All you have to do is ask nicely — Week in Review

30 11 2007

Well, it appears that I was wrong after all. My apologies to Microsoft for any ill-intent on my part. Starting next week I will be able to use all features of Xbox Live, WITHOUT parental consent. ūüėÄ

Now, lets get onto this:


New Games This Week:

For the first time since the first week of October, Absolutely None.


News Stories this Week:

Full Xbox Live fall update details finally announced.

Pokemon Snap coming to VC….WITH ADDED WII FUNCTIONALITY. The first of a continuing trend, I hope.

Nintendo has no plans for first-party western development……outside Retro.

Metal Gear Solid 4 must sell 1 million copies on day one to make a profit.

Ex-Bioshock developers form new 2K studio…… to make Bioshock 2?

Nintendo and Microsoft Fail Greenpeace survey. Sony passes with flying colors.

Jack Thompson vs Geoff Keighley, Tonight! Only on Gamehead!

Classic Smash Bros Melee stages returning for Brawl.

80+ new BC titles for Xbox 360.


Webcomic of the Week:

Digital Unrest – Space For Rent

img_sprite1.gif¬†— Kyle”Jastrick”


Playing Telephone: Gerstmann “Lynched” by his own petard

30 11 2007

Disclaimer: I’ve never been one to report rumor as fact or support that act in anyway. What is being presented here is a series of facts and ideas about a very important, and probably very complicated, series of events. Whether they are causational or coincidental is up for interpretation, but nothing more.

[UPDATE] So, CNet finally talked to Joystiq about what went down on their end with Gerstmann. While they denied the accusation that Gerstmann was fired due to external pressures from Eidos, CNet Spokesperson Sarah Cain didn’t comment on whether or not that pressure was put on. Eidos is still quiet.

The more this unravels, the more it seems that it was all indeed a series of coincidences. Then again, Cain could be hiding the truth, but we’ll never know that. I have a lot more I want to say on this issue in general, but it’ll have to wait for a separate post, probably till tomorrow.

[UPDATE] Despite CNet’s “response” to the hottest button issue in gaming right now, the dudes over at Penny Arcade may have the most reasonable-sounding story for all of this.

How they heard it was that Gerstamann’s review wasn’t the problem so much as the “tone” of it. Apparently this has been a problem CNet has had with him for a while, and since his apparently scathing (although if that’s considered harsh, no one’s heard a Yahtzee review) commentary about K&L sent Eidos in a frenzy, pulling thousands of space bucks from future advertising revenue, Jeff was–as PA put it–sacrificed.

Not all the info on this matter is entirely external speculation, however. Wired‘s gaming blog Game|Life brought up a now-removed forum post by an anonymous CNet Employee stating–in short–that the timing of the Eidos pull out and Gerstmann firing was far more coincidental than people are giving it credit for.
[UPDATE] Well, at least one part of this story has been confirmed. Jeff’s been fired, but no one’s talking about why yet. Well, to be correct, everyone is talking except for the parties directly involved. This story is going to be huge, and I’ll reserve any judgment or commentary until full details are revealed. All I can say is, I wish Gerstmann the best of luck.

Ok, so I’m not a huge fan of rumor mongering, but this story is a) way too huge and b) making way too many rounds for me to ignore. If it’s to be believed—and I by no means suggest that it is—Gamespot would be the second video game site to be accused of such an act in recent months. While part of me finds it a little far fetched, a larger, more cynical part finds it hard to disbelieve.

There are a lot of problems with stories like this, namely that many of the pieces seem clear on their own that it’s hard to be objective about the big picture. Kane & Lynch had insane marketing, and not just on Gamespot. That poor excuse for mishandled software was promoted up so hard my ass was bleeding the “F” word. Then there’s the often refuted but incredibly infectious notion that, with the right money, a game critic will sell out his score to the highest bidder. IGN is often accused of this—one only has to look at the shock they caused when they gave the “accurate and responsive” Lair a 4.9.

Then the objectivity kicks in, though. For one, Gamespot may have had some questionable reviews in their lifetime, but that’s always been more due to a subjective response by players rather than a marketing beef. Not to mention Gerstmann’s never really been one to pander his reviews to anyone, and I don’t see why they’d pick now of all times, and for a game as benign as Kane & Lynch, to can his perhaps jubbly ass.

In either case, I’m going to be really interest to see where this goes. I’ll be watching.



Foreign Analysis: Rock Band

29 11 2007

I know it’s not my day, but I had something I thought people would like to read. A friend of mine (thanks Jinny) put me onto an article on by Sleater-Kinney’s guitarist,

An admitted non-gamer, Brownstein gives a humorous and thorough reveal about what she feels are the important differences between a real band and a “Rock Band”. It seems she enjoyed the game but, like most musicians I know, she holds onto the mantra that if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours pretending to play music, you might as well learn a real instrument. I don’t see why you can’t do both.



Unable to age, eh? That could be useful…….

28 11 2007


Not good at any game except for Halo? Hah! I’m not even any good at that! Seriously though, I kick ass ūüėõ (I can beat Persopolian at most games, so smeh. Let him have his fantasies). All I’m saying is that over time, Assassin’s Creed does get VERY repetitive, and that I’d more¬†enjoyably be playing Mass Effect (which I get to play today for the first time in 4 days. Stupid Homework).

First of all, I’d like to congratulate Nintendo on making 350k Wii sales last week. This is surely a huge leap forward for them. In other news, 25 people are dead after being trampled to death during Black Friday…………

Anyways, onto the point of Today’s post. I have a MAJOR problem with Microsoft’s stance on age, or lack of therein. It seems that Microsoft doesn’t understand the fact taht people do eventually get older. For example, I first got my Xbox Live account back in 2003, when I got my original Xbox. At the time I was 15. I am now 19, and will be 20 within a few months. However, Microsoft, in all their infinite wisdom, has decided that I shall forever be 15, and that certain features on Xbox Live will forever be out of my reach. Xbox Live Messenger? Nope, you need to be over 18 for that. Their new “social networking” system being added in the fall update? Guess what? Also 18+.

Now, this never bothered me that much before these events. Why? because of the Parental Controls, I could Un-block everything. I could make it so I could Add whoever I wanted as a friend, or Download whatever I want. However, due to the geniuses over there in Seattle, I cannot use these new features. I understand that “The Xbox is for Games” and that these features are not necessary, but I feel that I am being ripped off, and not getting my money’s worth.

What really aggrivates me is Microsoft’s stance on the issue, that being that it’s non-existent. I first discovered this back in March, with the advent of the Spring update, and I was assured by Microsoft customer support that it would be fixed in the fall update. The update is now out in under a week, and there has been no word on such a feature. What’s worse, is that when I again contacted Microsoft about the issue, I was told that I should just “create a new account”. Thanks, but I’d rather NOT lose all my Save Games and my Achievements, let alone my¬†around $80-100 of DLC and Xbox Live Arcade Games.

Ah well, there’s still 6 days until the launch of the new¬†update, and there are supposedly many still-unnanounced features that will be revealed between now and then. Here’s hoping…… ah who am I kidding. If¬†you’ll excuse me, this 15-year-old needs to get back to his 9-5 office job.

img_sprite1.gif–Kyle “Jastrick”¬†

Foreign Analysis: Mass Effect

28 11 2007

Kotaku linked to a pretty interesting post over Magical Wasteland at about Mass Effect—or rather, what may have been left out of the game. Some of it seems nitpicky at first, but it’s actually provides some revealing insight into game development. I agree with most of what he suggests here, despite my extreme fondness for the game.



The prodigal son returns

28 11 2007

I’d say that I’m sorry for missing my posts last week, but frankly, I’m not. Despite my cohorts desire to take pot-shots at me, I do have the upper hand on him. See, I just finished Mass Effect today. By finished, I mean I completed it beginning to end, devouring every crumb and morsel of side quest I could stuff my optic nerves with, and after a little under 30 hours, it’s finally done—as far as my first run through is concerned, at least. I thought I’d lay out some thoughts. There’s to much to here for a full review to do it all justice, and many of the verdicts I would present would be fairly academic. I mean the game looks, sounds, and plays like immaculate conception—except for the Mako, is the unwanted step child.

I’ve always been one to suggest that video games have the capacity to be incredible storytelling devices. I usually point to Amy Henning—who just worked on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune—and the Legacy of Kain series as an example. Assassin’s Creed does this as well, in small part, by making its environment fresh, immersive, and drenched in historical accuracy. I enjoyed in thoroughly. Don’t trust Jastrick’s opinion on the matter—he is constantly adapting his “game breaker” criteria to mask his inability to play games that aren’t called Halo.

Mass Effect, I’m proud to say, joins the very small club of games with exceptional stories. Every detail is laid out for the player, whether through dialogue, exposition, or a helpful codex that updates itself with both interesting and benign information for you to absorb. Plenty of games, films, books, and tv shows have attempted to create fully realized universes that are convincing, but most fail. There are few shows like Firefly, for example that proves the authenticity of its universe through the actions of its characters. Mass Effect is similar in this way, because the story, the characters, and every alien race all feel real. They have real concerns, real hatreds, and real loves. Putting aside the irony of the idea that all alien races would have very human emotions, it all works really well. By the end of the game, I couldn’t wait to a) play through a second time, to see how the story and interactions would change depending on my shifted morality, and b) see how the promised downloadable content meant to bridge the this story to its forthcoming sequel would play out.

If there’s one complaint I have with the game, it’s…well, it’s not really a complaint with the game so much as a complaint against Microsoft. I honestly feel that within the next year, they are really going to have to force developers to make games with hard drive as a necessity. There’s just far too much random in-game loading and texture pop in. Seriously, not since Halo 2 have I seen this much texture popping. With the depth and scale of a game like Mass Effect, caching would have been an incredible asset that would have quelled a lot of the frame rate issues that spurt up randomly.

That being said, I’m going back to it.



History Repeats Itself

26 11 2007


 Another weekend goes by, and another Saturday post is non-existent. Eh, what do you expect?

Well, we’re in the last week of November, and you know what that means: All the major game releases (save for Rock Band up here in the Great White North), have come and gone. And with such a large mass of releases, I figure that instead of doing Individual reviews, I’d just give you a¬†shitload of impressions. Enjoy!¬†

Week One:

Call of Duty 4(X360):

This game is Beautiful, almost photorealistic. The multiplayer is very fun, and the perks system adds a very interesting element to gameplay. The single player campaign is fairly short, and can be completed within an afternoon. Feels much more like Call of Duty than the third installment did. Also, includes Awesome Rap song!

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games(Wii):

An semi-interesting collection of Minigames, some that hearken back to Raving Rabbids, while others have roots in Wii Sports. It’s an interesting diversion, but not all that exciting otherwise.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn(Wii):

Think Fire Emblem, on the Wii. That’s it. You can tell it was originally being designed with the Cube in mind. No Wii functionality whatsoever. Although, the ability to import your old characters from Path of Radiance is a very nice, and welcomed, touch.

Sam and Max Season Two: Episode One: Ice Station Santa(PC):

Makes some major improvements over season one. The street has been compacted somewhat (by a giant walking death machine), which makes it easier to navigate. Double clicking now makes Sam run, and a wonderfully implemented hint system has been added as well. You can turn it off if you wish (default setting) and you can control how often your fellow characters will pipe up to add in their two cents.

Week Two:

Super Mario Galaxy(Wii):

Best Game Ever? Quite possibly. A true spiritual sequel to the N64 hit Super Mario 64, this game is pure awesomeness. It has just the right amount of Intuitive Wiimote functionality, and the game looks beautiful, easily the best looking on the console. I can’t wait for my second playthrough, this time as Luigi. One of the best

Assassin’s Creed(X360):

Something of a dissapointment. While the world is beautiful and very open, the missions can get VERY repetitive. Also, the amount of time that it takes to travel from city to city while trying to look inconspicuous to the guards is something of a gamebreaker, taking an EXTREMELY long time. This game failed to live up to the hype for me.

Contra 4(DS):

Ah, a return to controller-breaking goodness. Except this time, instead of breaking your controller, you’ll want to shove your stylus through your screen. Luckily, for those of you new to the series, it includes 3 different difficulty settings, with the highest being mind-fuckingly insane. Both screens are used to create huge worlds. And yes, the code is present.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops +(PSP):

Konami’s expansion to their very well done PSP title is also something of a dissapointment. Unlike any other Metal Gear games, this online multiplayer expansion lacks a story, and even though it’s mainly for multiplayer, still feels weird for the series. At least it’s only $20.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles(Wii):

Capcom’s Resident Evil inspired lightgun shooter takes you through the first few games in the series (oddly skipping Resident Evil 2) and chronicles the fall of the umbrella corporation. The game plays very well and is a very fun addition to any Wii library. A large variety of weapons to unlock and secrets to collect cranks up the replay value.

Week #3:

Mass Effect(X360):

/Joy :D. This is the holiday game that I’ve been waiting for. Coming from local studio Bioware, Mass Effect is truly a game to enjoy. The combat is well done, combining a shooter with an RPG as deep as Final Fantasy or The Elder Scrolls. There are some problems though, mainly with texture pop-in and the sections of the game where you drive the Mako, your tank-like vehicle. Those I could easily do without.

Link’s Crossbow Training(Wii):

This fun little pack-in for the wii sets a series of target games within the land of Hyrule. Using the TP engine, the game looks fairly nice. There are only 9 levels, however, so it’s done fairly quick, although you can always improve your scores.

Rock Band(X360):

Rock Band is….oh wait….DAMN IT!

img_sprite1.gif–Kyle “Jastrick”