Monthly Archives: May 2011

Installing FFXI

I’ve played every main, numbered Final Fantasy game besides Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV, the two MMOs. I’ve had FFXI for Xbox 360 for a while, one of the special packages they released with a bunch of the DLC, but I was waiting to try it out. Since we’re in a slow-ish period waiting for some games, I decided it’s as good a time as any, and last night I popped the disc in.

An hour later, after the PlayOnline registration process, I was just starting on the actual installation which was set to last another hour and a half. Suffice to say I canceled it and I’m installing it tonight. I can’t comment on the game, but man is the setup a pain in the ass.

  • The Asian PSN restoration is a big deal, don’t get me wrong, but the bigger story here for me is how Sony is still being super vague on bringing the PS Store back. And it looks a whole lot like they’re missing the May release target. What a surprise.
  • I never got an answer back on whether Skarlet would be included in this first Mortal Kombat DLC pack, but it sounds like she won’t. Still, I’m actually considering picking it up. Because I am a sucker. Not as much of a sucker as people who paid $100 on eBay for a classic Reptile costume.
  • A lot of people were a little annoyed that we reported on this Netflix/Miramax deal. I suppose I can get it, it’s not really directly related to gaming. But Garnett wanted it written, so I hit it. Besides, it’s an interesting story, and nice to let our readers know they can go a little movie-crazy on Monday. Funny, though, how I said Rob Lowe instead of Rob Schneider. Whoops.

Twas the fortnight before E3

Usually pre-E3 we go into a dark period. It’s a media blackout, and all we have to write about are scattered leaks and small announcements that don’t want to get lost in the hubub of E3. The last couple days, though, have been pretty flooded with announcements and trailers. If this is the stuff publishers want to get out to avoid E3 distraction, they must have some crazy surprises in store. Either that, or this will be the most boring E3 ever.

  • This Disney Universe thing seems like it would’ve been an E3 announcement, but I’m not sure if Disney has much of a panel presence. Still, you’d think they could’ve roped Microsoft into making it a part of their presentation, during the “family friendly” bit that they always have. Sony wouldn’t bite, I’m sure. Too much like LBP.
  • The screens for this Dungeons & Dragons game look pretty, but the comments section isn’t kind to it. I’ll try it out tonight.
  • This was sort of a non-story, but it’s a new Assassin’s Creed trailer, and people tend to like those. I do love old and grizzled Ezio.
  • Hey hey, free crap that won’t matter for Resistance 3. And Forza 4!

Angel hair is the best pasta. This is not a discussion.

We went to the local Italian place, fanciest restaurant in our small-ish city, to congratulate Nina on her Master’s Degree. I ordered angel hair pasta with crab — in Maryland, pretty much every dish is offered with crab — and it was delicious. It reminded me how much I love angel hair, and how we never get it anymore because they never make it in wheat form and we try to eat healthy.

Well screw that, I thought, I’m getting some this week. I still had some homemade sauce leftover from the last time we made pasta, and I made it tonight. Even with my amateur cooking skills, it was amazing.

I will entertain thoughts of superior pastas, but you will never change my mind. You live in your inferior world where you love rigatoni or whatever the hell, and I’ll continue being right.

  • I’m not going to lie. When I saw that XBLM had gone down today, I was a little nervous that angry Sony fans had hacked it to prove it could happen anywhere. Turns out it was just that some intern accidentally sat on the “shit be broke” button.
  • Seriously. Hothead. Three DeathSpank games in a year is ridiculous. Even if the series were great that’d be pushing it. And it’s not great. It’s kind of dumb. I didn’t like my time with it, and mostly it just made me resent that you aren’t giving us Penny Arcade Episode 3, which both was a better game and had better writing.
  • On the subject of XBLA games I do want, hells yes Double Fine. Trenched looks great, and I’m happy it’s coming out soon. Watch the intro cutscene that went up today if you haven’t. Since Double Fine started their initiative of smaller, downloadable titles, I’ve pretty much eaten all of them up. I’d even get Once Upon a Monster if I had a Kinect.
  • I suppose I should probably register for this identity theft thing at some point. But I already have it through a different company, since my college lost a hard drive full of our data last year sometime. I’ve already swapped all my cards and passwords so I feel pretty safe, but might as well take advantage of the free service.

Short and sweet

It’s been a long day, between my regular work and doing a couple of different freelance pieces that I’m working on getting done before the end of this month. So I’ll keep this pretty short, especially since there’s not much to say. I’m prepping for E3, but when you’re working from home that pretty much just means resting your fingers and figuring out what hours to watch G4.

  • I maintain that the memo was real, and Seybold’s comment was a C-Y-A move. But it’s a good thing he made that move, because the PS Store didn’t go up today. I actually went back and forth with another writer on whether the Dead Space 2 paragraph was relevant, but Garnett thought it fit okay, so we kept it in.
  • Ubisoft jumps on the free-to-play wagon. I’m not really sure how many shooters that wagon can support, to be honest.
  • If I didn’t already play/own them, this Resistance 2 Dual Pack is a pretty good deal.
  • I might actually pick up this Japan charity album, especially if some of the old-school composers went with chiptunes tracks.

Green with Envy

The Muppet movie trailer came out today, and it was awesome.

I played a bit of NCAA Football 11, since I got it free with an Amazon credit. I never got a hang of the Madden games, but I figured I’d try this one out. I made my own custom team (the Messiah Fightin’ Jesuses) and tried out a game. Apparently I was docked Sportsmanlike points for beating the pants off of the other team.

I understand sportsmanship and playing well, but scores are sort of the point of sports. It’s how we track team performance. Penalizing a player for doing well seems a bit silly in a video game. Especially since this was literally my first time playing and I was either playing a terrible team or having some amazing dumb luck. Not exactly welcoming.

It has gotten me more used to the mechanics of the EA Sports football franchises. I might even pick up Madden this year, so I can play as the 2011 Ravens. I’ll finish the season the way they should have.

  • I might bite on Peace Walker or the new God of War if they make them Remasters, but I already played Chains of Olympus. Frankly it’s part of the reason I hate the analog nub. I know a lot of people bitch about the lack of dual sticks on the PSP, but it’s long been my position that I’d settle for one functional stick over two nubs any day.
  • This Sony cost news was surprising, not so much because of the hack cost, but because of how much larger the earthquake cost is. The earthquake was a big story in gaming, but the only word from Sony was a few delays and a quick rejection of the rumor that it had impacted NPD production. It looks like it actually hit them pretty hard, at least financially.
  • EA Sports allowed to continue being EA Sports.
  • I’m always open to free, new content, but these Dead Space 2 maps also basically confirmed that the leaked Sony memo was legit. That means we’re seeing the PS Store tomorrow. I didn’t really see any other outlets picking up on that angle, for whatever reason.

Games (Journalism) as Art

I know a lot of people like to put air quotes around games “journalism,” to imply that it is not really journalism, because it’s only journalism if you’re breaking big stories and bringing down the Nixon administration.

Clearly, I have some problems with this assessment, but I do understand that our reviews are more along the lines of product reviews than critiques. Garnett tries to focus on this at Shacknews. We cover the mechanics in our reviews because that’s about technical proficiency, but we always try to touch on the “feel” of a game as well.

Along those lines, this Infinity Blade review struck me as pretty brilliant. It’s an interactive piece in itself, and it expresses the ideas of the game succinctly. I’m not entirely convinced that Chair meant to imbue the game with all of this meaning, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that art is at least 50% interpretation. If that’s what this guy got out of it, great. The review itself is amazing. You don’t need to be familiar with the game, just the general conceit that you play continuing bloodlines down the years. Watch it through to the end.

  • In completely unsurprising news…
  • I’m a fan of the Ratchet games, but I don’t really have three friends to play All 4 One with. Not sure if I’ll get it or not.
  • Valid concerns from developers, but it’s not like Sony can do anything different. They’re between a rock and a hard place here.
  • I could take or leave these bonuses, but I’ve already pre-ordered the game and the addition of Sly’s Cane is pretty awesome.

So many Blades

I snagged Infinity Blade today since it was on sale, plus the recent update news got me interested. I didn’t think it was really possible to be this impressed with the visuals in an iPhone game, but wow. Those screenshots always struck me as a little bullshotty, but color me impressed.

I had heard that it’s basically Punch Out with swords, and that’s true to an extent. But with a leveling and equipment mechanic, it feels a lot more fleshed out, and I’m a sucker for RPG-ification.

  • I’m not going to lie; if this LA Noire DLC is reasonably priced, I will probably get it. I’d say $5 is fair for one episode, since they tend to last about an hour. $10 would be way too much, but I’m assuming $5 is too low so they’ll hit at $7.
  • Despite Seybold coming out to cast some plausible deniability in case plans change, I think this report is pretty accurate and we can expect the PS Store to be restored in time for next week’s update.
  • My favorite part of this Lego Harry Potter story might be the range of guesses/suggestions for future Lego titles. My favorites are probably Lego X-Men and Lego Gargoyles, though I would say Lego Lord of the Rings is actually a very distinct possibility.

Episodic gaming, to its logical conclusion

I’ve played just a few hours of L.A. Noire, and I’m really enjoying the old-school adventure game feel. Once you get past the (comparatively dull) tutorial beat-cop sections it’s really a great feeling to take charge of your own investigations and choose when and how you approach witnesses and evidence.

Each case starts and ends with a title card, so it has a very episodic feel. As a result, I’ve resolved to play one case per day, until I finish it. It might last a few weeks or so doing it this way, but I feel like spacing it out like a TV show will better deliver the story on its own terms.

And considering it might overheat my old-model PS3 if I play for long stretches, maybe that’s a wise decision anyway.

It was a pretty slow news day. Between the pre-E3 dark period and Judge’s Week, not a lot was going on. We still found a few stories to hit up.

  • I don’t usually pick up fighting game DLC, but Mortal Kombat might tempt me. I’d like to play as Scarlet, for one thing.
  • This was a relatively minor PSN security issue, but kind of funny regardless. Did no one notice that the password restoration system relied on information that had been compromised weeks ago? Good on them for jumping on a fix, though.
  • I was one of the 1.29 million.
  • I’ve already stated that I’m in the tank for Assassin’s Creed. So here’s more info on the next one.
  • This was a fun story to write about Netflix, mostly for the Dr. Who and LOLcat references.

Sony takes one step forward, one back

I have a certain level of sympathy with Sony over this whole hacker fiasco. I really do. They got hacked by some kid posing as a white hat, even as he handed the car keys to a bunch of black hats and feigned ignorance. They tried taking him to court for it, and spurred on the attention of a hacker group. That attention is probably responsible for the hack, whether Anon was directly responsible or not. So I get it. You guys got hacked, it can happen to anybody, etc.

And like I alluded to yesterday, I can’t fault their make-good efforts. They’ve been pretty generous with their apology offerings. I suspect they hope we’ll forget the “apology” part, since it implies the need for an apology, but good on them.

But seriously guys, comments like these from CEO Howard Stringer just don’t make for good PR. Even if his frustration is understandable, it doesn’t come off the right way. When read by someone like me, whose credit card info was compromised and who remains personally convinced the PSN situation played a part, it’s doubly uncool.

On the bright side, the report confirms that Kaz Hirai is safe. I haven’t been incredibly happy with Sony’s transparency through this whole debacle, but I felt like the executives shouldn’t really pay the price. Hirai has been next in line for CEO for a long time, and it would be a shame if he lost his place as heir-apparent because the ball was dropped in some lower department. For that matter, I’d like Patrick Seybold to keep his job too. All in all I don’t really want anyone to lose a job over this; just learn the lessons and move on.

I’ve played very, very little of L.A. Noire so far. Xav has a Field Report up, which more or less describes some of my early experiences. Very linear, very interesting, fun and tutorial-y so far. But holy crap does it look gorgeous. I’m playing on PS3, and anxiously awaiting the ability to unlock the extra content codes that came with my copy. Same thing goes for my Mortal Kombat online code. PS Store, come back soon.

  • A lot of people (including us, when we didn’t know any better) reported the Xperia Play as “the PlayStation Phone.” The truth is it’s the first of many PlayStation Phones, and we got that piece accurate in today’s release date news.
  • I may just have to bite the bullet and buy Infinity Blade.
  • I wouldn’t buy it, but this $4 motion comic isn’t a terrible investment. If you really love the Mass Effect mythos, and want to play ME2 multiple times, being able to cater a ME1 save within 15 minutes is a good deal.
  • This Nintendo/Best Buy partnership is weird, mainly because Nintendo can already push content out. I got a notification one day that my Nintendogs had been updated with Teddy Roosevelt’s dog, which sounded awesome, but I had already traded the game in.
  • So glad I saved the Rachni.

Sony’s make-goods

Sony detailed the Welcome Back program today, and it’s pretty generous. We knew it would include four games, but these aren’t bad offerings. I’m a little surprised Infamous is on the list, even. I won’t be grabbing it because I’ve already played it, but it’s a nice offering.

I think I’ll grab Dead Nation, Super Stardust HD, LittleBigPlanet, and ModNation Racers. Now to wait for the PS Store to come back in the first place.

They’re working hard to make good on the problems. I still think they should’ve let users know a bit earlier and been more transparent in general, but I can’t fault them for their methods of apology.

I should be getting LA Noire tomorrow, but I’ve been playing Mafia 2 in the meantime. It’s sort of getting me in the mood. The setting is really well-made, even if the mission objectives are a bit one-way and checkpoints are more-or-less broken.

  • This was the nicest way I could think to say, “Chrono Trigger is available so who cares about everything else?”
  • I’m wondering if Amazon is going to echo this free DLC offer for LA Noire.
  • I’m not sure how to feel about Gotham City Impostors. On the one hand, customizing your own member of the Joker gang (or impostor, or whatever) is appealing on a certain level. On the other hand, Batman as a first-person shooter rubs me the wrong way on a lot of levels.
  • Good to know that when the PS Store does come back, they’ll be playing catch-up. I do wonder a bit if that means it will flood the market too much. I know sales will be a little hit by it no matter what, but oversaturation could be the next threat to publishers.