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PS3 Releases: week of May 26, 2008

May
30

rumor of the week: developers have supposedly been told the 2.40 firmware update will include
– in game messaging
– achievements/trophies
– ability to play your own mp3s during games

Basically, things certain other systems had long ago. Though, from reading the coverage, it’s not really clear if this means “these things will be now work on existing games” or “developers will be able to start integrating from this point forward, but you won’t see it until much later.” For instance, many of the PS3 games I’ve played, exclusive to the system or not, have had some sort of achievement deal, but I’m not sure if it’ll hook into the overall PS3 Trophy system when this comes out, or if at least patches will be required. This document also does not state when 2.40 would come out, though people are guessing June. I’d like to definitively say it will not come out in May.

on the shelves

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars [metacritic] – Yet Another FPS, this one’s a port of a PC game from last October, being released simultaneously on 360 and PS3. (360’s version is noted as better everywhere.) The game gets better reviews than Haze last week, but is really a different niche. Haze was built around the story mode, with multiplayer built in. Quake Wars has the very bare bones of a story and is more meant to be a multiplayer LAN party game. The reviews vary depending on how willing the reviewers are to write off single player mode – it’s a game to get if you like playing with random people online or you have 12 friends who are all going to buy at the same time, but not if you’re just playing it alone. Bizarrely, there’s no voice chat in this game, which is a necessity in this genre. There are generic voice commands, but that’s not quite the same.

in the store

Downloadable Games (none for 3 weeks)
PS1 Classics (none for 4 weeks)

Add on Content
– Rock Band {$2 singles, or $15 for the whole album}: all songs from The Cars
* “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”
* “My Best Friend’s Girl”
* “Moving in Stereo”
* “Just What I Needed”
* “I’m in Touch with Your World”
* “Good Times Roll”
* “Don’t Cha Stop”
* “Bye Bye Love”
* “All Mixed up”

Cut to $1 until 06/05
“Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Dirty Little Secret” by All-American Rejects

Game Demos (none for two weeks)

Game Videos
– Top Spin 3
– Battlefield Bad Company (2, dev diary, character blog)
– Project Origin (teaser)
– Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (2, game play video)

Movie/Blu-Ray Trailer
– Enchanted
– No Country for Old Men

PS3 Theme

PS3 Wallpaper
– Prince of Persia Prodigy (2)

over the horizon (last updated 05/30)

06/03: Grid (metacritic)
06/03: The Bourne Conspiracy (metacritic)
06/03: The Incredible Hulk (metacritic)
06/03: LEGO Indiana Jones (metacritic)
06/03: Kung Fu Panda (metacritic)

06/10: Dragonball Z: Burst Limit (metacritic)
06/10: NASCAR 09 (metacritic)
06/12: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (metacritic)

06/23: Battlefield: Bad Company (and Gold Edition) (metacritic)
06/24: Hellboy: The Science of Evil (metacritic)
06/24: Wall-E (metacritic)
06/24: Hail to the Chimp
06/24: Overlord: Raising Hell (metacritic)
06/23: Top Spin 3 (metacritic)
06/24: Heist (metacritic)

06/29: Guitar Hero Aerosmith and bundle

07/08: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution (metacritic)
07/08: Beijing Olympics 2008
07/08: Monster Madness: Grave Danger

07/15: NCAA Football ’09

07/25: WipeoutHD (download only)

07/29: Soulcalibur IV

08/04: Baja

08/05: Altered Species

08/12: Madden NFL 09 and (20th Anniversary Edition

08/19: Rapala Fishing Frenzy

09/02: TNA Impact!

09/09: Legendary: The Box

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JvsTW, round 2

May
28

Sort of. Joe’s joined f4wonline.com’s Dr. Keith Show. He said he’s planning on doing stuff for the show on free editions of the show, and the one this past weekend is the first one, talking with Rob Naylor.

I know the original version of the show had a short version of Joe’s segment. I think the file up now (right click to download) has the long version. Listen to it either way.

Game 49: Pirates 5 – Cubs 4 (14)

May
28

Pirates 23-26, 4th
Cubs 29-20, 1st

POTG (for multiple reasons: 1B D Lee (2R, 2H, 2B, BB)
Runner up: 3B A Ram (2B, 2 RBI, R), C Soto (2 H, RBI, 2B, BB), RF Fukudome (2 H, RBI, 2 BB), RP Bobby Howry (1.2 IP, 2 H, K)

There are reasons why these have been slow, but not a single one is good. Maybe we’ll get to that later, but I ought to be honest and say I’m thinking about dumping this for uselessness compared to where else I could be spending my time. I like doing it, but when I’m not finding time to do it during a season like this, it’s all very questionable. Until I actually decide on something, I might as well keep on going…

…but, I can’t claim to see this entire game. I tried, oh I tried. Went to the Cougars game, but had this one all TiVo-ed and ready to go. The TV attached to the TiVo is 18 months old and already going on me, but that wasn’t the issue. Yet another extra inning game in Pittsburgh, except I had no clue until I was at around 3:40 of my 4:00 taping window and realized there was no way this one was coming home in time. I can’t hate extra innings baseball – it was an 18 inning game in Three Rivers that’s among my most vivid childhood memories. (I totally remembered Scott Sanderson went 8 innings in relief before looking it up.)

All I really needed to see is Derrek Lee being taken out of the game for Henry Blanco. We all love the Hank White, but this was Lou’s hyper usage of the complete roster to a bad end. I like Lou’s willingness to use every bullet he has (often as quick as he can) over a more conservative approach. This game was both an overreach (never ever take out D Lee) and a backfire (Fontenot being burned for one defensive at bat, Eyre being taken out for Wuertz so quick) on his part. Everyone has bad days and this was definitely Lou’s.

I don’t write about the Cougars games, because it’s just low on the list of things to do before I fall asleep (and I have hilariously horrific looking score sheets I should post once I acquire a scanner or camera again), but I still can’t get the woman sitting next to me at that game out of my head. Completely and totally insane White Sox fan – someone who that believes every word Hawk says is unquestioned correctly (and suitable for wearing.) In between about ranting how great the White Sox were and how all Cubs fans should know nothing, should stop expecting their team to go to the World Series, and “don’t have a ring – we have a ring!!!!”, she also was insistent to place the Quad Cities as “someplace in Minnesota – Minneapolis and the other one”, taunted Alex Frogriguez – not the short stop, but the inflatable mascot – that he was not a good defender as Joe Crede, and talked about how Red Sox fans were stupid people who weren’t paying attention in loud whispers, while three girls in Red Sox hats sat in front of her. She said the same about people who keep score. I mostly tried to keep from laughing and/or engaging her (or her friend, who started dancing to Shout and splashed half her beer on people in the aisle), but the people on the other side tried to defend the Cubs. Two innings later, she was still yelling about the ring they got. And then she left early.

All Sox Fans are not like this – I know people who are who are not completely insane – but people without social awareness are always interesting to watch. For about an hour, then you kinda want them to be quiet so you can watch the game.

I’ve got tickets again today – that’s where I’m going instead of finishing the next two – and I’m hoping the game is entertaining and the crazy people sit at least a row over, so I don’t have to keep getting up for beer runs.

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post to twitter (#819289383)

May
24

At the cougars game, sat next to a sox fan, wearing a hawk shirt, loudly telling everyone how much they hated cubs fans and how she’d li …

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Game 48: Cubs 12 – Pirates 3

May
24

Cubs 29-19, 1st (+1.0)
Pirates 22-26, 5th (-7.0)

POTG: SP Z!!!!! (4 H, 2 RBI, R; 7 IP, 6 H, 2R, BB, 6K, W [7/89], QS [9])
Runner Up: CF Reed Johnson (HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R), LF Soriano (2B, 2 H, R), 1B D Lee (R, RBI, H), 3B A Ram (3 H, 3 R, BB), 2B-3B Cedeno (2H, 2B, 2R), RF DeRosa (2 2B, 2R, 3 RBI, SF, BB)

This is the opposite of the previous game – there’s two really good choices for POTG and it’s hard to make the call. Reed Johnson had a nice day at the plate, but I think Z makes it up with the pitching. He gave up two runs in the 5th, but the game was already over. It’s funny how, for all his giant swings, all four hits were easy singles. Z must be just playing mind games with the huge cuts, that’s it.

This was a total destruction by the Cubs, and a complete implosion by the Pirates. Pittsburgh played some bad bad baseball to match their bad bad uniforms, and this one was over quick. The Pirates were more concerned about not shredding their bullpen for the rest of the series than trying to stay in this, and that allowed just to pile on some more.

I know Houffpauir is Dunn-like in the field, but he’s shown enough at the plate that the Cubs really ought to find a way of getting him in there. If Kosuke is fine moving to center and has no problems there, Hoffpauir in right with Redd and Pie coming in when the team has leads would sure be a better bet than Edmonds.

Can’t believe the season is 30% over already. Time flies. It looks like the usual NL Central split has started, though I also have trouble believing Milwaukee is part of the second pack. This season is still not out of reach for them and I can’t imagine they’ll go for much longer without really big changes.

Last 16 POTG
4 Soriano
2 Z!
1 Howry
1 A Ram
1 Marmol
1 Marquis
1 Dempster
1 Soto
1 Wuertz
1 Johnson
1 Lilly
no one 1

Season Total
7 Z!
5 Soto
4 D Lee
4 Soriano
2 Fukudome
2 Fontenot
3 Marquis
2 Dempster
2 A Ram
2 Lilly
2 Johnson
1 Lieber
1 Hart
1 Hill
1 The Riot
1 Cedeno
1 Lieber
1 Howry
1 Marmol
1 Wuertz
1 no one

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PS3 Releases: week of May 19, 2008

May
23

on the shelves

UEFA Euro 2008 [metacritic] – this is the mid year EA soccer game, complimenting FIFA 08, but it’s reviewed as an improved version of FIFA and not just a roster update. Issues within this year’s FIFA gameplay have been addressed and the EA trademark single player story mode has been vastly fleshed out. The $50 price, $10 off of FIFA, is a nice touch. I don’t know that it’s a must buy if you’ve already bought a soccer game this year, but then if you’re hardcore enough to buy two games in a year, you’ll probably be happy with it. You should definitely be getting this one over FIFA if you haven’t got any.

SingStar (and double mic bundle) [metacritic] – Karaoke game, obviously, requiring you to match words and pitch. This was released last winter in Europe and seems to have caught on well there, helped a lot by a feature that, if you have a PSEye, allows you to save a :25 clip of you singing easily uploading to a video/social network site. The game is intended to be a multiplayer party game – there’s no internet versus play. This is very similar to the Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore game – both sell additional songs for $1.50, though SongStar gives you the video as well – and the SongStar game seems to be better reviewed and your better choice for drunk karaoke without having to leave home.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian [metacritic] – I can find all of one review for this game – IGN – which says it’s a fine enough game for young fans of the movie, but you have no idea what’s going on if you haven’t seen the movie and it’s pretty basic game play.

Haze [metacritic] – heavily hyped PS3 exclusive FPShooter apparently is actually not that good. There’s a bit of backlash against it’s own hype – it’s an ordinary shooter, but it was promised to be extraordinary – but genuine problems to backup the complaints. It is a rare FPS with an actual coherent storyline (though critics vary on how good it actually is), but the long scene setting rendered bits end up distracting from the game and the gameplay itself does not have the same depth. Graphics aren’t up to PS3 level and elements of the later stages seem incomplete. Multiplayer is okay, but not enough to save this from being a disappointment. There are good ideas surrounded by lots of problems.

The silver lining here about this (6th? Atari era, NES era, SNES, N64/PS1, PS2/XBox, Xbox360/PS3/wii) console era is if you’re disappointed with one shooter, you only need to wait a moment for another. (Like next week’s only game.)a

05/19: Top Spin 3 – pushed back to June 23rd sometime during th week.

Elsewhere, I was discussing how I’m not sure if I want to get a Wii, because it only seems like there’s a really great game every couple months and then nothing else. Not sure the alternative of lots of ‘eh’ is so much better, now that I write about it.

in the store

Downloadable Games (none for two weeks)
PS1 Classics (none for three weeks)

Add on Content
– Rock Band {$2 singles}
* “Beetlebum” – Blur
* “Countdown to Insanity” – H-BlockX
* “Hier Kommt Alex” – Die Toten Hosen
* “Hysteria” – Muse
* “Manu Chao” – Les Wampas
* “Monsoon” – Tokio Hotel
* “New Wave” – Pleymo
* “Perfekte Welle” – Juli
* “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” – Oasis

Game Music
– PixelJunk Monsters Album {$3}

Game Demos

Game Videos
– Siren: Blood Curse (Trailer)
– GRID (Trailer)
– Battlefield Bad Company (2, promos)
– Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway (story)
– The Chronicles of Narina: Prince Caspian The Video Game (trailer0
– Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Trailer, BTS)

Movie/Blu-Ray Trailer
– National Treasure 2:
– Untraceable
– First Sunday

PS3 Theme
– Graffiti
– High Velocity Bowling

PS3 Wallpaper

over the horizon

05/27: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

06/02: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution
06/03: LEGO Indiana Jones
06/03: Grid
06/03: The Bourne Conspiracy
06/03: Kung Fu Panda
06/05: The Incredible Hulk

06/10: Dragonball Z: Burst Limit
06/10: NASCAR 09
06/12: Metal Gear Sold 4: Guns of the Patriots

06/23: Top Spin 323rd sometime during th week.
06/23: Battlefield: Bad Company (and Gold Edition)
06/24: Heist
06/24: Wall-E
06/24: Overlord: Raising Hell
06/24: Hellboy: The Science of Evil
06/24: Hail to the Chimp

06/29: Guitar Hero Aerosmith and bundle

07/08: Beijing Olympics 2008

07/15: NCAA Football ’09
07/15: Monster Madness: Grave Danger

07/29: Soulcalibur IV

08/04: Baja

08/15: Legendary: The Box

08/29: Rapala Fishing Frenzy

09/02: TNA Impact!

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Game 47: Astros 4 – Cubs 2

May
23

Cubs 28-18, 1st
Astros 26-21, 3rd

POTG: RP Howry (IP, 3 K)
Runner Up: LF Hoffpauir (2 2B, R)

POTG is a weak pick something pick. I have no recollection of this game, even though I can write like twelve things about the games before it.

Everyone (well, every non-star) has a short leash with Lou around, and I think Gallagher might be done already. I think Lou will stand you not going long into the game if you’re at least effective, but Sean was neither here. Marshall being bad in AAA might be a deterrent for a shot time, but everyone’s pretty impulsive lately. Same thing with Edmonds – he desperately needs a multi hit game, or this experiment is going to come to a close quick.

If Hoffpauir could play CF, would he be starting everyday? (Yea, and for the last two years.)

At least Derrek is hitting again. It’d just better if it came with a road series win.

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Game 46: Astros 4 – Cubs 2

May
23

Cubs 28-18, 1st
Astros 26-21, 3rd

POTG: 3B A Ram (2 H, HR, 2 RBI)
Runner UP: 1B D Lee (3 H, R), 2B Mark DeRosa (2 H)

I missed the two biggest plate appearances of the game – the Geoff Blum walk, and the Hunter Pence grand slam – while the channel happened to be flipped to something else. Don’t look at me, I didn’t have the remote (that time.) As painful it is for Ryan Dempster to killed by walks, he is Ryan Dempster and that’s why he does. The bigger problem here was the batters not doing what they have been doing, and only putting two runs on the board.

It was almost the opposite of what happened in the last Pittsburgh series: Lee and Ram got hits, no one else did, and the Cubs didn’t walk much either. Only two on the game, with Edmonds (catch or no catch, didn’t look good otherwise) and Hoffpauir’s PH appearance. Besides Soriano, no one struck out all that much, but everyone was pounding the ball into the ground.

I know nothing about Jose Ascanio; I remember the Cubs treading Will Ohman for someone, but I didn’t hear his name much in Spring Training. He had issues with baserunners here, but his stuff seems good enough that he deserves as much a chance to secure the last bullpen spot as anyone else they’ve cycled thru that slot already. I do not expect to see much more of Chad Fox – the very vague injury return assessment is a Prior-ese – and rather the Cubs give younger guys chances to see if they’ve got something. It is only the last spot in the bullpen anyway, the guy that only exists to eat up innings when everyone else is tried – you might as well see if someone can surprise everyone.

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Game 45: Cubs 7 – Astros 2

May
23

Cubs 28-17, 1st
Astros 25-21, 3rd

POTG: RP Mr. Automatic (IP, K, 2 marooned)
Runner Up: 3B A Ram (3 H, HR, 2 R, RBI), SS The Riot (2B, 2H, R, RBI), 1B D Lee (2B, 2H, R, RBI), RF Fukudome (2 H, R), C Soto (HR, 2 RBI), 2B DeRosa (2 H, R), RP Jon Lieber (1.2 IP, H, 0 ER)

Heart of the order, each batter representing the tying run, and runners at second and third for most of it. Marmol gets a popup, a strikeout, and a ground out to escape untouched. That’s as great an escape job you’re going to get it. It doesn’t stick out as much in the boxscore, because Ram’s home run put this out of reach, but Marmol was able to save this from an all square game with all the momentum pointing the wrong way to one where victory was a near certainty. Not sure if I trust any other pitcher on this team to do it.

I think Lieber may oddly find a new life as a setup man. His strength to the builpen is the ability to eat up multiple innings on a consistent basis, but he may also be the third solid guy in the pen (behind Wood and Marmol). Jon is far more steady than Eyre, Wuertz, and Howry at this point – outside of the one start, you’re pretty sure about what you’ll get it, and it’s usually good enough.

The botched home run call was a Cowboy Joe West call, and one that shouldn’t have been that hard. I know there are other umps the Cubs have histories with, but it’s him and Angel Hernandez I’m least pleased to see turn up for games. It feels like you’ll never make it out of series without an incident.

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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune sorta review

May
20

Scattered thoughts after finishing this game last Friday (and not getting this up for a while)

– The game showed up in my mailbox one day before things got really busy for me. Much faster than usual from GameFly, at the least convenient time possible. Even after things got less busy, it sat in the envelope by my TV, continually put off for another day, a reminder of money not well spent.

I had nothing else to do two Saturdays ago, and found out the problem wasn’t waiting a few weeks to play it, it was not playing it immediately when it came out in November. Uncharted is seriously great, a game fully showing with a PS3 can do and good enough to sell a few people on the system.

The best equation I can figure to describe is Goldeneye + Prince of Persia + Pitfall, but maybe I shouldn’t use games that are well over 20 years old as examples. Everything blends well, down to hanging from a branch and firing a gun with the other hand. The puzzles aren’t particularly hard, but they’re not supposed to be. (One of my small disappointments was the puzzles seeming disappearing late in exchange for long gun fights.) Even the vehicle stages, which normally feel forced in these type of games, work pretty well.

The characters and the story are good, you’d know they’re setting up a sequel (and franchise) even if there wasn’t a colon in the title, and people are going to be counting down the days to get it. It actually feels like you’ve played thru a movie by the time the credits role.

The only downside is, if you’re like me, you probably don’t see a need to replay it again at a higher difficulty level (though they give you lots of rewards to try and make it worth your while.) But the first time thru is good enough, and you’ll want to play all the way thru. Either buy it or rent it for an indefinite amount of time.

– it took a little long to finish than it probably should’ve. I have a rule against fighting subhumans/aliens after dark (blame Perfect Dark), so I was kinda slowed down late. (Also the TV not working, which is a story for another day.)

– I’ve been downloading demos, and look forward to the Bourne one because I like the movies. I was trying to figure this out when I saw the third movie and wasn’t sure, but I think the last movie I saw in a theater before that was the second Bourne move. I’m not that big of a fan, I’m just not that a big a fan of movies or movie theater prices. Anyway, I was hoping the movie experience would translate to game play, and it seems like they’ve got a close enough facsimile in the game.

Like Uncharted, there’s a lot of third person puzzle, and occasional fights, though the puzzles in Bourne are less turning stones the right way and more trying to evade people who are trying to shoot you. Both games have bits where you’re commanded/told to press a button at specific moments and success depends on timing, but it seems a lot more often in the Bourne game.

Unfortunately, at least at this point of the demo, Bourne is not a really a PS3-era game. (“next gen” seems like a date term when it becomes the standard.) Anytime you die, which is gonna happen quite a bit when you have marines shooting at you and you can not shoot back, you’re dropped into a loading screen for a few seconds. You know, complete with graphic and protip.

In Uncharted, I died a lot and in many different ways, like I figure I would if I played the full Bourne game, but I never lost the rhythm of the game while waiting for loading. There’s loading when you start up your saved game, but there’s no loading form death to death, from chapter to chapter, or from narrative scene to gameplay. It’s all very seamless, and that’s what I now expect out of games in 2008. (Uncharted was a XMas release, clearly ahead of it’s time.) Loading screens during gameplay are so…PS1 era? 2000? Something we all should be well past?

It’s 2008, either program your game to be able to quickly pick up at your last checkpoint, or don’t program it for a PS3. This generation of consoles isn’t really specifically about HD picture quality or connectivity, it’s about taking the quality level of gameplay up a notch. Loading screens are about three notches down.

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