Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Microsoft to Unveil Handheld on March 2nd?

IGN Xbox is reporting that Microsoft may be unveiling their handheld gaming platform this Thurs. Mar. 2nd. Presently called "Origami," it would seem to be more than just a hand-held gaming machine, though a video floating around has shown someone playing Halo: Combat Evolved on it (see left).

According to the article, you can listen to music, send instant messages, and dock it to a PC. However this video is about a year old, so it will be interesting to see if there's any truth in this.

If Microsoft does unveil Origami on Thursday, shortly after I'll be bringing you some nice coverage unsuspicously ripped from other sites, as well as my own half-assed opinions.

Seriously though, I wonder how well Halo: Combat Evolved would play with analogue sticks or a mouse/keyboard?

Next Wolfenstein Title to be Developed Primarily on Xbox 360

Todd Hollenshead, the CEO of id Software, announced that the next Wolfenstein title will be primarily developed for the Xbox 360, and will also be released on the PC.

He also confirmed that id Software is working on an entirely new independant property, however they're a bit away from revelaing it.

You can read TeamXbox's article here.

Screenshot featured from Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

Minor Official Half-Life 2: Episode One Update

ActionTrip is reporting that Valve has released a minor but official update to Half-Life 2: Episode One. Basically, Valve briefly explains their frustration with how long it took to develop Half-Life 2, and they're hoping releasing episodic content will prevent players from having to wait too long for their next Half-Life experience.

I don't know, I'd rather wait for a full expansion instead of playing things in chunks, as I think I'd loose interest simply waiting over and over for so many continuations. Half-Life 2 isn't television, as most TV tends to have, you know, a respectable plot.

You can read Valve's short article here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Ultimate Doom (Xbox) and Doom II (Xbox) Complete

Since the release of Doom 3: Limited Collector's Edition on Xbox, I've been playing through The Ultimate Doom and Doom II, generally taking my time since I went through the PC versions so many times back in the day. Well it took a while, but this past Saturday I finally managed to finish both titles.

Despite being released in 1993 (Episode 4 was released in 1995 though) and 1994 respectively, the Classic Doom titles are still great fun to play due to their simple, arcade nature. It's also enjoyable to see where the FPS genre really got its start, really went mainstream.

All the original gameplay is there, with the only real major hitch being the lack of weapon hotkeys, you have to cycle through every bloody weapon to get to it. Otherwise, everything is just as fun and responsive as it used to be (and I'll never get tired of cutting Demons and Spectres up with the Chainsaw).

Last summer I went through the original 3 Episodes of The Ultimate Doom, however I was finding the newer 4th Episode too hard and started up on Doom II. I was never as much of a fan of Doom II as The Ultimate Doom, the dark, claustrophobic corders of the original really hit it off with me, but I got through it and had a great time save that really annoying bug that is in Level 30, Icon of Sin.

It seems in the Xbox version of Doom II that if you save your game in the Demon Gatekeeper's chamber, should you load that save game it will almost always freeze your Xbox. This means you need to do the final battle without saves, something that was very difficult. However after completing Doom II I decided to try and tackle the 4th Episode of The Ultimate Doom again, and was able to go through it all in one sitting. Love that final level with all the Zombies and the Spider Mastermind.

For this playthrough, both The Ultimate Doom and Doom II were completed on Ultra-Violence (Hard).

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Corpse Bride DVD Review

Just under a month ago, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride was released to DVD. It is available in both full and widescreen, and FutureShop had an exclusive edition (which is now sold out) which has a collector's cover as well as an illustrated book.

The film itself is simply amazing, a truly beautiful and heart-felt tale about love and acceptance. Corpse Bride focuses on Victor, who is due to be wed to Victoria whom he has never even met. In a moment of panic, Victor flees from town into the forest, and places the wedding ring on what he believes to be a twig. This "twig" is actually the finger of the dearly departed corpse bride, whom is only to happy to be his wife. The plot evolves further as Victor is taken to the land of the dead, and must try to return home to prevent Victoria from wedding a new suitor.

In traditional Burton style, the film has dark, gothic visuals but a heart of gold, with real depth to the characters and plot. Corpse Bride is another masterful tale from an amazing director who knows how to tell a good fairy tale, and it's done so with exceptionally animated puppets. The complexity and effort of bringing this film to life is amazing, as shown by the special features.

Each featurette is roughly 5 minutes or so in length, and a lot of time is spent discussing the differences between the land of the living and the land of the dead. Both Burton and Danny Elfman explain in detail how they invigourated the land of the dead, how it is so much more alive and how the land of living is simply bogged down with the nuances of life. All of the puppets are also shown, including the tricks of how garments were made to flow in the wind, facial expressions, etc. We also get to see all the voice cast in the booth during various recording sessions, as well as their thoughts on the film, their characters, and Tim Burton's directorial abilities.

Corpse Bride is a great film, a heart-warming tale that you shouldn't miss. If you don't want to go out and buy the DVD, at least give this one a rent if you happened to miss it in theatres.

The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (PC) Gold, Patch Already Released

EA has announced that The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (PC) has gone gold, and will hit store shelves this week on March 2nd. ActionTrip is also reporting that a patch for the game is already available to fix a bunch of bugs, a trend that's been common for about half a decade now for most PC games.

The Xbox 360 version of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II is scheduled for release sometime this summer.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Spider-Man's Black Costume for Spider-Man 3

Sony Pictures has revealed the first shot of Spider-Man from the upcoming Spider-Man 3, and he's wearing his black costume! While I must express some disappointment that it doesn't look closer to the black costume from the comics, it is overall nicer than the red and blue suit featured in the previous two films.

We also know for sure that Sandman is a villian in the film, so a black costume does hint strongly that Venom will be involved in some fashion. Here's hoping.

Half-Life 2: Episode I Might be a Stand-Alone Product

ActionTrip is reporting that Half-Life 2: Episode I, the upcoming expansion pack to the award winning Half-Life 2, might be a stand-alone product. So long as Valve doesn't charge more for it this way, I don't see a problem what-so-ever. Regardless, your still going to need to download it via Steam or if there's a retail copy, register and update it with Steam, so it'll simply used the same shared Source game files as Half-Life 2 (PC).

Oh, I also noted several new screenshots at PC IGN. You can view them here.

Details of the Upcoming Novel, Starcraft: Queen of Blades

Blizzplanet has a Q&A transcript up of their chat with Aaron Rosenberg, author of the upcoming novel, Starcraft: Queen of Blades. The novel looks like it's going to encompass the Zerg Campaign from Starcraft. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

"Former marshall-turned-rebel Jim Raynor has broken away from the power-crazed Emperor Arcturus Mengsk. Enraged over Mengsk's betrayal of the powerful telepath, Sarah Kerrigan, to the ravenous Zerg, Raynor has lost all faith in his fellow humanity.

Yet, in the aftermath of Mengsk's treachery, Raynor is plagued by strange visions of Char -- a deadly volcanic world haunted by horrifying alien creatures. As the nightmares grow in intensity, Raynor begins to suspect that they may not be figments of his imagination -- but a desperate form of telepathic contact. Convinced that the woman he loves is still alive, Raynor launches a mission to rescue Kerrigan from Char. But deep beneath the planet's smoldering surface, Raynor finds a strange chrysalis . . . and is forced to watch in horror. as a terrible, all-too-familiar entity arises from it.

Before him stands a creature of malice and vengeance . . . Sarah Kerrigan : The Zerg Queen of Blades."

The novel is due out May 2006, and you can check out the full article here.

Winning PayDay Numbers for Feb. 23


I actually won something this time! Nothing amazing, nothing I can retire on, but enough to buy me a nice lunch and a beer.

Basically, I just broke even on about every other time I lost.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gaming Progress

This past Sunday, I completed The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (Xbox) for the third and probably final time. The game is good, a fun action based RPG that has a strong feel of Diablo to it, but overall it was a struggle getting through it this time.

While its great playing through Middle-earth and fighting orcs and such, the game's story was very weak and the instant action encounters that pop up often were simply too often, the game lacked the solid exploration I've become fond of in most RPGs constantly forcing you into its turn-based battles.

I did do a few things different this time though, like having Hadod the dwarf be a caster, and focused Idrial as a combat character, but even with these heavy character changes the game played very much the same as before. I did get 33 hours of mostly fun, repetative gameplay from it though.

I'm also nearly done Doom II (Xbox), about 6 or 7 levels left on that classic. I must say it is extremely great fun playing through such an old game on my big black box, I just wish weapon switching could be faster, and that the Super Shotgun wasn't beside the Chainsaw. I'm also going through Doom 3 (Xbox), though I haven't touched it in about a week, and now that I'm done The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, I can get back to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords. My female Dark Jedi is coming along rather nicely she is, though I haven't decided if I'll redeem her as the game goes on or simply continue to corrupt all my Party Members. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

F.E.A.R. Sequels Coming to Next Gen Consoles

Monolith has confirmed that they're going to develop sequels to their award winning PC FPS, F.E.A.R., and that they're also going to develop titles of the franchise for the next gen consoles. It doesn't sound like they're going to be straight ports either, however I do hope they port the original F.E.A.R., as I want to play that one.

You can read TeamXbox's full article here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Valve Confirms Half-Life 2: Episode II

God help us, it really is happening. Valve has confirmed the development of Half-Life 2: Episode II, and it should be out sooner than we think. Also, it looks like Half-Life 2: Episode I will have about 6 hours play time and will answer some of the questions left over from Half-Life 2.

Now if only they'd answer some of the question left over from 1998's Half-Life...

News spoted at ActionTrip.

World of Warcraft Promotion in Taiwan

So apparently, this is the kind of promotion that Blizzard Entertainment is doing for World of Warcraft over in Taiwan.

I can't help but find this mildly amusing. If you're going to dress a bunch of chicks up like Night Elves, at least colour their skin purple, give them longer ears, and have their costumes look more real than a cheap outfit. But that would be going for some measure of substance, and I guess they don't do that sort of thing anymore.

Oh, and there's also this funny World of Warcraft ad found here.

Both of these news items found at ActionTrip.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred Review

World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred is another novel set in Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft universe. It is set after Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and prior to World of Warcraft, and its primary purpose is to further explain the renewed hostilities between the Alliance and the Horde.

In the first and second Warcraft titles, the Orc Horde was sent to the world of Azeroth to ravage its denizens in preparation for an invasion of the Demonic Burning Legion, however ultimately the Orcs fails and were placed in camps and enslaved by Humans.

Due to these wars, Humans and Orcs have always hated one another, however in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos they ultimately allied with each other and the reclusive Night Elves to defeat the invading Legion and their Undead minions, the Scourge.

Now free of Demonic corruption and Human enslavement, the Orcs and Humans developed an unwritten truth and settled close to one another on the western continent of Kalimdor.

However it would appear that old hatreds die hard, and World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred centres around increasing hostilities and trade disputes that threaten to lead into all out war with the two factions. The Archmage Jaina Proudmoore, leader of the Human refugees that settled upon Theramore island, and Warchief Thrall, leader of the Horde, are faced with what at first appear to be petty conflicts, but soon find that a larger, more sinister force is plotting to turn the Orcs and Humans back against one another.

The novel features many of the creatures and indeed some of the key characters from the Warcraft series of games, and it's interesting to read a universe generally focused on war and huge scale battles shift to one of mystery and almost a detective styled plot. Interestingly enough, we even have some questions regarding the Warcraft universe answered that have been around for about a decade, questions I thought that would never be addressed.

If your looking for a good fantasy novel, and happen to be a fan of the Warcraft franchise, than World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred is a good read. Furthermore, it really does do an admirable job of explaining the re-newed hostilities between the Orc and Human factions, an important topic I felt was brushed upon much too lightly in the games that the main story line takes place in.

Also note that Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred features a preview of the upcoming novel, StarCraft: Ghost - Nova. The excerpt is well written and I am looking forward to this book. Night Dragon has posted half that excerpt in the comments section of this post here, if you feel so inclined.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords now a Platinum Hits Title

I received the LucasArts Insider, Issue #64 late last night, and the only thing of interest in it to me was that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords is now officially a Platinum Hits title on Xbox. This means you can go to any retailer and pick the title up for $29.99 or less.

In my opinion, this is the best RPG available for the big black box, and well worth that cost. While the story somewhat falters at the end due to a rush to meet a Christmas release, the game still features a gripping, dark storyline and excellent characters, both companions and enemies. It also greatly enhances the mechanics of the exceptional first title, including the addition of alignment Influence on your Party Members, Lightsabre Stances, quick weapon swapping, more Force Powers and Feats, inclusion of Skills in conversation, etc.

If you haven't yet played this great RPG, it's now certainly affordable to do so. Head out and pick it up, and if you haven't yet, also pick up its predecessor as you'll have a much better understanding of the importance of the game's storyline and backstory.

GameSpot Honours Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness as another Greatest Game of All Time!

GameSpot has added another title to its Greatest Games of All Time fame, and this time it's Blizzard Entertainment's classic genre defining RTS, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.

GameSpot focuses mainly on the Multiplayer portion of the game and the classic Kali days of yester-year.

While in my opinion not as defining or revolutionary as Doom was to gaming, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness is one of my favourite classic RTSes of all time, and I agree that it was the title that modernized the genre and laid the ground work for every other RTS to come.

The Single Player Campaign was great mission-based fun with an excellent selection of units, combat, and humour. You generally started with a few workers and combat units, built up your town and secured resources and then proceeded to crush your opponent on the map. The game's story followed the second Great War between the Human Alliance and the Orc Horde, as the Orcs, after a brief respite from their destruction of the kingdom of Azeroth in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, sailed north to pursue the human refugees and wage war against the newly formed Human Alliance. The sequel saw High Elves and Dwarves join forces with the Humans and Trolls, Ogres, Goblins, and some Undead pledge their allegence to the Orcs.

Multiplayer was also great fun, where you and a friend could easily connect via modem (I played it on a 14.4!) and battle with one another over a great selection of maps. There were so many strategies that you could employ, from tower walls, to grunt rushing, to fast expanding, etc. The newly added water based combat also added a great new dimension to the game, as it required greater strategy to push through a navel blockade and land your transports full of ground troops to assault an enemy town. There was also limited air combat with Gryphon Riders for the Humans and Dragons for the Orcs, as well as a flying scout unit for each faction. The amount of build orders and possible battles that could occur were great indeed, and I spent many an hour crushing some good friends under my iron foot.

The game also featured a great, simple-to-use map editor. While you couldn't create Single Player Campaigns that would link together, the map was always limited to a basic "Destroy All Enemies" scenerio, you could quickly create excellent Multiplayer maps that for you and friends to play on, both balanced or with unique themes like capture the fort. I was never much of a map maker, even in my PC gaming prime, however Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness allowed me to easily create a great deal of fun maps to play on without racking my brain or spending a lot of time.

You can read GameSpot's full article here.

PayDay Winning Numbers for Feb. 16th, 400th Post!

This simple little post marks the 400th here at Arbiter's Judgement. Hot damn, now that ain't too bad.

Anyway, the winning PayDay numbers for Feb. 16th are: 02-07-13-71.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Potential PlayStation 3 Network

TeamXbox has an interesting article up that details the potential of what Sony could do for a gaming network to rival Xbox Live.

It's an interesting read and really shows off how much larger Sony is and how much more immediate potential they have over Microsoft.

Obviously, Microsoft is really focused around software, while Sony has dibs in the movie, music, and hardware industries. The amount of content Sony could throw into an online network is very extensive, and if they do it all it will be much more versatile than Xbox Live is right now. However almost everything Sony could throw in is something you can get elsewhere (such as surfing the web, watching movie trailers, downloading music, etc.), so even if their network will be better than Xbox Live, it wouldn't compell me to go and buy a PlayStation 3.

As I've always said, it doesn't matter who makes the console, which has superior hardware and options, or even how well it initially sells, it all comes down to the best exclusive games. If the games blow for a certain console, it will fail no matter what other bells and whistles it has.

You can check out the full article here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

GameSpot PC Honours Doom as the Greatest Game of All Time

GameSpot PC has honoured the original Doom from December 1993 as the greatest game of all time. It's a great article for any gaming fan to read with video, screenshots, and even a link to download the final shareware version of the game.

The influence that Doom has had on modern gaming is astounding, and simply put gaming would be nothing like it is today if it weren't for Doom. Not just the terminology like Deathmatches and frags and such, but also 3D game worlds, most FPS arsenals, styles of enemies, etc. It all comes back to Doom.

And the simple fact that Doom is still such a fun and invigorating game to play after so many years speaks volumes about its quality. There is nothing like walking into a room with the Shotgun and pumping a few shells into some Imps. Even Doom 3, the original's remake, can't match the same fresh feeling or atmosphere that Doom provided.

You can read the full article about this gaming legend here.

Half-Life 2: Episode I Details

Saw some details on Half-Life 2: Episode I over at ActionTrip. Looks like it might be older news, however it does have the expansion's system requirements.

You can check it out here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Diablo: Moon of the Spider Review

So I went on a reading binge yesterday and plowed through Blizzard Entertainment's new novel, Diablo: Moon of the Spider. Overall, it's a very good read and one you're sure to enjoy if you're a fan of the Diablo franchise or dark fantasy in general.

The novel is set after the events of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and follows the exploits of the young necromancer Zayl as he struggles to do his part to maintain the balance of the world. Zayl in turn is a returning character from the previous novel, Diablo: The Kingdom of Shadow.

In Diablo: Moon of the Spider, Zayl has traveled from his eastern home to the western kingdom of Westmarch for reasons he himself doesn't understand. Traveling with him is his companion, Humbart, or rather the reanimated skull of Humbart who bobs around in a sack attached to Zayl's belt.

As Zayl attempts to recentre himself in a tavern, he is approached by a wealthy young woman, the Lady Salene, who is requesting the aid of one of his dark calling. Believing Salene to be part of the reason he was drawn to Westmarch, and seeing no other alternative, Zayl agrees to accompany her. Shortly after, however, Zayl comes under both magical and physical assaults from multiple sources, human, demonic, and even another necromancer. Zayl, with the aid of Salene and Humbart, is ultimately put in the position of trying to prevent a noble and a group of cultists from fulfilling their nefarious plot of returning their demon lord to the world of Sanctuary.

The plot is a dark one with many twists, turns, and unexpected alliances and enemies as Zayl's aggressors are one step ahead of him and Salene attempts to keep the locals from persecuting Zayl for practicing his dark magiks.

The novel features many of the spells and creatures found in Diablo II, and Richard A. Knaak's writing style captures the essence of Blizzard's world as he always does. It is a pleasure to read another adventure entailing Zayl, who's strength and confidence is tempered by inner conflict between his duty and desires, and Humbart is as synical a voice a reason as he always is. Salene is a very interesting new character with some deeper surprises of her own, and acts as more than a potential romantic interest for our hero.

If you're looking for a well written, dark fantasy adventure, than go ahead and pick up a copy of Diablo: Moon of Spider. You may wish to read the previously mentioned Diablo: The Kingdom of Shadow first to get in all of Zayl's backstory, and seeing how that's another great novel, you won't be sorry that you did.

StarCraft: Ghost - Nova Novel a Reality

At the back of the Diablo: Moon of the Spider Novel is a page officially advertising the upcoming StarCraft: Ghost - Nova novel. There is no release date, however it is stated as "Coming Soon" and is the official prequel to the upcoming game.

You know, I realized last week that StarCraft: Ghost, the game, was announced back in September 2002 and has yet to be released. It was announced when the Xbox was less than a year old, and now the Xbox is on its way out and the game still hasn't hit shelves. In fact, it's been delayed numerous times, switched development teams, dropped a supported platform, and might even have had a graphic engine switch.

Anyway, the point is that this game has been in development for about 3.5 years now, so when it is released if it isn't outright amazing, it's gonna be slammed hard. I also find it amusing that we may even get the prequel novel before the actual game.

The Lord of the Rings: Extended DVD Edition on Sale at Best Buy

Best Buy presently has a sale on The Lord of the Rings: The Extended DVD Edition. If you've been waiting for a price drop to own the greatest film ever made, nows a great chance.

You can pick up the collection here for $59.99, and you'll also be able to find each indivdual Extended Edition DVD film for $24.99.

More Halo Novels Officially on the Way

Bungie has released in their latest Friday update that Erik Nylund, the author behind the novelized prequels to Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, is working on another Halo novel that will be released in the near to mid-near future. They also mention another novel just coming into development from an as yet unnamed author.

Brief details (as well as more info on Halo 2 for Windows Vista) can be found here.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Half-Life 2: Aftermath Renamed

Saw over at ActionTrip that GameSpot has learned the upcoming PC expansion to Half-Life 2 has been renamed from Half-Life 2: Aftermath to Half-Life 2: Episode I.

Wow, that's a really riveting name, much better than Aftermath. If Valve does want to go episodic (and God help us all 'cause that's what they're doing. Which means more vague storylines that have no real depth which people'll gobble up simply because it's all first person and therefore must be superior to a properly constructed narrative that actually tells a story), couldn't they just have revised the name to Half-Life 2: Epsidoe I - Aftermath? Sounds better to me.

Anyway, you can read the latest Valve drivel here.

LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy Officially Announced

LucasArts has officially announced LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy with theofficial press release here.

IGN Xbox also has an interview with David Perkinson, a member of LucasArts that details a lot of the features from the game which you can read here.

Finally, TeamXbox has some minor coverage here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Power Failure

So I got home last night and there was a power failure affecting the whole block. Being around 7:00 pm, it was pitch dark so I figured in order to anything (even something basic like take a piss), I needed to see.

So I took the Mini-Maglite I always carry in my bag and affixed it to my right arm with two rubber bands. That way, I could look around just by pointing my arm and both hands were also free to manipulate my environment (until the Maglite nearly fell in the toilet, but that's another story). Anyway, that was a simple, successful setup, which makes me smarter than the Marine in Doom 3.

Speaking of id Software's horror masterpiece, I've started going through it again (Xbox version), this time on Hard, but I've reduced the brightness and contrast by half to increase the challenge. Things are quite dark and therefore a bit scarier. I suspect it now looks more like the PC version, and I wish I could find some rubber bands in the UAC facility.

Winning PayDay Numbers for Feb. 09


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Halo 2 to Come to PC, Windows Vista Exclusive

Bungie and Microsoft have officially announced that Halo 2, the best selling Xbox title to date, will be ported to the PC and will be exclusive to Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista operating system. It will feature the full Single Player Campaign as well as all the Multiplayer maps (Including the Map Pack ones).

You can find the full details and press release here, however aside from what I've said above there isn't much more to say. In fact, most of the press release is a Q&A, and the most common answer is literally: "We have not yet announced (insert question topic) at this time." Very... informative.

Anyway, the PC version of Halo 2 will look better and certainly handle better with a keyboard and Mouse, and there'll also be level creating for modders. Many would consider it's exclusive status to an as yet unreleased OS a marketing ploy, and hell I'd say they'd be right, but if it'll sell more copies of Windows Vista for Microsoft, then of course they'll do it. To clarify, Halo 2 PC will not work with Windows XP or lower, you'll need Vista to play the game and no Mac version has yet been announced.

Note the screenshot shown is from the Xbox version.

Peter Jackson Visits Bungie

Recently, Peter Jackson, who is executive producing the Halo movie, paid a visit to Bungie's own office. Bungie has an article and picture about it here.

The Infinite Void that is Existence

Sorry for the lack of updates, kids, but work's been very busy. Anyway, it's mainly been a slow news week so there wasn't much to miss.

I still haven't gotten around to watching the bonus features for Corpse Bride, but I'm hoping to soon with a DVD review shortly afterwards.

I won Star Wars: Republic Commando (Xbox) for the 4th time last night. The game was a lot harder towards the end than I remember, and 3 of these play throughs have been on Hard. Anyway, a great, fun, and intense shooter with squad based elements. Delta Squad kills things good, and thank God for that as a good bit of the game's end levels were me lying on the ground incapacitated and waiting for a revive. I will say though I think LucasArts could have simplified the game's Detonators (Grenades) and just had Thermal and EC Detonators, removing the Sonic and Flashbang ones. I found it to be rather tedious toggling through so many grenade choices in a pinch. I also encountered a lot more AI bugs for my squad towards the end than ever before, including squad mates getting stuck on surfaces or not following me properly.

Oh, and if you search for images of "Star Wars Republic Commando Xbox" with Google Images, you'll get an image of a vagina with a dildo in it. 'Cause, you know, that makes perfect sense.

I picked up 2 novels today, Diablo: Moon of the Spider and World of Warcraft: Cycle of Hatred. I didn't even know the World of Warcraft novel existed until I saw it in store, so I'll be reading both of these and posting reviews once done. I'm starting with Diablo: Moon of the Spider first as it was published first.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

2 New Levels for Classic Doom (Xbox)

I've had The Ultimate Doom and Doom II (Xbox) since release (They came with Doom 3: Limited Collector's Edition in early April '05), and I just found out today that they have one new secret level each not found in the original PC versions.

You can find the details at ClassicDOOM.com here, and PC versions of the levels are also available for download here.

The new map for The Ultimate Doom is in Episode 1 called "Sewers," and the new Doom II map is called "Betrayal." I played through both of them today on Ultra-Violence Difficulty (Hard), and overall they were pretty good.

"Sewers" becomes the second level of The Ultimate Doom, and is a long level with many sewer tunnels to slog through filled with monsters. You end up having to fight many monsters that you normally wouldn't encounter until much later in the game, such as Cacodemons and Barons of Hell, however there's enough ammo (and a Chaingun and Rocket Launcher later in the level) to go around. Your Shotgun is your best friend here. Between the two, this one is my least favourite, as I found the level too large and generally repetative to be really great. Since it's also featured in Episode 1, which is the original Shareware episode released way back in 1993, you're also restricted to only a select group of weapons.

"Betrayal" is a very good level. It ends up being the third level of Doom II and also features many monsters you don't encounter until later in the game, such as Pain Elementals, Arachnotrons, Hell Knights, Mancubuses, and Arch-Viles. However, you also get access to the game's full arsenal, so except for a few really hard open areas (Lousy Arch-Vile), the level is challenging but not insanely difficult. "Betrayal" is better laid out than "Sewers" and features a lot of closed rooms and teleporters. The Plasma Rifle worked wonders here.

All in all, it was a nice surprise finding some minor new content for the decade plus old games. If you have the Xbox versions (also found in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil), then go give 'em a try. If not and you have the PC versions, you can download load them from the above link.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Diablo III Speculation

ActionTrip has another game development speculation post up, noting a recent job posting for Blizzard North, the team responsible for the Diablo franchise. They're looking for an experienced art director for an unannounced PC project. Seeing as how Blizzard North has only developed the Diablo titles, ActionTrip believes this means Diablo III is in the works.

Complete speculation at this point, but we can only hope. You can read ActionTrip's article here.

Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Announced

Lego Star Wars: The Video Game has been such a success, that a sequel is now in the works. IGN Xbox has the news here, however this is not yet an official announcement; that should be coming in a few weeks.

The sequel will be based on the original Star Wars Trilogy, and this time it is being published by LucasArts (Traveller's Tales is still the developer). From the sound of things, this sequel will be released for the current generation of consoles.

Note that this screenshot is from the original Lego Star Wars: The Video Game.

I rented this one a while back, and while not out right amazing, it was a good bit of light-hearted fun. The sequel will be worth a rent at the very least.

Profile of Obsidian Entertainment

IGN Xbox has posted a profile up of Obsidian Entertainment, the development team behind some great RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords.

You can read the full profile here.

I'm presently playing through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords for the 4th time, and it really is my favourite RPG on the Xbox. While it's unfortunate the game was rushed for a Christmas '04 release, and thus a lot of the story was cut/simplified towards the end, the dark, complex plot is still very, very good. I also really like most of the Party Members; I find them very interesting and in a sense more tragic than typical RPG companions.

I really hope there's a third title to this series, most likely for the Xbox 360 and PC.

Winning PayDay Numbers for Feb. 02


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Speculation on Halo 2 coming to PC

ActionTrip has a news post up saying they've been getting reports that Bungie is working on a PC version of Halo 2. They reference that Bungie now has job openings for various PC positions. You can read more here.

This is all speculation at this point, however if they did port Halo 2 to the PC, it would be interesting to see if they do anything extra with it, aside from prettier graphics and larger online play.

It would also be interesting to see a proper PC comparison between the Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Doom 3. This would also mean mods would be possible for Halo 2.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) Patch

Saw over at TeamXbox that Infinity Ward, the developers of Call of Duty 2, have released a patch for the Xbox 360 version via Xbox Live that fixes corrupt Single Player save game issues. There's also a Multiplayer bug fix patch in the works.

You can read more, including Activision's official press release, here.