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Malik (7/9/07)

Sony is finally seeing the light, in a way. The PS3 is already getting a price drop. Maybe the quickest in console history. It was only 3/4 of a year ago when the system launched, and in August the PS3 will be running at $499 with a game (if you can call Motorstorm a game) for the 60GB model.

This is good to see since it's the only way right now (without any quality titles) for Sony to try to resume it's role as the console leader. However, it won't be enough for them. It also won't be enough for this geek. I need two things; one is some quality titles that make the system worth it. I was insulted by the PSP when I bought it and none of the promised A+ titles came along. I simply won't fall for that again, and with third party developers going a bit more towards cross-platform titles, I don't know if I'll ever have the motivation.

The other thing I need to justify the purchase would be another $100 drop in price. $400 is my limit, and Sony won't change that with the additional free Motorstorm with the system.

I guess I also need the whole HD conversion issue dealt with (since my 1080i TV is my gaming TV, and it doesn't do 720). That, and any other bugs need to be dealt with. In fact, I guess you could say I need only for the PS3 to be reinvented and then I'll happily take the PS3 into my home. Maybe in a few years when Sony is forced to ditch their 10 year model to bring out a PS4 to save their reputation as console masters...maybe...

On a similar note, now that E3 is upon us, it's interesting to see what the ESA has done with the newly changed show and how it's been limited from the past. In particular, it's always interesting to see the supposed leader of industry shows getting so little love from the industry it supposedly supports.

I can't blame the companies that have decided to skip the show. As the Tecmo people put it (paraphrased), business is a money making thing and to waste time on something without a real vision or direction that may not lead to anything more than some time and money being wasted is not a good event for a company to attend. E3 is not what it once was, and it will simply be up to the competition (other conferences) to take on the reigns as the leader for attracting gamers to games and companies to new concepts.

In particular, with game retailers mostly skipping the show, there is no point in this conference. If the retailers (who are the next to last chain on generating revenue) are not present, then developers and publishers stand to gain nothing. The GDC is designed for developers to discuss trends without the pressures of generating sales...E3, on the other hand, cannot simply be another GDC. So, E3 simply has no purpose other than to attract a bunch of like minds to a single place to, possibly, bitch about the thing they are gathered for. With no presence from Best Buy, limited Gamestop people, and just a big absence of part of the money making process, E3 is a show without a reason to exist.

The part I find the most humorous, however, is the level of attention G4 is giving E3 this year. From the constant commercials I've seen while watching Ninja Warrior (which has to be the only good show on that fact, it's an awesome show, which confuses me why it's on G4), G4 is planning to dedicate a lot of time to E3 2007. However, when the show is being ignored by many companies and most retailers, is there anything to devote so much air time to? I guess with G4, where the alternative is Cops 2.0 (Cops with a little messenger service attached) or regular Cops, air time dedicated to a dead relic of the past is better than what you have in the backup position.


Malik (7/10/07)

In their supposed infinite wisdom, analysts are now expecting a 360 price drop to match the new PS3 price drop. It could happen, but if it does, it would have nothing to do with the PS3 price drop like the analysts seem to speculate.

For one thing, the PS3 is suffering more from a lack of games than a lack of affordability. The 360 has not only a good price point (well, better than the PS3) to begin with, but they also have a strong install base, which has helped third party developers to make a stronger game library. This is what the 360 can ride on while Sony has little to offer besides a free lame game (Motor Storm) and a $100 drop in price.

Also, the 360 is still going to be cheaper, at it's most expensive (the Elite) than the PS3 is at it's cheapest. So, why does a price drop have to follow from the PS3? It doesn't.

Lastly, the 360 just had a major change in the last few months with the release of the Elite. This offered some additional features, such as larger HDD capacity and HDMI port support. Microsoft now even has the ability to play PC gamers on the same servers as 360 players for some title. Microsoft has done their big thing for the last year, and they really have no need to imitate the flailing and failing PS3 when things are already going so well for them.

On a different note, John Riccitiello (CEO of EA) has some funny comments on the state of the game industry. Well, on their own, the comments are too damned true. The game industry is "boring people to death" with the constant re-hashes of the same garbage. A new system gets released, and instead of new titles coming to it, we see more of the ports from the previous generation simply coming along to fill a void that needs to be filled with new intellectual properties and innovative ideas.

However, when innovation does come our way, then we even have another problem. These supposedly innovative titles simply force innovation down the consumers throats in a way that makes games, which could be good if done correctly, into unplayable messed of over convoluted design ideas. The game industry is trying to force feed the consumer a steady diet of stale old titles and confused attempts at innovation in order to milk gamers for all their money.

What makes these comments especially funny should be obvious; of all companies to state this, EA is the best since they are, without a doubt, the most blatant example of forcing stale and worthless titles on the consumer. For example, Madden gets released each year with a new roster, and little else. In fact, when Madden reaches a new console, usually features are cut in some confused attempt to justify the game being worth the same across old and new platforms. The only difference in an EA example, at all, is with The Godfather least it offered the same content, but with a new control scheme, when it came to the Wii.

However, it's all true. The game industry is suffering and it's amazing to see how much they are ready to ignore the wants of their only true audience (the gamer). You can see it best in a game, like Oblivion, that has an open and supported mod community. When a game like Oblivion is completely re-invented by mods, which are freely made and distributed, it should be obvious that it might be time to stop letting the mod community do the jobs of the developers. It's time for the developers to step up and earn the money that we gamers pay them to get their titles.

Before I go for the day, some food for thought. Manhunt 2 will be released somehow, according to Take Two, even with the rating system making AO an effective banning of a title. I just find it humorous that AO is for 18+ gamers and M is for 17+, but AO means a game is not allowed on Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo consoles and is not carried by major retailers. Personally, I never found much of a difference when I was 18 years old versus 17. Both were about the same, with my tastes and my sense of personal responsibility not altering much.


Malik (7/11/07)

A Blue Dragon trial is going up on the 360 Live. Now I just need to crack out my 360 again and try to download this. Sadly, my 360 doesn't see much love anymore. It's not that it's a bad system, but right now the consoles are really not giving me much reason to go with them over a PC for my entertainment. While the 360, Wii, and all of the rest are offering little, if anything, the PC is still more than happy to give me new mods and such to experience with Oblivion. Until the mods dry up or some real games (not just demos) come along, the consoles just look like the half-assed option for my down time.

On a different side of things, some people at Konami are now thinking of taking Metal Gear Solid 4 to the multiplatform world. I'm not surprised and expected this announcement a while back. As the Konami people hinted, the price drop on the PS3 is not going to substantially boost sales, since it's the games that matter most...or is that the complete lack of quality games.

Anyway, with Assassin's Creed, possibly Devil May Cry, GTA, and many other previous Sony exclusive titles and franchises going the multiplatform route, it's only a matter of time for MGS4 to do the same. Especially since it's not like MGS has remained off of Microsoft consoles in the past. MGS2 found it's way to the XBox, and MGS 1 and 2 found there way to the Gamecube. So, while the environment is favoring cross platform titles, it only makes sense for more of the games that have done it before to keep doing it.

Sadly, like I expected, the news and excitement from this year's E3 is nothing short of...what's that word...dull! So far, E3 2007 is living up to the expectations from last year when the ESA announced how the even would be neutered for future years. Many developers and publishers seem to be shunning the actual event. I think more companies have set up hotel suites to showcase their work than have set up E3 booths to showcase their work in a supposedly professional venue. If things keep going how they are heading, I don't see E3 being mentioned much in the future years...even by E3 trigger happy G4.

The only thing I've seen that even made me a little excited about gaming from this week has been a short thing they showed on G4 last night (no link, sorry...try Youtube). I turned on the channel hoping to see some Ninja Warrior and instead saw some of Guitar Hero 3. I'm still very cautious about Neversoft's treatment of the game. The multiplayer is being phased towards more intense of battles, complete with retarded power ups that only serve to make the challenge more intense while forgetting that rock is about coming together to make music...not pushing people apart. For example, there some power up that causes notes to flicker on the other player's screen instead of appearing solid. This only makes a game lop sided and awkward, when it should be co-op mode that gets the most love in this game.

However, while the controller, UI, and the death match crap all made me less optimistic about this game, a little glimpse of the songs brought me some joy. In particular, see more Alice Cooper (School's Out) and Foghat (Slow Ride) coming to the GH world is never a bad thing. I just hope, in the end, that the songs all rock and the game still has a good level of focus on co-op play and not just a forced tacked on power up system in competition play. Better yet, I'd love to see the game kept exactly as it was in GH2, but with a new track list to make it a new feeling experience, but without the stupidity of uncalled for and forced innovation (look to my thoughts on this in yesterday's post).

In the end, I have to say that I will maybe get the game for the track list, if it's 100%...but I'll hate it for the damned idea of power ups and boss battles (what f#@$ing part of rock did Neversoft think involved boss battles and power ups?).

Well, my hang over is telling me to keep this post short. I just had to have a few too many words last night with my good friends (Johnny Walker, Mr. Bushmill, and the rest) after a day of seeing my life turn away from just being an imitation of Office Space and for it to go full on Dilbert on my sorry ass. Blah.

One final thought; my PC is left on nearly 24/7.  When I get home and see the desktop devoid of loaded browser windows (usually filled with maps and mod related stuff for Oblivion), I feel very sad.  So, my question; Microsoft, why the f#@$ do you do these forced updates with  less than 24 hours before a forced reboot?  At least save the state of my current desktop so I can find the shit that I opened intentionally.

To end; f#@$ Microsoft and f#@$ Neversoft!


Malik (7/12/07)

Finally there is something from the stuff surrounding E3 that I can give a shit about. Nintendo has tossed out a few dates for game launches. In particular, Smash Brawl will be coming out on the 3rd of December, in the US.

On top of that, a new Mario Kart (Wii) title is due out in the first quarter of 2008. The only question of concern I have about this new Kart title is that it comes with a special wheel controller. Why does this matter? Well, the most enjoyable part of Kart games have been getting a few friends together and having some fun. How easy will that be when you have a special controller? Do you need this controller or will a standard Wiimote work? With games like Rock Band due out this year, I don't like the thought of spending anymore than I need to for any other games, since RB will drain me of an estimated potential $200 for all the gear.

Nintendo also announced a date for Mario Galaxy. It will be coming along in the US on the 12th of November. When you add how Metroid is due out in the end of the summer, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is due out sometime (still can't find a real date for this) in the near future, Galaxy and Brawl within a month of each other, and the other Nintendo titles coming this year and early next year, not too mention Dragon Quest 9 due on the DS sometime soon, Nintendo is really in a prime position to claim even more of the market share.

Beyond the Nintendo announcement, I've been finding most of E3 lacking for real substance. I'm just not finding myself able to get too hyped when the show is so small by the force of the ESA, yet the developers are still trying to do what is the right thing (impress consumers and retailers)...just without the true ability to impress anyone due to the structure of the new E3. Even the complaints keep coming in from major game makers.

The only other possible thing that could excite me about E3 has let me down; the Microsoft offerings on XBox Live. For example, last night I downloaded the new demo of Blue Dragon. I just have one question; who the f#@$ thought this demo would impress anyone? The demo starts with two choices; what dungeon of two do you want to play. It's not even like you get a briefing of what the dungeons are about, plot wise, or what you can do with each character. For example, I tried out the first dungeon choice last night...

Apparently, as I saw it by playing, young Goku and teenage Gohan were helping some girl (Bulma in another life) trying to get a bomb off from around her neck. They had big shadows and 60 minutes to solve the bomb issue. They also had abilities and stuff. I really did not know what the f#@$ I was doing, what any of my skills in battle did, why I was playing a dungeon at about level 25, who these people were, and why I couldn't get a demo with some plot to it (like the FFVII or FFVIII demos had done in the past).

I gave up on the Blue Dragon demo in a hurry, realizing one important fact; I was not going to enjoy this game any more by playing such a confusing and pointless demo. I will get the game (since the team behind it has done so much for old school RPGs), and I will probably enjoy it...but in no part due to the demo.

On a final bit of good news to round out this post of ups and downs...Rock Band has just won over my love and affection. Why? Well, the ability to download whole albums is nice, assuming the prices don't go GH2 on the 360 insane. However, what did it for me was finally realizing something I have wanted from the first time I heard mention of Guitar Hero (the first game)...give me some mother f$#@ing Metallica to play!

While GH3 is going a bit crazy with anti-rock ideas (like power ups while playing competitively and boss battles...seriously, Neversoft, WTF?) and tossing in Slash, Rock Band is going in all the right places. Enter Sandman will be on the game, as well as whole albums of metal (and other genres of rock) goodness. $200 may be a steep price for the whole setup, but it will be well worth the money to this metal head.


Malik (7/13/07)

I don't have much to say today. Well, that's a lie. I have plenty to say on a nice variety of subjects. However, I'm trapped in the real world of a job that is not allowing me a moment to post and has me grossly underpaid and overworked. So, instead of going off about this, I'll just say that it should be a good weekend, and if all goes right, I should be having a fun time seeing a movie or two and all of that good stuff.


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