Thursday, November 30, 2006

How to make Gears of War better

Grinding Gears - My review for Gears comes out tomorrow. While I gave it a good grade, there were some things that irked me enough not to mention it with as much awe as some of its earlier reviews have done. And personally if I see CliffyB one more time, I'm going to projectile vomit all over my controller. Have you ever seen a game designer get this much love? Every interviewer I listen to treats him like Bono. Enough already!

Anyway, here are my Top 5 ways a good game could become even better. Feel free to throw your two cents in.

1. More backstory - The reason characters like Solid Snake and Master Chief are so well loved is because gamers feel like they know the characters and can relate (or at least sympathize) with what they are going through. I'm not saying a game has to be story driven to be great but if you want us to care about the characters and have them stick in the minds of gamers at least make us care about them. They should stand out. Marcus Fenix isn't a compelling figure because we know nothing about him except for the fact that he looks like a 3-year olds action figure. I swear he's as wide as he is tall. He looks like my high school football coach. If Epic is going to make references to his past, they should follow through or not mention them at all.

2. Make the teammates carry their own weight - The reviving the teammate thing is a pain in the arse. First of all these guys aren't much help and in the final boss level Dom just gets in the way. I understand each of Marcus' three teammates serve different purposes and try and get you invested in the game. Baird is the comic relief, Cole is the tough trash talker and Dom is your right hand man. That's great and I like it but if I'm going to do all of the work I don't want to have to revive these guys and shoot Locust at the same time. It really is just extra work. Get rid of it.

3. More bosses - Honestly, I felt the only boss in the game was RAAM at the end. He's cool looking, he's tough to beat and he's downright scary. Why can't there be more of these? I did like the beserkers, they were pretty funny. But a great FPS is only as good as the enemy and while the Locust are tough, they need some unique bosses to make them fierce.

4. Lengthen the game - I'm being a little nit-picky here but I felt Gears was too short. The replay value is high so going through the game at the different difficulty settings (the settings are a little wonky too now that I think about it) is worthwhile but I'd prefer one difficulty and a longer game.

5. Bigger online groups - Eight online players is fine but I love the huge maps and number of opponents I can play on other titles. I do love the co-op mode but give gamers some choices.

Halo 3 Trailer/Public Beta - The "Halo 3" trailer will air Monday, Dec. 4 on ESPN’s Monday Night Football and, its a 60-second glimpse of Master Chief in all his next-gen glory. Tune in between 5:50 and 6:20 p.m. PST (sorry thats what the email from Microsoft said and I don't want to mess up the MST conversion but if my brain is working right add an hour) to catch the trailer. Additionally, the ad will be aired that same evening on at 8 p.m. PST. The ad includes a mixture of live action and computer generated animation, will air one time only and will then be made available online worldwide through Xbox Live Marketplace and

In conjunction with the ad, Microsoft today unveiled further details and an official call to entry for the “Halo 3” beta program. Beginning Monday, Dec. 4, by visiting, gamers will be able to register for the opportunity to be one of the members to join the “Halo 3” public beta program, scheduled to kick off in spring 2007. The Xbox Live multiplayer public beta, is a pre-release version of the multiplayer of “Halo 3". The beta represents an opportunity for gamers to participate in the development of the game. The picture up top was taken from a screenshot of the "Halo 3" trailer being shown on MNF.

And finally... Remember how I was whining about not being able to get a PS3 until January? Well never mind, I picked mine up today - much to my surprise. No it wasn't free, I had to pay for it just like everybody else (well except for those guys who jacked people on launch day). I've only had a couple of hours to mess with it but let me share a few quick things.

- The controller is very light (probably because the rumble feature is missing), in fact its too light. It feels cheap. I do like that it doesn't look like a boomerang however.
- At first glance the Blu-ray flick that came with the console (Tallageda Nights?!? Why?) doesn't look any different from a DVD
- Its WiFi enabled right out of the box unlike the 360
- "Madden", "Tiger Woods" and "Need for Speed Carbon" look exactly the same on the PS3 as they do on the Xbox 360
- As promised, online service is free. No $50 fee like the 360. BUT! Xbox Live is soooo much better put together

I'm anxious to sink my teeth into "Resistance: Fall of Man" and a few other PS3 exclusive titles and of course I can't wait for "Metal Gear" to come out. I haven't tried any online gaming or any of the PS1 or PS2 games that I have yet (time to find out if those backward compatibility issues are true) or messed around with the USB ports (iPod?, keyboard?, lava lamp?) but I'm certainly curious to see how the PS3 will perform.

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