Friday, January 30, 2009

“Beware of Zombies” Warn Texas Traffic Signs!

Zombies are everywhere these days: zombies in Left 4 Dead; not-really-zombies-but-still-very-zombie-like-people in Resident Evil 5. Now zombies are popping up in real life in Austin, Texas—or at least warnings of them are. Coming from is the story that in the early morning hours of January 19th, several traffic signs were hacked into with cautionary notes about zombies on the freeway. A sampling of the messages on the signs are :




My goodness, this is too awesome for words. Of course officials in Austin are pissed, but I think it’s great and shows just how zombie obsessed we’re all becoming. My brother Patrick, who alerted me to the story, said that if he saw the signs he’d probably poop his pants and get the hell out of there, and laugh about it later. I’d have to agree. I’m constantly looking for signs of the Zombie Apocalypse, and this would probably put me over the edge.

Not really video game related, but worth sharing to be sure! Watch out for zombies!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DEMO-LITION: F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin

Sure, as Max said, I don't get to check out the Resident Evil 5 demo until next week. It looks to be a lot of fun and I'm sure I'll dig it. So, I figured that while the snow falls outside, I'd drop some impressions about the F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin demo.

You start with a trailer within the game of the future i can only assume. Alot of doomsday type stuff. It was interesting. You wake up in the street and Alma, the star of the game as the creepy little Dakota Fanning style psychic, begins to guide you through the burning and wreckage. It's a cool set piece and it sets up that you'll be seeing her a lot. The tutorial is immersive, showing a soldier shooting an unfortunate soul and having you run down and waste a few gun toting agents. Teaching you the basics of weapons, use of slowmo and intel on you PDA on the way. The pacing is enough where you get to breathe and figure out what you're supposed do yet setting you up to get the bejesus scared out of you shooting at ghosts, your character freaking out and having flashbacks, seeing blood splattered walls and the little girl inches from your face, only to disappear seconds later.

The atmosphere is what is going to sell people on this game. At it's heart, it's an FPS with a better then average story and setting. The fact is that most "survival horror" games aren't scary in the least. Sometime almost comically so. I'm looking at you last couple of Silent Hill games. (Especially you, Origins.) But F.E.A.R 2 takes the best parts the horror genre and applies it to it's gameplay. The unsettling feeling when climbing through a broken subway car, only for the doors to close and a shadow appears in front of you. The position of the camera makes it seem like the figure is creeping up behind you slowly. You turn around only to briefly see whatever it was, as the screen blurs and turns back to real time and you see......nothing. Moments like that are all over the demo. This is a gory game. The first one was a gory mess and this one is likely to follow in the same footsteps. Playing in the dark, at night, probably wasn't the best move. I nearly jumped out of my skin in a few places in the demo. My wife telling me to turn the lights on or stop playing since my jumping back hit the bed, waking her up. Awesome.

The demo ran smooth. I don't know if it will suffer the fate of the first F.E.A.R game on the PS3. That is sucking ass and running like crap. But, from the demo, I don't think that Project Origin will go down that route this time around. It ran well, with no major hiccups or slowdown. With shooters not slowing down in popularity, F.E.A.R 2 should do fairly well. Although, the PS3 version might get a jump start, but something tells me that it might get a tad overshadowed by another game coming out two weeks later. Still, F.E.A.R. 2 is going to be a roller coaster ride that will have you breaking your neck looking behind you after you play. Just try not to wake your wife.......

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is out Feb. 10th.


DEMO-LITION: Resident Evil 5

Yes, the RE5 demo is finally here, at least on the 360. Poor J is going to have to wait until Feb 2nd to sink his teeth into this demo on PS3. Of course, I’m lucky to play it myself; my brother, Patrick has experienced the Red Rings of Death on his 360 for the second time and he has had a customer service nightmare. More on that later… At any rate, he’s been borrowing my 360 as much as possible, so only today was I able to get my system back to download and try the Resident Evil 5 goodness.

More like creepiness!

I’ve only played a little, so consider these very initial impressions. On the upside, they’re mostly spoiler-free, but then again, so is the demo. The game plays almost identically to Resident Evil 4, and I’m not complaining about that! Apparently, there’s a control scheme that plays a bit more like Gears of War style, but I didn’t try that out in my initial play through. Although two-player co-op is available for either online or offline split screen, I only played single player. Hopefully I can get Dustin or one of my other buddies to try two player with me soon.

It’s all good though, because Sheva is a competent partner, who fights well on her own, gives you items you need when you need them and generally works better than almost any other AI assistant I’ve seen in a game. You’ll have to return the favor though, and watch her back, give her ammo and healing items when she needs it, and not leave her out to dry.

Even without playing on an HDTV, the game is beautiful. There was some small text at the beginning of the demo, but thankfully a microscope is not needed to read it when playing on normal resolution televisions. Characters are incredibly well-rendered and so is the varying atmosphere, which changes from dismal to almost blinding sunlight. The graphics are so good that the transition to cut scenes to gameplay is not noticeable. Throughout the game, there’s so much detail everywhere.

Once again, the infected are not quite zombies at all, but not exactly like the “Plagas” in RE4 either. They’re quite similar to the townspeople you encountered before, but when they get their hands on you, they choke you and you must rotate the control stick wildly to get free. The longer it takes, the closer they draw you in, and their mouths… Well, it’s not pretty and is very freaky. Like the Plagas, they carry weapons, but this time you can shoot them out of their hands (though shooting a bottle only broke it, making it no less deadly).

The controls are intuitive for the most part. I didn’t quite get used to changing weapons or items on the fly, which now does not pause the game and go to a separate menu while you do it. It really adds some hecticness to everything, which may be why I had trouble mastering it. Other than that, running, shooting, reloading, taking knife swipes and calling for Sheva are all very similar to RE4, thus pretty easy to master.

There are some new moves this time around. While things like jumping out of windows when you’re near them are done with a button press like last time, fallen enemies’ heads can be stomped on with a similarly-cued press of the X button. Sheva was able to kick some enemies, though I’m not sure if you can do that whenever, or only when a mob closes in tight. Another interesting thing was that I could hurt stunned enemies; after shooting them, an X button would pop up and Chris would deliver a strong blow that sent the enemy reeling even further, or would knock them across the room—where they then could have their heads stomped in.

One thing that struck me is that ammo seems to be in lower quantities than ever. Sometimes the only way I’d survive is when Sheva would toss me some ammo. Of course, this could have to do with my nerves on my first play through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ammo (and health) has to be rationed carefully between Sheva and Chris. If one of the characters dies, it’s game over, so it’s a good idea to keep Sheva covered. If one of the characters takes too much damage, they can be revived and rescued Left 4 Dead style. Also like L4D, teamwork will definitely be a major aspect of gameplay—albeit to a smaller scale. In one of the levels, I had Chris boost Sheva across a roof, then covered her (unsuccessfully I might add, until I realized I had a sniper rifle) as she walked down and around and unlocked a gate that impeded progress. From what I understand, puzzles like these are plentiful in the game.

Overall, I didn’t make it very far. Mainly because in the two levels available, one had a chainsaw guy, the other had his new older brother, a giant axe guy. Both can kill you pretty quick. Sure, I fought back, but it was pretty much game over really quick. But what I played was enough to get a taste, and develop a hunger for more. Like any Resident Evil game, things always start out tough until you can acclimate yourself to what happens and how to best combat it. I look forward to mastering the areas of the demo while waiting for March to roll around, and am even more excited about the prospect of playing through a Resident Evil game with a friend for the first time.

I’ve also downloaded the FEAR 2 demo, so maybe I’ll have another DEMO-LITION up soon. Additionally, my brother Patrick has been writing up a guest piece on his experiences with Microsoft Xbox Customer Service that may be enlightening and helpful to those of us that will almost certainly deal with them again in the future.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Upcoming articles

Well, it's been a long few years, but the era of Dubya is over. It almost doesn't seem like it's really over. Like Sean Hannity is going to come running down the street, waving the Patriot Act, screaming "The Patriot Act says black people can't be president." Oh well, it'll sink in soon enough. Anyway, here's the articles i'm working on:

- Another Killzone 2 story; my take on the most anticipated game of all time.

- In deck with Midnight Club: LA, Street Fighter 2 HD remix, Lumines Supernova, Mahjong Tails and Chrono Trigger DS

- New Demo-ilition with Skate 2 and more

- changes and new features on The Driver ID coming....soon?

Enjoy the day. Hopefully, things are going to start looking up.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix coming this spring; demo online now

I love me some puzzle games. Since Tetis, the puzzle genre has been a staple in my gaming collection. The first Puzzle Quest was a very good game with alot variety in game play. Online play not withstanding, (I have it for the PSP) it was a staple of my portable gaming. Almost beating out Lumines. Almost. So i was happy to hear that is was getting an update/sequel. The future setting is a interesting, yet predictable, move. But the game looks good and doesn't seem to move too far away from the gameplay it established in the first game. And, on top of all that, the Playstation 3 logo has been added among the already announced versions. PSN version confirmed? I'd say yes.

If you are interested in seeing Puzzle Quest: Future Tools of Destruction, Infinite Interactive has an online demo to wet you color-matching whistle. It's fairly straight forward, just like the first, for casual players. But has alot of deeper strategy aspects for those that will spend countless hours leveling and collecting the weapons from hell. Seems like my Spring is going to be busy.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ludacris is everywhere you want to be (if everywhere is FF13)

Final Fantasy games always have three things: huge, magic swords, teen aged boys that have crazy hair and are very, very effeminate and a character named Cid. Well, maybe we can add a new one to the list with the announcement of the newest FF13 family member, Sazh Kalzroy. That's right. FF has it's first black character in years. And he looks alot like rapper/actor/ho aficionado Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. Sure, it's the "classic" Luda look: out of control afro and all, but Luda none the less.

Cool. I can hear the song "area codes" playing in the background of boss battles. Who's next? Soulja Boy flying an airship? I'll bet he'd throw some D's on tha.......ok, i'm done.

FF13 is out......this year? Maybe. Props to for being the first place I saw the story.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Doing “the Mario” in Real Life

Sorry we haven’t been posting in awhile folks, we’re all back in school and working various jobs, so we’re lucky to even be able to play video games right now, let alone post about them. We’ll keep working to step things up though. In the meantime, maybe this clip will help make up for our absence.

In an episode of the Japanese variety show Kinchan no Kasoh Taisho a group of performers staged an amazing performance based on Super Mario Bros., creating a spectacular re-creation with a few comedic flourishes. Enjoy!

Well back to the grind stone for me! Look for more updates soon!


Barack Obama to bring Wii to White House

We’ve had news before indicating that our very soon-to-be president, Barack Obama has affection for video games, but it turns out that he’s been doing some gaming in recent weeks. Coming from a recent article in the New York Times, it turns out that Barack and Michelle Obama gave their daughters a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, and Sasha and Malia aren’t the only ones playing it:

"Mr. Obama said he’d have his hands full attempting to rescue the American economy. But he has gotten in a little practice in bowling lately on the Nintendo Wii his daughters received for Christmas. Mr. Obama, who famously struggled in bowling during last year’s Democratic primaries, said he performs better in the video game."

Awesome! Being a Nintendo aficionado I totally dig hearing that Barack is doing some Wii Bowling. It’s definitely good to know we have a gamer president. Bill and Hillary are reported game boy addicts during long trips, but no one knows about George W. Bush. What is known is that Nintendo gave Bush a copy of Brain Age when that came out, but considering the last few years, it’s highly unlikely he played it.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One Man Band Rocks Zelda Wind Waker Theme

Well, the holidays have come and gone, and we’re now in the infancy of a new year. Along with getting Left 4 Dead early for Christmas, I scored quite a few things from my wish list including Chrono Trigger, Animal Crossing: City Folk, plus some comics and Donkey Kong Jenga (thanks Maureen, I never expected that!). I’ll try to get some impressions up on some of these in the not too distant future.

The wife and I spent New Year’s with friends, and although I tried, a few of them weren’t keen on seeing the New Year’s countdown happen in Animal Crossing, so we flipped to Carson Daly (Dick Clark’s clone body no doubt) to ring in ‘09. As the evening of drinking, snacking and playing Rock Band 2 and Left 4 Dead wound down, we started watching YouTube via the Opera browser on Wii. My buddy Aaron pulled up an amazing video, of a young man named Fredrik Larsson (Freddie25 on YouTube) who on Christmas Eve compiled an acoustic version of a Zelda medley focusing mainly on the theme of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and plays almost 20 different parts all by himself! Check it out below:

Now, check out the original version of the tune and hear it wither in comparison. For more detail on this amazing video, here’s an interview with Fredrik on Nuclear Geek. This video was a very special treat in the earliest hours of 2009 for our party, and I had to share it with you all here.


The Macho Man is everywhere you want to be. (if everywhere is Left 4 Dead)

People that know me know that I have a unhealthy relationship with Mr. Randy Savage. Something about him reeks of awesomeness. He's oozed his way into every media outlet, and now he's made his way into video games. apparently, someone has modded the PC version of everyone's favorite zombie shooter (sorry COD:WaW) so all the zombie voices are replaced with the man, the myth, the legend. Check out this myspace vid to witness the madness. thanks to Damian Ward for the hookup. Oooooohhhhhh Yeeeeeaahhhhhhh!!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

On Deck: old school is the best school

Looking forward, i noticed that a few of the games i was looking to get are throwbacks. not all, but some. so, that's where i'll start this On Deck:

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

Jesus! "over 40 Genesis games"? wow. sure your now standard Sonic games are on there. As well as Golden Axe and Altered Beast. But the games that I'm hyped about are overlooked classics like E-SWAT, Streets of Rage and Ecco the Dolphin. All are the standouts to me. "All the games will be upgraded to 720p"? Sweet deal. But, really. Did we REALLY need Golden Axe 3 AND Shinobi 3? Why not Shinobi? Oh well. it's a must buy for the old school console owners and Putt-Putt arcade visitors like me.

Street Fighter 4

I love Street Fighter. It's a god among fighting games. And with 4 coming next month(!), it's going to come back around again, hooking gamers with fireballs shooting from hands, mouths and feet. The little that I've seen is really fluent and fast. Relying on knowledge of the moves and blocking at the right time rather then cheep ass combos. (like Marvel vs. Capcom, as much as i like it) Don't know about online, but it should be there if it wants to hang around with the other fighters on the market. The lineup seems solid, although, the exclusion of Dee Jay is full of fail, as the kids say. At least Fei-Long is in it. Every fighting game should have a Bruce Lee clone in it.

Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom

Mahjong is one of these games that i've always been intimidated by. It seems very complex and difficult. But as i've gotten older, it's become a very relaxing game. Kind of like Lumines and Pixel Junk Eden is for me, it's a game that i play in the morning or at night before bed as a wind down. Something that's not so heavy as Fallout 3 or Bioshock or MGS4. And now, it sounds like Majong Tales should be coming out in the next week or so. Hopefully, the game isn't too much money. X-mas kind of wiped me out. So hopefully Sony thinks about that when it comes out. Until then, check out the video.

Killzone 2

Nothing left to say about this game. It's out next month and it looks amazing. and with some reviews leaking out, some think that the game isn't the internet meme that we all thought it would be back in the old days. I look forward to seeing what the gaming blogs have to say about it next month. I really can't believe i just said that......

Well, that's all for now. Back to Lumines Supernova and Bioshock tonight. Fallout 3 in the morning.


Friday, January 2, 2009

The Smackdown - on PSN

figured that since Max is starting up his TDK segment for the new year, i'd drop some more smackdown gems. this time, it's Call of Duty 4 AND it's on PS3. by the sounds of it, Mr. x-treme1 sounds mad. gay or not, this is kind of interesting. and interesting as in Mr. xtreme1 sucks at COD4 and needs to feel better about himself. whatever. could be worse, he could end up in Home playing some kind of manic street preacher, warning about the horrors of gay gamers and terrible grammar. the sporadic subtitles help as well. enjoy. props to mrmark27 for the upload.