That was pretty much my gut reaction today after suffering through what is easily Spielberg's worst movie and may also be Tom Cruise's (although it's hard to top stuff like Cocktail & Days of Thunder in terms of pure crapulence). I have never been so bored watching tons of Earthlings be brutually eliminated. The special effects were just loud, noisy and clumsy. There was no plot to speak of (you can tell because they keep repeating the same lines over and over throughout the movie). Any dramatic moments or character development feel horribly forced and hollow. Cruise is horribly miscast as some normal kind of jerk dockworker, and Dakota Fanning literally just spends the whole movie being an annoying whiny kid. And to top it all off, Senor Speilburgeo felt it was a good idea to stick with the original ending, and to add on top the ultimate mushy happy Hollywood ending. I was expecting something at least equal to Independence Day (dumb, but pretty entertaining), but this is more on the level of Plan 9 from Outer Space, just with an actual budget which makes it all the sadder. I wasn't expecting it to be a great film, but the fact that it wasn't entertaining on ANY level makes this easily the biggest dissapointment of this year (but The Longest Yard still beats it out by a little for worst movie I've seen this year).

After subjecting myself to the pure torture that was WOW. I definitely needed a pick me up. Luckily, this same day the newest RPG from the brilliant minds at Nippon Ichi came out: Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. The story is nothing new (mana is dissapearing from the world, blah, blah, blah), but it's main feature is the alchemy system. It sounds a little intimidating and limiting at first, since you have to combine elements you collect in order to make powerful attacks that are necessary to beat even the standard enemies in the game. But luckily the system itself is pretty simple, and since you can turn many enemies and inanimate objects that respawn into elements it's hard to run out. This also adds plenty of strategy and variety to otherwise mundane battles. The encounter rate is also suprisingly low, which can be trouble for big boss fights since you may be underpowered, but it's a refeshing chancge of pace. But like any really good rpg, the key to AI:EM is that the characters are chraming and interesting and you like spending time with them (really, it's important in all forms of entertainment, but since RPGs usually ask for much longer commitment, it's more important that the characters are at least not annoying and preferably entertaining). That's really it for now


We should've killed E.T. when we had the chance

Seriously, that little bastard got on the mothership and nearly 25 years later, he's brought back all his buddies to slughter the human race! It would be cool since Spielburg did the ultimate friendly alien movie and now he's doing the big theatrical version of War of the Worlds. I have faith in the combination of Cruise and Spielberg (Minority Report is one of my favorite movies of the last few years), but there's a lot of big question marks behind this film. War of the Worlds was a radio broadcast, so how do you expand that into a movie (yeah, it's been a couple of movies and a TV show, but this movie seems to have no relation)? And honestly, on the surface, it looks a little like Signs, which was such an asbymal waste of time. And hell, last time the aliens were beaten by our own atmosphere, so I hope that's not the ending here. I guess we'll all find out in two days, but if I see any police aiming walkie talkies at the aliens (in case you forget, he altered the DVD release of E.T. so that the police only had walkie talkies instead of guns), I'll know Spielberg has been drinking from the same kool-aid mix that Lucas has been on the last decade or so.

Although it's not even out yet, the upcoming 25 to Life is already the favorite whipping boy of several senators (including Hilary Clinton) and one idiotic CNN analyst. Off course they are complaining about the violence level, and the fact that you can live the life of a gang-banger, setting up ambushes and drive-bys. Of course, they forget to mention that EVERY preview so far says you also have the choice to play as a police officer. And they are mostly doing the usual song and dance of protecting little Billy from things he'll learn about from his friends at school anyways, but they are taing it one step further and pleading with major retailers to not even carry the title. This is a nifty little way of getting around the first amendment, because they aren't trying to pass anything, but unless a better election issue comes up, come release time they may actually resort to protesting outside stores that carry the title (while ignoring plenty of other equally violent titles that are releasing in the same time frame), which can be just as bad as any legislation. Wal Mart has a pretty good history of having no spine, but I hope other retailers will take a stand and tell these morons to stop being such assholes and focus on important issues like oh I don't know, the war effort or social security or the drug war or the defecit or gas prices. I could keep going but I'll spare you readers.

There's been a lot of fairly unholy unions in entertainment, but I think this latest one tops them all. Midway, maker of overrated recycled crap like 5 million similar NFL Blitz titles and the mostly laughable Mortal Kombat titles (MK II was the only worthwhile one of the whole series) has teamed up with MTV to make games. Take a few minutes to let the horror of this news sink in. MTV is officially in the games buisness (and they are making their own game division called MTV games). This means we'll be forced to be subject to horrors like Pimp My Ride The Game, The Ashlee Simpson Game and whatever other crappy shows they have. I can see a Real World game right now, hopefully it's an FPS.

And finally, if you thought Jack Bauer had a lot of bad days before, it's about to get even worse for the most beleagured federal agent in TV history. A movie is supposedly in the works, although I don't know how they squeeze what's normally 24 hours of TV into a two-hour movie. But more pressing is 24: The Game. It takes place between seasons 2 & 3, and it looks pretty damn cool. I just hope it's not actually based on a clock, because I loathe time-based titles. I'll most likely be back on Thursday, so until then....

Funerals & Birthdays

Ok, let's start off with the bad news. The voice of Tigger is dead. Paul Winchell died on Friday, and while Tigger will live on, it's a very well established fact that when the original voice of a cherished character dies, the character loses something. Most likely because the originator of the distinctive voice (Mel Blanc for example) had enough power and concern for the integrity of the character they were portraying. Then some new person who most likely could really use the job on their resume comes in as a replacement and simply becomes the company's latest "yes-man". Mainly because their are thousands of people who can do a more than adequate impersonation of at least one well-known cartoon character, giving the new guy no reason to rock the boat. The the character slowly turns into a bad combination of catch-phrases and simply pushing merchandise. And given that Tigger is the one character in the 100-acre wood I wouldn't set on fire and then do a happy dance if given the chance, I consider this a sad day since he will most definitely go the route of corporate schmuck soon. You need to see no further example than the fact that the best thing the Looney Tunes have done in the last decade or so is Space Jam for evidence of this.

As for happier news, the original gaming icon, Pac-Man (yes Pong came before, but it isn't really an icon) turns 25 this week. Actually, that makes me feel old, since I'm actually a full year older than the little yellow ghost gobbler. But, anniversaries of this sort do sort of make you take a look back and see how far gaming has come as a medium. It's been quite a trip if you've been along for the whole ride. Also makes me think anybody who says games were better in the "good old days" has completely lost their mind.

Alright, that's really it for now, but seeing as it's officially Monday, I'll be back later today with thoughts on War of the Worlds, the newest game rattling politicians' chains and whatever other news seems to creep up during the day. But for now, checl out the awesomeness of this trailer for The Transporter 2, due out in September


So a foul-mouthed alcholic squirrel and a homicidal alien walk into a bar...

Best described as a Bizarro world version of Disney Land, the original Conker's Bad Fur Day was one of the last great releases on the Nintendo 64 (hell, it was one of the few good ones). You played a wacky squirrel who got piss drunk on his 21st birthday, and woke up with a hangover in a stange land that included things like flowers with huge breasts and a giant living mound of poo that sang opera. But for the time it was also a brilliant platformer thanks to what at the time was a fairly original take on your normal cute and cuddly platformer and an extremely robust single and multi-player mode. And years later, when Rare was snapped up by Microsoft, one of the first announcements would be that they were porting over the nasty and twisted tale of Conker to the Xbox, with a huge online mode. Problem is, they didn't change anything, so a lot of the balance and camera problems that were forgivable when the game was new just seem annoying now. And the witty movie jabs have aged really terribly, as have the bad fart jokes and toilet humor. I'm sure it will sell well, but I'd rather they have a real and creative sequel (especially since the damn game took at least two years) than some game I played years ago that seems rather dated now.

Also out this week is Destory All Humans, an homage to campy sci-fi classics (so much so that there was a special offer where you could get a free copy of Plan 9 from Outer Space). You play an alien whose ultimate goal is to get DNA to save your planet from dying, but the real purpose is to use all the cool weapons at your disposal to blow the hell out of every human and cow in sight. It probably won't offer much in terms of original gameplay, but running around with an alien death ray causing major havoc is always fun.

Going with the philosophy if it ain't broke,fix it anyways; the Big N is apparently considering revamping the look of the classic games that it will have available to download on its upcoming Revolution system. This is a HORRIBLE idea. The whole reason people are excited about this concept to begin with is to play these classics in their orginal pixelated glory. The only games I would support doing this on is the N64 games because they all looked horribly pixelated and blocky, so they could use some smoothing out, but not any kind of real upgrade. I really hope Nintendo at least offers the original version as an alternative or this may turn off a lot of the old school hardcore crowd they were hoping to attract.

Finally, I saw The Longest Yard today, and I can say it is easily the worst movie I have seen this year. The jokes are all painful, the performances are horrible, it badly needs at least 30 minutes cut out, and by the time they get to the big game, you just don't care. I have rarely ever wanted 113 minutes back so badly in my entire life.

I see lots of dead people...

Ok, since I have several planned posts on specific topics this week, I thought I would talk about this weekend's movies a few days early, especially since none of them seem particularly appealing. First up is Lindsay Lohan in yet another tepid remake of a mediocre original-Herbie Fully Loaded. Granted, it's probably the last chance you'll get to see her as a hot curvy redhead as she's become a bad Paris Hilton imitator, but that's not really enough reason to go see this pathetic attempt to milk money out of a franchise that nobody cared about to begin with.
And then we turn to the latest TV show turned movie-Bewitched. Granted, unlike most remakes, it's actually got a pretty solid cast behind it-Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, and Michael Caine, but again, the question becomes does anybody care? Bewitched wasn't even that good of a show to begin with.
Finally, there is George Romero's return to the genre he created with Land of The Dead. Now I loved Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, and the last few zombie films (28 Days Later, the new Dawn of the Dead) have been pretty entertaining. But Romero is insisting on the traditional slow-moving zombies, which have always been a huge plothole to me-If these zombies are not only incredibly slow but completely brainless, how is it that they haven't just been eliminated? And as good as Romero's first two zombie films were, his third, Day of the Dead was a complete joke and he hasn't really done anything worthwhile since then, so I'm not too sure it'll be worth checking out either.
Although Batman Begins hasn't even been out two weeks, there is already a huge buzz about the sequel. Apparently, all the key actors will be back, except Katie Holmes (which is probably a good thing, as she was at best ineffectual), and it's most likely that the new villain will be the Joker, and early reports indicate that there is a push to get Mark Hamill the role. This may seem like an odd choice, but anyone who is a Batman fan knows that Mark Hamill has been the animated voice of the Joker for years in various shows and movies, and he's done a brillaint job, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch (although given Hamill is in his mid-50s, they may opt for someone younger).
Halo is coming to a theatre near you. But all that has really been decided so far is that Fox and Universal are teaming up to make the film. Now, even though he's far from a brillaint director, I think this is material that is straight up Jerry Bruckheimer's alley, so it would be smart to get him on it, and I think The Rock would also be a good choice for the role of Master Chief. But just don't let Uwe Boll (House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark) anywhere near it, and it should have a decent chance of being the first good video game movie (I have little hope for the upcoming Doom movie).
That's really all for now, but I'll be back later on in the day with thoughts on the newest game releases and some other news that has happened recently...


Those who do not learn from history....

One of the oldest and most true adages of all time, yet we constantly see people who flagrantly ignore it and suffer the consequences. With that in mind, it appears that Sony & Toshiba's talks about coming up with some sort of compromise between the Blu-Ray Format & DVDHD format have compltely fallen through. Now, there's going to be a winner and a loser here for sure, but the suprise is that it will most likely be Sony. Why? Let's hit the way back machine and go back in time to the betamax vs. vhs wars.
Sony was fully behind their format betamax, and why shouldn't they be, it was better quality than vhs, surely people would want better quality, right? But betamax was more expensive for both the studios and the consumer, so vhs won out. Once again, we have the exact same situation coming up. DVDHD has far less capacity than Blu-ray, but it's far easier to develop for and significantly cheaper to make, so when the average consumer looks at a DVDHD and a blu-ray dvd and notices the price difference, they'll go for what leaves a little more in their wallet, especially when they have to pick a dvd player that will play just one format (wanna bet the Blu-ray players will cost significantly more as well?). Heck, if DVDHD's are noticably more expensive than the current standard format, the average comsumer may just say screw it and stick with what they've already got.

Ok, I completely forget to mention last time that I did see Mr. & Mrs. Smith over the weekend, and it was a very fun popcorn flick without a whole lot of rhyme or reason, but plenty of good action to make up for that. I also saw Batman Begins today and I think it's easily the best Batman movie done yet and could be argued as the best superhero movie I've ever seen (that's right, better than Spider-Man 2).


Ressurecting the Dark Knight

It wasn't the Joker, It wasn't Bane, hell it wasn't even some laughable villain like The Ventriloquist. In the end the one who was finally able to basically kill off Batman was Joel Schumacher and his insistance on a campy, nipple-suit filled film with horrid acting and ridiculous casting choices (Ahnuld as Mr. Freeze? a very non-athletic Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl?) that really did in the caped crusader's movie career. After all, although Batman has still thrived very well in comics and TV, it took nearly a decade to get him back onto the big screen, and it was a long and ever-evolving journey. How do restore faith in a franchise that left such a thoroughly bad taste in everybody's mouth?

There were probably a ton of ideas. Maybe leaving Batman dead and buried and showing what Gotham was like without him would've been an ideal choice? Really, no idea seemed too out there in breathing badly needed new life into the franchise. For awhile there was even serious effort to get out a Batman/Superman film to pump new life into both franchises. But what's coming out tommorow is more a result of Christopher Nolan's vision. Going back to the beginning, showing how and why Batman is Batman, and making Gotham a more real and gritty place, where Batman would really standout rather than seem right at home like he did in previous films. And the early reviews seem to indicate that this approach has worked in bringing back the franchise from beyond. I'm hoping they are right, and the previews do look very impressive, but I did see one preview where Christian Bale's scary Batman voice sounded more like he just had a really sore throat, which causes me to worry some.

I finally picked up the first season of Scrubs & the first two seasons of Newsradio, easily two of the best comedies of the last decade, and both were not given enough of a push by the now dead last NBC (granted, Newsradio lost an integral cast member when Hartman died, the show was definitely never the same and somewhat deservedly slowly died off after, but there's no excuse for them not pushing Scrubs as their premiere sitcom if not the best show on their network). Any fan of truly brilliant comedy needs to go pick these up. That's all for today....


Nothing solves marital issues like a little espionage

A lot of different movies open this weekend, but honestly the only one that seems worth seeing is Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It's a real shame a film that looks almost guaranteed to be the slickest action film this summer has been overshadowed with the nation's disturbing obsession with famous people's sex lives. The reviews of been really good so far and anything from the director of The Bourne Identity is gonna be awesome.

The other offering just seem like pure dreck. Hooneymooners is an insult to Jackie Gleason and Art Carney and everybody who made that brilliant sitcom that basically set the standard for guys like Fred Flinstone, Al Bundy, Homer Simpson and every lovable loser since then. The mere fact that the studio wouldn't even put in Ralph's famous "Bam! Zoom! Right to the Moon!" line (and all his variations on it) because they feared it would be seen as supporting violence against women makes it a certainty that this will be a humorless, painful affair to anyone unfortunate enough to waste money on it.

High Tension is yet another thriller from a foreign land, this time France. Now, the reviews have been solid, but any horror film I've seen over the last decade, American or otherwise, has been laughably awful at best(for some reason critics have a weird reverance for foreign & independent films, even though they make just as many crappy films as big budget Hollywood does). Plus it looks like a bad Texas Chainsaw Massacre rip off.

The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3D is the latest family offering from Robert Rodriguez, and like his other family offerings, it should fill you with dread. The Spy Kids series was severely overrated and Rodriguez just seems so much more in is element when he is doing extremely visceral and violent movies like Sin City, From Dusk Til Dawn & Desperado.

And then there's Howl's Moving Castle, the lastest from Miyazaki, which I think will be like all of his films-Brilliant animation, but thin plot and atrocious dialogue. More evidence of the sacred cow that reviewers to think foreign films are.

Video Game wise-two big releases are out this week-Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for Xbox, I more or less said what I thought about this way back when I first started up this blog, but I"ll expand on it a bit here. I think the GTA series has more or less peaked with Vice City. It had just about everything you could ever want to do in a violent crime game, and had incredibly cool nostalgia feel to it. San Andreas by comaprison, just felt like it added tons of stuff that wasn't necessary and was really boring-namely exercise & calorie-counting. It's bad enough we have to do this stuff in real life if we want to live past 40, we don't want it in videogames.

The other would be the latest WWII shooter Medal of Honor: European Assault. Forget banning violent video games, let's at least put some kind of moratorium on historical shooters. These things seem to be multiplying like tribbles, and they won't stop till all other genres are ingored completely.

All right, that's really all I have for todya, but I'll most likely have an update Saturday or Sunday as well.


They shoot horses....

So for a long while now I've been thinking about trading in my Xbox. Sure, there would be a couple of games I might miss out on and a few months of live I won't be able to take advantage of, but I thought I'd best do it soon. And upcoming games for the current platform will most likely be playable on the new one. Also, by showing a little patience I can probably also save a few bucks and pick them up for my new console at a nice used or discounted price. Then I pretty much realized the same thing applies to my Gamecube, so this morning I traded them both in. Now for the Xbox, this was a fairly easy decision as I think a few months away from live will only make me enjoy it more, and there are only a couple of Xbox titles I might initially miss out on and pick up a little after they are out. For the GC, it was a pretty painful one. Even though the system is clearly pretty much on it's last legs (despite what any insane fanboy will have you believe), they already have an early favorite for Game of the Year with the new Zelda game, and anyobody will tell you that it will most likely be worth buying a cube just for that game, and while I don't disagree with that, the economist in me reasons that no ONE game is worth keeping or buying a system for, especially when it's only going to go down in value, and probaly pretty damn soon. So, it will royally suck to wait a year after the game comes out to play the it on the Revolution, but it'll great to pick it up for only about twenty dollars or less.

Suprisingly, it's easily my PS2 that still has plenty of life left in it (at least gamewise, I finally had to trade in my old one that just barely works for a nice used slim PS2, good way for Sony to completely gaurauntee that there's no way I am picking up a PS3 at launch), as there are quite a few upcoming games I want for the system (mostly rpgs like Atelier Iris, Shadow Hearts 3, Kingdom Hearts 2, etc.). And if Sony keeps to their word, my PS2 will probably still have a couple more years before I really put it out to pasture (and with a 90 million+ user base, they have very good reason to keep supporting the system).

Ok, that's really all I have time for today, I'll finish up by saying I saw Cinderella Man on Sunday, and I'd rank it as an overall excellent movie that captures boxing really well with tremendous performances by Russell Crowe & Paul Giamatti (as for Renee Zelwegger, well...)


Why the 360 will fail

Looking back through my last few posts, I realize I've probably lately sounded at best like a cautiously optimistic Microsoft fanboy, when in actuality I am far from it (heck, if anything I'm a diehard Sega fan, secretly hoping that they will one day return to consoles with a new system that will smite all opposers!!, ok that's probably saying too much). But the reality is that out of the 3 current consoles, I've probably gotten the best overall experience out of my Xbox. A steady flow of quality games(which the Gamecube seriously lacks in), an excellent online service(which both the GC & PS2 lack), and I've never had any serious problems with playing dvds or certain games that use certain types of formats that should work(this happens a frustrating amount on my PS2). But all the same, I got far more games for the PS2, and the same will probably hold true for the PS3 because they tend to have every type of game under the sun (especially in the rpg area, which is by far my favorite genre), and when you look at the Xbox library in comparison, it's marketing seems clearly designed for mostly drunk frat boys as it's filled with an overabundance of mostly mindless shooters and sports titles. So, while I honestly believe Microsoft will give Sony a much better run for their money in the next round of the console wars, their is a serious chance that they will be scrapping for a distant second with Nintendo just like this round, and here's why:

1. Too much belief in online-Now, I honestly believe that online gaming is the next big thing, but it's not there right now (out of over 20 million Xbox users, less than 2 million have live, not exactly a number to boast about), and it may take awhile to get there. And as someone who is recently new to the waters of online gaming (at least in it's current incarnation), it can be very rough going at first. Although I've met quite a few good friends, you definitely meet a large share of cheaters, idiots and total assholes (sadly, a large number meet all that criteria at once). I have a few friends who actually refuse to go online even though they have months of Xbox live left specifically because they've just dealt with way too many jerks to make it worthwhile. Also, while I love the potential idea of Microsoft's marketplace, where you can get demos & custom items; there's also a lot of potential for gamers to be pissed off by companies nickel & diming gamers to death, therefore turning them off the service and the 360 entirely. Microsoft is banking on this being their biggest gun in the next round and they could fall flat on their face because of that.

2. Coming out first-Just because Microsoft will be there first doesn't gaurauntee anything. It may give the impression that they are afraid to compete head to head with Sony. Sony is the gaming equivalent of the 800-pound gorrilla right now, they will launch when they want on their terms and they have no reason to think otherwise. It gives both Sony and Nintendo a chace to look at Microsoft's launch and plenty of time to see what they can do better. It's also a good bet that the PS3 games (at least any exclusives) will look noticeably better than any first gen 360 games (at least if Sony's reps aren't completely talking out of their ass), and better eye candy will do a lot to sell systems.

3. The Price war-We know the 360 will launch in the range of $300-350, which means it will probably be cheaper than the PS3, whose price could be significantly more, or it could be a lot closer in price with some Sony reps claiming it would probably be around $370-$400. And those numbers aren't that far apart, so who could blame someone who has to choose one system for spending just a little bit more on one that's supposedly significantly more powerful?And then there's Nintendo. We know that next gen games for the PS3 & 360 will likely hit the $60 range. With Nintendo's system being far less powerful, not only the system, but the games might be significantly cheaper. And With system exclusives becoming less & less common these days, There might be a huge backlash against both Sony & Microsoft for their high prices compared to Nintendo's.

4. The stagnation of the gaming industry-I know, with all the billions the gaming industry makes, the idea of the entire industry having another big crash like they did in the 80s seems nearly impossible. But they thought it was impossible back then too. And while I'm generally excited about what the next generation has to offer, we seem to be getting into a rut of "safe" titles-Lots of shooters (especially WWII-based ones), lots of games based off of TV shows or movies, or cookie-cutter sequels to already popular franchises. And that's mostly what we are seeing in the next generation as well so far, so why buy a new system that doesn't offer anything new in terms of gameplay? Seriously, if all the next gen systems offer is the same games with shinier graphics, the whole industry will pay for it. And while I believe Sony & Nintendo could easily survive a crash, Microsoft may pull out completely if the industry goes south considering how much of a bath they've already taken.

5. Concentrating on the American market-Gaming is a global thing, and while Microsoft has acknowledged that just concentrating on American gamers (and specifically virtually ignoring the very different Japanese market) was a mistake, and they are supposedly working to rectify that. But I'll believe it when I see it. Grabbing the cooperation of Squarenix (as well as acquiring Mistwalker studios, which is made up of former Squarenix alumni) is a big step foward in that direction, but the PS2 has always had a nice balance of big name titles and odd quirky ones, if Microsoft really wants to succeed, they need that sort of balance.

6. Everything to everyone-The more things a system can do, the more things can go wrong with it. I don't really intend to use most of the 360's "features", and I'd prefer it didn't have them to begin with. Besides adding to cost of the system, if something goes wrong with one particular feature, it could potentially affect the entire system, leaving gamers with a busted system because of a feature they don't even use and feeling ripped off because of it. Granted, Sony's doing virtually the same thing, but having crappy hardware that barely works didn't stop them last time.

7. Lack of HD-DVD or Blu-ray capability-One of these will be the next step in storage capacity, and despite J. Allard's claim of it being the "HD era", the 360 still uses a standard DVD drive, not compatible with either HD-DVDs or Blu-ray, both of which are capable of a lot more storage capacity. And Sony has clearly cast their vote in the Blu-ray corner, which can hold a massive amount comparatively. It's way too soon to tell whether HD-DVD or Blu-ray will become the definitive format, but since the 360 doesn't really support either, they could easily be left in the dust.

8. Lack of strong launch titles-With every current system, the initial launch sucked complete ass in terms of games. Usually one or two pretty good titles, and it was months before we saw a steady stream of quality titles start to turn up on a regular basis. And what do we have promised for launch? We can expect 15-20 titles, but we don't really know what aside from EA's 2006 sports titles (which you can pick up on all systems, and for ten bucks cheaper if the price raise actually happens) and Perfect Dark Zero & Kameo from Microsoft. That's really it. If the launch lineup doesn't deliver some mind-blowing stuff, it may be enough of a blow that Microsoft is never able to recover from.

9. Bill Gates is the devil-At least that's the perception in a lot of people's minds. At best, he's an outsider, just burning his company's money on another wacky idea and doesn't really care if it's succesful or not. After all, he's worth a couple billion all by his lonesome, how much capital do you think the damn company has stashed away? And with that perception in mind, alot of people may steer clear of the system just because it's supporting Gates, which plenty of people don't feel all that comfortable doing. Granted, it's the least likely legitimate reason, but any fanboy for Nintendo or Sony will probably use it as an excuse.

10. Abandoning their current user-base too early-Sony plans to fully support the PS2 for at least a couple more years, most likely so gamers can more easily transition into the next generation of hardware. Microsoft is pretty much abandoning their current console, thus burning some loyal customers in the process, and making them extremely weary that Microsoft may do the same thing next round.

So, as you can see, there are a lot of pitfalls Microsoft has to avoid if they really want a serious chance of duking it out and becoming the top dog in the console wars. Bottom line, it's going to take a lot of well-thought out strategy and plenty of good luck. But serious competition is good, so I'm hoping they (or by some miracle Nintendo) are able to pull a tight race because close competition will be good for ALL of us gamers.


Battle of the biopics

Two very different biopics open this weekend-Cinderella Man & Lords of Dogtown. Cinderella Man is the latest shot at Oscar from the powerhouse assembly of Russel Crowe, Paul Giamatti, Renee Zelwegger, Ron Howard & Brian Grazer. It's about depression-era fighter Jim Braddock, who pulled off a miracle comeback in the boxing world. I expect it to be a fairly formulaic sports movie, but as long as it's done well, there's nothing wrong with that.
Lords of Dogtown is actually based off the documentary, Dogtown and the Z-boys, which featured a group of skaters that revolutionized the sport in the 70s and made it possible for guys like Tony Hawk to make a living off skateboarding. Skateboarding movies are usually pure garbage, although the superb directing ability of Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) may make this the first one actually worth checking out (although critics seem to be saying otherwise so far).

The movie Serenity takes place 6 months after the last episode of Firefly that was made (this is another show I HIGHLY reccomend picking up, it's just a shame only 13 episodes were made). But a guy like Malcolm Reynolds can't possibly stay out of trouble that long, so if you want to know what happened between the end of the show and the start of the movie, Joss Whedon is making a short run (three issues, I think) comic that shows what adventures the crew of Serenity have in the mean time. I haven't read comics in over a decade, but I might pick these up if they are by some miracle able to capture the humor and spirit of the show.

I've already beaten Advent Rising on easy(that's right not even a full day!), so while I had fun, I wouldn't reccomend a purchase. It was a very fun 10-hour roller coaster(like most good action games these days), although admittedly the frame rate could've used a lot of smoothing out. But I can't wait for the next two entries as the story, cinemas and music were all top notch.

The big shocker of game news this week has been that the PS3 may not come with a hard drive. Now, if you want to just play games on it (like I will), it probably won't be a huge deal and like the PS2 you can probably pick up a rather inexpensive memory card of some sort. Unfortunately, the problem is that you won't be able to do all the things out of box the 360 can do with it's standard 20 gig hard drive (stream music, record videos, not have to buy memory cards in the first place), and I think Sony will probably charge a ridiculous price (just look at any decent storage device for the PSP, they are ridiculously overpriced).

All right, that's really I have for today, til next time....