Ruminations, ravings, and grassroots journalism collide - just don't mention the B-word.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Straight-up amazing

The suits win again!

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Somehow, I missed a giant dragon

The booths this year are, as always, widely varying in terms of their ostentatious-ness. This giant dragon, however, apparently struck me as reasonable enough that I didn't give it a second thought until this morning.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Forza 3 and realism

Microsoft has a really epic setup for Forza 3. Three screens, a racing seat, great surround sound, and a crowd of fans watching every turn.

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We got some super delicious pulled pork sandwiches for lunch from Maximus/Minimus on Pike. Their truck is shaped like a giant pig.

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The turtle van rides again!

One of the cooler out-of-the-way booths at PAX

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Now that's a smart way to get attention

Darksiders, a game about War, a horseman of the apocalypse, has a bull- riding machine at their booth.

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Turbine really wants us to play LOTRO

A full game in the PAX09 swag bag? Preposterous!

 Special thanks to hand-model @lag0s

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Suit up!

Matt and Rob suited up for PAX 2009. For more, check

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Doesn't the phoenix ever get tired of rising?

So I kind of forgot to put up the post where I link to the writeup for Empire at War that I did over the summer and heriocially penned on the Amtrak to New York like a true roving journalist. Here it is.

I'm changing the format of this blog so that it's not just about E3. Keep your eye out in the future for more reviews and other musings, and also possibly chronicles of my impending return to the City of Angels. In the words of Steve Jobs, "see you soon..."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Let's talk about Star Wars

So we saw Star Wars Episode III last night. Eventually I'll upload a wonderful cameraphone picture of the Stormtroopers that showed up, but for now I just want to talk about the movie itself.

It's not terrible. It's not good, by any stretch of the imagination, but good God it's a lot better than the last two. I am of the opinion that Episode I was fully unbearable, and Episode II was only really worth watching for the last half hour. Episode III was, without a doubt, the best of the three, and it never really dragged. Hayden Christiansen still can't act, though he does a good job being whiny... I guess that's the point. Poor Natalie Portman - I love you so, and you're very talented; it's too bad you have to suffer through this all. And Ewan Macgregor, as always, is the only thing that keeps this movie from being fully terrible. The chemistry between Christiansen and Macgregor in the first part of Episode III is fantastic, and for a moment you forget that Anakin is a whiny, self-righteous time bomb.

The effects and fight scenes were top notch, as always. The opening space battle was too hectic to really appreciate - the battles from the original trilogy are still more watchable. I am still, however, a total sucker for the armies of the Republic doing their thing. The moment their gunships swooped on screen I thought to myself "At least this was worth the money." And I have a feeling most people will feel that way, though the end of the film is extremely clumsy, hokey, and heavy-handed. Let's just say that after Episode III, Darth Vader has lost a bit of the gravitas he once held.

My next post will likely be about a different side of Star Wars - I interviewed the crazy-cool guys at Petroglyph Games on Thursday and got a sneak peek at their still-in-development Star Wars strategy game, Empire At War. Stay tuned! And here are some stormtroopers, at Universal CityWalk (where we saw Episode III), to tide you over.

A Brief Note

My E3 gallery is now up - check it out!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Halo 2 Multiplayer Maps

Bungie is releasing the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack on July 5 (note that this is a week later than the original release date). The pack contains 9 new maps - four of them have been released on Xbox Live already. Containment, Warlock, Sanctuary, and Turf are only the beginning. The other five maps were on display here at E3, with Bungie arranging Team Slayer matches composed of four teams of two every few minutes at the Microsoft booth. I got to play two of the maps and watch games on the other three, so here are some quick impressions:

Relic: Relic is dry. It's a brown island with a huge Forerunner base in the center (similar to the beam towers from Halo 1). The map is wholly asymmetrical and seemed a bit disorganized in a non-objective game like those being played at the Bungie kiosk. It's a moderately sized island, maybe about the size of Zanzibar altogether. It should be a fun map once you get big teams with an objective in mind, though, because there are a lot of little nooks and crannies to roam about in. Also, objective games will let the invading team to take advantage of the switch in the main base which activates a two-way teleporter leading directly from one base to the other - a crushing blow in a game of CTF, for example.

Backwash: Backwash is based on the 343 Guilty Spark level in Halo 1 - except it's on Delta Halo, because 2401 Penitent Tangent can be seen flitting around like a deranged cyborg hummingbird. It was too loud in the convention hall for me to tell if he talked to himself or not as he traveled. The map itself is pretty small, maybe a bit bigger than Beaver Creek, but the bases are simply small shelters on either side. The center of the map houses a two story cylindrical structure, which contains lifts and upper level exits from which to gain the drop on opponents. Everything is shrouded in a ton of mist and a weird glow, and there are an unprecedented amount of trees and little hills to take cover under. This should be a great map for pretty much any gametype.

Elongation: Bungie's remake of the legendary map Longest, it's now set on a human spacecraft (it's not clear whether it's the Cairo or a ship near it). There are large windows offering vistas of Earth, and conveyor belts running the length of both hallways. The frenetic gameplay that made Longest popular hasn't vanished at all - if anything, the moving crates have added a new dimension to the craziness. The map is virtually identical to Longest, except with a few more ramps and a bit wider girth to make it a tad less claustrophobic. If you loved Longest you'll love Elongation; it's as simple as that.

Gemini: Gemini is a midsized map, probably about the size of Foundation, with one large, multi-level central chamber and hallways snaking out from the sides. Gemini's claim to fame is the gorgeous level setting - it's located in the core of High Charity, and at least one base offers the same breathtaking view of the city center and the Forerunner ship that we learned to love in the single player campaign. Gemini also has the distinction of being the first level with doors that open as you approach - a level of interaction that many felt was missing from the game. I did exceptionally well playing this level - it seems to favor twitch reflexes and skill with a plasma grenade. Gemini should be popular for slayer matches, but it's unclear how well it will work for objective games - king of the hill and territories will probably be more interesting than CTF and assault gametypes, though.

Terminal: One of the more innovative of the new maps, Terminal appears to take place in New Mombasa and features a pair of bullet trains that speed across the map every thirty seconds or so. The train tracks are an excellent route to the opposite base, but the convenience comes with a price - the trains will kill you instantly if they hit you. In the three or so games I watched on Terminal I saw at least two people get nailed, probably more. It'll happen a lot, and you laugh every time. The layout of the map itself is fun, too - it's a large map, maybe about 75% as big as Coagulation, with intricate base areas. It's an urban area, so you'll find parking garages complete with gates that open by proximity - the first time I saw it I smiled. That insane kind of detail is what makes this map, and all the new maps, so impressive, because it's something many thought was lacking from the original Halo 2 multiplayer maps.

E3: Day 1

Oh, the wonders of E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo started for the masses today. The games industry holds its big show every year in May at the remarkably huge Los Angeles Convention Center. The show lasts three days – May 18-May 20, and it’s a smorgasboard of media hype and free tchotchkes. I was stuck in line for four hours Wednesday morning and afternoon, because the convention center lost power and the computers which were registering members of the press went down – so everyone had to wait outside to be registered manually. Once I got in with my shiny purple media badge, though, it was like stepping into an alternate universe where everything was either flashing lights, loud noises, or a delectable blend of them both. Here’s a quick look at what I saw today.

Burnout Revenge: I felt that Revenge was less impressive than its predecessor, Burnout 3: Takedown. The control and art direction feels too arcadey - the stunning sense of speed that the series is known for just doesn’t feel as powerful as in Takedown. Hopefully it’s just not polished yet – the traffic checks have potential, but the slowmo carnage cam isn’t as cool. Overall, I’ll just say that Revenge has a lot of potential, and hopefully it’ll realize that potential by the time we see it released.

F.E.A.R.: This game will scare you and won’t let go. Everything is unbelievably polished, and Monolith has used ambient sound, subtle music cues, and atmospheric dread to keep gamers on the edge of their seat. Not only that, but the game looks great and plays great too. There’s a limited bullet-time effect which is an absolute joy to use; it’s not as extensive as Max Payne’s original introduction of the technology, but it doesn’t feel tacked on, either. Look for this game to make a BIG splash this holiday season, unless Monolith feels it needs more polish.

Full Auto: One of the few games being shown for next-gen systems (in this case, the Xbox 360), the best way to describe Full Auto would be “Burnout with guns.” In a freakish twist of racing and mayhem, you get to race around in fully armed sports cars, blasting everything in your way, whether it be traffic, competitor, or building. The game has extremely destructible environments and pretty visuals – nothing extremely mind-blowing, but the real kicker is even running on alpha 360 hardware, which is being said to be running at as little as a third of the power of the final Xbox 360. The game has six months or so til it ships, so it will probably be quite impressive by the next time we seet it.

Those were the three titles that really stuck out on Wednesday, for me at least. I also got to check out the new multiplayer maps for Halo 2, but those will be left for another post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Who needs Tuesday, anyway?

Tuesday was our official lazy day. After a late night campfire in Malibu, complete with s’mores, we didn’t get up until 1:30. After making breakfast and lounging around, we drove out to Hollywood Hills to take a peek at the city from the heights of Griffith Observatory. The Observatory grounds were closed, much to our chagrin, so we took a quick little hike through the hills. I was lucky enough to grab some nice shots of the city – you’ll see them below, and you can of course click to enlarge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Surfing is only cool if you’re elitist about it

Monday held wonders in the form of California beaches - we got up early and went surfing at El Porto beach and then hit the boardwalk at Venice. The waves were pretty impressive at El Porto, as you can see from my pictures (click "El Porto beach" to go to my hastily generated gallery). While in Venice I caught a glance of some of Sony's promotional info for the Playstation 3. These posters were plastered across a wall (click to enlarge):

And, lo and behold, that "chang3" was evident later that day when Sony officially unveiled its PlayStation 3. The silvery monstrosity you see below will have THREE ethernet ports on board, as well as a host of other ridiculous features. Bluetooth support for up to 7 controllers, dual HDMI output onboard, the Cell chip, and the list goes on. Sony is still being coy about online plans, however, and it may turn out that Live is the huge selling point Microsoft has over the PS3... especially now that Square Enix has confirmed they'll be releasing all the new Final Fantasy games on BOTH systems. So without further ado, I give you the PlayStation 3.