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.