Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saints Row First Impressions

As a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series (my favorite series of all time, in this order are: 1.GTA, 2. Madden, 3. Halo 4. Metal Gear), how can I possibly resist a game that steals most of its great ideas and is proud of it? I can't. So it is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I picked up Saints Row yesterday. Here are some early high points.

The mapping system - Vastly superior to GTA's. A simple menu pops up, you pick where you want to go and follow the flashing dots. It reminded me a lot of Perfect Dark Zeros arrows that lit up your destination after wandering around too long. Although it takes some of the fun out of wandering around town, I expect the next GTA to have this in it.

The graphics - The GTA series has never really been known for its graphics but the game play is always so great its never needed to. Aside from the characters faces, the game looks awesome.

Create-A-Player Feature - Gamers have never been able to create themselves in a game like this, now you can. Its a lot of fun to do and very detailed.

Multi-player - Again, something the GTA series has never had. To be honest, I haven't even tried it yet but I'm excited about the idea. I just hope it doesn't suck.

I imagine since Saints Row "borrows" (or steals) so many ideas from GTA, Rockstar will probably be looking to see what Saints Row improves on and hopefully will incorporate some of those things in the next GTA game. Is Saints Row better than any GTA game? The jury is still out on that, I need more time with the game. But as a die-hard fan of the franchise I'd say its in the neighborhood.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Madden Etiquette

We've all been there before. You're playing an enjoyable game of Madden, either online or with a buddy, when someone crosses the line and does something stupid. People get upset, tempers flare and suddenly everyone is more uncomfortable than Peyton Manning during a playoff game.

Why does this happen? Because no one has set up the ground rules for playing Madden against a living opponent. Like all great backs, I see the hole and cut to it. Its time to stop all the bickering and whining and discuss proper video game etiquette.

Terry's Top 5 Madden Etiquette Rules

1. Trash Talking is Required - What would football be without trash talking? Tennis! That's what! Now I'm not talking about complaining about getting screwed over on a play or moaning about a dropped pass, I'm talking about telling your opponent what you're about to do, then doing it. I'm talking about picking off the ball then high stepping it into the end zone as you point at your friend and laugh. Yo Mama jokes are also okay to be used here.

2. Never punt - Punting is for wimps! Don't give me your its-a-game-of-field-position argument either. If you can't get 10 yards in virtual football, you better go back to practice right after the game is over and learn more than 4 plays.

3. Never pick an All-Pro team - Nothing shows that you're a weak player more than picking the AFC or NFC Pro Bowl squad. All-decade and all-time teams (Best Denver Broncos teams, etc.) are also disallowed. Just pick your favorite team and roll with it.

4. No created players - This should be a no-brainer but I can't tell you how many times guys have tried to pass themselves off as members of their favorite teams. My 5'5", 130lb son, despite his fondest wishes, is not a 6'4" 225lb QB with 99's across the board, yet he tries to get away with it all the time. Save your created player for your Franchise or Hall of Fame career.

5. No quitting. Ever! - Nothing is more frustrating (especially online) than when you're giving your opponent a serious beat down and they just up and quit. Just like there is no crying in baseball, there's no quitting in football. If you're getting thumped, play it out, try your best and take your lumps like a man. Don't try the old "its late and I got work tomorrow" excuse either. We all know how long Madden games can take. Suck it up and start throwing some Hail Mary's to get back into the game.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Welcome to the first (and last) Mailbag Contest! The big winner this month is reader John Burden. He won in a landslide because he was the only participant. Lets get to his two questions.

How does one break into the gaming and game review industry? Also, how does one not only get a job with a respectable newspaper, but also manage to convince the editors of said newspaper that they should have a guy working for them to review the video game world?

In my interviews with PSM's Chris Slate and OXM's Francesca Reyes I essentially asked them the same thing. They both mentioned that starting gaming blogs and trying to get in your local paper as a way to get things started. They also suggested doing some freelance work for gaming websites (1up, gamespot, etc.) as well. Let me tell you, I've tried or done all of those things before I interviewed the two of them and its tough. As you would expect, the gaming market is hard to get into because so many people want to do it.

To be truly successful, I think anyone interested in working in the video game industry (or any other industry for that matter) should follow the adage "its not what you know, its who you know". I'm not saying the gaming world is rife with nepotism (Wow! I think that's the biggest word I've ever used when writing about gaming) but making connections is so incredibly important. Its one of the ways you can make sure you stand out among a sea of qualified candidates. Of course knowing the right people and making connections takes time, especially if you don't live on the West Coast and in particular the San Francisco area. That's why events like E3 and Comic-Con are so important. Of course, now that E3 is going to be severely scaled down and limited to pretty much press-only types, its that much harder to get your foot in the door.

As for how I got my gaming gig, all I had to do was bug a couple of editors. I was originally working in the Sports department at the Gazette when I noticed that the video game reviews in the GO! section were being written by a writer from the Detroit Free Press (they were being taken of the wire). I liked his work but figured I could do just as well, so I contacted GO! editor Warren Epstein. I told him how much I loved gaming and that I would like to write the gaming column so I could give it a more local angle. He asked for some writing samples, liked what he saw, and that as they say is that.

My biggest hurdle so far has been getting gaming companies to send me games to review. Its a constant battle to contact them and bug them to send games. And this is with the companies who already have me on their mailing list. Some companies just tell me no (Rockstar) or ignore me (THQ) because the Gazette doesn't have a large enough circulation. But with most other companies (EA in particular) I have numerous contacts and they bend over backwards to get me titles.

How old should a child be before you introduce them to video games without risking issues with normal childhood development?

Now this is a tough question. I'm not a child psychologist so I'm not exactly sure what the textbook answer is (and if you ask Tipper Gore, I'm sure she'd say "Never!) so I'm going to give an answer based on my experience as a parent of a 12-year old who loves games. Because I played games so much as my son was growing up, he was naturally attracted to the sights and sounds of video games. So unless you plan on ditching your system, this is just something that is just going to happen. But how you handle it is important.

I think there are two important things parents need to be aware of. A great man once said "Everything in moderation". I think it was Pauley Shore. Anyway, its important to set time limits early on so kids know they can't play as long as they want. To me, this is even more important than what age they start playing games because it teaches kids to organize their time and stresses that gaming isn't everything. Which, of course, it is but we don't tell them that.

The other important thing is to be aware of what your kids are playing. It always ticks me off when parents complain about a games content. Usually its after they just bought their kid a game. Check out the box, find out what its about. Some games just aren't made for kids, just like some movies aren't. How a child can buy a $50-$60 game without their parent knowing about it is beyond me. How do they get to the store? Where does the money come from? The parent, that's who.

Obviously, kids shouldn't be exposed to certain things before a certain age. I wouldn't let my 6-year old daughter (who could care less about gaming) play Dead Rising. Its just not right. Even as kids get older, you still have to be aware of the content. I still don't let my 12-year old son play any GTA game, despite his protests that all of his friends have played it. I also monitor what he purchases on his own and I let him know if he can actually get a game that has yet to be released. Sometimes I shoot him down. He may not like it, but because I've been consistent, he gets over it quickly. I also feel that kids shouldn't have TV's in their own room but that is my personal opinion. How am I to know if my kid is watching or playing something that he shouldn't if he isn't where I can see him? In my house, we have one TV. This can be a real pain (especially during football season or when I need to play a game to review) but I think its best for my family. What's best for yours may be different.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Xbox Live Arcade: The Ratings

I want to encourage everyone to download "Texas Hold'em" on Xbox Live Arcade ASAP. You can get it for free through Thursday. Save yourself 800 Microsoft Points ($10), its a good game.

I love Xbox Live Marketplace. I said it when the 360 came out and I'll say it again - pure genius. There are downloads for just about everything but the best part of Marketplace is Xbox Live Arcade. For an old school gamer like me, getting a chance to play some of my favorite arcade games on my new system is like stepping back in time. Its great!

There are currently 27 games available on Arcade with new games coming out every Wednesday. While that's quite a few, lets be honest, there are a lot of duds. While waiting for my beloved Cyberball and Paperboy (add the Konami classic Sunset Riders to my Wish List as well) to come out, I decided to try on a few Arcade games on for size. With some I just played the demo, others I bought outright. And just so you know, I have a built-in bias towards some of these games. There are a few titles on Arcade that turn me back into that kid I was in the early 80's. You know - feathered hair, Def Lepard shirt, Members Only jacket. As I always warn people: I'm a child of the 80's and I make no excuses for it. If you're not sure about a game, play the trial version. Its always free.

Texas Hold'em - Obviously this game wasn't around when I was a kid but I could care less because its so much fun. The single-player is fine and a nice way to kill some time but the multi-player is where it really shines. Chatting with people online as cards are dealt almost makes you feel like you're really in a casino. I kept looking around for a waitress to bring me a drink. Then my wife told me to get off my butt and get one myself.
Grade: A-

Galaga - I love this game if only for sentimental reasons. This was one of the first arcade games I ever played (it came out in 1981 so I'm dating myself just a little). A bunch of my friends would play this after school for bragging rights. Its a very simple, straightforward game which is why its so much fun.
Grade: A

Frogger - When this game came out, I remember being incredibly disappointed that the box art looked so much better than the game itself. I'm still disappointed. The game was overrated when it came out and souped up graphics don't make it any better. After crossing the street a few times and getting splattered by a truck or drowning (which never made sense to me, I'm playing as a frog) the game gets old fast. Unless you're a diehard Frogger nut (and if you are, please tell me why) stay away from this game.
Grade: D

Cloning Clyde - This game is just flat out kooky and if you've read some of my reviews lately, you know I like kooky. Its like controlling a 3-D comic book character. Unlike most of these other Arcade games there is lots of character variety. The mult-player is pretty good as well.
Grade: B

Hexic HD - This game came free on my 360 and I'm glad it did. Its fun and really gives gamers an idea of what Arcade could offer when the console came out. Hexic is a lot like Tetris (which is no surprise as it was made by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov) and can be just as fun and challenging.
Grade: A (because its fun and free)

Street Fighter II - Very enjoyable game. I really like the Quarter Match feature that lets you continue if you get beat, just like in the arcade. I had a lot of fun kicking my son's butt in this game (I played as Chun Li and he had no chance). Single-player mode is fairly tough and multi-player is just brutal. Those guys know what their doing. If you're interesting in getting SF: Anthology, save $10 and get this instead.
Grade: B+

Joust - I just never got into this game. A flying ostrich with a knight holding a lance riding on him? I'll pass.
Grade: D

Gauntlet - Oooh yeah! No we're talking! Suddenly I'm back in my Dungeons and Dragons loving elementary school days. Hanging out with my buds and arguing over who has to be Valkyrie (the girl). The memorable announcer ("I've not seen such bravery" and "Wizard needs food badly") is back. Great game to play with a group of friends.
Grade: A

Geometry Wars - Whenever I play this game I feel like a little kid staring at a Fourth of July celebration - Oooh! Pretty colors! Fun game play, great graphics and sound but a little repetitive.
Grade: B+

Pac-Man - Is there a more well known arcade game than this one? I doubt it. The Xbox Live Arcade version looks pretty good and plays fine but the controls are a little stiff. Back in the day gamers would play with a stick that was much looser and Pac was a little more nimble. The newer version feels like the old fella has gained a few pounds. Which he probably has since Pac-Man was in every Pizza Hut I ever went into during the 1980's. Still, he is the king of arcade games and is worth $5.
Grade: B

Mailbag - Just a quick reminder that I'm accepting Mailbag entries (don't worry Reader John, you're safe so far) until this Friday at 6pm.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Quick Hits

A gamers dream (or nightmare) - I know what you really want, I have my finger on the pulse of local gamers'...necks. What you don't want is superior graphics, reasonably priced games or a next-gen console that will leave you bankrupt. No, what you want is to somehow, someway combine the world of reality TV with video games. The perfect marriage of mediums. Well now's your chance.

Activision has teamed up with Spike TV and Best Buy to give us the "Call of Duty 3 Challenge" (Ha! I said duty again!). The boot camp-style competition of survival and gaming will be telecast on Spike TV's Game Head (a pretty good gaming show by the way) on November 10th to coincide with the release of the COD3 video game.

Activision is hosting an online casting call at They are looking for 16...uh,em recruits...with, and I quote, "personality (borderline crazy), perserverance (obsessive compulsive disorder) and gaming skills (way too much free time)" to compete for a prize package consisting of: VIP access to the Video Game Awards, a home entertainment system from Best Buy and a trip for 2 to Normandy, France (feel free to storm the beaches if you so choose, its alot safer now).

Finalists will be flown to an unknown location to be immortalized for eternity on film September 20-22. So if you're free those days, sign up. If any local guy makes it, please let me know so I can interview you.

And finally - The Mailbag is going great...for reader John. That's right, as of right now, reader John is our only Mailbag participant. What's going on? I thought gamers were competitive? Are you going to let John just walk away with a $20 gift card? Isn't there anyone out there worthy enough to challenge him? According to Site Meter there are 130-150 people a week who visit this blog, surely somebody can take John down! (Sorry John, I have to try and give you some competition.) If you have the stones, send your gaming/non-gaming comments or questions to At least make the man work for it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Mole: A quick out of town update

Greetings from Chicago! I'm in the Windy City for a family event and finally found some free time to cruise the web when I realized I hadn't updated the blog since Wednesday...oops. The last few days have been filled with Cubs games, relatives and watching my beloved Red Sox get pounded by the Yankees so its been a mix of fun and lots of yelling at any TV I can find. Enough about me, here's the skinny on a few upcoming games.

Still anxiously awaiting Cyberball - Microsoft has announced its upcoming Xbox Live Arcade titles for the next few weeks with no robots playing football game in sight. Texas Hold'em comes out this Wednesday but is free for the first 48 hours of its release, then it sells for a whopping 800 points ($10). Personally, I feel all arcade games should be capped out at 400 points, no more. One of the nice things about Texas Hold ’em however is it offers multiplayer support for up to eight gamers, three modes of gameplay (Standard Games, Scenarios and Tournaments), Achievements, extensive online leaderboards and statistics. So it might be worth it.

Time Pilot (August 30), a Konami fighter pilot game and Scramble (September 6), a side-scrolling shooter also from Konami will cost 400 points.

Something for free? - Sierra announced late last week that FEAR Combat, the multiplayer component of the PC game FEAR is available for free. If you're interested, go to for a free download. Included are 10 multiplayer game modes, 22 maps and 12 different weapons.

FIFA Soundtrack full of bands I've never heard of - I would prefer my video games to have music I actually like instead of using me as a guinea pig for a bunch of no name bands with music I could care less about. Unfortunately most gaming publishers (except Rockstar) don't feel that way. I think they see it as trying to be forward thinking and bringing hip new music to the masses. Well prepare yourself with more of this stuff as EA has given an international feel to its new FIFA game. Here's a song list for FIFA 07, I've never heard of any of them but I guess that doesn't really mean anything because my favorite band is still the Beatles and their last album is over 30 years old.

Angélique Kidjo - Wele Wele - Benin Belasco - Chloroform - UK Bersuit Vergarabat - O Vas a Misa… - Argentina Bitman & Roban - Get On The Floor - Chile Blasted Mechanism - Blasted Empire - Portugal Boy Kill Boy - Civil Sin - UK caBas - La Cadena de Oro - Colombia Carlos Jean - Get Down - Spain d.o.c.h.! - Was in der Zertung Steht - Germany Elefant - Uh-oh Hello - USA Epik High - Fly - Korea Fertig, los! - Sie ist in mich verliebt - Germany Infadels - Can’t Get Enough (Mekon Remix) - UK Keane - Nothing In My Way - UK Malibu Stacy - Los Angeles - Belgium Mellowdrone - Oh My - USA Mobile - New York Minute - Canada Morning Runner - Gone Up In Flames - UK Muse - Supermassive Black Hole - UK Nightmare Of You - Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf - USA Outlandish - Kom Igen - Denmark Paul Oakenfold - Beatiful Goal - UK Persephone's Bees - Muzika Dlya Fil'ma - USA/Russia Plastilina Mosh - Peligroso Pop - Mexico Polysics - Tei! Tei! Tei! - Japan The Prototypes - Kaleidoscope - UK Ralph Myerz and The Jack Herren Band - Deepest Red - Norway Seu Jorge - Tive Razão - Brazil Shiny Toy Guns - You Are The One - USA Stijn - Gasoline & Matches - Belgium Suferosa - Royal Uniform - Norway Tahiti 80 - Big Day - France The Feeling - Sewn - UK The Pinker Tones - TMCr Grand Finale - Spain The Sheer - Understand - Holland The Young Punx - You've Got To… - UK Tigarah - Girl Fight - Japan Trash Inc. - Punk Rock Chick - Lebanon Us3 - Kick This - UK Young Love - Discotech - USA

Madden Update - My review of Madden 07 comes out this Friday (the game comes out Tuesday) and I wanted to make one thing very clear before anyone goes out and buys it - the PS2 and Xbox versions are better than the 360 version. Because of limited space, I don't really get to get across all of the points I'd like to in a review, if I did they'd be 3 times as long. Because I wanted to focus on the features and not the differences in the console versions, I don't really get a chance to tell you why the PS2/Xbox versions are better but here are 3 reasons why - the create a player mode, the Hall of Fame mode and the audible system are not the same on the 360 as they are on the PS2 and Xbox.

In the PS2/Xbox version you can make a created player with skills as high as you want. In the 360 version, you have to do these mini-games (which are pretty tough) to earn skill points for your player. I ended up with a guy with a 30-something overall rating. Not good. In the 360 version of Hall of Fame mode, you only play as your player, you don't play defense or control anyone else. You also have to throw the ball (if you're created player is a QB) from almost field level, making seeing recievers very hard. In the PS2/Xbox version you play just like its a real game. In my review I rave about the audible system, which I think is fantastic. Unfortunately, the audible/hot route system in the 360 is essentially the same as last year.

Now some gamers may like these differences but I didn't. I was very disappointed to see the cool new audible system not in the 360 version. I was surprised by the difference in the Hall of Fame scheme but the jury is still out on whether its a good or bad thing. I need to play with it a little more. But where I'm most disappointed is in the create-a-player mode. It brought back memories of Madden 96 when you had to do the same thing. I get the gimmick of doing mini-games to rate your player but they should be optional. If I spend money to buy the game, I should be able to rate myself however the heck I want. I worked to buy the game, I shouldn't have to work to rate myself.

Don't get me wrong, both versions of this game are really good. I enjoy them both. But the PS2 version was my favorite.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sneek Peek: Madden '07

The King of Video Games is back! Thank goodness. After the disappointment that was NCAA 07, I'm glad the rotund Hall of Famer is around to feed my football jones.

I received the final PS2 version last week and the Xbox 360 version late this afternoon but I haven't had a chance to look at it yet (and won't for a few days) so this is all based on the Sony version. As with Test Drive Unlimited, I just can't give too much of the game away. Especially because I'll probably finish the review in time for it to be in next Friday's paper. To make it easy (for me, not you) here are the high and low points:

High Points - the new blocking feature (surprisingly cool), slightly better graphics, audible menu has been revamped, new kicking mechanic

Low Points - the in-game music still sucks (Can't they afford to get some big names? Would kill them to put some AC/DC or Outkast or something that gets you pumped up for games), the same lame lines from Madden( someone at EA needs to give the dude a new script), mini-games are few and dull

So is the game worth buying? What do you think? Its Madden for crying out loud, its a requirement, you don't really have an option. There is no better football game available for gamers. This version is pretty good and I was truly surprised by how much fun the new blocking feature is. I'm not quite sure where I'll grade it but it'll probably be pretty high. After all, its Madden and its pro football. What's not to like?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sneak Peek: Test Driver Unlimited

What kind of gaming guy would I be if I had some inside info and didn't share it? Since I recently received a couple of games before their release date, I had some time to try them out and see if they'll be worth buying.

Today I'll cover a Beta test Atari's "Test Drive Unlimited". On Wednesday I'll discuss a final PS2 version "Madden '07".

Test Drive Unlimited - I received the Beta from Atari almost 2 weeks ago but haven't had time to play it because my son was hogging my PS2 with "Guitar Hero". But once I finally got to it, I was totally impressed.

I don't usually get into racing games, I get tired of driving the same courses over and over. The great thing about "TDU" is that its much more open ended than a regular racer. You can just drive around (the game is set on the Hawaiian island of Oahu) and challenge drivers whenever you want. There are check points you have to reach but how you get there is totally up to you. When you reach a certain level in the game, you can even create your own challenges.

Without giving too much away (I will have to review this game eventually after all) the game looks good and the controls feel pretty smooth. The cars handle more arcadey than sim. "TDU" is more "Need for Speed" than "Gran Turismo", which is a good thing for a non-gearhead like myself.

The auto selection is pretty deep with at least 125 licensed vehicles to choose from (Mercedes, Shelby, Aston Martin, Saleen and Jaguar are just a few) and there are motorcycles as well. The huge island (more than 1,000 miles to drive) will keep you from seeing the same sites too frequently.

While its hard to make a recommendation from just a Beta test, I'd have to say the game looks pretty good so far. If the ambitious online mode truly comes through, this game will have a lot to offer even the most casual racing fan.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Mole: Cheat codes? I don't have no stinkin' cheat codes.

Have I mentioned how its sucks that its almost impossible to get cheat codes for games anymore? In lieu of codes, here's are the Xbox 360 Achievement Points for Dead Rising and Madden '07. Yeah, I know its not the same but it'll have to do.

Dead Rising - All worth 20pts
1. Zombie Hunter - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 1,000 zombies.
2. Zombie Killer - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 10,000 zombies.
3. Zombie Genocider - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 53,594 zombies.
4. Self Defense - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 1 psychopath.
5. Peace Keeper - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 5 psychopaths.
6. Punisher - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 10 psychopaths.
7. Legendary Soldier - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Kill 15 Zombies.
8. Hella Copter - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: ????
9. Tour Guide - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Escort 8 survivors at once.
10. Frank the Pimp - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Simultaneously escort 8 female survivors.
11. Full Set - TYPE: Total REQ: Collect all portraits in the NOTEBOOK.
12. Humanist - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Get at least 10 survivors out of the mall.
13. Life Saver - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Get at least 20 survivors out of the mall...
14. Saint - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Get at least 50 survivors out of the mall.
15. Strike! - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Send at least 10 zombies flying with bowling balls.
16. Costume Party - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Place novelty masks on at least 10 zombies.
17. Raining Zombies - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Knock at least 30 zombies aside with a parasol.
18. Gourmet - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Eat all types of food available in the mall.
19. Item Smasher - TYPE: Total REQ: Break at least 100 items.
20. Bullet Point - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Fire at least 1,000 bullets.
21. Perfect Gunner - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Don't miss with a machine gun.
22. Photojournalist - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Score at least 1,500 PP from a single photo.
23. The Artiste - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Score at least 3,000 PP from a single photo.
24. Group Photo - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Get 50 Target Markers with the camera.
25. Portraiture - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Photograph at least 10 survivors.
26. Census Taker - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Photograph at least 50 survivors.
27. Psycho Photo - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Photograph at least 4 psychopaths.
28. Psycho Collector - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Photograph at least 10 psychopaths.
29. PP Collector - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Photograph all PP Stickers.
30. Snuff Shot B - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: ????
31. Snuff Shot J - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: ????
32. Transmissionary - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Answer all calls from Otis.
33. Indoorsman - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Spend at least 24 hours indoors.
34. Outdoorsman - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Spend at least 24 hours outdoors.
35. Freefall - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Drop from a height of at least 16 feet (5 meters).
36. Marathon Runner - TYPE: Total REQ: Cover a distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 km).
37. Carjacker - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Steal the convicts' vehicle.
38. Stunt Driver - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Jump a car at least 33 feet (10 meters).
39. Stunt Rider - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Jump a motorcycle at least 33 feet (10 meters).
40. Zombie Road - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Walk over 33 feet (10 meters) on the backs of zombies using the Zombie Ride.
41. Karate Champ - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Defeat at least 1,000 zombies barehanded.
42. Sharp Dresser - TYPE: Total REQ: Change into at least 20 different costumes.
43. Clothes Horse - TYPE: Total REQ: Change into all costumes available in the mall.
44. Level Max - TYPE: Total REQ: Reach Lv. 50.
45. Unbreakable - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Get the ture ending without being knocked out.
46. Overtime Mode - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Unveil all CASES and be at the heliport at noon.
47. ∞ Mode - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Get the true ending.
48. 3 Day Survivor - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Survive for at least 72 hours.
49. 5 Day Survivor - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Survive for at least 5 days.
50. 7 Day Survivor - TYPE: 1 Play REQ: Survive for at least 7 days.

Madden '07

1. Madden Gamer Level 2 - Successfully reach a Madden Gamer Level of 2. (10pts)
2. Madden Gamer Level 10 - Successfully reach a Madden Gamer Level of 10. (20pts)
3. Madden Gamer Level 20 - Successfully reach a Madden Gamer Level of 20. (40pts)
4. Madden Gamer Level 30 - Successfully reach a Madden Gamer Level of 30. (70pts)
5. Madden Gamer Level 40 - Successfully reach a Madden Gamer Level of 40. (85pts)
6. Madden Gamer Level 50 - Successfully reach a Madden Gamer Level of 50. (100pts)
7. Season Record - Receive TD - Set the season record for Receiving Touchdowns. (20pts)
8. Season Record - Receiving Yards - Set the season record for Receiving Yards. (20pts)
9. Season Record - Receptions - Set the season record for Receptions. (20pts)
10. Season Record - Rush Touchdowns - Set the season record for Rushing Touchdowns. (20pts)
11. Season Record - Rush Yards - Set the season record for Rushing Yards. (20pts)
12. Season Record - Pass Yards - Season record for Pass Yards. (20pts)
13. Season Record - Pass TD - Set the season record for Passing Touchdowns. (20pts)
14. Season Record - Sacks - Set the season record for Sacks. (20pts)
15. Season Record - INT's - Set the season record for Interceptions. (20pts)
16. Game Record - Interceptions - Set the single game record for Interceptions. (10pts)
17. Game Record - Sacks - Set the single game record for Sacks. (10pts)
18. Game Record - Pass Yards - Set the single game record for Passing Yards. (10pts)
19. Game Record - Pass Touchdowns - Set the single game record for Pass Touchdowns. (10pts)
20. Game Record - Rushing Yards - Set the single game record for Rushing Yards. (10pts)
21. Game Record - Rush TD's - Set the single game record for Rushing Touchdowns. (10pts)
22. Game Record - Receptions - Set the single game record for Receptions. (10pts)
23. Game Record - Receiving Yards - Set the single game record for Receiving Yards. (10pts)
24. Game Record - Receiving TD's - Set the single game record for Receiving Touchdowns. (10pts)
25. All-Madden Shut Out - Pitch a shut out on All-Madden difficulty. (10pts)
26. 30 Years of Franchise - Complete 30 years of Franchise mode. (100pts)
27. Perfect Season - Successfully complete a Perfect Season. (30pts)
28. Super Bowl Win - Win the Super Bowl. (30pts)
29. Import Draft Class - Successfully import a Draft Class. (10pts)
30. Mini-Games - Enter the Mini-Games mode. (5pts)
31. Create-A-Player - Succcessfully create a player. (5pts)
32. Live Opponent - Play a Live Opponent game. (5pts)
33. SS Season - 30 Pass TDs - SS Season - 30 Pass TDs. (10pts)
34. SS Season - 10 Receiving TDs - SS Season - 10 Receiving TDs. (10pts)
35. SS Season - 1400 Rush Yards - SS Season - 1400 Rush Yards. (10pts)
36. SS Season - 140 Tackles - SS Season - 140 Tackles. (10pts)
37. SS Season - 16 Sacks - SS Season - 16 Sacks. (10pts)
38. SS Season - 7 Force Fumb - SS Season - 7 Force Fumb. (10pts)
39. SS Season - 7 INTs - SS Season - 7 INTs. (10pts)
40. SS Career - 200 Pass TD's - SS Career - 200 Pass TD's. (20pts)
41. SS Career - 60 Receiving TDs - SS Career - 60 Receiving TDs. (20pts)
42. SS Career - 10000 Rush Yards - SS Career - 10000 Rush Yards. (20pts)
43. SS Career - 500 Tackles - SS Career - 500 Tackles. (20pts)
44. SS Career - 100 Sacks - SS Career - 100 Sacks. (20pts)
45. SS Career - 20 Forced Fumbles - SS Career - 20 Forced Fumbles. (20pts)
46. SS Career - 25 Interceptions - SS Career - 25 Interceptions. (20pts)

EA not pleased with Sony - EA Executive VP David Gardner is not happy with how Sony is handling the PSP. In an interview with UK Trade Magazine MCV, Gardner said Sony needs to be more aggressive with pricing and performance in order to compete with the DS.

“There’s no doubt that EA has historically bet more on PSP. I think we were excited by the technology, but the consumers have proven that actually what they want is fun. We must never forget that what we need to focus on is fun and so EA is putting more effort behind DS games – and creative ones that really take advantage of the hardware.”

It looks like gaming giant EA is putting the screws to Sony. This should benefit gamers in the long run.

Say what? - 2K Sports announced late last week that hip hop act A Tribe Called Quest will headline the first leg of its Second Annual 2K Sports Tour, which takes place in 15 cities. If Tribe is the headliner, who's the opening act? Arrested Development? What is this 1991? Don't get me wrong, I love 2k. Great company. I also appreciate the fact that a gaming company is doing something that puts gaming in the mainstream by doing this kind of tour but for crying out loud, couldn't they have gotten somebody just a little more current? I'd even take an MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Milli Vinilli tour over this. In fact, seeing those 3 on the same stage would be an improvment over most concerts offered nowadays. You could call it Onehitwonderpalooza or I love the 90's! Check if you have way to much time on your hands.

Mailbag - Still accepting mailbag entries until August 25th. Send in your questions/comments on gaming (or anything else for that matter) to for your chance to earn a $20 gift card.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Top 5 Gaming Studios

We all have our favorite games and therefore our favorite gaming studios. Why? If a great game comes out, we believe the company might just be on to something. Trust me, if Rockstar comes out with a new game, I want to know all about it because I know their history for outrageous games. I'm sure everyone's favorite gaming studios list is as varied as everyone's favorite games list. For the sake of a lively debate, here are mine.

Terry's Top 5 Favorite Gaming Studios

1. Electronic Arts - Yeah, yeah I know. Liking EA is like rooting for the house in poker. I don't care. They produce a number of really good games for a wide variety of genres. Because they are such a big name, nobody has a bigger target on their back and they still produce. Another one of the reasons that I like them so much is how they go out of their way to provide columnists games. As a huge company, they could easily ignore a guy like me who writes for a paper with a circulation of only 100,000 but instead they make sure I have whatever I need. That's a first class operation, at least from my perspective.

Worst Game: The Sims series

Best Game: The Madden series

2. Bungie (owned by Microsoft) - A studio famous for only 2 games making a Top 5 Gaming Studios list? When those games are as important to a console as the Halo series is to the Xbox, you better believe it. I don't know one gamer with an Xbox or a 360 who doesn't own a Halo game. Its almost a requirement. Not only have the first two Halo games been huge for Microsoft but Halo 3 could have major consequences for the PS3 as well. Now that's a company with some clout.

Worst Game: Pimps at Sea :)

Best Game: Mmm..let me think...Halo 2?

3. Rockstar - This studio is a favorite among gamers because its one of the rare developers that can cover controversial topics in a fun and humorous way. Nobody handles controversy better and no company gets more publicity from it. Sure those State of Emergency games suck but you can always count on Grand Theft Auto for a great time.

Worst Game: State of Emergency

Best Game: GTA: Vice City

4. 2K Games - With MLB 2K6, Prey and especially Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (the game of the year so far in my opinion), 2K has had a monster year. A company known for being consistently good, this year 2K has been so hot that if it were a dude, Lindsay Lohan would be all over him like a wet t-shirt. The big question is: Can they keep it up?

Worst Game: Torino 2006

Best Game: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

5. Konami - Who tells better stories in video games than Hideosan? Nobody. Which is why the Metal Gear series is the feather in this studio's cap. Aside from Metal Gear, Konami (which means small waves in Japanese) also created the Contra and Silent Hill series. Not too shabby.

Worst Game: The Goonies

Best Game: Metal Gear Solid

Honorable Mention: Activision, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Blizzard

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Mole: I left my heart (and wallet) in San Francisco

What is up?!? I just returned today from a mini-vacation in San Francisco. No, I wasn't visiting EA Tiburon or bagging on the doors of all the gaming mags based in the area looking for a job. I was just in town to see the Golden Gate Bridge (that's a picture from my cell phone on the right), tour wine country (always bring a designated driver) and visit some friends (a buddy of mine works for Yahoo! and he told me some great stories about when Lilliputian Tom Cruise visited). But enough about me. The poor blog has been ignored for 4 long days. Here's a little inside info until I get my land legs.

Take that bureaucrats with too much time on your hands! - Remember that dumb law in Minnesota that would have fined kids $25 if they were caught buying an M rated game? Well forget about it. U.S. District Court Judge James M. Rosenbaum shot it down, believing the law violated the first amendment and said that the state failed to prove that video games caused harm to children.

"There is a paucity of evidence linking the availability of video games with any harm to Minnesota's children at all," Rosenbaum wrote.

I have no clue what paucity means but this decision proves he's smarter than me and the lawmakers who first thought up this idea.

Say It Isn't So! - Normally a giant party to celebrate gaming, E3 is getting a major make-over next year and casual gaming fans aren't invited. Worried that developers will pull out of E3 because of its ever increasing size and lack of focus on the actual games (I don't think booth babes are distracting do you?), ESA President Doug Lowenstein decided the trade show needed a major change. Here's some quotes from his interview with Game Informer:

"The deal is, is that the event in terms of it being defined as an event with a big trade show floor is not going to be what we’re doing any longer. We’re evolving the event into something that’s more narrowly focused on ensuring quality interactions with top tier media and other audiences. The companies want to ensure they get quality time with during an event like this.
E3 has just become a little too much background noise during the event and increasingly difficult to conduct business there."

With fans essentially being shut out of next years shindig (moved to July instead of May) gamers can expect a tamer and therefor lamer event and game coverage.

Etc., etc. - To no one's surprise, Microsoft announed the release date for "Gears of War" on the Xbox 360 will be Nov. 12, right before the PS3 launch. It'll sell for $59.99 or $69.99 for a limited collectors edition...Ubisoft announced 7 titles for the upcoming Wii launch: Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII, Far Cry, GT Pro Series, Open Season, Monster 4X4 World Circuit, Rayman Raving Rabbids and Red Steel...Good news for soccer fans. EA announced FIFA 07 will be coming out October 3 and will include the world's top leagues including MLS and Mexican 1st Division...the Mailbag is looking bleak, with a total of 0 (zero) entries so far. This of course means that now is the best time to drop in your entry because there is absolutely no competition for the $20 gift card. Send your questions/comments to I'd hate to have to give myself a gift card.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Random Thoughts on a Thursday

Hit me with your best cheat - Remember the good old days when cheat codes were available for just about every game? Remember back in the day when if you wanted to see Lara Croft's lego shaped breasts all you had to do was enter a code? Not anymore. Games cheats and codes are few and far between nowadays and even the ones available are pretty lame - which is a shame. After the GTA: San Andreas Hot Coffee fiasco, I guess gamers shouldn't be too surprised. Here are a few for NCAA 07 Football.

PS2 and Xbox - All-Time and Mascot Team Passwords. At the Pennant Collection screen, press Back (or select on the PS2), then enter one of the following codes to activate the corresponding cheat function:

Hunker Down - Georgia All-time team, Uprising - Florida State All-time team, Roll Tide -Alabama All-time team, Bear Down - Arizona mascot team, Woopigsooie - Arkansas All-time team, War Eagle - Auburn All-time team, U Rah Rah - Badgers All-time team, Death Valley - Clemson All-time team, Glory - Colorado All-time team, Great To Be - Florida All-time team, Ramblinwreck - Georgia Tech mascot team, On Iowa - Iowa All-time team, Red and Gold - Iowa State mascot team, Rock Chalk - Kansas mascot team, Victory - Kansas State All-time team, On On UK - Kentucky mascot team, Geaux Tigers - LSU All-time team, Raising Cane- Miami All-time team, Go Blue - Michigan All-time team, Go Green - Michigan State mascot team, Rah Rah Rah - Minnesota mascot team, Fight On - USC All-time team, Wahoos - Virginia All-time team, Tech Triumph - Virginia Tech All-time team, Go Deacs Go - Wake Forest mascot team, Bow Down - Washington All-time team, All Hail - Washington Sate mascot team, Hail WV - West Virginia mascot team, Hail State - Mississippi State All-time team, Mizzou Rah - Mizzouri All-time team, Go Big Red - Nebraska All-time team, Rah Rah - North Carolina All-time team, Go Pack - North Carolina State mascot team, Golden Domer - Notre Dame All-time team, Go Cats - NU mascot team, Killer Nuts - Ohio State All-time team, Boomer - Oklahoma All-time team, Go Pokes - Oklahoma State All-time team, Hotty Totty - Ole Miss Mascot team, Quack Attack - Oregon All-time team, We Are - Penn State All-time team, Lets Go Pitt - Pittsburgh All-time team, Boiler Up - Purdue All-time team, Go Carolina - South Carolina mascot team, Orange Crush - Syracuse All-time team, Big Orange - Tennessee All-time team, Gig Em - Texas A&M All-time team, Hook Em - Texas Longhorns All-time team, Mighty - UCLA All-time team, Fumble - 2004 All-Americans #273, EA Sports - Cuffed #206, Heisman - Jumbalaya #211, NCAA - Stiffed #222, Fight - Texas Tech #160, Football - Take Your Time #224

Fantasy Foosball - It should come as no surprise but EA Sports is involved in the very lucrative world of fantasy football. Even more surprising is that they've been doing it for 3 years now and I've never heard of it (or maybe I did but chose to ignore it). As a devout fantasy football team owner and commish for 6 years, I'm always looking for a deal. Here is what EA is offerering, straight from the horse's mouth.

EA SPORTS Edge: Decide which player to start with EA SPORTS Edge – a sliding analyzer tool to optimize a team’s lineup.

Madden NFL 07: Check fantasy scores, get trade notifications and earn
trophies in Madden NFL 07 – the only video game to offer fantasy capabilities.

The WarmUp: Discover the lighter side of fantasy football with The WarmUp – a fun take on your favorite NFL players and community happenings for football fanatics.

EA SPORTS™ MADDEN NFL™ FOOTBALL Standard Cabinet: The top overall scoring team owner will have to make room for this huge prize, all the action and excitement of the #1 selling sports videogame on a 29” hi-res monitor inside a 79.5” tall cabinet.

EA Video Games: Each league winner (all team owners eligible) will receive an EA game for the Xbox– the official video game platform for EA SPORTS Fantasy Football.

Autographed Footballs: Your favorite professional players signed footballs.

Weekly Pick ‘Em Game*: Players have an additional shot at fantasy glory each week with exclusive prizes in a simple game of picking weekly winners.

Weekly Scramble: Compete in the Weekly Scramble for the ultimate bragging rights by answering questions about top performers in this football trivia game.

I have to admit I'm intrigued. I do like the features. The price, $49.99 for the commish and $9.99 per team owner, is comparable to cbssportsline which I used the previous 5 years but its still a little high in my opinion. If you're interested in checking it out, go to

Mailbag - August 25th is the Mailbag deadline so get your questions/humorous comments in soon. A $20 gift card awaits the best entry.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Top 5 Most Memorable Video Game Music

Video games and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can't have one without the other. Well I guess you could but why would you want to? Some of the best video games have music that sticks in your head for years and years. It's also a great memory trigger.

So is the music memorable because it sounds so good or because you remember it from a game? I don't think you can seperate the two. Imagine Sonic with no sound. Not quite the same is it?

But how do you measure something that means different things to different people? What exactly is good video game music? That's simple, the music has to come from a great game and the music has to be something that gamers identify specifically with that game. If you hear the music to a game, you should be able to identify it. If I ever get on Jeopardy (something I've wanted to do for 20 years) and I pick the category Video Game Music for $200 and hear the Crash Bandicoot theme - I'd recognize it immediately. Of course the only way I'd probably win at Jeopardy is if all the categories were video game themed and I played against 2 contestants with arthritis.

Just to clarify, I didn't limit this category to just theme songs. If we're talking theme songs, that's a whole other story. I'm talking about music in the game, which is why the title of this post is so weak. I couldn't think of a better way to word it.

Top 5 Most Memorable Video Game Music (in reverse order)

5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Rockstar, 2002)- Music has played a big part of this series since GTA III but Vice City took music in a video game to a whole new level with the addition of tons of licensed songs from the 80's. While licensed songs were not new to video games at the time VC came out, the way Rockstar used them in the game were unique and the sheer number of tunes was unprecedented.

4. Halo (Bungie, 2001) - Not only is the Gregorian Chant-type music perfect for the setting of Halo but the sound effects are perfect. Throw in the drum banging music that comes in during dramatic sequences and you have a game whose music stays in your head long after you've played it.

3. Spy Hunter (Bally Midway, 1983) - This arcade classic had one of the coolest songs ever, lifted straight from the late 50's TV show Peter Gunn. It was written by Henry Mancini when he had future Star Wars composer John Williams in his orchestra.

2. Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998) - There isn't another game I can think of that does a better job of setting a tense mood with its music. The music, all done by in-house muscians and composers, helps give the game the cinematic feel its so well known for.

1. Super Mario Bros (Nintendo, 1985) - Did you really think I could pick something else? Even people who have never played this game before recognize the catchy music from this game. The music at the start, the Bowser levels, the swimming levels are all distinct and are so addictive that I can still pull them from my memory banks 21 years later. Don't believe me? Go to and watch this dude play the Mario theme song blind folded and see if you can get it out of your head. It just won't happen. The music from Mario has made it one of the greatest video game franchises of all time and is still popular with kids and adults today, as its sales numbers of New Super Mario Bros. on the DS demonstrate.