Archive for June, 2009
Sports games: They come out yearly, they’re some of the top selling video games on a yearly basis (the Madden NFL and FIFA soccer series each sold more than five million copies worldwide last year), yet they’re almost entirely shunned by most “hardcore” gamers. As somebody who has gone to the Penny Arcade Expo three times, I can tell you with certainty that you’re far more likely to find an obscure Japanese fighting game or pen-and-paper RPG than a copy of Madden.
Which is a bit of a shame, because from a pure gaming experience standpoint, non-sports gamers may well stand to gain a bit from trying out one of the many sports games out on the market today. Besides being one of the last bastions of single-console multiplayer out there, sports games – much like fighting games – allow for creativity in how you manage to play a game. While the great stereotype is that nerds and jocks don’t get along, truthfully it doesn’t matter when it comes to playing games — you don’t need to be athletically gifted behind the joystick.
Rooted in desires shown by my Silicon Sasquatch comrades to give these games a try, here’s an introductory guide to unlocking the joy to be found playing sports games.
Although the details are fuzzy, I know for a fact I saw my first Hong Kong heroic bloodshed movie a couple of years ago.
My buddy Dan had invited me over for a few drinks and some general indolence, and we sat down to watch a movie he revered: John Woo’s Hard Boiled. I can’t remember a damn thing about it, but I know there were guns, and doves, and shooting, and jumping while shooting . . . it was grand.
Today, I asked Dan to remind me of the specifics of Hard Boiled to help me construct this review. But even after having seen the movie dozens of time, there are only four solitary details that he can recall:
- A teahouse: dude gets killed from a banister
- A warehouse: dude gets nailed by a motorcycle
- A boathouse: dude gets shotgunned
- A hospital: baby pees on Chow Yun-Fat
It might sound crass or irresponsible to paint the movie in such simplistic terms, but that’s really the beauty of the movie. John Woo wasn’t setting out to break new ground in character development in the already-crowded cop-action genre; he was only trying to stage the best combination of over-the-top shootouts and exhilarating stunts that could possibly be crammed into a mere two hours. He succeeded.
No silly memes, no riffing on major world news events — this is just your typical, run-of-the-mill backlog. But isn’t that cause enough for celebration?
No? Hm. Well, here, check out Stephen Colbert’s exclusive preview of Microsoft’s Project Natal:
News for Tuesday: The UK acquires a unified games rating system — seems pleased, and Microsoft already shoots back at 1UP’s Natal rumors.
After a bit of governmental deliberation the United Kingdom has chosen to make PEGI (Pan European Game Information) ratings the sole standard for labeling the content of videogames. The decision came about as part of the Digital Britain report, an inquiry begun last October by Stephen Carter, the country’s first Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting, to primarily help modernize Britain’s telecommunications capabilities. PEGI’s ratings will be enacted with help from the independent Video Standards Council (think of it as the British version of the Entertainment Consumers Assocation…kinda).
In light of Tuesday’s announcement, PEGI has unveiled its new color-coded classification icons for UK game releases, as seen above. The freshly minted labels keep the same age ranges as the previous ones, but ditch the black-and-white, Electronic Software Ratings Board-like design.
Previous to Tuesday’s ruling, PEGI ratings were used in conjunction with the British Board of Film Classification‘s (BBFC) system of certificate labeling (e.g., Universal, 12 and 18 among others), resulting in a somewhat confusing dual game rating — especially for mature titles. Now that PEGI has control of classifying videogames released in the UK, the hope is to create a clearer and more easily managed system which provides parents and families with easy-to-understand ratings.
First of all: Congratulations recent college graduates. Welcome to a world full of (seemingly unavailable) opportunities!
I’m sorry, that was harsh.
Still, the University of Oregon’s ceremony for the geography and anthropology departments had a wonderfully apocalyptic keynote speaker telling everyone the skills they earned during four years of tuition-giving are for jobs not yet created, and that there are no guarantees of gainful employment right now — but good luck anyway! I laughed for my graduating friend.
As far as Silicon Sasquatch goes we’re back on track this week with our lovely Daily Recaps, and we’ll actually get around to posting additional content over the next few days.
Doug’s preparing a wonderful beginner’s guide to sports games, which is something I’ve always wanted to read considering my inability to get into the genre. I’ll be working on a review for Saints Row 2 and I can’t say enough good things about it from the in-depth customization to the spraying of public property with fecal matter.
Also, look for our impressions of the recently released Overlord II demo; as far as I can tell, controlling a horde of gremlin-sounding demons with a penchant for clubbing baby seals results in guilt-laden hilarity.
Monday’s news = 1UP posts some hefty Project Natal rumors, Verizon steps onto GameTap’s turf and Shigeru Miyamoto really wants to help you win at gaming. (more…)
Apple pulled no punches with its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote this year: Its flashy (and affordable) new operating system, Snow Leopard, was priced and dated, and a new line of more powerful and less expensive MacBook Pros was announced. But as usual, the iPhone swooped in at the last minute to steal the show — this time with a brand new model: iPhone 3G S.
Although Apple wasn’t eager to spout specifics at the WWDC keynote, various sources have disclosed the details on the iPhone’s first major performance bump (see AnandTech’s writeup here.) Simply put, the increases in processing power and graphics rendering capabilities mean Apple’s newest device will be capable of greater visual detail, faster rendering and more complex imagery than ever before. It also means that, theoretically speaking, games could be developed that will only run (or run effectively) on the iPhone 3G S.
So that whole triple-E expo thing is over, right?
We still have our Nintendo and Sony conference impressions on-tap and ready to be served, but we’re simply terrible at sliding that frothy information down the counter to you, the frustrated consumer.
Look for those articles later this week with a comp for your first few Jägerbombs.
Yesterday’s news ran quite the gamut of topics: Sony’s trophy system isn’t happening on PSP, Satoru Iwata “scuttles” when it comes to new handhelds and playing a game might just help lower your car insurance rates. (more…)
Hey there, reader! Long time no see. How’s tricks?
Well, we’re all a little burned out here. I mean, you all saw the media deluge last week, didn’t you? The countless trailers, the hours of presentations, the Brütal Legend lawsuit . . . it’s just exhausting.
So, we failed to deliver on the E3 commentary we promised, and I wanted to personally apologize. We weren’t sure how we were going to discuss the event as it raced by, and thanks to each member of our bustling staff of three having something major come up, it just didn’t happen.
If you’re still with us, I want to thank you for your patience and understanding. All three of us have busy lives, and I know that it’s been a constant struggle for me at least to have a full-time job and keep up the quality and consistency in blogging that I aspire to.
We’ll be getting back on track shortly. In the meantime, excuse our flakiness.
Now, let’s talk about some games, shall we?
Wolfenstein 3D doesn’t need much of an introduction. Most people remember the game for its pioneering spirit. It brought the first-person shooter into the public eye and paved the way for successors like Doom to follow. It also stirred up its fair share of controversy for its abundance of Nazi symbols, featuring a rendition of Adolf Hitler as a giant fighting cyborg — including chainguns for arms.
It was a simpler time in gaming. Of course, that was nearly twenty years ago, and now we’re playing the game that once required a sturdy personal computer on our mobile telephones. What a difference a few presidencies makes!
When a game has been ported countless times to every platform under the sun, purchasing it again has little to do with whether the game is fun to play start-to-finish. In terms of content, this is the exact same Wolfenstein 3D you remember; all six episodes arrived intact. But that’s not the reason Wolfenstein 3D was brought to iPhone.
Instead, it’s a proof of concept — an inquiry into the viability of taking a time-honored game and rebuilding it for a platform it was never intended to exist on: a mobile phone with an exclusively touch-based interface.
Day 1 of E3 2009 — full of press conferences from Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and the big press event from Microsoft earlier this morning. Having spent the day taking in what each of these groups had to offer, we’ve got a little bit of judgment to pass now. Sure, it’s early, but here are some thoughts coming out of the first day…
Based purely on what’s been shown today, and assuming things go to plan:
The Sure-fire Big Winner: Xbox Live
Direct download capability for 1080p movies and Xbox 360 games; an expanded Netflix lineup; Facebook, Last.fm and Twitter tie-ins to come in the fall; and a whole host of exclusive downloads and DLC content for games coming this year. That $50 a year spent on an Xbox Live gold account keeps looking better and better, and regardless how the games turn out, what you’ll be able to do with the system grows and grows.
Most Important Announcement: Microsoft’s Project Natal
We knew it was coming. It may even have been shown a year ago, before Microsoft acquired the company responsible for the technology. But actually seeing Project Natal — Microsoft’s code name for its controller-less motion control device — was very stunning. Sure, some of the tech demos displayed (a ball kicking/punching/heading game, motion to control the Xbox dashboard) were a bit hokey…but they showed a level of motion-recognition that was very tight and reactive. The big deal was Lionhead Studios (publishers of Fable 2, Black and White and many other games) and the tech demo they created where players could interact with a schoolboy named Milo. To say it encroached on the uncanny valley is an understatement; if it’s what the video demonstration billed it to be, it’s less a game and more interacting with a legitimate AI character. Absolutely stunning.
To say that Microsoft could capitalize on the market the Nintendo Wii has pioneered while also pushing the boundaries of what’s possible as an interactive activity with Project Natal is an understatement. The potential is there; whether it comes to fruition in the final form will be interesting to see.