Thursday, August 30, 2007

Metroid holds its own (Spoiler free)

After coming off the visual and story laden feast that was BioShock, I was very concerned how I would receive Metroid Prime Corruption.

After only two hours in, I can safely say Corruption is rocking my world. There is far more story than I expected and it looks good enough. My only regret is that I never got around to playing Echoes and it’s just not going to happen now that I’m used to the Wii controls.

I definitely plan on going back to BioShock on hard difficulty and being “bad”, but Metroid should keep me busy for a long while. Especially since I’m scanning everything like a madman.

If you have a Wii and were on the fence about Corruption, relax and go get it now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Everything is cool now.

All is not well in the land of new receivers. The Onkyo 605 I got a few weeks back suffers from audio popping/cracking. It appears to be a problem that plagues the entire line of recent Onkyo receivers. The tragedy of this is that the 605 is the most affordable option for next gen audio playback on the market today. The list of features makes it as future proof as possible and the sound quality is awesome.

So, I had the option of shipping it back and hoping the replacement was better (owners who have done so have reported mixed results) or explore an alternative solution. A message board post on the AVS forums recommended using PC cooling fans. Normally I would not pay my own money to fix something the manufacturer messed up, but I have several items that could use cooling. My DVR runs really hot (the last DVR literally burned out last summer), the PS3 runs also quite hot at times and the 360 is an ever worrisome overheating bomb.

I decided to take the plunge and order the power supply and three fans. One for the receiver, one for the DVR, and one for the PS3/360. WOW. The impact was immediate. It completely solves the popping problem. The DVR is running smoothly and I’m not as worried about the long term health of my consoles. Plus the fans are SUPER quiet. Despite being fairly large, you can’t hear them at all unless you put them next to your ear. You’ll want to follow the advice of the poster and get the rubber feet for maximum noise cancelling once you place the fans.

The biggest side benefit was for my PC. Yes, that same desktop I thought was dying just a few months ago. I cracked it open for a cleaning and was shocked to discover the fans in there are quite small. The fan I was going to use exclusively for the PS3/360 (I just move the DVR fan to the console in use) now sits inside my PC. It no longer crashes and now starts reliably.

In any case, I can’t recommend enough turning to outside cooling to improve the mileage of your gear. The life of the fans is listed at 150,000 hours, which is roughly 17 years of continuous use. That’s certainly a better investment than any warranty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A tale of two demos

It only took 5 minutes of playing the BioShock demo to convince me I had to own this game. I even stopped playing because I want to save the as much of the experience for when the game comes out next week. It would be great if I happen upon a store that has leaked it early, but whatever. I would have bought it anyway I guess, but the demo has me psyched out of my head.

On the other hand, I now know for a fact that Stranglehold will be totally skipped over, but not for the reasons you might think. I actually liked the demo a lot. It’s great fun, looks good, etc. The problem was that it made me dizzy as hell. The only games that ever made me dizzy were the first Turok on the N64, Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and Prey. Out of those, I only finished HL 1 and 2. I’m willing to deal with headaches for HL Episode 1 and 2, but I didn’t enjoy Stranglehold enough to warrant getting sick.

Does anyone else get selective dizziness from certain games?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Putting a hold on Stranglehold

I was out of my mind psyched when the initial news broke that the PS3 Collector’s Edition of Stranglehold would contain the HD version of Hard Boiled on Blu-ray. As the weeks passed, several serious questions and concerns nagged at me:

- How good will Stranglehold actually be?
- Will the HD mastering of the movie be up to snuff?
- Do I really want to keep the Stranglehold game forever in my library the way I intend to keep Hard Boiled? (very important since they are on the same disc)
- The CE is supposed to be very limited so you almost have to commit now to make sure you get one. This removes the possibility of waiting for the reviews to come out before purchasing.

As I was thinking things over, I happened across this interview that explains the movie will only play on a PS3. Since it is one Blu-ray disc, that is sort of understandable, but it really limits where I can playback the movie. The interview also mentions that the production run of the CE is in the six figures, so at least 100,000 will be available.

Let’s digest that number shall we? Now 10,000, that there is a limited number. 10,000 happens to be the US production run of Panzer Dragoon Saga for Saturn and that (plus the fantastic quality of the game) justifies the $100+ asking price on eBay for the game. Most games are lucky to even reach the 50,000 sold mark. Very few do. But 100,000?

For 100,000 to truly be a limited number, the game would have to be a massive, massive hit. Let’s put this in perspective. Final Fantasy XII sold/shipped 1.5 million copies in the US. I couldn’t find how many of those were the Collector’s Editions, but I do know that they sat around unwanted on the shelf long enough for me to pick it up at a hugely discounted price a few weeks back (this discount was across all EB/GameStop stores). This happened even though FF has a huge fan base and tons of people own a PS2.

Combine the installed base of PS3 owners with the fact that the Xbox 360 and PC versions of Stranglehold come out three weeks BEFORE the PS3 version and you begin to question just how scarce the PS3 CE will actually be.

I’m going to wait until Hard Boiled makes a stand alone appearance on Blu-ray. I want the whole disc to be dedicated to the movie for optimum audio and video quality. I also am hoping Criterion will enter the HD market by that time since their regular DVD version of Hard Boiled kicked all kinds of ass (except in the video department, but that is only compared to the higher picture standards of today. Back then it rocked hard. It also contained a huge amount of special features).

If Stranglehold turns out to be a must play, I’ll rent the 360 version. Problem solved.

I should also mention that part of the skittishness about paying an extra $10 for a CE is partly the fault of Ninja Gaiden Sigma. I soooo should have just bought the regular version, but the excitement got the best of me.

You are a DVD retail buyer. What would you do?
While we’re on the subject of movies on discs, did you ever wonder just how many DVDs are released in a given week? Digital Bits has a weekly collection of what is out along with super handy images of movie covers. Wow. There are weeks where this list is three times larger.

It’s actually quite easy to pick out what will be the most popular, but look at all those smaller scale releases! It’s amazing. I would love to physically visit a shop that stocks every single DVD that has been released. That would be quite a trip.