Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar ramblings, PC ponderings, and more...

Checked out the Oscar nominated shorts on Saturday, most of the animated, live action, and short documentaries were shown. It seems Pixar got nominated this year for the animated short Lifted and were only going to show it in Chicago prior to the awards, although it is supposed to be attached to the front of Ratatouille when it comes out in June at theaters.
This year was the second where they were shown at the Murdock Theater instead of the main branch library. The theater is a nice setting as it has a 'movie' type environment with tiered seating and a larger screen plus they sell concessions. This year we were told that Magnolia pictures, and Apollo films had bought the distribution rights for the nominated shorts, this means it's easier for the library to get the shorts as the studios will just issue a DVD with the shorts on it. I guess it means they get to set the order in which the shorts are viewed also, normally they do the all day showing in a festival format one animated, one live action, one documentary, etc. The DVD was setup so that we seen all the animated shorts, then live action, then documentaries plus Magnolia slipped a trailer in between the categories! The library coordinator apologized for the 'advertisement' but when we actually seen the preview I was pretty stoked, it turned out to be a trailer for The Host which is the US version of the Korean film Gwoemul. I like monster movies so this looked really good, so much so that I came home and found that it doesn't open in the US until March 9th (you can watch the trailer here, but the Korean DVD is already available with English subs so I ordered it.

I originally wrote this blog post late Saturday night but thanks to a Firefox shutdown I lost it, and since it was so late I just went to bed. In the original I had predicted the winners, and pointed out my favorites, but after watching the Oscars last night I was way off. Anyway my picks were as follows:

Animated - No Time for Nuts (taking into account I haven't seen Lifted) If you own the Ice Age 2 DVD this is the scrat short that is on the disc. The winner turned out to be The Danish Poet which by no means a bad short but was not the one I thought would win.

Live Action - These were all pretty good I was leaning towards Helmer & Son, and the winner was West Bank Story which would have been about the middle of my choices.

Documentary - Recycled Life was my favorite, but the academy liked The Blood of Yingzhou District which out of the 4 would have been my second choice.

Remember how I said that usually I don't see whatever wins Best Picture? This year I thought I was pretty safe having only seen The Departed out of all of the nominees, I didn't see it as a 'Best Picture Oscar Winner'. I even rented one of the other nominees from Netflix Babel because the synopsis sounded good, unfortunately it turned out to be one of those features that is telling 3 intertwined stories but not in any particular order. I'm not a big fan of those (probably why to this day I've never finished Pulp Fiction) and while this one wasn't bad it definitely had that 'Best Picture' vibe to it. You can imagine my surprise last night when they announced The Departed as the winner.

I've been green lighted to buy some new computer parts to put together a new system, but now that I'm actually piecing it together I'm coming up short. I thought I could stay within my budget but I'm finding that difficult as I keep finding more and more stuff that needs to be replaced. I haven't put together a totally new system in probably ~6 years, sure I've upgraded parts here and there, but this time I'm finding it would be better just to update everything (sans the case and monitor). The hard drives have went SATA, and even some of the optical drives too. I've found that some of the new motherboards don't even have IDE channels, and most don't have parallel ports or serial ports anymore.

I just want to play World of Warcraft like this, is that too much to ask?

Monday, February 19, 2007

New 360's coming, and TV reloaded.

There were some forum post last weekend saying that GameCrazy had a new 360 sku in their systems releasing May 1 for $479.99. The follow-up messages fell on both sides of the fence with some people getting their local GC to acknowledge the sku, and others reporting no such item exist in the system. According to the thread a couple days later the new sku was no longer in the system.

Well GameInformer picked up on the news Saturday where they state "retailers have confirmed the new sku is in their systems" (hmmm. inside source from GameStop maybe...). I haven't checked with the local GS/EB stores to see if its listed or not yet, but you know it had to be coming. The main differences in the system? It has an HDMI interface, black exterior, and a 120 GB hard drive for $80 more than the premium system (although rumors of a price drop persist). I could care less about the HDMI port, but they better sell the 120 GB drive separately (for a decent price).

LOST came back a couple weeks ago, and sucked me right back in. Although I hear producers were unhappy with the split season formula (show 6 episodes then nothing for 3 months, then the 16 remaining) this year, so maybe it won't happen again next year.
Jericho starts back up this week (yay!), as did the new season of Amazing Race last night. I've said it before but I'm not a big fan of the reality 'all-star' shows if I like the show I'd rather see new contestants than people I've already seen, no matter how funny/cute/pathetic they were. AR had some really weird picks for all-stars also, 2 teams from the very last race, people from seasons 1 and 3 that I don't even recall, Romber (I swear CBS put them under contract 2 Survivors, 2 Races, and their wedding...), and one 'hodge-podge' team made up of opponents from season 9 (Eric & Danielle who are now dating). I'll watch but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it, and at this point I guess I'll root for Kentucky (although best t-shirt goes to Mary 'Team Kentucky' for her "Missing - the Cho Brothers" sported on the first leg) since Uchenna & Joyce have already won.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

GamerSCORE! and Halo 3 beta testers wanted, $60 please.

Well Tuesday kicked off the Old Spice Experience Challenge for Xbox 360, the contest assigns you a level (1,2 or 3) based on your current gamerscore 0-4,999 (lvl 1) 5,000-9,999 (lvl 2), and 10,000+ (lvl 3). Then based on your level when you start you can get prizes if your the first of xx,xxx to get 1,500 points between Feb. 12-April 12 (which has now been extended to April 15). Now what on earth made MS think it would take 2 freakin' months for people to add 1,500 points to their achievements!?

First off lets cover the prizes...

  • Level 1- you get a Old Spice Level 1 gamerpic, a Level upgrade, and Live Arcade Contra.
  • Level 2- Old Spice level 2 gamerpic, a level upgrade, Live Arcade Contra, and 100 MS points.
  • Level 3- Old Spice level 3 gamerpic, Live Arcade Contra, 200 MS points, T-Shirt, and a copy of Fuzion Frenzy 2

It's important to note there are supposedly only 2,500 T-shirts/Games available, and 70,000 other prizes (I'm guessing codes for Contra, and the MS points combined).

Well the contest didn't start off well, judging from the amount of complaints on various forums. The rewards site went live around 6pm (when it was supposed to launch at midnight EST), but trying to sign in just get it to hang on a blank page. By the time I got home after work last night there were all kinds of work around posted on various forums, and some indications that 35-40 people had already completed the level 3 challenge (in 3 1/2 hours). I finally got registered and thinking I was ready to SCORE I proceeded to play 2 1/2 hours of Madden 06 and rack up 500 points deciding that was a good place to call it a night I saved my progress. This morning I decided to check in to see if the website was working better (it wasn't), and in the process found that signing up for the Xbox Rewards was only the first step. You also have to join the challenge from the main Old Spice page before you get started, yep you guessed it my 1/3 of the mountain was erased and I was all the way at the bottom again. :(

I had posted about this Gamespot How to score 6,000 points (without really trying) article quite a while ago, and had referenced it along with this blog post thinking Madden 06, and King Kong or half of it would be my 1,500 since I had never played them. By all accounts Madden should take 6 hours to get all 1,000 points (my time was right at that, but I never got the 4 sacks during a game achievement) so I ended up with 900 (only 400 of which counted towards the contest...). I knew that Kong was roughly 6-8 hours so I thought I better look for another padding game, after going back to the Gamespot article I decided it would be NBA 2K6. It took 1 game not quite an hour to get all 1,000 points, the easiest points ever and I didn't even understand the controls 100%. I popped in Kong and about 30 minutes in hit the first achievement for 100 points paused the game, and (tried, and tried, and tried) to 'complete' the challenge on the website. I finally got through and it congratulated me on finishing the challenge, I still never got to the prize page but since I was level one I know what I'm getting anyway.

It's funny to note that it took a lame challenge and 24 hours to more than double my gamerscore (I was at 1945, and in the last 24 hours gained 2000 points), not including if I go finish Kong which seems pretty easy for another 900 points. Those guys at put up an unofficial tracker that gives you a rough update on how many have completed the challenge, and if you search for your name (in the Gamertag box) where you stand. It's been pointed out though on a couple forums that people have completed the challenge but the tracker not showing them with all their points (including right now it shows me at +900) so it seems to be taking a while to update so take the numbers there as guesstimates.

Xbox360fanboy had posted a blurb about the upcoming Halo 3 beta in conjunction with Crackdown. Those of you who thought about just snagging a copy of Crackdown downloading the beta then selling it off (or returning it, you devils) looks like the jokes on you. The picture below of insert that comes with Crackdown clearly states that to download the beta (whenever it's actually available), and to play the beta will involve you having the actual Crackdown DVD. Once downloaded it won't show up in the "demo" menu on your dashboard, it will only show up under the Xbox Live menu of the Crackdown game.

So are you willing to pay $60 bucks to beta test a game?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Progressive 360 games, Half-Life 2 date dumps, and pondering new PC parts. reported yesterday that SEGA had announced Virtua Tennis 3 will support 1080p on the 360, as well as a spectator mode dubbed VT:TV where you can watch LIVE matches in progress. Hot on the heels of that news today they posted that EA also says NBA Street Homecourt will support 1080P also. Judging from the comments to the post, it seems that there are already some 1080P games available on your favorite console.

Originally slated for June, it seems as though Valve Software has pushed back Half-Life 2 (Black (PC), and Orange (360/PS3)) till winter (sometime between November~February) according to 1UP.

I'm looking at new PC components. The pending Vista wave as well as new games that I really want to play has me itching to upgrade my rig. It's about time as I've been running 2.4GHz probably close to 2 years, not to mention my NVidia 5900 card that's now 3 generations old. I've always been a staunch Intel supporter so I'm eyeing a nice Duo Core processor, and a 680i (NVidia based motherboard) for starters not to mention new (and more excessive) ram upgrade. Good thing that income tax refund is on the horizon soon!

There was a demo of Supreme Commander posted yesterday, I'm downloading it now just to see how bad I need to upgrade. :)