sleek 15-inch MacBook Pro. I love this laptop more than any computer I've ever had. It's pretty amazing. World of Warcraft has been installed on it and it looks great. I'm just having to get the hang of playing WoW on a Mac ... and a Mac laptop at that.

Oh Apple, you need to stop coming out with so many nifty (expensive) gadgets. My checking account does not like you. (Even though I still do. :)

New readers- yay!

Given the uptick in the number of outside comments I'm receiving on the blog, I can only say: thanks for reading. I'll be more diligent about posting on this to make sure we're giving you something for your trouble.

In that vein, I present the following. Is "BioShock" the best game of the year. It's already continuing to rack up awards.

New York Times- BioShock, the moody, elegant adventure from Take-Two, continued its romp through the year-end video game awards season on Monday as it took the top prize in the awards presented by “X-Play,” the G4 television channel’s video game program.

BioShock emerged in August with relatively little advance publicity to captivate players with its tense yet melancholy mood, rich voice acting and exciting action. The title, which is available for PCs and the Xbox 360 console, won the top prize at the Spike network’s annual awards earlier this month.


How about that? I don't own an Xbox 360 and probably won't for the forseeable future, but if any of my new readers want to e-mail me their thoughts (dwhisenhunt@annistonstar.com) I'll be happy to post them.

In "Call of Duty 4" news, I'm 50th level and I have a bad atitude. I've been playing a lot of team tactical games with my brother. He enjoys them because they're smaller and its easier to work together. I still enjoy the massive free-for-alls, though.

One thing I can't stand about playing online is all the annoying kids who think its cute to use voice modulators. When you sound like Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse, it may make you feel special but it annoys the rest of us. Please graduate from your mental Junior High School, shut up and play the game.

My head-set works reasonably well, I suppose, but its not the fancy
blue tooth headset my brother has.

I will beat "Mario Galaxy" before the new year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Life is good

Kevin is on "Call of Duty 4" talking to my brother via our new Logitech headset. Katrina is on the couch, playing "World of Warcraft" on her new Mac Book Pro.

This is the sweet life.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Call of Duty 4" + Gamefly.com woes

No column this week. I've been busy at work and getting ready for the holidays. I've also spent a lot of time playing "Call of Duty 4." It's very difficult to tear myself away from it, really.

On a not so pleasant note, I'm about to stop using Gamefly.com. I haven't gotten a game in almost a month (I finally got "Lego Star Wars" for the Wii a couple of days ago.) Their customer service is terrible. They do everything via e-mail and their phone service is impossible. When I finally got someone on the phone, they told me there was nothing they could do, it was the post office's fault. With all due respect, you shouldn't advertise a 2 to 4 day service if you can't deliver a quick turnaround. Not to mention, my company generously agreed to pay for my service. No sense in wasting their money.

(For the record: I did receive games quickly at first. Then the service just went downhill. I did get a few columns out of it, tho.)

About the only thing Gamefly.com can get right is sending me the bill. When I told them what they could do to fix the problem, they told me how I could cancel my service. I can't believe anyone would run a business this way.

I am exploring other options through competitors - I don't know if they'll be any better, but I'm tired of dealing with Gamefly.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Manhunt 2" gets the goahead in U.K.


The makers of "Manhunt 2" won their appeal to sell the controversial game in the U.K.

Canada.com- "Manhunt 2" was twice rejected by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) this year, becoming the first video game in a decade to be banned in Britain.

Censors said it demonstrated "casual sadism" and an "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying".


I'll be interested to see the reasons they reversed their decision- that'll come out in the next couple of days.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tom Brokaw calls video games, blogs Cancerous

Signs the icons of yesterday are getting old and cranky: NBC anchor Tom Brokaw calls blogs, video games cancerous.

Brokaw made his comments in a townhall radio interview regarding the mall Massacre in Omaha, Nebraska. (Transcript below.)

Brokaw made his comments while defending NBC's decision to run video footage of the Virginia Tech killer.

Very tired defense- blame blogs and video games. I may be in the minority of journalists who think NBC made the wrong decision by airing these tapes, instead of turning everything over to the FBI. I think it glorified this type of act and inspired people like guy who shot up the mall in Nebraska.

After all, the killers suicide note said:

"Now I'll be famous."

Wonder where he got that idea....

Here's the interview.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Tom Brokaw On Violence
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 6:42 PM
In light of the massacre in Omaha, Nebraska, the exchange I had with Tom Brokaw on violence, Virginia Tech and NBC, is sadly relevant today. The transcript of the entire interview is here. This is the relevant portion of the discussion:




HH: All right, last question, and I’ll let you go as long as you want on this. I’m not trying to ambush you.

TB: Of course you are.

HH: No, I’m not. It’s a very interesting question. NBC ran the Virginia Tech killer tape on the day they obtained it. Steve Capus, Brian Williams made that decision. Did they make the right decision?

TB: Yeah, they did.

HH: Do you not think it’s going to incite other people to try to do the same thing?

TB: No, I don’t. I think…to get back to something we were talking about earlier in general thematic terms, I don’t think we’re doing a very good job about talking about violence in this country, either. You know, Virginia Tech went away. We didn’t have any ongoing dialogue in our communities or on the air about the corrosive effect of violence. It was not what he, what people saw of him on the air that will drive them, it’s what they read in blog sites, and what they see in video games. It’s that kind of stuff that I think is cancerous. And I’m a free speech absolutist, but I think that at the same time, we have to have free speech in some kind of a context. And part of that context is a discussion of the possible effects of it.


Read more here.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Column- Dec. 8, 2007

‘Call 4’ in need of medic

“Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” for Sony’s PlayStation 3, holds valuable life lessons.

The most important one is: There are 14-year-olds out there who do nothing but play this game all day.

They are out of school for Christmas break.

And they’re coming to kill you.

I should be gushing praise on “Call of Duty 4,” but I have a bone to pick with game publisher Activision. This week, the company announced a multi-billion dollar merger with Blizzard, the makers of “World of Warcraft.” The newly formed Activision Blizzard will be a force to be reckoned with.

So now is a hell of a time to cheap out on us.

“Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” does not have a cooperative campaign mode, which would allow two players to work together to beat the game’s story mode. It’s not an uncommon feature in first-person shooters (“Gears of War” had it; “Star Wars Battlefront II” did, too.) It’s a great learning tool for new players (noobs) who aren’t ready to jump into the online fray.

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: You just put up $60 for a game. You want to give it a whirl with your buddy, your brother or whoever. Can’t do it. Yeah, you should’ve checked the box, read the reviews. But the idea that a new, hot title wouldn’t have this very standard feature doesn’t cross your mind.

Activision Blizzard should start the merger off right by offering a downloadable patch (for free), giving players this mode. It can’t possibly cost that much and would increase the replay value tremendously.

The much-touted online play is as good as they say — with one not-so-tiny hitch. The online rankings system, which adds points for kills and completing objectives, needs work. Apparently it sometimes doesn’t save ranks when players log-off. Ranks mean everything in online play. They determine what kinds of guns you have, how powerful you are.

People who lost their ranks because of the glitch are justifiably irate.

I have not had this problem so far, so maybe it’s been fixed. If not, I hope it happens before a large number of players chuck this thing out the window in frustration.

So why will people endure all of the glaring flaws in “Call of Duty 4”? Because the online play, when it works, is nearly flawless. It’s a fast-paced, smack-talking good time. I encountered no problems with lag, and I didn’t wait long for matches.

The game looks and sounds incredible. I haven’t fooled with the campaign mode much, but it looks fine from what I’ve seen. I hear it’s short. That’s par for the course these days; just make it co-op.

I’m glad this wasn’t around in college or I may never have graduated. I hope my brother does. He plays it frequently.

“Call of Duty 4” gets three and one-half buttons. It’s a good game on its way to being great, if Activision Blizzard can get it together.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

ABC news shocker! Parents buy violent games for their kids.

And the media hand-wringing over violence in video games continues.

Here's the shocking evidence from ABC's article-

David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, said, "The fact that they're called video games -- I think that there are still some parents who really don't take it as seriously as they should."


The organization's annual report card, which aims to keep violent games out of the hands of kids under age 17, gives parents a C. Big retailers get a D.


Read more of this nonsense here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Was GameSpot editor fired over negative review?

The internet "tubes" have been swirling with rumors over the firing of GameSpot's editorial director, Jeff Gerstmann.

It's alleged a negative review of a big advertiser's game, "Kane and Lynch." (The video review that allegedly got him canned follows below.)

It's important to note that GameSpot denies these charges. I bring this up, not to weigh in on the controversy, but to say Joystiq.com is one of the best outlets for video game journalism out there. They're informed, have good ethical standards and break a lot of stories that matter to gamers. If you aren't reading them daily, I highly recommend you do. They give this humble newspaper blog a lot to work with.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Makers of "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty" merge, become biggest video game company "evah."

Activision and Vivendi are taking over the world! The deal, reportedly worth $18.9 billion (with a "B") will rename the company "Activision Blizzard" and make it a bigger game publisher than EA.

More:

Activision, one of the world's leading independent publishers of
interactive entertainment, is best known for its top-selling
franchises, including Guitar Hero(R), Call of Duty(R) and the Tony
Hawk series, as well as Spider-Man(TM), X-Men(TM), Shrek(R), James
Bond(TM) and TRANSFORMERS(TM). Blizzard Entertainment, a division of
Vivendi Games, has projected calendar 2007 revenues of $1.1 billion,
operating margins of over 40% and approximately $520 million of
operating profit.
Blizzard owns the #1 multi-player online
role-playing game franchise, World of Warcraft, which currently has
over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzard's World of Warcraft,
Warcraft(R), StarCraft(R) and Diablo(R) games account for four of the
top-five best-selling PC game titles of all time. Vivendi Games also
owns popular franchises, including Crash Bandicoot(TM) and Spyro(TM).
Pro forma for calendar 2007, Activision Blizzard expects to generate
approximately 70% of its revenues from owned franchises. As a result
of the business combination, Activision Blizzard expects to have the
most diversified and broadest portfolio of interactive entertainment
assets in its industry, positioning the combined company to capitalize
on the continued worldwide growth in interactive entertainment.


Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

"Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare."

Picked up and now own a copy of "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" for the PS3. I did this mainly so I could play with my brother online. No problems there, though early reports say the influx of new players created problems with the servers early on.

What I am near-livid about (and what I am writing to developer Infinity Ward about as soon as I get done posting this) is there is absolutely no DECENT cooperative play. There is no co-op campaign mode, which is common and certainly no online co-op mode, which is a bit trickier I would think. I'm here at Kevin's playing now and while this is an awesome-looking game, the lack of a co-op feature sucks. It leaves me feeling like I'm getting cheated out of something which should come with every first-person shooter that has a campaign mode these days.

I hear, based on my online research, that they'll release a patch to correct this soon. It will probably cost money and that will be a shame. The campaign mode co-op should come with it; an online patch would've been fine, since I don't expect it with these games. If they don't release a patch at all, I'm going to be very unhappy with this.

More later....

Late update: I've been playing the online version of this now for the past two hours. It's as flawless as they come, with nice maps and no lag. So there's definitely a lot here if you're only concerned with the online experience. (I don't necessarily expect co-op modes with online play, but it'd be nice.)

Now I need to get a headset.....

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Column, Dec. 1 2007

How Facebook almost ruined Christmas


Facebook.com almost ruined Christmas.

Now that’s a crazy idea. Who’s pushing it? Bill O’Reilly on Fox News? John Gibson, who’s also on Fox News? Not sure who but placing the safe bet on someone from Fox News?

Try MoveOn.org.

I kid you not.

MoveOn.org, the progressive activist group that right-wingers love to hate, recently took on the popular social networking site. The group objected to Facebook’s new Beacon advertising feature, saying it went over the line, invading personal privacy.

The nuts and bolts: Whenever you purchase something on an affiliated Web site, Beacon updates your Facebook profile, showing your purchase. All your friends can see that shiny new engagement ring you wanted to surprise your girlfriend with on Christmas day and ... doh! ... she’s on your Facebook friends list, too.

Think this could be a problem while shopping for the holidays, erm, I mean Christmas? Facebook members who signed MoveOn’s petition did.

MoveOn didn’t slap the “Grinch” label on Facebook outright. It just included comments from Facebook users to that effect in its e-mails asking people to sign a petition against Beacon. Pretty clever.

Initially, Facebook users could only opt out of Beacon on a store-by-store basis, but you couldn’t opt out completely. But late this week, Facebook said it won’t send messages about its users’ purchases without getting approval each time, according to the New York Times.

MoveOn representatives told the paper they’re keeping an eye on the changes. They leave open the possibility of continuing to push for a universal “opt-out” if they don’t like what they see.

Before the change, Facebook representatives argued in a New York Times article that only friends of the Facebook user can see this information, so it wasn’t a big deal. After all, Facebook is a very intimate affair. I mean, all of my 80 friends is someone I will know and cherish until the day I die. If the guy who sat by me in my college chemistry lab needs something, he knows I’m there for him. What was his name again? Doug?

A MoveOn spokesman told the New York Times they were trying to save the Facebook from itself. The spokesman worried users will leave the site out of privacy concerns. (With the bullhorn of a MoveOn rabble rouser behind them, no doubt.)

I’m no fan of deceptive advertising, but I don’t think MoveOn had much of case. Facebook is not their Web site to save and users routinely leave their privacy concerns at the door. Humiliating pictures of you drunk and in drag going up all over the place are OK. But seeing the crappy gift you bought your co-worker for “Secret Santa” at Amazon.com goes too far.

Facebook didn’t owe users anything. It’s a business and its users, whether they like it or not, are the product. They don’t pay anything to use the service but are generating revenue in a very real way.

I think Facebook did the right thing, even though it didn’t have to. It is Christmas after all.

But when you’re standing up for a cause, please leave Christmas out of it, or O’Reilly is going to show up at your door.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Article on Wii.


Read it and Wiip: Nintendo Wii still a hard find

By Dan Whisenhunt
Star Staff Writer

The Nintendo Wii demo at the Best Buy in the Oxford Exchange glows with a soft blue light.

But there are no Wiis for sale.

The video game console records players’ movements. But nothing is moving faster than Wiis from the store shelves, retailers say.

They say shipments, when they get them, are small. And the sales figures show why.


Read more here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Wii chase continues

Waaaaaaaaay before Thanksgiving, one of my co-workers named Debbie said she wanted to buy a Wii for her granddaughter. I told her, given the shortages this year, she needed to snap one up ASAP.

She didn't listen- and here's what happened:

Dan, Dan, Dan,


Shopping for a Nintendo Wii game system reminds me of trying to catch butterflies. You see it landing here and there, but as you get close enough to catch the little critter, it flies away. Geeze….. I should have listened to you!

My experience was going to be simple. Just help daughter-in-law find one for my granddaughter. She had been calling and visiting the local stores-Wal-Mart in Oxford & Lenlock, Target, KB Toys and Best Buy. I called Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, then Circuit City and K-Mart. The lady at K-Mart said, “Let me tell you what’s going on with the Wii.

“We’ve been told not to sell them until Thanksgiving, so we’ll put out the 5 we have then.”

She went on to say that they may put them out a day or two earlier than Thanksgiving but I’d have to get there before the doors open.

Oh me… this was getting tense. I hopped on-line to see what was happening on Ebay with this Wii and the prices were all over-the-board. I hesitated, still believing I could find one locally. Daughter-in-law only wanted the basic system advertised in local circulars for about $249.

The next day I decided to call the 1-800 number on the Circuit City circular and the ‘voice’ said “if you are calling about the Wii (and some other thing) press 1”. Did that… and it then said “if you are calling about the Wii, we are out of stock and can’t help you.” WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT IF THE FIRST PLACE? Geeze….again.

The next-next day I hopped back on-line and counted up my money (from daughter-in-law) and went to shopzilla.com. It started with the lowest prices and up, from different vendors.
HUM….. what to do… what to do…..

There it was…. Bundled with Princess Zelda….. $441 (before anything else.) I decided I wanted it in my hands as quickly as possible, so I paid extra for expedited shipping. Wham-bam I placed the order. It came out to be $485.84 and I expected to receive it in about 7 days.

In the meantime, I had friends scouting out different stores for the sucker with sightings her and there. Were they sure it was a Wii?

A week later to the day, it arrived. (Happy days are here again…) Sorry I just had to break out into a song.

Update… daughter-in-law checked the website I used to buy the Wii and told me the “best” price was now at $595.00 for the same EXACT system bundle.

Dan… you warned me several weeks ago if we wanted a Wii, we’d better buy it right then. I should have listened to you.

Merry Christmas!


Debbie

Mr. T "World of Warcraft" ad can do no wrong

I love the advertisements for "World of Warcraft." Making Mr. T. part of your marketing strategy can never be wrong.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Alleged child-killers met playing "World of Warcraft."

The couple accused of doing harm to "Baby Grace," met playing "World of Warcraft.".

Sad.

ArsTechnica questions WiFi-Autism Link Story

Some of you may have picked this up over the holidays. Apparently, tech news service Ars Technica did a write-up on the claims being made that WiFi leads to Autism.


One key point from Ars Technica:

The college behind the journal dates from the 1980s, but currently lists its mailing address as a PO box. It has affiliations with various other integrative and herbal medicine organizations in Australia. Overall, it appears to be an obscure organization that is operating near the fringes of mainstream medical practices. None of this actually impeaches the research itself (I've requested a copy of the paper, but have not yet received it), but results of this significance would be expected to appear in a higher-profile publication if the research were solid.

Other questions are raised by the two authors of the study itself. One of them, Dr. George Carlo, is based at what appears to be a Washington lobbying group. Carlo seems to believe that individuals sensitive to wireless signals exist, despite evidence to the contrary, and claims that there is a well-substantiated mechanism for explaining their existence. I've tracked the literature in this area, and I'm unaware of any such mechanism.

The second author is Tamara Jo Mariea, who has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and several professional certificates in clinical nutrition. Neither appears to be associated with any academic medical facility, an appearance furthered by the fact that the contacts on the press release have AOL and Verizon e-mail addresses




Hat tip to, Joystiq.com for the link.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Games over the holidays

Went to Katrina's house for a day trip Thursday, since she had to work the holiday. One of the big downsides to the Wii, in my opinion, is its hard to transport. Once you transport it, you have to hook up the sensor bar, resynchronize the controls....etc.

Just a big pain. I would've brought the PS3, but I decided instead to rely on my old standby, the Nintendo DS. I made some pass-through stabs at "Final Fantasy III." It's a good game, in theory, but I made some big mistakes when I started playing it the last time around. Suffice it to say that you can't undo anything when you've screwed yourself over that early in the game. So I'm taking a slow, methodical approach to job-building. But, of course, I can't really invest the time required to best a game like "FFIII" or "World of Warcraft." Other games demand my attention.

I got a copy of "The Simpson's" game for DS and its as I suspected: a competent, irreverent romp through one of my favorite TV realities. I am still hankering for "Assassin's Creed" and may break down and buy the thing before its all said and done.

"Mario Galaxy" owns my soul. I may have given it a not-perfect rating, but the reasoning seems intact. The Wii, given its low-availability and high expectations, deserves a harsher standard of criticism. We, frankly, expect much more from the innovation of Nintendo than we do from the water-treading of Sony or Microsoft. Just the curse of the blessing of success.

I beat one of the hardest Bowser levels I've ever played in my life today. It was just amazing.

Of course, when things get stale, there's always my old "Mario Kart DS" standby- until "Mario Kart Wii" comes out.

This year I was finally able to get my brother something he wanted for Christmas. When I brought my PS3 home last time around, my bro (who played college ball) played "MLB 2007 The Show" and developed a massive craving. When he found out he could play the thing online for free, there was very little to stop him from getting one. So my parents, being the kind-hearted souls they are, bought the PS3 and he's rented the MLB game ever since. Normally, Christmas shopping for my brother who has everything is the equivalent to pouring money down a drain. But I finally got my chance to get him a present I know he'll actually appreciate and use. And, oddly enough, its a way better feeling than getting something I so dearly want. (I actually can't think of a thing I dearly want, to be honest. Got a wonderful fiance, a good job, a Wii, DS and PS3. And until Alabama can beat Auburn, that pretty much covers it.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Column for Nov. 24

‘Galaxy’ a great game, not perfect

The early reviews for “Super Mario Galaxy” are beyond good. They’re off the charts.

Gamerankings.com has it listed as its highest-rated game, besting the classic “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Nintendo has spent a good amount of press saying “Super Mario Gal-axy” is the spiritual successor to “Super Mario 64.”

They aren’t far off.

The biggest strength of “Galaxy,” just as it was in “Mario 64,” is the innovation. “Galaxy” really makes you think and adjust for the gravity of each of the planets you visit. Taking the adventure into space with a whole new set of physics to get used to was a masterstroke for Nintendo.

The story sounds familiar. Bowser, an evil fire-breathing lizard, captures Princess Peach. Mario must traverse the cosmos, collecting power stars and finding a path to Bowser’s doorstep.

The plot for “Mario 64” was truly non-linear. The worlds were easy to explore and there were multiple missions. The linear storyline of “Galaxy” makes the game all too easy at times. One of the best things about “Mario 64” was trying to decipher what you needed to do to get the star from the often-cryptic descriptor. Here, a quick cut scene at the beginning of each mission often shows the path or final destination.

The camera angles are not as functional as we’d like from a game with such an immersive 3D world. It doesn’t offer any decent two-player options that we can see, but we’re still playing.

“Galaxy” offers up an experience for the Wii not available until this point. It’s an immersive experience, where it’s easy to save your progress and pick things up where you left off.

Like any good game, playing for a few hours provides a sense of satisfaction and accomplish-ment. Some levels are genuinely fun to explore while others drive us insane. In other words, it’s a “Mario” game, one that will have to keep on giving for awhile. “Super Smash Brothers Brawl” isn’t due out for another few months.

But cheer up, button pushers. After all, there’s always an extra life waiting for you in the box by the space ship when you start up “Galaxy.”

“Galaxy” gets four and one half buttons. It’s not perfect but it’s a great game to have if you own a Wii.

Co-written by John Dietrich.

‘John Woo Presents Stranglehold’

You know what makes a great game? When your character can slow down time. Bullets, while normally pretty cool by themselves, look even sweeter when they’re whizzing by you in slow motion.

“John Woo Presents Stranglehold” for the PlayStation 3 is pretty uninspired stuff, like a Grade C action flick. The main character’s name is Inspector Tequila, a rogue cop who plays by his own rules. The game goes downhill from there.

There’s a lot of broken glass and things blowing up. Oh, and he slides over table surfaces with his butt when he bumps up against them. Because, you know, sliding over things is cool.

And did I mention he could slow down time?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arcade gaming finds ‘redemption’: Owners say business is still profitable


Nothing gets by Dale Togni.

The manager of the Time Out Arcade at Quintard Mall in Oxford watches the neon-lit playground, making sure it’s a family-friendly place.

Business depends on it.

“It’s one of the few safe places to bring your family in Calhoun County,” Togni said. “I don’t let the hoodlums hang out.”

Parents looking for fun diversions for their kids out of school this holiday season are in luck — the arcade gaming business in Calhoun County is alive and well.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Super Mario Galaxy"



Me and Dietrich cracked open "Super Mario Galaxy" for the Wii- been playing it since 9 p.m. Worth the wait? Definitely. This is the best Mario game I've seen and a worthy successor to "Mario 64." (Now that I think about it, releasing a version of "64" on the DS makes a lot more sense.)

Cool graphics, decent story and a lot of fun. A good reason to own a Wii.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cool California band half-time show.



In other news, I'm playing "Mario 64:DS" for- you guessed it- the DS Lite. Overall, its a good game with workable controls. And it looks mighty spiffy. A worthy addition to the DS library. More in next week's column.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ever Quest II

Got the following from Sony Online Entertainment this morning:

EverQuest II celebrates its 3rd birthday Friday, November 9th, 2007!
As a birthday present to all of our faithful EQII players who have been subscribed continuously since day one, and who own all the expansions, the EQII team is unleashing 4-year Veteran Rewards today!

Check out www.EQ2Players.com for more information on Vet Rewards and SOEpress.com for some candid photos proving that the EQII dev team takes the cake…birthday cake that is!

To further continue the celebration, we have also created a one-of-a-kind EQII Montage Video that puts some nostalgic retrospect on the last 3+ years of EQII development. Several veteran EQII developers share their memories and favorite moments while working on EQII from pre-launch all the way through the upcoming launch of Kunark. Some even get a little teary eyed, so grab some tissues before you watch. Please feel free to share this video with your communities; directions for download are below:

FTP: sdftp1.station.sony.com

Username: exclpress

Password: vu3pesw6

ftp://exclpress@sdftp1.station.sony.com

Folder: /EverQuest II/EQII 3rd BDay Video

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Column For Sat. Nov. 10

‘Ratchet’ blows away video realm
Ever wonder what it would be like if outer space were populated by talking animals and robots?

Then you should see “Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.”

This game certifies the Sony PlayStation 3’s status as a big, bad machine. It’s about as close as you can get to being inside a Pixar movie.

“Ratchet and Clank” is the latest adventure for Ratchet, an inter-galactic hero who looks like a cross between a fox and a cat, and Clank, his robotic sidekick. The villain, Emperor Tachyon, wants Ratchet dead.

As the name would suggest, the game is set in the future and features a variety of cool weapons. As Ratchet and Clank hop from planet to planet, they complete different missions and collect new gadgets.

“Ratchet” blows the competition away with its jaw-dropping three-dimensional worlds. Everywhere you tilt the camera, there’s something going on. No one ever said Nintendo has the market cornered on family fare. With deft characterization and oddball humor, “Ratchet” is a real charmer.

The familiar control scheme was easy to learn. I dove right into this and didn’t come up for air until the game was almost overdue at Hollywood Video. “Tools of Destruction” stands up and demands a rating of five buttons out of five. Good show.

Like ‘Guitar Hero’?
No. “Guitar Hero,” “Rock Band” and any similar game coming down the chute can bite me. Did you see the new episode of South Park on Wednesday? That pretty much sums up my attitude.

All the time people spend pretending they’re in a rock band could be better spent, oh, I don’t know –– learning to play an actual instrument.

Are games like these bad? No. They are simply an asinine substitute for hard work and creativity, things easily traded for a game with a few cool gadgets piping out half-remembered songs.

Rock on, “Guitar Hero” worshippers. The appeal is lost on me.

‘Duck Amuck’

“Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck” for Nintendo’s DS is a fairly-well executed concept. It’s a spin-off of the old Warner Brothers cartoon where Daffy Duck is poked and prodded by an omniscient animator. (In the cartoon’s case, it was Bugs Bunny.)

Stab Daffy with your stylus. Close the DS on him. Shut him up, push him around. The madder he gets, the better your score.

Most of this game consists of mini-games. I’m not wild about mini-games in general, but here it kind of works. “Amuck” creates a nice diversion.

The game’s developers could provide a little more direction. The game is stylus-driven but learning game play was mostly trial-and-error. Since the game doesn’t really add up to anything important, learning wasn’t as frustrating as it sounds.

“Amuck” is nothing but a simple story about one man, his stylus and one tormented duck. I think I saw a “Far Side” cartoon like that once. “Amuck” gets 3Z\x buttons out of five.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hackers go over the head of ratings board in "Manhunt"

Once again, the futility of product limitations makes someone get creative. Necessity is the mother of invention, so I hear.

By Associated Press

BLOODY MESS: The initial version of "Manhunt 2" was gory enough to earn an "adults only" warning from the panel that rates video games. So publisher Rockstar Games blurred out enough of the nasty bits to get the rating lowered to "mature," which is how the game ended up on store shelves last week.

But it only took hackers about 24 hours to un-blur the footage, leading to more headaches for the rating board and more headlines for Rockstar. The hack only works on the PlayStation Portable version of the game, and only on PSPs that have been illegally modified.

Read more here.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction"


I've been playing"Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction" for the PS3 and all I can say is, "wow."

The PS3 is a big bad machine and "Ratchet" does it right- everywhere you look in this expansive 3d world, something is happening. It's about as close as you'll come to being inside a Pixar movie. The writing is just hilarious.

So I'm in. Love this game. It's a must-have, if you own a PS3.

More in this week's column.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pushing Buttons, for Saturday- Nov. 3

‘MySims’ — When cute won’t cut it

“MySims” is a game for Nintendo’s Wii. And that’s about all I can say for it, really. My friend called it “frustration in a box.” I’d say “MySims” is a monumental pile.

For those not familiar with the Sims series, there’s not much to it. You create characters, build homes and decorate them according to your tastes. “MySims” is just a cuter, dolled-up version of the same concept. But unlike the others, “MySims” feels like it rode to the Wii on the short bus.

Another thing I wanted to say about the game is … wait, loading, this may take a few moments …

The load times. Are you kidding me? The way this game drags it’s like the developers at Electronic Arts didn’t play it before they shipped it. Inane conversations require two-minute waits to complete. The story — such as it is — lurches forward like a junk car.

Who wrote this stuff anyway? “MySims” billed itself the way a lot of Wii games bill themselves — it’s a cuddly, family friendly bowl of syrup. But sometimes cute doesn’t cut it. I appreciate games that appeal to a wider-audience of traditional non-gamers. But I don’t know if people who have lobotomies are a good market for Nintendo.

The tasks in this game are tedious and pointless. There was also no obvious way for me to save the game. Every time I picked up the game it was a waste of my time.

If there is one redeeming quality, it (may) be the character-creation system. It’s fun to use, though I wish you could use your player-created Mii avatars in the game. The characters look like they could be Miis from a distance.

But being able to upload Mii avatars would’ve made the game fun and interesting. And that’s obviously the opposite of what EA was going for.

I give this “MySims” one-half button out of five, which basically means the game exists. It will make a fine addition to the bottom of Circuit City’s bargain basement bin, someday.

‘Brawl’ delayed

I fully expected to play “Super Smash Brothers Brawl” this Christmas while unwrapping all of my other fun gizmos and gadgets. But Nintendo has pushed back the release date again. This time, it’s February 2008.

This game is one of the major reasons I bought the Wii. For reasons I don’t understand, game developers do this sort of thing a lot. They tease us with beautiful previews and get our hopes up, only to pull the rug out from under us.

Developers should just pick a date and stick to it; these moving targets suck.

Satellite for sure

I recently bought an XM radio and I have to say, satellite is the best deal out there. As mainstream commercial radio deteriorates into a vapid wasteland of car commercials, derivative disc jockeys and annoying sound effects, satellite radio provides a tantalizing oasis.

Sure it’ll cost ya — about $13 a month for one receiver. But there are very few commercials, a plethora of options. There is a larger world out there, musically speaking.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top 10 Horror games ever

For those of you that like the Horror game genre, I found this list on Amazon.com. (And, for the record, I have no idea who Seth is.)

Top 10 Survival Horror Games EVER!
A Listmania! list by Seth


1. "Fatal Frame by Tecmo"
Seth says:
"Based on a True story, one of the things that makes this game TRULY Scary, Xbox version is just as good."

2. "Fatal Frame 2 by Tecmo"
Seth says:
"Sequal to the first but second to none, storyline of this game will have you playing this game with the lights on during the day with a friend by your side."

3. "Silent Hill"
Seth says:
"The first in an extremely well-designed series about a town full of mystery, truly frightening."

4. "Silent Hill 2 by Konami"
Seth says:
"The second in the series but just as scary."


5. "Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams by SVG Distribution" Seth says:
"The is the same thing as the PS2 version but it contains more storyline, definite pick if story is your thing"

6. "Silent Hill 3 by Konami"
Seth says:
"3rd in the series and STILL scary, more of an extenson of the first one it is a must buy for survival horror fans."

7. "Clock Tower"
Seth says:
"If your a TRUE Horror/Survival fan then you have to have this."

8. "Clock Tower II (2): The Struggle Within by agetec" Seth says:
"A Survival/Horror fan would simply drool over this."

9. "Clock Tower 3 by Capcom USA" Seth says:
"Third of the series it is great for action fans of Survival/Horror"

10. "Onimusha 2 by Capcom USA"
Seth says:
"Ancient Japan, Demons, a War, enough said."


Me personally? I'm gonna hit up the Boo's Mansion level on "Mario Party 8."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reuters reports men more likely to play casual video games

According to Reuters, men are just as likely to play casual games and also more likely to pirate them than women.

Casual games, are definied as ones easy to play and win: the difference between "Halo 3" and "Tetris."

"Everyone always thought that casual games were something that only appeal to women," Jessica Tams, managing director of the association, said in an interview. "We have always been obsessed about making games for women."

Surveys of players showed that, while nearly three-fourths of people who bought casual games were women, the players of such games were split 50-50 between the sexes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Video games guide

Sometime in the next week or two (Whenever our need overwhelms my ability to procrastinate) I want to put out a handy how-to on shopping for game consoles. I've come to the conculsion its different strokes for different folks: some people like online gaming, some want cuddly, family-friendly adventures.

I put "MySims" back in the box and gave it to Movie Gallery. I got enough column fodder for at least another week out of that garbage.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"MySims"?

Ignore what these fools say about "MySims" for the Wii. This game is a monumental pile.

I don't know if they thought the sugary sweet cuteness of the character design would make up for this games' sluggish play, constant load screens and non-existent save points- I am not going to have good things to say about this one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What a weekend-

Visited my mom and dad and my brother this weekend. My brother, who until last year played baseball for the University of West Florida, is a huge sports game nut. So he was very happy when I loaned him my PlayStation 3 with my copy of "MLB 07: The Show."

Personally, I think baseball is about the most boring sport on the planet. But my brother liked the game and was also into the "Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 07." Throw in the nice high-definition television his room mate owns and he was set.

In other news, according to the BBC, church leaders at Manchester Cathedral have forgiven the makers of "Resistance Fall of Man" for using their church's image without permission. It would make me feel all warm and fuzzy if we weren't talking about a game where zombies have overrun the earth.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday's column.

‘Dance Revolution’ a hot party

This week we’ve been busting a move, working up a sweat and seeing blinking arrows when we close our eyes.

“Dance Dance Revloution: Hottest Party” for Nintendo’s Wii comes with a dance pad and a bumpin’ soundtrack. There are unlockable songs and great co-play mode. You can play as several different dancers, though my personal favorite is the guy with the rainbow-colored Afro.

Players move their feet to match flashing arrows. But the Wii adds its own unique spin, allowing players to add hand motions to their routines. My two fellow bloggers, John and Katrina, liked the game but did not like incorporating hand movements into the mix. Fortunately, Nintendo gives them an out.

Their take:

Katrina Junkin: “ ‘Hottest Party’ takes me back to 2000 when I owned my first ‘DDR’ game. I loved stomping around on that thing so much and it helped keep my weight stable for a while.

“Sadly, I sold it on a whim in 2002 because I was a poor college student who thought she needed $40 more than she needed her ‘DDR.’

“So when I discovered they were making a game for the Wii, I was really excited.

“My first thought was ‘YES! They will incorporate hand motions!’

“But once we got the game and started playing it, I totally ate those words. I love the traditional game play, but I cannot get down with the hand motions. Half the time I think the controls don’t register the motions because it will give me miss after miss when I know I’m spot on.

“Fortunately, you can turn the hand motions off, as well as having the option to turn off ‘gimmicks’ which makes the game more challenging. Yeah, thanks Konami, but my brain needs a little time to get back into the swing of putting my feet in the right place ... we’ll save the fancy-pants stuff for later."

John Dietrich: “The most important development to ‘Hottest Party’ is a simple option Nintendo gives you: to use the Wii-mote or not to use the Wii-mote.

“As a big fan of the Wii, I’ve seen firsthand that the hardware innovation has improved several genres of games: First-person shooters, action/adventure games and driving games come to mind.

“However, the Wii-mote innovation can only get so close to certain games.

“In a dungeon crawler, for example, simulating the casting of various spells would require roughly 20 or so unique movements, which would get complicated and just can’t be pulled off.

“Witness ‘Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.’ It’s a great game on any other platform, but the Wii can’t handle it.

“The option to keep the game from being ‘Wii-centric’ is a huge plus. It means there’s hope Nintendo will keep flexibility a high priority, especially for games that need it, because sometimes innovation doesn’t really help.

“As for the game ... if you like ‘DDR,’ it’s all the ‘DDR’ you could want at home."

Friday, October 19, 2007

AP story on Net Neutrality

This is a great explanation Net Neutrality.


AP- Comcast's technology kicks in, though not consistently, when one BitTorrent user attempts to share a complete file with another user.

Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer — it comes from Comcast. If it were a telephone conversation, it would be like the operator breaking into the conversation, telling each talker in the voice of the other: "Sorry, I have to hang up. Good bye."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cheaper PS3 coming soon

A 40-gig version of the PlayStation 3 will hit stores Nov. 2 and will cost $399. However for an extra $100 you can get the 80-gig version.

Current cost for the XBOX 360 is $350 and a Nintendo Wii is $250.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party"

Dietrich and I are fine-tuning our thoughts on the latest DDR game. Reporter Steve Ivey and photographer Kevin Qualls came over but I think we may have run them off. DDR is not for people who don't like to move (or listen to Techno music, but I digress.)

One thing we definitely agree on is its nice you can turn the hand motions off. It does add an extra layer to the game, but its hard to use the Wii mote in some cases.

In "World of Warcraft" news, my new blood elf character is moving on up, and I showed Qualls my Tauren druid. I ran him through Shadowfang keep and got some nice armor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Sims" creator named BAFTA fellow

The debate about whether video games can be considered art rages on.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts named "Sims" creator Will Wright a fellow. According to the story he shares the honor with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock.

So let's have ourselves another poll. Are video games art? Vote on the right side of the blog.

I've always thought one day (and this may already be the case) there will be a field of cultural studies devoted to video games. If you think that's unlikely, you should see the volumes of analysis written about cultural drivel found on television.

Maybe this will light a fire under Will to complete "Spore."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday's Column

‘Sword’ slices a beautiful, fun swath

"Heavenly Sword” for Sony’s PlayStation 3 is a sexy game.

The lead character, Nariko, is a hot, steely heroine with flame-red hair. Her sidekick Kai (who reminds me of the singer Bjork) is her adorable foil. The two have a special bond in an all-male clan of warriors. Whether it’s anything more than an extremely close relationship between women is up to the imagination.

“Heavenly Sword” is often compared to “God of War” and UK gamemaker Ninja Theory, which created “Sword,” certainly took a cue from “God.” But I think “Heavenly Sword” succeeds in ways the developer of “God of War” only dreamed about. The visual tapestry of broad landscapes, cinematic camera angles and massive explosions are confetti for the eyes. “Sword” is big and beautiful.

It also tells a good story, even if the acting is a bit hammy in places. King Bohan is an over-the-top cartoon super-villain trying to take control of the Heavenly Sword guarded by Nariko’s clan. Nariko struggles for acceptance, particularly from her father and trainer Shen.

A deity from the heavens is supposed to wield the Heavenly Sword and defeat evil. When Bohan captures her father, Nariko has no choice but to wield the weapon.

At its core, “Heavenly Sword” is a story about children who want approval from their parents. As the story progresses, children learn to stand on their own and parents learn to accept their kids for who they are, not who they want them to be.

Like “God of War,” you learn so many combos with the heavenly sword, pushing random buttons will do any number of cool things. There’s no hair-pulling puzzle solving like “God of War,” though.

The game makes good use of the console’s “Sixaxis” motion-sensitive controllers. They record movement, allowing players to physically guide arrows and missiles by moving the controller up, down or side to side. Sony is nowhere near Nintendo’s Wii in terms of capturing real motion, but “Heavenly Sword” incorporates physical moves in a meaningful way. The player’s ability to use movement is an important part of beating the game.

I beat this game in about a week. Despite its epic premise, it’s surprisingly short. Beating it once will unlock several different extras, including the “Hell Mode.”

It’s a stunning achievement for Sony. I give “Heavenly Sword” four-and-a-half buttons out of five.

Tips and Tricks: In “Heavenly Sword” it pays to know your moves. Nariko uses three stances: power, range and speed. Enemy attacks are color-coded to match the different stances. Blocks vary accordingly. Learn these stances and their corresponding colors quickly.

The best offense is a good defense. Use the right analog control stick to dodge-roll and do it often. Most of the baddies are slow and incompetent.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's going on in Mainstream comics

Yeah, I know this doesn't relate to video games, computers, or electronics, and there are no buttons to be pushed when reading a comic book.
Still, this is good stuff.
You might have read and/or heard that back in March, Marvel Comics killed off the original Captain America, Steve Rogers. This seemed to upset some people (including some dude named Colbert) but it was very well done. Since then, "Captain America" the comic has continued running strong, even without its title character.
Well, Marvel has announced the in the January issue of "Captain America" the Marvel Universe gets itself a new Cap. No, Steve Rogers is not coming back from the dead. Someone else will take up the mantle, and he won't be your grandfather's Captain America. This one carries a firearm.
Meanwhile, over in DC Comics, the biggest thing going on that's worth reading is the "Sinestro Corps War", which is being done through the "Green Lantern" title. For those who don't remember Sinestro, he was the Hal Jordan-Green Lantern's main rival. He had an energy ring, cept it made yellow figures, which the Green Lantern's ring could affect (his ring didn't work on yellow objects). Well, having "killed" this character and bringing him back to life, DC has had him unite vairous villians you've probably never heard of and wage war on all the Green Lanterns across the universe. The conflict is finally spilling onto Earth, and should heat up considerably as Earth's mightiest heroes fend off the ring-wearing army.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nintendo reports a butt-ton of third-party releases for Wii and DS, but holds back "Super Smash Brother's Brawl."

Joystiq.com is reporting a butt-ton of games from third-party developers coming out for both the Wii and DS consoles. I've been looking for the official list but no such luck.

It's also being widely reported that "Super Smash Brother's Brawl" won't see the light of day until February 2008. As someone who bought the Wii with the expectation I would be playing this thing on Christmas morning, I can only say: Boo! I'm sure this game will be even better for the extra time, but c'mon Nintendo. Just pick a date and stick to it.

Crowd Control

Reporter Andy Johns forwarded me this YouTube video of the PS3 launch at Anniston's Circuit City last year. As you'll see, it was a big mess.



I really hope retailers figure out some kind of rational system for giving out these games and game systems. They're lucky no one got hurt.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Of arrow dancing and being killed over and over and over ...


As Dan mentioned previously, we all have DDR Hottest Party fever! Bought the game (dance pad included) this weekend and we've been stomping around like crazy dancing fools. I once upon a time owned the first DDR game for the PS2, but sold it in college because I was desperate for money. I really wish I had kept it because I miss the songs it offered! However, DDR Hottest Party is bringing back all my fond memories with some equally pleasing tracks and it offers a lot more songs than I remember the old one having. This version also incorporated hand motions into the game using the Wii remote and nunchuck. I don't like them! Half the time, the nunchuck won't register my motions and it's really frustrating. Plus, I'm trying to get reacquainted with the dance pad and worrying about where my feet go is plenty for now. Fortunately you have an option to turn off the hand motions, as well as these gimmicks that make the songs more challenging. Baby steps, we're working up to the fancy stuff. ;)

I've also been spending a lot of time playing World of Warcraft. Their Brewfest event is pretty entertaining, what with ram riding and getting completely smashed in order to see pink elekks and wolpertingers and all. I have my warlock up to level 26 now and I must say, I hate the contested areas of the game right now. These are the areas where your character becomes "flagged" for battle (if you are on a PvP server like I am) and that means my poor little warlock is fair game to any higher level alliance players that are roaming around. At level 26 I can't really do much when level 50+ alliance decides to attack me. Often I get killed in one single shot. Not fun when you are trying to quest and get stuff done to level up more. But this is all common practice on the PvP servers and I can't say I didn't see it coming...just as a newbie playing for the first time, I have experienced it and it is annoying. :)

I look forward to getting to those coveted higher levels though and returning the favor of being evil (I am with the horde after all) and killing off loads of poor, innocent, unsuspecting alliance. Mwahahahaha!

Monday, October 8, 2007

What would Master Chief do?

The NYtimes has this interesting piece up about churches recruiting young men using "Halo" games as a draw.

The only question this raises for me is: Will they do this with the new "Grand Theft Auto"?

"Dance Dance"

Stayed up with John Dietrich and Katrina Junkin playing "Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party" for the Wii. Much to our delight, the game allows you to turn off hand signals prompting you to swing the Wii remote. It gives you a chance to work only with the foot commmand prompts. It was quite a workout. I had to get to bed by 1 a.m. because of work but I heard John and Katrina stomping away for awhile. I hope our neighbor was able to get some sleep.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Halo 3" developer has amicable split with Microsoft

In bigger head-turning gaming news this week, game developer Bungie has split with Microsoft. Microsoft will stil retain rights to "Halo" however.

Interesting timing, no?

"Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party" more "Heavenly Sword" musings and thoughts on XM versus Direct TV

That's what you'll be getting in this week's column.

In case you were wondering how our Sunday's going, it looks a little like this:

Friday, October 5, 2007

No love for the Wii


The writers at Joystiq.com make an interesting point which I think ties into Electronic Gaming's recent article about "Wii crap."

Maybe video game developers don't want to spend money developing proudcts for the Wii.

If developers feel like its easier and more profitable to develop stuff for the PS3 and Xbox 360, that's what they'll do. So its not just that Nintendo's standards for games are too low- its that developers don't want fool with its new console.

I hope this will clear the way for some truly innovative games. But some people will just continue to dump on the Wii no matter what. But it's still selling like its the cure for cancer.

This weekend, I'll be playing some more "Heavenly Sword" with Kevin Qualls and getting my Brew Fest on in "World of Warcraft."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Twing Twang


Been playing "Heavenly Sword" with photographer Kevin Qualls for the last couple of nights. Between us we've gotten through roughly half of the game. Not too shabby. Kevin and I trade off- I play sword-wielding Nariko and he plays the arrow shooting Kai.

I think its difficult to overstate what a stunning a achievement this is for Sony. I don't know if this game is the only good reason to own a PS3, but its certainly one of them. I'm digging the motion-sensitive controls and the refined beauty of the graphics. The plot is good, a little over-the-top in places, but its not unforgiveable.

This game is remarkably well-executed. But my favorite character is Kai. She's the perfect foil for Nariko and she reminds me a bit of Bjork.

The kitty hat ain't bad either.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Save your TV...with silicon!

Thankfully, I've yet to bust my TV with my Wii-Mote, but I've also not gone ballistic at a game yet. That's either a testament to my excellent talents, or the easy games I play. I'm voting "A".
Help is on the way, though. Here's the article:
"Is your beloved Wii Remote still flying out of your hand and hitting innocent bystanders in the head (or worse, smashing your beloved plasma)? If so, help is on the way—in the form of a free silicone cover, courtesy of Nintendo.
Kotaku is reporting that Nintendo will start giving away the new Wii Remote Jacket, which the gaming giant describes as a "cushiony shield" for "people who might accidentally throw or drop their Wii Remotes while playing games," starting on October 15; the cover will also start shipping with all new Wii consoles. The translucent cover looks pretty cool, at least from the pictures, although we'll have to wait and see whether it interferes with, say, Wii Bowling in any way."
For more, go to http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/patterson/6772

Monday, October 1, 2007

Oktoberfest "World of Warcraft"-style



You can do a lot of things that parallel real life in "World of Warcraft"- make clothes, mine for gold and even get drunk. When you drink it impairs your vision in the game and high level monsters look several levels lower. What better way to celebrate getting your characters plowed off their bums than "Brewfest," Warcraft's ode to beer.

Enjoy such fine brews as "Mudder's Milk" and "Thunderbrew Stout." Pimp your favorite suds and defend the festival from those puritan Dark Iron Dwarves.


You can do special quests related to the festival and even get some special duds- the lederhozen.

(And, for the record, I am not making any of this stuff up.)

So lift one in honor of "WoW's" own version of Oktoberfest. As if I needed any more reasons to play this game.

Read it and Wiip


Joystiq.com is citing a Mercury News article saying the Wii production will not be able to keep up with customer demand.

I know the Wii is insanely popular, but is it really this hard to make that many Wiis? Part of me wonders if Nintendo isn't doing this intentionally. Bottom line- get your Wiis now, moms and dads, if you don't want the kids to guilt-trip you for another year.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Halo 3: Unedited

This week's column contained a heavily edited version of what Chad George and Robert Evans thought about the game. Here is their thoughts, plus all of the stuff I left out.

Chad George

Let's start by saying up front that I am not a Halo fan, never have been. The first game was amazing in the fact that it raised the bar for all future first person shooters by letting gamers do what they wanted all along; play against a computer controlled enemy that actually "thought." The following game had one of the best multiplayer components to date. The final chapter is simply a prettied up version of those two combined. Don't get me wrong, the graphic are absolutely amazing in single player and multiplayer... but at the end of the day, Halo 3 is the same run and gun game it has always been. The single player campaign is short and, while I have not 'finished the fight,' it seems the all the hype poured into the game is just that. Gameplay is smooth and the enemies are smarter ( i.e. they form together to attack en masse, run off to alert comrades, etc...) but it is extremely linear. In this time of open world exploration and sand-box games(think BioShock and Grand Theft Auto,) one would think that Microsoft's biggest release of the year would include the ability to go where you wanted, when you wanted. There is a bit of the ability to roam, but there are definite boundaries that force you to fight enemy A and then enemy B. Halo 3 doesn't do anything new, but it is very pretty. In the end, all you have to remember to win the game is: Don't run out of bullets.

On the other hand, the multiplayer is very robust. The sheer number of game variations, addition of the theater, and the "Forge" make this an online game to have. Finding a game online is very easy and matches you with people of the same skill level (rank) 99% of the time. Additionally, if you have a large friend's list you can have a group of up to 16 people in the game so you know who you're playing against. If you make a great kill, find a spot to snipe, or just want to show off to your friends the ability to record and share your game movie is a perfect addition, as well as being able to take a snapshot from the gameplay. The forge lets you change any map to your liking to make things different from any other map. You cannot change the map itself ( i.e. can't move a mountain, add grass, etc...) but you can add weapons, vehicles, and spawn points... among other things.

In my opinion, Halo 3 is a must have if you enjoy online gaming and have a Gold Xbox Live membership. Other than that, I would probably rent it or add it to my GameFly list.

Robert Evans

Halo 3, the conclusion to one of the most influential game trilogies this generation, sold over 170 million dollars in sales on the first day, setting a new industry record.


For the conclusion to an epic story such as Halo's, the campaign of Halo 3 was relatively short. The campaign features nine levels with some of the most epic enemy encounters and massive battles in any video game. For skilled players, though, you can play through the entire multiplayer experience on Legendary (the hardest difficulty in the game) in around seven hours.

The story is extremely immersive and creates a great conclusion to the Halo Trilogy. Halo 3's campaign felt very much like Halo: Combat Evolved, a very good improvement over the lacking Halo 2 campaign. However, many storylines from the second games were completely forgotten in the final title (such as the religious conflict between the many branches of the Covenant).

Multiplayer

The real fun begins when you load Halo 3 multiplayer and begin playing with friends in your house, on your block, or anywhere around the world. Locally, up to four players can participate in Halo 3 multiplayer and two players can cooperatively play through the campaign. Over system link, up to 16 players can play in multiplayer and up to four players can cooperatively play through the campaign. Likewise, players from around the world can join with their friends or strangers to challenge others in multiplayer or invite friends to help them in the campaign.

Weapons

The weapons in Halo 3 have seen some changes since the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta earlier this year. Two weapons that saw the greatest changes between the Beta and the final game are the sniper and beam rifles. Unlike in Halo 2 and the Beta, you must be much more accurate and even lead your prey when trying to kill them with the sniper rifle (much like Halo: Combat Evolved).

The Gravity Hammer, a weildable Brute melee weapon, was also added to the game. This weapon rivals the Energy Sword in power (the gravity hammer can kill enemies in one hit and knock vehicles, players, and even rockets out of the way), but lack greatly in speed. Two inflammatory weapons, the Flamethrower and Incendiary Grenade, have also been added to the game to let us burn each other up.

Forge and Theater

Two of the coolest new features in Halo 3 are Forge, a limited multiplayer map editor, and the Theater. Forge allows players to edit elements of multiplayer maps, such as weapon placement, vehicles, spawns, and even objectives, and save their new creations to share with players in the community.

The theater is a video playback feature that allows players to watch videos of their latest multiplayer and campaign games, take screenshots of the action to save to their computers in high definition, or capture clips to share with their friends over Xbox Live.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday's column

I'll post some of the unedited stuff I got tomorrow.

‘Halo 3’ — is it worth the hype?

This week, I’m guzzling my special-edition “Halo 3” Mountain Dew and taking it easy. I know some local folks who have a better perspective on this “Halo 3” madness than me.

Chad George, in addition to being the general manager of Oxford’s International House of Pancakes, knows his video games. Robert Evans keeps his own “Halo” blog.

Here’s what they had to say:

Robert Evans: For the conclusion to an epic story such as “Halo’s,” the campaign of “Halo 3” was relatively short. Skilled players can run through the entire nine-level multiplayer experience on Legendary (the hardest setting in the game) in about seven hours. The story is immersive and is a great conclusion to the “Halo” trilogy. However, many storylines from the second games were completely forgotten in the final title.

The real fun begins when you play “Halo 3” on multiplayer mode with friends in your house, on your block or anywhere around the world.

Two of the coolest new features in “Halo 3” are “forge,” a limited multiplayer map editor, and the “theater.” Forge allows players to edit elements of multiplayer maps, such as weapon placement, and save their new creations to share with other players.

The “theater” is a feature that allows players to watch videos of their latest multiplayer and campaign games, take screenshots of the action to save to their computers in high definition or capture clips to share with their friends over Xbox Live.

Chad George: I am not a “Halo” fan. I thought the first game was amazing. It raised the bar for all future first-person shooters by letting gamers play against a computer-controlled enemy that actually “thought.” The sequel had one of the best multiplayer components to date. The final chapter is simply a prettied up version of those two combined.

Don’t get me wrong; the graphics are absolutely amazing. The sheer number of game variations makes this an online game to have. But at the end of the day, “Halo 3” is the same run-and-gun game it has always been. In the end, all you have to remember to win the game is: Don’t run out of bullets.

“Halo 3” doesn’t do anything new, but it is very pretty. “Halo 3” is a must-have if you enjoy online gaming. Other than that, I would probably rent it.

I hate zombies

First of all, they’re undead, which makes them hard to kill. Secondly, they appear out of nowhere demanding my delicious “braaiiins.”

“Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition” is a great game, simply because I get to shoot these things in the head. Lots of people give video games grief for their graphic depictions of violence, and there’s certainly a buffet of gore in this game, true. But if you can think of a less bloody way to dispose of zombies, I’d like to hear it. I say shoot them all. With the Wii mote, that is.

“Resident Evil” gets four buttons out of five.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Something I love


If you've got lots of time to kill at work, enjoy flash animation done really well, have an appreciation for absurd humor, or just like cartoons, Homestarrunner.com is the place for you.

The site revolves around a group of characters best described as "too weird for children's television, but appropriate for all ages."

The main character, in my opinion, is Strong Bad. You'll wanna check out his emails, which are the most often updated thing on the site. Among the ones that are must-see are "Dragon", "Virus", "Army", "4 Branches", "Garage Sale", "Animal", "Caffeine", "Kids' Book" and "Caper".

There are some duds, but for the most part it should have you giggling.

In the "Toons" and "Shorts" menu, look up the Cheat Commandos for superb G.I. Joes parody, and enjoy the "Teen Girl Squad".

Heavenly Goodness


I rented "Heavenly Sword" for the PlayStation 3 last night and I was not disappointed. There have been a lot of comparisons made between this game and the "God of War" series. I can see it, but so far, I think "Heavenly Sword" does some things much better. The cinematics and acting are definitely making the best use of the PS3's raw power.

Expect a full review next week.

"Halo 3" story in Biz section.

Local retailers report strong sales for ‘Halo 3’
A ‘Halo 3’ guide book and the game are displayed at Best Buy. Along with the game, players can also buy Halo game consoles and controllers. Photo: Kevin Qualls/The Anniston Star

“Halo 3,” one Internet spoof video contends, will cure cancer and end hunger, among other world improvements.

The game wraps up the trilogy of a sprawling science-fiction story starring the character Master Chief, a superhuman soldier. It also has a battle mode, where players can fight each other online.

Microsoft racked up $170 million worth of sales in the U.S. during the first 24 hours of the game’s release Tuesday. They called it “the biggest entertainment launch in history.”

But is the “Halo 3” living up to its own hype by meeting the expectations of retailers and area gamers?

For the most part, yes, they say.

More >>

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I have a Roxas t-shirt

I don't know a thing about "Halo 3" but I do have more Kingdom Hearts babble! :)

A friend of mine designed these really awesome Organization XIII-themed t-shirts and I finally got my hands on one. This one is a Roxas shirt!


The front


The back


Totally not nerdy in the least, nope! ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I want my "Halo 3"

I know, I know- it's the biggest video game launch of the year and where is my coverage? Well, as I've admitted in a previous column I just don't get into "Halo" as much as some people- like my brother, for example.

That doesn't mean we'll be slacking- I'm gathering the thoughts of a special few in the area who not only play "Halo" but give it the attention fans deserve. Their voices will be in this week's column. I'm now working on an article for Friday's business page on how local businesses did with the release.

So you'll get the "Halo 3" stories- but it might not be as in-your-face as all the hype we've seen leading up to it. Sorry, but I don't do hype.

Wii crap?

Electronic Gaming Monthly has an article in its November issue taking a hard look at how Nintendo's standards for the Wii and DS have gone downhill. I agree there are a lot of crappy games for the Wii, but I'm not sure why they're any worse than the ones I've seen on the PS3 or Xbox 360.

They argue its easier to get games greenlighted with Nintendo than it is with the PS3 or Xbox 360. While it may increase the amount of godawful titles out there, it might give unlikely games a chance to make it onto the shelves. Just playing both sides of the argument.

So its time for another poll: are Nintendo's standards getting too low? You can vote on the right side of the blog.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The long-awaited launch of Halo 3 is upon us but there's a problem

'Halo 3' packaging scratches disks

By Jessica Mintz
AP Technology Writer

SEATTLE — Within hours after die-hard fans finally got their hands on a copy of "Halo 3," blogs brimmed with reports that special limited-edition packaging is scratching the video game disks.

Microsoft Corp., which owns the studio that makes "Halo 3," responded quickly on its Xbox Web site with details for a replacement program. Customers can fill out a form and send in their scratched limited-edition disks for a free exchange through the end of December.

A Microsoft spokesman and a member of the company's outside PR firm did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails from The Associated Press requesting more information.

More >>

This week's column.

My column for this week will focus on what local fans thought of the much-anticipated "Halo 3." I'll also have a little blurb about my new favorite zombie-huntin' game, "Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Three new Kingdom Hearts titles

I keep getting wind of more and more Kingdom Hearts news. Exciting! Three new titles have been announced: Kingdom Hearts Coded, 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep. Coded is unfortunately a game that most Americans won't get a chance to play, as it is yet another cell phone game in the works. Cell phone games are increasingly popular in Japan and I don't see that trend catching on here anytime soon, so that makes me sad. :(

However, 358/2 Days is being released on the Nintendo DS and Birth By Sleep for the PSP. I have no doubts that those will make it over here since KH is insanely popular in the U.S. But I still have my fingers crossed.

Very excited for the things I've heard about 358/2 Days! You will be following Roxas's adventures this time and I'm still really confused on the exact time frames - something about the number of days Sora was asleep and then the number of days before Roxas's story starts - anyway, the Organization XIII will be involved as well! I'm hoping we get to see Roxas's point-of-view while working within the Organization and all that. Yay!

Here is the Birth By Sleep trailer - some people might recognize it from the end of the KH: Final Mix+ game, the one where everyone thought it was more KH3 for the PS3 teasers. (I'm still anxious to see what will come of a Kingdom Hearts + PlayStation 3 marriage ...)



Now I'm going to have to grow some money for a PSP. Curse you gadgets! @__@