Friday, February 29, 2008

COD4 Patch Arrives, Better Late Than Never

Earlier today, the long overdue patch for Call of Duty 4 was finally made available. After playing for about six hours total, it's clear they really didn't fix much.

The major problem was the lack of host migration. Before the patch you'd be lucky if you were able to play 2 rounds in a row before the host dropped out and you were dumped back to the lobby by yourself, forcing you to join a new match. Just as often, you'd find a game, the match would start, and the "host" would leave immediately, breaking up everyone who had just been matched together. When this happened a couple times in a row, it got frustrating real quick. It was also a ton of fun when you were in the middle of a great match and the host would drop.

After the patch, the frequency of host disconnects seems to be diminished but "host migration" isn't anything of the kind. What happens is, if the host leaves, the game ends and everyone gets dumped back to the lobby where a new host is selected and a new game is started. It doesn't pick up in the middle of the game like we were led to believe. And it took how many months to get this patch out?

The quick mute was another option I was looking forward to, but its implementation is half-assed as well. From the score screen (Back button) you can use the D-pad to scroll through the names and press the A button to immediately mute whoever is selected. That's about as simple as it can be, only for whatever reason, that person becomes unmuted at the end of the match. Seeing as the "host migration" actually makes it possible to play with the same group of people for more than 2-3 games in a row, you'll have to mute people individually every single match. Not a huge deal, but it doesn't really make any sense. Because of this, it's more effective to just bring up their profile and mute them the old way.

The last major thing fixed by the patch was sniping, which beforehand was pretty much useless. It is certainly better; a 20-6 run on Bloc with a sniper rifle confirmed this for me. If I had tried that before the patch my score would've been more like 6-20. Still, I've never been big on sniping so I don't see myself breaking out the rifle too often. And even though it is much improved I still experienced a couple instances where I shot a guy dead on multiple times and he didn't drop. All in all though, I'd imagine people who love sniping are going to be pretty pleased. If you were somehow able to pull off sniping before the patch, you're gonna be a force to be reckoned with now that your bullets actually tend to go where your cross hairs are pointed.

They also finally fixed the "Your playlist data is older than the hosts" error you'd get whenever joining a friends game from an invite when you first started the game up.

I'm just completely baffled that it took them 4 months to get this patch out and it doesn't even do what it was supposed to.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rockstar Says: No Demo For You!

This either comes as a big disappointment or no surprise, but Rockstar confirmed today that the long-awaited, infamously delayed, Grand Theft Auto IV, will not be getting a pre-release demo.

Demos for titles of GTAIV caliber are rare (about as rare as titles of GTA caliber) because people know what they're getting into anyway. Gears of War and Halo 3 also skipped the pre-release demo party.

In GTA's case an even bigger problem is the nature of the game itself. Since it's an open world title, constructing a demo that limits your access to Liberty City would give the impression that the city is smaller than it in fact is.

So while you won't be playing GTAIV any sooner than sometime after midnight on April 29th, you can rest assured that every minute leading up to that was spent making sure the game is as polished as possible.

[via Joystiq]

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Resident Evil Zero Gets With the Waggle

Ahh, Capcom. They can never resist the siren call of a quick buck. Following the success of last year's Wii-ified Resident Evil 4 port, Capcom has decided to cash in once again, this time with a quick and dirty port of the Gamecube exclusive Resident Evil Zero.

The problem here is that unlike RE4, Zero played just like all the previous games in the series: with sketchy controls and aiming that consisted of up, straight ahead, and down. Slapping motion controls on that is going to be awkward at best and, more likely than not, make the game control even worse.

No thanks, Capcom. How about remaking RE 1 or 2 using the RE4 engine? THAT I would buy.

I'm sorry, what? Oh, that would actually take effort? Right. How silly of me.

[via Resident Evil Horror]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Metal Gear Gets Release Date, Bundle, Beta

After a year of delays, Konami's long awaited Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will be hitting a store near you on June 12th. If that isn't enough to make MGS fans do the happy dance, Sony also announced a special MGS4 PS3 system bundle which will include an 80GB console, a copy of the game, as well as a Dual Shock 3 controller (which will go on sale by itself starting April 15th), all for $499.

That's a damn fine deal considering $499 is the same price the 80GB system sold for on its own until it was discontinued recently. Plus, you don't have to worry about getting stuck with an obsolete Sixaxis controller. If you were planning on buying a PS3 for MGS4 anyway, this is the next best thing to a price cut. If you already bought a PS3 because of MGS4, well, you should have waited.

If you already own a PS3 and just want the game, you're going to want to pre-order it come April, as all pre-order customers will be granted access to the beta test for Metal Gear Online. MGO is the multiplayer-only Metal Gear title which will be sold as a separate product from MGS4.

What we still don't know: Is the 80GB system in the bundle backwards compatible, or is it essentially just a 40GB (non-BC) system with a bigger hard drive? Will Metal Gear Online also be available June 12th? Will it be sold on disc or will it be a PSN download, or both? Will MGS4's story make any sense?

[via Kotaku]

Monday, February 25, 2008

360 HD-DVD Player now $50

Or, at least it will be as of tomorrow. In the wake of Toshiba abandoning the format and Microsoft announcing it would be stopping production of the add-on, it isn't surprising to see a fire sale to clear these things out.

Before anyone runs out to buy one of these things "just because", keep in mind that $50 is still $50. Unless you're a crazy collector or you want King Kong in HD and a bonus media remote anyway, it's really not worth it. I've seen people insist it's a good deal because $50 for an upscaling DVD player is cheap, even if you never play an HD-DVD on it. That's very true, but your 360's internal drive already upscales DVD's.

Do yourself a favor and keep your $50 in your pocket and put it towards a PS3 if you don't have one already or save it for Microsoft's inevitable external Blu-ray drive. The rumor is, it could be out as early as this summer.

And if you simply must have one, you can probably get one on eBay for under $30.

[All Headline News via Kotaku]

Sunday, February 24, 2008

XBLA Size Restrictions Still Hampering Developers

It was barely a year ago that Microsoft increased the size limit on XBLA titles from a paltry 50MB to a slightly less paltry 150MB. That 150MB is proving to not be enough for more ambitious XBLA titles like Capcom's Bionic Commando ReArmed and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. Due to this limit, Bionic Commando will be graphically inferior to its Playstation 3 counterpart because they simply don't have room for high resolution textures.

Microsoft is playing dumb, citing recent games like Undertow, RezHD and, of all things, Poker Smash, as perfect examples as to why 150MB should be enough. Look, I love Rez more than the average person, but the game is made of wireframes. Textures are pretty much nonexistent in the game.

Look, MS, you really need to give dispensations to major games like these, especially when they are appearing on your competitors console as well. If Bionic Commando is going to be 300MB on PS3, you need to give Capcom the same for XBLA.

I have both systems and while I prefer to play on my 360, I'll have no problem buying ReArmed on PSN if it is the better version. You may have a stranglehold on people with online titles because PS3's online sucks, but I really don't care whether I play a single player game on my 360 or my PS3.

I'm getting pretty tired of the 360 being dragged down by not having a hard drive. It's only exacerbated by the fact that MS is charging $50 for a 512MB memory card. I just bought a 4GB Memory Stick Pro Duo for my PSP for $40 a few weeks ago (which, incidentally, I can use on my PS3)!

What's really ironic is that the upcoming WiiWare title Eternity's Child was originally supposed to be on XBLA but the creator had to scrap it because of the size limit. So now the game is going to be on a system that only has 512MB of memory in it. What's wrong with this picture?

[via 1up]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Club First (and Last!) Impressions

I received The Club from the fine folks at Gamefly yesterday and did a quick playthrough of the first level and tried a couple rounds of multiplayer. The prognosis? Not good.

I decided to run through the first level (or Tournament as the game's levels are broken down as) on the Insane difficulty simply to see if beating the level on the harder difficulty unlocks the achievements for lower difficulties (it does). What's odd is that Insane is hardly what I'd call difficult at all. While The Club is a different breed of shooter from say, Call of Duty 4, and is meant to be played at a furious nonstop pace, I was still able to breeze through the first Tournament with no trouble whatsoever. Granted it was only the first level, but still, I can't even imagine how easy the game must be on the normal difficulty setting.

The first tournament consisted of playing through the same level in a variety of different modes and paths where you're either trying to get to an exit in a set amount of time or you're limited to a small area where you must survive for a few minutes with an ever increasing onslaught of enemies coming after you. Again, neither mode is particularly interesting because they are both pretty easy. The difficulty in the game seems to revolve around getting high scores, which is something that rarely interests me.

I was very interested in the multiplayer however, as most reviews seemed to write-off the single player anyway and praised the online play. After two 20 minute rounds, I have no idea why. Aiming is a mess and the weaponry is impotent. You can easily blast 4 or 5 shotgun rounds into someone at point blank range and they'll still just run off like nothing happened. Headshots seem completely random and again, require multiple shots to drop an opponent. You have a melee attack but, just like the weapons, it does practically no damage.

I wanted to try out some of the alternate game modes offered, such as Hunter Hunted and Fox Hunt, but it was impossible to find a match in those gametypes or to get anyone to join if I hosted one myself.

It's also worth mentioning that during the two matches I did play, I heard more swearing and racial epithets than I have in over a hundred hours of COD4 and Halo 3. During the game there is no onscreen indicator (either during gameplay or on the score screen) that shows who is speaking at any given moment, so people feel free to say whatever hatespeech comes to mind and repeat it ad nauseum with no fear of being reported. Since you don't know who's speaking you can't even mute them.

The bottom line is that The Club is a somewhat fun single player game with lousy multiplayer. It's worth a shot, especially if you like arcade style games and enjoy replaying levels over and over for high scores. I can't recommend it for the multiplayer because even if you end up enjoying it, there are so few people playing it's simply not worth it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Have Your Cake and Sing About it Too

Last week a massive list of possible Rock Band tracks were discovered in a data file on the game disc. Many of the songs have been released as DLC in the weeks and months since the game launched leaving the remaining songs as safe bets for future downloads.

One of the songs in that list was "Still Alive" but since the list didn't include artist names, there was no way of knowing if it was *the* Still Alive. Surely, it couldn't be.

Turns out it's the real deal, as some of the guys from Harmonix got up on stage at one of songwriter Jonathan Coulton's shows last night and performed it in Rock Band with him. The song is listed in game as "Still Alive by GlaDOS".

It doesn't really lend itself well to the game (unless they rerecorded it?) but it should be fun to play regardless, whenever they get around to making it available. This Tuesday's lineup is still up in the air so we could be playing it sooner rather than later.

[via Kotaku]

What is Project RedLime?

In the midst of the Game Developer's Conference today it was revealed that Riddick developer Starbreeze Studios are "deep in development on Project RedLime", a reinvention of a classic franchise for EA. No other details are known at this point or if the RedLime code name has any meaning for the project or if it is simply a red herring.

1up doesn't speculate on possible titles in their article but ponder this: Bioshock was arguably the biggest new franchise of last year. Bioshock was a spiritual successor to the System Shock games. EA owns the rights to System Shock. EA likes money.

It could very well be that Starbreeze is reinventing Road Rash, the Strike series, or Mutant League Football but given their pedigree (dark, story driven FPS'), System Shock makes perfect sense.

Most importantly, I also wish it to be so.

[via 1up]


Looking over my page on my former home, Got-Next, shows that my last blog post was over 4 months ago. Where does the time go? I guess all those holiday titles actually got me to spend more time playing games as opposed to just reading and writing about them.

A lot has happened since then: Hollywood writers went on strike for pretty much as long as I've been away and are just now getting back to work. It pretty much destroyed the TV season with shows like Heroes just plain sucking during what little episodes they had filmed and now being on hiatus until the Fall at the earliest. I wish they would pretend the first part of "Season Two" never happened and just start over from the end of Season One. Hopefully they can pull themselves back up and turn things around or it is going to be the fastest an excellent show has ever been run into the ground.

The PS3 started to actually look like it'll be the worth the money it costs to own one, particularly now that Blu-ray has officially emerged as the victor in its battle with HD-DVD. This unmuddies the hi-def waters that was causing consumers to stay out of the deep end, and continue to wade in the kiddie pool with plain ol' DVD. With some awesome looking games coming in 2008 both on disc and on PSN it's definitely going to be a good year to own a PS3.

The 360's no slouch either with Gears of War 2 just announced for November and Fable 2 confirmed to have 2-player drop-in, drop-out co-op. Too Human was also brought out from behind closed doors at GDC this week and it's looking quite nice. Hopefully we'll be getting that June-ish. And with any luck Alan Wake will make it out this year too. Damn, does that game look nice.

The Wii has been more or less a disappointment with No More Heroes letting me down big time but WiiWare has been confirmed to be available starting May 12th and they seem to have some cool indie games like Luc Bernard's Eternity's Child. I'm also looking forward to the port of Okami. Other than that Nintendo has next to nothing announced for 2008, outside of continuing to sell millions of systems to your Grandma.

Well, that's enough rambling for now. I really need to give myself a word cap per post or something...