Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gears of War (PC) Review

Without question, Gears of War (Xbox 360) is one of the top titles to own for the Xbox 360 console. It provides gamers with great gameplay built upon a cutting edge graphics engine, and is a real adrenaline rush from start to finish. Now, one year later, Gears of War has made its way onto the PC, and not only does it feature the same great game that Xbox 360 players have been enjoying these last 12 months, but it also features additional Single Player content with an extended Act V.

Since the PC version is very much identical to its Xbox 360 counterpart, reviewed here, I'm not going to rehash everything I've already said. Instead, I'm going to focus on the exclusive PC content, and the overall quality of the PC port itself.

The PC version of Gears of War uses an enhanced version of the wonderful Unreal Engine 3, and for those of you with high-end PCs, you'll be able to play Gears of War on a level of graphical beauty that is not possible on the Xbox 360. When all's said and done though, a game's overall fun factor is more important than its pretty pictures, and the real trump card for Gears of War (PC) over the Xbox 360 version is the controls and how well they've translated over to a mouse and keyboard.

Like most other shooters, the mouse and keyboard is simply more precise than the Xbox 360's controller, particularly for tracking targets and for precision shooting. One problem I often had in the Xbox 360 version was with Wretches and dealing with them when they got in close. I would have to resort to Melee attacks because they were simply too fast to get a bead on when at point blank range, but with the quick response of a mouse, I can blast those pesky bastards no matter how close they are.

Another hitch with the Xbox 360 version was that the final Act of the game, Act V, started off rather strangely; it felt like the story had jumped forward just a bit and didn't flow perfectly from Act IV. Well, as it turns out, there really was a bit of the Act missing. Not just a bit, actually, as it looks like Epic Games cut out the first two thirds of Act V, and now the Act is presented in full in this PC version.

The main focus of the new Chapters of the extended Act V is restoring power to a bridge that Delta Squad needs to cross, climaxing with a final confrontation with the Brumak, the large bipedal monster that was advertised everywhere, but that players never got to combat in the Xbox 360 version.

Having just gone toe-to-toe with the Brumak today, I can say that he is the second most challenging boss in Gears of War, and was a lot of fun to fight. The rest of the extended Act V, however, was more of the same in terms of gameplay, and while there was a few cool moments, it didn't really enhance the story that much. Basically, if you already own the Xbox 360 version, the extended Act V alone does not warrant the purchase of the PC version of the game.

The PC version also suffers from the exact same God-awful Checkpoint save system featured in the Xbox 360 version, and was once again the cause of much cursing and swearing on my part. Unlike the Xbox 360 version, however, the Checkpoint system is not the game's fatal flaw, rather the quality of the port itself holds that honour.

In this earlier post here, I describe many of the technical problems I've had with Gears of War (PC). While Live was interesting and naturally very similar to Xbox Live, I had a very difficult time getting it to recognize my Xbox Live account. Not only that, but the game itself seems very poorly optimized, and is riddled with bugs.

Gears of War (PC) has constant stuttering problems, which can make that lovely precision shooting very difficult. Load times are long, there's a known crash bug if you start the game from the DVD's splash screen, and simply being logged into Windows Live has crashed the game numerous times. I've had lock-ups, crashes simply from pressing Esc to get to the in-game menu, and I've also heard of other people having sound issues, magically loosing save games, etc.

My system meets all of the game's system requirements, and actually exceeds most of them, so I should be able to play Gears of War smoothly on all the Low settings, but no, she'll still stutter along the exact same as if she were set to Medium. For that reason, I did play through the game on the Medium Video settings, and it overall looked like the Xbox 360 version.

In truth, for such a high profile title, I simply can't believe how poorly optimized this port is, and that's a huge, huge con for the PC version of Gears of War. The bugs, crashes, and issues with general playability are so bad, actually, that I can not recommend the PC version of the game over its Xbox 360 counterpart.

I'm telling you right now, if you don't yet own Gears of War and you can purchase it for either platform, I suggest the Xbox 360 version. Though possessing a few less Chapters, the game will play smoothly and you simply need to pop the DVD into your Xbox 360 and play.

The sloppy nature of this port is such a shame though, because beyond its problems, Gears of War (PC) is one hell of a fun game. The rush it gave me several months ago is still there, the glee I get from using the Chainsaw bayonet is as fresh as it ever was, and watching a Drone's head explode after a well placed sniper shot is a bloody treat.

If you don't have an Xbox 360 and you are looking to pick up Gears of War for your PC, I'd suggest waiting for Epic to patch the game first, as it sorely needs it. If they can smoothen out it's performance, than Gears of War will be the blast it was meant to be.

All Prey Single Player Achievements Earned

With the acquisition of the last Secret Achievement in Prey, I have finally collected every single Single Player Achievement available in that game, my 4th Xbox 360 title to do so.

Now the question remains should I keep Prey to play through again on a rainy day, as it was a lot of fun, or should I sell it and free up some shelf space?

StarCraft II - The Story So Far...

Blizzard Entertainment has released an official summary of the StarCraft storyline in anticipation of their upcoming RTS, StarCraft II.

Since most gamers today would have missed out on StarCraft around it's launch back in March 1998 (Damn I'm old), this makes a nice read, and they also included three of the classic cinematics. Haven't seen those in a long, long time.

Looks like they'll add the summary for StarCraft: Brood War soon as well, so head on over to catch up on your gaming lore.

Halo 3 Heroic Map Pack Release Date, Details, and Free Release Date

As many of you have no doubt heard by now, Bungie and Microsoft Game Studios have announced the first Multiplayer Map Pack for Halo 3, the Heroic Map Pack. The Heroic Map Pack contains three new maps, will be available on the Xbox Live Marketplace on December 11th for 800 Microsoft Points ($12.40).

Full details can be found here, however if you look on Xbox's official Halo 3 page here, you'll see they also announce the official time frame that you'll be able to download the Heroic Map Pack for _free_.

That's right kids, 'cause only a fool pays for silly Multiplayer Maps.

World of Warcraft Commercials

Saw these over at ActionTrip, and I had to post them here.

Blizzard Entertainment has released some new commercials for World of Warcraft have come out, featuring none other than William Shatner and Mr. T. I pity the fool who doesn't beam me up!

Mass Effect Purchased

Yup, I caved and picked up Mass Effect. Basically what happened is I had a really shitty day on Wednesday, and when all was said and done, I figured that buying me something new and shiny would make me feel better.

It all started at 2:00 am on Wednesday when I woke up with an allergy attack, and no matter what I did I couldn't get myself cleared up. Since I was wide awake and out of allergy meds, I had two options: 1) Go back to sleep and continually wake up all disgusting like and get no rest, or 2) Drive to the closest 24 HR Shoppers Drug Mart and get some Reactine, thereby allowing me to clear my sinuses up and get a solid 4 more hours of sleep.

Since I was already awake, I choose option 2.

That all worked out (and the security guard eyed me real strange like what with my black trench coat and all), but I still felt like shit for most of the day. I also got pissed off when I checked on Best Buy's web site, only to find they _did_ have the online-only Mass Effect: Limited Collector's Edition, but of course by then they were all sold out. As far as I know this was the only place in Canada that the Limited Collector's Edition was available.

Well that night I decided to swing by Future Shop and buy the game, and the reason I choose Future Shop (aside from the fact that I needed to buy something for the office there), was because it came with a free copy of Superman Returns (Xbox 360). I'm not a fan of Superman, didn't see the film, and have no real interest in the game aside from being able to sell it and pick up a few bucks.

So how's Mass Effect? Couldn't tell you. I've only opened the case thus far to make sure all was well, which it is save the edges of the DVD appear to feel a bit sticky. Odd.

Superman Returns, however, controls like crap and is a real lame game, but I've been able to rack up a few quick Achievements to buffer my Gamer Score, so what the hell.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Too Many Games...

Bloody hell it's been a good year for gaming. I'm looking at my games library right now and all the stuff I still need to play through, and yeah, I'm going to hold off on Mass Effect; too much else to play through.

In no particular order, I've got the following on my entertainment plate:

- The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles (Xbox 360). Want to play through it twice.
- Gears of War (PC). Both Hardcore and Insane difficulties.
- Halo 3 (Meta Campaign).
- Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox).
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360). Want to try it on Elevated Risk difficulty, as well as net the "Mission Accomplished" Achievement.
- BioShock (Xbox 360). Want to play through this one more time after the next Title Update, when the new Achievement is added.

Basically, I've got my hands full (with a controller) until after Christmas I think.

I Called It - Biggest Blockbusters for the Xbox 360

A while back, once I found out the release dates for BioShock, Halo 3, and Mass Effect, I called them as the big three titles for the Xbox 360 this year, and it looks like Microsoft Game Studios agrees.

The official Xbox web site has redesigned it's Xbox 360 (Hardware) section of the site to show off the three current configurations of the Xbox 360 console, and there's also three different videos, the first one, which loads and plays automatically, is entitled Biggest Blockbusters, and you guessed it, it features Halo 3, BioShock, and Mass Effect.

Check it out, as well as the other marketing videos here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Gears Keep on Sputtering... Why I Prefer Console Gaming

One marketing line I always liked from Gears of War was "The Gears keep on turning.", referencing that the COG soldiers, called Gears, were constantly fighting their fearsome Locust Horde enemies. Well, with the recently released PC version of Gears of War, it's more like they keep on sputtering.

While the gameplay of Gears of War (PC) is as spot on as it always was in the Xbox 360 version, and even more so with how well the controls have translated over to a mouse and keyboard (Wretches are so much easier to deal with when they get in close. Bastards.), the port is plagued with technical issues that really vary from system to system.

Simply installing the game off the DVD (which you naturally need to keep in the drive to play) took an hour. An hour long bloody install. Once that was done, it took me about another 45 minutes just to get Windows Live to recognize my Xbox Live Gamertag. So much for a simple transition on a universal system.

To resolve this, I ultimately had to go on the web, log into, and while remaining logged in, I went back in the Windows Live Guide within Gears of War and created my Gamertag brand new, logging in properly after it recognized that the Gamertag was already in use. What a pain.

Onto the gameplay issues themselves. I have constant stuttering and frame rate hiccups in game, and while its playable, precision sniping is not going to be possible. I've tried everything to get the frame rate smooth, from dropping all the Video Options down to "Low," to editing several sections of the game's .ini file (the default settings detected for my system were all Medium). I have one more idea, to try and modify a sound setting in the same .ini, and if that doesn't work, I'll be forced to wait for a patch. Overall, I spent about another hour tinkering with the game's settings.

So that's nearly three hours spent overall dicking around just to try and play the game properly, while nearly a year ago, I was able to simply pop the Xbox 360 disc into my console and play. Back in the before time, the long, long ago, 3 hours was nothing and I could tinker and optimize to my hearts content, but today, when I'm married to my job, I don't have the time to waste on fixing something the developers should have optimized in the first place. I exceed all but one of the game's minimum system requirements, so I should be able to pull out a smooth frame rate, and this smacks of nothing but sloppy development.

And this is an excellent example of why, when all's said and done, console gaming is the superior choice for the average consumer. On Medium graphic settings, Gears of War doesn't even look much better than its Xbox 360 counterpart, so the only real advantage is the new content and the mouse/keyboard controls.

While I'm not saying that PC gaming blows and is always problematic, I'm simply saying that there's a simpler way to game for people on time constraints.

Sputter, sputter, sputter...

Update: So changing that audio option I thought of in the .ini file had no effect. What seems to have helped a bit was dropping my Desktop's Colour Quality down to Medium (16-bit). The stuttering is still there, but it doesn't seem to last as long.

Another annoying problem I'm experiencing now is a lot of lock-ups and crashes to desktop. I also had Windows Live cause one crash error on me, and I'm simply logged in and playing the Campaign.

This all started in Act II when you meet up with the Stranded, and now I'm on the section where you guide Dom past the Kryll with the spotlight, and it's crashing on me a lot.

Not very much fun.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360) Completed for the 3rd Time

Earlier this week, I completed what I wanted to accomplish with my third character for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360). I played a female Argonian, and mainly went through the Thieves Guild as well as the Dark Brotherhood Questlines.

I got to be bad >:).

I honestly wasn't too keen on the Thieves Guild. I found it often felt like the designers couldn't make up their minds as to whether they wanted the Thieve's Guild Quests to be stealth based or combat based, and this really took away from it. In the final Quest, for the very first time of countless hours of playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I actually had to drop the difficulty just to pass a certain part. Most unfortunate. I also began to find bounties annoying, as the people I needed to remove them simple weren't readily available enough.

The Dark Brotherhood Questline, on the other hand, was the single best Quest Line that I have played in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The guild itself has some great characters and an interesting back story, not to mention that the history of the Dark Brotherhood and their leader, the Night Mother, was rather gripping. The Quests were fun, well balanced, and had a nice variety of styles (loved the dinner party one), and for the first time in the whole game, you actually got to (sort of) see some children.

Through this playthrough, I also found that I really enjoyed Marksmanship, didn't like Lock Picking, and I really got to journey around so many other parts of Cyrodiil that I hadn't seen before. I also completed the Nirnroot Quest for the first time, which was actually rather simple if you take the time to explore.

I still wish that I could have sorted the Misc. section of my inventory a little better, but as always this was a minor annoyance.

This also marks the second Xbox 360 title that I've gotten a full 1000/1000 Gamerscore with, and even though I've completed every single Achivement that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has to offer, there's still so much of the game world left to explore, and much more to do. The truth is that even after a few more playthroughs with The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, I will never do everything that can be done in this expansive Single Player game world. Bethesda Softworks, my hat's off to you.

The Saturday Star Article: "Innovation Vaults Wii to the Top"

In today's Saturday Star, there's an interesting article that summarizes the current stand of this generation's console war, and why the Wii is sitting on top.

It's quite an interesting read, but in truth, it doesn't tell us anything that I haven't already been saying for the last half-year:

The Wii appeals to your everyday Joe with it's simple games and set up. The Xbox 360 is for the traditional hardcore gamer, like moi, and the PlayStation 3 is for Sony fanboys who still have their head up their ass. I mean seriously, look at the global sales figures. Silly Sony.

Spider-Man 3 How It Should Have Ended

With the recent release of the Spider-Man 3 on DVD, I thought it'd be funny to post this parody video which shows how the film _should_ have ended, aside from poking fun at the plot issues all throughout.

You can also view Spider-Man 3: How it Should have Ended on the official site here, or on YouTube here.

Mass Effect Launch Trailer and Screenshots

With Mass Effect only a few days away, BioWare has released a brand new launch trailer, and their official site has also been updated with some more screenshots.

The trailer is certainly nice, and the game's looking slick, however at this point I'm still going to hold off on buying it, as I just have too much else to play through, and not enough time to devote to something like an in-depth RPG. Well, except for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but you know, that's crack.

You can check out the trailer and screens on the official site's Gallery page here.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Officially Announced

Sierra Entertainment has officially announced the development of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, set as a sequel to the films from the '80's.

The game is being penned by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to be set in the early '90's, and will feature the classic cast for voice overs along with a fifth Ghostbuster, you, the player.

You can read the news and check out some shots and a trailer at TeamXbox here, but by God, is this naustalgia heaven. I was obsessed with Ghostbusters as a kid, so you can bet this is a title that I'll be watching closely.

Xbox Titles Available for Download Starting December 4th

Microsoft Game Studios has officially announced that beginning on Tues. Dec. 4th, 2007, select original Xbox titles will be available for download to your Xbox 360 from the Xbox Live Marketplace for 1200 Microsoft Points.

Entitled Xbox Originals, you'll be able to download such classic hits as Halo: Combat Evolved and Fable.

The titles seem to suffer from the same minor issues that the retail versions have with the Xbox 360's emulation software, but this is no big deal considering the difficulties faced in emulated the Xbox's hardware.

The only major thing to note about these titles is the cost. 1200 Microsoft Points translates into $18.60, however you can still find these titles under the Platinum Hits label at, say, HMV for $12.99 to $14.99. Basically, you'd be paying an extra $5.00 or so to be disc free, which isn't worth it in my opinion.

If you can't find these titles thought and you want one or missed them when they were first released, this is a great option to experience some great titles from the past.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Spider-Man 3 (2-Disc Special Edition) DVD Review

I still don't understand why people slammed Spider-Man 3 so much. Sure, it wasn't the greatest film ever made, but its comic book cheese through and through and to be honest, I've found I've enjoyed it more each additional time that I've watched it.

The film is less plot heavy than its predecessors, but the main focus is really the triangle between Peter, MJ, and Harry, and going into the final film, we already know what these characters are like. Peter's the yutz, Harry's bitter, and MJ is a (Kirsten) Dunst. Get, it (insert canned laughter). The film dives right into the meat of them since we've already seen the build up in the previous films, and though its a bit convoluted, so are real life relationships.

But seriously, I did enjoy Spider-Man 3. The comic-styled action and effects were great, it generally, if not perfectly, tied up the loose ends, and it had the symbiote/Venom, one of my favourite Marvel characters. The last 20 minutes are some of the best comic-themed action ever set to film, and when viewed as a whole, the Spider-Man trilogy is the best comic book feature film trilogy ever made, and Spider-Man 3 is a solid conclusion to the story of everyone's favourite dork.

You can read my original review of the film here to see what I thought of it in detail, however the main purpose of this review is to cover the DVD.

I purchased the 2-Disc Special Edition from Future Shop, and they have an exclusive were it comes in a great Steel Book case for a limited time, and honestly, this is the nicest DVD case I've seen since the Halo 2: Limited Collector's Edition case.

The pictures shown are the image on its front, and the interior. The discs reside over the black-suited Spider-Man, obscuring him while they're in there, and the entire case is the size of a traditional DVD case, so it fits perfectly in your collection.

For the additional $3.00 that it costs, the 2-Disc Special Edition is worth the extra cost for the case alone. The bonus features themselves, however, are quite disappointing.

The main disc, aside from general commentary, has a music video and a bloopers real, all of which don't amount to much. The second disc comes with a bunch of mini-docs going into details regarding the films different villians, the relationship between Peter, MJ, and Harry, a few effects, and the musical score. It also boasts the trailers and commercials (though it repeats first trailer twice, mistakingly replacing the final trailer for the film), as well as some concept art.

All in all, the documentaries are forgettable and their content deals with issues that anyone could figure out on their own simply by watching the films. The special features included in Spider-Man 3 are completely lacking from the scope and detail seen in the other two films, and for that reason, if you're unable to pick up the Steel Back case from Future Shop, I recommend you save a few bucks and get the single disc version, as the only thing you'll really want is the film itself.

While I still wanted to know things like why they didn't do the traditional looking black suit, why the Stacey's were even involved in this picture, and why they didn't feature a bit more JJ and Hoffman, Spider-Man 3 is a fun and enjoyable conclusion to a great trilogy of films, and with the Steel Back case, it makes a fine addition to any Spidey fan's collection.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Mass Effect Combat Videos, Commercial, and Screenshots

TeamXbox is hosting two new Combat videos and also the new commercial for Mass Effect.

BioWare's official site also has some new screenshots up which you can view here.

The commercial really showed off the subtle qualities of the digital actors, and is a testament to the Unreal Engine 3. Combat's also looking fluid and engaging, and watching it makes me want to play Mass Effect, and also Gears of War.

Half-Life 2 City 7: Toronto Conflict Mod

A coworker brought this mod to my attention a few days ago. Some students from George Brown College's Game Design program have created a Half-Life 2 mod entitled City 7: Toronto Conflict, which models sections of downtown Toronto using Valve's Source Engine.

City 7: Toronto Conflict sees Gordan Freeman visiting City 7, formerly known as Toronto, during the teleporter accident that happens at the beginning of the game. Like all remaining cities on Earth, the Combine now rule here in the same fashion that they held City 17, except now players will have the chance to fight as the "One Freeman" through Yonge St., the TTC, and Mel Lastman Square.

The mod certianly looks interesting, especially if you're from Toronto, so I'll be loading it up in the near future for the fun of it.

You can download City 7: Toronto Conflict here.

Half-Life in 60 Seconds

I just can't stop laughing at this German Half-Life video. Spotted at ActionTrip, basically it's an animated short showing the plot of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 in 60 seconds.

I find it absolutely hilarious 'cause it's actually just as complex as the game's real, full length narrative.

Silly Valve and your lack of any story.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Eastern Promises Review

Viggo Mortensen once again trades his dwarven-forged blade for a seedier path in his latest collaboration with director David Cronenberg, this time alongside Naomi Watts. Mortensen and Cronenberg last worked on A History of Violence a bit over two years ago, so its only natural to compare Eastern Promises to it, and overall while I found it a better film, it still ended on much the same note.

Naomi Watts plays Anna, an English nurse who helps deliver the baby of a poor Russian girl who dies in child birth, leaving behind a diary with the child. For personal reasons, Anna has taken the fate of this child very seriously, and wants to find the baby's family, however in order to do so, she'll need to translate the diary, which was written in the mother's native tongue.

Ultimately, Anna travels to the upscale Trans-Siberian Restaurant to enlist the aid of its proprietor, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), and she quickly finds herself enmeshed with one of the most notorious crime families in London. Viggo Mortensen plays Nikolai, a "simple" driver and the protector of Semyon's son, Kirill (Vincent Cassel).

When all is said and done, I honestly found that Viggo's performance alone really carries the film. Nikolai is complex, fulling the obligations of his "family," but also possessing a conscience and certainly a great deal of charm. Without question he is the most interesting character to observe in the film, not just because he's the lead, but because he's often placed in such stark contrast with the others around him.

Take Anna for example. For most of the film, I was smacking my head wondering what the bloody hell she wash thinking, and why she was doing most of what she was doing. Granted I don't want to give much of the plot away, but I found her character much to intense and simply blind for her own good; hurt my disbelief a little.

And speaking of hurt, like A History of Violence, Eastern Promises is gory. The film starts off on such a gory note, actually, that it made me cringe. Me. The guy who has no problem cutting enemies in bloody two with a chainsaw in video games, or watching zombies consume living flesh in all forms of media. After that opening scene, the film certainly keeps up the gore, but it's used very well, always in context, and adds some nice shock value.

My only other major gripe with Eastern Promises was simply how it ended. Again, I'm not going to give it away, however I found that, like A History of Violence, it was quite anti-climatic and could have shown a little more, been a little more and left me feeling more satisfied. Essentially, it just sort of ends.

On a plus note, a short appearance by Alice Henley is worth mention, just because she's so damn gorgeous. She previously starred in a few episodes of Rome as Livia, the wife to Octavian who would become Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor of the newly formed Roman Empire. While she only appears briefly as a prostitute in Eastern Promises, it's nice to see she hasn't lost her sex appeal.

All in all, Eastern Promises is a great film, and a fine example of a genre that doesn't usually hold my attention. It features an interesting story, some nice, low-key effects, and brilliant acting. Worth a watch be it in theatres or on DVD once released.

StarCraft II - Protoss Observer Revealed

Blizzard Entertainment has revealed the return of the Protoss Observer in their upcoming RTS, StarCraft II.

You can check out the Observer's details here, as well as some additional StarCraft II concept art here.

PlayStation 3 40 GB HDD Now Available

For you Sony Fanboys out there, Sony has now discontinued its PlayStation 3 60 GB HDD console, and replaced it with the PlayStation 3 40 GB HDD, available in North America as of this past Friday.

The PlayStation 3 40 GB HDD comes pre-bundled with Spider-Man 3 (Blue-ray), and retails for $399.99, the cost of the Xbox 360 Pro.

Note that this version of the PlayStation 3 console has less ports and does _not_ have any Backwards Compatibility period. I find this funny since Sony onces trashed Microsoft hardcore for the challenge Microsoft was having with its own Backward Compatibility emulation software, and now Sony has switched from hardware to software emulation and only has 1 of 2 consoles on the market that supports this feature, while all of Microsoft's consoles support Backwards Compatibility (the Xbox 360 Arcade does with the addition of a HDD).

Regardless, it is interesting to note that Sony really does seem to be competatively pricing their PlayStation 3 console; at long last. Now if only they had any decent exclusive titles to warrant anyone wanting to purchase it.

Gears of War (PC) Pre-Ordered

And speaking of Gears of War, I've pre-ordered the PC version today as an early Christmas gift for my father. Since he's already played through BioShock (PC) 3 to 4 times, I figure its time to get him another good game.

I'm also looking forward to playing through Gears of War (PC), mainly to see what the new content's like. Honestly, I just want to fight the Brumak.

I'm also curious as to how this is going to affect my Gamer Score. When I sign in with my Xbox Live account, will it count Gears of War (PC) as a different game from Gears of War (Xbox 360)?

If yes, which I imagine it will, I'll rack up a bunch more Achievements playing through the game again. If not, I guess I'll get one more Achievement, the Secret Achievement for 30 GP which is most likely for killing the Brumak like the other 30 GP boss Achievements.

Mass Effect: Limited Collector's Edition _NOT_ Available in Canada, New Soldier Class Video

Much to my disappointment, it appears that the Limited Collector's Edition of Mass Effect will _not_ be available in Canada after all, as reported by BioWare in this official forum thread here (scroll down a bit).

There's only one thing I can say about this: Sloppy. BioWare states that as the developer, there isn't much that they can do, and technically this is true, such a poor decision is made by the publisher, in this case Microsoft Game Studios, but just as BioWare is only the developer, I'm only the consumer.

While the lack of being able to get a Limited Collector's Edition will ultimately free up some shelf space and save me about $10.00, its simply the principle of the thing. There is no major reason I can see why the Mass Effect: Limited Collector's Edition could not be made available in Canada, the developer's home country.

This leaves me feeling slighted, and since Mass Effect will be available for years, this has shifted my position on the game. While I most certainly will purchase it, it does look amazing and it is a BioWare title after all, I don't feel compelled to rush out and buy it on launch day. I think instead I'll pace myself and get through everything else I want to play through first.

Very disappointing Microsoft Game Studios.

In related news, TeamXbox is hosting a new gameplay video that features combat with the Soldier Class. You can check it out here.

Not only does Mass Effect look great, but the style of gameplay shown actually very much reminds me of Gears of War. Quite nice. Perhaps I'll pick up Mass Effect around Christmas when I have a week off, or ask for it as a Christmas gift and thus loose no money of my own to Microsoft Game Studios. That sounds like a good idea.

Exclusive Aliens vs Predator: Requiem Clip and Official Site Update

The official site for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem has received some minor updates, including a reveal of a poster for the film (pictured).

IGN is also hosting an exclusive clip featuring and attack set within a store. I found the buffering rather poor, but the clip itself is cool.

Looking forward to the gore and action in this one!