Thursday, November 20, 2008

... Incoming ... Updates ... More to follow ...

Wow, been quite a stretch since my last post. The month of October seemed to fly by, I took the job at The Ravenwood Manor (Haunted Island at Watson Park) that I mentioned back in August. We had meetings and prep through September, and opened in October. My 'real job' work schedule made it so I could only work Saturday nights after my regular shift, so I put in 17 hour days every Saturday in October. Now don't get me wrong popping up out of a coffin isn't all that physical, although the first couple weekends my arms were sore from throwing open the metal lid :). All-in-all it was a fun experience, and with the exception of one really cool Sunday night, the weather cooperated nicely throughout the month.

I'm so far behind on games it's not even funny. I delved into Saint's Row 2 quite a bit when I had some free time in October, but most of the stuff that came out afterwords is still here unopened. I've got Fable 2, Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, and Little Big Planet that all need some attention, plus I'm really wanting to pick up Call of Duty World at War, and Left for Dead. Luckily the glut of games is drying up fairly quickly and December only offers Prince of Persia as a triple A title, so maybe as it gets colder outside I'll be able to dig into the ones I have.

I was really jazzed about the new dashboard update (NXE) coming on the 360, and luckily got to play around with it a day or so early. I've put in some more time and still haven't tried all the options. Avatars are really cool (a rip off? maybe but who cares) although I'm wishing for more clothing (stories floating around now say Microsoft is new clothing every 2 weeks for 6 months, no word on cost.) choices. One of the podcast I listen too (1UpYours I think) thought it would be a good idea that when you played a game it would add a shirt for that game, ie. playing Gears 2 would add a Gears 2 themed shirt. This should be possible, if you remember back to some of the early titles (Perfect Dark, Amped 3) would add gamer pics when you played them.
I restarted my Netflix account because of the 360 streaming capabilities (when I heard that HD would also be available). There aren't a lot of movie choices yet (and even less now because SONY is being a little brat), but I was surprised to see a lot of TV episodes, some of which are the current season, and evidently new episodes get put up 1 day after the network airing. I watched a missed episode of N.C.I.S. last night with no pause/hiccups and it looked great.
You get a couple 'free' premium themes with the NXE update, and I had downloaded the Gears 2 one that was part of the GameStop promotion. I found a thread over at NeoGaf that people have posted screen shots of some of the new premium theme packs (premium indeed, meaning Microshaft now charges 250 ms points ($3.12) for a theme, as apposed to the old 160 ms points ($2.00) price point) so you can at least sample it before you spend your space bucks.
I haven't tried the hard drive installation yet, but you can check out this handy chart for info on how much storage games take, and any time savings gained (or lost...) by installation. Except for DVD drive wear and tear, I'm not seeing this a plus, you still have to insert the disc for verification and the time gains are minimal at best.

Now quick hits on some other odds'n'ends. Quantum of Solace, I was not impressed, it's okay but certainly doesn't live up to Casino Royale. I was setting there throughout thinking is this it? I don't know if it's the loss of gadgets (the visits to Q were awesome), or the dark persona, but here's hoping the next one is better.

Most of the Black Friday ads are available (if you know where to look/search) and this years crop of items is pretty lame. I don't know if it's because I'm not really looking for something specific or what, but with the exceptions of a couple blu-ray disc there isn't anything I'm in a rush to get.

Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash is available again in stores, I so searched for this last year after getting hooked and there was none to be found. This year I think I've already had too much because now it doesn't even taste good.

The new World of Warcraft expansion came out, Death Knights are pretty cool I finished the starting area and got him to level 58. My main still isn't 70.

I've picked up on some new series this fall, others I have 4-7 episodes sitting on my DVR and haven't even started (My Worst Enemy, and Eleventh Hour). The Mentalist picked up and got more likable, Fringe has went progressively down hill, and I got back into Supernatural. My best picks of new stuff in no particular order, best new drama Life on Mars, and best new comedy Gary Unmarried.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vegas baby, I'm not worthy, TV fall bloom, and Zune gaming...

Got back from my Las Vegas trip late last week tired, and worn out. Who would have thought that a trip to Vegas could be so tiring? I did gamble a bit, but a lot more conservatively (I don't know how I was able to throw down a $100 on a single roulette spin in the past) than regular trips 10 years ago. I did come home up, so at least the house didn't get any donations from me. :) Unfortunately I didn't make it to Fry's (this year) so it's on my to do list for next time.

We got back and then hit the Kansas State Fair the next day for the Alice Cooper show. He was scheduled to play last year, but cancelled before the show, which since he had a new album this year (end of July) Hutchinson was the kick off for the new Along came a Spider tour. Overall it was a good show we had great seats (2ND row left edge of the stage), and the weather (which had been rainy most of the time we were in Vegas) stayed clear most of the day. I was never an Alice Cooper fan growing up, it wasn't until his 1989 Trash album that I really got hooked, which spread to some of his earlier work. I snagged the latest album to listen to on the plane to Vegas, and wasn't thrilled with the disc, luckily the concert was a good play list of old school, greatest hits, and a couple current songs. I'm guessing it's hard to put together an hour and a half show pulling from 25 albums in 29 years.

It's September, that means all the new fall shows are starting to blitz your television. Bones has already been back for a couple of weeks (the opening 2 episodes in London looked really good in HD), Fringe has also had a couple episodes now, it reminds me a lot of X-files (which is a good thing), Greek is back, and I caught the first episode of Do Not Disturb, although if tonight's second episode isn't any better it may be my last. Next week is CBS big start so I'm looking forward to most of Monday night, some of Tuesday, Wednesday, Survivor on Thursday (in HD for the first time!), and Amazing Race Sunday night. NBC also pops up next week with Heroes Monday, and Knight Rider on Wednesday night while ABC seems to be waiting until October to unleash their shows (and in some cases (LOST) won't be seen again until January...).

There was a new Zune software/firmware update yesterday (as well as new model announcements I guess (120GB, and 16GB (flash based)). This new updates adds Games(!) and more. Yes, that's right with the 3.0 firmware you get Hexic and Texas Hold'Em for your Zune, as well as being able to tag songs on FM radio for purchase, and wireless browsing of the Zune Marketplace from the Zune itself. I played Hexic for about 15 minutes today, and while it played okay it's kinda hard to control with up/down/left/right. It works fine in Marathon mode, but I think any type of timed mode would be really hard. I haven't tried poker yet, as that 15 minutes of game time seemed to suck the battery juice (although I haven't 'charged' it since I got back from Vegas).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Yet more blu-rays, and Vegas baby!

The latest round of blu-ray rentals are in, and I have to say I've pretty much worked my through the 8' section at this point. Except for some elusive titles that I've only seen in stock once (21), or others that I've never seen (What Happens in Vegas) there's not much left I want to see. I thought the 'Cheap Shot, Cheap Date' promo would end 9/1/08, but it's still alive and kicking. I took a day or two off as I knew the selection that was there, and the last couple times was scrounging to find a movie (I know I've been there too often when one of the clerks that usually works evenings commented she was surprised I found something I hadn't seen...)

I went back this afternoon thinking maybe there would be some of the new releases left from today, and fell for the hype on the cover of Then She Found Me. "Smart, engaging, and funny!" or "A fine, unpredictable comedy!" the box proclaimed, and starring Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, and Bette Midler it had to be good. Ummm... Not so much, skip it.

Stranger than Fiction on the other hand was the easy stand out in this group a funny, touching, romantic drama-dy starring Will Ferrell, and Emma Thompson. Harold Crick wakes up one day hearing someone narrating his live he sets off searching for the narrator getting help from a college literary professor (Dustin Hoffman), and falling for a baker (Maggie Gyllenhaal) that he's auditing for the IRS. It's my new favorite Will Ferrell movie bumping Elf from the top spot.

I have a work conference next week and I'm getting a little pumped for it, did I mention it's in Las Vegas? A friend and me used to go once a year back in the mid-late 90's when they used to offer $200 flight/hotel packages from here. It's easily been 10 years though since I've been, so I'm excited, although it doesn't sound like I'll have a lot of free time for myself. I did have a *geek* moment when I found out tonight that there is a Fry's in Vegas (see some earlier post if you don't know my fondness of Fry's) just about an 8 minute bus ride from my hotel so part of my time will be spent there. Some of the stores have been running $9.99 clearance on HD DVD's, and some decent blu-ray deals so hopefully I'll be able to pick up some stuff. This one has a 'theme' like some of the others I've been to, at least from the outside it looks like a giant slot-machine. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

More blu views added...

The next round of blu-ray rentals has been added. The stand out this shot was Nim's Island, a heart warming tale of a little girl whose dad disappears and the writer that is trying to help her. The whole movie had me thinking of Romancing the Stone, and after the fact I guess a little bit of Home Alone thrown in.

As for the others, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay had some really funny moments but didn't match the first one. The Other Boleyn Girl which is a period piece, or historical romance usually wouldn't be on my radar at all, but I caught a trailer on one of the other rentals and it looked okay. There is a lot of sex, betrayal, and decapitations to round out the story of King Henry VIII.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More work, demo goodness, movies, and the blu-ray's keep coming...

Last Sunday I decided (for some insane reason) that a full time job wasn't enough, so I auditioned for a part time gig. I got a job at the Ravenwood Manor the 'haunted island' at Watson Park. It only runs through the month of October, but sounds like it will be a lot of fun.

I tried the Pure demo on the 360 and it looks incredible! I'm not a big fan of ATV racing, but I've heard people talking about it on various podcast so I decided to try it out. The demo offers a tutorial, then a 3 lap race on the Mount Garda (Italy) course (you can read TeamXbox's impressions of the demo). Star Wars Force Unleashed demo (360/PS3) was put up yesterday, as was The Last Guy demo for the PS3. I've downloaded both but haven't got a chance to play them yet.

I caught the sneak of the House Bunny Wednesday night. I went in thinking probably most of the comedy would be dumbed down (after seeing the trailer), but was surprised at how funny it actually was. I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 on Thursday afternoon. I caught the original when I was working at the theater (somebody has to screen them) as it wasn't something I would normally see, but turned out that it was quite entertaining. I haven't read the 4 book series of the same name, and thought it was funny that the second movie ended the way it did. After doing some internet research, it seems that SotTP2 movie actually follows the 4th book in the series (which would explain the ending...) with some highlights thrown in from books 2, and 3. Overall I enjoyed it just as much as the first one, plenty of comedy and drama throughout to keep you hooked.

I've now worked through the second wave of Hollywood rentals (over at the left) all of which were really good. The standout this time was Street Kings a movie I must have totally missed in theaters as I don't even recall it coming out (April 11th according to IMDB). It has a big name cast list, and plays out as a really violent police drama not surprisingly as it comes from David Ayer who also directed Harsh Times (another violent LA based drama), and was writer/producer on Training Day. I picked it up the other day because there wasn't anything else jumping out a me, and I'm glad I did.
The second best would be Vantage Point although about the fifth time through the story (the first ~15 minutes are retold from different peoples point of view) I was getting a little bored. If you can hang on until the wrap-up at the end you'll be treated to the an excellent car chase (reminded me of Italian Job) and conclusion.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Updates... 360, BD Rentals, and more.

I've been playing around with the Red Faction : Guerrilla beta on Xbox Live a couple times in the last two weeks. I haven't quite gelled with the controls yet, and both times I've played the same map which is kind of a drab 'canyon' base area. It always seems someone takes a jet pack, and gets to the highest point on the map then takes you out every time you spawn. It uses a ranking system like CoD4 so you gain levels, and unlock other items as you progress, unfortunately, so far it just doesn't produce that same CoD4 feeling.

In bizarre news, did you see this story (video here) a couple days ago? In St. John, Missouri a man went into an EB Games (there's still some around?) and demanded a PS3 System brandishing a gun. He informed the clerk that his family was being held hostage, and the system was the ransom to save their lives.

I've updated the items on the left side, as well as adding a Hollywood FREE Blu-ray Tally section. I've rented one a day so far (like I mentioned last time) with the standout being The Bank Job, and Good Luck Chuck a close second. There was actually quite a bit checked out this weekend so I'm hoping they get back some of the titles (guess it means a few people have blu-ray players on this side of town...) I seen earlier this week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mummies, and free blu!

I watched The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor last week, and came away pleased. I enjoyed the first two movies, the "Rock" scorpion king spin off not so much, but anyway. If you've seen the first two you know the drill, mummy found, mummy awakens, mummy rampages, and finally mummy stopped.

This time we focus on the Emperor Han known as the "Dragon Emperor" a mean SOB that ruled with a iron fist killing all who would stand in his way, and using their bodies as the foundation of the Great Wall of China. He wants to be immortal so he enlist the help of a witch, who curses him when he kills her love interest. Overall it was a neat story, and the special effects were well done (not like some of the subpar Indiana Jones stuff) and believable. Rachel Weisz did not reprise her role as Brendon Fraser's wife (check out the wikipedia entry for conflicting reasons why...) and was replaced by Mario Bello. Jet Li, and Michelle Yeoh round out the cast (as the Emperor, and the witch) with Fraser and John Hannah returning for the third film. Overall it was fun and entertaining, if you expect anything more than a popcorn flick this probably isn't right for you.

Found out today that Hollywood Video is running a great promotion right now, FREE blu-ray rentals! Yay! Since canceling my Netflix I have only bought a few titles, but was reading on DVDTalk forums about the promo, although it seemed to be YMMV. I think I read about it Sunday night, but earlier this week was kinda hectic so I spaced it off, until I heard a commercial today on the radio. I was quite surprised, and shocked when I called the store closest to my house, and the clerk said they were participating. According to post on another forum it's a trial marketing campaign tied to the 'cheap date' promotion, but you get 1 free blu-ray rental per day, per account. I guess it's running until the end of August so I'm going to try to get 19 free rentals the rest of this month! I'll keep you posted as I watch them, trying to rent only stuff I haven't seen, wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pineapple Express, and more 360 lower price proof...

I caught the sneak last night of Pineapple Express a action comedy from the writers of Superbad, and the producers of Superbad and Knocked Up. If you've seen either of these other titles you pretty much know what your in for, especially if you've seen the trailers for Pineapple. The whole plot revolves around a stoner (Seth Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco) on the run after Rogen witnesses a murder that links back to Franco. A lot of weed later, the story has it's funny moments, and frankly a lot more action that I expected. I liken it to Harold and Kumar go to White Castle which I also happen to enjoy. The difference is half the funny stuff in H&K was them while they were stoned, the guys in Pineapple actually seem to function better stoned than they do normally. All in all it was a fun romp through the smoke. *** out of ****

Xbox-Scene has posted another inventory picture showing the $199.99 price drop on the Arcade 360 system 9/7/08, it must be true?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Branson redux, 360 cuts on the way, and more...

Took off a couple of extra days last week for a mini-vacation, and went back to Branson. It was my daughters last chance for Kid's Fest at Silver Dollar City before school starts back up (Aug 13th! Yay!). We were going to hit SDC on Wednesday, but when we got there Tuesday the forecast was 60% showers (evidently the ones that rolled through here Tuesday) so we pushed it back to Thursday. It ended up being hot and muggy, and a lot of other people must have skipped Wednesday because it was pretty packed.

We did stop at the other GameWerks location (see the June 4th entry) since I knew the one we found last time was closing. It was a really large location that carried everything 'retro' you could think of (Atari, NES, SNES, Sega Saturn, etc...) and most of the hardware also (I didn't remember the Atari Lynx units being so humongous). While we were trying to find this one, I ran across a Game Xchange in the phone book which was just enough off the main downtown drag it could have been open for a while and I wouldn't have known. I guess it's not really a franchise set up, but you can pay to use the name on your location. It was a lot smaller than GameWerks but the prices seemed along the same lines as the locations here.

My daughter wanted to go by Ride Makerz that we seen them working on last time we were there, it really is Build-a-Bear for boys and tweens. She managed to get a 'stock' (non-rc) vehicle for about $18, but you can always accessorize later. The one I wanted to put together (black Dodge Viper, special rims & tires, ground effects (light bars), and RC control) would have hit $80. It's a good thing you can add/change parts later then at least you could split it over 2-3 payments, and I thought the bears were bad.

On the way home we stopped off in Springfield for gas, and I spotted a GameStop (and movies too) in a strip mall so we pulled in and there was another GameStop out in the front building. I went in to discover it was an ex-EB Games location (you could tell with the 'wood' accents everywhere). Nice clean store on the inside, the only thing that struck me as odd was their top row of shelves had to be at least 8' high and they were using it for regular stock. When I left I drove around the corner thinking that maybe they had just moved from the back side to the front and hadn't taken down the sign yet. Nope, around the corner (maybe 150 yards I kid you not!) there was a GameStop (and movies too) location. It was an original GameStop as it had the same blue walls and floors as the Kellogg & Greenwich location here, since it was a and movies too it was pretty good sized store. They had a couple blu-rays, and HD DVD's in stock but nothing I didn't already have, since I didn't see any DVD's at the other location I assumed this was the only on that took them. I asked the lady working if they did a lot of business so close together and she said I would be surprised, she also mentioned that there were 2 more stores in south Springfield that
were only about 1 block apart (I actually think I've been to them before, there by Battlefield Mall diagonally across the street from each other).

All of this is fine two stores 150 yards from each other, but then when we were leaving the strip another store caught my eye, Vintage Stock. Keep in mind I'm still in the same strip center maybe 150 yards (the opposite direction) from the first GameStop, this place was huge they carried games (current, retro), movies, toys, comics, cards, imports, and records. They had a fairly large selection of blu-rays but seemed like everything (except Spider-Man 3 $19.99) was $21.99 used, I don't understand this pricing. I realize that overall blu-rays cost more, but I know for a fact that almost 80% of the titles they had I could buy cheaper online, NEW. It's like Game Xchange here prices all BR now at $19.95 used, umm need to tell you, that's not a deal. Check out the web site in the link above a little way down on the left side you can watch their commercial. Looks like they have ~30+ locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and a couple up in the KC area.

Big waves coming on the 360 hardware front? ARS Technica reported Friday that there were price cuts coming on all 360 models (unlike the 'clearance' sale on the 20GB units) $199.99 Arcades, $299.99 Pro (60GB), and $399.99 Elites. Then posted a article and image on Saturday showing a screenshot of an inventory system (looks like Circuit City to me...) showing the $199.99 price upcoming (9/7/08) on the Arcade system. The article points out this is pretty good timing, 1 week after Infinite Undiscovery, a couple weeks before the timed exclusive Rock Band 2 not to mention all the other holiday (can you say Gears 2, can you??) blockbusters. Speaking of Gears I dug out my copy a couple weekends ago (which must have been my 2nd because it was still sealed) and started playing again (there was a Play & Win contest going). I'm sure you could search back and find my 'feelings' on Gears, but to sum it up I wasn't a fan. I couldn't get the controls down comfortably, and was switching back and forth between Easy, and Hard it just wasn't what I was hyped for. I managed to get farther in the 2-3 days that I played this time than when I first got it. I got one 'Noob' voice message from someone on my friends list the first night, laughing that I hadn't completed the campaign, although in they're defense they did offer to play through with me on co-op.

New fall TV season is on it's way, and they have started the barrage of commercials tooting the new shows, and returns of the old favorites. I've been watching the webisodes for Heroes online, and looking forward to the new season.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

E3 impressions thus far on the 360 front...

Well E3 2008 started Monday in Los Angeles. G4TV has been showing oodles of coverage, and websites have a flurry of activity especially with all the big press conferences out of the way. I didn't get to watch any this year, but have picked up bits and pieces here and there, scouring the web, listening to daily update podcast, etc...

Microsoft was up first thing Monday morning with their conference, probably the biggest shock was when they announced Final Fantasy XIII would be coming day & date with the PS3 version. We're getting a new dashboard 'overhaul' that immediately struck me as Windows Flip 3D from Vista (you know where all the open task cycle through in a 3D isometric view?), and it also supports the new personal avatars (think Mii's). put up a developer walkthrough video showing off the features of the new dash thats worth a view.

Microsoft is 'bringing it home' again, just turn on your 360 and check out the incoming flood of E3 videos, and demos. I highly recommend checking out the Fallout 3 video it looks amazing, and Fable 2 looks good too, I wasn't a big fan of the first one, but will give this one a try. There were some other announcements that caught my attention, Scene-It: Box Office Smash (this time with online multiplayer!), and limited edition red and green controllers.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wall-y! Alone in the Dark, Achieve this, and more...

I meant to post last time as I had just seen Wall-E but was on my way out the door and forgot about it. I caught the opening show last weekend with my daughter and must say it was pretty good. I've heard that there's no way they (read:Pixar) can keep a kids attention when there isn't any conversation dialog in the the first 30-45 minutes of the movie, but my daughter never seemed to get restless. I wasn't a big fan a Cars, although I really enjoyed Ratatouille when I finally got around to seeing it on DVD. Wall-E doesn't stack up quite that high but it was fun anyway. *** out of ****.

I picked up Alone in the Dark last week when it came out as I was really hyped after watching the 'tech' videos, and other pre-release footage of the game. Then the reviews started coming in (Metacritic is currently sitting @ 65), and most all were not favorable. The biggest gripe seems to be the controls, and on certain sequences this is really true, mostly on the driving portions of the game.

The game is divided into chapters, then each chapter has 4-8 sequences. You have the ability to 'pause' the game and fast forward (skip) or rewind sequences within the chapter (although any skipping will nullify the 'achievements' for that chapter). I was progressing pretty well through the opening chapter, until the first driving sequence came along. When you fail at a sequence you start over at the very beginning of that sequence (no matter how long it is) and that one I restarted a lot. There was a specific route through the environment, but one little mess up, and boom it was back to the start. I finally threw the controller down in frustration with a few choice 'words'.

I picked it back up the next evening and made it through after two tries, everything went pretty smooth until the next driving sequence. :( Overall I think I made it about 1/2 way through the game, there is some cool stuff (atmosphere, combining items, fire elements, etc.) but there are also some drawbacks. In the end I'm glad I couldn't justify $50 (it was on sale) on it, but I'll pick it up down the line around $20 or under to finish it.

All of that new game playing earned me some much needed new achievement points, and I seen my gamerscore rising again, I overtook my closest adversary (sorry, Sydious) and am well on my way to the 10,000 point plateau. I went back and started playing single player CoD 4 after ditching Alone, to keep the achievement points coming in.

I had been seeing a lot (I mean a lot) of previews for Wipeout, and I Survived a Japanese Game Show on ABC the month of June. Wipeout looked like a rip off of those Japanese obstacle courses that Spike shows dubbed over in 'engrish', and the spots for Survived didn't do anything for me. I flipped over to ABC last Tuesday anyway (mainly because my daughter thought Wipeout looked funny), but as it turns out it's not. It looks like they picked up 24 random people on the street, and said "Hey want to play a game"? The two host basically make fun of the contestants as they go bouncing/slipping/sliding/falling through the water/muddy obstacle course. It's just bad.

I was about to cut my loses, and give up when the beginning of I Survived started, imagine my surprise when it was broadcast in HD. I've never seen a reality show in Hi-Def (although supposedly the next Survivor will be shot that way). It turns out the people here auditioned for 'reality' show but had no idea what they would be doing. They were all flown to LAX, then got shuttled to the international departures gate (about 2 blocks down) and found they were flying to Japan. They get to Japan get a quick little tour, and then the host takes them to Toho studios (Godzilla's creator) lot where they are sent to a sound stage only to find that they are the stars of a Japanese game show. The teams compete in a contest where the winner gets a 'prize' (so far a helicopter tour of Tokyo, and spa day) and the losers have to complete a task (work as rickshaw drivers, and work at a pachinko parlor). Then the losers have to pick 2 people from their team to compete in an elimination challenge. I'm really liking this one so far, and the locale shots of Japan are gorgeous in HD.

Friday, June 27, 2008

360 license renewed, and my crystal ball shows a price drop.

Xbox finally released a DRM Fix for the 360 consoles. If you had a console die, and replaced it (either through MS or just bought another one) you found that any content you had downloaded (paid for arcade titles, themes, movies, tv shows, etc.) were tied to the original 360, and if you weren't logged into LIVE you couldn't access them from the new 360. Arcade games for example, my daughter used to be able to log into her gamertag (not LIVE enabled) and play any of the arcade titles I had downloaded on my original box, on the new one they show up as trial versions. I had called customer service 3 times in the span of a month after getting my refurbished unit, got 3 different 'fixes' none of which worked. Now, 8 months later I can finally redo my 'drm' licenses through the web. You can only perform this transfer once every 12 months so use it wisely.

In a forum post at highdefdigest someone posted scans of the July 6th K-Mart circular showing the 360 Pro at the new low price of $299.99. Price drop in our future, perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time a price drop was announced with a early leaked ad. The Elite, and Arcade models aren't pictured can we assume a drop on these as well? Will they be $50 off also, or I'm guessing $30 on the Arcade which puts it level with a $249.99 Wii system.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bell breakdown, and stormy new tv shows...

I fell off the wagon yesterday, my curious side (and a free coupon) got the better of me. Taco Bell had introduced those Frutista drinks that I wanted to try plus the 'free trial' coupons I had expired Monday I decided it was as good as time as any to return. Its wierd when you haven't had something for 2 months how much better it taste vesus what you recall. Now mind you I didn't go oveboard and make my way back to the Polo de morte (Chicken of death) I kept it simple with a burrito supreme, and tacos. I'm loving the 'tomato' scare though I no longer have to say no tomatoes on any of my orders, as they aren't putting them on anyway.

Oh yeah btw the Frutista wasn't all that whoopie, I prefer the Strawberry over the Mango, but not something I'll go out of my way to get again.

Some of the new series have picked up on tv, so far mostly fresh series as most of the new season of summer standby's is later this month or the first part of July. In Plain Sight isn't too bad, I was expecting a little more comedy than what the show has deliveed so far in the first couple episodes. The pilot was a little more dry than the following episodes have been so it's on a up swing for me anywas.

I was really looking forward to Fear Itself on NBC, a anthology type horror show where evey week is a self contained story. It seems to be the networks vesion of Showtime's Masters of Horror series that ran for 2-3 seasons. I really enjoyed the first episode which was a cross between The Village and a vampire story. The second episode was a little more 'ghost' story' and just didn't pull me in as much, although that could be because I had to wait to watch it (more on that in a minute).

Swingtown was the last one I caught and so far its been about what I expected, the musiic is cool, if even a little before my time. The 70's seem to have been a very free-spirited time when drugs, sex, and rock & roll was all people thought about. So far the show seems to have zeroed in on the setting though the cars, interiors, and clothing all looks to be right on target.

That brings me to my b&m segment, Kansas and its severe weather sucks ass. I settled into my chair Friday after work to catch the latest episodes of the forementioned Fear, and Swing to find that NBC showed maybe 20 minutes of Fear total not joining the show until 20 minutes in, and then flipping in and out of weather coverage for 5-10 minutes at a time. ABC was even worse doing storm coverage through the entire freaking episode of Swingtown. I realize it was sorta close Haysville/Rose Hill, but really do I need every major network to drop what their showing for it? No. If I want to know I'm quite capable of switching channels when, and if I deem it necessary.

All I can say is torrents are the best thing to happen to TV for quite a while, and almost on par with my DVR love.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Miscellaneous blog bites, including Branson, consoles, COX, and Gamestop thoughts.

Well, made it back from Branson over the weekend, this time salmonella free (yay!), although the Bell is trying to lure me back with those Frutista Freeze drinks.

Overall not much had changed we lucked out and hit Silver Dollar City on Wednesday and it wasn't very busy at all, I don't think we waited more than 5-10 minutes in any ride line. The new Giant Swing was pretty cool, I wasn't too thrilled the first time at 9am right after breakfast, but later in the day we went back and rode it three more times and it was great. Rode all of the roller coaster 'regulars' Wildfire, Powder Keg (probably my current park favorite), Thunderation, and Fire-in-the-Hole as well as some of the other stand-by rides including Lost River of the Ozarks because my daughter was intent on getting wet. Keep in mind that last week we had a pretty nice day last Wed it was about 73 degrees with a light breeze, even though it was mid-afternoon when we rode (man was that water cold).

We hit some of the area shops including the pawn shop downtown (snagged a PS3 controller, blu-ray movie, and a PS2 game), and a Music/Video/Game shop (a couple more blu-ray discs). The last day we were there we were just kinda driving around and ran across a GameWerks store, picture a much larger GameXchange that sells every system format. There were Atari Lynx cartridges, TurboGrafx 16 cards, not to mention NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, GameGear, etc... After coming home and checking out the website it seems that it is a Branson area only shop with 2 locations. The pricing wasn't bad but didn't see anything I needed desperately, although their posted trade-in prices didn't look too bad either.

I got home to find that evidently the Ninja Gaiden II demo was up... in Japan... and was supposed to be coming for the U.S. later, which turned to Tuesday, which turned to today, and I still don't think it's up yet. The game however did ship yesterday so it's now available in stores, so who needs a demo? I've never understood why they don't get the demos out before the release of the game, I can't be the only person who sometimes is actually swayed one way or the other by a demo. BioShock great demo that cemented my craving for the game, I bought Culdcept Saga because I enjoyed the demo, of course it can teeter the opposite way too, Hour of Victory horrid demo that scared me, Turning Point, and Turok were others that didn't kindle any desire. Anyway I guess the moral is I need my demos early to help me make informed choices (especially on titles I'm not 100% sure about) sure there is some info I'll gather from customers, podcast, and various websites/forums, but nothing beats 10-30 minutes of 'hands on' time.

There is a demo up right now for Crash Time which looks to be a Burnout (think 1,or 2) clone, but there is so much trash talking going through the forums about it I don't think I'll even try it, on the other hand Xbox360fanboy says the demo for Civilization Revolution (single & multi-player) will hit LIVE and PSN tomorrow.

My dvr also had a surprise for me when I got back home, COX has added Sci-Fi, Lifetime, USA, Bravo, and MSNBC channels to the HD tier. USA is a welcome addition with new summer episodes of Burn Notice, Monk, Psych, and the new series In Plain Sight. There are a couple other new series I'm interested in checking out this summer Flashpoint (CBS), Fear Itself (NBC), Charlie Jade (Sci-Fi), and maybe Swingtown (ABC).

The Mole returned to ABC Monday night, and while I miss Anderson Cooper as host, I don't miss the celebrity crap from the last two seasons (back in 2003, and 2004). One of the fun aspects is playing along at home trying to figure out who the mole is, they give you clues each episode (usually obscure, and subtle) that reveals the Mole's identity, but until the final show when they show them and give you the context do you understand them. The first episode this season and in the first challenge one of the contestants (Victoria) had a green 'Mole' fingerprint on her helmet, blatantly obvious? Are they trying to get the home viewers in on the setup or is it some weird red herring?

Check out the current issue June 9, 2008 of Fortune magazine there is a 4-5 page article on GameStop, titled GameStop racks up the points: Meet the people who run the store your kids never want to leave.. More or less a timeline from the start when Barnes and Noble purchased B. Dalton and acquired 5 Software Etc. locations, to a couple years ago with the EB Games buyout.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones, remember him? PSP God early, Blue inbound, and no chalupa this time.

Well I saw the new Indiana Jones movie last week, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (from now on to be referred to as Indiana meets E.T.). Just kidding... sort of.

I had read some early 'reviews' of the movie that didn't delve into the story too much, so no spoilers, but they both pointed out the same overtones. Evidently George Lucas (one of the writers) always had this notion to mix Indiana Jones with buddy Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters and this is the 'fruits' of that. My issues aren't really with the story though, it seems plausible that Jones could have some interaction with an alien life form after all he treks all over looking for artifacts from lost civilizations. If we learned anything from Stargate, it was that beings from distant galaxies were here a long, long time ago and ancient Egyptians worshiped them (duh). My gripes come from the special effects teams, when I'm 'into' a movie anything fake or unrealistic will pull me right out of it. Unfortunately this happens a couple of times in IJatKotCS even before the effects blow out at the end of the movie. One scene that pans out from a graveyard overview that is so easily distinguished as a miniature, and the jungle chase scene which is so CG heavy that it looked unrealistic in parts. Don't think about the fact that Harrison Ford is getting a little too old to play the action hero, or that they try to write Shia LeBeouf in as a surrogate, or that it's been 19 years since the last movie. :(

I'm going to give this **1/2 out of ****. I remember liking Raiders, Last Crusade, and Temple of Doom (in that order) and would probably put this one even with Temple until at least I can re-watch Temple (seeing as it's been 20 years since I've seen it) and figure out why Short Round bothered me so much.

The new God of War Chains of Olympus PSP bundles are supposed to hit stores on June 3rd, 2008, but there have been rumblings on the Internet today that Wal-Mart is selling them early. While perusing PSP news I also see that SCEA announced a Madden 09 Entertainment Pack last week. This awesome slim 'metallic blue' set includes the system, Madden NFL 09, NFL: In Just One Play UMD video, a voucher to download Beats, and a 1GB memory stick. The best part being there is no silhouette of John Maddens head on the back of the unit! (Yay!) In all seriousness this looks to be an excellent value bundle ($170 PSP+$40 Madden+$20 NFL UMD (based off the DVD price)+$5 Beats+$15 1GB=$250 value) for everything you get.

Object of desire

I still own an original (fully functioning) PSP so I haven't been able to persuade myself that I need this... yet. The Skype feature only available on the 'slim' models doesn't sway me, but the upcoming GPS unit may be 'slim' only compatible would be a consideration.

I've got more vacation days to use up, so taking some days this week to go back to Branson with my daughter, and parents. I don't think I blogged it when I got back, but we came back up through Branson after the Houston trip (see post from a month ago) everything was fine until a bad decision (fast food restaurant at 11pm), a chicken bacon ranch chalupa (the smoking gun), and some kind of bug (Salmonella?) collided to make me sicker than I've ever been before. Needless to say we cut that trip short and came back early so I could feel like death warmed over for a couple days. I'm happy to say I've been Taco Bell Hell free for a little over a month and have no regrets.

Monday, May 12, 2008

WiiWares... and racing Wii style.

The new WiiWare line up hit today, Nintendo's 'answer' to 360 Live Arcade games perhaps? Wired's Game|Life blog has a great launch guide up and impressions of the first 6 U.S. titles. I'm still not a fan of Nintendo's virtual console pricing although I guess the pricing for the WiiWare titles isn't as bad seeing these are new titles not available anywhere else, and the fact that I was able to pick up a couple WiiPoint cards at Wal-Mart on clearance will make me feel a little better.

Reading Wired's write ups, and trolling some forums it seems that LostWinds ($10) and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King ($15) (any more references as FFCC:MLAAK) are the stand outs in this batch. LostWinds is a side-scrolling platform game where you use the Wiimote to control the wind that helps move your character or change the environment to help him through obstacles. It's been compared to Kirby's Canvas Curse a game I really enjoyed on the DS, and will probably be my first purchase.

The other one that caught my eye before I read any impressions was FFCC:MLAAK based in the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles universe. The thing that got me was it's not really a conventional RPG, it's more of a Simcity style of game. You take over a deserted/ghost town, and are charged with repopulating and keeping the residents happy. I guess its pretty good and already has DLC available to add-on for later levels.

I finally got around to trying out some MarioKart Wii and it was pretty cool! I played through a few Grand Prix sets with the Wiimote (sans wheel holder), and a few more with Wiimote & Nunchuk. I felt I had a lot more control using the Wiimote/Nunchuk combo although it did lack some of the 'fun' that came from using just the motion control (even without the plastic wheel housing). I've heard that the GameCube controller works really well too, but haven't had a chance to try it yet. Now I'm trying to snag a used copy somewhere (because I'm cheap), but haven't found one yet. :(

In a semi-related note I found that Nintendo released a new GameCube controller in Japan (yes... new) in Wii white. Unfortunately its not a Wavebird, but this one almost has a 10 ft. cord (unlike the older model GC controllers that were about 6 ft.) plus you get rumble (which must be important SONY added it back into their controllers). :) No word on a U.S. release, but the import is about ~$35 with shipping.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sony Playstation day, through the HAZE and off the GRID.

Sony held it's Playstation Day 2008 in London May 6th-May 8th. Gamersyde has a great rundown of the stuff presented, be sure to checkout the videos for Killzone 2 coming February 2009, and Motorstorm : Pacific Rift.

There was some new goodies put up on the Playstation Store yesterday too, the Haze demo, Grid demo (which is also up on XBL Marketplace), and a Mirror's Edge trailer from EA.

I played through the Haze demo last night and it was pretty neat, I'm not sure about the storyline but the graphics were really nice. I haven't had a chance to try out Grid yet as I was too busy watching the trailers mentioned above, not to mention that I found out later is was also on the 360.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I am IRON MAN...

Went out and caught the advance showing of Iron Man last night, and must say I came away pretty impressed. I read Iron Man comics when I was growing up, but they were never my favorites. I remember his story lines consisting of a rich alcoholic playboy SOB, that for some reason I didn't relate to. :)

The movie has 'updated' the surroundings of Iron Man's origin where the movie backdrops Afghanistan instead of Vietnam from the comics. Since I was never a big fan of the comics the movie didn't have any glaring mistakes that I caught, his secretary is Pepper Potts (Paltrow), and I think even Obidiah Stane (Bridges) is from the comic book. After seeing the film I think casting Robert Downey Jr. as the rich SOB Tony Stark was an excellent choice, although the movie never really delves into the alcoholism, that came later in the series so maybe Iron Man 3 or 4 will cover that.

There are a couple of great product placements in the movie, a big one for Burger King, and in a scene in his living room there's a Nintendo Wii on the bureau under the flat screen. It also contains the Stan Lee cameo that we've come to expect from Marvel features, and a couple of comic book tie-ins. Make sure you stay through the credits as one of those tie-ins pops up at the very end. Good superhero movie, not my favorite, but I'll give it *** anyway.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another nerd moment fullfilled...

Not content with the Fry's yesterday, I went back to the 'South' Houston location today. It still doesn't have a 'theme' but I noticed it's definately more upsale looking with marble accents and vaulted ceilings. Picked up a few HD DVD's that they were out of at the other location, and one really cheap Blu-ray.

On a side note I stopped at the scariest Gamestop ever. :(

Sunday, April 20, 2008

3 states 10 hours, redbox envy, and my nerd mecca...

Well since 5:30am this morning I've started in Kansas, went all the way through Oklahoma, and ended up in Houston, TX. Looking forward to hitting Arkansas, and Missouri tomorrow. :)

This is how 7-11 competes against McDonalds redbox accross the street in Oklahoma, I guess if people are saving that .01 they're happy?

My nerd mecca visited again...

Hit the one on the outskirts of Houston (not the same one from last trip) and it actually has a 'theme' like the one in California (the 50's sci-fi store), this one was an 'oil well' complete with oil derricks and working pumps inside. Snagged a copy of Untold Legends for my PS3 on clearence, unfortunately was dissapointed by the HD DVD 'sale' prices, and utter lack of cheap Blu-ray discs.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Clearing out the cobwebs, updates galore, and I <3 PS3!

Wow it's been over a month, when I think about something to write down I need to get off my arse and just do it. I need to set a schedule and put something up once a week even if nothings going on, we'll see how well that works out. :)

Let's see where to start... I have seen one (count 'em 1) new theatrical movie in the last month. I caught Doomsday about a week after it came out, and was pleasantly surprised, it was like a cross between Mad Max, Escape from New York and Resident Evil.

I had heard some praise on the 1UpYours podcast, and read a couple forum post that were positive so I paid my hard earned money (I'm having theatrical withdrawal now that I don't know anyone that works at Northrock anymore) down on the cheapest show I could find, a $4.25 matinee. Luckily I wasn't disappointed at all it's not so much a zombie flick as it leans a lot more on a 'post-apocalyptic' wasteland theme. While there are some good gory chunks I wouldn't classify this a horror film the 'infected' are just a means to propel the story at the beginning. *** Great action adventure flick.

I had started playing Lord of the Rings Online a while back, because I was getting WoW burnout, and really enjoyed some of the differences I picked up on in LotRO. First off the graphics are gorgeous, not cartoon-y at all like WoW the environments look great as do the spell effects. Secondly the story line (I'm not a big LotR fan) wasn't bad and moved the character leveling through really well. It seems to be mostly a solo affair, with certain 'fellowship' (read: group) quest pretty far in between (I believe I've had two so far up to level 13). On the downside though LotRO doesn't like Vista very much, it runs good, but the hoops I had to go through to get it started were really starting to tick me off.

Then something worse happened WoW put out an update/patch (2.4) that spiked my interest, I made it past my Shaman's leveling deficiency (finally got past a stupid quest I couldn't beat), did an instance (a couple times) with my main and remembered how fun it could be. Where does this leave LotRO? It was a 60 day 'trial' and since I'm still paying for WoW at the end of trial it will probably go away. I'd like to progress up to ~20 or so before that happens but who knows.

A couple interesting things that I think are worth a read, Wiimorse from the Escapist almost mirrors my feelings on the Wii (but evidently I didn't learn anything the first time so now I'm on my 2nd one).

I've changed the section over the left hand edge that was 'Latest Additions (ZUNE)' to 'What I'm hearing (Podcast)' since I don't remember the last music I transferred to my Zune, but I do listen to a wad of Podcast every week. They'll probably be pretty stagnant because they don't change too often. I'll start you off with a short blurb about each one.

1UpYours - Probably the second oldest show I listen to, and have for quite a while. There has been at least 3 big cast changes since I started listening although it hasn't suffered too much because of it. This one covers consoles, handhelds, and pc gaming and every once in a while a tv show or movie will makes it way in. Comes out weekly on Fridays.

DualScreen Radio - The oldest show I listen to, sometimes... (more on that later). This one is two guys talking about DS Games, DS hardware, DS home brew, well you get the picture. The last 2-3 episodes some Wii talk has infiltrated the show, but he mentioned on the last show they were trying to shy away from that. This originally was every 2 weeks when I started listening, but one them moved across the U.S. his wife had a baby, and now we're lucky to get one show every 2-3-? months. It's still in my list so whenever a new one pops up I get it.

Gamespot presents the Hotspot - Like 1Up a group of guys that sit around and talk video games and other stuff. This one hits late Tuesday/Wednesday.

Gamers with Jobs podcast - Another foursome of guys, seemingly more mature than 1Up/Hotspot, these guys are closer to my age. Sometimes they bicker, but there always fun to listen to. This one covers console (360/PS3) and a lot more PC, but not to much on the handhelds. They have had quite a few developers come on and do interviews including a guy from Turbine that got my LotRO interest peaked. This is another Tuesday/Wednesday release.

Team Freemont Live - the self proclaimed 'drunken gamers' three guys sitting around talking bs about games. :) This one was actually mentioned on a Gamers with Jobs podcast and I've been listening ever since. Heavy console focus, and a generous heaping of retro, I don't think I've every heard anything PC related. They also have had a few industry interview segments here and there. This one is usually a Sunday/Monday release.

Games for Windows podcast - This was the companion to the Games for Windows magazine which went kaput as of the April/May issue. As you may have guessed this one focuses on PC gaming, although they have went off on some weird tangents from time to time. Supposedly the podcast is sticking around because the listeners said it was more popular than the print magazine, which they weren't to happy about last episode. Hopefully it will keep up the way it is, or become even better if they put more time into it. Used to be a Tuesday/Wednesday but the last couple have hit Sunday/Monday.

Broadcast Gamer - This is another one that was a recommendation on a different podcast. It had already 'died', but they put out a Christmas special episode that was getting raves so I listened and liked what I heard. I left it in my subscription list, and was graced with a valentines special episode as well, to my surprise this week it's back and evidently M.C. Wilson is going to make another go of it. The original co-host is gone, but this episode was decent enough, he covers Console/PC/Handheld so something for everyone. I seem to remember he said he was going to try weekly show in the future so it's wait and see.

Achievement Junkie - This used to be a daily (Mon-Fri) ~10 minute show when I first got hooked on it, the host have moved to Seattle and one now works for Microsoft, oh and maybe I forgot to mention that this one is strictly 360 related. There have been some format changes and now it's a ~30 minute show once a week on Wednesdays, you can also check out Nelson and Natalie in video form on your 360 dashboard every Monday (that flashing orange newspaper icon on the main page) in a segment called Pick up and Play.

The screwy tv season has really messed with me, getting half my episodes on some shows, not starting at all for others all because of a stupid writers strike. Luckily its over and most of my regulars have come back (except those that had already finished their runs Chuck, Journey Man, etc.) last couple weeks (Big Bang Theory, C.S.I. xxxx, etc.), this week (Bones), or next week (LOST). I even got a new one thrown in for good measure, I watched the 9 episode run of New Amsterdam and really liked it, I hope it gets picked up for a full season this fall.

My blu-ray collection had hit 17 titles, I came across a used 60GB PS3, and the lack of HD DVD software on the horizon came together like a lightning strike. So after eBaying some of my finer 'pile of shame' titles, and a HALO edition Xbox I was still a few bucks light. After a few last minute trade-ins last week I finally found myself to be the proud owner of the fore mentioned PS3 unit.

I dug out my memory stick pro duo and copied over my Resistance Fall of Man save (circa January 2007) file, after a game patch I was playing some multi-player RFoM again. My first blu-ray through it was Pirates of the Caribbean At Worlds End which I hadn't seen before, it looked really good, the story was eh. I think they've went downhill from the first one so I'm probably not the best critic.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Lovin' the red box, oogling Crysis, and bullying the 360.

You've probably seen them sitting outside the Mickey D's locations around town, I'm speaking of the Red Box video rental kiosk.

My first run in with one of these machines was about a year ago, outside of Oklahoma City at a McDonald's location but basically for $1 a night you can rent new release DVD movies with the swipe of your credit/debit card. Seemed like a good idea at the time, and now they've finally trickled into Wichita. According to the website there are 10 locations in the city, and I just realized some of the kiosk are inside the restaurants (I'm guessing because these locations have no parking next to the building at all). While the $1 rental fee is really cheap I've got hooked on this because you can request a free rental code from the web site, and if you sign up for there text message service you'll get a free code every Monday that expires at midnight. Now in a marketing push by McDonald's every large or x-large drink nets you a free code that's good until December this year.

I wish they had some form of HD format available (although it would probably be blu) but my DVD player up converts anyway so even regular DVDs look really good. The only problem I see is there is no catalog titles everything in the box is within the last ~4 months of release probably, but those are usually cheaper or 5 day rentals at other rental stores. On the plus side you can check the inventory currently in 'any' machine from the website before you make a trip, and reserve it through the website then pick it up at the kiosk.

I finally got around to trying out Crysis on the PC this week. First off I love it when I hit the auto-optimize button and it says "All settings set to HIGH", yeah it's not VERY HIGH but hey I'll take it. At the beginning of the game of course it's pitch dark, and having to use the night vision I was like 'this is supposed to be the best graphics on the PC? Then I hit the second part of the first chapter "First Light" when you come up on this beach front base just as the sun is coming up over the water... WOW! :P The sun rises and then you get a good look at the 'world' and it's freaking awesome, crawling through the vegetation is unbelievable the way it pushes away from you as you progress forward, not to mention the ways shadows fall on the ground. If you get a chance definitely check it out, if you have a system that can do it justice it's worth a look.

I was really looking forward to Bully Scholarship Edition on the 360 because I never got around to playing the PS2 version a couple years ago. Moving to HD hasn't done it any favors as it looks fairly blah on the 360, but it's a Rockstar game so I figured I would enjoy it anyway. I'm only about 4 days in (game days), but man some of the missions are so frustrating you don't know how long they'll take, and you also have to try to make it to classes in time. I've ended up missing classes altogether because I was trying to complete a mission, or ended up getting busted because I'm in the building after close, or skipping class. My other gripe revolves around the camera when you get 2 bullies on you, or prefects (school monitors) come after you for a school infraction I've been caught because I'll get stuck in a corner, start running, and then the camera will flip 180 degrees and I'm headed back into the corner again. I've read numerous complaints on the net about freezing, audio glitches, and frame rate issues which Rockstar has acknowledged, personally I've only had a couple frame rate glitches but a patch might be required. At this point I'm glad I rented it, maybe down the road I'll pick up a used copy in a month or so, but then again Grand Theft Auto IV will hit at the end of April so I may just wait for it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

HD DVD RIP, Oscar shorts, and 360 happenings...

Well the Warner Bros. HD DVD announcement at CES back in January (remember... they went Blu exclusive) was the tip top of HD DVD's downward spiral.

Feburary 11th Netflix announced they were going exclusively blu, new HD DVD discs will not be added, and currently renting titles will "rent until the discs' natural life cycle takes them out of circulation in the coming months." Then BestBuy added to the pile by saying they "will recommend Blu-ray as the preferred format." Then on February 19th Toshiba announced that they "will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders."

I caught the Oscar shorts yesterday so without further ado my picks are as follows...

Animated short - Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even pigeons go to heaven). A older gentleman cheats death. All of this years animated entries looked good, there seemed to be a claymation-esqe feel to 3 of them, and one that looked like a moving painting. Check out this site for links to some of the animated shorts online.

Live action short - Tanghi Aregentini An office working looking for love must learn to dance the tango in 2 weeks, with a comedic twist ending. Although the winner will probably be At Night a moving look at 3 cancer patients spending the holidays in the hospital.

Documentary short - La Corona a beauty pageant held in a women's prison in Columbia. The academy award though will most likely go to Freeheld a New Jersey county that won't grant a 24 year Police veteran her pension to her lesbian partner.

I'm looking forward to Frontlines:Fuel of War after playing around with the multi-player demo last week. The multi-player feels a lot like a Battlefield game with 5 'control' points on the map the winning team is the one that controls all the points at one time.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Imitation, 360 minibits, Blu-ray additions...

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. Passing the intersection of Harry & Oliver I did a double take seeing the red/white neon 'GameShop' sign, it sure looked like the GameStop logo. After further review it seems that 1 letter, and a color swap is indeed the only difference between the two signs, someone must think they have a good idea. I wouldn't be surprised if it's just additional store front for the A-Ok Pawn shop that owns the building, although it may be a totally separate operation.

On a semi-related note the Game X-change at Harry & Rock Road had a notice up that they were closing at the end of January. Both of the west locations would remain open, and they hoped to have another east side location before the end of the year. I've been in the new 'way west' location two or three times now, and never seen much there (product or people), maybe they'll get the east side inventory.

Hopefully you picked up your free copy of Undertow last week, it was Microsoft's 'apology' for the Christmas downtime of Xbox LIVE. I played around with the tutorial level a bit, it looks pretty, but didn't really grab me at all. There were some new demos up on LIVE over the last couple weeks, The Club was originally available in Europe only (now it's up in the U.S. also), a shoot' em up brawler where everyone is thrown together and last man standing wins. Think Running Man (with Arnold the governator) and you get the general idea. It's was fair, definitely not a purchase for me though, maybe if I hear some good buzz after it comes out, and it's under $20.

Next up was the much ballyhooed Devil May Cry 4, ummm okay, evidently I'm not the target audience for this one either. I never played any of the PlayStation titles, and never felt like I was missing out. I know there are a lot of people hyped for this so I hope they enjoy it.

Then there was Turning Point Fall of Liberty a WWII 'alternate reality' FPS. I've read some about it, and it seemed to have a neat storyline, so I was eager to try it out. It looks pretty good, but it controls like Hour of Victory unfortunately. It has that same weird slow motion turning that really killed HoV when I tried it, way to sluggish. Hopefully the final game will fix it, or have some way to tweak the settings to make it playable because I really think it could be good.

The best demo I've played lately was out way back in early December, Culdcept Saga is a great mix of a trading card game, and a board game. I really enjoyed Magic the Gathering TCG, and this fantasy based game really struck a cord, it comes out next week at $40 I think, and will probably be my next purchase.

I've expanded my blu-ray collection quite a bit (tripled it, actually) when I ran across some used titles at work. I couldn't afford to pass them up even though I don't have a player yet... (tax refund where are you?). I also ran across a website for retail employees where you can take some video courses (about 20 minutes of effort) over blu-ray technology, and earn a free blu-ray movie. There were only 5-6 to choose from, but they were decent titles, and who complains about free?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cloverfield, the PP bowl, and Blu envy.

I saw Cloverfield Friday night. When it was first mentioned to me I didn't even recognize the name, and had to watch a trailer to figure out what it was about. Turns out Cloverfield is a monster movie produced by J.J. Abrams (also producer of LOST, and Alias TV shows). The entire movie is shot 'handycam' style, it's basically a personal video diary of the events that take place to a group of friends.

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, although I do have some gripes. There is a lot of action, suspense, and a healthy dose of comedy (mainly from the guy running the video camera Hud) all from a PG-13 film. My biggest compliant is I wish there was more back story in the film, it clocks in at a measly hour and a half, I think another 30 minutes would have done wonders. I guess some of the 'back story' can be distilled from the viral marketing web sites that were up before the movie launched, but if you didn't see this you shouldn't be left at a disadvantage. All in all it reminded me a bit of The Host a Korean monster flick that came out here last year (I mentioned it back in February 2007).

The final round of NFL playoffs are this afternoon, I'll predict now that Super Bowl XLII is going to be the PP Bowl, Patriots vs. Packers with New England taking it all.

I am really leaning towards picking up a PS3, those blu-ray discs are calling to me. After Warner's bomb shell at CES the HD DVD outlook doesn't look as bad as some were predicting (no other major studios dropped in Warner Bros. wake ie. Paramount and Dreamworks are still on board). There is so much stuff available on blu that I would like to see, and have the freedom of choice in case one format does dry up completely, that I think a PS3 is in my (tax refund) future. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Year new updates, and so much more.

Wow didn't realize it had been so long since my last update, thought about it a couple times in December, but as you can see I didn't follow through. :(

Christmas in retail is an adventure, and with the new position at work it was a little more stressful than I remember year's past being. I survived though most of the time dealing with people that I swear probably only leave their houses in December each year (and never step foot in a video game store the other 11 months).

While November was a really (really) heavy release month for new game titles, the last 2-3 weeks of December, and so far the first two weeks of January didn't see anything worthwhile come out. I'm still playing Call of Duty 4 (online multiplayer only, although I did finish the prologue mission in single player) a lot. I hit level 41 last night (Colonel I) out of 55 before going into prestige mode and starting over at 1 again. :) I picked up a used Wii system (my 2nd, I had one around launch and figured out there wasn't anything I wanted to play on it) just after Christmas mainly because Nintendo likes to butter us up with freebies. Time will tell if I actually start using it regularly this go around, or if it ends up being ignored again.

CES kicked off in Las Vegas earlier this week, and one of the big blu-ray announcements was leaked last week, Warner Bros. had decided to go format exclusive on blu-ray. Rumors have followed saying Paramount will follow suit (thanks to a drop out clause in their contract with HD DVD), and I read today Universal may also. Time will tell, but the future is getting very 'hazy' for HD DVD. I am surprised to see a lot of early adopters dumping their collections on eBay already at fire sale prices. The players still work, and the movies you have already purchased will too why get rid of them at 25% value just to have to repurchase them in a different format? I'm not complaining because it looks like I can pick up some eBay HD titles on average of $10 bucks each. Microsoft has restated they are open to the possibility of an external blu-ray drive (for the 360) if that's the way the war ends. So I wouldn't really need a PS3 after all. :)

You may remember a picture I posted last year of a awesome triple monitor set-up for PC, well that is so passe now. Alienware has a prototype unit on display at CES running at 2880x900 this baby will look nice on my desk.

Back in early December I had found that The Reluctant Agent was coming out on DVD. This awesome made-for-tv movie was originally called Double Your Pleasure (which I guess now sounds like a porn film) in 1989 when it was released. The cool thing about it other that being a dual role by Jackée, is me. The summer of '87 I spent in California with a friend that lives there, and as it would happen his 'job' at the time was an extra. All those people you see in the background of your favorite movies, and tv shows they're paid to be there (and keep there mouth shut). He was able to get me three gigs while I was out there a day long shoot at The Forum for Born on the 4th of July, Two days work on a superhero tv show called Once a Hero it was to be episode 4, the show was canceled after 2, and finally one day on Double your Pleasure. I remember there only being 7~10 extras plus the crew, and actors so not more than 25 people total. We had a catered lunch with swordfish steaks, mmmmm... Anyway it had been ages since I had my VHS recording of the show so the DVD find was awesome. Check out the dude at the counter in the light blue/green shirt (with glasses).