Saturday, December 31, 2005

Alien vs. Predator: The Unrated Edition Comments and Sorta-Review

Yesterday I picked up and have now gotten through all of the Unrated Edition for Alien vs. Predator. For the film itself, there's about 8 minutes added which really help flesh out the characters and some of the conflicts and motivations between them. The pacing of the feature was slightly less rushed, which is a definite improvement over the theatrical version, however it could still have used more character development and a bit more plot development. For example, there is still no explaination what-so-ever on the vastly increased Alien life cycle.

Special Feature wise, this DVD has a lot. It comes with a second disk that has documentaries on pre, production, and post as well as docs on the McFarlane Toys, Comic series, and it also features all the movie's trailers. There's even a mini comic included, featuring Alien vs. Predator shorts by Dark Horse Comics.

Essentially, this is the version of Alien vs. Predator that should have been released to DVD in the first place. The added gore in the Unrated Edition isn't anything fans of the franchise haven't seen before, and I'm also speaking of the comics and video games as well as the films. The special features are very comprehensive and take a good couple of hours to get through.

What's interesting to note in the docs is how confident and compitent Paul W.S. Anderson sounds. I think he really knew what he was doing when he wrote and created this film, and I know believe that it didn't reach its full potential due to intervention by Fox. In their attempt to make something more marketable, they fucked up. My guess, anyway, as there was indeed more plot to the film originally.

If you are a fan of Alien vs. Predator, and also enjoy watching how films are made, you'll want to pick this one up.

King Kong Review

After creating what I consider to be the greatest film ever made, Peter Jackson is back with his remake of the giant monkey movie. King Kong, like The Lord of the Rings films, is a 3 hour epic that carries amazing special effects, excellent performances, and a moving story.

Set during 1933, King Kong follows a group of film makers lead by Carl Denham (Jack Black). In an effort to create his epic film that studio executives are trying to shut down, he flees with his crew and a quickly cast actress, Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) aboard a run down cargo ship in search of Skull Island. Carl, following an old map he conviently possesses, wants to use this ancient and primative location to finish his film and show the world something they've never seen before.

Once there, the natives capture Ann and offer her as a sacrifice to Kong (Andy Serkis). A team, led by screen writer and Ann's new romantic interest Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), ventures into Skull Island in an attempt to rescue her.

King Kong's special effects are created by Weta Digital, the same company responsible for the amazing effects featured in The Lord of the Rings. Kong and all the other CG creatures and environments are as real as anything ever seen on screen, and are a further testament to the limitless possibilities of filmmaking.

The story behind King Kong is also very touching, as Ann and Kong form a bond with one another through their adventures on Skull Island and beyond. The musical score nicely accents all the emotional undertones, and in the end you really feel sad for the giant ape that no one else is able to understand.

As previously mentioned, the film weighs in at roughly 3 hours, and while the time didn't bother me personally, many peers have expressed criticism with the first hour, feeling that roughly half of it could have been trimmed down. While I don't necessarily agree with them, a trim-down wouldn't have hurt the film none-the-less.

One of King Kong's weak points is in certain aspects of the story's plausability. Now, of course King Kong is an adventure/fantasy tale and gigantic monkeys, etc. don't exist, but there were still certain aspects of the film that were far-fetched, such as when a crew member uses a Thompson to shoot off giant bugs from Jack without hitting him. While the main story and the emotional ties the audience will feel is really the bond between Kong and Ann, instances like the above do take away from the film.

Overall, however, King Kong is another great Peter Jackson epic that delivers an entertaining show, and an excellent remake of a Hollywood classic. Certainly one of the stronger films released in 2005, it is quality work like this that give me hope for Jackson's involvement in the upcoming Halo film.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox 360

While I was at Future Shop, I got to try out their demo Xbox 360 with Call of Duty 2. I only played it for a couple of minutes, but here are my impressions:

The Xbox 360 looks nice. I'm not just talking aesthetically, but the graphics featured in Call of Duty 2 were crisp and it has some great particle effects. Not sure what resoultion it was, but the game was featured on a widescreen high def. TV. My only graphical gripe was that the character models seemed to have a hint of a black line around them, making them look somewhat like comic characters, and this clashed with the desert backdrop.

The sound was turned down, so I couldn't really hear the audio.

Control wise, I honestly don't recall if it was a wireless controller or not (I don't think so), bit overall the controller felt nice. Once I finally get around to getting an Xbox 360, it'll take me a while to get use to the relocation of the White and Black buttons to two shoulder buttons, but that shouldn't be too bad.

The default config for Call of Duty 2 was awful though. They didn't follow the standard (Halo) console FPS controller setup, so clicking the left thumb stick would Zoom instead of Crouch, Crouching was on "B," and clicking the Right Thumbstick would Melee instead of Zooming. Needless to say, I died real quick and for this demo the controls were not re-configurable.

Overall though, my impressions were positive. Not positive enough to want to spend $499.99 on a system for such a limited game selection (Call of Duty 2 in brief was fun, but not that fun), but there's certainly potentional. I do wish they had a Quake 4 demo though.

Game and DVD Sales at Future Shop

I was just at Future Shop, and they have many games and DVD sales going on right now; some of which may be perma.

The games include:

- Halo 2: Limited Collector's Edition, for $19.99.
- Halo 2, for $19.99.
- MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf - Limited Edition, for $19.99.

The DVD's include:

- Alien Quadrilogy, for $64.99.
- Alien vs. Predator: Unrated Collector's Edition, for $19.99.
- Batman Begins, for $16.99.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for $16.99.
- Firefly, for $29.99.
- Kingdom of Heaven, for $11.99.

There's probably more, and many of these prices might also be at Best Buy, but you can all check on that yourselves.

Winning PayDay Numbers for Dec. 29


Corpse Bride Coming to DVD this January

Corpse Bride is coming to DVD on January 31, 2006. This was simply a great claymated film, full of Burton's style and humour.

Definitely one to buy, or at least to rent if you missed it in theatres.

Alien vs. Predator - Unrated Collector's Edition Released

Didn't even know when this happened, but there's now an Unrated Collector's Edition of Alien vs. Predator out on DVD. Which means I have to go buy the fuckin' thing. Stupid Fox releasing it so soon after the generic theatrical version.

Hell, I'll probably pick up Gladiator: Extended Edition while I'm at it.

I actually found this out as I was preping our 2005 DVDs of the Year, however I've gotta put that on hold until I finish with the above, so keep your pants on. No, seriously, keep your pants on, no one needs to see that.

Hippo + Tortoise

Thought this was a cute story, mostly 'cause I own a turtle and they ain't too bright. What? They ain't! Hey, my turtle decided it was a good idea to bite a live power cord, alright.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Xbox Game of the Year Awards, 2005

We here at Arbiter's Judgement are not an official gaming site, we're simply a blog that reports about what we care about. That includes movies, DVDs, and music, but mostly that means games 'cause gaming = yes.

Now because we're not an official gaming publication, we don't get free titles for review purposes from anybody. Thus, the only way we can review and properly comment on titles is buy either purchasing, borrowing, or renting them.

In creating a "Game of the Year" list, like this one on this site, the thing to keep in mind is that since we don't get freebie titles, we're basic consumers like you, and we tell things as we see them, as regular Joe-Shmoe customers see them. Thus, the best way to make a year end award list for anything is simply to see what we, as customers, liked enough to go spend our cash on and based on those titles, which we felt were the best.

Keeping all this in mind, I present to you the Arbiter's Judgement Xbox Game of the Year Awards for 2005. The top three titles from third to first are:

3) Star Wars: Republic Commando. This game is fun. Plan and simple, it is an intense, action packed FPS with simple squad-based elements to enhance the gameplay set during the Clone Wars from the prequel Star Wars trilogy. Instead of a Star Wars title based around the Jedi, Star Wars: Republic Commando follows a small group of Clone Commandos, Delta Squad, as they undertake various missions against the separates. Packed with great humour between the squad members, simple controllers, and challenging gameplay, Star Wars: Republic Commando takes third place.

2) Jade Empire. Master RPG developer BioWare is back, and this time they bring us a tale set in mythical China. While generally more simplistic than their previous RPGs, Jade Empire non-the-less has a very strong story, great characters/voice acting, and enough combat to shake a stick at. Packing in around 30 hours of gameplay, plus multiple character classes and different paths that each player can take, Jade Empire has a great amount of replay value, and it's certainly a game players will want to experience a few times.

1) Doom 3. id Software's horror masterpiece takes our Xbox Game of the Year. Originally a PC title, the Xbox version was streamlined for better pacing on the console, and still packs one of the top graphics engines in gaming today. Simply a beauty to behold, Doom 3 using its excellent lighting and sound mix to create a great sci-fi/horror atmosphere as the player battles to survive and invasion of horrific demons. With Doom 3, id Software achieves what it set out to do, recreate the classic title that started it all with great graphics and more up-to-date gameplay. While Doom 3's gameplay isn't as cutting edge as its graphics, its pacing is solid and combat situations varied and enjoyable enough that things never get boring. The Limited Collector's Edition also comes with full copies of The Ultimate Doom and Doom II, which provides an excellent trip down memory lane. As a complete package, Doom 3 delivers the best experience on the Xbox this year.

Editorial - Half-Life and its Sequel

So as many of you have guessed from my recent batch of posts, I've been playing a lot of the original Half-Life (PC) and its expansions lately.

Prior to picking up Half-Life 2 (Xbox), I replayed through Half-Life and started on its first expansion, Half-Life: Opposing Force. A few days ago I got around to finishing Half-Life: Opposing Force and yesterday, I played through all of Half-Life: Blue Shift, its second expansion, which I downloaded via Steam the day before.

All I have to say is wow. The original Half-Life and its add-ons have held up so well, especially considering that Half-Life was released in late '98. It was the 1990's that brought about the first person shooter, and I must say, as much as I love Doom and how it essentially started the genre as we know it, Half-Life is the game that modernized it and is truly the best shooter of the '90's. That makes it all the more unfortunate that Half-Life 2 couldn't live up to its predecessor.

Now don't mistake me, I enjoyed Half-Life 2 but when all is said and done, it falls flat of Half-Life. Half-Life took the story of Doom and not only modernized it for its day, but also presented us with a true, interactive first person perspective to such a level of immersion, such a realistic living and breathing world, it was something that no one had experienced before.

Half-Life also modernized level design. Rooms and locations had purpose and weren't simply monster closets. Weapons and ammo were in logical places instead of just being placed on the floor for the player to find. Many items and objects in the game world, including non-player characters, were interactive.

There is also the AI revolution, mostly with the Soldiers you had to fight. They actually worked as a team to try and flush you out while flanking you and they'd rarely rush you to simply die. Instead they'd wait you out and take cover when under heavy fire. The Soliders were also quite capable of dishing out punishment without needing over-powered weapons or mounted turrets.

The above is a brief glimpse at what Half-Life did for the Single Player FPS. All of this was so new, so revolutionary, that all FPSes since are measured up to Half-Life.

Now we have Half-Life 2. There is no question that it is a technical marvel, with a beautiful graphics engine, excellent facial animations, and the most realistic physics ever seen, however its achievements stop there.

Half-Life 2 retains the style of immersion from its predecessor, but the story itself is much more indecisive and half-baked. The level design itself is, once again, great, though not as revolutionary as before. The game's AI, however, is awful, worse than Half-Life's. This leads to boring, repetitive gameplay with enemies who are too stupid to take proper cover and who pose no real threat or challenge; not to mention the game's arsenal, a staple of any FPS, is a near complete rehash of the original's with little innovation. Oh, sure there's the Gravity Gun, but hucking radiators at brain-dead enemies gets old fast considering the game's length and lack of challenge/reward system. The rush of combat found in Half-Life is simply not present in Half-Life 2.

I honestly found the more I played through classic Half-Life, the more disappointed I am with Valve for not only failing to live up to the master-piece they created before, but for missing the mark entirely. 'Cause in the end, it doesn't matter how beautiful a game looks, if its gameplay and execution are simply bland and boring, the game ends up being another in the pile, and really that's what Half-Life 2 is. It gives us a glimpse of the tech that future titles can be based on, what future titles might be able to do and greatly surpase with better design. However at present this remains just a glimpse, and while in its current form Half-Life 2 is fun to play, we still need to wait for the title that will once again revolutionize the FPS genre.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Steam and Free Classic Half-Life Titles

I haven't used Steam since last January when I was trying out the Half-Life 2 PC demo, and I hated it. It would constantly force you to download updates you didn't want, force you to connect online even if you checked Offline Mode, it was unstable and would often crash, etc.

Recently, I found out that if you install Steam and register your existing Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition CD Key to it, you can download all the classic Half-Life content for free. This includes both expansions, Counter Strike, and various death match mods.

I decided to give it a try, and yes, the above paragraph is true. What's more, Steam seems to have stabalized a good bit since last year, as well as gotten a slight aesthetic make-over. The only issue I've presently experienced is that whenever I exit Steam, whether I've been playing a game or simply connect and then disconnect, either in Online or Offline Mode, I'll get an "Invalid Page Fault" error. Not a huge deal, but somewhat annoying.

After registering my Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition CD Key to Steam, it recognized it as the Half-Life: Platinum Pack. I was then able to download Half-Life, Half-Life: Opposing Force, and Half-Life: Blue Shift at no additional cost other than what I paid for Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition back in August 1999.

The High Def. Pack that came with retail Half-Life: Blue Shift was not initially available, but I was able to find it for download via Steam's Support Page.

The great thing about this is that I never owned Half-Life: Blue Shift, so this means that, for free, I now have access to that game and its High Def. Pack which improves the character and weapon models for all classic Half-Life titles. Since I also have access to Half-Life: Opposing Force for free, I can technically sell or trade in my retail copy of it, as its no longer needed.

Anyway, for the cost, I'm not complaining on what Steam's been able to do for me in the last day.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Doom Movie DVD

The Doom movie is sloted for a DVD release on Feb. 7th, 2006.

It will feature a full screen theatrical version, as well as a wide and full screen unrated extended edition, which adds about 12 minutes to the film. All versions will also come with a 1 level Xbox demo of Doom 3, which is a great chance to try out the game if you don't have it and for whatever reason don't want to rent it.

You can check out the DVD menus here, if you're interested (minor spoilers).

I'll probably get around to renting the DVD, but I figure that's about it.

ActionTrip's Best of 2005

Morning everyone. ActionTrip has posted their Best of 2005 right here. This is a combination of PC and Console awards, and includes both staff and reader's choice.

Notable mentions (that I care about) include runner up for Game of the Year and runner up for Best Action Game for Call of Duty 2 (PC), Best RPG for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (PC), and runner up for Best RPG for Jade Empire.

I completely forgot that though the Xbox version of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords was released in December 2004, the PC version followed up in Februrary 2005. Between it and Jade Empire, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords is the clear victor. My first play-through took me 79 hours, and my next two were around the 60 to 70 hour mark.

While the game's story certainly faulters a bit towards the end and you can tell the developer's were rushed by the publisher to make a Christmas release (The PC version is a port of the Xbox one), the game has such a rich universe to explore, excellently developed and voice-acted charaters, and great gameplay improvements over the original to make it a worthy sequal.

The game has a suitably dark theme to it, and your mentor, Kreia, has some very, very interesting life philosophies.

Overall, I'd say Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords is the best RPG on the Xbox (though probably not the PC), and its too bad Lucas couldn't write his prequal trilogy with the style and complexity of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Half-Life Speed Demos Complete

I must say I'm really hooked on watching these speed demos. I just finished going through the Half-Life series, which contained Half-Life, Half-Life: Opposing Force, and Half-Life 2.

God damn, I never knew you could do some of the things that these guys do, and I've gone through Half-Life (PC) over a dozen times since Aug. '99. Just amazing to watch, some of it is.

I must say though that out of all the speed demos I've watched thus far, Half-Life 2's was by far the most boring. Again, the game itself is a technological breakthrough, but it is a bit hallow with repetative gameplay. I really hope they never turn it into a film.

The Art of Halo Completed

I started and finished reading The Art of Halo yesterday. Didn't take very long to go through, and most of its contents were things I already knew. Some nice artwork in there though.

I'll start on Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar soon, then its editorial writing time!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

If any of you find yourselves dressed like this, you just might have drunk too much. So drink responsibly and have a safe holiday. 'Cause if you don't, someone'll be around with a camera.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil Complete on Nightmare

I've just completed Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil on Nightmare difficulty, and it truly is a Nightmare. In Doom 3, Nightmare was made possible by starting the player off with the Soul Cube, which when used will heal the player. Otherwise, the player generally has 25% Health and there are no Medkits around, only wall-mounted Medical Stations.

In Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, there is no Soul Cube, but the player starts with the Artifact. Unfortunately, the Artifact doesn't heal the player making the only source of healing in the game wall-mounted Medical Stations. Further more, the Artifact needs to be charged with corspes, however until you defeat the first boss, you are unable to use any corpses to charge it! This makes the artifact useless early on. At least when you do get to begin using it, it has all its powers: Hell Time, Berserk, and Invulnerability.

Nightmare difficulty really brings out the flaws in Hell Time though, really demonstrating how it slows down time too much, making it very situational and rather inconvenient.

Seriously though, whose idea was it at Nerve Software to have no healing what-so-ever in the last 3 levels of the game? Who's fucking genius idea was it to have no fucking healing at all at the end-and-therefore-hardest parts of the entire fucking game?!?!??!?!? I ended up going into the final boss battle with 3% health. 3 fucking hit points. That's it. A monster breathes on me and I die. That was the most fucking annoying and retarded balancing idea I've played through in a long, long time. Even the lack of a quick save in Halo 2 isn't that stupid.

Way to go Nerve. There's a reason you're a second rate developer who only makes scraps off of id Software's genius. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

More Game of the Year Awards

TeamXbox and GameSpy have posted up their Games of the Year. You can view TeamXbox's list here, and GameSpy's Reader's Choice List here.

Notable mentions for TeamXbox's list:

Doom 3 got runner-up for Best FPS and runner-up for Best Graphics.

Jade Empire received Best RPG of the Year, Best Sound and runner-up for Game of the Year.

Notable mentions for GameSpy's list:

Jade Empire received Best RPG and 9th place in the top 10.

Doom 3 got 5th place in the top 10.

Half-Life 2 got Game of the Year and Best Shooter.

Jade Empire Game of the Year Awards

Jade Empire has won numerous Game of the Year awards, and BioWare has posted a list up right here.

Well done BioWare! Looking forward to Mass Effect.

Nova's Past Revealed!

Blizzard Entertainment has revealed the details behind Nova, the Ghost operative whom players take control of in their upcoming title, StarCraft: Ghost.

Head over here to have some of the mystery revealed!

Spartan-458 Details Revealed

Somewhat older news, but Bungie has posted up a lot of details on Spartan-458, the Spartan featured in the upcoming Xbox 360 fighter, Dead or Alive 4.

You can check the details out here.

Interesting though. In the Halo story, there were only 150 subjects considered for the Spartan II project, and only 75 where selected. There was a brief mention that more Spartan projects would be under way, I believe in the novel Halo: The Fall of Reach, so Spartan-458, Nicole, must be one of these. Makes sense as she's only 21 and the Master Chief, Spartan-117, is in his 40's.

Readers Choice Awards at IGN Xbox and Team Xbox

Both IGN Xbox and Team Xbox have their Reader's Choice Awards up, so head over there and vote for the best Xbox titles of 2005.

You can begin voting at IGN here, and at Team Xbox here.

If you have tastes like mine, you'll mostly be voting for titles like Doom 3 and Jade Empire.

Serenity on DVD

Forgot to mention that Serenity is now out on DVD, so go get your copy.

The case's cover art is real cool, but inside their's no chapter sleeve, which is the first time I've ever seen a DVD excluded one.

The DVD also doesn't seem to be big on extras or anything, however I suppose that's understandable seeing how quick it came from theatre to DVD.

The film itself, however, is the best film released this year bar-none, so it's a must have for any sci-fi fan, or anyone who loves brilliant writing and characters. Heck, you ask me it's the best film released in the last few years, but I'm a crazy fucker.

NO Xbox 360's at Future Shop Today

I reported yesterday that Future Shop would have a limited quantity of Xbox 360's on hand today, however I just got this e-mail from them:

"We're sorry, the XBOXTM 360 will not be available on Dec. 24th.

On Tuesday, Dec. 20th, our weekly newsletter stated that limited quantities of XBOXTM 360 will be available in stores this Saturday, Dec. 24th. Unfortunately, due to unavoidable circumstances, we have to withdraw that notice. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused. We will inform you as soon as we've confirmed delivery of the new units. Meanwhile, we wish you the best of the holiday season!"

Looks like you'll need to wait some more if you were itchin' to get one. Hope you're not waiting in line right now!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Finished Reading The Making of Doom 3

Today I finished reading The Making of Doom 3. It was a very interesting read, detailing the creation of the game's engine, the monsters, weapons, etc. The best part for me though was reading most of the game's original script, seeing how characters evolved, were cut, changed plot lines, etc.

That was a great treat for an old Doom fan like me.

The next book I'll be going through is The Art of Halo.

More Speed Demos

I posted a bit ago about Speed Demos, running through games very quickly, for Doom 3 and it's expansion Resurrection of Evil. I got to watching some more of these today.

I've also gone through The Ultimate Doom and Doom II, and presently I'm downloading Half-Life.

I must say, there's something very entertaining about these, and I've also learned a thing or two that I didn't know, even after having gone through many of these titles so many times myself (though never so fast).

If you're interested, you can find a huge collection at the Speed Demos Archive.

More Xbox 360's at Future Shop Tomorrow

Future Shop will have a limited quantity of Xbox 360's in stores across the country tomorrow. Start lining up now if you want one.

Details here.

Xbox vs. Xbox 360 Graphic Comparison at 480i

CNET has an article up where they compare the Xbox and the Xbox 360 on a standard 480i television. Seeing as how most people don't have high definition TV's yet, this is a fair comparison, and they use titles that are available on both platforms.

You can read the article here.

IGN (Xbox)'s Game of the Year 2005

IGN (Xbox) has posted up it's various awards and Game of the Year for 2005, and Jade Empire has come out on top.

Aside from winning Game of the Year, Jade Empire also walked away with Best RPG, Best Artistic Design, and Best Story,

The only other game I really cared about on the list is Half-Life 2, which got Best First-Person Shooter, and Best Use of Sound.

The Halo 2: Multiplayer Map Pack also got Best Xbox Live Game and Best Downloadable Content.

Too bad Doom 3 isn't anywhere on the list. If you ask me, it's the Game of Year, but I know most people would disagree with me. Doom 3 certainly has better sound design than Half-Life 2, so the fact that Doom 3 isn't even mentioned in this category is disappointing.

You can read the full article here.

Star Wars: Battlefront II (Xbox) Expansion Coming in January

New content is coming for the Xbox version of Star Wars: Battlefront II via Xbox Live. Presently, a new level is available for download based on Kashyyyk that allows for some good Hero Free-for-All.

In January, the game's expansion will be made available for download for $4.99 (US). This expansion will feature two new playable Heroes, 4 classic maps from Star Wars: Battlefront, as well as new play modes for existing maps.

You can read the official release here.

Valve Releases 64-bit version of Half-Life 2 (PC)

Yesterday, Valve released the 64-bit version of Half-Life 2 (PC) and it's Lost Coast level over Steam. This release will really take advantage of the new 64-bit AMD processors as well as the 64-bit version of Windows XP.

You can read more here.

Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) is Consoles #1 Seller

Activison announced late last week that Call of Duty 2 is presently the Xbox 360's top seller. Given how great the original Call of Duty was, and really how few must-have launch titles the Xbox 360 has, this doesn't surprise me.

You can read more here.

Winning PayDay Numbers for Thurs. Dec. 22


Didn't get a ticket for last week, so you know that means I would have won $50,000 or something. Murphey's law, you know.

On Vacation (from Work)

Well, at least in 22 minutes I will be, so let's get blogging.

There's been several news items over the last week. Nothing overly serious, but enough to post about.

Now that work's dying down, I hope to keep things more up to date around here, however being the holidays next week news will most likely be scarce.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Winning PayDay Numbers for Thurs. Dec. 15th


Broke even this time.

Warcraft II - Tides of Darkness is 10 Years Old Today

10 years ago, Blizzard Entertainment released Warcraft II - Tides of Darkness, one of the greatest RTSes of the day, and a very influential title.

To celebrate, Blizzard has put up a page here.

I loved this game back in the day, and had a lot of fun playing both through the Campaign and with friends via modem games. Ah, 14.4 modems. Good times.

Upcoming Xbox Titles in 2006

IGN Xbox has an article up previewing the upcoming Xbox titles for 2006. You can read the article here.

The only title that I'm really interested on that whole list is StarCraft: Ghost. Unless I pick up an Xbox 360 or upgrade my PC, it my be a slow gaming year.

More Xbox 360's in Stock Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Future Shop will have some more Xbox 360's in stock, however they're only going to have 10 per store and possibly the same number online, and they will only be the $499.99 premium package. You can find it here.

While that's certainly the package to get, I'd still say wait until the system has a must have game, some bugs are worked our, and perhaps a price drop.

Monday, December 12, 2005

4 New Mass Effect Screenshots

Bioware has released four new screenshots for their upcoming Xbox 360 RPG, Mass Effect. You can view them at Team Xbox here.

With stellar titles like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire under their belt, I have high hopes for this title. Aside from Halo 3, it might be one of the big reasons to get an Xbox 360.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Doom 3 (PC) Completed in Less than 2 Hours!

Holy rocking chairs, Batman! Doom 3 (PC) is roughly a 20+ hour game on Marine (Normal) Difficulty, and someone managed to win it in just under 1H 45M, canceling all cinematics! No shit! The guy recorded the game, and you can download it right here. Keep in mind it is a very large file, just under 400 MB, and you'll need DivX Codec to view it.

This is just amazing to watch (and ironically probably more entertaining than the recent Doom movie). The player essentially sprints like a mad man through every level, blowing the snot out of something if it gets in his direct way, otherwise by-passing it entirely. All very, very impressive and of course, he doesn't die once!

What I also found cool was seeing the differences between the original PC version, and the Xbox version I own. As we know, the Xbox version had a bit of level redesign to stream-line things and improve the game's pacing for a console audience, however after watching the entire PC version now I can say the critical path for both versions remains largely the same. Some side rooms were moved around and some enemy and weapon placement is different, while in other areas rooms were a bit condenced or whole areas removed entirely, but aside from a bit more play time the Xbox version seems to be very much like it's PC parent (though brighter, as id Software mentioned).

One thing I did notice though was that at the beginning of the game, the frantic Marine radio chatter was a lot less repetative than it was in the Xbox version, there were a few more survivors encountered, and more Mars exterior areas to go through. The player was also skilled enough to take down Mancubus' at point blank range with a Chainsaw on multiple occassions, and he's rushing!

It also appears that I was correct in my Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (Xbox) review, and certain re-visited areas that appeared different were in fact the original layout from the PC version of Doom 3. This leads me to believe that Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil was a more direct port of its PC parent.

Speaking of Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, the same guy did a speed run through it in just under 55 Min. You can download it here, and the file ways in at just under 138 MB.

Call of Duty 2: Big Red One on Sale at Best Buy

Future Shop and Best Buy are selling Call of Duty 2: Big Red One for only $39.99. Not bad for such a new game.

Head over here at Future Shop, or here at Best Buy to pick yourself or someone else up one for the holidays. 'Cause you know, the holidays is all about killin' Nazi's and other death related things.

Oh, and I gotta get around to watching Band of Brothers.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Aliens: Original Sin

This is old news, but I just noticed it now: After years of nothing, we finally have a new Aliens novel entitled Aliens: Original Sin. It takes place just after Alien: Resurrection featuring Ripley 8 and the survivors of the last film, and is part of the Dark Horse expanded universe.

I picked up a copy, and once I'm done re-reading The Return of the King I'll go through it and post a review.

Books Detailing the Development of the Big Three

I was at Chapters today picking up a gift for someone when I stumbled across Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, which is a book that details the process of creating Half-Life 2 from conception to release. I picked it up and began skimming it and found myself rather interested.

The copy on hand was in poor condition, so I came home and decided to order it online, along with The Art of Halo, which details the creation of Halo 2, and The Making of Doom 3, which obviously goes into the creation of Doom 3.

While I've read novels based on games before, I've never picked up "making of" books for videogames that detail their creative process and technological advancement.

Anyone who's been following my blog for some time knows that I consider the above games to be the "Big Three" of the last half of '04, and you also know that for roughly six months now, I've planned to write an editorial comparing these three blockbuster titles once they were all on a comparative platform (which came to pass mid-last month with the release of Half-Life 2 on the Xbox).

Because of that interest, I think the above books will be a worthy read, and I am hoping to write up that editorial late this year to early into the new year.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Guillermo Del Toro Approached to Direct Halo

Guillermo Del Toro, the director of Blade II and Hellboy, has confirmed that he will direct Halo should Hellboy II not be green-lite.

You can find out more here.

Anticipated Xbox and Xbox 360 Titles

Team Xbox has an interesting article up about their most anticipated titles for the Xbox and Xbox 360 in the first quarter of 2006, and the first title on the list is StarCraft: Ghost.

You can check it out here.

Vote for Jade Empire for Game of the Year

ActionTrip has a poll up on the left of their main page where you can vote for the Game of the Year, and this is a combined poll for PC, Xbox, Playstation 2, and GameCube.

There are some good titles on that list, but if you ask me, the best and winner is the current leader: Jade Empire.

Head on over to ActionTrip and cast your vote for Jade Empire now!

Winning PayDay Numbers for Dec. 8th

Wow, an actual post in the moring. That's what happens when I'm swamped with work, but there's a shit load of snow on the ground.

Anyway, the winning PayDay numbers for last night are 18, 32, 60, 76.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Serenity on DVD Dec. 20th

Serenity will be released on DVD this coming Dec. 20th.

Serenity is the feature film continuation of the ill-fated series, Firefly, which follows Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of the Firefly class vessel Serenity as they try to survive in the black of space while avoiding Alliance patrols and the cannibalistic Reavers.

Thus far, Serenity was the best movie released this year, and if you missed it in theatres I strongly urge you to pick up the DVD.

Star Wars: Battlefront II Sale

Zellers is selling Star Wars: Battlefront II (Xbox) for only $39.97.

If you're interested in the sequel to the best selling Star Wars game of all time, this is a great deal on such a new title that you won't want to miss.