Granted, I'm about as fond of the French as most Americans, but in case you haven't heard, in EA's latest attempt to homogenize the gaming industry, they have bought a rather large share of French-based game company Ubisoft and reportedly ready to attempt a hostile takeover. In case the name doesn't ring a bell, they've made some of the more brillaint titles over the past few years, namely the Rayman & Prince of Persia games as well as cash cow Tom Clancy titles. Luckily, the French government wants to pitch in to stop the takeover, as well as Vivendi Universal (although that may be just as bad) . It is readily apparent that EA is trying to be the one and only big dog in the gaming industry as they literally own football and tried to strike exclusive deals with every other major sport. They are also intent on running their properties into the ground as they apparently are planning to release LOTR titles on a yearly basis, alternating between the action and rpg format. I'm gonna publicly say now that I will never buy another EA game as long as they are pulling crap like this. Granted, I haven't been a huge supporter of theirs for years, but I at least used to respect that they normally put out quality titles despite some questionable buisness decisions. But it's clear EA is just becoming bad for the game industry. If EA and big companies like them snatch up everybody smaller, the bottom line will matter a lot more than innovation, and that will kill the game industry. It's happening right now in Japan, gaming's mecca. They are suffering a gaming recession from releasing way too many "safe" and mediocre mainstream titles. It may not be too long before we see it on these shores.

On the brighter side of gaming news, the first couple months of the new year are normally pretty sparse, but we have a few promising titles coming out next week. First up Suikoden IV for the RPG nut in me. In case you aren't familiar with that one, the entire series revolves around a hero gathering the 108 stars of destiny in order to save the kingdom (that's right, you gather up 107 other people, though not all fight in your party). I've loved every game in the series so far, but the reviews for this new one haven't been too kind. I don't get skittish about one or two reviews, but several mags have all come out and said it's average at best, and when lots of people are saying the same bad things about a product, you tend to listen. Oh well, I'm sure I'll enjoy it enough to keep me busy until next month when Xenosaga II comes out (which I'll talk about more when that when it gets closer to release).
Then there is Mercenaries, which I honestly don't have much personal interest in, but it sounds like a fun filled with mayhem game. It really does look like a game where all you do is blow shit up, but as long as that's done well, it can be an incredibly fun time.
And on the Gamecube front, there's Resident Evil 4(although it's really like RE40 with all the spinoffs and remakes in typical Capcom fashion). I haven't really enjoyed a survival horror game since Resident Evil: Code Veronica on the Dreamcast, but this one seems to be finally doing something different. No more limited saves, tons more ammo and this one is actually suppossed to be scary (although I've heard that a lot before). Unfortunately, the awful control scheme reportedly has not been changed, but maybe it'll work betterwith the new setup.

Finally, on the movie front, the only thing actually opening this weekend is White Noise, which is yet another awful-looking horror film(and after the Grudge, I'm not paying to see another one ever again), so I will most likely play catch-up and see either The Aviator or Life Aquatic, possibly both if I have the time. Video-wise, I HIGHLY reccomend both Garden State and Napolean Dynamite, both excellent films out now. And if you're looking for a little something different, I also just watched an excellent Asian film this week called Infernal Affairs, about two moles, one in a gang and one in the police force.
That's it for now, but one of my many new year's resolutions is to update this damn blog more often, so I'll try for at least twice a week but I guarauntee at least once a week.

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