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.