Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Xbox 360 Revisited, Top 5 List for Bill Gates

In December I wrote a two-part review on 10 Xbox 360 games and last month a review of the 360 console itself. Having spent even more time with the 360, I'm discovering I was dead on about some things and just a little bit off about others. Here's where I was right and where I was...wr...wr...wr...not quite right.

Misjudged - The 360 launch lineup. Looking back on it now, I'd definitely downgrade a few games. I originally gave "Call of Duty 2" and "Perfect Dark Zero" A-'s. Now they would both be solid B's. "Duty's" (ha! I said duty!) single player mode is spectacular, its online play stinks. For "Zero" its the other way around. Great online play, almost rivaling "Halo 2", but the single player is a dud. How did I miss this? Lets call it "Launch Delirium" and leave it at that.

Things haven't gotten better since November. Sure "Fight Night 3" just came out and looks promising but that's about it. When I spend more time playing "Halo 2" and "San Andreas" and my system is only 3 months old, it makes me worry.

Misjudged - The Graphics Jump. Nobody really should have been expecting a PS1 to PS2 type of improvement with the 360. Its too big of a leap and it won't happen when the PS3 comes out either(If it ever does, give us a release date Sony!). But for all the bucks I'm throwing at my new Xbox, I expect a small graphic improvement in every game. Sure, there a few ("PGR3", "Kameo", "Madden") that offer some killer graphics - but its sporadic. If I'm paying $10 extra, make it worth my while.

Misjudged - The Cost. Every time a new system launches, its going to cost you. You have to get all new controllers, a new console, a few accessories, new games - its just how it goes. But Microsoft really stuck it to consumers in a couple of areas. 1) The wireless controller - While this is an absolutely wonderful feature, it should be $10 cheaper. 2) Plug and Play Charge Kit - Combine the $20 this costs and the $50 controller is now $70. Ouch! 3) Games - I touched on this earlier, 10 clams too much.

Right On - The Wireless Controller. Yeah, yeah...I know. I just griped about the cost. It is $10 too much but I love this thing. Not just the fact that its wireless (my wife still checks for cords when she walks in front of me, ha!) but because the layout is so perfect. All of the buttons are in exactly the right place. Its incredibly intuitive. The size is just about right as well. Fits good in both hands - not too heavy, not too light.

Right On - Xbox Live Marketplace. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is the future of gaming. Downloading movie trailers, pictures to go next to your gamer tag and demos are all well and good but the Xbox Live Arcade is what makes this place so special. "Geometry
Wars", "Hexic HD" and "Zuma Deluxe" are just a few of the games you can get for free or dirt cheap. Some day discs will be gone and this is how we will purchase video games (and movies and music). Xbox Live Marketplace hasn't even begun to reach its potential.

Right On - Xbox Live. This will be Sony's biggest challenge. Not games and not graphics because the PS3 won't be any prettier or better than the 360. Online play is where its at and once you have it you can't live without it. Can Sony beat Microsoft at its own game? I doubt it.

So now what? Where does Microsoft go from here? I'm going to give my good friend Bill Gates a few candid suggestions in this weeks top 5 list.

Top 5 Ways Bill Gates Can Assure the 360's Dominance

1. Boost Production - Bill, you need to get as many 360's as you can into people's homes. The initial short supply didn't make your product mysterious and more desired, it ticked people off. If a family owns a 360, they're not going to turn around and buy a PS3 six months later. You need consoles now! Get Bill Jr. on the assembly line if you have to.

2. Lower Game Costs - This is a no-brainer, especially with EA already reducing its current-gen lineup to $30 or $40 dollars. What, you don't think Sony saw how many people scoffed at $60 games? You need to price drop a few months before the PS3 comes out because I guarantee you that their games will be $50 and no higher.

3. Get Halo 3 Out Quick - The 360 doesn't have a killer title and it needs one desperately. Bill, you need a game that's 360 only, that everyone will want. Put the screws to Bungie. And while your at it, work a deal with Rockstar so that the next GTA game is 360 only as well. Those two games would bury the PS3.

4. Leave Japan: Not totally, just recognize when you've been beat. I know the 3-headed marketing campaign (US, Europe, Japan) was ambitious and had to be tried. Well, you did it and fell on your face. Its okay, we all make mistakes. Well, except me. Those 360's sitting on shelves in Japan could be used to build up a greater US or European base.

5. Shake Your Money Maker: The 360 has 2 giant advantages over the PS3 (only because no one knows much about it) - Xbox Live and Xbox Live Marketplace. Neither of these features are being marketed enough. This is your ace in the hole, your trump card, your...well you get the idea. Not enough people know about Live and Marketplace. Sell them, tweak them, show'em off. The gaming world could be yours.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Return of Mario

The first new Super Mario Bros. game in 20 years (has it really been that long?) will be released on May 7th. For the Nintendo DS only.

The game will include all new power-ups including a blue shell that Mario can ride, and a new massive mushroom that will make Mario as big as Barry Bonds' head. Its about time that one of the most recognizable figures in gaming made his return.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

You want the cheats?!? You can't handle the cheats!!

What game has the most requests for cheat codes? GTA: San Andreas. Ask and ye shall receive. Here are a few of the cheats available. Look for Xbox San Andreas codes in the near future.

GTA: San Andreas Cheats PS2
R1, R1, Circle, R2, Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down
Lower Wanted Level
R1, R2, L1 , X, Left , Down, Right, Up, Left, Down, Right, Up
$250,000, full health and armor (also repairs cars if you are in one)
Circle, Circle, L1, Circle, Circle, Circle, L1, L2, R1, Triangle, Circle, Triangle
Spawn A Rhino
R2, Up, L2, Left, Left, R1, L1, Circle, Right
Spawn a Stretch
Down, R1, Circle, L2, L2, X, R1, L1, Left, Left
Spawn Bloodring Banger
Right, R2, Circle, R1, L2, Square, R1, R2
Cars on Water
R2, L2, R1, L1, L2, R2, Square, Triangle, Circle, Triangle, L2, L1
Destroy Cars
R2, Circle, Up, L1, Right, R1, Right, Up, Square, Triangle
Flying Boats
Triangle, R1, R1, Left, R1, L1, R2, L1
Perfect Handling
Right, R1, Up, L2, L2, Left, R1, L1, R1, R1
Faster Cars
Right, R1, Up, L2, L2, Left, R1, L1, R1, R1
All Traffic Lights Stay Green
Triangle, L1, Triangle, R2, Square, L1, L1
All Vehicles Invisible (Except Motorcycles)
R2, L1, Circle, Right, L1, R1, Right, Up, circle, R2
Spawn Hotring Racer #2
R1, circle, R2, Right, L1, L2, X (2), Square, R1
Spawn Hotring Racer #1
Triangle, Up ,Up, Left, Right, Square, Circle, Right
Triangle, Up ,Up, Left, Right, Square, Circle, Down
Max Fat
Up, Up, Triangle, Triangle, Up, Up, Left, Right, Square, R2, R2
Jump 10 times higher
Left, Right, L1, L2, R1, R2, Up, Down, Left, Right
Triangle, Triangle, Square, Circle, X, L1, L1, Down, Up
Spawns Hydra
Right, Up, R1, R1, R1, Down, Triangle, Triangle, X, Circle, L1, L1
Spawn a Monster
Left, Right, L1, L2, R1, R2, R2, Up, Down, Right, L1
spawn a parachute
Triangle, Square, Circle, Circle, Square, Circle, Circle, L1, L2, L2, R1, R2.
Jump 100 feet in air on bike
Max Muscle
Up, Left, X, Triangle, R1, Circle, Circle, Circle, L2
Super Punch
up, L1, R1, up, right, up, x, L2, x, L1
Increase car speed
Down, Left, L1, Down, Down, R2, Down, L2, Down
Infinite Lung Capacity
all taxis get nitro + jump up when you press L3
Down, X, Right, Left, Right, R1, Right, Down, Up, Triangle
Infinite health, still hurt from explosions, drowning, and falling.
L1, Circle, Triangle, L1, L1, Square, L2, Up, Down, Left
All Pedestrians Are Elvis
Spawn Hunter
SQUARE, L2, X, R1, L2, L2, LEFT, R1, RIGHT, L1, L1, L1
Max All Vehicle stats (Driving, Flying Bike, Cycling)
Hitman In all weapon
L1, R1, TRIANGLE, DOWN, R2, X, L1, UP, L2, L2, L1, L1
Max Respect

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rumor Mill

Its always good to be informed. Here's the latest news and rumors the gaming world has to offer.

Nintendo DS Getting Internet Browsing and TV Capabilities - Opera Software announced it will soon release a card that allows the handheld DS (which is already Wi-Fi enabled) to be used as a web browser. The software will sell for around $32. Opera will also release a separate card for the DS that will enable it to be used as a digital TV receiver. Before you get too excited, this is all happening in Japan. No word yet on when, or if, this technology will be made available to US gamers.

Activision to develop Transformers Video Game - Hasbro has given Activision the rights to develop handheld, console and PC games based on the Transformers movie coming out in 2007. I'm sure this made Optimus Prime very happy.

More Nintendo DS News - Nintendogs has reached the 4.5 million mark with 2 million copies have sold in Europe, 1.5 million in the US and 1 million in Japan. Digital poop is just easier to pick up.

New Lara Croft Model - Eidos has announced that 20-year old Londoner Karima Adebibe is their new Lara Croft Model. Adebibe's training includes SAS (British Special Forces) survival, combat and semi automatic weapon firing, archaeology and etiquette. This is so she can deal with mobs of crazy gaming fans at trade shows.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Top 5 Games You Should Keep Until You Croak

We all know that games come and go, you love a game one minute and then you're tired of it 4 weeks later. Systems become obsolete, the trade value of a game drops, so why hold on to something longer than you should? For two reasons. 1) Some are actually worth a ton of money and 2) sentimental value.

I'm not a game hawk. I don't deal games, I don't collect them at yard sales then sell them on ebay or anything like that. If other guys want to do it, whatever, fine by me. But I'm a guy who loves video games for the fun they give, for the memories they've provided and the bonds they've created. So I fall into the sentimental category.

Do I save everything? No way! But the games below I'll never get rid of because they remind me of something. It could have been a gift from someone close to me, it could be that I don't think they ever made a better version of what I had, it could be that it brings back memories of who I was or what my life was like at that time. It just depends. Here's my list. Let me know what makes your top 5, even if you don't have it anymore and regret it.

Terry's Top 5 Games I'll Keep Until My Son Inherits Them

1. Metal Gear Solid - I've mentioned this game in my column once before. This was a life altering game for me. I've always loved movies or games set in a snow. I don't know, maybe I was a polar bear in a previous life. The setting, the over the top story and the great voice work hooked me. And of course, getting past guards while disguised as a box made me laugh until milk came out of my nose. Every time. The lesson to be learned? Don't drink and game at the same time.

2. Super Mario Bros - Of course I'm talking about the NES version. I don't know anyone who wasn't addicted to this at the time, it was like crack. I blame my brother Phil for this. I was in college when this came out and I'd go home and to do my laundry. He'd bug me to death until I tried it and once I started I just couldn't stop. The next day I went out and bought my own NES.

3. Legend of Zelda - This one nailed me in high school. I hadn't played games in years and one day I'm over at a buddy's house and his little brother had an NES. He was playing Zelda and the music hypnotized me. I pushed the kid to the side and played until 5am.

4. NHL 94 - I can't even begin to describe how much money I made off of this Super Nintendo classic. In my frat, this was the game to play and I was house champ until I graduated. Still the greatest sports video game ever.

5. The Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - I love music just as much as I love video games and with all of the 80's tunes in this game, I couldn't help but love it. The game play is stellar, the voice acting still has no equal and all of 80's references (Miami Vice, Scarface) really got to me. I grew up in the 80's, what can I say?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheater, cheater pumpkin eater

I promised you some cheat codes and because I'm a man of my word, its time I delivered. This week I'm dishing out some dirt on three Xbox 360 games. Cheats for the 360 are still hard to come by, so use them well.

Need for Speed Most Wanted Cheats
At the title screen, enter the code. You should get a confirmation.
Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Down, Up, Down: Castrol Version Of Ford GT
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Up, Down: Junkman Engine
L, R, R, R, Right, Left, Right, Down: Porsche Cayman
Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left: the Burger King challenge

King Kong Cheats
At the start screen, where it says play, options, and extras, hold LB + RB + LT + RT and press Down, Up, Y, X, Down, Down, Y, Y. A cheat menu should appear. Enter these codes:
8wonder: invincibility
GrosBras: one-bullet kills(not spears)
KKst0ry: level select
KK 999 mun: 999 bullets
KKmuseum: all extras unlocked
lance 1nf: infinite spears(press reload for spear)
KKcapone: Thompson(no reload needed)
KKsn1per: Sniper Rifle(no reload needed)

Call of Duty 2 Cheat
On the mission select screen, hold both the left and right bumpers then quickly input on the d-pad: left, left, right, right, then Y, Y. This will unlock all levels.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A good Star Trek game? I hope so.

Bethesda Softworks recently announced that a new Star Trek game, Star Trek: Legacy, will be released for the Xbox 360 sometime this fall. Like most Trekkies, I have been incredibly disappointed by the lame games that have come out bearing the Star Trek license but this one looks promising.

No word yet on how exactly the gameplay will work but "Legacy" will be the first Star Trek game to cover the entire series timeline from Archer to Picard and everything in between. I hoped to get more information about the games release, so I interviewed Captain Kirk himself to see if I could get more information. Here's the transcript of our conversation:

Me: Captain Kirk, what a pleasure to meet you!

Kirk: The...pleasure...is...all mine.

Me: Captain, can you tell me about the new "Star Trek: Legacy" game? Will you be battling Klingons? How often will your shirt get ripped? Any battles to the death with Mr. Spock? Will you continue to meet old flames at every port of call?

Kirk: I'm afraid...that information...is confidential. In fact...how did you...get aboard...my ship?

Me: Uhura said I could have a few moments of your time for an interview. You're kind of possessive about your ship aren't you?

Kirk: I don't...remember...clearing any interview...with Starfleet Command. Security!

Me: Oh come on! You don't mean one of those guys in a red shirt do you? I can take care of those guys, I watch the show.

(Mr. Spock then sneaks up on me and knocks me out with a Vulcan Nerve Pinch.)

Kirk: This interview...is over.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Halo 2 on PC, finally

At long last "Halo 2" will soon be available to PC gamers, but there's a catch. Its only good on Microsoft's new operating system - Windows Vista. If Microsoft execs think that using "Halo 2" is going to motivate gamers to get their new software they're nuts.

PC gamers are a slightly different animal than console gamers. They have their own little niche of games and while the original "Halo" is certainly popular among PC owners, its not the must have game it is for Xbox owners. Combined with the fact that "Halo 2" came out 18 months ago (die-hard Master Chief followers surely already have it) and that Windows Vista will cost a few hundred dollars by itself and I don't really see this as a smart marketing technique.

"Halo" is a wonderful series with a great future and single-handedly put the Xbox on the map, but it sure looks like Microsoft might be leaning a little too much on its franchise defining game.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wanna play?

Xbox Live has no equal when it comes to online gaming. Looking to get your game on? If you're itching for someone to shoot at, I'm available. My gamertag is coloradojoe.

My reflexes aren't what they used to be, but I still love playing online. My favorite Xbox Live games, in order of personal preference, are "Halo 2", "Perfect Dark Zero", "Call of Duty 2", "Project Gotham Racing 3" and "Madden". Send me an invite if you want to play sometime.

Terry Terrones
The Gazette

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The new Nintendo Revolution Controller: U-G-L-Y, Ugly

What's this hideous item to the right? Is it an iPod Shuffle connected to a mouse? Is it a DVD remote married to an Atari 2600 joystick? No, its Nintendo's new controller for its system that comes out later this year - The Revolution.

Unless you plan on using them Nunchaku-style on your TV, I have no idea how this crazy looking contraption is going to work. It seems to me gamers will have problems with their hands working independently without any real connectivity. Its like playing tennis with two rackets.

I give Nintendo credit for trying something new but sometimes its best to stick with what works. I would expect them to offer a more traditional looking controller at launch.

Monday, February 06, 2006


"Fight Night Round 3" comes out February 20th and I couldn't be more excited. Recreating some of the most memorable fights (Ali/Frazier, Hagler/Leonard) and getting the chance to become one of nearly 30 current boxers (ear nibbler Mike Tyson excluded) sounds fun.

The two features I'm most looking forward to are online play and create-a-boxer mode. Designing my own pugilist and testing my skills online should be a blast.

The game looks awesome, especially the 360 version. Okay, so maybe I'm speculating because I'm currently judging its appearance on screenshots and previews I've read. Still, I'm pretty stoked about matching up against Ali and seeing how I do. I think I can take him.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

G4 Game of the Year Awards

G4 TV, a cable channel devoted to video games, announced its 2005 pick for game of the year. The winner? Resident Evil 4. Rounding out G4's Top 5 games for last year were God of War, Battlefield 2, Guitar Hero and Shadow of the Colossus.

These are all good games and Resident Evil 4 really did bring back some respect to a struggling franchise - but how can no Xbox 360 games be in G4's top 5? Project Gotham Racing 3 and Call of Duty 2 deserve Top 5 status.

Check out www.g4tv.com for their complete list of award winners.