Monday, August 27, 2007

Hell ain't so bad... so far

We, the Staff (TM) have an update for you, the desperate, raving, information-starved masses of the world. We received our return package for our poor malfunctioning Xbox 360 today, a mere 3 business days after placing the repair order.

The box is fairly straightforward - a simple, unadorned white box large enough to contain the console and some supporting foam. Enclosed within were instructions on how to pack it. All that is required of Us now is to pack away and locate the nearest Purolator drop-off point. Of course, all of this is being done at Microsoft's expense, thanks to their recently-extended warranty.

Here's hoping the repair process gets turned around in a similarly efficient manner. Stay in Our good books, Microsoft! We have so many more GamerWhore points to achieve!

-The Staff

Saturday, August 25, 2007

BioShock Orchestral Score Available for Download

2K Games has released the orchestral score of BioShock completely free, and you can find the 23 MB Zip file on The Cult of Rapture's main page.

One thing that continues to impress me with BioShock as I play through it is the strength of the sound mix, including the music.

2K Games has really been showing how community friendly they are with this blockbuster release, and I do hope that many more studios take a nod from their behaviour.

Exclusive StarCraft II Screenshots

ActionTrip is hosting some exclusive screenshots for StarCraft II, which can be viewed right here. The game is certainly looking all nice and classic like. And I mean that in a good way.

It's Raynor everyone!

New Terran Unit from StarCraft II Revealed

Blizzard Entertainment has revealed the next Terran unit from StarCraft II, an air to surface support, fighter the Banshee.

You can view all the details right here.

Big Daddy Figurine Replacement Program

A small percentage of customers who purchased the BioShock: Limited Edition have, sadly, received a broken Big Daddy figurine.

2K Games is offering a replacement figure for free, including shipping, to anyone in North America who has experienced this issue, and as an added bonus you'll also receive a printed version of the BioShock Conept Art Book entitled "Breaking the Mold."

Go here for complete details.

Half-Life 2 (Xbox) Sold

When I purchased my copy of the BioShock: Limited Edition (Xbox 360) this past Tuesday from EB Games, I decided to trade in my copy of Half-Life 2 (Xbox). Sadly, I only got $4.00 for it, but I know I'm not going to play through it again before the release of The Orange Box, so I figured I might as well get something for it.

Half-Life 2 was nothing more than a glorified tech demo anyway, and there's only so many times one can play through such limited gameplay.

On the topic of the BioShock: Limited Edition, I just want to say that the packaging is great, but also very, very big. Thankfully the game and bonus discs come in a standard DVD case inside, and the over sized boxed-set packaging is really just meant to hold the Big Daddy figurine.

BioShock PC Demo Now Available

Last Monday, 2K Games released the PC demo for BioShock, which you can download at your favourite file site.

If you don't have an Xbox 360 or prefer the PC, then give this Demo a try.

The Staff Enters Hell

We, the Staff (TM) have gone and followed in Fearless Leader's footsteps.  Since he had such fun with his Xbox 360 going and conking out on him, Ours went and thought it would follow suit.  Behold!  The Three Red Lights of DOOM!!!

We promptly called Xbox support and got the potentially lengthy repair process underway (curiously, there was no mention of a refurbishment as there was with Fearless Leader's console).  Fortunately Microsoft recently upped the Official 3-red-lights-of-DOOM!!! warranty to 3 years from date of purchase.

Anyway, this should make for an intriguing saga/epic quest/tale to pass down through generations type thingy. 

We, the Staff (TM) will keep you posted. It's not like We have a 360 to distract Us for the moment!

-The Staff

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Last Legion Review

For years now I've been a fan of military history, and thanks to the Dream of Eagles series of novels, I've taken an interest in the decline of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the dark ages around 400 CE in Britain. Since the general concept to The Last Legion is more or less the same as the beginings of A Dream of Eagles, I had high hopes knowing that the building blocks for such a historical telling of the Arthurian legend were all there. Sadly, however, The Last Legion starts with promise but simply gets worse as it moves on.

The film begins towards the end of the 5th century, after Rome has long since recalled its Legions to protect the heartland of the Empire from the amassing barbarian hordes that threaten her. Aurelius (Colin Firth) is one of those soldiers now sworn to the guard of the new Emperor, the child Romulus Augustus (Thomas Sangster). On the day of Romulus' coronation, Odoacer (Peter Mullan) and his foederati army assaults and captures Rome, killing Romulus' parents and taking the boy prisoner. Ultimately, Romulus and his guardian Ambrosinus (Ben Kingsley) are sent as prisoners to Capri where they are ultimately rescued by Aurelius and his companions after discovering Excalibur. Following another series of betrayals by the Eastern Empire, they flee to Britain in search of the 9th Legion, the last Roman Legion still loyal to the young Emperor.

Unfortunately, The Last Legion gets many of its actual historical facts wrong, however being a historical fiction this would certainly have been forgivable had the film been dramatic, but it falls quite short of this mark. The characters themselves, both heroes and villains, are bland and one dimensional, and there's never any real sense of urgency or tension in the film's conflicts. Really, it was mostly all cheesy. It starts of with the promise of a historical spectacle, but once the exiles reach and begin to explore Britain, the remainder of the plot and the additional villain of the British warlord Vortgyn are so goofy that they're laughable.

The costumes and sets are well done, however (I liked the sight of Hadrian's Wall), and the film certainly features some entertaining, action-packed battles, however I must confess disappointment at seeing the 9th Legion fail fight as a real Legion would have, in disciplined line formations of infantry. The music itself is also fairly forgettable and fails to inspire.

Basically, while it did have its entertaining moments, mainly in the first hour, I simply can't recommend paying to see The Last Legion in theatres, or even as a DVD rental. When it hits TV as something free, and should you find yourself bored with nothing else to do, then it could prove to be interesting enough to kill an afternoon. Otherwise, there are much more enlightening and entertaining ways to discover how that famous sword got in the stone.

Halo 3 Weapons Profiled, Screenshots Added

Bungie has officially revealed the Flamethrower, and the Incendiary Grenade that will be featured in Halo 3, and you can see what they have to say via the links here.

Bungie has also profiled several other UNSC weapons found in the listing here, and they've added several additional screenshots, most from Multiplayer, here.

Just over a month to go before we can finish the fight!

New StarCraft II Unit and Screenshots

Blizzard Entertainment has unveiled the next Protoss unit, the Dark Templar, which you can view here.

They've also updated their Screenshots section with a host of new images here, and added a new "Nuke" wallpaper found here.

BioShock Art Book and Official Site Update

Early last week, The Cult of Rapture revealed the BioShock Artbook entitled BioShock: Breaking the Mold. The soon to be released Limited Edition of the game will come with a DVD, Music CD, and Big Daddy figurine, and while there wasn't enough room to include a proper artbook, 2K Games has released one in .pdf format, which you can download here. If only more developers would do stuff like this, though a word of caution, spoilers are contained.

The official BioShock web site has also been updated with a host of conventional weapons from the game, which you can view here (I'd link to the weapons page directly, but it keeps crashing my browser. Stupid QuickTime).

BioShock (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

By now most of you have played the Xbox 360 demo for BioShock, and with the game's release less than 2 days away, I'll keep this post brief: Based on this demo alone, BioShock will be one of if not thee must own Xbox 360 title of 2007.

Most of you have already formed your own impressions, however I also know most of you have never played System Shock 2, one of the most amazing and underrated shooters of all time, and for me I can not help but compare both games.

While playing the demo for the first (and then second and then third) time, I needed to keep reminding myself that this is not System Shock 2, but rather a whole new game. BioShock takes many of the RPG additions to the shooter genre that was featured in System Shock 2 and simplifies them, meaning that BioShock is much more a shooter than its spiritual predecessor.

You do not have Classes to choose from, and the Plasmids don't seem anywhere near as complex or evolving as Psi Powers did, however BioShock still contains the most important element that made System Shock 2 so grand: Atmosphere.

From the moment you first enter that lighthouse, not only have you been astounded by the game's visuals and amazing water effects, but the tension begins to build, and once you leave the Bathisphere, there's no going back. The halls of Rapture are dark and creepy. Dread lurks around every corner and you're just waiting for the next Splicer to pop out of no where and say "Boo.", and no, I'm not talking cheesy, repetitive Doom 3 monster closets.

You can also tell from the demo that the game will have some nice, psychologically disturbing moments. Aside from the great audio logs and music, you'll also be treated to some great scripted sequences that will mess with your mind (such as the Splicer and the baby carriage). BioShock will be the kind of game to play late at night with the lights off and the sound up.

The demo also gives you a taste at hacking security cameras and bots, something that will be most invaluable to helping you get the drop on your enemies. While I found hacking to be ridiculously easy, I'm looking forward to the increased difficulty as the retail game progresses.

You also get a nice sight of a Big Daddy, and just how fast and lethal they will be, but we'll need to wait for retail to fully experience them, as well as most of the other more challenging foes in the game.

The demo for BioShock is certainly a demo that leaves you wanting more, and all I can say is two days can't go by fast enough.

And Now for Something Completely Different...

We, the Staff (TM) couldn't help but note that Fearless Leader has been postless for the past week. It is thus our sworn and solemn duty to entertain You, the Readers (-TM). Ergo:

Meow, Meow, Meow Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow Meow, Meow-Meow-Meow-Meow Meow-Meow-Meow-Meow (etc, etc).

Very well, as you were.

-The Staff

Sunday, August 12, 2007

BioShock (Xbox 360) Playable Demo and 60 Sec. TV Spot

At 9:50 pm, Spike TV premiered the final BioShock 60 Second TV Spot, after which the trailer was put up for download on both the Xbox Live Marketplace and

The big news, however, is at the same time, 2K Games released the playable demo for BioShock via Xbox Live Marketplace. The PC version of the demo is presently in the works, according to The Cult of Rapture main page, and will be available for download later this month.

While the TV Spot downloaded quickly and without incident via the Xbox Live Marketplace, I've had absolutely no luck getting the Demo. It weighs in at 1.3 GB and the download started off well, however once it reached 22% it froze on me. I restarted the download, and then my net connection crashed.

After rebooting my connection, I then tried downloading the TV spot which, as I mentioned, worked flawlessly, however once I tried to get the Demo again, it went to 3% and froze once more.

It looks like Microsoft was unprepared for the volume the BioShock Demo is obviously putting on Xbox Live.

I'm going to try to download it again after I post this, and let it run overnight. Sadly, this means I won't be able to play the Demo until tomorrow night at the earliest. I'm quite disappointed, and really hoping the game itself doesn't end up being as poor and badly coordinated as this Demo launch.

Update: Seems I'm not the only one having issues with Xbox Live. TeamXbox thus far has been unable to download the Demo either; they keep getting dropped. You can read that in their Demo announcement article here.

First Retail Title with Complete Single Player Achievements Unlocked

As most of you know, I'm primarily a Single Player gamer these days, so for me the Xbox 360 Achievements that matter are the Single Player ones.

Yesterday, with the unlocking of the Clusterluck Achievement, Gears of War has become the first retail title where I have unlocked all the Single Player Achievements possible in a game.

Doom was the first Xbox Live Arcade title and the first overall title in which I achieved that goal this past winter, and Prey would be my next closest title, having only one Single Player Achievement left to unlock.

In terms of getting a full 1000 Gamerscore points from a retail game, I'm limited to Single Player only titles since I only have an Xbox Live Silver Membership, and thus I'm expecting The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to be the first title in which I achieve that honour. Spider-Man 3 is doubtful since several of it's Achievements are really hard to unlock, though well see how difficult BioShock is; perhaps it'll be the one.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360) Review

Now this is the game that Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter should have been. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 makes several intuitive improvements over the original title, while still maintaining its general tactical feel.

Taking place only a few days after the original title, it appears those surly Mexican Rebels are trying to sell illegal fireworks across the US border, and by selling fireworks I mean launching stolen nukes. It's up to Cpt. Mitchell and the Ghosts to once again spring into action and save the day. This time around, I found the game's narrative to actually be easy to follow and thus get into, and I really liked the game's jeep ride intro.

The majority of the team mates and weapons from the first game are back, as well as a few new toys, however I did find myself using the standard MR-C as my primary rifle, just like I did in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.

The game is, sadly, a short one, taking only several hours to complete on the Guarded Risk (Normal) difficulty setting, however the missions blend a nice mix of urban and desert combat, both solo and with groups. There are times when you need to be stealthy, recon, and snipe targets, and other times when you're in massive, all out sieges, both of which are great fun.

Your squad mate's AI has been improved, unfortunately less so in their self targeting and accuracy, but more so in the kind of feedback they provide to you as team lead. Your troops will now tell you the number of hostiles they've spotted, where the enemy is taking cover ("We have two behind the red car!"), and even shout at you to get your ass under cover if you're in the open.

You also get a brand new class of soldier to add to your team, the Medic. In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, if a teammate was injured, he could not be healed until you reached a rally point to also restock on ammo, though you could revive him an infinite number of times if he was incapacitated, providing that you or another squad mate reached him before he died. In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, your team carries a limited number of medkits that are used to revive incapacitated teammates. If you include the Medic in your squad, you get additional medkits as well as the option to revive teammates and to get yourself patched up pre-rally point. Needless to say, this makes the Medic a very valuable addition to the Ghosts.

Your squad still tends to suck at effectively taking out targets on their own, however, and though you can rely on them if you coordinate them, it does require a lot of hand holding. This hand holding is made a little easier in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, as you can now hold the Right Bumper to view what your team is seeing full screen via your enhanced Cross-Com. This makes pinpoint movements much simpler, though in truth, coordinating them via the game's tactical map is usually efficient enough while also providing you an overall picture of the area.

Vehicle support still mainly sucks ass aside from using them as mobile cover, as tanks are too dumb to auto-acquire targets on their own, but again if you handhold them, choppers and tanks can really chew up the opposition. In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, you can also call in air strikes, bringing down an ordnance drop on an enemy target, causing a lot of fireworks. Quite the visual spectacle.

The UAV drone is back and even more useful than before, again, thanks to the full screen view from your Cross-Com. In addition to the remote UAV, you also get the M.U.L.E, a small, land-based vehicle that serves to carry additional weapons, ammo, and health for you and your team. You can also use it for ground based recon and cover, however it's not very durable and I found the M.U.L.E more useful as a mobile medkit and ammo box safely kept at the back lines.

Graphically, the game's quite beautiful. The Cross-Com is as sleek as ever, and the environments are rich with detail and polish. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 employes a full day/night cycle, causing you to make judicious use of your night vision, as well as being extra careful when performing recon if you're getting sunblind. I like the colour scheme of the Ghost's armour better than from the first game, but otherwise character models mainly look the same. Cross-Com briefing character models are more polished this time around though.

The game also features a very strong sound mix. Voice acting is mixed, with some over-the-top performances that I could have done without, but the general sound effects and musical score were both sweet.

From a control standpoint, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 removes the few complaints I had regarding the original title. Instead of cycling through a long and tedious inventory list to swap weapons, you now simply Press and hold "Y" (on Controller Config B), and then press one of the four main directions on the D-Pad to select the corresponding weapon or explosive. The same procedure follows for selecting alternate rates of fire, all nice and quick. I also like how I can now view the tactical map without it removing me from cover.

When it's all said and done, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is a solid tactical shooter, however given its short length I really can't recommend it at full retail price. However, if you wait a while and can find it for about $35.00 to $40.00, I'd say pick it up and go deal with some Mexican rebels. The President will thank you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Two New Halo 3 Weapons Revealed

IGN Xbox 360 has the scoop on two new weapons that will be featured in Halo 3: The Flamethrower and the Firebomb.

At long last the Flamethrower makes it's proper debut in the franchise, and it's a weapon that's used form a third person perspective. You'll need to be in close to use it right, and it fires in bursts, so my assumption is that it'll be great to use on Flood and less so on Covenant.

A new grenade has also been revealed, the Firebomb. Basically, an incendiary Grenade that the Brutes seem fond of.

You can check out both weapons at IGN Xbox 360's article here.

BioShock has Gone Gold

On The Cult of Rapture front page, the official announcement has been made: BioShock has gone gold, and will be in stores on Tues. Aug. 21st in North America.

I've already got my Collector's Edition pre-ordered, and come to think of it, this is really the first game in nearly two years that I can say I'm truly drooling over.

Sigh. About 10 days to go...

Xbox 360 Price Drop and Updates

It's official, Microsoft has officially cut the price of their Xbox 360 Console.

The Xbox 360 Core System will now retail for $299.99. The Xbox 360 Pro system will retail for $399.99, and the Xbox 360 Elite will now sell for $499.99.

Not bad at all, and you can read the official release here.

Microsoft also recently released a Dashboard update that simply adds support for the upcoming Wireless Guitar peripheral, and finally, the Xbox 360 Pro console will also begin sporting the HDMI port that was, until now, an exclusive feature of the Xbox 360 Elite. Looks like the cable is sold separately, however. Thanks to TeamXbox for that news.

The Simpsons Movie Review

After close to two decades, The Simpsons have finally made it to the big screen with The Simpsons Movie. Unlike some of my other movie reviews, this one's going to be fairly brief because, when it's all said and done, The Simpsons are The Simpsons and the gist of them doesn't really change much. Unless you've been living under a rock since the late 80's, you already know what the film is about.

The Simpsons Movie is basically like 3 long episodes, and while it certainly has it's funny moments (Like President Schwarzenegger's "I was elected to lead, not to read." line, Bart's nude skateboarding scene, and the Spider-Pig scene), the film is mainly forgettable, attested to by the fact that I saw it not even a week ago, and I'm already struggling to remember certain parts of it.

Basically, Springfield becomes overly polluted (thanks to Homer and a pig) and the town is then quarantined in a unique fashion by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Bart, ashamed of his father, forms a bond with Flanders, Lisa finds an equally annoying boy she falls in love with, Marge nags everyone, and Maggie does Maggie things. And there you have it, that's the gist of things, just like every other episode only longer.

I'm not saying that The Simpsons Movie is a bad film, but I think Homer himself said it best at the movie's beginning: Pointing to the audience and calling us suckers for paying for something we could easily see on TV for free.

The Simpsons Movie has nothing really special to offer that the regular series itself does not, and I honestly recommend you see it as a cheap matinée or a DVD rental.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Spider-Man 3 (Xbox 360) Review

As I mentioned last, last Saturday, I found a bunch of summer game savings at Best Buy, and I was able to pick up Spider-Man 3 (Xbox 360) for only $24.99. I've both read and glanced over a bunch of reviews for the game, and the general consensus is that it sucks and is the worst Spider-Man game ever, and based on those, I was expecting to have a little fun playing Super Hero for a few days, get some easy Achievements to pad my Gamerscore, and then trade it in at a good price when I pick up BioShock.

Now that I've won Spider-Man 3, I need to ask this one important question: What were all those reviewers slamming it for? While certainly not the best game ever made, Spider-Man 3 is an addictively fun beat 'em up that's well worth it for any fans of the web head.

Spider-Man 3 is, of course, based on the recently released film of the same name, and it more or less follows the movie's plot with a lot of extra content thrown in. Unfortunately, Spider-Man 3 does suffer from the same problem that all movie tie-in games seem to have, the fact that the game, for whatever reason, doesn't want to give away much of any of the film's actual plot or dialogue. Now, this leaves me scratching my head since the game was released on the same day as the film, so who cares about spoilers? Apparently the minds behind Spider-Man 3 do, so when you pick up this game, do _not_ expect much in the way of a coherent story. Though the additional, non-movie parts are fleshed out more, you basically need to have an understanding of Spider-Man comics and to have seen Spider-Man 3 to get what's going on.

Basically you'll spend most of your time swinging around Manhattan and dealing with a bunch of stuff that happens, but it's the mechanics of how this is done that makes Spider-Man 3 so much fun. Treyarch recreated all of Manhattan for Spider-Man 3, and the city looks nice. It actually comes with a fully detailed map that you can zoom in and move around, and as Spider-Man, you have free rain to swing around anywhere in the city, doing pretty much anything you please. Come across a robbery or a gang war happening? Swoop down and stop it or simply pass it by, it's your choice. There are Super Villains to stop, side Missions, extra Races and mini-games, etc. In Spider-Man 3, there is a lot to do, and swinging through the city is just so much fun.

The character modelers and animators have really nailed the feel of Spider-Man swinging. His animations are so fluid and so perfectly representative of the films', that it really was a rush the first several times I swung through the city, and I still get a kick out of it. Unlike earlier Spider-Man titles, to, it seems that Peter Parker has been behind on his Goodyear Blimp payments, and as such, he can't just swing a web line while atop the Empire State Building and expect it to catch on thin air. In Spider-Man 3, you need a solid anchor for your webline to actually attach onto, or else you'll start to fall, which just adds to the realism.

The combat system was great fun as well. While yes, it's mainly button mashing, if you use your Spider Reflexes properly to dodge and slow down time, you can plan and pull off some spectacular looking combos. Again, Spider-Man's animations are so fluid, fast, and crisp, that it's simply a joy to watch him smash the snot out of brain-dead thugs. There's also a bunch of mini-games centred around an interactive cinematic theme. Basically, Spider-Man will be jumping around or doing this and that in what's presented like a cinematic, and as it plays out, you'll have to push a corresponding button or stick to have him successfully execute the next part. If you take too long or press the wrong button, Spidey will usually go splat. Not only are these great fun to watch (and fun to laugh at when Spidey gets gushed), but the game's Checkpoint system is generally quite good, starting you right at the beginning of the sequence you just botched up instead of several battles back. This really helps to keep the pacing of the game alive.

Visually, while all the Heroes and Super Villains are well done, regular character models, such as Peter Parker himself, look pretty bad. They actually look like plastic toys and are kind of scary, which is unfortunate given the high level of detail that Manhattan itself sports.

Audio wise, the game's a mixed bag. Almost all of the film's stars lend their voices, however the dialogue can be repetitive and many of the actors, such as Tobey Maguire and Thomas Haden Church, simply didn't seem into it (though Spider-Man's lines themselves were usually quite funny and cheesy). Bruce Campbell was a great Narrator though, with his usual whit and charm, and Topher Grace was a great Eddie Brock/Venom.

The sound effects are spot on, either taken straight from the film or suitably themed to what's going on, but I must say I was greatly disappointed with the game's music. If, for whatever reason, they couldn't use the film's music, they should have at least used many of the tracks from the previous films. What Spider-Man 3 features for music is basically background riffs that are easily forgettable.

Of course, one of the big themes of Spider-Man 3 is the Black Suit. I've always loved the Alien Symbiote and Venom, and I was really looking forward to seeing what Treyarch could pull off here, and again, while story wise you just sort of get the Suit, once you do... my God, is Spider-Man powerful! Before, you could use your agility and Reflexes to great effect to pummel the bad guys, but with the Black Suit, you can brute force your way through so much, and its damn fun doing it!

Once you get the Black Suit, Spider-Man is stronger and faster, though a bit harder to control while web swinging because of this. While playing as regular Spider-Man, once you fill up your Combo Metre, you can press Right Bumper in combination with another button to unleash a powerful Super Attack, but with the Black Suit, your Combo Metre changes to a Rage Metre. Once full you can tap on Right Bumper to enter Rage Mode for several seconds, where Spider-Man simply butchers all with sheer strength. Not only that, but as the game progresses you unlock special Rage moves and Combos, and combine these with your Spider Reflexes and you're all but unstoppable! I mean, my God, was it fun swinging through the city, spotting a crime and simply diving in to crush them all, so much so that when Spider-Man ultimately gets rid of the Black Suit, I was very disappointed (though Venom was fun to fight at the end of the game).

As I mentioned earlier, Spider-Man 3 takes some liberties and doesn't reveal all of the film's story. No backstory is given on Sandman, for example, though you do see how he's created, and I actually found it interesting how Venom manipulates him to fight in the Grand Finale, which was actually a bit more convincing to me than it was in the film. They also completely ignore the Uncle Ben relation and Sandman's overall focus is a bit different.

One thing they did right though, was to completely nix Gwen Stacy and her father, and simply focus on Peter and MJ. Unfortunately, one of the mini-games you have to do is something called the Mary Jane Thrill ride. Basically, you have to swing Mary Jane around the city several times collecting hearts, and you have a time limit to do it all in. Not only is this simply annoying, but listening to Mary Jane say junk like "Higher Peter! Higher!" or "I'm jealous, you get to do this all the time." is plain annoying! Please, Treyarch, in the future, play such scenes out in Cinematics and don't torture us like that.

The game's opening tutorial is also pretty bad as well, dropping the player right into things and doing a poor job of explaining everything as you go along. Once you get past the tutorial, though, Manhattan opens up to you and you can begin having a blast, though this leads to another issue I found with Spider-Man 3: You can only have one game in progress at a time. If there are two people who want to play the game in your household, for example, they will have to share a Save Game or wait for one player to completely finish, though the only way to start a new game is to completely delete your existing Save Game, which is a very poor way of doing things.

Lastly, though I found the game's controls to handle very well (and I only had issues with the camera in doors, so I have no idea why other reviewers were going on about with the camera being awful. You simply need to adjust it on the fly with the Right Stick all the time, just like in any FPS), catching falling victims in mid air or jumping onto moving vehicles from a web swing is very, very difficult, so much so that some kind of lock on feature would have made some side Missions much less frustrating.

When all is said and done, Spider-Man 3 is a very fun game. It is not perfect though. Aside from some weak character models and a crappy sound track, the game does feature some cheap boss battles and ridiculously annoying side Missions, but then again, many of the annoyances I found in Spider-Man 3 are also present in such blockbuster titles like Gears of War. When its all said and done, I would not recommend Spider-Man 3 at full retail price, but if you can find it for $39.99 or lower, I'd certainly recommend that you pick it up. Spider-Man 3 does a great job of capturing the web head's feeling, and there's no better way to play Hero for the day.

Quake II (PC) Demo Impressions via Steam

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to infest my PC with that dreaded Steam "distribution service" and see how the almighty id Software's classic products played over it. If you've been a long time reader of Arbiter's Judgement, then you'll know I missed out on playing Quake II back in the day and have some kind of romanticism going on with the game, so that's the demo I decided to try.

Basically, when all is said and done, it plays fine, basically like how I remember it on my Xbox 360 save that I can actually aim quickly and precisely. I did find it overly dark though, even after increasing the game's Gamma, and sadly I don't think my Marine is packing a Flashlight.

Quake II looks well enough at 1024x768, especially since it's a first gen title running of the id Tech 2 Engine, but there was something about it, something with its age and play style that irked me this time around, and I can't quite define what it is.

Regardless, for $9.95 US, I might get around to purchasing this one in the future should I get really bored, as it isn't going anywhere, and at least I don't need to deal with the ridiculous shipping costs from the id Store. Instead of paying $22.26 CA for the game and then _again_ for shipping, I'd simply need to deal with the retarded Steam spying on what I do all do and giving me grief if I want to play a Single Player game offline. Joy.

Xbox Live Gold Membership Thoughts

This past Saturday, my one month trial for my Xbox Live Gold Membership came to a close, and I'm now back to a basic Silver Membership.

As everyone knows, having a Gold Membership via Xbox Live costs a fee, and when it's all said and done, the only major difference between a Gold and Silver Membership is that you need a Gold Membership to play Multiplayer games. On occasion Gold Members will be able to download certain content about a week before Silver Members, and Gold Members can also send messages to those on their Friends list via the Xbox web site, but these are really moot points.

While I had my Gold Membership I made a few more friends (and never got a single bad Review to my Rep), played lots of Doom and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and really tried hard at Gears of War, but sadly I suck nuts at it (not much of a team player). I got to try out giving Player Reviews, voice chat, and evening lodging a formal complaint against a jerk who violated the Xbox Live Terms of Use, however if anything happened to him/her I couldn't tell as he/she is still on Xbox Live and their Gamer Card is intact.

When all is said and done, it comes down to this simple question: Is it worth paying a maximum of $8.99 a month to play Multiplayer games? Since I'm mainly a Single Player gamer, the answer is no, it is not. I still have access to all the great content on the Xbox Live Marketplace, as well as patches, Friends, and Windows Live Messenger as a Silver Member, and since I'm not a huge Multiplayer guy, I do not see the point at all.

I'm expecting Halo 3 will come with another free trial card, so should I fire that up, love it, and want to keep playing it, well that will change things. In the interim though, with such great Single Player games on the way (BioShock and Mass Effect), I'd rather save my money for them instead.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Perfect Dark Zero Sold

Even after racking up a few easy, though low scoring, Achievements and even after having a fun enough time blasting some dumb Bots, I sold Perfect Dark Zero yesterday.

While I certainly appreciated the gift game that Microsoft gave me, Perfect Dark Zero is more of a Multiplayer game, and I'm really a Single Player gamer now. Sadly, Perfect Dark Zero's Campaign was pretty bad and it's too bad Rare didn't spend more time polishing it.

I really had no drive to play this one, and decided to clear some shelf space instead. With so many other great Single Player games that I have and that are on the way, it did make Perfect Sense. Oh! Lame joke!

id Software's Titles Available via Steam



Oh, and did I mention eeeeeeeewwwwWWWWWWW!!!!!!!

id Software has partnered up with Valve Software to release most of their existing game library via Valve's whore service, Steam.

The good news: You can get the great, classic shooters that shaped the gaming industry we know and play in today at low budget prices.

The bad news: It's Steam, and Steam is a shit system. Sorry, but my hatred for this "content distribution system" has not died in the passing years at all. Not at all.


For a full list of id Software's titles available via Hot Ai... er, Steam, you can check the list out here.

id Software's New IP Revealed

Id Software has revealed its new independent property, Rage, which looks to be some kind of hybrid racing/FPS game.

Since I'm not into racing titles, I don't know if I'll get into this one, but the id Tech 5 Engine certainly looks nice. Character models look solid, and environments are nicely detailed.

You can check out the trailer at TeamXbox here.

Terrans Revealed in StarCraft II

Blizzard Entertainment has revealed the Terrans for StarCraft II, featuring many classic units and a few new ones.

You can check out the official Terran page here, and see what's changed for the Marine unit, as well as check out new units like the Viking.

Like the Protoss section, more units and structures will be added over time.

Spider-Man 3 DVD Release Date and Details

Spider-Man 3 will be swinging into home theatres on October 30th on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. IGN DVD has confirmed both the release date and formats, but also the content of each offering in their article here.

Not only is Spider-Man 3 being released, but the entire trilogy is being released in a DVD box set, as well as in high definition in a Blu-ray Disc box set.

While many people did criticize the web-slinger's latest big screen offering, I quite enjoyed it for it's comic book cheesiness and thought it was a solid close to the trilogy. For me, I will be picking up the DVD 2-Disc Special Edition.

New Fallout 3 Web Site

This week Bethesda Softworks has launched the official web site for their upcoming RPG, Fallout 3.

I'm not overly familiar with the Fallout series, however I was so impressed with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion that I can't help but take an interest in Bethesda Softworks' next title, and the appeal of a post apocalyptic world is never one to be ignored.

You can check the official site out here.

Marathon: Durandal (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

This past Wednesday, Marathon: Durandal, a classic shooter by Bungie, made its way to Xbox Live Arcade, and while I can still get into such classic titles as Doom, I could not get into Marathon: Durandal.

The game is actually a sequel, and you play the part of some kind of special soldier working with an advanced AI (named Durandal) against an unrelenting alien force. Sound familiar?

I only played the demo for several minutes, however I found the controls irked me a bit. The layout is very similar to most classic sprite-based shooters, however I did not like the way my character would "overstep" to get across gaps and pits.

While I did find it cool that you could at first battle with a few friendlies by your side, and I like how some of the enemies and weapons reminded me of Halo: Combat Evolved, I honestly could not get into Marathon: Durandal and recommend that you try before you buy.

Peronally, I'll wait for Doom II or Quake to get my classic shooter fix, should those ever hit Xbox Live Arcade.

Mass Effect Saren Concept Art and Screenshots

Earlier this week, BioWare released some concept art and screenshots for the main villain of their upcoming RPG, Mass Effect. You can check them out here.