Monday, November 28, 2005

DOA 4 or nothing

I had to return the loaner 360 back to the office today, but I think I’ve had my fill for now. I borrowed mostly games I hadn’t tried before this time. I managed to finish Gun, which is fun while it lasts, but way too short for even my tastes and I likes short games. Played a few missions in Quake 4. Frame rate is not as smooth as I would have like, but it’s fun for what it is. Might buy it if it hit the $20 mark in the future. Decided to borrow Amped 3, hated it. It’s going to alienate Amped 2 fans that’s for sure. Played a little Tony Hawk too and had a decent time. I could see myself getting back into it whenever there is a real shift in the visuals. Needs more graphics punch for me to keep playing.

I didn’t play much NBA 2K6 since I own it and will play plenty later. I snagged Perfect Dark Zero from Costco ($43.99, nice!) and made it close to the end (mission 10 out of 13). It’s pretty cool and at the same time kinda average. People tell me that co-op is awesome as is multi-player. I’ll reserve judgement till then.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been able to save my profile and game saves on the 65MB memory card so I can transfer everything to my future 360. I almost felt like I should buy the 20GB hard drive since it’s just a $60 difference. I mean, $40 for 65MB or $100 for 20 gigs? If you look at it from the perspective that the PS2 memory cards were 8MB and sold for $20-25, then it’s not so bad I guess.

One curious note: You can “move” your profile from the hard drive to the memory card and vice versa, but you can’t make a “copy”. It can only “exist” in one memory device. It makes sense since so much is tied to your profile. Also, my PDZ save file could not be moved or copied from the HD to memory card in the systems menu. After a brief panic, I figured out you have to select the memory card as your preferred save location within the actual game. The curious thing about that is, I confirmed that it saved to my card, but the save file was apparently “moved” off my HD by the game. Interesting. So PDZ saves apparently can only be in one location too.

Other than that, I’m on the 2nd shipment watch as many others are.

Dead or Alive
I popped in DOA3 in the 360 and was surprised that all the CG movies stuttered. Not exactly perfect emulation. The game ran fine though. Also, the upconversion to 720p/1080i was very nice. It’s amazing how much more detail I was able to spot on the clothes and backgrounds. I did a minor A/B test and confirmed that the game looked much better on the 360. It almost looks too soft on the original Xbox now. I started to hope for compatibility for DOA Ulimate and Xtreme Beach Volleyball, but maybe it doesn’t matter. There’s no way I’m sinking the hours needed to unlock everything all over again. I’ll just lavish my attention on DOA4.

Speaking of 4, the release date has been moved again, this time from this upcoming Thursday to next week, the 6th (or even the 8th say some). Will it actually ship next week? If I don’t have a 360 by then, I don’t really care. If you pre-order online, you can get a free 2006 calendar. I checked all the local EBs and Gamestops and they have no clue if they’ll get it. I hate to have to pay shipping, but I kind of want that calendar. I’m also considering the Hori arcade stick made especially for DOA 4. I’m not sure if it’s wireless or not, but probably not. It would be a must have if it were. Even if it isn’t, I’ll probably buy it still. The above pic is all I could find at a decent size and is from the Play Asia site (although I airbrushed out their logo).

Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing DS comes out next week and that will take up a ton of time. So it won’t be so bad if no 360 is had soon.

Done with SCIII
It comes as a big surprise to me, but I have no longer have a desire to play Soul Calibur III against the computer anymore. I’ll still play in the office because playing against other people rock, but I just hate playing by myself in the game. Plus, the lower resolution really bugs me. It turns out I was spoiled by the 720p visuals on the Xbox SCII. I can’t go back. I just can’t. It’ll only get worse once I have DOA4. So here’s hoping the rumors in a recent EGM about SCIII hitting Xbox 360 in spring 2006 is true. Even then though, I might not buy it if it’s not online. Offline fighting games should be banned.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Last minute 360 madness. Madness I say.

So today was going to be super busy with the shortened holiday week, but I got an extra dose of drama by learning I was bumped to the 2nd 360 shipment at my EB. I have no words. Well, I didn't have any when I heard the news. Better now.

Anyway, the rest of day had been a scramble to try to get a lot of work done and figure out a plan B for getting a 360. By the end of the work day, I was resigned that there would be no way to get a console tomorrow. Reports and photos of massive lines seemingly everywhere crushed any latent hope.

So, I borrowed one from work along with several games (sadly no PDZ or Condemned as all the office copies were being put to official use) to see if it would be worth it to hit like 10 stores tomorrow before work. All the trips would most likely be futile I'm sure.

Anyway, finally got to see what the system would be like on my HDTV. Call of Duty 2...stunning. Wow, this is a must get for sure. PGR3, it does look immensely good, almost photo-realistic. Still, I just wasn't getting excited playing. Ridge Racer 6, yes...yes...YES! I didn't know there were so many tracks and it gives me that old "arcade in your home" feeling. Really sharp looking environments, cool music, and super solid gameplay.

NBA 2K6, I already bought it and happy with what's there. It certainly has rough patches, but it's fun overall. FIFA 2006, is not as bad as I thought, but not really up to snuff. Gun, is really cool. The textures and character models look worse than current gen, but the high resolution and widescreen display sort of make up for it. The story seems way cool too. Probably best played as a rental though. NBA Live 06 is just gorgeous, but plays soooo sloooow and not quite right. Madden 06 looks quite good too, but I' ve always prefered 2K pigskin which means I'm SOL for the next couple years.

I don't have any interest in Tony Hawk, Kameo, Tiger, or Quake 4 so I didn't grab them.

So, am I still jazzed to go try my luck? If I wake up early, I'll make an effort. I'll definitely get CoD2 and Ridge Racer. If I'm forced to buy a bundle in-store, I'll add PDZ or Condemned. If not, just relax with Mario Kart DS and maybe pick up Dragon Quest VIII.

UPDATE: So everywhere I went had numbers of people who had been there overnight and given some type of ticket stub. It's what I expected, I mean, there was a total of 180 consoles out of the six stores I checked. 180. That includes two Wal-Marts and a Best Buy. think about how small that number is. Well Microsoft, you've got the sell out you wanted. Congrats.

UPDATE 2: I was fortunate to be able to borrow one of the office retail units over the break. I have a memory unit so I can save my Gamercard progress and transfer it whenever I get my own. So, phew, some next gen action is in effect.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Backward compatibility and 100,000 hits!

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The list of Xbox software that the Xbox 360 will play was released recently and it tops 200 titles. Just like Halo and Halo 2, the games get the benefit of an upconverted signal to 720p or 1080i. Not sure if they do can do widescreen thing like the Halo games, but the improved resolution is enough for me.

So, the combo of better visuals and tons of titles supported had me psyched. That was until I looked over my collection. Out of 23 Xbox games I own, 6 will play on the 360. SIX! And that six include Halo and Halo 2. So four non-Master Chief games. W…T…F….

Dead or Alive 3 works on the 360, but not DOA: Ultimate or DOAXtreme Beach Volleyball. Well, that list is supposed to grow as the weeks go on. Not holding my breath.

So I’m still trying to figure out what game(s) I want for the 360 launch and find myself stuck between genre choices.

Basketball - I love how NBA Live looks. Out of the launch games, it’s probably the best for wowing friends when they come over. But holy hell, the sluggish gameplay is just bad. No features other than a bare bones season mode is supposed to last me till the next version? I don’t think so. The gameplay is not tight enough for me to risk my online rank either. On the other hand, NBA 2K6 is feature packed and plays as solidly as other console versions. The problem is it looks good…sometimes, not so much others. Without a doubt 2K is the superior title both offline and especially online, but man, I really wish it were a better showpiece.

Racing - PGR 3 looks insanely good, but the series never did it for me. Seemed too devoid of personality. Ridge Racer looks sorta so-so, but it’s one series that pushes my buttons in the way I wished PGR did. This is a fairly similar situation to my basketball dilemma actually.

FPS – No doubt Perfect Dark Zero will have great online modes and probably good single player campaign, but Call of Duty 2 is looking better and better with most in agreement it runs better on the 360 than a high-end PC. For sure I’ll only buy one basketball and one racing game, but I may crack and buy both these FPS titles. Of course, to date no one has the final version of PD0 yet so who knows if it’s really any good.

Then again, I think about all the other games I have right now I want to get back to. I finally picked up Gunstar Super Heroes and itching to get to it. For some reason, I started to play that $5 copy of P.N.03 I got from Frys a few months ago and it’s sort of addictive. Plus I’m being hounded by everyone to jump on Mario Kart DS.

I haven’t paid very much attention to the marketplace features of the 360 Live service, but the info I’m starting to get caught back on has me psyched. The retro games you can buy on Live Arcade are pretty cool. Four player Gauntlet online or co-op Robotron? Spiffy. Points to buy those things cost money, so I doubt there will be much splurging. That is, until there are things to purchase for DOA 4. Oh man, my wallet is already hurting just thinking about it.

WSOP telecast done
So, I’m very happy that the winner of the 2005 World Series of Poker was not totally spoiled for me before the final telecast this past Tuesday. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say even though the info has been online since the actual tourney ended back in July. There’s an interesting post about spoilers from Sean who has finally launched his blog. Welcome to 2002! I should be one to talk being fairly late to the party too.

100K baby
I didn’t really have any traffic goals when I launched my two (formerly three) blogs, but I did want to eventually reach 100,000 page views. Well my friends, that milestone took place two days ago. Two whole weeks before I reached the one-year anniversary of my first post.

(Note: DOA scan lifeted from a GAF post)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Game cut off

Well, I hit that limit of having way more games than I can finish…about three months ago (not counting anything not yet played from past console generations). And yet, I recently scored a sweet stash of titles courtesy of a visit Phil paid to the Nintendo employee store after “official bidness”. I finally got Minish Cap and also nabbed the GameCube Fire Emblem, Metroid Pinball, and Trace Memory (cuz it was very affordable). In my defense, the purse strings were loosened only because of the bargains at hand.

Even so, there is the matter of the Xbox 360 near. I have the system pre-ordered at a store and the only game I know I really want is Dead or Alive 4. The bad news is, EB just updated their site saying the game has slipped to 12/1. That date is quite tenuous methinks. There are whispers it might not ship this year even. Who knows what to believe when it comes to Team Ninja.

Well, next on my list is either NBA 2K6 or NBA Live. There’s no question which has more features (2K6), or which looks more next gen (Live, but just barely says I), but I’m not sure I can commit until I sit and play them once they come out. So, no launch slam dunk here either.

The latest movies of Condemned look moodily sweet, but I hear it may be rather short. I want to play Perfect Dark, PGR3, Ridge Racer, FIFA, Call of Duty 2 and most every other launch title. I guess I’ll wait to see what the reviews have to say to help me make up my mind.

No loss if I end up buying just one or two games for now. I’m sure I’ll either rent of borrow enough to scratch my next gen itch. That just means I can move up my purchase of Dragon Quest VIII. I played the demo on the latest Official PlayStation Mag demo disc and came away very excited. It’s really damn cool. I haven’t had time to sit down with an old school RPG since KOTOR (and it was brutal finding time for that one), but I will somehow do it for DQVIII.

So why is there a picture of Dixie from Rumble Roses at the top of this post? Because RR XX is now my #1 most wanted Xbox 360 game thanks to the latest trailer that hit like a week ago. You can’t miss it, it’s the only one that has some actual gameplay snippets and the debut of the eviler version of Evil Rose and the 200% sexier ninja Bloody Shadow.