Monday, November 19, 2007

The State of Gaming

This post was inspired by a friend's note he posted on facebook regarding the state of gaming today. To paraphrase what he said he was dissapointed in the quality of recent titles such as Guitar Hero 3, Halo 3, and Assassin's Creed. He felt letdown by those games and was wondering if the quality of games was falling, or if developers were running out of ideas.

I don't believe that the quality of games is falling, but rather with the large volume of games being released we see more bad games getting the spotlight, like Lair. But when you sit back and realize that this fall we've been treated to titles such as Bioshock, The Orange Box, Call of Duty 4, Mario Galaxy, and Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass we must look back and see that this year is one of the best years of gaming ever. On top of the above list of games, Mass Effect and Rock band will be out shortly after this post is up. Games haven't been getting shittier, we just need to be careful to choose the right games.

A message to those who played games such as Halo 3, Guitar Hero3, and Assassin's Creed and felt like they were let down. To those who played Halo 3 and GH3 specifically: You are playing the third game in a series and expected the game to change??? Bungie and Red Octane are gonna stick with the formula that worked for them earlier. I'm not saying that more of the same is bad, in certain cases it can be good. But in more cases than not MOTS will let us down. Halo 3 was a letdown to me for its sheer lack of ideas, espically evident now after I've beaten Call of Duty 4. Halo 3 was advertised as some epic adventure that would culminate in a massive battle of the human and covenant forces. In the end we went to the ring making facility, which ironically looks and feels just like the previous other two rings. In Halo 3 you fight scripted waves of covenant and flood, and guess what the ending is?? You end up driving a warthog to your ship before the whole place blows up.....just like Halo 1.

The fact that people were letdown by Guitar Hero 3 leads me to ask "what the hell were you expecting?" You can't change Guitar Hero. Yeah the boss battles changed it up a bit, but it wasn't enough in my opinion. Rock band is looking to shake things up even with its $179.99 price point, because it has so many better songs available with the game and for download.

I've been talking mostly about the 360, but the PS3 finally has pleanty of AA titles available. The new Ratchet and Clank game looks beautiful, although I haven't played it, this is a game that I wouldn't mind MOTS, because it is one of the best platforming games ever. Folklore looks good, and Eye of Judgement takes advantage of the Eye Toy for a truly innovative take on tabletop card games. MGS4 will be great when it eventually comes out, and we can expect God of War III to be a good game.

All in all we're looking at, in my opinion, an age of gaming that we have never seen before with so many different titles for people of all different gaming preferences.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The USA is the best usual.

A while back I reported on the USA national finals for World Cyber Games. Well over the weekend Team USA and teams from 74 other nations competed in Seattle for the World Cyber Games Grand Finals. USA was under serious pressure to bring home the championship this year after winning only one medal last year. Well there was a lot of pre-game hype with Korea announcing their best lineup ever in the Starcraft and Warcraft III events, and by adding Gears of War and Command and Conquer 3 to the event lineup.

Well right now the only song in my head is Proud To Be An American since Team USA stole the show this year by wining three gold medals, two silver, and one bronze. USA took gold in Dead or Alive 4, Tony Hawk Project 8, and Gears of War. Additionally they took second in Age of Emires 3 and Chomp3r the defending Project Gotham 3 champion lost the finals in an upset. Additionally Team USA took a bronze in DOA4. The United States has a history of being behind Europe and Asia in the competitive gaming world, but silenced all critics this year.
For complete coverage and video of the matches go to the GGL's website.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

World Cyber Games 2007 USA Finals

The World Cyber Games USA finals for this year ended on Sunday, and it was definitely one with its share of upsets. Thankfully this year I was able to watch a live stream on Epileptic Gaming's website since many of the hosts were working there casting the matches. I was excited to see Dead or Alive 4 players Master and Vanessa since I followed both of them closely during the first season of the CGS. Master, unfortunately lost and in his place Perfect Legend and Black Mamba will be representing Team USA. Surprisingly the epic Counter Strike 1.6 team NY3D were not present this year; even though they have been the defending national champs for two years now. Representing Team USA this year for CS 1.6 is team Emazing Gaming. Ch0mper, arguably one of the best Project Gotham Racing 3 players in the world will represent USA once more. Ch0mper is coming off a successful first season in the CGS with the Chicago Chimera. Earlier in the summer, Ch0mper and his teammate JasonX went undefeated in regular and post-season play, helping the Chimera to win the CGS Region 1 title and also receive the MVP. Team USA has much on its shoulders this year with the WCG Grand Finals being held in Seattle this year. Last year Team Korea swept the Starcraft event and led the world in total medals with two golds, one silver, and one bronze. Last year Team USA won only one gold medal with Ch0mper winning PGR3. This year USA plans to give the world their best with a new CS 1.6 team, 2 new DOA4 champs, two dominating players in the new Command and Conquer 3 ,and Ch0mper returning to defend his world title. The Grand Finals are going to be held October 3-7 with at least 70 countries in attendance.
For the full Team USA roster check out the World Cyber Games USA website and for videos of the USA finals check out GGL Wire

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nintendo Not Going The Easy Way Out

With the launch of the Wii we heave seen a radical shift in the marketing strategy of Nintendo. Nintendo is leading the charge into the world of casual gaming with games such as Wii Sports and Brain Age for the DS. Nintendo's recent success can be attributed to many non-gamers buying the Wii or DS for its casual, family friendly titles. But what is Nintendo's strategy now that the Wii has overtaken the Xbox 360 in sales? Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has stated that key to attracting new audiences is to surprise people with new gaming ideas.

I can tell you that Nintendo surprised us all with the announcement of the Wii Balance Board, but is that the way to go? Microsoft is broadening is market with new engaging titles such as Bioshock and Mass Effect while continuing to build on the success of the Call of Duty franchise and who can forget the launch of Halo 3 in under two weeks. Iwata has said that Nintendo could "do the easy" by making good games and sequels like they did for years up untill the Nintendo64. Nintendo has opted insted to go make new peripherals that probably won't be used for any other game than the one bundled with it. Does anybody remember the Donkey Kong Bongo Drums?
Although I can't blame Nintendo for following the strategy that has brought it back to the top of the video game market, one can only ask how long will the Wii's success last.
Click here for Iwata's interview

No more World Series of Video Games

The World Series of Video Games has been cancelled!! The World Series of Video Games ,one of many professional gaming circuits, has been cancelled by its parent company Games Media Properties. In a press release Games Media Properites states "The continuing challenges of securing adequate revenues to sustain the production of the WSVG's large scale events and television programming." The WSVG was in the process of securing television time for its events in Los Angeles, London, and Sweeden. The WSVG televised its summer event in Dallas earlier this year on CBS, but it was met with mixed reviews. With one of the key esports circuits now gone we can expect more coverage of other events such as The Championship Gaming Series, which has just announced the $500,000 team prize for the winning team at their world championship this upcoming November. Click here for the source article

The opening post and a little about GameStop

As we approach the holiday season GameStop has seen it appropriate to redesign their store layouts. With the growing popularity of casual games and rhythm games such as Guitar Hero, the higher ups at GameStop have decided to add sections for rhythm games and games licensed to children. When asked by the NY Times, Daniel A. DeMatteo, COO of GameStop replied "Honestly, we are having to retool the way we think of things in our stores in terms of merchandising, layout and also customer service because it is no longer only the hardcore gamer walking in who knows exactly what he wants." Although many of the hardcore see this as a continuing shift of focus to the growing casual audience, I belive this will help gamers in the end. By placing all the games meant for children in one section, it will help parents who are looking for titles for their kids, and you won't find titles such as Viva Pinata next to Gears of War. Although nothing is a substitute for good parenting, this is showing that the people marketing and selling the games are taking the initative in keeping mature titles out of the hands of children. Although I don't believe that this will make a significant impact, I can hope that when I'm shopping for Mass Effect and Call of Duty 4 I won't be bothered by the snotnosed brats looking for Viva Pinata Party Anmals, or the upcoming Scene It game. Click Here for the full article.