Microsoft's Latest 180 – Kinect

In the time since we last spoke (around 2010 if memory serves me correct), I started to get more into listening to podcasts, some of which include “The Adam and Dr. Drew Show”, the “NGN n00bcast” (from my friends formerly of N00bAlert) and one of my new gotos, the “Married to the Games Podcast”. I’m really digging the latter podcast because the crew over go by the moniker, “Kids, wives and 9 to 5s” which really speaks to where I’m coming from as 30yr father of 3. But if you wanna learn more about then, head over to their site in link provided.

So I think they’ve all but admitted that they’re all PS3 guys and in their last podcast they brought up the most recent 180 by Microsoft on Xbox One features, in particular that now you can disconnect the Kinect from the console and it will still function (which they previously said was all but an impossibility). So their question, not being Xbox 360 guys was essentially:

“Doesn’t this most recent announcement make the Xbox faithful really ticked off? That you’re essentially gonna have to pay $100 more for something you don’t want anyway and now clearly don’t need.”

And as one of those 360 faithful I thought I’d respond.

A Little Background on Me
For those of you who are new readers or have forgotten, I am one of the Xbox 360 faithful. I wasn’t a day one adopter of the system but I got it early enough. I’m also an achievement whore which had me killing myself over Ninja Gaiden 2. I’m also one of the (apparent) few who is in a Family Plan and someone who uses their Kinect and someone who watches Cable TV on my xboxes by way of the cablecard and Ceton device.

I also have a background in Computer Science, I’m a web developer, Flash developer, Android developer… I worked as a QA tester at Bethesda Softworks and I did a lot of work as a video game journo with n00balert covering conventions like E3, PAX and New York Comic Con. Now I’m not saying that should or shouldn’t lend itself to my credibility but hopefully it at least shows I can see stuff in the game world from a couple different perspectives instead of just a straight up “fan”.

The Short Of It
If you’re looking for a TL:DR here it is – From everything Microsoft has collectively said or done in regards to the Xbox One up to this point, you probably already have an opinion on the system and I don’t think this latest 180 changes things that much. If you were already mad with Microsoft you’re probably a bit madder and if you weren’t mad you’ll probably let this latest gaffe slide too.

The Long of It
Whether it be the DRM, the Kinect, Indie Self Publishing or anything else Microsoft has done a 180 on – They’re really eroding the trust with their consumer. As a lover of their last system the new one has been eroded so much that imo it’s not offering much of a different experience than that of the PS4. I’m pretty sure that a Kinectless XBox SKU will come out as that (and the DRM) always seemed like software “switches” than anything hardware related anyway (i.e., they could easily or with 10 minutes worth of work) switch that stuff off as they choose. And let me add too that I like the Kinect, the new one looks even better and my wife and kids are looking forward to it. I think it was the right move to put it with every system so developers could “safely” develop for it but man oh man does Microsoft need to grow some balls.

All of these reversals just tell me that I don’t need with my money on a PS4 OR Xbox on day one. I’ll be content to lay back and see how they both pan out, and also whether or not I can get a PS4 + PSP bundle or Xbox + Titanfall bundle sometime after launch. But yeah, outside of nice enough games coming for both systems, I still have a huge backlog to get through on my current Xbox 360!

Work is Good and Busy

I know you probably thought you’d never see me on here again (and sorry to disappoint) but here I am!

Apologies ONCE AGAIN for the lack of posts, but I’ve just been so busy with a million and one projects relating to my web design business. In fact, I had thought that at this point I would’ve been done with my HUGE client project but because of multiple ppl letting me down, that’s not the case. Thankfully my client is fine with it, but having such a big project hanging over your head is NOT a good feeling, believe me.

I even went to LA to attend their conference and try and get some more business (which turned out to be a success) but working so hard and not sleeping caught up to me and I wound up with a wicked sinus and ear infection. Happily, my wife nursed me back to health and even though I’m still a bit rundown, I do feel like I’m getting back into the normal swing of things here.

And since I saw a little light at the end of the tunnel (of this work madness), I went out and picked up Super Street Fighter IV yesterday. Now early impressions are positive but the 360 controller still sucks. I’m hoping that at $39.99 I won’t regret the purchase (like I did the original) so we’ll see. Yeah, I really haven’t played anything new lately (because I don’t want to get sucked into a game right now) but instead when I have a minute I just go back to old games that I’m trying to “finish” like Ace Combat 5 and such.

Ok – Time to get back to the grind!

Too Busy to be Bothered With Posting!

There are a number of posts in the queue that I’m really ready to crank out, but I’ve been far too busy to polish them up for your reading pleasure.

Currently, my time has really been split between a certain client site that I had hoped to have done in December, the fantastic goodness that is Borderlands and of course – My kids. It looks like the client site in question is nearing an end which I couldn’t be happier about. It really is a project that has dragged on beyond dragging on. Part of that has been my fault admittedly, but in fairness I know that I’m dealing with one of those clients where you have to gently nudge them at certain times. But I love’em so it’s all good. (#):) (All this time with the site not being done however is hosting money lost so it WOULD be in my best interest to wrap this one up before March).

Kids are doing well and I think I’ve been doing a better job of getting away from the keyboard during the day and giving them some quality dad time. Of course you always worry that it’s not enough but I’m doing what I can and I think it IS an improvement relative to what they were used to. I’ll say though that I think all of us are ready for this cruel Maryland winter to be over so we can go outside and play again. Going on walks and stuff is as good for me as it is for them no doubt.

And finally there is the GEM that is Borderlands. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy the game as much as I have but even on my second playthrough I can’t get enough of the game. I think it’s very possible too that I’ll be downloading all the DLC too! …Which on that note may mean that I won’t be posting again for a long time ha ha!

New Game Videos Galore!

You’d think it was E3 with the amount of new game videos that have come out in the last couple of days but actually, these apparently all came from Spike’s VGAs. Who knew?

What’s great is that we’re getting some pretty interesting trailers and gameplay footage that FINALLY has me excited about something again. Not crazy excited mind you, but excited enough to know that I’ll have something to look forward to when I take a break from achievement whoring. 🙂

Halo Reach
I’m not as big into Halo as a lot of people out there, but it is my game of choice at XBox LAN parties and if you remember I had (and am having) a really good time with Halo 3: ODST. So all of that probably factors into why I’m a bit excited for Halo Reach. And even though no one really knows too much about the game, you can draw all kinds of theories from the trailer with the kicka$$ “Army of Two” spartan.

Red Dead Redemption
The following picture links to a video for Red Dead Redemption, the followup to Rockstar’s Red Dead Revolver. Now while I was intrigued by the first game, it never really won me over. However this one looks to change that in a big way – The world looks huge, the animation and graphics look great, and the gameplay looks like A LOT of fun. As we get closer to the release date I really hope the reviews turn out good for this one. GTA in a Western setting was always an awesome idea and if they can actually work it out this time, they’ll have a bonified hit on their hands.

12 of 12 – December 2009

This 12 of 12 was full of craziness this year and for me it started in the middle of a LAN party at my friend’s house! Now this LAN party was radically different than all the ones preceding it because it had, get this – Bonified females there! Now while things definetely LOOKED better this year, it was probably the worst LAN party for games we’ve ever had. ha ha. Thankfully they tried to make up for that by just getting extremely drunk off the copious amounts of wine there.

The one in the pink somehow got herself into just about every picture I took. And let me tell you, she’s all kinds of awesome because she has a very sweet voice to say the dirtiest things you’ve ever heard.

You see that guy on the right? He basically ruined the 12 person Halo games that were going on by deciding to jump off and play Madden. BLEH.

Now this is probably the one girl at the LAN party who “tried” by actually going and getting a video game shirt! How awesome is she?

Later as the real LAN games were dying down, somebody put on the Saw game for 360… Don’t know if that game is worth the price of admission since the mechanics looked like they were terrible. Worse yet, despite being so bad it still managed to keep me there ’till about 3 o’clock in the morning. Goodness I was tired the next day.

And the next day, not only did I get a phone call at 9AM from my wife, but all I heard was banging, hammering and sawing next door. *GROAN* I still don’t know what they were doing next door, but this was their front yard.

So I left all my stuff at the LAN party the night before and after I retrieved it all, I went to this place which was on the way. Much to my sadness, I found out BJ Pumpernickel’s is closing next month!

Why is this place so cool? It MIGHT have something to do with their 5 layer cakes!!!

So if I didn’t say it before, the wife and kids were away the whole day so after I had that heart attack from the picture before, I decided to continue remodeling my downstairs bathroom which I hate. I’m going for a black/grey bathroom so here I’m comparing samples after I went to Home Depot and they decided to not give me any service. Jerks.

Because Home Depot didn’t want to help me, I went to Lowe’s instead and was in and out in 5 minutes. They might become my new home improvement hotspot.

After all that nonsense (if I hadn’t already had a full enough day) I told my friend Frenchie I’d visit her in Winchester, VA which is about 2 hours away from where I live. Remember that I had gotten home this morning at 4am or something so it took a LOT of effort to get down there. But it was cool since I hadn’t visited her down there since she moved. Here I’m checking out her place which includes an Edward Cullen doll. (She’s actually a very cool girl despite this).

More pics of her place.

And finally my day was over at I said goodbye to Frenchie and her cat Zoie. I left that night to come home and somehow managed to get back just a little past 2am. GOOD NIGHT!

Trophies > Achievements?! Say it Ain't So!

You guys know that like a lot of you out there, I could be considered to be an achievement whore depending on what circles you tread in. Now I’ve never played or thought about getting King Kong to get that easy 1000, but I do admit to playing some games to death just to get every last achievement out of them.

The worse part is, when you think about it – Achievements are pretty meaningless except as a stat to compare against your friends. And unless they care about them like you do, you look like a big dork. (I mean I am anyway, but this is just being flamboyant about it ha ha). But despite them being meaningless, I do derive a lot of satisfaction from having more achievements per game than my friends. I don’t know why but I think it comes from me being so competitive. I thought that my wife had all but killed that side of me, but achievements prove it’s still there.

So anyway, I read some interesting articles yesterday on the subject of Achievements and Trophies over at IGN. I would read this one first, The PS3 Perspective: Achievements and Trophies Rock and then this one, Editorial Response: Achievements and Trophies Suck.

PS3 Has the Edge
Besides both articles being really good, I gotta profess that I think I like PS3’s Trophy system a little bit better. Basically, it gives additional importance rank to some trophies over others which is so cool! This all goes into PS3’s leveling system… So on there you apparently don’t compare points to points, but it’s more like with X amount of trophies you’ll get promoted to the next level – Like an RPG. But again, gold trophies count more than silver trophies and so on. I really like that because lord knows I fell WAY behind my friends on the Gamerscore race because I spent FOREVER getting all but one achievement in Ninja Gaiden II (which is a very very difficult game). However, unless you really researched my Gamerscore and knew about Ninja Gaiden, you would never know it.

So anyway, check out those articles and tell me what you think!

Halo 3: ODST Review – No Master Chief, No Halo 3 Flood, No Problemo!

A couple of weeks ago, Worst Buy was running a buy 2 get 1 free promotion on video games. And even though these days I have nothing but clients who don’t want to pay me, this was a deal I couldn’t pass up. After much deliberation I ended up getting Halo 3: ODST, Borderlands and some other game that I can’t remember at the moment that was also $59.99… Oh yeah! – Tekken 6.

So after finishing up Tekken 6’s achievements, and finishing up Prince of Persia‘s achievements, I thought it’d start a nice “change of pace” game in the form of Halo 3: ODST. You know, a palette cleanser as it were before I jumped into the fray with the likes of Assassin’s Creed (which I still haven’t opened) and Master Ninja on Ninja Gaiden II (which I’m dreading like the plague).

I Know I’m a Bit Behind
So if you know anything about me, you know that I have a pension for starting games that everyone else finished a long time ago. I think “what had happened” was that I was playing Ninja Gaiden II forever since it has achievements that make you beat the game only using one of its seven weapons one at a time. Obviously, that kind of put me back a bit in keeping up with the new stuff. Sometimes though it turns out to be a good thing because when it’s time for for me to buy “new games”, I end up getting them for $39.99 or more often, $19.99… Which is all to say that I know ODST came out a while ago and once again I’m late to the party.

Halo 3: ODST Story
Before I started ODST, I really didn’t have an idea of what I was in for so much as the story went. I pretty much gathered that it wasn’t a “new” addition to the Halo stuff in that it took place on Earth during the invasion by the Covenant and now after playing through the game, I can tell you that’s exactly what’s going on…

You basically control different members of an elite squad of soldiers known as ODST or Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Outside of the intro, I don’t think the the fact that you’re ODST ever means anything in the game but it’s kinda cool nonetheless. Kind of like you’re a member of the SEALs or something. Anyhoo, during the course of the game your squad gets separated and you have to fight to get reunited all the while seeing the action in one particular city from very different points of view.

Halo 3 ODST Gameplay and Presentation
This is Halo. It feels like Halo and it plays like Halo. If you’ve played Halo 1-3, you know what’s up. Fortunately, the game designers has the opportunity to do some different things with game presentation (since there’s no Master Chief) and in my opinion they really did a good (and in some places) a great job with it. Like I said before, the game is told through the experiences of essentially 4 different soldiers. And when one story ends another picks up… Kinda. For instance, at the end of a level that you play through as “The Rookie”, you’ll pick up say a bent sniper rifle at the end of the level and then the next level will have you play through as another solider that ends up bending up that rifle you previously found whereupon you resume the game as “The Rookie”. I dunno, at the beginning of all these back and forths, it was a bit confusing… But then it started to be pretty cool.

Das Musak
Oh, and one think you have to give props to the Bungie people on was all of “The Rookie” levels. Most of them have him going through the city at night, and when he’s doing so there’s hardly (if ever) any music playing. Instead you get really awesome environment sounds such as police sirens, phones ringing, metal dragging on dumpsters and rain in the distance. As you’re reading this I’m sure you’re wondering what the big deal is but let me assure you that when they’re the only things you hear and for a few stretches you don’t even see any enemies, it’s just a real treat (especially if you have a halfway decent surround sound system). They really play like nothing else you’ve previously seen as far as the Halo games go, and walking around at night, only hearing these things and then stumbling into constant Covenant patrols… You just really get the feeling like you have no help… The Covenant are taking over and that you’re basically screwed. Very very cool.

Firefight – Yeah, it’s Horde Mode
So Halo 3 ODST does provide a new mode in the guise of Firefight which (for all intensive purposes) is Halo’s Horde Mode from Gears of War 2. You fight wave after wave of Covenant on various maps, either alone or with up to 4 people co-op. And let me tell you, It’s JUST LIKE Horde Mode except that I find Horde Mode much more fulfilling for basically two reasons. Numero Uno: I don’t know that there’s an end in Halo 3’s Firefight. In Gears it’s Level 50 right? You’ll find that without some “end” to shoot for, you might find yourself around the 45 minute mark wondering why you’re still playing. And for Numero Dos: You cannot save your progress in Firefight. Can you imagine trying to play Horde mode from level 1 to 50 without the ability to start at a level you’ve previously cleared? This point is driven home when you go for the 200,000pts in Firefight achievements that will probably have you playing for 60-90 minutes easy. It sucks.

And on the Subject of Achievements…
Outside of the Firefight achievements, I really like the ones in this game. They’re not all tied to multiplayer and not all tied to Live and most importantly, they’re achievements that you can get with a little work and patience. Again, the only gripe I have on the Achievement side of the ball is directed towards the Firefight ones… Instead of making you score 200,000 pts in Firefight, I would’ve loved to see those at 100,000 esp with the Achievements only worth 5 pts each. And because it’s often you vs TONS of Covenant in open spaces, I would’ve loved some achievements for Killtaculars and Killtrocities or something since you can definitely get them with a little work… Or getting so many points in the bonus rounds.. I just feel like they could’ve come up with some better ones if took 5 minutes to think about it.

Overall Conclusion (No Halo 3 Flood = WIN)
I have to say, I bought this game basically because there was nothing else I wanted at the time and didn’t want to waste a good deal but I’m actually really happy with the game! Before playing it, I really thought of it as nothing more than an overpriced expansion to the main game and even though it doesn’t add anything new as far as weapons or gameplay – It DOES tell a new story in the Halo universe that plays and feels differently than anything else preceding it.

Furthermore, I don’t think that there have been any other characters in the Halo universe that have as much personality as the ones in this game – Def not Master Chief and prob not even that black guy that orders him around all the time (Sgt Johnson I think?). Maybe it’s because you get to see these guys faces a lot more or maybe it’s because they’re just so much more human than Master Chief. Whatever the reason, I’m really sure. BUT I just feel like this game has more heart than anything else in Halo – Which admittedly might not be saying much, but proves to be enough to carve out a nice little place for ODST amongst the other Halo games.

Prince of Persia Epilogue DLC Sucks

If you don’t know, I’m a big fan of the new Prince of Persia. And when I say that I’m talking about the Prince of Persia, Sands of Time trilogy for XBox (even though the first was the best in the series) and then the new addition to the franchise, Prince of Persia for the 360.

Sometime in the last week or two, I finally went back to the game (I had beaten it once already) and cleared it out again since I missed a few achievements on the way up – Most notably the ones for beating it under a certain amount of time and having Elika save you under 100 times. Have to say, the same was surprisingly enjoyable the second time through especially since I didn’t have to worry about getting every light seed which really drew out the hours the first time through.

And after I beat the game again and got the 1000 out of 1000 on achievements, I remembered the DLC for the game, “Epilogue” which is supposed to really setup the next game and provide a better ending for the first. Well if you couldn’t tell from the title, I thought the DLC sucked! If I had gotten it for 400 pts I think I would’ve been fine with it.. But for 800 pts?!

Don’t do it kids. Don’t do it.

I Feel Cheated
I’d like to think that when it comes to games that I’m pretty in touch with what’s hot in the streets (even though I don’t own a copy of Modern Warfare 2). Point being, I could’ve swore that the Prince of Persia Epilogue DLC was heralded as a great experience with new gameplay including an additional new power for Elika. Well let me tell you that those claims are BIG stretches! In fact, I can’t even break that stuff down into separate paragraphs for the most part because the additions to epilogue were so minimal and passable it barely warrants mention much less a full explanation. So let me tell you what they added…

These freakin’ things are everywhere. And by everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE. IT SUCKS!

In combat, the prince can now dash towards opponents by tapping the A button and then in the ensuing clash, if you push the right button that pops up, your opponent is dazed for a second. Amazing isn’t it!? (Oh and on an aside, the bosses you face are the same ones from the main game and they take less imagination to beat than the first time around [if that’s possible]). Also, it seems that the developers made a decision to make traversing the Epilogue as frustrating as they could, replacing intelligently planned out puzzles for corruption and darkness everywhere and at least one giant puzzle that you solve by mostly dumb luck.

A New Power is a New Lie
Continuing on, Elika has a new power plate that when activated has walls appear out of nowhere so that you can continue dashing and jumping and so on and so on. Even though I love Prince of Persia, I got the distinct impression while playing the game that the developers thought we were idiots. Here’s why – They say Elika has 4 powers right? Wrong! I’m calling shenanigans! The green one that has you running up walls, fine. The yellow one that has you flying, I’m good with that. But let’s be serious, the blue one and green one just jump you to another platform. To say it another way…

They’re exactly the same powers w/ slightly different animations!

And now they’ve done it again with this “new power”! You know what this new power is like?.. You know when you beat a boss in the game and have to escape from their land and you’re on some huge slide when the ground before you “just happens to break” so you have to Elika-jump over it? It’s the freaking same thing as the “new power”! – You hop into this power plate, you start wall running and in the middle of the run SOMETHING HAPPENS requiring you to jump. BLEH.

The Ending – To this Review and to the Epilogue

Marvel vs Capcom 2 Announced via

Not too long ago, the video game blogosphere was abuzz on account of, a website that popped up on the Capcom Unity blog. The site featured a countdown to something and soon everyone was speculating that it was a countdown to the release of Marvel vs Capcom 2 for the next gen systems. Well it turns out that the rumors were true and Capcom has officially announced the release of Marvel vs Capcom 2 for PSN and XBL with a demo to be released on the PS3 sometime around April 30th.

Obviously the release of this game continues Capcom’s continuing plan of adding as little as possible to old games and then releasing them anew as if they reinvented the wheel. Excuse my sarcasm but we all knew that this was going to happen right? And now that it has… *shrugs* Look – Widescreen mode, online play, all characters unlocked from jump… Who cares?

I mean, I’m as big a fan as you’ll find for the game but what about something new Capcom? New moves? New functionality? New CHARACTERS? A tease for Marvel vs Capcom 3? How about anything? I guess that’d be too much to ask. Well don’t think that I’m saying I won’t get it, but I certainly won’t be in a rush… Especially when I think about how much of a dream Street Fighter IV was with the 360 controller. *rolling eyes*

WCW vs NWO Revenge Trailer

Not too long ago I thought to check out YouTube for the trailer to WCW vs NWO Revnege for the Nintendo 64. I used to have so much fun playing this game back in the day. Why isn’t there something like this on XBL!? These games used to be so fun and I don’t think anyone would say that newer wrestling games could touch it. I think in the strides towards realism, we’ve lost a lot of that speed and freedom in control that we used to have. Not that I’ve played a wrestling game for more than 5 minutes in the last 8 years ha ha. If you wanna check out the awesome/badness of the trailer, la voila.