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by Ethos

Hey! Look! Listen! #68 – My Goodness, but Hasn’t it Been a While?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The answer to that is yes, yes it has.

Speaking honestly, I’ve been questioning the relevance of Hey! Look! Listen! for the last few months, for a variety of reasons. But then I realized that it’s not just a problem with HLL; all of Riddlethos irrelevant. Also, I occasionally enjoy the opportunity to provide arbitrary commentary on the latest headlines that appear in my Google Reader. I mean, shit, why do I have a website if not for that?

So let’s do this.

The Legend of Zelda is 25 years old yesterday

It’s true! If Ethan and I had been aware of the series’ upcoming birthday, we might have tried to coincide a theme week or something; especially since we’ve never actually had a true “Legend of Zelda Week.” But, that didn’t happen, and honestly it’s likely for the best – since every videogame website and its grandmother will probably be attempting some sort of commemorative feature. For my part, I’ll take the time to say Happy Birthday, Link, and thanks for all the epic adventures.

Also, the original Legend of Zelda is a terrible game, and I refuse to play it even on its 25th birthday. I know it was the “oblivion of its day” (those are the words of  Kotaku and their ongoing celebratory feature) but it sure as hell isn’t anymore. </superfluouscontrarianism>

Have Some Old Metroid Prime Concept Art

Metroid Prime was a game-changer when it was released for Nintendo’s GameCube waaayyy back in 2002. Nine years later (god, it feels weird to write that. Nine years later?)

Anyway. Nine years later, this concept art is still awesome. Especially this one:

If you wanna see all four images, go here. It was found on the blog of concept artist Greg Luzniak.

Concerning the Dead Island Trailer

Much ado has been made of late about the Dead Island cinematic trailer. The thing’s more or less gone viral, and reactions have been remarkably prolific. If you haven’t seen it yet, please to enjoy below.

Slick, right? The unique editing technique, in which we’re guided through the events in reverse order, is quite well done. I can recognize that; but regardless, I’m not blowing my load like the rest of the internet seems to be. Why? Eh, well, I think it’s just a matter of personal taste more than anything else. The trailer tries to make the viewer emotionally invested in a zombie game. Speaking frankly, I can’t quite recall when the Zombie genre managed to bridge the gap between campy fun (at best) and emotionally relevant storytelling. I don’t think it ever did, for that matter. Know why? Because you can’t relate to characters of a Zombie apocalypse, because Zombies aren’t real. And neither are Zombie apocalypses. Despite everyone’s apparent obsession with them.

Hoighty-toightyness aside, Dead Island looks like it could be fun. For those unaware, it’s a game under development by Techland (the developers behind Call of Juarez, for what it’s worth) with a focus on four-player melee combat. So I’m getting an idea that it’s like Left 4 Dead, but with axes instead of guns. Which, like I said before, could be fun. And I’ve never played Call of Juarez, but I know it’s well-liked. And, while I know the world is currently obsessing over a non-representative cinematic trailer, actual gamers will surely appreciate this small batch of screens that recently became available. They don’t look bad themselves, I’ve gotta say.

(Kotaku)

Telltale’s Jurassic Park Game Launching in April

I know I haven’t said a word about it yet, but Telltale’s Back to the Future game is pretty damn good. This leads me to believe that their upcoming adventure game based on Jurassic Park will also be pretty good. It’s being described as “Heavy Rain-esque,” which may scare off some, but certainly not I. In fact, I think it sounds like a delicious combination.

It appears that the game will tell a parallel story to the classic original Jurassic Park film. Which is good; the other two movies didn’t do much aside from cheapen the narrative integrity of the franchise, so I’m glad the game won’t be taking them into consideration.

Oh yeah, and in other news, Telltale is working on a fuckton of new stuff, including videogame adaptations of The Walking Dead and Fables. These guys are on a roll.

Riddles Works on his Back to the Future Review

The speed and ease with which the iPhone can shoot video and upload it to the web is… intriguing, to say the least.

Sony Mehs Platform Exclusivity… Again… #randomcoincidences

Platform exclusives are becoming a thing of the past. I’ve been saying this for some time now. It’s not really a matter of debate, it’s a simple observation: platform exclusive titles aren’t nearly as prolific as they were in the PS2 days. Sony, in particular, seems well aware of this. About a year ago at this time (17 February 2010 to be precise), their Senior VP of Developer Relations had this to say on the subject:

What is going to be the driving force is either exclusive ad campaigns, like the Madden campaign, or exclusive content like we had with Batman. The PS3 version outsold the 360 version, and what we’ve said to developers is: ‘if you take advantage of what the PS3 can deliver – more content on the Blu-ray disc, better graphics, being able to get more of what the player wants onto the disc – you’re going to see those sales translate.

If anything’s certain, Sony’s made good on their word when it comes to platform-exclusive content; whether it’s bonus missions (ala Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood) or an entire game (Like the original Medal of Honor being included with the recent reboot, or Dead Space Extraction on the special edition of Dead Space 2) Sony’s been actively pursuing the exclusive content angle as an alternative to fully exclusive titles.

Earlier today, Sony’s brand manager for MLB 11: The Show had something remarkably familiar to say:

We work very closely with our third parties publishers, not necessarily to lock down games exclusively, but to lock up exclusive parts of games.

A good example is Batman: Arkham Asylum, where you could only play as the Joker on PlayStation 3.

When you make a title exclusive, you limit its promotional power; we don’t want to do that. We want games to be as big as possible — it’s great for the industry. However, we want to make sure that you play it on the best system possible, so we like to take parts of games and make them exclusive to the PlayStation system.

To me it’s just a funny coincidence that two Sony reps would say (essentially) the same thing, during the same timeframe, two years in a row. It illustrates a point, though. I think it’s safe to say that the platform-exclusive is a thing of the past – for now.

I can’t believe I actually watched this thing

I mean, I appreciate the point the dude is trying to make – specifically, that Treyarch’s online support for the PS3 versions of their games, such as Black Ops, is rather lacking – but did it really need to be almost eight minutes long? And more importantly, did I have to watch it all the way through? The answer to the first could be somewhat nebulous, but the answer to the second is a definitive “no.” So… why did I watch it? And… why am I posting it here?

Alright, I think it’s about time to wrap this one up. I could ramble on for a bit, but I’ve hit 1300 words, which is quite substantial.

Hey! Look! Listen! #67

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

I wrote this entire article before writing an introduction. Why? I don’t know. But now it’s 1:27 PM CST, on Saturday, which is 33 minutes before I have to be at work. And I just got out of bed 27 minutes ago. And I need a shower. And I really don’t want to go to work.

But anyway, yeah, here’s my gift to you for the week. Unfortunately I’m a little too poor to buy Epic Mickey at the moment, although I sure would love to.

But that’s enough. Good day to you all, and please to enjoy below.

Dead Space 2 “Scarier” According to EA Boss

Worried that Dead Space 2 will be sacrificing scares and atmosphere for the sake of bigger guns, bigger action, and multiplayer modes? Yeah, so am I. But hey, John Riccitiello’s played through Dead Space 2 already – and he says that the game is, in fact, “scarier” than the original.

Now, seeing that John is the CEO of EA Games, I can’t help but think that his opinion’s a little biased. Or maybe “biased” isn’t the right word; maybe he’s just lying, because even if it was less scary than the original, it’s not like, y’know, he’d ever say that.

Or maybe he’s telling the truth, and Dead Space 2 will be even scarier than the original game. Maybes, endless maybes.

Speaking personally, I’m excited for Dead Space 2, but I’m fully prepared for an experience akin to BioShock 2. I mean, at least the setting is fresh, but I still get the feeling that there may be a lot of “been there, done that” involved. And there’s a multiplayer mode.

While we’re on the subject of EA Games…

EA Is So Stupid

EA has polished its image quite a bit in the last few years. I’m not entirely sure how they did it – fresh franchises like Dead Space certainly helped, as did undeniably strong, if familiar products such as Battlefield 2. But, at the end of the day, they’re still a money-hungry mega-publisher, and their most audible figures tend to be… well, ignorant businessmen. Like Frank Gibeau, president of the EA Games label. Recently, Mr. Gibeau had some things to say about a few of EA’s more financially disappointing franchises: Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space.

About Mirror’s Edge, he had this to say:

“There were issues with the learning curve, the difficulty, the narrative, and then there was no multiplayer either.

“The key learning from us was that if you’re going to be bold with that kind of concept, you need to take it as far as it can go in development.”

Hm, well, most of that sounds legit, except… no multiplayer? Listed as a con? Outside of money-speak, I’m not sure you can list the lack of a game mode as a detriment to its quality.

He also mentioned Dead Space, which, while profitable for EA, didn’t meet expectations. Why didn’t it? Well, much of the same reasons, it seems:

“It made money for us, but didn’t hit expectations. We felt like we had an IP that struck a chord, and one that hit quality, but again it missed multiplayer modes.

“So when we re-worked Dead Space [for the upcoming sequel], we looked at how to make it a better idea, how do we make the story more engrossing, how do we build [protagonist] Isaac as a character, how do we make this game a success online.”

Hm. This rubs me the wrong way. For several reasons.

First off, I know this guy is speaking in terms of cash, and I shouldn’t expect anything else. The truth of the matter is that a game without a multiplayer mode doesn’t hold the same wide appeal as a game that does, particularly in this day and age of social gaming. I get that, I really do.

However, being an individual who appreciates videogames as an art form, it pains me to see them broken down into individual money-making components. A multiplayer mode does not make a game better. A multiplayer mode, in fact, can cloud a game’s focus and make it worse.

What these quotes display, though, is an obvious but painful truth: more so, perhaps, than any other entertainment industry, the game industry is hopelessly intertwined with commercialism. You do not, for example, hear Paramount Pictures’ CEO Brad Grey spouting off about how the latest Transformers movie failed because it didn’t have enough explosions and boobs. Now, I’m sure statements like that are made behind closed doors in Hollywood all the time, but they’re smart enough not to say them publicly.

Frank Gibeau saying that Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space fell short due to a lack of multiplayer modes is essentially the same thing. And it was publicized. And nobody (except me) thinks anything of it, because that’s the way this industry works.

Perhaps, though, I’m overreacting.

Hey, Guess What: Comcast Sucks

It’s sad, but true. And… well known amongst the residents of the states. Comcast, quite simply, has a monopoly over broadband internet in the United States. And they abuse their monopoly well. And I’m only saying this for the sake of you non-American readers who might need a little context before I jump into this story.

Recently, it was made known that Comcast is squeezing a certain networking company – Level 3 Communications – for extra cash. Why? Level 3 recently signed a deal with none other than Netflix to become their primary provider for streaming video.

At this point, you might be wondering what, exactly, Level 3 Communications is. An excerpt from a New York Times article offers a simplistic explanation: Level 3 is a “highway” through which internet traffic travels; Comcast represents the on/off ramps of said highway. Make sense? At least a little? Good.

Now. As you can probably gather, since their deal with Netflix, Level 3 has been pumping quite a bit more data through their pipes. So. Comcast forced them to pay for it.

Mind you, now: Comcast forced one of its partners to pay a toll in order to deliver content that Comcast’s own customers requested. Seems a little fishy, eh?

“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet,” said Thomas C. Stortz, chief legal officer for Level 3. “Where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. Very timely, this is, because it cuts to the heart of a big issue in the United States right now: Net Neutrality. And, since Comcast is our tyrannical internet king, they’re intrinsically related to it.

However, not ones to take insults lying down, Comcast retaliated with this vague nonsense:

“We are happy to maintain a balanced, no-cost traffic exchange with Level 3. However, when one provider exploits this type of relationship by pushing the burden of massive traffic growth onto the other provider and its customers, we believe this is not fair.”

Yes… but… the customers requested this “massive traffic growth.” Level 3 was meeting a demand. Which is exactly what Comcast should be doing. If Comcast is going to turn around and gouge a partnering company every time I stream a Netflix movie, then what the hell am I paying them $80/month for?

I’m trying to see how this possibly makes sense, and I’ve arrived at the conclusion that it just doesn’t, and Comcast is evil. These are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be in the process of merging with NBC Universal. I get the weird feeling that NBC.com’s download speeds might getting a lot faster in the near future. Unless the FCC actually does the right thing, and sets proper ground rules for this sort of thing.

The internet belongs to the people, goddammit.

This is like Mapco charging the local Hummer dealership every time one of those gas-guzzling monsters rolls through and fills up.

An Inception Video Game is (probably) Happening

Skeptical as we all (rightly) tend to be about licensed videogames, you can’t deny that the surrealistic world of Inception provides a wealth of potential for a videogame. If done right, that shit could be, for lack of a less depraved term, off the chain.

So, we can all be tentatively happy and wary of the fact that Christopher Nolan is, in fact, working on an Inception game. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the director of last summer’s biggest film had this to say: “I always imagined Inception to be a world where a lot of other stories could take place. At the moment, the only direction we’re channeling that is by developing a videogame set in the world.”

The article goes on to say that Nolan is working with a “team of collaborators,” and that any Inception game is a “longer-term proposition” at the moment.

A “team of collaborators,” eh? I like the sound of that. It makes me imagine a table surrounded by game geniuses, hashing out a way to bring Inception to the interactive world with bravado and style.

On that note, if you were to choose a dream-team of collaborators to work with Nolan on such a project, who would they be? I happen to have a few ideas:

1. Ken Levine. The man who behind BioShock, one of the single most atmospheric games ever created, surely, could work wonders with a concept like Inception.

2. Patrice Desilets. Creative director behind Assassin’s Creed II, which remains the greatest sandbox game I’ve ever played. An Inception game, in my opinion, would absolutely require an open, non-linear world.

3. Amy Hennig. The creative mind behind Uncharted. A brilliant writer, and clearly knowledgeable of how to construct some of the greatest videogame setpieces of all time. Something an Inception game would need a lot of.

If I thought long and hard enough, I could come up with a longer list. Those are just from the top of my head. Now it’s YOUR turn!

Aren't they cute?

Life as we Know It Redefined

Before we begin, let me warn you that this is probably the most out-there story to ever grace Hey! Look! Listen! It’s not about videogames in any way, really. Regardless, I feel like its something that people of our kind might appreciate.

The definition for life itself has been changed. That’s right.

In Lake Mono, California, there’s a certain microbacteria known as GFAJ-1. This bacterium has long been known to breathe Arsenic, a compound that is poisonous to every living creature on the planet, save a few microbes.

Well. NASA announced last Thursday that GFAJ-1 wasn’t only breathing Arsenic. It was substituting Arsenic for Phosphorous, one of the essential building blocks of life as we currently define it. That is to say: this particular microbe is using a poison to build DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes.

Now. Obviously. This changes everything. Life exists outside of the pre-existing requirements we’d identified over the centuries. Extra terrestrial life just became that much more of a possibility.

Think about it: if a life form here on earth can formulate its very DNA through means poisonous to every other living creature, then what sort of bizarrely unconventional life must there be out there?

I’m no scientist, so I’m not going to bore you with further discussion; go to Gizmodo for a more in-depth discussion. But, truth be told, this something I find extremely interesting, and honestly, quite exciting. And I hope you can as well.

EA’s Awesome Plan to Dethrone Call of Duty

Call of Duty is a massive brand name. It’s picked up a lot of momentum over the last four years or so, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Competitors, such as EA’s recent Medal of Honor reboot, have very pointedly tried – and failed – to take it down. At this point, the world is forced to wonder when and if a suitable competitor will ever give the franchise a run for its money.

Well, the boss of EA (who’s now made *two* appearances in this very column) has a plan. Oh yes.

His plan?

“Make a better game,” Riccitiello told Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo during an interview. “And make a better game again.”

Alright, well, perhaps there’s more. Later in the article, Riccitiello went on to say:

“What I’ve witnessed a couple of times in the games industry is the way you unseat a market leader is you make a better game a couple of times in a row. ”

The mind behind EA Games, everyone.

Well, to be fair, I’m unsure if I should be more baffled at John for saying that, or at Totilo for writing an article entitled “The Plan to Dethrone Call of Duty.”

Thoughts?

Wii Speak Peripheral to be Phased Out (In All Likelihood)

“The Wii Speak microphone is still available at limited retail locations,”  Nintendo told IGN. “Additional shipments can be made if consumer demand increases.”

HA

HAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ahem. That’s enough. I’m over 2000 words. Let’s hear it for the longest HLL OF ALL TIME.

Yeah. Alright, well it’s Friday night. Time to uh, DO STUFF.

Hey! Look! Listen! #66 – Your Prompt Attention is (not) Required

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

How do I come up with these titles?

Well, in this particular instance, I glanced to my left, and saw a billing notice from the Murfreesboro Electric Department. About halfway down the page, there’s a black bar with large white text that says “LATE NOTICE  - YOUR PROMPT ATTENTION IS REQUIRED.”

So I put that in the title. Then I realized that it wasn’t true, so I put the “not” in parentheses. And that’s the story of how I came up with the title for Hey! Look! Listen! #66.

For those of you who are wondering, I did, in fact, pay my electric bill. Before they shut off my electricity, even. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be typing this right now, because laptops require electricity to function. Mine, particularly, because my stupid battery doesn’t work.

Anyway. That’s enough of this nonsense. I ramble because there isn’t a terrible amount of interesting things going on in the world this week. However, this column is also the only thing standing in between me and my acquisition of Black Ops. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Because Ethos is Canadian: Kevin Butler Brings Good News and Tired Jokes

I’ve always been somewhat hesitant to join in the fun of berating, belittling, and otherwise laughing at the expense of our red-headed cousins up North. Why? Well, two fairly obvious reasons; for one, Ethos is Canadian. But that’s not really a reason, now that I think about it. The main reason is that I actually kinda like Canada, (or at least Toronto) and making jokes at the country’s expense tends to ring somewhat hollow in my ears.

Regardless, I recognize Canada as a concept with a wealth of comedic opportunity, and I can hardly fault those who capitalize on said opportunities. Like Kevin Butler, here. Apparently Canadians finally get access to Sony’s overpriced video store, and they decided it was a big enough deal to make a Kevin Butler video about it.

What he fails to mention is that, despite their lack of overpriced movies, Canadians have had disc-less Netflix streaming for a year now. We just now graduated to that luxury here in the states. So… yeah.

Also, I really want pancakes now. Really… badly.

Black Ops is Here, What Does the World Think?

A new Call of Duty game is one of the single largest gaming events of any given year, or so has become the case in the last four years or so. Modern Warfare 2 set records, stirred controversies, and sparked all kinds of discussions last year – and now Black Ops is here to do the same thing. It’s only been a few days, but what has the world thought of Black Ops so far?

Well, for starters, the game currently holds a 90.54% aggregate score on GameRankings.com. That’s for the Xbox 360 version of the game, by the by; which, according to this awesomely in-depth Digital Foundry article, is the technically superior version. (I swear, every time I read something by Digital Foundry, it makes me wonder why I don’t visit that site every day.)

By and large, reviewers are calling this the best Call of Duty yet. Or that’s what I’m piecing together, at least; almost all of the reviews hail Black Ops as having both the most cohesive storyline of the franchise, as well as the most fully-featured multiplayer suite. Seeing that the campaign and the multiplayer are (essentially) the two main components of the game, I take that as a concession that Black Ops is the best so far. That’s the general opinion at least.

Also, several reviewers touch on the game’s extreme, brutal violence. Being the sadistic son of a bitch that I am, I’m intrigued to see if I find it as offensive as certain reviewers did.

But really, who cares about the critical reception? Activision doesn’t, I can tell you that. Why not? Because they’re too busy swimming in all their damn money. Last year, Modern Warfare 2 brought in $310 million on its opening day, and became literally the largest entertainment product launch in history. This year, Black Ops has broken even that insane record, with Activision reporting that the game generated an estimated $360 million on launch day. That’s 5.6 million copies.

That’s a lot. A lot. A lot. Shortly after wiping his ass with a Benjamin, Activision head Bobby Kotick had this to say: “There has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records for two consecutive years and we are on track to outperform last year’s five-day global sales record of $550 million.”

But, oh. Wait. Not everyone’s happy. Gamers are happy, retailers are happy, Bobby Kotick is using $20 bills as jizzrags, but as per always, with so many happy people around someone has to come balance the karma. So, who’s un-happy? Some damn crochety veteran. Go figure. Vietnam veteran and Winnipeg resident Ron Parkes thinks it’s “tacky” that Activision released Black Ops on Remembrance Day.

“Remembrance Day is not a consumer advocate’s day and this company is clearly using the date as a marketing strategy.

“War is always a miserable experience and the movies or video games depicting these wars never really do catch how bad it really is.”

Yes. War is bad. Very, very bad. Awful, really. That’s why I’ve never fought in one, personally. But, that being the case, two things:

1. I can see no evidence whatsoever that Activision is using Remembrance Day as a marketing tactic

2. What the fuck is Remembrance Day? Don’t we already have a Memorial Day?

I’m a patriot, for sure. I’ll be bringing you my own thoughts of Black Ops soon enough.

God Damn It, A New Assassin’s Creed is Out Next Week?

Apparently so. It feels like Assassin’s Creed II just came out a year ago, and now Brotherhood is here. And it looks good. Really good, actually; and early word on the street is that the appearances aren’t deceiving.

Since it was first introduced to the world, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has always been graced with very stellar, creative marketing campaigns. Some of the trailers for the original game remain my favorite of all time. And now, this eerie live-action trailer for Brotherhood is likely to receive similar honors. Whether or not you enjoy Assassin’s Creed, if you have an appreciation for good videogame trailers, check this one out.

(Shut up, Ethos.)

Nintendo Trademarks “It’s On Like Donkey Kong”

Okay… sorry, but just how full of yourself do you have to be to trademark pop culture catchphrases based on your brand names?

The thing is, this isn’t a first, but part of a pattern when it comes to Nintendo. Apparently, they’ve already trademarked the phrases “It’s a-me, Mario,” “Wii would like to play,” and “Gotta catch ‘em all.”

I mean, come on. You don’t see me filing trademarks for “there is no exploration in Metroid,” do you?

Although, now that I think about it, that’s sort of an interesting idea. I could make Shawn and all the other denizens of Lusipurr.com pay licensing fees to use it. Given the immense popularity of the phrase, I feel like a reasonable compromise could be reached.

Here’s the First Nine Minutes of Prince of Persia HD

Of course, unless you live in Europe, this will only serve to infuriate you further. That’s what it did to me. The Prince cleans up pretty damn well, it seems. I’m surprised how much less shitty his character model from Sands of Time looks when upscaled; but I’m even more impressed with the level of detail that the environments now have the ability to display. Of all the franchises that have been given/are getting an HD facelift, Prince of Persia is by far the most deserving.

And it’s only going to be released in Europe.

God damn you, Sony. Hear my cantankerous grumblings, and give me this damn trilogy.

And that’s it. I’m off to buy Black Ops. I can’t wait any longer. Byyeee.

Hey! Look! Listen! #65 – You’ve got such super-wicked style

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

So I’m expected to visit Albion this week? Madness. I’m deep within the mystical land of Ferelden, and I have no desire to leave. Seriously. That game is so good, and I’ve really been getting into it lately, so the thought of putting it aside in favor of Fable is just… tough. It’s a tough thing.

But the theme week demands it. And while I’m generally perfectly fine with ignoring theme weeks, this time I’m gonna bite the bullet. For the sake of you all.

Anyway. That’ll come later. For now, let’s take a look at some goings-on across the internet.

Speaking of Dragon Age: Check Out this Sexy New Trailer for Dragon Age II

And when I say sexy, I do mean sexy. This looks more like a trailer for a slickly packaged action game than an RPG; and while that’s perhaps slightly off-putting, you can’t deny the sexiness of it.

Plus, unlike all prior trailers, this one is composed of actual in-game footage. No gameplay, but in-game footage. It looks quite good, actually.

Man. I need to finish Dragon Age Origins.

Funny: Steve Jobs Was Pissed Over Bungie Sale Back in 2000

Man, it really was ten years ago that Microsoft made that fateful acquisition of Bungie. (The Halo guys, for you clueless ones.)

Something you might not know about Bungie, though, is that before the Microsoft buyout, they developed games primarily for (wait for it) the Apple Macintosh platform. Yep. A few of their titles were ported to Windows platforms, but they were more or less what you’d call Mac developers.

So, when Microsoft bought out Bungie in summer of 2000, you can imagine that a certain Steve Jobs wasn’t entirely thrilled. He was far from thrilled, in fact; he was downright pissed. So pissed that he called Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer and bitched. Or something.

This is according to former Xbox exec Ed Fries, who recently told this story to Develop. Apparently, after the phone call, Ballmer ordered Fries to make some, uh… reparations.

“So, during the day, I got an email from Steve Ballmer asking me to phone Steve Jobs and calm him down about the whole thing,” he said.

“Anyway, we did this deal with Apple where we’d port some PC games to the Macintosh and help Peter Tamte create this company to do it, and I had to go to a Mac developer conference and get on stage and talk about this whole new partnership. It was a pretty strange time.”

That does sound like a strange time. For several reasons. Like, for instance: why the hell would Microsoft go to such lengths to placate an angry Steve Jobs? What possible advantage could that bring to them? Was it supposed to cultivate good relations? Because as far as I can see, the two companies still hate eachother. I mean hell, Melinda Gates won’t even let her kids have an iPod, for fuck’s sake.

So why? Was there a threat involved? Am I reading way too much into this? Am I just trying to up my word count? Is anyone still reading? God, I hope not.

The PlayStation Phone is a Thing

A real thing. A thing that’s a thing that’s a thing.

That is to say that it’s real. Endgadget says so. And they have pictures to prove it. Here, take a gander at this one:

Nice. No analog nub, but still nice. I’m actually interested in this, but unsure how much of a nerd stigma would come along with owning a PlayStation phone. I mean, we all remember what happened to the N-Gage, right? Granted that has very little to do with anything, but still, we all remember, right? Obviously the PlayStation Phone will look hella slicker, but due to the presence of PlayStation buttons, it’ll have to be hella slick indeed to avoid looking awkward when you pull it out at parties.

It’s rumored that the PlayStation Phone will hit the market “soon” – possibly in time for the holidays, though Endgadget calls 2011 a more realistic release window at this point. Supposedly, it’ll come equipped with the Android 3.0 OS, and will feature a “custom Sony Marketplace which will allow you to purchase and download games designed for the new platform.”

Oh, Jeezus: Check Out These New Catherine Screens

I’m pretty excited about Catherine. I mean, how can you not be? A distinctively and pointedly adult-themed game brought to you by the people behind Persona 3 and 4? Yes, please. Please. Yes.

However. It must be said that the screenshot below is one of the more disturbing images I’ve seen in at least twelve hours.

Is that… a chainsaw coming out of its eye? Two chainsaws?

Hit up Andriasang for the full batch of screens. Catherine’s been given a release date for Japan – and that date is February 17. No word yet on a Western release, but I’m sure we’ll get one.

That’s all I’ve got in me tonight, gents and ladies. Signing off.

~Riddles


Hey! Look! Listen! #64 – Dream of Californication

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

“I’m not going to bore you with three paragraph non-introductions like Riddles did with his Hey! Look! Listen!…”

Seriously, what a jackass. You guys enjoy my lengthy introductions, right? They’re a nice personal touch, right? I’m an interesting person, right?

Wrong? Well fuck you too, asswipe.

David Jaffe Responds to EA Louse

Remember last week when I wrote about the Tragic Rantings of EA Louse? Y’know, the guy from Mythic who worked on the Warhammer MMO and said that BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to fail epically?

Well, while the man may have had some valid complaints, he was also a butthurt sap who was about to get fired. What I mean by that is: his perspective is far from unbiased. So, it’s hardly surprising that David Jaffe has taken the opportunity to call him out on a few things. You can read Jaffe’s blog entry here.

Jaffe’s a pretty straight shooter, I have to concede. His point about the dancing is spot-on, and mirrors what I thought myself. And this is coming from Jaffe, a guy who’s worked on plenty of games, and most likely worked with plenty of less-than-stellar dev teams himself. He knows what he’s talking about.

I mean, he created God of War. And for that he will remain immortal.

Perhaps wrongfully so.

D’OH

Check Out This Video About Black Ops’ Multiplayer

Awwww yeah. I’m admittedly pretty stoked about Call of Duty: Black Ops. Call of Duty’s online multiplayer is the only competitive online game that I’ve ever become moderately addicted to. Y’see, I don’t tend to be the type of gamer who obsesses over any single game for an extended period of time. So, the fact that Modern Warfare 2 has taken up so many days (days) of my time is an impressive thing.

Is there *anyone* else out there who likes Call of Duty? Nobody? Too bad,watch this (highly informative) video anyway.

November 9 can’t come soon enough.

Capcom Defends Dante Redesign

Okay. Between myself and Ethos, I’m the bigger Devil May Cry fan. I’ve played through the entirety of the first two, and a good chunk of DMC3. I like the series quite a bit, so naturally I paid attention when Capcom unveiled their flashy new series relaunch. However, as you may have noticed, I said nothing – nothing until now.

I’ve been doing this thing long enough to have learned to avoid knee-jerk reactions. They often end up making a fool of you, and I’m not partial to being made a fool of. So, when a developer or publisher does something that  rubs me in every conceivable wrong direction, I force myself to take a moment, step back, wait for the initial shock to wear off, and then see what I think.

When Capcom unveiled the new design for Dante, I hated it. I hated it just as much as the throngs of angry gamers who set the internets ablaze with their vitriolic complaints.

But I remained silent.

Until now.

The new Dante sucks. He sucks, he’s terrible, I hate him. Why’d they do this to him? Why? How? Please, can’t anyone tell me why?

Maybe Christian Svensson, Capcom’s VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development can tell me.

The original concepts that came back for Dante were actually extremely close to the Dante everyone knows and loves,” Svensson explained. “The feedback that came back from [Keiji] Inafune and [Hideaki] Itsuno was, ‘No guys, this needs to be completely different, we need you to go much further and be much more creative.’”

And literally dozens of potential iterations later became what we as a team felt comfortable and actually happy with.

Okay… so they wanted him to look different. Fine. What Capcom needs to understand is that we’re not furious because they changed Dante. Necessarily. Rather, we’re furious because they changed Dante into such a douche. Seriously, could they have come up with a (pardon my language) faggier look for everyone’s favorite demon slayer? Dante is a wisecracking badass, not a fucking brooding grease-haired emo F*GGOT.

Again, pardon the language. I only deem it necessary in these dire times. Sucker Punch was wise, and responded to the outcry of their fans. Hopefully Capcom will do the same. Because I do not want to look at that for eight plus hours.

Man, I Love Back to the Future

I do. Even the second installment, which many people seem to disdain for whatever reason. In my opinion, the second movie is the second best. And the first is the first best. A cookie if you can figure out which I think is the third best.

Granted, it is somewhat amusing (and disappointing) to look at the second film’s depiction of the year 2015. And, while we may still have four years or so until we reach said year, this video from Landline TV more or less has it right. Poor Doc Brown. The guy deserved better.

Somebody *did* make a Hoverboard, though. We have that.

Ba-hahahaha: EA Wants to Kill Babies

Well, not really. However, the unfortunate placement of this pop-out ad for Medal of Honor makes it appear so:

Oh, I love it.

Irregardless of any and all rumors of baby-killing, Medal of Honor managed to sell 1.5 million copies in a week. What? In spite of its “shameful” 75% aggregate ranking?

What a spoiled, spoiled industry.

I’ve Seen This Trailer 82372 Times Before

I know a lot of people are excited about The Last Story. I should be too; it’s Hironobu Sakaguchi. The last game he made was Lost Odyssey, and I loved the shit out of it. Hell, I even enjoyed Blue Dragon for what it was. (Braces).

That said, this trailer looks like it was pieced together from every other JRPG trailer ever made. Ever. The fact that it’s all in Japanese doesn’t help its cause.

So, why would I end this HLL with a boring video that I didn’t even enjoy? Well, one half to appeal to the hopeless JRPG nerds in the crowd. (I can smell you.) And one half because I hate you. I hate you all.

Nah, not really. I had fun writing this. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

~Riddles

Hey! Look! Listen! #63 – Not So Lost, as it were

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Hm. I’m having a difficult time coming up with something interesting to say for this little intro. Usually I say something self-disparaging, apologetic, or both. But I don’t feel the need, nor really have the cause to be self-disparaging or apologetic right now, so that won’t work.

I’d relate some intriguing story sampled from recent events in my life, but my life is actually really boring, stale, and monotonous. Nothing of particular interest has occurred since… well, probably since I moved into my new place. And yeah, that was fairly recent, but even still, it’s not like any exciting stories have arisen from it.

Sad as this is to say, the most interesting thing I’ve done in the last couple weeks is start watching Lost. Yes, you read that correctly. For no reason other than the fuck of it (and because I enjoy the show, I guess) I’ve begun the sure-to-be-lengthy process of watching Lost from start to finish. I’ve seen a lot of Season 6 (which, by the way, is probably the worst place you could ever start watching the show) but other than that I’m a noob.

So, how does it feel to be watching the first season after seeing almost every episode of Season 6? (I managed to avoid the finale, that was about it.) Well, it’s still an enjoyable thing to watch, but it’s obviously somewhat disappointing that much of what I’m supposed to find mysterious… isn’t. But I can only blame myself for that one. Stupid, stupid me.

The Tragically Comic Rantings of  EA Louse

HEY! – Why I Care I greatly enjoy these rare glimpses into the inner workings of Corporate’s seedy underbelly in the videogame industry. What we have here is a rant written by an employee of Mythic Entertainment – now known as “BioWare Mythic.” The guy’s pissed because he heard he was being fired soon, decided to write a scathing blog entry exposing the incompetency of Mythic and BioWare’s upper management figures. The article is labeled, simply, as “Why Warhammer Failed“.

LOOK! – Why You Care This guy was clearly pretty involved in the development of the now-largely-forgotten MMORPG, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. He tells an interesting story of what “really” went on behind the scenes of the game’s tumultous development. Oh, and if that doesn’t grab you: he blasts BioWare’s upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic. In his own words:

Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too

See? This guy has some crazy shit to say. So…

Listen! Mythic Entertainment has been around for a while. Founded in 1995, they finally made a name for themselves in 2001 with the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. In 2006, EA bought them out, and they were known as “EA Mythic” for few years afterward. Then, as you should all recall, EA merged with BioWare Entertainment. (Y’know, the Mass Effect guys.) Shortly after that acquisition, EA took the liberty of merging Mythic Entertainment with BioWare to create what is now known as “BioWare Mythic.” Dr. Ray Myzuka still runs the entire shindig, Mythic’s general manager was replaced, and things went along with ease and efficiency.

…or DID they? Apparently not, if this dude is to be believed. I mean, sure, it’s possible that it’s all an elaborate host, but it sounds legit enough to me. Hell, even if it’s not, it’s a legitimately entertaining read. The merger between EA and BioWare was a huge, huge deal – a deal that, seemingly, went over without a hitch. We still got our respective Dragon Age and Mass Effect fixes. And oh looky, Dragon Age 2 is set for release in less than five months! And Mass Effect 2 is coming to the PS3! No sign of greedy corporate evil here, right?

Probably wrong. If you still aren’t interested in reading his rant, then at least treat yourself to this glorious excerpt:

Oh yeah, and he needed Paul Barnett. You know him as the crazy British dude that appears in random videos at EA to promote his latest bullshittery. We know him as the crazy British dude who we have no idea of how he still has a job. This man was supposed to be the savior of Warhammer’s vision and design. Now all he can do is promote his strange ideas about his little secret project web Ultima game that’s been almost universally criticized by all of us and focus groups. What’s that? You didn”t know Paul loves one of those old Ultima games sooooo much he’s making a literal copy of it for Facebook? Well, the cats outta the bag. Too bad it sucks ass.

Oh… the hatred in his tone. I soak it up like a week-old sponge.

So, assuming that you’ve read his rant at this point, what are your thoughts? Rightly disgruntled employee with legitimate, if raging, critiques? Or a pill who just got burned and felt like bitching?

Or… both?

Aggregate Ranking Roundup: Final Fantasy XIV, Enslaved, Medal of Honor

Huh boy. It’s that time of year again.

Last year I had quite a bit more money than I do now, so I was set and ready to stem the tide of big game releases. This year, however, I am not so fortunate. One fortunate thing, though, is that it now seems that I can safely cross two games off the list.

Final Fantasy XIV – 55% (7 reviews, PC version) Ouch. Well, I guess we all saw this one coming. Final Fantasy XIV never looked like it would be anything more than a grindy, unpolished mess, and now that reviews are starting to roll out – almost universally negative – I guess we can finally put it to rest. From Kevin VanOrd’s review for GameSpot: “When the simple act of creating an account for the massively multiplayer online game you just bought is a convoluted mess, you know you’re in trouble.”

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West – 82.07% (30 reviews, PS3 version) Yeah. I still want this game. Really badly, actually, and I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve heard that Lameish (or whatever his name is) has it, but despite my repeated demands that he airmail it to me, he has refused. I’d fire him, but then I’d be admitting that I hired him in the first place.

Anyway, yeah, Enslaved looks really good. Granted, an 82 percent aggregate ranking isn’t exactly cause to blow one’s load, but it is quite respectable. General consensus seems to be that Enslaved greatly succeeds as an experience, a story, and a visual spectacle. Why do I want it so badly? Well, for one thing, I haven’t played a good action-adventure game in far too long. Secondly, I find the post-apocalyptic-yet-healing world setting incredibly appealing. In a sea of big-name releases with much larger ad campaigns, it looks like Enslaved might be doomed to obscurity. And while I’ve yet to play (though I promise I will) I think that’s a damn shame.

Medal of Honor – 75.3% (20 reviews, PS3 version) While I may spend a fair amount of time wanking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the only way I’d spend money on EA’s Medal of Honor reboot is if it received sparkling reviews. And, while reviews for said reboot have been positive, they have not sparkled. I’m frankly surprised. Not that the game is only average, but that so many reviewers actually took the liberty of pointing this out. A big, fat, heavily advertised series reboot from EA is precisely the sort of thing that most media outlets would love to fellate. And yet they haven’t. Good for them. Bad for EA’s shareholders, as it were. Apparently, due to the average-only reviews, EA’s shares dipped six percent. Boo-hoo, I know.

QUICKIES – Short and Rough. Uh, Sweet.

The PS3 Will Soon Netflix Sans Disc – Oh thank fuck. The PS3 is my system of choice, so I prefer to Netflix on it rather than my 360. The problem? The PS3 makes me stick a disc in the drive, while the 360 does not. It presents quite the moral impound, but it will soon be a nonissue. Starting Monday, a system update will allow us all to watch Netflix without the damn disc. It will also now feature 5.1 surround sound due to some partnership with Dolby, and it will allow for video qualities up to 1080i. And it’ll look better and move faster. Sounds like epic winsauce all around.

Dragon Age II “BioWare Signature Edition” Announced – Woo. Well, actually, it is kinda cool. If you pre-order Dragon Age II before January 11, you’ll get a download code for a new character and mission, a digital soundtrack, and some kinda digital in-game armory. At no additional cost. I really need to finish Dragon Age Origins.

You Can Get Married in a Chinese McDonald’s – Ah. This is… something. Crazy Hong Kong-ians.

And that’s it. There’s no more. This thing is almost 1500 words long, which is pushing it a little bit given the average attention span of a Riddlethos reader.

Anyway, Ethos should be here tonight with some thoughts on the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood multiplayer beta. The next time you see me, I’ll probably be reviewing the new South Park. (Preview: it’s pretty funny.)

~Riddles

Hey! Look! Listen!#62 – All the Lonely People

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Well hello there, and welcome to the sixty-second edition of this barely viable news column, Hey! Look! Listen! I’m your host Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and for those of you are who wondering, yes, the title above is a reference to the classic Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby.” I *do* so love The Beatles, y’see.

On that note, (ha) I watched a documentary the other day simply called Imagine: John Lennon. For those of you who appreciate The Beatles, their music, and their history as much as I do, it’s a must-see. Buy it, download it, or Netflix it. (That’s what I did. Netflix instant streaming ftw.)

Hm. In other news, I saw Of Montreal play Nashville the other night. Great show, but man was it a terrible date.

And now that I’ve thoroughly bored you, it’s time to move on the the actual topics of interest.

Just pretend the DS is a Wiimote

Nintendo Finally Combines Wii Plus with Remote

HEY! – Why I care: Well, it’s about damn time. It’s absurd that Nintendo didn’t have this technology in place when the Wii was released four years ago.

LOOK! – Why You Care: Because we all enjoy opportunities to throw stones at the big N these days. Because they suck.

LISTEN! Like I said, it’s absurd enough that Nintendo didn’t have this available in the first place, and it’s even more absurd that they released the technology as a fucking add-on peripheral. Come on, Nintendo. Remember when Sony left the rumble functionality out of launch PS3 controllers? Remember how much people panned them for that shit? And that was just for the stupid rumble. (Kotaku)

Zombies Return to Call of Duty: Black Ops

HEY! – Why I Care: I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the time I’ve spent with Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World at War has been in the Nazi Zombies survival mode. I don’t know what’s so appealing about teaming up with a buddy and fending off wave after wave of shuffling undead German scum, but whatever the reason, it’s cost me many hours of my life. So, naturally, I’m pretty excited to hear that they’re bringing back the zombies for Black Ops

LOOK! – Why You Care: Uh, because zombies are awesome, regardless of context? Because even people who never played a moment of World at War’s campaign or multiplayer modes are familiar with Nazi Zombies? And because this is just another game mode added onto the already impressive array that Black Ops features.

LISTEN! This was actually more or less confirmed a few months ago, when Activision let slip that the Prestige and Hardened editions of Black Ops would feature four updated maps from World at War. (Those maps, of course, being the four Nazi Zombie maps.) In any case, it’s been confirmed for realz now. Treyarch boss Mark Lamia had this to say:

“We’ve taken extra special care to retain the essential ingredients of our Zombie game, and have also crafted a nice surprise for the fans.”

Woo. I can’t wait to see what the nice surprise is!

Seriously, though, Zombies are teh great. (IGN)

3DS Launches in Japan February  26, Costs $300

HEY! – Why I Care: Admittedly, I’ve been kinda sold on the 3DS since the announcement of an Ocarina of Time remake. Well, “sold” might be a bit over-the-top, but it looks like a unique device with a surprisingly strong lineup of games in the works. It’s definitely something I’ll want at some point.

LOOK! – Why You Care: It’s the next Nintendo handheld. It’s sort of a big deal, seeing that they continue to largely dominate the handheld gaming race. The 3DS will be the first system to offer an exclusively 3D experience – without glasses, at that. It’s uncharacteristic of Nintendo to embrace cutting-edge technologies in such a way, and I find that intriguing.

LISTEN! Nintendo recently held a press conference in Tokyo where they finally blew the lid off of the 3DS. It’ll hit Japan on February 26, 2011, it will be available in “Aqua Blue” and “Cosmos Black,” it’ll have it’s own Virtual Console with Gameboy games, and supposedly it’ll have television programming. Oh, and it’ll cost 25,000 yen – the equivalent of 298 USD.

Now, granted, this doesn’t mean it’ll cost $300 when it hits the states. Nintendo hasn’t given a price or specific release date for us yet; supposedly sometime in March.

I really hope it doesn’t cost $300. That would be ridiculous. But frankly, it doesn’t matter much to me, because I make it a rule to wait for at least one re-design before I purchase any Nintendo handheld. It’s a generally rewarding practice. (Kotaku)

Speaking of the 3DS: See Footage of Almost Every 3DS Game

Or at least the ones that matter. Seriously, it’s worth watching. Resident Evil looks amazing. And Zelda doesn’t look half bad either.

Okay. That’s enough. I started writing this almost 36 hours ago. But then I had work, and then getting utilities turned on for my new apartment, and tomorrow I’m moving. That’s right. So, uh. You probably won’t see me for the rest of this week. Unless I can steal internets from some new neighbors.

‘Till then, Riddlethosians!

~Riddles

Hey! Look! Listen! #61 – Man, I’m Tired of Being Homeless

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I really am. I mean, “homeless” isn’t entirely accurate – I’ve been living in a nice two-bedroom apartment with Dillon and his fiance for the last five weeks or so – but it’s only meant to be temporary, and the majority of my stuff is in a storage unit. It’s a place to live, but it isn’t my place, y’know?

And of course, when I finally got around to applying for residency to the apartment I picked out, I was denied because I didn’t pass the fucking credit check. Why? Not because I have bad credit; but because I have no credit. Why do I have no credit? Because I’ve avoided credit cards and car payments my entire life, and paid for everything with money out of my own pocket. So I’m essentially being penalized for being financially responsible, and that infuriates me to no end.

But, in a stroke of moderate luck I’ve found another place, in which my lack of credit shouldn’t be an issue. So, if all goes well, I’ll be in a place of my own in two to three weeks.

But enough about my boring personal life. Welcome once again to Hey! Look! Listen! I’m your host Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and it’s time to see what’s going on in my RSS feed.

Final Fantasy XIII Coming to Xbox 360 in Japan… What?

After letting it kick around as a rumor for less than a day, Square Enix came forward and confirmed that their shitty 13th entry in the Final Fantasy series will be coming to the Xbox 360 in Japan, as part of their budget-priced “Ultimate Hits” line. If you recall, while the game was released on both PS3 and 360 in the states, it remained a PS3 exclusive in Japan.

I assumed that this was largely because nobody in Japan owns an Xbox 360. And, as far as I know, that’s still the case. So, to be frank, this makes little sense to me. But then again, nothing about Final Fantasy XIII makes sense to me.  The game is, and remains, a giant digital clusterfuck.

The four existing Japanese 360 fanbots will be able to experience said clusterfuck on December 16. (VG247)

Check Out Dragon Age II’s Female Protagonist


Cute, right? Like Ethos, I always go Female when allowed to choose, because I’d rather look at something cute. And also, nobody else does it. And also, I fantasize about being a woman and it allows me to partially realize said fantasies.

That last part isn’t actually true, I just thought it would be funny to say. Or… is it?

Anyway. While I’m glad she’s hot and stuff, this immediately raised the question in my mind: will you be allowed to customize character appearance in Dragon Age II? If you recall, while Mass Effect always had the stock male model used in all the trailers and promotional stuff, they never bothered showing a female – makes sense, seeing that most people are going to create something totally unique anyway. So the fact that they’ve provided this specific female model makes me wonder. And google as I may, I can’t find any solid confirmation that appearance customization is a feature in Dragon Age II.

Maybe I’m missing something. Dunno. I have no idea *why* BioWare would remove the feature, seeing that it’s become sort of a staple for them. And my guess is that they haven’t. I’m just, y’know. Raising the question.

Check Out These Mass Effect 2 Stats

Now this is cool. And insane, in some cases:

28 times? 28 motherfucking times? Are you kidding me? I want to meet these people, and see how much of a life they don’t have.

Anyway, this image was part of an IGN interview with Mass Effect’s Executive Producer, Casey Hudson. In the interview, Hudson explained why they gather these stats, and how they’re used – or not used – to aid the development of future titles. Here’s an excerpt:

Ultimately it doesn’t always give you the answers, but it sometimes raises questions or gets you to ask the right questions…More people played the soldier class than all of the other classes combined. If you know that, then you can start thinking about future games. Is that good? Is that a problem? Should we look at the other classes and start thinking about ways to make them selected as often as soldier? As part of asking these questions, we can design games in the future a lot better.

The full article is rather interesting, and not absurdly long. I recommend you check it out here.

A PC With a Built-In Xbox 360 Now Exists

And it’s awesome. And… expensive. As fuck.

A company called Origin PC has built a high-powered gaming computer that not only has specs mad enough to play anything at max settings, but it has a freaking 360 Slim inside of it. The whole thing, with the same ports and connections. You can even play it while the PC is performing other tasks.

As for specs, the entry-level configuration includes:

-An overclocked 4.0GHz Intel Core i7 930 processor,

-A liquid cooled Rampage III Extreme motherboard

-Dual NVIDIA GTX 480 GPUs,

-6GBs of memory

-Dual 50GB SSD drives

-A 2TB hard drive

-A Creative Fatal1ty sound card

-A built-in Blu-ray burner

All that can be yours for a mere $7669. And if that’s not expensive enough for you, try the configuration used by CPU Magazine:

-Dual Intel Xeon X5680 processors overclocked to 4.3GHz

-An EVGA SR2 motherboard

-Liquid cooling

-Quad SLI EVGA GTX 480 GPUs

-12GBs of memory

-Four 50GB SSD drives

-Two 2TB hard drives

-A built-in Blu-ray burner

-A built-in 8 channel HD audio sound card

All that can be yours for a mere… $16.999. Interested? You can order “The Big O” (that’s seriously what it’s called) now at Origin’s website.

To say “do want” is a bit redundant at this point, but I guess I’ll say it anyway.

QUICKIE: There’s a Dissidia Sequel Coming

Well, this isn’t terribly surprising. According to the latest issue of Shonen Jump, a sequel named Dissidia Duodecim: Final Fantasy will be released next year. Confirmed to be in the new lineup are Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII and Kain from Final Fantasy IV.

“Dissidia Duodecim”? Really? That’s Nomura for you. Anyway, nothing else is known about the game at the moment, but I’m pretty sure we’ll hear more when TGS rolls around. (VG247)

And that, as they say, is that. It’s time to get some Taco Bell and then head to bed. Tomorrow’s my one day off, and hopefully I’ll be able to spend it playing Dissidia. If so, expect impressions.

‘Till then!

~Riddles

Hey! Look! Listen! #60 – High Hopes

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Hooah. Welcome to the 60th edition of Hey! Look! Listen! Can you believe it? 60. I mean, there isn’t much significance in the number, but it’s a pretty impressive run, eh?

EH?

That’s what I thought. Anyway. While the review and banner doubtless gave it away, allow me to offer you a formal welcome to Metroid: Other M Week. Being the impoverished fuck that I am, I will likely be unable to purchase and play the game, so my thoughts will not be offered. As for Ethos, he’s already written a detailed review for the game, but he’ll likely write something else about the game before the week’s end.

Alright, well, now that pleasantries are out of the way, let’s dive into the topics of interest for today.

First Batch of Arkham City Screens Released, Look Way Too Good

Holy God. I mean, Arkham Asylum was a damn good looking game – aside from Uncharted 2, it was probably the prettiest game that came out in 2009. So clearly the people at Rocksteady know how to pump out some graphics. But this – this – is just insane:

Click on the image for the full size. Some mighty fine texture work there, eh? Almost looks touched up. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that these are from the PC version. In any case, I think it’s safe to say that Arkham City will be a hell of a good-looking game when it’s released in late 2011. Hit up IGN for the full batch of screens. (They’re all amazing.)

Great Scott: Back to the Future Episodic Game Series Coming

That’s right. Telltale games, the people behind episodic titles such as Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island are adapting everyone’s favorite time-travelling trilogy into a series of episodic games, due out later this year on multiple platforms. It will be timed to coincide with the Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray, which releases on October 26.

I didn’t even know the trilogy was coming to Blu Ray. And we’re getting a game, too? Can this get any better?

Yes, yes it can: Christopher Lloyd will be returning to voice Doc Brown, and original screenwriter Bob Gale will be onboard the project.

If this sounds completely out of the blue (it was to me) it actually isn’t. Some months ago, Game Informer spilled the beans on a Jurassic Park game being developed by Telltale as part of a deal they struck with Universal Studios. A Back to the Future game is yet another product of that deal.

“Our partnership with Universal is an exciting next step in our continued growth as a mass-market games publisher and developer,” says Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors. “We are all huge fans of both of these franchises. For Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, we will leverage Telltale’s expertise in story-telling and game design to deliver on the unique elements of each series, with our goal being to create compelling cinematic adventures paying homage to each franchise.”

I’ll admit to being excited. Back to the Future has long been one of my most loved film trilogies, and I’d love to see it given proper treatment within the world of videogames. Same with Jurassic Park, really. I haven’t played any of Telltale’s other stuff, but given the reception of stuff like Sam & Max, it sounds like if anyone can do it, they can. I can’t wait. (Kotaku)

Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Details Revealed

Treyarch appears to be stepping up their game with the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops. And they need to, because when set next to the two Modern Warfares, World At War, their previous effort, pales rather dramatically. (In my opinion, at least.)

At an event in Los Angeles, journalists were allowed their first hands-on time with Black Ops’ multiplayer modes. The event is actually taking place as I write this, so I doubt every piece of information has found its way to the internets at this time. But, this being the modern age and whatnot, there’s already more than enough to whet the appetite.

-COD Points: A New In-Game Currency

Black Ops will introduce an in-game currency known simply as COD points. They’re earned by playing the game (naturally) and they can be… spent on things. I’m not sure what, exactly, but we’ll probably know soon. As of right now, all we know for sure is that COD points can be used as gambling currency in…

-Wager Modes: Black Ops’ Four New Multiplayer Modes

Now, this is the big one. So far, at least. With your COD points, you’ll be able to gamble in the four new “Wager Modes.” You’ll be wagering that you’ll end up ranked in the top 3 at the end of the match. Those in the top 3 get all the money; the rest go broke. Descriptions of the four modes are as follows:

“One in the chamber” – each player spawns with one pistol, one bullet, and three lives. If you kill someone, you get to take their bullet. If you miss, you have only your melee attacks.

“Sticks and Stones” – you play with crossbows, tomahawks, and a ballistic knife. Obviously, the mode is meant to place an emphasis on visceral, up-close combat. As a twist, if you manage to hit someone with a tomahawk, you instantly bankrupt them. So. Watch your back.

“Gun Game”  - With every kill, you’re gifted with a more powerful weapon. The first player to cycle through them all wins. If you get knifed, though, you’re sent back a tier.

“Sharpshooter” – Everyone starts with the same randomly selected weapon. After a fixed amount of time, another random weapon is selected for everyone. Each kill earns you a perk, and if you rack up enough you’ll be gifted with a scoring multiplier.

Or, instead of reading all that, you could just watch this video:

I tend to play Team Deathmatch and only Team Deathmatch, but I like the sound of these. They sound unique, highly competitive, and potentially highly rewarding.

-Offline Multiplayer

Oh, and there will also be an offline multiplayer component that enables bots. This will be called “Combat Training,” and will be a separate entity from online multiplayer, with its own progression system. I just hope the mode enables split-screen play, so that my flesh-and-blood couch buddies can join in. If so, then the mode will be awesome. If not, I don’t have much interest in fighting an army of bots.

Exciting stuff, to be sure. November 9 can’t come soon enough. I’m just hoping to have prestiged in Modern Warfare 2 by that time. (No, I still haven’t prestiged.) (VG247)

QUICKIE: iTunes 10 Introduces Ping, the Social Network for Music

The headline is the story, essentially. If you want details on it all, head over to Gizmodo. What do I think? Eh, well, it looks slick as hell (I mean, it is Apple) but it also seems gimmicky and superfluous. I’d rather post YouTube music videos to my Facebook account. Or at least, that’s my first impression. I might think differently when/if I take a look at it, which I’m sure will happen sometime, if only out of sheer curiosity.

And that, as they say, is that. Man, I’m tired, and I don’t know why. I’m going to bed.

p.s, remember when Ethos used to write that thing called Scatter Storming? I miss those days.

Hey! Look! Listen! #59 – I Miss My Desk

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Aaaand I’m back.

Man, I really should stop pulling this frequent disappearance act. But (sadly) Riddlethos doesn’t pay the bills. And it was my birthday week, and the only present I received was the gift of laziness, which I gave to myself.

As for the title of this post, it’s in reference to my super-awesome desk that I received as a birthday present some years back. Right now, though, it’s collecting dust in a storage unit. Why? Because I don’t have an apartment, as you all know. Sitting on the bed with my legs wrapped around my laptop is not the most ideal position for typing. But I suppose it beats sitting in a dirty Murfreesboroan alleyway.

(Actually, I don’t think we have many dirty alleyways in Murfreesboro. If any.)

That aside, let’s see what trifles have managed to catch my fancy in the world of videogames.

THQ Feels Cheated When You Buy Their Games Used

Aw. Poor THQ.

A growing trend amongst videogame publishers of today is an outspoken disdain for the sales of used games, and for the penniless sots who purchase them. It started with EA and their “Project Ten Dollar” initiative, which charged used game buyers an extra ten bucks to access DLC and online play. THQ quickly followed suit, revealing last May that UFC Undisputed 2010 will come with a one-time use code for DLC and online play. Those who buy it used will have to buy a fresh code. Seeing that a lot of people purchased games used, there’s been more than a few disgruntled fans. I mean come on, everyone picks up a used game here and there – some of us honestly could use the five or ten bucks it saves us, y’know?

Well, THQ’s Corey Ledesma has come forward and revealed to CVG precisely how the company feels towards said purchasers of used games. Long and short, they really don’t give a flying fuck:

I don’t think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. If used game buyers are upset they don’t get the online feature set I don’t really have much sympathy for them.

That’s a little blunt, but we hope it doesn’t disappoint people. We hope people understand that when the game’s bought used we get cheated. I don’t think anyone wants that, so in order for us to make strong, high-quality WWE games we need loyal fans that are interested in purchasing the game. We want to award those fans with additional content.

Cheated? Really? THQ thinks that Average Joe Gamer buys a used copy of UFC with the intent of “cheating” them? From where I stand, it looks like the guy just wants to save a few bucks.

I understand that THQ, along with every other publisher in the world, doesn’t see a penny from used game sales. I understand that they may find this frustrating. But to attack used game consumers in such a way, and go so far as to call them cheats (essentially) is way over the line. Sure, they may not be the one lining THQ’s pockets, but gamers who buy used are the ones doing the most spending, playing, living, and dying in this industry. Don’t piss us off.

Especially you, THQ. What the fuck have you released in the last… well, ever that gives you anything close to the right to talk down to consumers?

To conclude, words from Kotaku commenter Grahamillion:

Ironic because I feel cheated when I buy a THQ game.


Some British Politician Wants Medal of Honor Banned, EA Doesn’t Care

Given the sensitive subject matter present in EA’s upcoming Medal of Honor reboot, I’m surprised we haven’t heard more shit like this. I mean sure, games like Modern Warfare have broken the ice when it comes to games representing current military conflicts. But Modern Warfare took the concept and sensationalized it; you weren’t literally running around in the midst of Afghanistan shooting at Taliban members.

However, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing in Medal of Honor, which is pretty ballsy. I mean, sure, I’d say that the world at large is pretty over the fact that we’re still shooting at sand (our current administration has done a pretty good job of not talking about it, if nothing else) but still. To the people over there, at least, it’s still a sensitive thing.

Anyway. That being the case, you’d think that, say, an American politician might have a beef with the game. We’ve got plenty of reactionary, headline-grabbing asshats over here, after all.

But no. The first political figure to make a stink is the fucking British defense secretary. Yeah. British Defense Secretary Liam Fox doesn’t like the fact that, in the game’s multiplayer mode (which allows you to play as the Taliban) one of the maps is set in the Helmland province, where U.K. forces are stationed.

I am disgusted and angry. It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.

Funny thing, though: There aren’t any British troops to be killed in Medal of Honor. So, Liam’s argument is totally, entirely, and completely baseless. Sounds like a good time for a retraction, right? Wrong. In the face of these facts, Liam stood by his call to ban the game:

The point remains that part of this game allows you to play the part of the Taliban attacking ISAF troops in the area of central Helmand where British troops are operating.

Christ.

A final hilarious irony is that the British government has swiftly and decisively distanced themselves from Fox’s insane comments. In a statement released to GamesIndustry, the The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had this to say:

Dr Fox was expressing a personal view and we understand why some people might find the subject matter of the game offensive.

There is a ratings system in place which exists to categorise games appropriately, in this case the game in question is rated 18 so should only be sold to, and played by, adults.

There is a clear choice for consumers which they can exercise when making decisions about purchasing videogames.

Right so, right so. Way to save face, U.K.

EA Games president Frank Gibeu also released a statement in retort to Mr. Fox’s assertions, which I was happy to see.  ”At EA we passionately believe games are an artform, and I don’t know why films and books set in Afghanistan don’t get flack, yet [games] do,” Gibeu told Develop.

“Whether it’s Red Badge Of Courage or The Hurt Locker, the media of its time can be a platform for the people who wish to tell their stories. Games are becoming that platform.”

Or at least they’re trying to be. Given the subject matter, Medal of Honor should be scrutinized. But it should be scrutinized by those who play it, and by those who are interested in critiquing its artistic merit, and how well it handles its subject matter. Pointless controversies like this one tend to distract people from this, and to me, that’s an incredible injustice. (Kotaku)

Catherine Looks Like Some Fucked-Up Shit

Seriously, it does. If you haven’t heard, Catherine is an action-adventure game being developed by the minds behind Persona 3 and 4. The story focuses around a man named Vincent (first seen in the PSP port of Persona 3) and a seductive, myserious woman named Catherine. (D’oh!) It also happens to be the first HD title developed in-house by Atlus. (We won’t speak of Operation Darkness, which, while published by Atlus, was developed by Japanese studio Success.) It also happens to be… really weird-looking. This trailer’s a few days old, so you may have seen it. If not, please to enjoy below. It’s worth watching for weirdness alone.

Color me intrigued. I can’t deny that I’m a little disappointed they didn’t announce Persona 5 instead, but Catherine looks like it could be a unique, atmospheric experience. Looks like Atlus is manning up and putting actual sex scenes in their games, which is long overdue.  That, and I’m hoping they’re using the game as a test-run for a Persona 5 engine. Makes sense, right? The game hits Japan in Winter 2010.

QUICKIE: Toshiba to Roll Out Glass-less 3DTVs by Year’s End

This interests me. I’m not going to try to paraphrase the article here, head to Gizmodo for the full story. (Lots of big words and phrases like Integral Imaging System, Motion Parallax, and low-temperature poly-silicon.) Point being, it looks like we may be seeing glass-less 3DTV technology a lot sooner than we might have hoped.

And that’s it. Sorry it’s so late. Today has been… really dumb, to put it lightly. There’s still no new banner, and I apologize for that. I have tomorrow off, so I’ll deal with that shit then. At this point, I really have no idea what it will be. Suggestions, perhaps? A Murfreesboro Week (as suggested by SiliconNoob) is actually pretty tempting, but it might require a little more preparation than I’m able to handle at this point. Still, if the people call for it, I could find a way…?

But seriously. Suggestions. Make them. And comment on the news stories too, or I’ll cry. This is the longest HLL I’ve written in a while.

Love you all,

~Riddles