Grand Theft Auto Online

The upgrade fans of the GTA series have been waiting for is for the series to finally go online. 360 owners may get a sense of what that is like as Saint's Row hits stores this week. It has a similar gang theme, but also offers online multi-player. Of course, online or not, these cookie-cutter urban-themed titles usually only appeal to a certain type of person:

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What's much more interesting to me is that 3 big rpgs are out this week. Enchanted Arms is the first rpg for 360 owners since Oblivion. As it is a first gen-360 rpg, honestly haven't been keeping up on it too much, but it really sounds like it's just all over the map. In fact, it sounds like a slightly more mature version of Pokemon, which I just have no interest in whatsoever.

Also out is the third and thankfully final chapter in the Xenosaga series. I really tried to get into the supposedly improved second episode, but much like the last few Star Wars films, it was even more disappointing than the first one. I really can't imagine what kind of desperate fanboy would pick it up at this point.

But one rpg that I am extremely interested in that's out this week is Disgaea 2, from the wacky minds at NIS. I probably haven't played a good strategy-rpg since the first Disgaea, the new one is sure to take up tons of my free time with it's deep gameplay and really out there humor.

Finally, a big release for DS owners comes out this week with Star Fox Command. I have sort of mixed feelings about this one, as the original Star Fox game is a certified classic, but the series has had a huge downhill slide ever since. I am meeting with a bunch of other DS players this week, at least one of which should have the game, so I'll give you my impressions afterwords.



Lessons for next year....

I had a ton of fun a PAX this year (There is truly nothing like watching The Wizard with at least 1000 other video game geeks). I came away with more free trials from NC Soft than I know what to do with. (City of Heroes, City of Villains, Lineage II, Auto Assault) The Meydenbauer Center was ridiculously packed, so hopefully it will be somewhere bigger next year (hint: Like The Washington State Convention center, which I happen to be only a few blocks from...). But after spending nearly 20 hours in 2 days at the convention (many of which was waiting in long lines) and then working a full shift at my job today, I am ridiculously tired. I'll definitely need to plan ahead a bit more next year. I do have to say that the exhibition hall was pretty disappointing. The only games worth checking out were Splinter Cell: Double Agent & Star Fox Command. Even though Nintendo was a major sponsor of the event, the Wii was nowhere to be seen, just a whole lot of fun, but underwhelming DS titles.

And speaking of Nintendo massively dropping the ball, HOW COULD YOU HAE NO ONLINE SUPPORT FOR 3RD PARTIES UNTIL'07?!? My launch budget literally dropped by about half for this. I'm not buying Madden, without the ability to play online. I'm not buying Red Steel without an online option, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance will be bought on another system that I can go online with. Simple fact: Madden playable in a whole new way against your friends online would sell a lot of systems, now all it has is a wacky control scheme. There is just really no excuse for this. I know Nintendo is obviously not putting the emphasis on online that MS & Sony are, but this is a big fucking plus in the competition's favor when they will be able to offer online play for just about every 3rd-party multi-player game that comes out in the next 6 months or possibly even more and the Wii can't match that. Mark my words, this will really bite Nintendo in the ass if they don't get it going within a few months of launch.

Thank you Conan O'Brien for actually making the Emmys tolerable. I did watch tonight, but aside from Jeremy Piven getting a well-deserved win for Entourage, it was crap. Seriously, at least half the shows nominated were cancelled cause they sucked or had ended in May after being run into the ground years ago.

All right, that's really all for today, but I fully plan to be back tomorrow, as there are several games coming out this week I want to touch on. In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: SUPER SMASH FLASH



Let me sum up this week's releases in one simple word: Craptacular. Between Invincible, another formulaic sports story and Beerfest, the latest tragic attempt at "comedy" from the Broken Lizard crew. Thankfully, there's plenty to keep a Washington gamer like myself busy this weekend. Namely the Penny Arcade Expo, which is essentially a huge gamer convention thrown every year by the guys at Penny Arcade. It's 3 full days of gamer madness, and it'll be my first one, so I'm very excited about it. And I'll be sure to report back on my experiences, but essentially any gamer who can attend should.

Weird Al finally has a new album coming out, and the first single, "Don't Download this Song" is available for free at IGN. Everything he does is pure genius, Straight Outta Lynwood should be no different.

That's pretty much all i have for today, but I'll leave you with a telling email that was leaked today:

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Wait a Wii bit longer.

So tommorow, the latest unecessary update of Madden hits stores. It signifies so many things that I hate about not only EA, but the game industry in general (i.e. yearly updates with minimal improvements). But this may be the first year in many that I actually consider buying the game, just a version that isn't out yet. See, Madden is being especially made the Nintendo's Wii console to take full advantage of the Wiimote. This instantly makes a much needed change to the same old formula we've been force fed from this series for years (assuming it works of course). So I'm waiting until the Wii comes out to play some damn football, I reccomend you do the same.

Although Snakes on a Plane was number 1 this weekend, the underwhelming 15 million opening puts a lot of doubt on the suppossed power of the internet. Now some are saying that they just let the hype build too long, but I think it's just a reminder that the internet has a long ways to go before it starts being a real tool of influence. Now, I did see the film yesterday, and I thought it was fun, but it's the same kind of fun you get wacthing a cheesy horror film on late night cable.

Now I want to take a second to discuss the "ad" you should be seeing above this and every other post. I only wish it was something I was being paid for. It's mainly cause I'm a huge Zach Braff fan and I thought it would be something fun to try out since I think The Last Kiss looks really good. I have no idea how to make banners myself, so this won't be done too often, but if I can find one for something I'm real excited about, I may do a similar thing in the future. I also added his site to my links since he seems to be one of the few celebs who actually bothers to update it himself.

And I'll leave you today with the SCRUBS CLIP OF THE WEEK:


Does Internet Hype=Box Office?

That's the big question that will be answered this weekend when SNAKES ON A PLANE finally hits theatres after months & months of anticipation based pretty much strictly on the title. I think it will be a hit, but just how much of one is anybody's guess, as people who aren't internet junkies haven't really heard of the film and have no idea what the fuss is. What really makes Snakes unique is it complete lack of shame. Whether it's a bad movie or not is completely irrelevant (in fact, most are expecting it to be bad, but in a fun way). This is a cultural event for us internet geeks, I'll be seeing it with a bunch of people on Sunday, hoping it won't suck too bad.

I caught an early screening of Gridion Gang tonight. It was entertaining, and the Rock did a good job in a rare dramatic role, but it's still a very formulaic and predictable sports movie like every other one released in the last few years. There's a reason I never go to these anymore....

Ever wondered what the best toilets in gaming are? Me neither, but Maxim has gone ahead and picked out the top 12. Read if you dare.



Scorpio Rules!

The header today refers to one of my all time favorite Simpsons episodes, featuring Hank Scorpio as Homer's newest boss. Because today, The Simpsons Season 8 is out on DVD. And while I will certainly be picking it up and recommend any fan should, this is really the season where the cracks in this once impeccable show start to appear. Sure you have classics like You Only Move Twice and Homer's Enemy, but those are rare standouts among about a season that's really about half as good as the previous 7. There are still a few good episodes in the next couple seasons, but as I've said before, the Simpsons have been on a steep slide in quality the last 8 years or so and they'll probably never get back to form before they are dragged kicking and screaming off the air. Maybe Groenig and company should really go back and study these seasons so the Simpsons movie doesn't suck...

And speaking of milking a franchise for far more than its worth, out for rabid FF fanboys this week is Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. While I'm a huge fan of Square Enix, the only thing they do well is RPGs, and DOC is a shooter, and a very bad one from most reviews (not too mention the demo I played a few months ago). I'm sure some hardcore fans will say it rocks, but I just have no interest in it.

So, is today the day we learn when the Wii will finally be released? This memo supposedly went out to Virgin Megastores yesterday. Nobody really knows how much time is on the clocks or anything yet, though, or even what kinds of units of time they measure, so it could be just another marketing ploy.

Need to get into a slithery mood for SNAKES ON A PLANE? IGN has compiled a list of the top 10 snake films. This list just makes me realize that we actually need to make a decent film about snakes (and them being on a plane ain't it....).



A vote of no confidence

You know, with all the bad press Sony's been getting lately, now is a key time to rally the troops. Get all the fiercely pro-Sony publications and websites out there spinning anything positive. What they really, really don't need is the editor of a publication that is supposed to be specifically about Sony's console telling people to NOT BUY IT. Now granted, it's not like Official Playstation Magazine is Sony's publication, but this is a magazine that is supposed to be all about Sony, even mentioning the the competition is a taboo that is rarely broken. And here's the editor of the goddamn magazine saying she'll pick a 360 over a PS3 this year. That's a pretty damning statement. After all, you don't really get that "Official" brand without Sony's approval, and this would send any Sony exec through the fucking roof.

Even fake gamer network G4 has joined the anti-Sony bandwagon, creating this rather clever spoof of the Mac vs. PC ads that have been running recently:

That's all for today, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Stick Arena



Though it probably has little if anything to do with the "classic" Don Johnson ballad, the horror movie Pulse is arguably the biggest movie opening this weekend. The latest Japanese horror film remade for American audiences. And just like The Grudge & The Ring, it will most likely be horrifically bad. It wasn't even screened for critics, the classic sign of a horrible film.

But also out Wednesday was Oliver Stone's take on the 9/11 tragedy, simply titled World Trade Center. I feel roughly the same way I feel about United 93. It's way too soon. People have pointed out other historic epics, but those were more than a generation after the fact. I think it's important to make films like this for future generations so they can learn about it, but there's no point when it's still pretty fresh in our minds.

For the family, there's Zoom, with Tim Allen and Cortney Cox. Allen has some solid family fare in his resume, but this just seems like a much weaker version of Sky High, and much like pulse, it was not screened for critics (though IGN has a review, they gave it a whopping 1 star).

And then there's Step Up, yet another horrible movie about dancing. Not that there has been a good one. There's been good movies with dancing mind you, just not one that's actually about dancing.

Moving on, Halo has a director. Though you have probably never heard of Neill Blomkamp, he's done some amazing short films that give me great confidence that this may be the first video game film to actually be really good:

So I'm a few days into my DDO free trial and I'm not digging it too much. Though the team aspect is interesting, you essentially have nothing to do unless you are going into an instance, and although it's keeping with D & D, the level cap is pretty low. It really is like WOW lite.

Finally, we all know that the DS has it's function as an educational device, but what about some sexual education? A Montreal-based developer has designed a game entirely focused on teaching how to reach orgasm. It's sort of subtle what with the theme technically being that you perform certain activities to please a blue cartoon bunny, so it will probably go over kids heads what the title is really about. But it's definitely interesting to see a game take such a direct approach to sexuality. I'm sure Jack Thompson will be suing over it any second now...


Zombies in the mall! Wait, what's different about that?

Out tommorrow is one the 360's most highly anticipated titles: Dead Rising. It's key feature is the seemingly endless amount of random mall items you can use to slaughter zombie hordes. Although it's gotten pretty solid early reviews, they all list negatives that would make me pass on any title-Escort missions with dumb as dirt NPCs, time limits and repetitive action. I mean, I really cannot imagine this title being entertaining for more than a few hours, tops, so maybe it would rank as a rental at best.

I did try out the Lego Star Wars II demo, and it seems very solid, but truth be told, I had very little idea what I was suppossed to do, and the controls really don't translate well on a keyboard. I'll have to wait till the game is out on consoles to get a better feel for it.

I did decide to try the free 7-day trial for Dungeons & Dragons Online, it's downloading as I'm writing this, I'll let you know my thoughts over the next few days.

That's really all I have for today, but here's your SCRUBS CLIP OF THE WEEK:


Rob Schneider thinks he matters

I normally stay away from the more dirty tabloid side of entertainment, but I feel the need to speak on this. We've all heard about Mel Gibson's recent controversy and how it has shocked a lot of people. How much it will really affect his career is debatable, but Rob Schneider's obvious use of the incident as an obvious publicity stunt to puff up his non-existent importance is just hilarious. Never work with Mel Gibson? Yeah, I'm sure Schneider is at the top of Mel's list for his next film. They were all set up to film Deuce Bigalow 3 before this whole debacle. And what really makes this pathetic? He paid for a full page ad in Variety to get his opinion out. You know, most of the time, when celebrity scandals happen, it's not hard to for other celebrities to voice their opinions for free on all the various interview and talk shows and magazines. Rob Schneider paying for an ad in some trade paper pretty much confirms what everybody knows: NOBODY GIVES A FLYING FUCK WHAT YOU THINK, ROB! AND NOBODY EVER WILL!

Moving on, I saw a few movies this weekend. Little Miss Sunshine, which was pretty standard fare for an indie film about a quirky family, but the performances help keep it fairly amusing. Talladega Nights, which was all right, but had a lot of moments where it dragged, and I didn't really find Sasha Cohen as a gay Frenchman all that funny (not too mention they completely wasted Andy Richter in a throwaway role his his husband). And finally, I also saw The Descent. Mainly because of the good buzz and critical praise, even if it is a horror film. Unfortuantely, it falls into the pitfalls of all horror films-Cheap scares, bad acting, thin plot and worst of all-NOT SCARY! I think I just have to admit to myself at this point that I can't enjoy really serious horror films and just stick to more campy ones like Slither.

Got a halfway decent PC? Then you owe it to yourself to download the demo for Lego Star Wars II on Monday. I'm not suggesting you join fileplanet or anything, but the demo is supposedly free for non-subscribers as well and It'll be a good way to get an early taste of what should be one of the most enjoyable games of the year.

And that's all for now, so here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Prehistoric


The Need for Speed.

I loathe NASCAR. It's an idiotic redneck sport where the only exciting thing that ever happens is the crashes. That being said, I'm very hopeful about this weekend's only release even worth mentioning: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Granted, Will Ferrel's star has dimmed a bit with several really bad movies in the last year, but the previews look incredibly funny, and what really got my hyped was this brilliant short:

If they can keep up that level of humour, it should be easily one of the better comedies out this year (not that there's really been much competition). But honestly, this is more like one of those VH1 awesomely bad specials.

What are Mario's greatest moments? 1up thinks it knows the ten best ones. But honestly. this is more like Mario's 10 most awesomely bad moments, with things like Mario Ice Capades (with Jason Bateman & Alyssa Milano no less) & Mario Opera.

All right, that's all I really have for today, but I'll certainly be back sometime on Sunday.


Nintendo, savior of the adventure genre?

We can certainly hope. It's an interesting idea. I'd love to see a resurgence of old school point & click Sierra games. Especially if it resulted in all new chapters of faves like King's Quest or Space Quest.

So, while E3 isn't going to be completely cancelled, the huge carnival atmosphere of years past is gone. Now it will be more like a real trade show, and as much as gamers are probably bitching and moaning, journalists and gaming companies are doing an enthusiastic dance of joy. E3 is a massive headache fiscally and logisitcally all around and with game development budgets skyrocketing in the last few years, this was a much needed cutback.

What are the greatest comedies ever? Premiere thinks it knows, and while some on there defintiely deserve a spot (Some Like it Hot is still one of the top ten comedies ever), and any list that leaves out Spaceballs, South Park & Dumb & Dumber is pretty much completely invalid in my book.

Got a couple of fun photoshop links for you today; first up, what if video game characters became actors? Somethingawful has the answer. All of these are fairly brilliant, and may in fact have been better than the original.

And then there's games that will never be made. At least we hope, but with game companies being strecthed to the brink on terms of creativity, I wouldn't put it past anybody to release DDR Madonna or Fast Food Manger...

All right, that's really all for today, and here's your SCRUBS CLIP OF THE WEEK: