decided the best way to tackle this initial influx of E3 info is to
start one console maker at a time. Afterall, if anyone is
trying to make a loud statement of how cool things are going to be,
it's the console makers (they have to most to gain...or lose).
So, I begin with today's Malik's Bitchings on Microsoft and their
biggest E3 announcements.
Kicks Things Off With a Whimper
it just me or does Microsoft seem to just fail
in comparison to the rest. From the biggest news bits of
Microsoft's E3 announcements, it seems that all of this birght and
shiney news is just dimmed a little when taken in context to what
everyone else has to offer...provided you ignore anything related to
Jade Empire. What I mean is this; take the news that Microsoft is
releasing with one of two factors in mind; How much has said game
met it's previous release dates? Hasn't someone else, like Sony,
done this shit before?
You Hear Me Already?
start at the
beginning, which is usually as good as any other place to start,
the voice and video messaging abilities that are coming to XBox
Live! These features are all well and geed, but to me one thing
should be kept in mind; If you have broadband (required for Live),
you probably have a computer (I personally can't think of any person
who would get broadband to play XBox Live! and not have a PC to back
up the price of broadband), so why not use one of the millions of
voice chats/video chats that are available (most of them are
free...hell, if someone has broadband, but the other person doesn't,
there are even some good and free internet phone services that can
be used)? Plus, if I'm playing an online game, and some friend of
mine wanted to chat while he played a different game, I can tell you
what would usually happen...either I would get out my phone (it's
far more comfortable to speak into a phone than into the XBox Live!
headset) or I would become sidetracked from my current game (unless
I ignored my friend...which would usually lead to other, more
social-related, problems...) and anyone else who was playing online
on the same game as me would become pretty pissed when I become the
half-assed crossbreed of a real player and some AFK ass. Anyways, my
point is that while chat is all well and good, in the end it is
nothing to get all that excited about...not in terms of the
excitement of real E3 news...like screen shots of a new
for the video chat equivalent, it is all well and good, but Windows
can handle that just as easily as an XBox. Plus, with the XBox, you
will need a special camera (or at least an adapter for a PC web cam)
which I can almost guarantee will cost more than the average PC web cam.
On top of that, while the voice chat could in theory be used in
conjunction with playing a game (making you usually into some ass
who is only a little higher on the food chain than an AFK ass), but
you cannot have video and a game at the same time...I mean the
headset can handle the audio of voice chat, but the TV (which is
playing the game) will be needed for the video of video chat. So,
why would I buy extra equipment to do something that is almost free
(take 10 minutes on the Internet and look...you will find free video
chat software and a web cam for less than $10...it's not that hard)
on my PC? A PC which a good 95% (my guess on the stat) of XBox Live!
users have to go along with their broadband. This is all equals out,
in the end, into some nifty features, but nothing substantial enough
to celebrate as a breakthrough.
XBox Live! Arcade is a source for people to download small games,
such as classic arcade titles (ala Dig Dug, etc) or popular Internet
web based games (Bejeweled, etc). This is an obvious attempt by
Microsoft to try to induce middle aged housewives into buying XBoxes...and,
no. I'm not being sexist or ageist. It is a true fact that the
majority of people who play web based puzzle games and older style
downloadable arcade games are actually women in their mid 40's and
older. It is a fact (this stat I'm not making up). That is all well
and good...but it just seems short sighted and illogical to
problem is...well, my problem with this particular issue...that
these games are readily available on the PC for free. Try going to
Microsoft's very own "Game Zone"...you'll find these games
for free. The other thing is this; while the games are free on the
PC, there is a lot of talk of Microsoft charging either per download
or per disk (if you buy a hard copy of the games) at about $10 a pop
for either a single game or for a collection of similar games.
this together with two other facts; Most middle aged women who do
play Bejeweled, etc, have their own PCs to do that from. Plus, they
don't have to worry about broadband (I've played...when I was really
freakin' bored...forgive me...Bejewled on a dial up connection)
which is required for Xbox Live! Plus, the PC versions are all free
(if you find one that charges, there is, somewhere on a major
Internet gaming site, a free equivalent...did you think Bejeweled is
only found on one site? Hell no!), and the XBox, plus the Live!
starter kit, plus the games themselves, are all not free. Why the
hell should anyone pay so much for some games that they are already
playing or have access to? There is no reason. Another stupid
decision from the company that brought us the curse known as Windows
ME (a good ad catch phrase for ME should have been: the ME means
With the Tattoo, Malik...
I touched this on my Malik's Bitchings column yesterday, so I'll
keep this far briefer this time around. Microsoft announced a set
release date for Halo 2 for November 9th (they claim this
year...they claim 2004...in theory communism works...in theory...)
by showing a tattoo on a certain Peter Moore's bicep stating that
fact. I'll just say it once more...I'll believe it when I have the
game in my greedy hands...
To The Rest...
game once had me completely captivated. I wanted to play with
every fiber of my being. Sadly, the game kept having to go
through alterations in the development process due to Molyneaux
trying to do far more than any game could (possibly ever)
handle. Then, as the development process became extended,
features began to drop like flies. Initially, in Fable, you
were supposed to have the power to do anything and be anything...but
then they dropped character development options (you are now
male...no exception...sorta limits a certain sector of potential
audience memebers), kept pushing back the game...next thing you
know, the initial hype far outshines the current hype and most of
the original fans of this project have started to vanish quicker
than it takes for the release date to be pushed back again.
Like with Halo 2, I'll believe it when I have it.
there's Forza Motorsport,
the first fully customizable racing game for the XBox. Well,
when you look at the facts, this is just no Gran Tourismo. I
don't mean this is poor in comparison to GT4...I mean it looks
mediocre to the original in all respects short of graphics and
sound. If Microsoft wants to hype this game so badly, I say
that's good for them. However, if they want to hype it with
GT4 on more racing fans' minds, then they need to get this game out
in a hurry. Once GT4 looks like it's on the radar, this game
will be forgotten in an instant. Keep 'em coming, Microsoft.
we come to Dead
or Alive Ultimate. Looks good. Yes, I actually said
this looks good. I mean the online is only mediocre at best
(online fighting seems as enthralling to me as an online
arcade-style shooter. It will be cool for a whole five minutes
before you realize that you want to taunt your opponent
face-to-face. The rest of the game sounds quite good.
DoA, the original, wasn't exactly my thing. It was a bit
primitive, but to each their own. However, DoA2 is a great
game (especially the Dreamcast version). Now the problem with
this "ultimate" fighter; we have literally seen this all
before...on the Saturn and Dreamcast. Plus, with how crappy
DoA3 (unless you like big boobs...which are a cool perk to a good
game, but not a selling point on a bad one, for me) was in
comparison to the fighters of it's day, this doesn't do much for me,
expectation wise. Plus, any real geek would, if they want DoA2
(the best of the DoA bunch), already have it on the Dreamcast.
This is not exactly a breath of fresh air on the geek forcast.
Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict and MechAssault®
2: The Lone Wolf, all I can say is Halo 2. If Halo 2
actually does ship sometime this decade, then these FPS/FPS
look-alike games are merely going to fall through the cracks.
Since Halo 2 will be offering the whole online thing, what need do
we have for these second rate wanna be's? None that I can
for Doom 3...not touching that shit with a 10 foot pole...Doom 3 had
it's chance in the 1990's. Which was about when the delays
began. At least we have cooler looking skeletons with rocket
launchers on their shoulders now!
Make Our Console and PC Into One Big Family
the XBox first was announced, I had one fear. Knowing
Microsoft, they would try to make PC games on a console, rather than
console games. For anyone whose been into games for as long as
me, they'd know that PC games and console games are about as
different as they come. Luckily this did not quite come true
(although at times it was really close with games like Morrowind...too
close for comfort). However, Microsoft now is offering, for
it's developers, a new tool set called XNA (I don't think even the
Microsoft geeks know what XNA stands for) that will work to make
games for both the XBox and Windows using such Windows classics as
DirectX, blah, blah. So, my fear with this is that we are now,
quite literally, one step (or more like 10 steps) closer to PC games
coming to the XBox. All I'll say is that if I wanted PC games,
that is what I have a PC for. This is not a cause to
the way, Microsoft is missing the mark by using their star-studded
press conference dealio to bring this to light again. E3 is
the time to announce the exciting, the revolutionary, the
amazing...not the technical schematics of things. The
developers already know about XNA (hell, I've known about it for the
last couple of months and I'm no developer). As my bitch of a
boss would say (when I'm working my ass off), "use your time
wisely"...Microsoft, E3 is not the time nor the place for this,
especially since it's old news. At least Microsoft didn't pull
out the charts and graphs like Sony did.
EA is now joining the XBox Live world. I'll leave this pretty
short since I talked about it in depth already this week. All
I'll say is this; EA has been "live" in the online world
of PS2 for a while now. Microsoft is doing good by having EA
join the Live family, but in the end, this is only exciting news for
people who don't have a PS2. PS2 owners (which far outnumber
the XBox owners) have had this type of action for awhile...another
case of Microsoft's biggest news just seeming a little wussy in
comparison to the rest. The only really cool news about this,
to me, besides Battlefield coming to the XBox, is that Burnout 3,
which is now being published by EA instead of how Aklaim published
the first 2 Burnouts, can be compatible with XBox Live. I know
the Live component of Burnout 2 was pretty measly, but I loved
seeing my scores in the top 100 or better. It made me feel
like a big man.
is Good Within the Bad
least XBox owners can look forward to a few things...so I guess
Microsoft didn't fail completely. Although most of the good is
old news anyways. However, we do have upcoming hits like Jade
Empire, KOTOR2 (assuming the development team...it's not Bioware
anymore...can keep up the tradition first set by Bioware), and
a few others that will probably never actually be released (like
Halo 2, Halflife 2, Fable...the list goes on and on).
there is still way too much E3 news to sort through without going
into geek overload. While I bitch about Microsoft and the
XBox, I love the system. For those who like to be rabid
fanboys who must diss the competition, I just say this, it is not
only possible to tolerate all systems equally...it is also possible
to love all the consoles. I am excited about some of the XBox
news, but in the end, most of it is either old news, or it has been
done before by Sony. I guess that's why Sony is leading the
console war right now. Sony creates and Microsoft assimilates.