5:18 PM 1 comments

Forza 3 Demo vs. Grand Turismo 5 Prologue

 

200908032139 The long awaited Forza 3 Demo had finally made its way to the XBL Marketplace 2 weeks ago and so far it really impresses. The Forza franchise is the number one racer when it comes to user created content and online play. Forza 3 looks to push the envelope even further this time around with a more stream lined marketplace for buying and selling user created vehicles that either have custom paints , tuned engines or even both !

The competition against Forza is slim right now. Games Like DiRT  2 and NFS Shift  offer fast and furious racing action but they do it in a more arcady sim fashion. The only other sim racer looking to go head to head with Forza is GT 5 and for now all we know is that wont be releasing till sometime in March in Japan and the U.S. shortly after.

But while we still have to wait to play both games, we do have playable version of both games in a demo form of sorts. GT5 Prologue has been out for some time now and is basically a very small portion of the game wrapped up in a $30 package. And of course like I mentioned XBL just received the Forza 3 demo not to long ago. Id like to do a little comparison of the two “demos” based on graphics, gameplay and presentation.

For starters Forza 3 is a beautiful game. The 60 fps, the lighting and the over all overhaul in graphics just makes this game some serious eye candy. GT5 Pro is just as pretty of a game and even edges Forza out a bit in this area. While both games have a great frame rate and lovely environments to race in GT5 has the better lighting effects and I think the in car cam is a bit better in GT5. Its still great in Forza but again its just edged out a bit that's all. The same could be said for the car models as well. Over all they are both breath taking to look at and worthy of showing off each consoles capabilities.

__Gran_Turismo_5_Prologue

I think when it comes to gameplay both games excel in the sim department as they should, but I feel Forza 3 not only handles the “sim” part of racing better, but also it allows new comers the chance to ease into the game. Forza 3 and GT5 both allow for customized driving difficulties with the option of turning driver assists on and off, but as of right now only Forza 3 allows for the player to have the auto brake feature that slows the car down with the proper braking to help keep you on the track and in the race.  The addition of the rewind feature will be loved by the hardcore player as well as the new comer. You screw up and just do it over again !

I think the A.I. still and has always gone to the Forza franchise. The A.I. keeps true the real life style of racing for position as opposed to be programmed to stay  in a certain line like GT5. I felt that Forza 3 was heading in this direction a bit, but after some more time with the demo I've come to realize that the A.I. is a bit more aggressive then before , but still makes the moves it needs to win the race on its own.

As far as production values and game presentation both games impress. I think that GT5 Prologue being in more of a game state gives it the upper hand here so I think Ill pass judgment till The full retail version of Forza 3 comes. The demo did show a much cleaner presentation, but again it wasn't much to go on.

With both games landing and consoles soon I think gamers choosing one way or the other wont be disappointed. For me my I have to stay with what's made me happy over the past few years and that's Forza 3. Both games are going to demand a lot of time and energy just to play  so to have both would be setting ones self up for gaming fatigue. That being said I need to go pre-order my copy of Forza Motorsports 3.

-TX

9:22 PM 1 comments

BioShocked! Where Has My Interest Gone?

In the Summer of 2007 (2008 for PS3 owners) gamers were treated to an incredible gaming experience, one which won the heart of gamers and critics alike, 2K Boston's Bioshock . Many of you I am sure were left with an indelible impression of wonder and excitement as a result of your exploration of the city of Rapture, its inhabitants, and the adventure of which you just partaken of. The game's environment set the mood and the story took you on a wild ride through the underwater city and, in the end, left one wanting more of Rapture. At least that is how I felt, and so with that I waited for word on an impending sequel.

When a sequel was finally announced I was excited indeed and I followed the news for the upcoming game very closely, but a funny thing has happened to me on my path to the Sea of Dreams. I have noticed that recently my desired return to Rapture was not what it used to be, that it has waned significantly, almost to the point of myself giving a big shrug to the games recently (and finally) announced release date of February 9, 2010. How could this have happened? How could my interest for the sequel for one of my favourite games of all time fall away so? I took some time recently to analyse this situation, and I have came up with a few points that may be responsible for this phenomenon:

ken_levineThe Man They Call Levine: Ken Levine was widely considered the mastermind behind BioShock, and for good reason, he was the mastermind behind BioShock and its trippy and wonderful storyline. When the sequel was announced we were also made aware that the development would fall to the dev team at 2K Marin, well stocked with original BioShock development veterans. No offence to the hard working team at 2K Marin, but when you lose a lead like Ken Levine from your project, it is not going to do your game any favours. Early in development it was announced the Ken Levine would have some input on the new BioShock, but I speculate with Ken hard at work on his own super-secret project and no word on his involvement since, that BioShock 2 will be for good or ill a Levine-less project.

Delays: Though we now have a firm release date as I stated above, BioShock 2's pushed back date has put it out of sight and out of mind behind a sea of tripe-A games. It will be about two-and-a-half years between games, while not a huge amount of time between sequels, it does give one time to forget possibly why they were excited in the first place.

bioshock-2-1Competition: Remember that sea of triple-A games I just mentioned? Sure fire hits like Halo 3: ODST, Forza Motorsport 3, Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and Assassin's Creed 2 as well as games like Borderlands, Tekken 6, and Lost Planet 2 will be arriving before BioShock 2. Each of these games are not only highly anticipated, but also have serious legs. Will we be ready for BioShock by February? Will we care if we are knee-deep in our Modern Warfare 2 or Halo 3: ODST multi players?

Increased Financial Expectations: BioShock 2 is already earmarked as one of Take 2's flagship franchises and with all the expectations that go along with it. Like the Grand Theft Auto franchise, much of Take 2's fortunes ride on BioShock and its sequel. With sales expectations of more than 5 million for this game (much more than the games original sales) the company has a lot riding on it's success, and I fear that these expectations will not be met. What would that mean for BioShock going forward?

bio2mpToo Many Cooks: With all these expectations heaped upon BioShock 2, 2K Games is sparing no expense in order to ensure this game's release schedule slips no further. No less than four separate development teams are involved at this point in order to bring the game to market. With lead developer 2K Marin creating the core of the game, 2K Australia has taken over the testing with Digital Extremes creating the games multi player component and Arcane Studios lending a hand with the art design. BioShock 2's Sea of Dreams appears to be spread all over the globe. Will they be able to pull all these desperate pieces together into one cohesive collection of a game?

bioshock_2_teaserThis is Not the Prequel I was Looking For: Yes I am judging this very early, but I think it is because I had certain expectations from what I wanted to see from this game, particularly from the prequel/multiplayer portion. Early on when rumours were swirling about the next BioShock game, the idea that it was to be a prequel really caught my interest. I really wanted to experience Rapture before the fall and interact or see the story unfold for Ryan, Fontaine, Doctors Tenenbaum and Steinman, Sander Cohen and all the great Rapture personalities which were alluded to in the first game. I imagined a Rapture before the fall being a bright, vibrant, world that Andrew Ryan envisioned when creating his undersea utopia. BioShock 2 will visit Rapture before the fall, but only as a component of its multiplayer, therefore bypassing all that potential and esthetic. The multiplayer takes place in the thick of the Rapture civil war, ignoring all the great stories that could have been told. Perhaps we will get the prequel I wish for someday.

bioshock_2Big Daddy, Big Problem: Everybody loves the Big Daddy, right? I think we can all agree on that. But to play the entire game as one? I am not so sure about that one. Yes we will be able to explore Rapture's undersea back yard, but we will miss that feeling of being a helpless every-man trapped in this strange world. Will the first Big Daddy versus the Big Sister sustain through the game? <SPOILER> I think I may miss being the prodigal son returning.

It appears that I have some major concerns with the potential for this game, and I do. It has definitely slipped off my radar a lot, but it is still there, and I do intend on purchasing the game. I hope to play it and be proved wrong, hoping that 2K Game's army of developers can recreate the magic of BioShock and climb out from under Ken Levine's shadow. As I stated before, I loved the original and want to once again be immersed in this world. While I am not sure if BioShock ever needed a multiplayer component, it appears we are getting one anyway. So February 10, 2009 will be the test, lets hope that we have room on our calendars and in our hearts for this sequel with the uphill (up swim) climb.

-SG

8:23 AM 2 comments

A Halo Launch

 

halo-3-odst-20090410091321323

 

In the past I would do a blog post that gave an hour by hour detailed schedule of what Id be doing up until the midnight release of a Halo game. It was fun considering that I happened to be off of work for both Halo 2 and 3 making the anticipation for each release that much longer through out the day while others at least had an 8 hour work day to kill some time. (today is no different)

What was it about this franchise that made these midnight release dates such a big deal ?  What made myself plus millions of other gamers lineup in the brisk fall weather to wait for the game ?  Well  I think it stems back to the original Halo Combat Evolved. Never before has a console shooter come a long with such spot on gameplay along with a story and new a Hero that intrigued us all. With all the overwhelming amount multiplayer options the first Halo had, it left  just one thing out. Online play !

Well due to the fact that it was released on the launch day of a new console I think made it kinda hard to just jump online. That didn't stop hardcore gamers from finding out which was the better team,  Red or Blue.  Halo became a phenom in the multiplayer community with people packing up their TV’s and Xbox’s and driving to friends house or even tournaments to play the greatest first person shooter ever !

Then it happened, on November 9th 2004 Microsoft and Bungie Studios released Halo 2. This would be the biggest launch in video game history. Why ?  Because for the first time ever you could take the Master Chief online and lay the smack down on the rest of the world. Oh and a little added bonus was the incredible campaign that came along with  Halo 2.

That's leads us to the only game that would be bigger then the Halo 2 launch and that would be Halo 3 of course. Halo 2’s campaign ending really left some us (most of us) feeling empty inside and wanting to “Finish the Fight”. Well not only would we get that chance, but we'd get to do on the box 360 the new home of the Master Chief  in all of his high definition glory. So with New maps, new weapons and the chance to hand the Covent their ass its no wonder why this was the single most biggest console exclusive game ever ! 

I think that most of us  were apart of all the excitement of the last two Halo games, but there's one more on the way tonight. So where's all the excitement for this one ?  While it may not seem as big as the last two games that dropped (get it, dropped…) it still generating some new buzz for the fans of the Halo Universe. So no we wont be suit up in our Spartan armor this time around, in fact Master Chief will be no ware to be found in this Halo title.

What's the big deal then ?  Why all the excitement ? ODST ……Orbital Drop Shock Troopers ! Now we get to play as the highly trained Marines that do a lot of the dirty work behind the scenes we never got a chance to see. These guys bring us a whole new campaign that takes place during Halo 2’s timeline. The ODST’s also pack in all of the Halo3 multiplayer maps plus 3 new ones and even bring us an entirely new game mode called Fire Fight. In Fire Fight you and up to 3 other buddies can take on waves of Covent scum while trying to survive. Top it all off with co-op campaign and its another Halo recipe for success !

So while I wont be blogging about my entire day till the midnight launch or even the fact that I may not even be going to it tonight, that doesn't mean I'm not excited about the new Halo game and all its new modes and features. I think I'm more excited about this Halo game with its high emphasis on co-op play more then ever before . Halo ODST…….. T minus 13 hour 40 mins till DROP !

TX

9:54 AM 0 comments

Playstation 3: It only does Everything ….sorta kinda

 

20090825ps3slim So it does everything they say……. Well I guess it does. Thing is how well it does “everything”. From my personal experience it just doesn't measure up to the Xbox 360 in terms of being stream lined and ease of use.

What I mean by this is the simple things like downloading a game demo or navigating the systems dashboard or menu. Even the slick looking Playststion store could use some fine tuning.

I guess this should be the part where I mention that I purchased a new PS3 Slim. Yes that's right me, Mr Xbox 360 Fanboy has yet again sold his second Wii to buy a PS3 for the a second time. Again folks when it comes to video games and myself never ask why I do the things I do. Lets just call it a sickness or something.

I picked up my new PS3 along with Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank. Both of these game are a blast and I must say that Uncharted already has me looking forward to the sequel. Of course due to the PS3’s latest firmware update vr3.00 I had some difficulties with Uncharted in the beginning freezing up on me. Seems to be working fine now though, Ill keep my fingers crossed.

Being the economy that we are in right now and not to mention my butt is still jobless it doesn't make sense to support two different consoles especially  while I have 3 Xbox 360’s already in use in the house. For now Ill be fine with the couple games I have and there's always the option of a couple cheaper games on the PS Store like Wipeout HD and Flower.

I've always been known for bashing the Wii and the Playstation 3 and well for the most part its deservingly so. I mean who could forget  my day after Christmas 08 PS3 story ….If you missed it or forgot Click Here. Now though I think things are ok between the PS3 and myself. I'm almost certain that's its gonna stick around for a while. After all Star Wars has to come out on Blu-Ray one of these day. And Kill Zone 2 you may look pretty but you still cant hang with Teh Haloz.

-TX

9:11 AM 1 comments

My Dark times with the Dreamcast

 

dreamcast-logo

 

Like most gamers this week I'm more than happy to wish the the Sega Dreamcast a Happy 10th Birthday. I loved things my Dreamcast did for me like giving me some true next gen graphics, online play and a true hardcore gamers line of titles. Unfortunately not everything was all fun and games at times ……

I can remember taking the day off of work to pick up my new Sega console. Everything was pre-ordered and paid for all I had to do was go get it. After picking my Dreamcast I stopped on the way home to pick up some lunch because I didn't want to game on an empty stomach of course.

So I popped in Soul Calibur and was blown away instantly,I knew I had something special here. Things got even more impressive after playing my first game in what was to become the series to dethrone the almighty Madden.  NFL 2K1 was a master piece on both sides of the ball. Hey but what was the deal with not being able to call a timeout if you were the second player though ?

Now I'm ready to get into some serious boxing action with Ready 2 Rumble. Oh wait what's this ….its not working ???? Lets try it again. Nope nothing, lets give it one more shot its sure to work now……again nothing. Well I think we can all remember when The Dreamcast launched there were a few games that just didn't work properly or at all. No biggie I just took it back and got myself another game instead. Well my fellow gamers that was “strike one” for the Dreamcast for me.

I almost hate to admit this but I don't think I had my Dreamcast tens days and I returned after getting a few games that didn't work and was really just not happy with the whole situation that I dealt with. I figured Id buy some games for my PS1 and some new duel analog sticks. I walked out my locale game store was a ton of new PS1 stuff and said to myself “hey the PS2 will be out in a year, I can wait”. Pretty drastic I know .

The fact that I was a Sega Fanboy at the time didn't make long before I had gone out and purchased another Dreamcast a couple months later with a new batch of game. I do need to mention that the Sega Saturn and Sega Rally Championship is the reason I am the gamer I am today. I was Hooked on Sega Rally and played it for hours on end. Fast forward back to the Dreamcast and you can imagine my excitement when Sega Rally 2 finally shipped after many delays here in the states. Honestly I would never need another game after this. That was until I played it anyway. Long story short, I was less the pleased with one aspect of the game and that was the split screen play. My friends and I played the heck out of the first game this way and to find out that Sega Rally 2 was just unplayable this way due to the horrible frame rate in split screen. I was not happy, neither were most of my friends.  “Strike two”.

One thing I realize today is not to try and relive your past gaming experience in sequels or remakes. Take Sega Rally for the Xbox 360 and PS3. While not a bad game it still doesn't measure up to the first game back on the Saturn. This of course leads me to “Strike Three”. Sega’s World Series Baseball franchise “was” and I stress “was” the best in the business at the time until it came out with literally uncontrollable outfielders. Yep it was all up to the A.I. not you. Anyway you can see why this would be my “Strike Three”.

Don't get me wrong here folks I still loved that little white console with the swirl logo and red light on it. I can never forget the first time I played Shenmue. Or going online the for the very first time in NFL 2K1 and Phantasy Star Online. The list goes on with Test Drive Le Mans, Resident Evil Code Veronica, Sonics Adventure, Virtua Tennis and more. So while I may have had some issues in the past with the Dreamcast, deep down inside I still wish to this day  that it had become successful  from a business stand point. For now I just want to say Happy Birthday Dreamcast !

-TX

7:44 PM 1 comments

Sega Dreamcast: A Console of Firsts

September 9, 2009 is the tenth anniversary of the North American launch of Sega’s last entry (to this day) to the console hardware market.  After the better part of two decades of highs and lows as a hardware manufacturer, Sega managed to save their best console for last.  Though clearly not the commercial success that they had hoped (it had faltered in the face of the competition from Sony, Nintendo, and later Microsoft), it managed an amazing library of software, cutting edge hardware, and a cult following that remains strong to this day.  Ten years is a long time, the Dreamcast today is often considered a retro gaming system, though if you can get your hands on it and its games, you may question the retro tag.

dreamcast05Personally, I loved the system, and if you could see my massive Dreamcast collection that I still have to this day, it would testify to my dedication. The Dreamcast ushered my gaming life into a whole other level. It provided myself with experiences that at the time were unique amongst the gaming culture.  So it is with this post that I honour the Sega Dreamcast on its tenth anniversary as a console of firsts, a console that provided unique software and hardware and truly brought gaming into the next millennium.  The following points detail why this console for me was a console of firsts:

First Next-Gen console: Every new console generation that comes out is referred to as the ‘Next-Gen’.  That term is not only used to distinguish the current console generation from the later, but to also let the public know that this is the bleeding edge technology and one should own it if they are serious about their hardware.  I graduated from the Sega Saturn and the Nintendo 64 to the Sega Dreamcast and was blown away by the divide in graphics, hardware design, control, and features.  A lot of the things we take for granted in current-gen gaming, particularly online, was standard on the DC.  I won’t get into all the features here as some will make up some of the next points.  Needless to say, when you bought the DC on day-one, you had next-gen technology for a gaming system.

First Online Gaming: For me the Sega Dreamcast ushered me in to the online gaming scene.  A fun little combat-puzzler game entitled Chu Chu Rocket was my first online game.  I remember the night when my brother and I played our first online game against each other.  Growing up we played a lot of games against each other so it was good to know that from then on, no matter where we were, we could still game together.  The Dreamcast also was responsible for my online handle / Gamertag.  I have been know as SUPERGHOST ever since.

chchuFirst Internet: As a poor 20-something, I struggled finding my way in the world.  I didn’t own a PC, so when the opportunity to surf the internet via the Dreamcast came along, I jumped at the chance to use it for my exploits on the world wide web.  While it was not the greatest way to surf, it did allow me to have that experience.  Today, it is not unusual to have your console browse the internet (unless you are Microsoft), but back then it was a first.

First Arcade at Home: Sure, there had been arcade game conversions on home consoles for years, but the power of the Dreamcast brought the arcade experience home with comparable, or in some cases improved, quality.  Games like Soul Calibur, Crazy Taxi, Dead or Alive 2, and Power Stone allowed gamers to save their quarters and perfect their skills in the comfort of their home living room.

soul_calibur_

First Motion Control: Well, kind of.  With light gun games like House of the Dead 2 and Confidential Mission as well as Sega’s own fishing controller for the Bass and Marine Fishing games, I wasn’t just stationary on the couch anymore.  With the Mad Catz light gun I was able to enjoy the quality light gun games from the arcade in my home, and with the fishing controller I was able to cast a reel in the fish with the best of them.  If I had the money I would have also shook all night long playing Samba De Amigo (which has a new lease on life thanks to the Wii).  The DC had you off your couch before it was cool.

First Emotional Impact: This certainly will be different for everybody, but for me personally two games on the Dreamcast stood out for me as having huge emotional impacts, Kenji Eno’s D2 and Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue.  Two games that pushed the envelope and that could be found no where else.  I don’t think the world was ready for these two games as their costs and pushes on technology made success hard to grasp.  But I am thankful that I had the opportunity to experience them and for the feelings they brought out of me.  I get such fond memories just thinking back on them now.

Shenhua2First Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO): Phantasy Star Online was a phenomenon.  There was nothing else like it in the console space.  Such an incredible marriage of simplicity with complexity, Phantasy Star Online has since gone on to spawn several sequels, but for me they still cannot compete with the original (but I will give Phantasy Star 0 a try).  The Diablo-esque ‘Loot-and-Shoot’ was many peoples first exposure to the joys (and pitfalls) of the MMO scene.  While you adventured in parties of four, you could still converse with thousands of other gamers spread throughout the game’s lobbies. What is sad that this game arrived just as Sega was giving up on the console.  What could have been for the Dreamcast?

PSOFirst Voice Chat / Conversational Game: Alien Front Online, a simple futuristic tank versus alien tank combat game was my first experience with online voice chat in a game.  Like with Phantasy Star Online, I was drawn in to the games community and quickly the success at the game became secondary.  I spent many an hour with my brothers and my cousin having a blast with it.  Consoles still today struggle with online chat, but the Dreamcast was making it happen on a 56K modem.  And I would be remiss if I did not mention Seaman.  Seaman would probably be considered a non-game today.  You not only raised your little human-faced fish/amphibian creature, but you also talked to him…and he talked back!  Seaman wouldn’t hesitate to analyze your life.  And like a tamagochi, if you did not take care of him properly, he could end up dead.  You certainly wouldn't want to kill a video game character you had a relationship with would you?

seamanPersonally I could go on and on about the Dreamcast.  I could talk about it’s library of fighters, its founding of 2K Sports, in particular its groundbreaking Football games, its VMU’s (playable memory cards) but for all its triumphs, in the end it just didn’t have the muscle or support to keep up with the industry leaders.  It is usually the brightest candles that burn the fastest, and the Dreamcast burned brightly indeed.  Please leave a comment of some of your Dreamcast firsts, or perhaps what Sega and the Dreamcast did that holds a special place in your heart.  I would like to hear from you and share some Dreamcast memories.

-SG