Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GTA IV. Best. Game. Ever?

GTA IV First Impressions - Got your bib on? Good, because its time to slurp GTA IV and my boy Nico. Judging by the title of this post you kind of get the general idea of what I think about the game. Considering this is my all-time favorite franchise, this should be no surprise. The reason a question mark ends the title is because after playing it for only 2 days, its waaay to soon to make any kind of judgement on its status on the all-time great game pantheon. But if you ask my wife its not too early to be addicted to it. After picking up the limited edition at midnight (pic of the contents is above, all except the faceplate which I plan on giving away, if you're interested email me) I haven't been able to stay away from this game. Playing something else would make me feel like I was cheating somehow, this is gaming crack. Right now I'd give the game a solid A (9.5), but not an A+. Below are some early first impressions.
The Awesome
- The storyline: It started out kind of slow but now seems so much deeper than any GTA plot before it. Very addictive.
- Online play: For me Halo 3 sets the bar for online play but all of the different modes in GTA are just sick. You'll be able to do things online in this game that you never could before, amazing.
- The humor: Gamers expect this franchise to be funny, but this game set the bar even higher. Not only have I laughed out loud while listening to commercials on the radio while driving around Liberty City, but the dialogue between characters is a riot.
- The Shooting Mechanics: Have finally been fixed. My opinion on this might be a little skewed after playing with the goofy Metal Gear Online control scheme (oh, yeah...I totally forgot about the MGO beta) but all of the problems in this area seem to be fixed. The fighting controls are also solid.
- The City: Liberty City feels incredibly real. The combination of sights and sounds, from everything to the people, buildings, and the weather make Nico's adopted home feel very authentic.
- The Cellphone: A brilliant way to keep track of everything and a smooth way to get involved in multiplayer.
- Nico: He's funny, a badass and much more likeable than CJ who could be a bit of a whiner.
The Not So Awesome
- The Driving Controls: I'm sure I'll figure this out soon but right now the controls are awfully splashy. Gamers used to be able to rely on the e-brake to make quick turns but right now every car handles like a '76 Chrysler Cordoba.
- The Soundtrack: I don't really have a problem with the in-game music, its okay. I'm just kind of ticked that I can't make a custom soundtrack from my 360 hard drive like I could with San Andreas. Why take out such a cool feature? Hopefully an update can fix this.
- Draw Distance Issues: Sometimes the city just doesn't fill in quite fast enough. It doesn't happen all the time but it does occur much to often. This isn't just annoying, it destroys the illusion of the game.
GTA IV is offering up a great experience so far. Sweet single-player and awesome multi-player in a fully immersible virtual world. Its hard to ask for much more than that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV Achievements

Well its about frickin' time - The long delay is over and its time for my all-time favorite videogame series to kick some next-gen ass. While sitting on my butt watching TV and counting down to midnight like a Times Square reveler on New Years Eve, I might as well post the Achievements for the 360 version of GTA. Look for more GTA posts in the next few days and if you have something you'd like to share about GTA, email it to me and if I get enough I'll make a post with them. If you happen to be picking up your copy at GameCrazy near Academy and Palmer Park tonight, say hi.
1. Off The Boat - Complete the first mission. (5 points)
2. One Hundred And Eighty - In a darts game score 180 with 3 darts. (10 points)
3. Pool Shark - Beat a friend at pool. (10 points)
4. King of QUB3D - Beat the High Score in QUB3D. (15 points)
5. Finish Him - Complete 10 melee counters in 4 minutes. (15 points)
6. Genetically Superior - Come first in 20 singleplayer street races. (25 points)
7. Wheelie Rider - Do a wheelie lasting at least 500 feet on a motorbike. (30 points)
8. Gobble Gobble - Score 3 strikes in a row, a turkey, in 10-pin bowling. (10 points)
9. Driving Mr. Bellic - Unlock the special ability of taxi. (10 points)
10. Rolled Over - Do 5 car rolls in a row from one crash. (30 points)
11. Walk Free - Lose a 4 star wanted rating by outrunning the cops. (50 points)
12. Courier Service - Complete all 10 package delivery jobs. (10 points)
13. Retail Therapy - Unlock the special ability of buying guns from a friend. (10 points)
14. Chain Reaction - You must blow up 10 vehicles in 10 seconds. (20 points)
15. One Man Army - Survive 5 minutes on 6 star wanted level. (40 points)
16. Lowest Point - Complete mission "Roman's Sorrow". (5 points)
17. Order Fulfilled - Complete all 10 Exotic Export orders. (10 points)
18. Manhunt - Complete the most wanted side missions from the police computer. (15 points)
19. Cleaned The Mean Streets - Capture 20 criminals through the police computer. (20 points)
20. Fed The Fish - Complete the mission "Uncle Vlad". (5 points)
21. It'll Cost Ya - Complete a taxi ride without skipping from one island to another. (5 points)
22. Sightseer - Fly on all helicopter tours of Liberty City. (5 points)
23. Warm Coffee - Successfully date a girl to be invited into her house. (5 points)
24. That's How We Roll! - Unlock the special ability of helicopter. (10 points)
25. Half Million - Reach a balance of $500,000. (55 points)
26. Impossible Trinity - Complete mission "Museum Piece". (10 points)
27. Full Exploration - Unlock all the islands. (20 points)
28. You Got The Message - Deliver all 30 cars ordered through text message. (20 points)
29. Dare Devil - Complete 100% of the unique stunt jumps. (30 points)
30. Assassin's Greed - Complete all 9 assassin missions. (20 points)
31. Endangered Species - Collect every hidden package in the game. (50 points)
32. Under The Radar - Fly underneath the main bridges in the game that cross water with a helicopter. (40 points)
33. Dial B For Bomb - Unlock the special ability of phoning for a bomb to be placed. (10 points)
34. Gracefully Taken - Complete mission "I'll Take Her". (10 points)
35. Liberty City (5) - After meeting all possible friends, the ones left alive all like you above 90%. (20 points)
36. No More Strangers - Meet all random characters. (5 points)
37. That Special Someone - Complete mission "That Special Someone". (10 points)
38. You Won! - Complete the final mission. (60 points)
39. Liberty City Minute - Complete the story missions in less than 30 hours. (30 points)
40. Key To The City - Achieve 100% in "Game progress" statistic. (100 points)
41. Teamplayer - Kill 5 players who are not in your team, in any ranked multiplayer team game. (10 points)
42. Cut Your Teeth - Earn a personal rank promotion in multiplayer. (5 points)
43. Join The Midnight Club - Win a ranked multiplayer race without damaging your vehicle too much and with damage enabled. (10 points)
44. Fly The Co-op - Beat our time in ranked versions of "Deal Breaker", "Hangman's NOOSE" and "Bomb da Base II". (15 points)
45. Taking It For The Team - Be on the winning team in all ranked multiplayer team games. (10 points)
46. Top Of The Food Chain - Kill 20 players with a pistol in a ranked multiplayer deathmatch. (10 points)
47. Top The Midnight Club - Come first in 20 different ranked standard multiplayer races. (20 points)
48. Wanted - Achieve the highest personal rank in multiplayer. (20 points)
49. Auf Wiedersehen Petrovic - Win all ranked multiplayer variations, all races and "Cops 'n Crooks", as both sides. (30 points)
50. Let Sleeping Rockstars Lie - Kill a Rockstar developer in a ranked multiplayer match. (10 points)
Metal Gear Online First Impressions - Despite being available on Friday I only managed to get a few playthroughs on Metal Gear Online over the last three days. Combine a hectic weekend schedule with the ridiculously long download time for the MGO update and you don't get much time with the game. Here's what I noticed.
- Only one map is available, not a bad one but its kind of lame there aren't any others to play
- The old "hide in a cardboard box" trick is still around, so is placing a magazine. Hiding in a box will actually work in multiplayer because fake boxes are all over but I don't know many people who'll fall for picking up a magazine
- In addition to boxes, gamers can now hide in metal barrels. Not only can you hide in barrels but you can roll around in them as well. I haven't tried rolling over anyone in one but I plan on trying
- Besides online multiplayer (Capture the Flag, Base Defense, Team and Solo Deathmatches) the beta offers some Solo and Novice training. This is a pretty handy feature so gamers can get used to Metal Gears unorthodox and occassionally dysfunctional control scheme
- There were tons of weapons but my favorite was the stun knife. Jab it in an opponent and it sends electricity through their body and the drop like a sack of potatoes
- As in almost every other MGS game, the in-game characters move awfully slow. Why couldn't Kojimasan have included a sprint button?
If memory serves Metal Gear Online will be a seperate title from MGS4. Does it look like its worth it so far? That's tough to say but at this point only a diehard Metal Gear fan (like myself) will probably enjoy it. If you're not an MGS fanboy and don't workship the ground Kojima walks on, the single player should be more than enough to keep you happy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Madden NFL 09 Cover Art

The End of the Madden Curse? - With Brett Favre retired and chosen to be the new cover boy for Madden '09, I guess the Madden curse has officially ended. Unless Favre somehow breaks his leg at a driving range or slips on some spilled milk in the grocery isle. A Vicodin relapse wouldn't be bad either. Think of the headlines! Which reminds me, have I ever told you how much I hate Brett Favre?
I absolutely can't stand Favre. First of all John Madden has had his tongue so far up Favre's ass for so long he can probably tell you what he eats for breakfast every morning. Back in Brett's heyday my brother and I were watching a Packers game on Thanksgiving and Madden said Favre's name about 1,343 times in 60 seconds. He was the most overhyped, overrated QB in the history of the NFL. Sure he has a bunch of records and yes his record of consecutive starts is impressive but no one has gotten more love for being a good (not great) quarterback than Brett Favre. Announcers love him and pre-game show hosts canonized him before he even retired, despite the fact that he's been an average passer for the past 10 years.
Despite my loathing of Favre, I'm all for Madden using Hall of Fame type former players for covers. First off, it would end this ever annoying Madden curse. Second of all, it would link Madden to players of the past. The NFL has an amazing history, why not get its best players involved and reward them for their past achievements. This is much better than putting someone yet to prove themselves over time (Vince Young, Daunte Culpepper) on the cover.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NCAA Football 09 Cover Art

Press release Wednesday - Despite the deluge of press releases sent out today, I happened to notice that the As the Gaming World Turns recently hit the 50K visitor mark. Yay, another Achievement! (Get it?!? I'm an Achievement Point whore and getting this many visitors is an achievement? Never mind) This blog has been up a little over two years, so 50,000 visitors over that span isn't too shabby. Especially considering I have no advertising, live in a relatively small town and nobody knows who the hell I am. I still have big plans (working on something with Eli, maybe a real website this blog is attached to...getting the podcast running again, which I'm not sure how to do because Odeo has gone to crap, if you have any free site suggestions I'll listen...interviews with some gaming heavyweights I honestly think I can perpetually delayed tour of SOE Denver...and I should have some good news on the GamePro front coming soon) so keep reading. If you're a frequent visitor, thanks for sticking around. If you're new, check out the archive, I hope you like what you see. Alright, on to the news of the day.
NCAA 09 uses multiple cover athletes - Electronic Arts Inc. announced today that NCAA® Football 09, scheduled for release in North America on July 15, will feature wide open gameplay, college atmosphere and online enhancements. This year’s iteration of NCAA Football brings to life the fun and excitement of gameday Saturdays. In addition, former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan will be the cover athlete for NCAA Football 09 on the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system. This year, the packaging for each of the NCAA Football 09 console platforms will feature an exclusive cover athlete. College football has never before felt more wide open than in NCAA Football 09. Gamers will experience the excitement of making big plays on the field, as they will have the ability to directly control and influence the game through the all-new break away animation engine. With huge cut-back lanes, new tackling animations and wider blocking holes, NCAA Football 09 offers a host of offensive opportunities.
NCAA Football 09 also brings the atmosphere, pageantry and tradition of college football to life. Through the redesigned stadiums, which reflect even more detail of each school’s individual playing field, to the dynamic sidelines filled with school colors, cheerleaders and mascots, players will feel the excitement of college gameday. Players can gain Home Field Advantage as the intensity of the home crowd rises and rattles the composure of opposing teams. All 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools are represented in the game and players can even customize the in-game atmosphere with their own personal music collection. Off the field, NCAA Football 09 features its most robust Dynasty Mode yet, inviting fans to create and manage a perennial powerhouse program from landing blue-chip recruits to winning championships on the field. For the first time ever, Dynasty goes online with up to 12 competitors to recruit head-to-head, customize schedules and play for up to 60 seasons.
Former college football standout Matt Ryan will join former Arkansas All-American Darren McFadden as a spokesman and cover athlete for NCAA Football 09. Ryan will be featured on the PLAYSTATION®3 cover and as a four-year player, he finished his career at Boston College as the school’s career leader in pass completions and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2007. In his senior season, he helped lead the Eagles to an 11-3 record and a victory over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl. Ryan was awarded the 2008 Manning Award, which is given each year to the nation’s top senior quarterback. The remaining two exclusive cover athletes for the PlayStation®2 and the PSP® systems will be unveiled the beginning of May. Developed in Orlando , Fla. , by EA Tiburon, NCAA Football 09 will be available for the PlayStation 2 and PLAYSTATION 3 computer entertainment systems, the PSP system, the Wii™, the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system, and mobile. For more information about NCAA Football 09 please visit
*Tell me you wouldn't be ticked at being the PSP cover athlete. You know at the EA cover party no one will give you any love and the other 3 cover boys are busting on you. Who was the NCAA's best kicker last year? I bet he gets the PSP cover.
Ace Combat 6 DLC - NAMCO BANDAI Games today revealed information and assets on the new downloadable content for Ace Combat® 6: Fires of Liberation™ that will be available for download from the Xbox LIVE® Marketplace on Thursday, April 24. Consisting of several original plane variations, the upcoming content allows players to further customize their play experience in both single player and online multiplayer action. The following plane variants will be available for download on Thursday, April 24:
F-16C Fighting Falcon – PJ Emblem (Free): One of the central characters of Ace Combat Zero, PJ fought to protect his loved ones and fulfill his sense of justice. This plane, decorated in his honor, utilizes light armor for greater maneuverability.
Typhoon – Rot (200 Microsoft Points): Designed to the specifications of one of the rival pilots of Ace Combat Zero, this aircraft goes for broke in battle with superior pursuit capabilities but minimal shielding.
Typhoon – Orange Wing (300 Microsoft Points): An aircraft modified for air shows and exhibitions, the Orange Wing is equipped with a maximum payload of smoke missiles.
Su-47 Berkut – Violet Wing (300 Microsoft Points): A counterpart of the Orange Wing in exhibitions, the Violet Wing also comes with a full payload of colored smoke missiles.
Rafale M – The Idolmaster Iori (400 Microsoft Points): Although this plane might strike you as bratty and undisciplined at first, it may just reward you with a perfect performance once under your control.
Razgriz Set 3 – Contains Tornado GR4, F-15E Strike Eagle, CFA-44 Nosferatu and F/A-18F SuperHornet (400 Microsoft Points): This set of four planes bears the emblem of the Razgriz squadron, the heroes of Ace Combat 5. Each plane is accentuated with advanced durability to ensure the survival of all squad members in even the most hostile missions.

Mr. Tumnus would be pleased - Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia will get to experience two unique film scenes only one way – on their home consoles or Windows-based PC. Disney Interactive Studios announced today that two original scenes for Disney/Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian video game were filmed exclusively for the product and appear separately from the film. The unique scenes link The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian stories with Dr. Cornelius (Vincent Grass) telling Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) the story of how Narnia fell to the Telmarines hundreds of years ago. The scenes were shot on the film set in Prague , Czech Republic , during principal shooting and feature dialogue revealing plot based on the events of the book, game and film. The creation of the live action content was directed by Andrew Adamson, the film’s director. The two original scenes are part of 18 live action moments in the game, which include 16 excerpts from the feature film. The England-based game production and development teams worked in cooperation with the London-based film crew and Andrew Adamson to assure the game’s overall accuracy to the film. Capturing two original scenes was only possible through the collaborative partnership between Disney Interactive Studios; and Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian video game will be available for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system, the Wii™ home video game system, the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and Windows-based PC. A separate Nintendo DS™ version will also be available.
*I hate the Narnia movie, absolutely hate it. My daughter and I are reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe together and all I can think about is the stupid movie - which my wife owns. That Edmund prick sold out his family for Turkish Delight?!?! Turkish frickin' delight?!? My mom's from Liverpool, I've had Turkish Delight and it sucks ass. Couldn't he have sold his family out for a lifetime supply of Maltesers or WineGums or Milkybars? What about some Guiness or season tickets to Anfield? Come on Edmund! Everybody has their price but at least make it higher than a frickin' box of Turkish Delight. And has there ever been a more annoying name than Mr. Tumnus? A dude who's half goat (from the waist down, how the hell does that work) named Mr. frickin' Tumnus. I want to know this weirdo's first name. My money's on Fred, or maybe Steve or Chuck. That's it, Chuck Tumnus. He's a faun accountant who screws people over on their tax returns. I hate that movie!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition Anyone?

Random Crap on a Monday - Sometimes I get cool stuff sent to me, sometimes weird stuff and occassionally stuff that makes me go hmmm. Today I did just that when the new Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition came in the mail (pic is above). I didn't even know stuff like this existed. At first I thought it was pretty funny but after flipping through it, it reads more like a gaming history encyclopedia than a record book. If reading a book is a little too heavy for you, head to to find some interesting stuff...Looking forward to playing the Metal Gear Online beta? So was I. It was supposed to start today but according to this Konami post, the beta is being pushed back to this Friday, maybe...If you haven't purchased arcade classic Battlezone or party game Rocky and Bullwinkle yet check out the reviews I wrote for GamePro. If you like jokes about teenage acne, these posts are for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Iron Man Achievements

So when does Green Lantern get some love? - Below is the list of Achievements for Iron Man, set to come out in early May. While I'm anxiously awaiting the film when I saw the game at E3 last year I wasn't very impressed. Of course I also wrote that Assassin's Creed was the most disappointing game of the week in my E3 wrap-up and it turned out great, so there's hope for Tony Stark yet.
1. Sidekick: Complete all missions on Easy difficulty (or harder) - 75 points
2. Hero: Complete all missions on Normal difficulty (or harder) - 75 points
3. Super Hero: Complete all missions on Formidable difficulty - 75 points
4. Disarmed: Destroy stockpiled Stark weapons in the Escape mission - 25 points
5. City Protector: Destroy drones without civilian damage in the First Flight mission- 25 points
6. Decommissioner: Destroy all Prometheus missiles in the Maggia Compound mission - 25 points
7. In the Drink: Avoid civilian casualties in the Flying Fortress mission - 25 points
8. Tatyana, Interrupted: Protect the nuclear facility in the Arctic Battle mission - 25 points
9. Not a Scratch: Avoid harming the destroyer and its crew in the Lost Destroyer mission - 25 points
10. Power Saver: Avoid disrupting the city's power supply in the On Defense mission - 25 points
11. Shocking!: Protect outlying occupied buildings in the Save Pepper mission - 25 points
12. Proton Shut Out: Prevent cannon attacks on civilian targets in the Island Meltdown mission - 25 points
13. Escape Velocity: Sever the tether before the satellite overloads in the Space Tether mission -25 points
14. You're Fired!: Destroy power regulators in the Iron Monger mission - 25 points
15. Excelsior!: Complete Hero Objectives for all missions - 70 points
16. Ten Rings Obsoleted: Complete the One Man Army vs. Ten Rings challenge without an armor breach - 25 points
17. Maggia Obsoleted: Complete the One Man Army vs. Maggia challenge without an armor breach - 25 points
18. Mercs Obsoleted: Complete the One Man Army vs. Mercs challenge without an armor breach - 25 points
19. AIM Obsoleted: Complete the One Man Army vs. AIM challenge without an armor breach - 25 points
20. AIM-X Obsoleted: Complete the One Man Army vs. AIM-X challenge without an armor breach - 25 points
21. Air Superiority: Destroy all dropships before the Stark Gunship is stolen in the First Flight mission - 15 points
22. Road King: Destroy all convoy vehicles in less than 2 minutes in the Stark Weapons mission - 15 points
23. Launch Aborted: Destroy all Prometheus missiles within 10 minutes in the Maggia Compound mission - 15 points
24. Collateral Damage: Destroy a Prometheus missile by destroying a fuel truck in the Maggia Compound mission - 15 points
25. Personnel Vendetta: Defeat 20 soldiers in the Arctic Battle mission - 15 points
26. OverkillDefeat a soldier using the Unibeam - 15 points
27. Smack down: Defeat Titanium Man before his second recharge in the On Defense mission - 15 points
28. Impenetrable: Complete a mission (other than Escape or First Flight) without an armor breach - 15 points
29. An Object in Motion: Destroy any target using a ramming attack - 15 points
30. Grounded: Successfully grapple and throw a plane - 15 points
31. Your Own Medicine: Damage or destroy another enemy while grappling a SAM launcher - 15 points
32. Long Shot: Damage or destroy another enemy while grappling a howitzer - 15 points
33. Hulk Smash!: Successfully grapple an opponent in the Hulkbuster armor - 15 points
34. Ground Pound: Defeat an opponent using the ground pound in the Extremis armor - 15 points
35. Classic Confrontation: Defeat Titanium Man using the Classic armor - 15 points
36. Old School: Defeat Iron Monger using the Silver Centurion armor - 15 points
37. Pugilist: Complete any mission (other than Escape) without using weapons systems - 15 points
38. Eject!: Spare the US fighter pilots in the Stark Weapons mission - 25 points
39. Guardian: Protect warehouse workers in the Maggia Factories mission - 25 points

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get Your Buzz On

Wanna win some prizes? - The Buzz series has been pretty successful for Sony, its also one of my personal favorites because its one of the few titles my wife will actually play with me. The fifth iteration of the game, Buzz! The Hollywood Quiz, was released last month. In order to promote the game Sony is sponsoring an online contest where gamers play mini-games to win prizes. Highest scores get the free schwag and you have until May 14 to pad your stats. If you're interested in checking it out, head HERE where you can find out more info and play.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! - Here's a copy of the press release for the two games being released on XBLA this week, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Battlezone. I grew up laughing my ass off to Moose and Squirrel (it was Spongebob before Spongebob) so I'll be getting it for sure. Old school gamers may remember arcade classic Battlezone from all the zits it dispensed from its tank busting view finder. Its also another title from my long desired list of games I've wanted on XBLA. Yet another must have. Nice job MS, I'll be looking for Sunset Riders any day now.
There’s a new addition to the family of party games available on Xbox 360! “Rocky and Bullwinkle” is available exclusively on Xbox LIVE Arcade, along with an enhanced version of the tank vs. tank action classic “Battlezone” this Wednesday, April 16, 2008. Based on the popular cartoon series of the 1960s, “Rocky and Bullwinkle” on Xbox LIVE Arcade is a fast and fun party experience packed with more than 100 micro games. Eight playable characters from Frostbite Falls are back in the living room, including Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha, Dudley Do-Right and many more. “Rocky and Bullwinkle” features five difficulty settings, as well as support for up to 12 players in local hot-seat mode. The game takes visual inspiration from the 1960s with a decidedly retro art style, but the fun is as modern as it gets. In fact, cool cats who want to get up and move will enjoy 25 micro games that work with the Xbox LIVE Vision Camera. By moving around and expressing gestures – like rowing a boat or throwing darts – players can control the action in the game! Developed by Zen Studios, “Rocky and Bullwinkle” will be available worldwide for 800 Microsoft Points and is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. For more details on “Rocky and Bullwinkle” please visit:
“Battlezone” on Xbox LIVE Arcade adds exciting new multiplayer modes for up to two players both locally and over Xbox LIVE, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Plus, players can use the Xbox LIVE Vision Cam to challenge opponents on the battle field. Combine these features with new special effects for weapon firing, impacts and explosions and this revamped version of “Battlezone” is a must-have classic that fans and newcomers will enjoy. To score points in “Battlezone,” players must shoot and destroy the enemy’s brigade including a standard enemy tank, supertank and a flying saucer. Created by Atari, an enhanced version and the original version of “Battlezone” will be available worldwide (with the exception of Korea and Japan) for 400 Microsoft Points and is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. For more details on “Battlezone” please visit:
And finally - New Halo 3 maps are available today, if you're wavering on picking it up, below is some detailed info on what you'll get for your $10.
After launching in Sept. 2007, millions of fans the world over still log onto Xbox LIVE every day to experience the award-winning action of “Halo 3” multiplayer. That experience expanded first in December with the release of the Heroic Map Pack, and today Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie release the next evolution with the Legendary Map Pack. Available for 800 Microsoft Points exclusively on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, this second major downloadable content offering includes three new multiplayer maps, as well as a bevy of new Forge options. Avalanche and Blackout revive two fan-favorite maps from previous “Halo” games, while Ghost Town welcomes desolate jungle combat to the experience. And now, using new options in the Forge, players can create more detailed challenges and map variants than ever, while also utilizing a variety of visual effects to create new, unique screenshots and saved films. Avalanche is a throwback all the way to “Halo: Combat Evolved.” This snowy battlefield was inspired by the original Sidewinder, but the massive, vehicle-oriented objective map adds a twist to its classic predecessor with all new interiors, dramatically reshaped exteriors and brand new vehicle variants. Admire the view from above, as Avalanche also marks the arrival of the Hornet to “Halo 3” multiplayer.

In keeping with the theme of “fan-favorites,” Blackout will fill the void left by fans of “Halo 2’s” Lockout. Although fully re-visualized, this map adheres very faithfully to the tightly wound perfection of the original, but eschews Forerunner architecture in favor of industrial human design. Blackout is perfect for fans of small battleground Slayer matches. The Legendary Map Pack also packs a brand new punch, in addition to the two classics, with Ghost Town – a battle-scarred maze of narrow passages and dangerous ruins. Collapsed ceilings and shell-battered buildings provide both valuable cover and deadly traps, as catwalks and stairways take the fight from claustrophobic ground combat to dizzying rooftop battles. Ghost Town is a mid-sized map ideal for Team Slayer games and smaller, objective types. As an added bonus, for a limited time only, gamers who purchase the Legendary Map Pack will receive a four month subscription to "Bungie PRO" via Xbox LIVE. Bungie PRO greatly expands the Halo 3 experience by increasing the maximum number of file share storage slots from six to twenty-four while also increasing the total file storage size to 250MB. This will allow players to upload and share more films, maps, screenshots and game-types than ever before. After downloading the new maps, gamers can register on Xbox LIVE for the “Halo 3 Legendary Map Pack Play & Win Sweepstakes” for their chance to win great prizes including a “Halo 3” Edition console, Halo ActionClix: Scarab Vehicle Pack, a complete set of “Halo 3” Series 1 Action Figures from McFarlane Toys, nearly one million MS Points and much more.
Visit for more details. The maps of the Legendary Map Pack are available in matchmaking today to those who have purchased the download. Additionally, fans that have yet to purchase the Heroic Map Pack, which released in December, can now download it for free on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Gamer's Must Do List

Lists are great conversation starters - Here's the link to a great piece on the Game Informer website entitled The Gamer's "Do Before Death, Marriage or Kids" List. The 150 item list is seperated into two different parts and even comes with a handy dandy PDF checklist. After printing out the list and looking it over I could only check off 79 items! Needless to say I was a little disappointed I didn't have a higher number but some of the things on the list are absolute musts (beating Psycho Mantis #77), some I'm not interested in (anything with Final Fantasy), others are impossible (#146 convert your significant other into a gamer) and some are just plain nuts (import some video game element into your wedding #61). Some of my favorites on the list that I've done myself?
#68 Falling asleep while playing a game
#42 Spend over $100 on a special edition game
#7 Save a hapless parent from making a tragic video gaming error at a store
#137 As an adult buy a game based toy
Lists like this are fun to discuss because you know that some items that should be on it are left off. I'd add attending a video game convention and working at a place that sells games just to get a discount to the list. And since this is a "must do" list there are certain games - Madden, Cyberball, Sunset Riders, Mass Effect - that should be getting some love.
So what do you think of this list? How many have you done? What do you think should be on it? Let me know.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A GameStop Monopoly?

Snake flying the GameStop plane - Below is the recently released press release that details the Standard and Limited Edition versions of Metal Gear 4.
El Segundo, Calif. April 10, 2008 - Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the limited edition of the highly-anticipated release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system will be available in North America on June 12 exclusively at GameStop, the world's largest video game and entertainment software retailer. Additionally, Konami has revealed pricing and the first images of the final packaging for both the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Standard Edition and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Limited Edition.
ABOUT METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS STANDARD EDITION - Marking the return of Hideo Kojima's legendary tactical espionage action series, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots features a cinematic experience and visual masterpiece that will redefine this landmark franchise as a revolutionary game for the PLAYSTATION®3 system. The game is the final chapter in the saga of Solid Snake which sends him around the world in pursuit of his arch nemesis, Liquid Ocelot. Armed with new gadgets and abilities, Solid Snake must shift the tides of war into his favor, using the chaos of the battlefield to infiltrate deep into enemy territory. In his globetrotting final mission, Snake must sneak deep into enemy locations in the Middle East, South America, and other corners of the earth to foil Liquid Ocelot's. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots includes Metal Gear Online "Starter Pack", which is the full and complete multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Standard Edition will be priced at $59.99 SRP.
ABOUT METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS LIMITED EDITION - Featuring collectible packaging with exclusive artwork by famed Kojima Productions illustrator Yoji Shinkawa, the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Limited Edition will contain everything that is included with the Standard Edition as well as an additional Blu-ray disc featuring two "making of" documentaries. The documentaries will include extensive interviews with Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima and the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Soundtrack CD. The Limited Edition will be available exclusively at GameStop.Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Limited Edition will be priced at $84.99 SRP.
ABOUT METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS PRE-SELL PROGRAM - A special pre-sale program of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will be offered at participating retailers. This pre-sell entitles customers that pre-order either edition, a copy of the Metal Gear Saga Vol. 2 DVD (while supplies last). Featuring extensive original video content the DVD primarily focuses on the interconnected history between all of the "Snakes": Big Boss (Naked Snake), Liquid Snake, Solidus Snake, and of course, Solid Snake. The DVD also contains a compendium of the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots trailers. Additionally, each DVD allocated during this pre-order period will contain a unique voucher code that will enable the consumer to download the Metal Gear Online Beta. The download of the Beta will be available from April 17th to May 5th and the gameplay will be available from April 21st to May 5th.
Now I don't mean to go off on a rant here but do you mean to tell me that the only way I can get the limited edition of MGS4 is to buy it at one particular place? Give me a frickin' break. I understand that GameStop is the biggest game seller by a huge margin but being forced to give Rich Uncle Pennybags my money when I would rather spend it at a place that I chose is a little frustrating. Gamers already have to make a ton of choices they'd all rather not make (about 100 different SKU's for each console, lingering console exclusives, etc. etc.) and now we have to fight our way through the mall, past the teens hovering around Auntie Anne's? What if we don't want to? I understand that every company is trying to make a buck, will try to get any edge to do it, and this has been going on in some small extent for awhile, but at least with most other exclusives gamers can usually get what they want where they want to buy it, all you have to do is pay for it. Now we're being told where to shop. I'm not cool with that. This is also not a good precedent to set, next thing you know we're only going to be able to buy certain games at specific stores. Oops, that's already happening. I'm just glad the MGS4 Limited Edition doesn't contain anything I really want.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Finally a Good Star Wars Game

Que the cantina band - I've avoided Lego videogames like the plague. While I loved playing with Lego's as a little kid and I'm a Star Wars nut, I just couldn't see myself playing a game based on toys kids play with. Throw in the fact that Star Wars titles have about as great a history as Will Farrell movies and I was leery to try Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. But I've been bored lately. I finished the single player for Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (the multiplayer was okay, but not quite good enough to make me keep it) and I've been looking for something to play until Grand Theft Auto IV comes out.
Since the game was fairly inexpensive (it came out about 6 months ago so you can find it used or buy it new for $50) I figured I'd give it a try. I'm pleasantly surprised to say that its the best Star Wars game I've played since Obi Wan on the original Xbox. The gameplay, as you would expect, is fairly simple. But the game presentation, action, drop-in coop, and the chance to play through the entire Star Wars storyline makes for an addicting title. I'm only through the first three movies but I'm completely hooked, I never thought I'd say that about a Lego game. I consider myself a hardcore gamer and here I am having fun with a kids game. This just further proves the point that what makes a great title is the gameplay, no matter how state of the art it is. This is probably why Mario Bros., yet another game aimed for kids, still holds up.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a blast but what ticks me off about this game is that I have to play as a Lego character. In some ways this is a trap. This is the game that should have been made long ago but not as a Lego title. Of the hundreds of Star Wars games created I've only liked a few - the original Star Wars arcade game (the 1983 Atari cabinet), the aforementioned Obi Wan, Jedi Power Battles (my son and I played coop with this one, good times), Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Knights of the Old Republic, Rogue Squadron, and the best ever Empire Strikes Back. That's it! Eight games, if you count this newest Lego Star Wars title, out of 100's have been good, not a great track record.
But hey, what do I care? As a Star Wars fan I'll take what I can get. I'm enjoying a game set in the Star Wars universe and at this point I could care less if its a Lego title or not. The lesson to be learned? Sometimes good games can be found in the least expected places.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Portal on the Cheap

Got a spare $10 in your wallet? - The best value in gaming, The Orange Box, came out late last year but if you didn't get into it now is a good least for PC gamers. Starting this Wednesday the titles that make up The Orange Box are being sold individually. The best deal in the bunch is Portal, which you can pick up for a limited time for only $10 this week. Even though I already own the game on the Xbox 360, I'll probably nab it just to play on my laptop when I'm on the road. Its that good. There are certain titles every gamer should own and this is one of them.
Stephen King on gaming - I found a post about this on Kotaku today but it doesn't do Stevo's take justice. While he's not a gamer himself, Mr. King makes some salient points on the view politicians take when they get their panties in a snit about violent games. Click here for the full transcript of his article in Entertainment Weekly.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Confessions of an Achievement Junkie: Part 2

Look, I found a pic of Eli as a boy! - There are rules (written and unwritten) for everything. Go ahead and think about it. Is there anything you do throughout your day that doesn't have a rule attached to it? Unless you're super rich or a pro athlete, probably not. Now its time to lay down the rules for being an Achievement Junkie. Oh, sure, you can break the rules, but then you're nothing but a dirty little point whore, looked down upon by society and forced to wear a shirt labeling you as a fraud. Naturally this goes into effect after this post and is not retroactive because I've broken every single one of these rules at some point or another.
The following five rules were created to clarify the most honest ways to earn points. The biggest criteria is that you have to earn your score. Of course "earning" points is subjective but from my own experience as a recovering AP addict, I never felt bad about increasing my score by piling them up all by myself, without any help or by cheating. Achievement Points are one of the best things about owning a 360, but point whoring has diluted its value. While I'm certainly as guilty as every other point hoarder, I think its time to set things straight.
The Achievement Point Manifesto
1. No Subs - Having someone play a game for you just to earn points is cheating, so is playing a game for someone else to earn points. This doesn't mean you can't help a friend get through a tough spot. There have been many times I've helped my son through games when he got stuck and my brother and I have swapped strategies numerous times. But having a friend play for you just to earn points is flat out wrong.
2. Rentals are okay, borrowing is not - You might think renting a game just for the points is cheating. I completely disagree because you're paying for it. Its like buying a game for a few days, and no one would consider it wrong to buy a game and trying to get as many points as you can from it. If you want to spend your time and your money ($7+) on a rental just for the points, go for it. But borrowing a game from a friend solely for the points, not to try it out and have fun with it, is cheating. Earning incidental points on a borrow is fine, but playing through the whole game and beating it? That's wrong. Just buy a copy for yourself you cheap bastard.
3. Games from a questionable source are questionable - As of right now this only refers to those discount titles from Burger King but you know that someday a company will do the exact same thing BK did. I'm really looking forward to a Subway sponsored videogame where Jared slaps junk food out of random NPC's hands and replaces it with a club sandwich. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy a title from a place like this but buying the whole set just to earn a cheap 600 points (looking around uncomfortably, waiting to be struck by lightning for being a hypocrite) is a bad idea.
4. Cheat codes are bad, mkay - Many games won't allow you to earn Achievements if you have cheat codes turned on but some will let you get away with it. If you can't beat a game without using a code, what kind of gamer are you? But if you use a code for the points, that's even worse. The only time cheat codes should be used is to doing something crazy in a game. The goofy codes for GTA games (who doesn't love seeing Elvis everywhere?) are a good example.
5. Don't play games you don't like just for the points - Of all the rules, this should be the easiest to follow and if you follow only one rule, this should be it. If you play games you don't like just for the points you will lose your passion for games, I guarantee it. Let me give you an example. Because of my job, I play 1-2 new games a week. Fortunately I don't have to finish all of them because there are plenty of duds and I don't review every game I get. Even though I'm an Achievement nut I refuse to finish a game if I don't like it. I played Vampire Rain, a game with some fairly easy points and didn't earn a single point from it because it sucked. Army of Two (20 points), Turok (10 points), Devil May Cry 4 (0 points), MLB 2K8 (30 points) are just a few of the games I've played in recent weeks that I just didn't like enough to keep playing. If I wanted to, I could have over 100K points but I just can't choke down a game I don't like. Neither should you.
And finally, in an unrelated note - Congrats to Andrew Ramsey, a reader from Texas who won the Dark Sector giveaway. Andrew is the proud winner of a Dark Sector faceplate, comic book, poster, and a 1600 Point MS card. More giveaways are coming in the near future and look for the first As the Gaming World Turns happy hour soon.