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by Ethos

Sunday Soapbox: DRM and Public Relations

Monday, March 8th, 2010

drmAs you may have gathered “This Week is Copy Protected” was more of a gimmick than an actual “theme week” – regardless, I hope it made some sort of statement to… someone. And if it didn’t, maybe a little soapboxing will.

Ubisoft’s anti-piracy measures for the PC version of Assassins’ Creed II have been widely publicized, widely discussed, and widely lambasted. For good reason, too – People don’t like that they have to be connected to the internet to play. People don’t like the idea of losing progress due to an internet crash. And, more than anything, people don’t like the idea of a multi-million dollar corporation penalizing their consumers needlessly, in a desperate scramble to protect their aforementioned millions of dollars.

We’ve seen stupid gimmicks like this before. Remember back in the day when record labels like Sony BMG would release CDs replete with software that was required to play the disc on a PC?

Remember how well that worked?

If you had to choose between paying your hard-earned dollars for a CD that you couldn’t even use properly on your own PC, or downloading that same CD for free, sans limitations, what would you choose?

Using that rhetorical question as a springboard, I’ll go out on a limb here and claim that, if anything, Ubisoft’s new DRM method has made people want to pirate Assassin’s Creed II even more. Hence why it has – supposedly – already been cracked. Ubisoft is denying it, but there are plenty of people on the internet claiming that they’re playing Assassin’s Creed II, in its entirety, on the PC, without being connected to the internet. And the game just came out three days ago.

drm2People like to rebel against authority, particularly when they feel the “authority” in question is being tyrannical. To date, Ubisoft has sold over six million copies of the original Assassin’s Creed. When the console versions of Assassin’s Creed II were released back in November, it sold almost two million copies in a single week. So, when they roll out an intrusive new DRM measure, do they expect to look like anything less than a bunch of rich, paranoid asshats desperate to protect their millions?

You have to understand, this is how pirates justify their piracy. Pirates are convinced that the big rich game companies are only getting richer, and because of that, they’re perfectly justified in downloading games for free. Subconsciously, they view game companies as “enemies” – enemies that have more money than them, and charge too much for their games.

And, frankly, a lot of companies do a good job of fitting that bill. Take a look at, say, Activision. Easy to pick on, yes – but legitimately so.  When their CEO, the infamous Bobby Kotick, admits outright that he’s only interested in games that can be “exploited every year on every platform” and have the potential to become “$100 million dollar franchises” that makes him look like a cash hungry douche. That makes him and his entire company appear to be out-of-touch with everything other than the bottom line. That makes Activision look like the stereotypical big, rich corporation that’s after a gamers’ wallet, and nothing else. Subsequently, that makes people not give a shit when they illegally download Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

And they give even less of a shit when they find out that the game generated over a billion dollars in sales anyway.

DRM3Activision’s one of the more obnoxious examples, but they aren’t the only one. One of my personal pet peeves happens to be everyone’s favorite Nintendo, and I’ll tell you why: they’ve abandoned every customer who made them what they are today. They promise “hardcore,” and they give us Wii Music. They built a gimmick that resonated with non-gamers, (or “suckers” as I like to call them) found out that there’s a virtually limitless supply of these suckers, and left the rest of us to rot. And they don’t give a shit, because god knows they don’t need to. I don’t like giving Nintendo my hard-earned dollars anymore, because a) they don’t care about me, and b) they don’t need it anyway.

At this point, you might be asking: “What, then, Riddles? Should rich companies become less rich?” No, of course not. The issue I’m alluding to here is simply that of public relations. If game companies want people to stop downloading their games, a good first step is to make gamers like them. Instead, like the music industry before them, the game industry seems convinced that the best way to combat piracy is to do the exact opposite: antagonize, inconvenience, and in some cases, criminalize the consumer.

James Burt is an Australian man who uploaded a copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii to the internet. It was downloaded over 50,000 times. So, Nintendo sued him for $1.5 million dollars. Reportedly, an agreement was reached in which Burt will pay a lesser amount, but the actual amount was not disclosed. And one has to wonder how much “lesser” than $1.5 million they would agree on.

Back in 2008, five different U.K.-based videogame companies announced their intentions to slap lawsuits on 25,000 people. One of these people was a woman named Isabela Barwinska. A company named Topware dragged her to court and forced her to pay them $30,000 for illegally downloading a game called Dream Pinball 3D.

Remember back when Napster was a big deal? Like, such a big deal that everyone’s favorite group of thrashers, Metallica, filed a big stupid lawsuit against them? Remember how bad that entire ordeal made them look? Remember how much respect they lost amongst their fanbase?

Remember when Blender magazine ranked them #17 on their “biggest wussies in rock” list? I actually don’t remember that part; I just read it while doing research for this article and thought it was funny.

drm-is-badThese are mistakes that the game industry must learn from. What do you think Topware gained from their lawsuit? In all likelihood, they did nothing more than bankrupt a hapless pinball fanatic. And, in the process, they made themselves look like assholes. The same can be said for Nintendo and their crucifixion of Mr. Burt. Granted, Ubisoft’s DRM method for Assassin’s Creed II isn’t nearly as cruel or offensive as these lawsuits, but unfortunately, it has the same negative effect on the all-important relationship between game companies and the consumer.

The disturbing thing is that these draconian methods seem to be on the verge of becoming a trend. Take Sony and their ridiculous “entitlement” system for the recently-released SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 for the PSP. In order to play the game online, you’re required to register your copy online, which requires a special code. Thinking about picking it up used? Well guess what: a new registration code will run you an extra $20. But hey, at least those nasty pirates won’t be able to play online, right?

Again: won’t this only encourage piracy? Imagine yourself as Average Joe Gamer. You don’t have a whole lot of extra cash on hand, so you decide to wait a few months and pick up a used copy of SOCOM 3 when the price drops. You visit your local GameStop and walk up to the desk with a copy of the game, only to be informed by the kind and knowledgeable clerk that, in order to play the game online, you’ll be forced to shell out twenty more dollars.

If I was Average Joe Gamer, I’d probably walk out the store, direct a silent “fuck you” towards Sony, go home, and download a cracked copy. For free. And the same goes for Assassin’s Creed II. I’ll take my copy sans internet-requirement, please. I mean, come on… aren’t games one of the first things we gamers reach for when the internet goes out?

And what about when Ubisoft’s servers go kablooey?

There’s no easy answer to the issue of piracy. I recognize that. And by all means, the game industry should continue to take measures to discourage illegal downloading. But it can’t be at the cost of sacrificing good relations with gamers. Intrusive measures such as those employed by Ubisoft and Sony will, inevitably, accomplish the opposite of their intended effect. People will rebel because of the inconvenience, and people will rebel because they feel like the companies deserve it. And, given the way they’re all acting about it, who knows – maybe they do.

Review Tab!

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Up on the top! Did you notice? I didn’t at first, and it’s my website! You can easily bundle all Riddlethos reviews with one click. What more could you want? Cheesecake? Well then, here’s some cheesecake!
raspberry-cheesecake

Hey! Look! Listen!

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

HLLfinal

1:32 a.m. on a Friday night, and what am I doing?

Nothing FUN, that’s for sure. I’m at my desk, surrounded by empty bottles of cheap lager, writing an article for you fucks. I hope you enjoy it.

Actually, I hope you don’t, because that would SHOW you.

Yeah.

Anyway. Let me grab another Yuengling, and we’ll get started.

Bobby NodickActivision Vs. Zampella/West: Things are Getting Heated

You guys should pay attention to this, because it’s one of the juicier, more scandalous stories to emerge from the game industry since Jack Thompson was disbarred.

In the previous edition of HLL, I reported on the unceremonious canning of Infinity Ward’s two main men, Jason West and Vince Zampella. I also reported that Activision had filed an SEC suite against both of them, citing “insubordination” and “breaches of contract.”

Well, the (seemingly) dynamic duo of West and Zampella aren’t taking this one lying down. They’re counter-suing Activision, claiming that the company owes them royalties for work on the massively popular Modern Warfare 2, and that they were fired without proper cause. They’re not playing small-time here either: their suit demands 36 million USD in damages, as well as the rights to the Modern Warfare brand. (Not Call of Duty, mind you; but Modern Warfare.)

Said West: “We were shocked by Activision’s decision to terminate our contract. We poured our heart and soul into that company, building not only a world class development studio, but assembling a team we’ve been proud to work with for nearly a decade. We think the work we’ve done speaks for itself.”

Said Zampella: “After all we have given to Activision, we shouldn’t have to sue to get paid.”

Said Activision: (full commented blockquoted for douchery)

“Activision is disappointed that Mr. Zampella and Mr. West have chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes their claims are meritless,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to Kotaku by a spokesperson. “Over eight years, Activision shareholders provided these executives with the capital they needed to start Infinity Ward, as well as the financial support, resources and creative independence that helped them flourish and achieve enormous professional success and personal wealth.

“In return, Activision legitimately expected them to honor their obligations to Activision, just like any other executives who hold positions of trust in the company. While the company showed enormous patience, it firmly believes that its decision was justified based on their course of conduct and actions. Activision remains committed to the Call of Duty franchise, which it owns, and will continue to produce exciting and innovative games for its millions of fans.”

Well. If anything’s clear at this point, it’s the question of appearances. West and Zampella look like two creative geniuses who’ve been thrown under the bus, while Activision continues to look like a grand, huge, massive, gargantuan, money-grubbing bag of douche.

And, frankly, I wouldn’t be too surprised if that turned out to be exactly the case. I have no proof, of course, but the pieces fit. Why the hell would Activision fire their two golden boys? Either they were doing something awful, like, say, money laundering – or Activision just wants them out of the way. Creative differences, perhaps? Arguments over what direction the Modern Warfare brand should take? Understand, as the heads of Infinity Ward, West and Zampella had complete control over the Modern Warfare subseries.

There are countless rumors and nuances to this story, and I’m not going to try to sum them all up here. It’s honestly deserving of a site feature in and of itself. I’ve given you the basic facts. Choose your side, place your bets, and we’ll see where this goes.

portal 2 - GIPortal 2 Unceremoniously Announced

I don’t care about Portal. I’ve never played it. I actually have it sitting on my PC’s hard drive somewhere if I’m not mistaken, but I’ve yet to give it a go. Regardless, a lot of people like Portal. So. All of those people can now officially get excited.

I say “unceremoniously” because rumors have been flying around for a while, and it was revealed the next month’s Game Informer would feature a Portal 2 cover story. After all of this happened, Valve confirmed it through steam.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. Maybe we’ll see a reveal trailer at GDC? It is next week, after all – and Valve’s very own Gabe Newell will be receiving a “pioneer award” (whatever the fuck that is) at the show. (VG247)

dsi-xlOh Snap: DSi XL and iPad to Hit Retail Within Days of Eachother

C’mon, isn’t this at least kinda interesting? The DSi XL and the Apple iPad, two devices that a) are catered to people who like… uh… large things, and b) don’t need to exist for any reason are both hitting North American retailers within the same week. You can grab a DSi XL on March 28, and then an iPad on April 3.

All of you “size matters” people should be in heaven. Me? I’ll be sitting back and laughing at anyone dumb enough to purchase either device. Unless they’re really old and have problems seeing things properly. I’ll still be laughing then, but for different reasons.

Thanks to GamerLimit

Thanks to GamerLimit

Here, I’ll Up the Ante: Michael Atkinson is a Stupid, Melodramatic, Misguided, Fame-Seeking Fuck.

Note: I did NOT call him a crook.

Everyone other than SiliconNoob is probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well, it goes like this: there’s this little island nation called Australia. Australia likes to ban a lot of games. They’re sensitive like that. Left 4 Dead 2 is one of the most recent examples. One of the reasons for this is that Australia’s most “mature” rating for games is MA15+. After L4D2′a banning in Australia, a bunch of sensible people decided that it might be time to introduce an R18+ rating for Australia, so we could end this nonsense of banning and/or altering games once and for all.

For the hell of it, South Australia’s Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, decided he didn’t like the idea. He’s opposing it tooth and nail. He just doesn’t understand WHY Australians crave more sex and violence in their interactive media! From a letter he wrote to… uh… someone:

“It does not follow that a game is more interesting to an adult simply because it contains extreme violence, explicit sexual material, or highly offensive language. Indeed, with all the effort and money that goes into game development, coupled with the effects and graphics now available, there is no need to introduce these extreme elements. I am baffled and worried about why proponents of R.18+ games are putting up their hands and saying ‘Give us more cruel sex and extreme violence!’”

Cruel sex…?

Anyway. The above was just a crash-course in Michael Atkinson, seeing that I’ve never mentioned him on the site before. In a nutshell: he’s an idiot. The real story is this: sometime last year, a dude named Dean McQuillan submitted a comment on an Adelaide-based website. Somewhere in the comment, he called Atkinson a “crook.”

Because the comment was “highly defamatory,” Atkinson is now suing McQuillan for $20,000.

Yes, you read that correctly. An Australian attorney general is suing a civilian for calling him a “crook” online. And that’s, quite literally, all there is to it.

Atkinson’s head must be one hell of a place to be. Obviously the guy has some serious issues of self-worth, because he seems to be doing his very best to simply be noticed – to  hell with what he’s being noticed for. But hey, I suppose we should thank him. It’s been too long since we gamers have had a public figure outside the industry than we can love to hate. (Kotaku)

shimomuraNERD ALERT: Yoko Shimomura to Score Xenoblade

What? You don’t know who Yoko Shimomura is?! Where is your nerd card, sir?

Anyway. Yoko Shimomura wrote all the pretty music for Kingdom Hearts. She’s damn good at what she does, and if Famitsu via Destructoid is to be believed, she’ll be providing the music for the upcoming Wii RPG, Xenoblade.

I’ve actually been fairly interested in Xenoblade for some time now, if only because I’m the world’s biggest Xeno-fanboy. (Xenoblade is, for the record, written and directed by Tetsuya Takahashi, the mastermind behind the Xenogears/Xenosaga games.)  Shimomura’s musical presence only sweetens the deal. I was actually just listening to the final boss themes from Kingdom Hearts II. Absolutely fantastic stuff. Xenoblade is set for release in North America sometime this spring.

FFXIII logoLook at All the Final Fantasy XIII Reviews

That pesty embargo for Final Fantasy XIII reviews has been lifted, so now the internet is practically swelling with verdicts on Square Enix’s first current-gen entry in the beloved series. Go to GameRankings. You might be a little surprised at what you see.

Having said that, I haven’t actually read any of the individual reviews, and I have good reason for it: I don’t want to go into Final Fantasy XIII with any more negativity than I’ve already acquired. I know for a fact that I’m going to be disappointed with some of the decisions they’ve made. I know that it’s not going to be the same as it was all those years ago, when I was young and Final Fantasy was the greatest thing in the world. But, regardless, I want to give Final Fantasy XIII a fair shake. I want to try to re-capture some of that magic that I felt as a kid, when I didn’t read or care about reviews. Impossible? Maybe. But I’ll give it my best.

As a closing thought, I leave you with indisputable proof that the Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII is superior to the PS3 version.

Thank god for Destructoid. And to think, I was about to go buy it for the PS3! Silly, silly me.

Well. It’s now 3:19 a.m. on a Friday night. Or… Saturday morning. Whatever. Point is, I’m still not doing anything fun. I’m at this same desk, with the same empty lager bottles. Plus a few new ones.

‘Till next time!

Long time no IM

Friday, March 5th, 2010

IM2010
AnotherIM2010

Heavy Rain Review – How Far Will You Go?

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Heavy Rain boxartLIKED:

-Fantastic, gritty mystery drama told from multiple angles

-Character-driven, emotional drama told from multiple angles

-The ability to alter the story dramatically, and the emotional weight your decisions carry

-Control scheme that makes the actions on-screen feel like an extension of the player

DISLIKED:

-Some awful voice acting

-Lacking facial animations

-Walking

Heavy Rain is a difficult game to review.

This is because it’s almost a stretch to classify Heavy Rain as a “videogame.” These days, videogames are often referred to as “interactive films,” but Heavy Rain takes this concept to the extreme – it’s literally a ten-hour long movie. Thankfully, Heavy Rain is a pretty damned awesome movie – and its interactive nature makes it an experience you can’t quite find anywhere else.

Heavy RainGAMEPLAY

There isn’t much to say here. Heavy Rain features literally no gameplay conventions or mechanics that can be critiqued. The gameplay is the story – they’re one and the same. You’re just there to enjoy the ride, direct the characters, make important decisions, and occasionally engage in a quick-time event.

It’s a good thing, then, that the control scheme is so tightly done. Heavy Rain succeeds fantastically in making the events on-screen feel like a natural extension of yourself. For example, a very early part of the game requires you to shave. You perform this task by nudging the right control stick in the indicated directions. However, if you do it too quickly, poor Ethan will cut himself with the razor. In another example, a character’s hands are bound. How do you bust out? Shake the DualShock up and down. After a while, it becomes intuitive what controller actions are required for certain things. It feels so natural, in fact, that you’ll find yourself wincing in pain during some of the game’s more macabre moments. However, this review is spoiler free – so go play yourself if you want to know what I mean.

My sole gripe is that the simple task of walking in Heavy Rain tends to be something of a bitch. No, seriously: the walking mechanics are just bad. You walk by holding down R2 and steering with the control stick. This wouldn’t be too horrible if the control stick inputs weren’t such a crapshoot. Painfully often, you’ll find yourself walking in the complete wrong direction, missing tight corners, and other such disorientating nuisances. It’s just a very weird control scheme, and one has to wonder what possible advantages Quantic Dream thought it would have.

Hers does too.

STORYLINE

Heavy Rain is an incredibly well-written, suspenseful, and tightly-paced thriller. The scriptwriting is fantastic, with nary a sloppy sentence to be found. The world is deliciously moody and atmospheric – sure, rain is pretty much the cheapest atmosphere buff in the books, but because of its context and importance to the plot, it really, really works in Heavy Rain – more so than anywhere else. Rain is always falling, and it’s beautiful to see.

Heavy Rain tells the story of four people and their respective struggles in the mysterious case of the Origami Killer. The killer is a psychopath who drowns his victims in rainwater, and adorns their bodies with an Orchid flower and (naturally) an origami figure. Ethan Mars is a desperate father trying to save the life of his one remaining son. Madison Paige is an insomniac journalist who meets Ethan by chance. Scott Shelby is a private investigator, looking into the case of the Origami Killer on his own. Norman Jayden is a triptocaine-addicted FBI profiler, sent to aid the police in their official investigation. The four separate narratives are weaved together perfectly to form the story as a whole.

The cast is one of Heavy Rain’s strongest points. Some characters are weaker than others, yes, but they all serve a purpose in the story, and they have strong, believable personalities. My only disappointment was in the female lead, Madison Paige. She’s a strong character, yes, but by the end of the game, I felt like I still didn’t know enough about her. Ethan Mars, on the other hand, is an extremely strong and well-developed lead protagonist – you’ll feel emotionally connected to him, and his desperate quest to save his son.

scott shelbyA lot of recent games have been about “choices,” but no game executes this concept like Heavy Ran does. Sure, it may not have the cross-game world-changing decisions that, say, Mass Effect does – but I guarantee you, few other games out there will make you doubt yourself and your actions the way Heavy Rain will. This review is spoiler-free, so I can’t go into details, but I will say this: I always thought the tagline “How far are you prepared to go to save someone you love” was cheesy and melodramatic – until I played the game. Then it made sense. While playing Heavy Rain, you’ll feel like a part of the story – and you’ll feel the weight of your actions.

But Heavy Rain’s narrative isn’t perfect. In fact, it has a few rather glaring errors that keep the game from garnering that coveted perfect score. (A perfect score on Riddlethos IS coveted, right…?) My main complaint, ironically enough, is with the voice acting.

I say “ironically” because most of Heavy Rain’s voicework is quite strong. The four main characters are all very well acted, and the actors are all refreshingly new to the medium of videogames. There are no Yuri Lowenthals or Nolan Norths to be found, which helps set Heavy Rain apart, and lend it a more believable, movie-like persona.

However, Heavy Rain contrasts these strong performances with some absolutely god-damned awful performances. And, when trying to tell a story as deep and involved as Heavy Rain’s is, you cannot afford that. You just can’t. It’s okay to have a few “mehs” here and there, but Heavy Rain has entire (very pivotal) scenes ruined by voice acting that belongs to some shitty anime dub. For example, there’s not a single acceptable child actor in the entire game. Not one. Nobody expects a child character’s voice acting to be fantastic, but in Heavy Rain, it’s downright painful. And since some of the game’s most important scenes revolve around children, this is unforgivable. Also, many of the game’s characters sound like they’re either trying to imitate or speak through some sort of accent. It’s really noticeable, somewhat obnoxious, and always annoying. At the end of the day, Heavy Rain is still a well-acted game – but that’s why the parts that aren’t are so offensive.

Also, the game’s plot does teeter out near the end. Or at least, it did for me. You can get multiple endings in Heavy Rain, and mine had to have been the worst. Play it and judge for yourself, but in a nutshell: Heavy Rain spends a little too much time building up the tension, and proceeds to break it in a rather hurried, anti-climactic fashion.

Norman JaydenGRAPHICS

Heavy Rain is a pretty game. But it’s not as pretty as was promised. Remember during this year’s CES when that rep from Sony said that “graphically, [Heavy Rain] blows Uncharted 2 out of the water”? Yeah, it doesn’t.

Still, it’s a pretty game. Environments are moody, evocative, and covered in some very well-done rain/water effects. In fact, the water is some of the best I’ve seen, rivaled only by the illustrious Uncharted 2. Character models are extremely well-detailed, and in fact, Heavy Rain may rival Uncharted 2 in this regard. Animations for the characters are also very well-done, for the most part, but this brings me to my next complaint: Heavy Rain’s facial animations are very lacking. I really wish Quantic Dream would have taken the time to tighten them up a bit, because the effect of certain scenes is dampened by facial animations that lack any noticeable emotion. Again: not really a mistake that such a story-driven experience can afford to make.

SOUND

I’ve already gone over the voice acting, so there isn’t much more to say here. I suppose I can give a shout-out to the game’s soundtrack, which is very solid, though not exactly memorable. Heavy Rain is saturated with somber piano melodies, which fit the mood very well. Aside from that, there are some bombastic orchestral cues for the more high-energy sequences, and not a whole lot else. It’s more or less what we’ve come to expect from a high-profile Western release. But it is very good.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Heavy Rain is an easy recommendation to any gamer patient enough to sit back and enjoy a good yarn. It’s an emotional, character-driven experience that makes a damn good argument for videogames as a legitimate and unique form of storytelling. The game has a few imperfections that stand out, but none of them are deal-breakers. It’s one of the most unique gaming experiences in recent memory, and it’s thoroughly engaging from start to finish. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take Quantic Dream five years to release another game.

Heavy Rain - 9.0/10

God of War III: The First 30 Minutes

Friday, March 5th, 2010

This is from the demo... not the opening. But still...

This is from the demo... not the opening. But still...

I got the opportunity to go to a God of War III launch event today and play the first 30 minutes of the game. Not a demo, not a controlled environment, but a PS3 hooked up to a TV with the final copy of the disc inside the console. So let’s not waste any time, but get right to it while trying to stay relatively spoiler-free, but read on at your own risk.

First off, I need to say that the game is stunning visually. I mentioned this to a member of the Santa Monica studio who happened to be there. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch his name, but he worked on God of War II and III, and when I mentioned how good the game looked, he instantly told me how much more that they could do on the PS3. He almost seemed to apologize for the graphics. Let me re-iterate that, at least from these 30 minutes, this ranks in the top 3 best looking games I’ve seen on the PS3. This includes the Uncharted games. What’s even more impressive is that everything is in-engine. All cutscenes, everything. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s all real time, but nothing is CG and believe me when I tell you that that fact will surprise you during some moments.

Also from the demo. Shut up.

Also from the demo. Shut up.

The opening is, as expected, extremely epic. The first boss battle blows the Hydra and Colossus out of the water. Pun intended (you’ll see). Otherwise, this is still God of War. Magic powers seemed to be mapped to specific weapons this time which opens up interesting possibilities as way to trigger magic is also mapped to a different button, so things seem to be a bit more mixed up from a gameplay standpoint. But that’s mostly speculation at this point as I had no way to upgrade or collect new abilities or weapons from the section I played.

Still, there were a few improvements I could immediately pick up on. The Quick-Time Events that I just spent a Sunday Soapbox tearing to pieces aren’t as excruciatingly bad. The cues take place on the four corners of the screen representing the placement of the Playstation’s signature shape buttons. This makes it easier to actually watch the animation and use the peripheral to cue your fingers. It’s still a dumb mechanic, but it’s admittedly more bearable than before. The leap to the PS3 is noticeable. New animations, grander scope, more going on, and absolutely beautiful boss fights.

It was just a little taste, but while it really just is more God of War, the pretty new packaging has got me excited.

Scatter Storming. Issue #022

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

ss022Silly Paranoid Riddles. We all know Scatter Storming is better.

Although I do have to thank him for giving me his camera as a parting gift. Let’s get to it.

Hey, guess what? I played Heavy Rain! -
It’s true! Thanks Andogo for the loner copy. I’d even consider buying it myself, but you know I’m broke when I trade in two games (one of them Darksiders which I know I’ll re-buy) just to afford Final Fantasy XIII next week. Anyway, I think I have to slightly disagree with Riddles and say that Heavy Rain really is Quick-Time Event the game. But they are more forgiveable in this case. They branch out, and there is a degree of decision and influence in Heavy Rain that doesn’t exist in the QTE disasters of God of War. Still, after a time, although I’m thoroughly enjoying the story, I get sick of just tapping on-screen cues. But I’m sure I’ll trek my way through it if I still have a copy after I’m done with Final Fantasy XIII, God of War III, and Pokémon Soul Silver. So…hrm…that doesn’t look so optimistic anymore, but there is the added bonus of Heavy Rain looking to be relatively easy to Platinum, so we’ll see. But all that brings me to my next point…

Theme Week War -
There’s no debate that Final Fantasy XIII gets next week. Despite all the mixed buzz about it, I’m just as hyped as ever. Final Fantasy IX isn’t a fan favourite and its obviously my favourite, so I’m reserving final judgement on this one until I play it. And honesty, the big complaints about this one (linear for a long time, no towns), don’t scare me in the least. But, that leaves the following week. Riddles the Moronicus wants it to be God of War III Week. Boo-urns, who the fuck cares? I’ll play it, yeah, but he and I both agree that it’s a fun, yet vastly overrated series. Maybe not vastly, but notably. Anyway, my vote is for Pokémon Gold & Silver Week. Riddles argues that God of War is the bigger release, but I call bullshit on that! Pokémon is fucking huge and he just wants God of War because he’s never cared about handhelds or the PURE AWESOMENESS that is Pokémon. Whatta douche, what do you guys think?

Oh dear -
I have no idea why any woman has ever had any interest in me after writing a paragraph like that.

Etrian Odyssey! -
For long-time fans of Ethos (I’m sure there are many), I used to write reviews for RPGamer.com. The first one I wrote for a new release was Etrian Odyssey II. This was a game I never would have played otherwise, and a game that literally everybody I talked to on staff warned me about. I ended up loving the game and almost bought a used copy the other week. In fact, I only didn’t because of the previously mentioned broke situation. But after going for my occasional browse of RPG-related news, I stumbled upon art for Etrian Odyssey III. Huzzah! I didn’t even know it was coming. This is now officially on my radar. If they can keep up all the awesome without making it dissolve at the end like last time, then it could even be on the top of my lists for the year.

That’s all. Go home.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

HLLfinal

It looks like we’re back on a sort of regular-ish schedule here at Riddlethos.com. Aside from the part where the new theme week didn’t start until today.

But hey, at least HLL is here! Right? Everyone loves HLL, right? It’s better than Scatter Storming, right?

RIGHT?

EH?

Before I single-handedly destroy my own ego, we shall get started.

infinity-ward-logoActivision and Infinity Ward Are No Longer Friends

Well, I suppose I should rephrase that: Vince Zampella and Jason West, to two heads of Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward, are no longer friends with Activision. And, because of that, they’re no longer employees of Infinity Ward. Even more interesting than that, however, is that Activision has filed an SEC suite against Infinity Ward, investigating “breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward.”

You’ll notice that the above paragraph is rather short on details. This is because there aren’t many details to be had at the moment. What we know for sure is that neither Zampella or West are employed at Infinity Ward any longer (according to their respective Linked In profiles) and that Activision indeed filed the SEC suit. What happened to prompt such a lawsuit, and why did IW’s two big cheeses leave? Nobody knows. Kotaku is currently doing its best to stay abroad of the situation.

ps3fatSay What…? Apparently the PS3 Fat Was Having some Issues, All Better Now

This one kinda went under the radar for me, mostly because it didn’t affect me, because I have a PS3 Slim.

But apparently, owners of the PS3 Fat fell victim to what Sony is calling an “internal clock bug” yesterday, and because of this, many trophy-enabled PS3 games did not function correctly. Or… something.

Here’s the gist of it: the internal clock on many PS3 Fats reset themselves to January 1, 2000. Supposedly, this was because the PS3 fat was programmed to recognize 2010 as a leap year.

Well, after this automatic reset occurred, whenever owners of the Fat attempted to go online, they were greeted with the dreaded “8001050F Error Message.” And, on top of that, certain trophy-enabled games couldn’t even be played offline  - players were given the same error code, along with a message that said “Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will quit.”

Anyway. As much as I’m sure that sucked for many people, it’s over now. Sony posted on the official PlayStation blog that it has been “resolved,” and if your time still isn’t right, feel free to adjust it.

Sounds so deliciously exciting. I’m sorry I missed out on it. (Kotaku)

wpid-Verizon-DROID-Eris_PhotoApple Sues HTC For Infringing on iPhone Patents

Perhaps by now, you’ve heard of HTC. They are, after all, the ones manufacturing phones utilizing the relatively new Android Operating System, such as the Droid Eris (the slightly watered-down version of Motorola’s Droid) and the upcoming Nexus One from Google.

Anyway. They’re one of the few players who are challenging Apple’s iPhone right now, so it hardly comes as a surprise that Apple is trying to sue them. Apparently HTC has infringed on over 20 of Apple’s patents, including multi-touch technology and other such nonsense. If you wanna know more of the specifics, check out this article on PC Magazine.com.

For drama’s sake, here’s a quote from Apple’s Chief Executive, Steve Jobs:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

PREACH IT, MR JOBS!

Nah, actually, this kinda stinks of a dominant player in the smartphone market trying to stamp out competition before it becomes competition. And I say that with little to no evidence supporting me. It’s just my gut reaction.

space-invadersPeople are Trying to Make a Space Invaders Movie

No, really. They are. Or, Warner Bros. is, to be exact. They are currently in talks with Taito to purchase film rights for everyone’s favorite arcade classic.

This is so ridiculous that I’m not even going to exert the effort necessary to say that it’s ridiculous.

Except I already did. Fuck. Oh well. If the movie ever does happen, then it will (reportedly) be produced by Mark Gordon, Jason Blum and Guymon Casady. Gordon was involved with Saving Private Ryan. Blum produced Paranormal Activity. I don’t care what Guymon Casady did. His name is sketchy. (Kotaku)

500x_codActivision Has Plans for Call of Duty

Rather than commenting on the juicy Infinity Ward rumors, Activision has taken the sneaky way out, and outlined their grand new business model for their immensely popular Call of Duty franchise.

Activision intends to form a Call of Duty “Business Unit,” which will “bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world.” The focus will be on “high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.”

Sounds pretty heavy. But they didn’t talk all business jargon – they confirmed that a Call of Duty game developed by Treyarch (responsible for Call of Duty 3, and 2008’s World at War) will be released in 2010. In 2011, another CoD game from an unnamed developer will be released. And, furthermore, another CoD title will be developed by the upstart Sledgehammer Games, a studio headed by Dead Space creative leads Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. Reportedly, Sledgehammer’s take on CoD will “extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre.”

Wait… really? I mean, uh. That could be cool? Iunno. All I can think about is the fact that one of my (newly) favorite franchises is well on its way to being transformed into an Activision cash-whore.

I mean, I guess that’s what it was before. In a way. But you know what I mean. Right?

New Metroid: Other M Cinematic Trailer Looks Dumb

I’m sorry, but it does. I mean, I guess I can sorta get behind this dramatic, story-driven new direction that Nintendo is taking with the Metroid franchise. Really, I can, because it would be great to get to know Samus a little more intimately. (Not that way.)

But if that’s what they’re gonna do, then the writing had better be good. Like, really damn good. Better than it is in this ridiculous, melodramatic, gameplay-devoid trailer.

Anyway. Now that I’ve torn the trailer to pieces. Enjoy it!

And that, as they say, is that. I’m off to play more Heavy Rain. ‘Till next time!

Welcome to… This Week!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Special thanks to whoever made this.

Special thanks to whoever made this.

We’re such oddballs here at Riddlethos.com.

This week, (March 5 to be precise) Ubisoft will finally release Assassin’s Creed II for the PC. Good news for the twelve people who will buy it, right? Wrong. With Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft is rolling out a brand-spankin-new DRM (Digital Rights Management) safety measure.

In order to play Assassin’s Creed II on the PC, you’ll need an internet connection. Furthermore, you’ll have to be connected to Ubisoft’s servers at all times while playing the game. Creepy, eh?

Oh, and if you’re disconnected from the internet for any reason, at any time, you’ll be thrown back to the menu screen.

To say the least, it seems like this new DRM may be a deterrent to people who live in countries with large expanses devoid of internet. Like, say, North America. Also, Ubisoft is not my big brother, so they don’t always need to be watching.

In honor of Ubisoft’s stellar efforts to further the cause of big, money-grubbing companies that criminalize their customers, and of draconian DRM measures that will serve only to increase piracy, This Week is Copy Protected.