Wednesday, May 18, 2005

E3: Press Confrontastic!

One of these days, I'd love nothing more than to go to E3. I've pursued several rather crappy "Dream Jobs," for no other reason, than because working for these companies would afford me the opportunity to walk on the traderoom floor and rub elbows with people from some of the biggest companies in gaming. And some day, it is my hope that I'll actually get to do it. Until that time, however, I'll cover my thoughts on what has been revealed by somebody else!

X-Box 360:

What We Know:

-Has a Stupid Name
-Bill Gates LOVES holding pep rallys
-Limited Backwards Compatability (Microsoft won't say what is and isn't compatable)
-X-Box Live Marketplace Feature allows anybody who owns an X-Box to create and sell game content, chat with other users.
-Has some sort of compatability with the PSP
-Wi/Fi and wireless controllers
-Hi Def
-Available for $300 this November (but it will be sans any big franchise games, Halo 3 will be released during the PS3 rollout, as for Microsoft's other big franchises...uh...No telling when the next Blinx game will be out)

What We Still Don't Know:

-I've yet to see anything in screenshots or video that demonstrates to me that X-Box 360 (graphically or in terms of AI/Playability) is a necessary step up from the current generation console, except that SONY is releasing a new platform
-What does "top selling games" mean, in terms of backwards compatability support? Only Halo? Only games that are currently utilizing X-Box Live? That's too vague for my liking
-Microsoft's scheme seems to be to target casual gamers who never took to X-Box last time around, this includes a long speech at the press conference about how people who don't like video games could create and sell content (but WOULD they? And would they pay $300 to do it? And would somebody who actually DOES play games trust the content of somebody who never has? Enough to buy it?) or use it for video chat and that kind of crap. The MTV special was a perfect example of that. Here's a screen shot! Awesome! Now here's 20 minutes of Elijah Wood and the Killers! Seems like a lot of hype for a console that A) isn't exactly bowling people over, and B) isn't coming out for six months. Is Microsoft scared or overcompensating?
-Will it still flop in Japan (sources say: YES)

My Take: They've really got to deliver in a big BIG way come November. They've hardly even used the potential of the last console to be jumping so quickly into another generation. As a result, all the customizable faceplates in the world won't be able to hide the fact that this has all the look (right now) of a rushed, hackneyed attempt to beat the competition to the market. I'm afraid Microsoft may end up getting Dreamcasted with this system, if for no other reason than because there's nothing they've revealed so far that makes me say, "Wow, I've really got to get one of those." We'll see. Maybe they'll suprise me. They've got four months. Maybe they should hold more Pep Rallys.

Playstation 3

What We Know:

-Backwards compatable back through Playstation One (!)
-Blue Ray DVD Player
-Comes with a Boomerang
-Wi-Fi allows Seven controllers 0n one box
-Possibly a George Foreman Grill with computers in it
-"Cell" Processor Eats Souls for power.

What We Still Don't Know:

-Sony showed some FANTASTIC stuff in their demos, buuuuut, how much of that will they actually be able to do?
-How will the Boomerang Controllers feel?
-How much will all that technology cost by next year? Right now the graphic cards alone would be pushing $1,000
-A lot about the system itself, since nobody's actually seen one, you know, running
-What about the rumor that it would launch with a new Grand Theft Auto (thereby negating the Halo effect, one would think).
-The DVR rumor - True or False?

My Take: SONY came out swinging. The console is still at least a year away, and Killzone and Fight Night especially looked nothing short of amazing. EA would like very much for you to believe that not only was the Fight Night stuff in-game footage, but that it was running on an old model development kit which severely limited the rendering. If that's true, I give up. If it's not though, SONY is in trouble. The PSP isn't exactly setting the world on fire (not that it's doing bad, but it's not doing near so well as they'd hoped), but the "Playstation" brand is still considered by many to be IT, in terms of hardware. If they can deliver 75% of what they showed, they won't have any trouble keeping that.

Nintendo Revolution

What We Know:

-Smaller than anything else!
-Plays DVD (if you have an attachment)
-Downloadable content makes it backwards compatable to the NES (!!)
-Mario! Zelda! Metroid! Something NEW from Miamoto!
-Also more powerful than the 360
-Online with Wi/Fi
-Links via wireless communication with DS

What We STILL Don't Know:

-What the hell the controller looks like
-Why Link is turning into a werewolf
-Pretty much anything else about this console

My Take: Did I miss something, or did they base their whole press conference around Tina Wood and Nintendogs? Seriously, though, there's no reason Nintendogs won't hit huge here (like it's spiritual parents Tomagochi and Pokemon), but Nintendo basically said alot about nothing as it pertains to the Revolution. Hardware specs, the AWESOME news that it will support NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube emulation, and that's...about it. They're planning on a 2006 release, but they didn't have anything to say about anything. Not even a tech demo video of some nicely rendered, but impossible gameplay footage like SONY. Just...Nintendogs. And Zelda. That said, the system looks WAY cooler than the Cube, and Nintendo prides itself on cheap pricing for its consoles (because they make tons of cash on first party titles). I mean, they really didn't show ANYTHING here, so the only thing to criticise, of course, is the fact that they gave us nothing to criticise. Also, that Nintendo continually claims that they are going after older, more hardcore gamers, and then hits us up with a press conference about Nintendogs. Yes it will sell well, but call a spade a spade, guys.

And finally

GameBoy Advance: Micro

What We Know:

-ANOTHER Gameboy Advance
-Could probably be used as a keychain
-Plays all your favorite GBA games, but so small you can't see them!

What We STILL Don't Know:

-Does the world need ANOTHER Gameboy Advance?
-Where does one put all those buttons comforably on something that small?
-Can you read the screen? At all?
-How much longer will support continue for the GBA until they roll over to the next GameBoy (not the DS, the long-rumored GameCubeBoy)

My Take: I guess it's ok. If you're afraid the GBA will get you beat up at school, or need to hide it during meetings, it's sleek and tiny, and thus must be totally cool. It actually IS a neat idea, but this is the third incarnation of the GBA, and they've done nothing different but make them smaller. I know people will buy it, but it's crazy, because almost everybody already has one. My biggest question is about the screen. It's tiny, and I think it might be REALLY hard to see, which would make it nearly impossible to play any sort of text heavy game (like Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced) or any sort of "little map" game (like Advance Wars). I'm sure Mario looks killer, but will you be able to see anything else? Also, button placement might be a problem, but then again, I've got a little Tetris game from years ago that's no bigger than a watch, and the button placement is fine. But that's Tetris, you know? Only a couple little buttons. We'll have to wait and see, I guess.

That's it for now. Check back with you later.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Talk Everything But American Idol

I've kind of been mulling over what to write for a few days, but nothing's really struck a chord. I mean, what am I to say? So here is a collection of random thoughts to satiate you until next I write.

-What kind of world are we living in when Bruce Willis feels up Lindsay Lohan, and Katie Holmes breaks off her long engagement to Chris Klien to date Tom Cruise (who both HAPPEN to have movies coming out within the next few months, hmmm...)? I mean, good for them all if they're happy, I guess, but come on, guys. You should both be more mature than that. Especially Tom. Unless Katie Holmes has pledged to help him rid the world of the evil aliens and instal Tom as the King of Scientology. Then it's all good. I guess.

-I was about to complain about how I wish I had a girlfriend, and one that was younger than me, so that I could be cool too, but then I remembered that I'm 24, and that you get much younger than me, and it's even more creepy than the above couples.

-I saw Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy last week, and it was just about everything I hoped it'd be. Completely different from the books, but that's how it was supposed to be. That said, there was a lot removed that I loved when I read the books, and there was some stuff added that was unnecessary. The plot, for example, felt tacked on. But I won't spoil it for anybody. If you like Sci-fi or comedy, or British things, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

-Caveat Though: If you've read anything I've written, you'd probalby know that Adams was a huge influence on my writing, so I'm about as unabashed fanboy as one can get.

-Since I graduated from the UW (was that LAST YEAR?! Yikes), I've had trouble finding a good solid fulltime job, which really sucks. I don't particularily mind what I'm doing right now, but it's only part-time, and I wouldn't mind shedding it any time now. I recently applied for a production job in L.A. for G4TV (the video game channel, of which I watch several hours a week). I'd really love a chance to just interview for this job, feel like I'm moving forward. Send some positive energy my way, hopefully I'll have something to keep you posted on.

-I tried some new "Star Wars: Dark Chocolate" M&Ms. Not bad. The words that keep rolling around in my head are that they are "significantly the same" as regular M&Ms. I got Peanut, and I swear, they don't even taste all that much different. Maybe I'm losing my sense of taste or something? I'd try the regular, but the gas station was out. Maybe next week....

-One funny story that I do have from my job: Among my responsibilities is checking packages that are being sent on air shipments for possible hazards. One cannot package things like chemicals, explosives, freezable liquids, magnets, etc. on Fed Ex cargo planes. So I open a package the other day for inspection, and what do I find? A personal pleasure device. I swear, I sat there for about two minutes processing in my head how awkward the situation was. I can only imagine the reaction of the girl, when she gets her new toy and notices that some wanker has had at her box with a knife and then taped it shut again. I swear, we're going to get sued one of these days.

-After Star Wars and Batman, there really isn't anything coming out this Summer that I'm looking forward to seeing now. It makes me sad. There's some blockbuster movies coming out, but most of them are remakes and sequels, on which I'll have to wait until I start getting opinions from people I trust whether or not I should bother. I'd like to see Fantastic Four for example, but...eeeeh...I've got a feeling it won't be nearly as good as I think it would be.

-E3 is in a few weeks, and if there's any year I would have wanted to go, it would be this year. SONY and Microsoft debuting their respective new hardwares (360, by the way is a TERRIBLE name for a system), Nintendo may or may not, you never know with them. It's really too bad. I wish I could have gotten that G4 job weeks ago, so I could have gone for sure. Oh well. I guess I'll try to make it out there one of these years. WWE Judgement Day is that weekend too, and I've actually got tickets for that, so I guess it's not a total wash.

-Amazing Race is very, very good this season, but I need to watch the finale first to pass judgement on it as compared to others. Next week.

Have a good one, folks. Hocking out!