Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vista looms... Crack-down baby and new tv shows ahoy!

Well looking at the Sunday ads today I couldn't help notice one thing, I believe that Microsoft's Vista OS comes out on Tuesday. Yes indeed I've never seen so much MS advertisement at one time (even when the 360 was new!) and found that I can get it at midnight Monday @ CompUSA! I wonder if I had to have it pre-ordered? :) 4 different versions, 8 separate skus wow MS doesn't do anything half-assed do they? This of course is not including Best Buy's advertised Bill Gates Autographed Vista Ultimate Upgrade Limited Edition (no joke, I couldn't make this stuff up).

Fearing that my puny human system wasn't up for the task, I thought just for fun I would run the Vista Upgrade Advisor to see how dire my situation was. Really according to it I'm not too bad off the 2 glaring red X's before installation were, my hard drive is too skinny (just wanted some extra space), and one of my programs (cd burning software) evidently doesn't play nice with Vista. After installation Vista say it would run with 512 MB of ram, but it really would like more, and 6 of my programs may have 'minor compatibility' problems (funny enough because 2 of them were MS products...). This of course just said I could run it, not specifying if I would enjoy running it. :)

I'm really in need of an upgrade anyway, Supreme Commander comes out February 20th and they haven't released specs yet but judging from the comments on the 1UPYours show to run nice is going to take a powerhouse. This of course does not include other upcoming titles like Command & Conquer 3, S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl, or Hellgate : London...

I did download the Crackdown demo the other day/night/day (took forever) and finally got around to checking it out Friday night. It's Saint's Row & Spiderman 2 melded together, a free roaming cel shaded wonderland. Okay that might be a bit over the top, but I did enjoy the time I spent with it. It won't replace Saint's but with the superhero abilities it made it fun just to run (and jump) around, the problem I have is it doesn't grab me as a $60 title. I heard both sides of the fence as people at work have either loved it or hated it, doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground, and I had someone today tell me that the Co-op was extremely fun and I haven't tried it yet. Will it sell millions of copies (with the Halo 3 beta dangler) hell yes, if they hadn't tacked it on maybe not so much.

I've updated the sidebar because TV shows are back in season (finally) with some of my favorites starting new seasons Monk, and Psyched. While some of my other faves that were dormant over the holiday seasons are trickling back like Heroes, Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother, and Lost (someday in Feb hopefully). Plus there is a new Amazing Race coming up quick, although to my dismay looks to be another 'All Stars' race. I'm sorry but Rob & Amber were kinda cool in Survivor, less stellar in the first All Stars AR, and now I just don't care. Most of the teams they brought back are in that same boat, some of them may have been fun to watch but I'm glad most of them didn't win (the first time). I did like Uchenna & Joyce a lot the first time around, but they did win, do you really need to offer them another million??

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Movie Time (Oscar nominees, BAM!) , and news to Wii.

Caught a couple movies on my day off, it's been a while since I saw anything at the theater Night at the Museum being the last. I had a 'sneak' pass for Catch and Release the romantic/comedy starring Jennifer Garner as a girl whose fiancee has just passed away, and she falls for one of his friends. Despite also starring Kevin Smith (Silent Bob talks!) the punch lines were too far apart and it never elevated to a light fluffy film, it was kinda dark, and even after his death she just kept getting dumped on. I really enjoy romantic comedies, but this one missed by a mile, hopefully it won't last long so guys don't get suckered in for Valentine's day.

I also watched Curse of the Golden Flower which I'd never heard of before I saw it in the movie time listing. It turns out it was Oscar nominated (more on that farther down...) for "Best Costume Design", and I went in thinking it was going be along the lines of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Well, no. Turns out it was waaay more drama than chop chop, there were a couple good fight scenes scattered among a period drama featuring the most screwed up family ever. Mothers sleeping with sons, brothers and sisters doin' it, dad trying to drive mom crazy all in a multi colored neon bright forbidden city in China. All that being said judging from their Oscar competition they probably hands down won that category.

That's brings us to the Oscar nods, haven't been keeping up on my movie news (not working at a theater will do that...), so I was surprised to find the nominations had came out Tuesday. This years Best picture category includes some real winners . If you know me, then you know that my taste in movies does not reflect the academy's views most of the time. I used to be able to say that if a movie had won best picture, I probably had not seen it, but there was a run in the late 80's and late 90's where I actually had seen the best picture. Checking out this best picture list it seems since 1927-2006 there have been 78 best pictures, I've seen 10 (not quite 8%). Unless The Departed wins this year (which I doubt, because I enjoyed it.) that percentage will fall a little more. I do enjoy watching the nominated shorts (live action/animated) and have now for the last 8-10 years because I usually do agree with those winners. If you didn't know the public library here in doodah shows them after they are announced a couple times (also including the short documentary category), then 4-5 times with just the live action/animated usually at the branches. This years first showing of nominees will be February 24th @ 10 a.m. (the only time you can see them before the awards on Sunday night (2/25).

I came home Friday night after work to find the blue light of love glowing on my Wii. Nintendo had rolled out the news channel and after a quick update, it was available from the dashboard (what does Nintendo call it?). I played with it for a while, looks okay but I think after the new wears off it will be neglected like my weather channel. If they only update every 6 hours like the weather channel, it really cuts down on its usefulness I've found.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Golden software shower, 1UP, and MLB 2k7 lookin' good!

A lot of 'gone gold' announcements this week with Crackdown (360), Supreme Commander, and Vanguard : Saga of Hereos (both PC) being some of them. Crackdown demo has been announced for Tuesday next week on the marketplace so we will soon see if it is any good. I did download the Battlestations : Midway demo last week, and have played a couple multiplayer matches (the only available option). The cycling between units is kinda cool, but overall I just didn't enjoy it. It's slipped off my radar unless I hear some really good things about it, or it drops to $20.

Check out the 1UP Show site and check out the latest video podcast (episode 501, 1/19/07). It covers The Crossing (PC) which looks really good, Phoenix Wright 2, Calling all Cars, and a segment on Crackdown. I've watched the last 3-4 episodes (the WMV version streams to the 360 nice!) and since I've listened to the 1UP Yours podcast for quite a while it was interesting to put faces with the voices. None of them looked anything like the pictures in my head. :)

Xbox360fanboy tipped me off that IGN has posted some incredible looking screenshots from 2K Sports upcoming MLB 2K7 for the 360. I also tracked down the MLB 2K7 'Big Game' trailer at, check it out. I'm not a big baseball fan and don't buy the games, but it looks gorgeous!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Try a sampling (sooner or later), and B-Ball defeat.

Good news! According to Battlestations: Midway is getting a demo tomorrow on Xbox Live. I had dismissed this game early on thinking it was just another WWII based Blazing Angels type airplane game. It came to my attention that it actually allows you to play from multiple vantage points you can control submarines, other navel units, or aircraft from the 'drivers' seat or take an overall commander stance. Looking forward to the demo now for a little hands on, check out video for an 8 min in game preview.

360fanboy also posted a couple days ago that the Crackdown demo (which had been targeted for the 18th for a while) was not going to make it up by then. Seems certification is taking longer than expected although they say it will be up by the end of the month. This is another title that I dismissed after seeing early screenshots and video, but with all the praise the guys at 1UPYours podcast have been dishing lately it's another one I'm itching to play.

My daughter tried out, and got on the Curtis girls basketball team. After about 2 weeks of practice they had their first game tonight. I'm sorry to say that the Lady Storm outplayed the Lady Falcons and won 40 to 23 at Stuckey middle school tonight.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

WAAAARCRAFT! Get ready for S.T.A.L.K.E.R (finally), and much more.

I started playing World of Warcraft. Yep, finally gave in and decided to try the 30 day trial of WoW. It's not bad, the graphics looks really good leaning toward 'cartoony' looking. Final Fantasy XI is the only other MMORPG that I played for a length of time, but I've found that WoW hasn't been too hard to pick up, with some keystrokes being identical.

Today marked the launch of World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade the first expansion set for WoW, depending on where you pre-ordered from you may have been able to pick it up at 12:01 am this morning!

1up has this story about the midnight launch in Florida where 250 people showed up (out of 341 pre-orders) to be the first to run home and try out the expansion.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl has finally been given a release date of March 2007. This is stunning news because I played builds of this FPS at E3 2004, and 2005 even then sounded (and looked) awesome, and even back then was looking forward to it. Download and check out the launch trailer from THQ. With S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Command & Conquer 3, and Supreme Commander just to name a few this is going to be a great year for PC Gaming. The only downside is I'm probably definitely going to need some PC updates pretty soon, I got my eye on a sexy dual core processor. :)

Discovery Channel has some cool shows and every once in a while they run them in groups and I can catch a bunch of episodes. If you haven't seen them check out Dirty Jobs, MythBusters, and Deadliest Catch.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Here comes CES... Microsoft, HD DVD & Blu-ray touching each other, and oiling the GEARS.

CES runs this week (8-11) in Las Vegas, and a lot of the press conferences were held yesterday. Microsoft announced the 360 would be supporting Microsoft's IPTV in Holiday 2007 allowing you to use your 360 to watch, and record television via a broadband connection. I found this page that has a video up of carbon (Microsoft's code name?) in action.

No mention however of the Xbox 360 v2.0 (even though there was picture & video proof of a modified developer unit) that was supposed to include an HDMI port, and that mythical larger hard drive (this time 120GB).

LG Electronics announced the first HD/Blu-ray combo player, streeting in early February for $1,199. (an Australian videogame site) broke the news that this week (Jan. 10th) there will be 2 new multiplayer maps for Gears of War Raven Down, and Old Bones. The best news is these are sponsored by Discovery channels Gamer Generation show so they will be free!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Roll em!

Got out today and decided to see a movie, I've been behind lately not enough free time or opportunities to go see one. Night at the Museum starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, and Dick Van Dyke was the chosen flick. I had seen previews for it, and it looked really good (had that Jumanji vibe to it). I wasn't disappointed, as it was very funny and enjoyable movie. Ben plays Larry a divorced dad trying to manage his personal life with lackluster results, and have his son look up to him. He has tried various schemes, and held all kinds of jobs when he is threatened with losing his apartment, and his kid he takes the night watchmen job at the Museum of Natural History. Little does he know after hours all the exhibits come to life everything from the T-Rex skeleton, and African wildlife to Theodore Roosevelt, and the dioramas of the roman empire, and wild west. He has to find a way to stay alive, keep order, and not get fired not to mention bonding with his son. I really liked it, most will probably call it a 'popcorn flick' light on thought provoking material, but overcharged with action. In my book that's okay as some of my favorite movies could be classified 'popcorn flicks'.

GameStop on an binge, maybe?

Shacknews is reporting that GameStop is buying out Rhino Video games a chain primarily in the SE U.S. There is a link to the original topic at CheapAssGamer where the news broke, seems a lot of people are upset as Rhino still carried old school NES/SNES/GENESIS/DREAMCAST/ETC...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Welcome to 2007! Chief's Rule, Resolution time, and touching the PS3.

Happy New Year!

First off let me say Happy New Year! to everyone, I hope you didn't party too hard ringing in the New Year. The KC Chiefs got a late Christmas present on New Year's eve, going into their game Sunday they needed to win, and have four other teams lose, well the stars aligned and Indianapolis here we come! Of course the time we met in 1996 didn't go so well, I was at that game damn it was cold. Spent too much on tickets and then we lost by a friggin' field goal. :( Man it really doesn't seem like that was 11 years ago, I remember it had snowed a lot the day of/day before the game and the plastic seats were piled high with snow. Of course our next playoff meeting didn't go so well either. I'm hoping it's just because both games were at Arrowhead, maybe the RCA Dome will be better luck for us. :)

I've made my New Year's resolution (but I can't start until after the 12th...) to stop buying new video games. Yep, that's right no more, zilch, goose egg, nada, etc. I guess I should clarify that means new full priced retail games, I will still buy used games, sale items, and new games after a price drop or two. I buy a lot of games (get caught up in the hype) when they first come out, the problem is though I don't get around to playing them, and leave them sealed sitting on a shelf. We get used copies of almost every game within 2-3 weeks of release at work, why not wait that period and save ~20% off the cost of new? If I could hold out 2-3 months (depending on the game) the new ones may be half-off their original retail. Certain blockbuster titles may take longer to depreciate, but most all games do eventually. Of course I guess if you think about it, since I get a discount on games at work, I haven't paid retail in 4 years anyway... I mentioned the 12th because Lost Planet comes out then, and I thoroughly enjoyed the single player, and multi-player demos so I will be there on launch day.

I got a 'hands on' opportunity with the Playstation 3 last weekend, I got to fondle the system, peruse the manual, and enjoy some Resistance : Fall of Man goodness. My first overall impression of the system was it's really big, all of those PS2 fanboy's making fun of the original Xbox because of it's size whose laughing now? It is a sleek looking case (unfortunately after only 4 days it was showing dust) and its really quiet too, but it did get warm after a couple hours.

The wireless six axis controller was nice and comfortable, but I did miss the rumble feature and any extra heft would have been welcome. It's really light, I wish they would have put room for a couple AA batteries (one in each handle) to make it feel more... like a real controller. The 5 Ft. charging cable (USB A to mini-B, same as a PSP-PC link) is kinda cheesy as it's too short to sit away from the console and play while the controller is charging. Speaking of which, the console has to be ON to charge the controller. I've never used the 360 play & charge kit, but it will work with the system off won't it?

That brings us to the other features, and I found some cool and useful ones. The first which I had heard was the video port is legacy PS2/PS1 vintage that means any Playstation video cable will work. I already had PS2 component cables laying around so I used those and they worked like a charm. The second feature I stumbled upon was the internal hard drive (20 GB, and 60 GB depending on model) are user replaceable. You pull the side door off, slide the cage out, and you can install any Serial ATA laptop drive you want 100 GB, 200 GB you name it. Messing around the menu I found an item to go along with the larger drives, you can partition it and through the menu install another OS. I poked around the net and found people already have Linux distro's available for the PS3 console. It really is just a PC with specific components, and I think it's cool Sony gave you the option to mess around with. The last feature that I found neat was you can create 'virtual' PS1/PS2 memory cards on the hard drive no more proprietary memory cards! There is a optional converter (USB->PS2 memory card slot) that allows you to transfer your saves (if you already have them on memory cards) to the HD if you need it. After playing with both the Wii, and PS3 systems I really think Microsoft missed the boat on Wi-Fi connectivity, I know they want to sell you their $100 networking adaptor but geez. It's so nice to have Wi-Fi built-in especially in the new house where cable runs from upstairs to the basement would suck.

Now onto the games! I downloaded Gran Turismo HD demo, MotorStorm demo, and the Cash, Guns, and Choas demo from the Playstation 3 virtual store (think marketplace) to try out. I played a fair bit of the GT HD demo, and it looked good. I noticed that the bystanders/crowd looked like people not 2D cutouts, and there was some background animation going on that gave it more realism. I found it supported my Logitech Driving Force EX wheel, so I dug that out and hooked it up. It didn't help my driving much, but it was cool using it. I was disappointed that the MotorStorm demo lacked the six axis (wireless) driving mode that is in the demo kiosk, I wanted to try it cord free since you can't do that at Target. It didn't allow you to change the options, and looked like the same level as the kiosk demo. Cash, Guns, and Chaos was a top down run & shoot game where your two analog sticks control you and the firing (meaning you can run any direction, and shoot any other direction). It reminded me of Loaded on the original Playstation, it was fair but not something I would play a lot. Resistance : Fall of Man on the other hand kicks' ass! I enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't know how far into the game I got, but so far the story was really cool. I also tried out the multiplayer and I must say a 40 person deathmatch is insane, I don't know if it was the specific map or settings but man it was frantic. One of the options (on by default I guess) is 'one hit kills' meaning just one bullet can take you out, this coupled with the fact that when you spawn you don't have any protection lead me to a spawn/die/spawn/die/etc. cycle for a bit. Once I got into the rhythm I found that worked both ways because before you spawn you can see the playfield, if someone ran by me I instantly knew where to head. I played another map which was only hosting 25 people, but must have been larger and more spread out as it seemed to take quite a bit of time to find other players. They had it set to start with all the weapons fully loaded so I did get to try some cool ones that I hadn't got in single player campaign yet. I don't know if it's the mechanics of Gears of War or what, but unfortunately at this point in time I much prefer Resistance over Gears. :(

Is Resistance a system seller? To me, yes. I would consider buying a PS3 just to play Resistance, but that leads me to the dark side of the PS3. Personally not needing a Blu-Ray player (since I already have the HD DVD add-on for the 360) I think the PS3 is price prohibitive. In the last week though I've seen a lot of PS3's sold to people who were shopping for Blu-Ray players (Ultimate Electronics is sending customers to us) find that stand alone players are $1000, and they can get a player for $600/$500 and it has other uses to (it plays games)! If I run across a used PS3, and have the funds available I may have to pick it up.