Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm on a Podcast, MotherF***er

A few days ago I had the pleasure of recording another podcast with Jarvis. He puts me on the spot a lot but I think I handle it alright. In this show you'll hear our thoughts on E3 and all of its news.

Listen and, hopefully, enjoy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I want this. Period.

I have the DS version and I played it to completion (collecting every coin and unlocking every whatsit). It was a fantastic little game that brought back a sense of nostalgia that one does not often get to experience in video games these days, and people still buy it as the staple game when they first pick up a new DS. The versus mode on the DS was also great allowing you to fight for coins against Luigi (which I was notoriously good at).

The Wii version looks to be the same game, mostly. It has the same music, the same look and feel, and most of all it is just as cute. Of course, it will look to add some new abilities for Mario, namely, the, as I will dub it here, the penguin freezing suit. It looks like it will have that same coin-dueling multiplayer and overall it looks to be a pleasurable romp. It is possible that it will be that staple game for picking up with a Wii - at least it will be for me - provided the game is longer than the DS version or priced accordingly if it is not.

I do not get excited for many Wii games, as I still do not own one, but I am excited for this. Just one more reason to own a Wii.

A Life Well Wasted

Now, I'm not sure how many of our readers are fans of podcasts, but I have been a huge fan for the past year or so since I initially discovered them on iTunes (I know, I'm a little late on the game on that one). They're especially glorious for me considering I have a 30 minute drive to and from work each week day and after a while music gets a little boring. They also make the time go a bit faster during the work day.

I'm always looking out for new podcasts. Most of my podcasts are either politics related or video game related...well, video game and other nerdery related. This morning I was searching iTunes for the IGN podcast our friend Matt was one. During my search I saw a few other promising podcasts so I subscribed to a few of them. One of them was A Life Well Wasted. I don't think I read much of the description, but I subscribed and listened to it on the way to work this morning.

I have to say, this is quite possibly one of the best and most innovated video game podcasts I have ever listened to. If you listen to any video game podcasts you know that most of them are just about what games are coming up, what the podcasters are playing, what they like or don't like, etc. It's sort of just a discussion of the timeline of games coming up in the future. This is fine and dandy with me and I definitely enjoy it, but most video game podcasts are all the same and the only true difference is the characters. Essentially, all it comes down to when choosing is "who do you like more?" "A Life Well Wasted" is completely different. It's essentially a "This American Life" of the video gaming world. Robert Ashley chooses a topic for the podcast and compiles interviews with different individuals and their opinions. So far I have only listened to one episode, but I'm hooked. It's definitely refreshing in a video game podcasting world where everything is essentially the same. Crazy props to Robert Ashley for coming up with such an amazing idea.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

E309: Joystiq's MASS EFFECT 2 Impressions

Before I say anything else I just wanted to say that I was just playing Mass Effect and I just wanted to say that I hope they fix the planetary exploration, what with surveying deposits and picking up Salarian ID tags, things can get a little tedious.

I just finished reading these Mass Effect 2 impressions that the Joystiq staff were so nice to put up for me the internet and all of its users.

Who are we kidding it took a lot of will power to not just go, "Mass Effect post here, Mass Effect post there, Mass Effect tweet said this, this guy from Bioware said that about Mass Effect," I mean come on give credit where credit is due.

So I am going to hit on the highlights of the Joystiq impressions:
  • Combat looks and feels more fluid while still keeping the feel of an RPG. Cover works better and Bioware is adding location damage, new weapons, and more importantly a heavy weapons system that can end a battle in seconds. All of these new improvements sound/look great. Fluid controls to me mean I am going to feel like a more badass Spectre.
  • There is a quick button press interrupt option in conversations that allow the player to take these conversations in a different direction provided that one's finger is quick enough. Translation: I can punch someone in the face if they are not giving me the information I want fast enough or how I want it.
  • You can play past the credits with downloadable missions and the like provided of course that you... survive? You are dead, you aren't dead, you can die, you can save yourself, all of this sounds quite dark and brooding. Does it make anyone else itch with anticipation?
  • Casey Hudson (project lead) is touting a new planetary scouting mode but that is all he is saying. See above for why this excites me.
So the new features for ME2 are looking to fulfill on fixing a lot of the gripes some folks had with the original. Sounds like a sequel to Mass Effect and the only question I have left is, "Can early 2010 come soon enough?"

E309: Instant On 1080p HD, Ratings Service, Games on Demand, Netflix improvements, Party Sharing

I think I am coming into the home stretch of Xbox news so I am going to jam all of these last little tidbits into this one post. These are all welcome additions to the service.

First up we have Instant on 1080p HD video from the soon to be renamed Video Marketplace (being renamed Zune Video). This will make watching a movie with Cindy (my wife) easier as we do not have to download it first to watch it. I doubt this will make me use the Video Zune Marketplace any more than I do (which is rarely) but it is a welcome feature.

Another very welcome feature is the ability to rate content. It is simple really but now we have a basic review system built into our console experience. I wish there was more to explain or to say about this feature, because that is how excited I am for it, but they, being Microsoft, just slipped it in there, right under the radar.

I can see the future. We will buying the limited collectors edition of Halo 5 on our Xbox 720 direct to the drive and then Microsoft will be mailing us our Recon cat helmet. I say this because Microsoft has announced a games on demand service. Naturally that means we will be able to download our games instead of going to pick them up at the store but does that also mean that there is going to be a rental option for these games? It seems likely and it also seems like it could take some of the wind out of Gamefly and OnLive's socks. Wind out of socks, that's big.

Speaking on rental services, Netflix, for the 360, will be upgraded slightly by adding the ability to add movies to the instant queue through the console experience. Nice.

And finally, they announced a feature that they (Microsoft) told us was coming last year, Party Sharing. Now we will be able to share watching Netflix movies along with Video Zune Marketplace content with up to seven other people in cool sim theater-like experience.

Can anyone think of anything else the Xbox experience needs because I think they have their bases covered in terms of an experience that makes you never want to leave your couch.

E309: Project Natal thoughts

So the Xbox team announced their answer to the Wii - probably too late to matter - three years after it (the Wii) launched. The question for me is will it matter to me and other "hardcore gamers"?

I think it is possible for it to matter to me. It could make racing games fun (I am not willing to invest in a wheel). Maybe, like I said in an earlier post, it will be compatible with Joyride (though I still doubt that it would be as interesting as people find/will find Forza 3). Natal working with Joyride would be the natural progression of where my mind takes me.

It would make menu browsing fun but that would last for five minutes or so before it got annoying. It would be interesting to see it work with an FPS but somehow I do not think I will be playing Halo 3: ODST with Project Natal anytime soon. It is not really a question of whether it would work (because if it works as well as they are making it look like then it could do most things) but whether it would be fun. I do not think many people are going to want to labor/work out in order to play a multiplayer match of H3 or GOW2. I think that, in the end, it looks like a good piece of technology but I probably will not be able to justify the 100 or so dollars that it will probably cost.

Now about Milo, I do not find the boy creepy, like most do, but I am finding it difficult to fathom how "he" would not become boring to "hang out" with or how he would actually function like a game that I want to play.

Now the piece of technology itself, Project Natal (the camera), looks awesome and I would just want to have it in front of my television so people could tell me how awesome it looks. It would be fun to have people who do not play Xbox to ask what it was and then be able to show them. But that is just it, right now, it just feels like a novelty.

The Verdict: Unless I see something that completely sways me in the opposite direction it is probably not made for me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E309: Social Networking Coming to Xbox Live

This fall we are going to have, Facebook Connect, and Twitter on our Xbox's. What else is there to say other than Raptr is not going to matter anymore for Xbox users.

It all looks very exciting and it also looks like we are never going to leave our TV screen ever again.

This is scary and awesome, it is scary awesome.

I need to get away from the computer now so I will post about Project Natal later today. Oh and I will just say it here, I do not care about MGS.

E309: Alan Wake Trailer thoughts

I was never worried that this game would turn into vaporware because while I was interested in the game it was only mildy so.

Yesterday that interest was piqued a little bit when the new trailer was shown.

It is quite pretty is it not? I think that it looks to be sufficiently creepy and it really looks like it will play out like a movie. I really have nothing else to say other than, "I am interested to see where this game will take us."

What do you think?

E309: Halo 3: ODST gameplay video and Halo: Reach teaser thoughts

I have been mildly excited for H3: ODST for a while now. I have not been able to fully decide how I feel about it considering I am only buying it for the campaign experience (and now Firefight). I always play new multiplayer maps when they come out but that is none of the reason that I have become excited for ODST.

Having seen the gameplay trailer I feel differently about the game now. I can see what is being done different and I like it. I like how everything looks different through an ODST's eyes and I think the slower paced gameplay is going to be a welcome addition to the series and to my trigger finger.

The Firefight mode looks good but I do hope that it ends up being more than just a glorified version of Horde. It could just be more fun and I think I would be okay with it.

Next on the docket is Halo: Reach and seeing as we only got a teaser trailer I am curious as to what type of game it is going to be. Will it be the same standard FPS view or are we going to see what else Bungie can handle? Is it going to take place on the ships above Reach or is it going to take place on the planets surface? Am I going to be Master Chief and watch my fellow Spartans die? I am curious as to what this beta that comes with ODST will be (will it be multiplayer or campaign) but it is just another reason for me to pick up ODST. This is a long shot but maybe it is a Halo MMO although I do not know exactly how the mechanics of that would work. And with that I will leave you to your devices. FPS MMO, just saying... okay I'm done.

E309: Left 4 Dead 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction

Gaming companies have no regard for the butterflies that will be left in my wallet.
I imagine that all L4D fans are split down the middle on this announcement of Left 4 Dead 2. I imagine that one half is cheering at the prospect of killing more zombies, especially with the chainsaw, and the other half are grabbing their torches and pitchforks chainsaws and shotguns because they feel like there was no DLC for the original and this "sequel" is only coming out a year later.

I know that I am excited, as the original L4D was my game of the year last year, but I also feel that the only things that make this a "sequel" are the fact that it has a new cast and some new weapons/special infected types. The question is, "Will it be enough to justify another sixty dollars," and I think the majority of people will say yes to that question. I know I will because I know how much enjoyment I got/will still get from the first one.

You can also call me racist if you like but I think the fat black guy is going to be the comedic relief even if it is not intentional.

The next game I am excited for that was previously bathing in skeptical sauce is Splinter Cell Conviction or SCC. This game looks great and I think I know I will be playing it. It might not be first on my list of games to play but I am sure it is to be number one on Jarvis' list.

Opinions on these games? As per the usual, please leave it in the comments.

E309: Joyride and Crackdown 2 announcement trailer thoughts

So all of my hopes and dreams of a first party baseball game from Microsoft were dashed yesterday when the Big Park Studios game that was announced was Joyride, a free to download and play avatar game. Woot! Le Sigh.

The game supports microtransactions in that you will be able to purchase new cars and new ways to customize your cars. The game looks like it will be fun for just a few seconds for me that is unless it is supported by Project Natal - because then it will be like Mario Kart Wii - but more on that later, I am getting ahead of myself.

Here is some exciting news about a game that was all but announced before the Microsoft press briefing: Crackdown 2! It is coming and it looks astoundingly awesome. I'll be playing the original again before this drops and maybe this time I can locate all 500 agility orbs.

The game, as suspected, is being developed by Ruffian Games, another developer other than Realtime Worlds. The reason I have no problem with this is because some of the devs from Ruffian previously worked for Realtime Worlds on the original Crackdown. Excited? You bet I am.

E309: The Beatles: Rock Band and Shadow Complex Thoughts

I wanted to start off the night (it is currently 1:34am EST) by saying I am going to post my thoughts on all things announced at all of the  E3 press conferences of June 1, 2009 provided, of course, that I found them interesting to begin with. Forgive me if I have fallen asleep before finishing. I fell asleep before I even finished this post, I need to work on my midnight blogging skills.

I am interested, as we all know, in The Beatles: Rock Band but having a trailer for a rhythm game, despite the fact that it involves The Beatles, still does not do much for me. I appreciate the artistic integrity of what they are trying to do but I really just want to get my hands on it and play Beatles songs.

What is interesting is the fact that the game will support three part harmonies which is an amazing feature. Interesting question: How is it going to be fair to score the accuracy of back-up vocals when there is not always a lot there to be sung by the back-up vocalists?

And then there is Shadow Complex, Epic Games' first XBLA title, and all I want to know is what it is. I am sure I would be excited to play it but all they did was compare it to Metroid. That is fine and all but I am still at a loss. It is possible that they did/will show it in action and I just missed it because I did not actually have the pleasure of watching the press conference. I want to be excited for Shadow Complex and I am sure Epic will give me that chance sooner rather than later.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Will Be At Work During the Microsoft Press Breifing

Seeing as I will be at work during the Microsoft Press Breifing today expect a Megaton post with all my thoughts from the breifing late tonight around 12.30am.

Monday MUpdate: E3 Bound

Well, the big event is here. Video gamers all across the land huddle around their monitors, refreshing and refreshing their favorites to see more and more news come in from the conference; each site wanting to be the first to break whatever news is unveiled. And in the center of it all stands one man. One man unafraid of the lines. One man unafraid of the crowds. One man who has no credentials but is there anyway, kicking ass and taking names/notes. Who is our lone warrior, our traveler of the unknown? Me. Duh.

So while today I sit in my office anxiously twiddling my thumbs, tomorrow I will find myself on a plane flying non-stop to Los Angeles, California, in order to attend E3. I feel like part of me should say that I'm the official representative of Best GamePad Ever, and while the reality may be that I'll be wearing FOX Media badges all day, I'll still try and slip that in there into casual conversation. While originally Nate was going to attend with me, due to unforeseen circumstances this is no longer the case. This means that I will have to do the work of two men instead of one. So on that note, I would like to inform you, the gentle reader, of how I plan to keep this website updated: I have sold out and created for myself a Twitter account. I felt that this was the best way to get my word out there. I created the account last week and have been trying to get into the habit of using it, updating after I see a movie or when I see something funny out and about. While for some reason my TwitPic account decides to update Twitter on it's own, off and on as opposed to just on, and my profile won't update to say that I'm actually not following Penn Jilette (as amazing as he is), it's there and you can follow it here. I suppose I should apologize to my friends who follow my Twitter because they love me and not my E3 experience (they will be bombarded with random tweets of "just played mass effect 2 - super sweet," "just played brutal legend - super sweet," and "just played another game - super sweet," although I can only I hope I remember to capitalize). I, of course, will not be able to read any reply tweets or tweets reading "@mattisnotarobot One more tweet about video games and I'm de-following you," so this is my official warning to anyone uninterested. I won't be offended.

So some of you might be asking, what exactly is my schedule? What will I be doing at E3? What makes this trip unlike all other trips? And how many aisles must a game reviewer walk down before you can call him a game reviewer? Well, while the answer to that last question may be blowing in the wind, I can enlighten the rest of the world with my adventure outline. It'll basically be like any tweet or blog you could read about me, but you're reading it before it happens and thusly can infer all the things that could go wrong or right from that point, kind of like a make your own adventure story, except in this you could kill me out of jealousy and I would be powerless to stop you.

Tuesday - Matt goes to LA: On Tuesday, I have an 8:00 AM flight, so I'll be up at 4:00 AM in order to make sure I can wake up, get up, and get out of the house by 5:00 AM so I can be at the airport around 6:00 AM. From there I can only hope that all the information I just printed out of my work printer will somehow get me my ticket and passed security. I have a non-stop flight to LA due to arrive at 11:40 AM, at which point I will be luxuriously transported to my swanky Sheraton Hotel to check in. From that point I have the whole day to do whatever I want in LA which is why I took such an early flight. I can't imagine the next time I'll be in California, so if I'm going to stalk Arnold, now's my chance.

Wednesday - Matt goes to E3: At 9:30 AM I will be at the convention center, getting my badges and passes with my travel companion so that by 10:00 AM I can be out on the show floor. At some point, I have to play Halo: ODST, and by "have to" I don't mean that I want to as a gamer but that I am contractually obligated by IGN and FOX Media to play this game. I then will be writing a review/preview around 1:00 PM (after lunch basically) to be posted on at their E3 subsite ( When I finish doing that, I get to go back to the show floor to play games and do whatever until 5:00 PM. I will do my best not to spend my entire time at the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 booth and to be a good "reporter," but most likely the child in me will take over and my Halo: ODST review will not read "The graphical accomplishments in this five minute preview by the Bungie crew is really rather outstanding, improving upon the previous Halo graphics engine to create a much sharper and fresh gaming experience," but instead will read "OMG IT LOOKS WICKED SWEET." At 5:00 PM, my travel companion and I will be escorted to the IGN War Room to be on the IGN podcast, GameScoop. After that I am treated to VIP passes at an IGN Party at a much nicer hotel then the one I was put up in, and then I am left to my own devices from there. Also, at some point a website called Crispy Gamer would like to interview me, for reasons unknown. I will do my best to comply however, mostly due to the fact that I am vain.

Thursday - Matt goes home: Lastly, on Thursday I will be in LA until 3:30 PM-ish, at which point I will fly into the future to arrive back in my home town at midnight. On the plane, I need to write a one page article recap of E3 in which I tell about all the lessons in life I've learned, as well as providing an easy to understand anecdote as to moral of the day. Because you see, I've learned something today...

So there you have it. This is what my week will entail as I miss work and don't get paid due to a complete lack of any vacation hours. I'm rather excited to do this, and I've got my copy of The Flash: Emergency Stop and Nintendo DS all ready to go for a 6 hour flight. I can only hope that this trip is as entertaining as it promises to be, and I hope to be a good provider of information upon next week's Monday MUpdate on the true world behind the veil of E3. I'll get right down to the gritty stuff and talk about how many dead booth babes I come across in gutters, as well as a full list of all the secret codes people use to transport black market copies of games under the table. I also wish that I could get my own little Sack Boy, but I understand that unlike all my other wants, that one is probably just wishful thinking.

If there's anything you'd like me to do/find/prove at E3, feel free to let me know in the comments. I'm more than happy to oblige. And again, feel free to follow my escapades at for any quirky commentary I may have.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Breaking the Fourth Wall

Although this is not news I wanted to share this with all of you.

Today, while at work, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting both Andrew Yoon and Ludwig Kietzmann of Joystiq fame.

I feel like I froze up but managed to give Andrew the link to this blog so if you guys are reading this, "Hi guys, it was a pleasure meeting you."

I hope it was not just coincidence and that I have the pleasure of working with, or in the field of, these fine gentleman in the future.