The 360 Has Come Full Circle

I bought my original X-Box 360 more than half a decade ago. Six years ago, I was in awe of the system and just couldn’t wait until I could get my hands on one. I vividly remember sitting in my high-school band class gawking about the system to my friends. “Oh my gosh, Need For Speed looks so awesome on the 360!”

Then things were taken up a notch.

Gears of War was announced and no one could believe their eyes.

Every video game system has a game like this. A game that comes out at launch and attempts to push the boundaries that existed at that time. Gears of War was the 360 one. Developed from fame and style of their hit Unreal Tournament series, Epic Games brought to the gaming community a game that was just as frantic as their other games, but used a cover system. Cover systems were unheard of at this time. The game also was fused with pure violence. Elements from the Warhammer 40k universe were brought into the game with enemy types with nods here and there to the Tyranids as well as the bread and butter weapon of the CoG: The Lancer.

An automatic machine gun with a CHAINSAW on the end

Gears of War was my first AAA title experience on the X-Box 360. That was five years ago.

Yesterday, Gears of War 3 was released. With it comes enhanced gameplay, better graphics, and a more streamlined interface.

The end of the trilogy is also something that comes along with it.

Which means no more "BOOOM BABY."

It represents more or less the end of a period of my teenage/young adult life. But it also means that the 360 is nearing it’s end now more than ever.

Bungie’s epic Halo arc is over (yes I know Halo 4 is in the works, but not from Bungie), and the Gears of War trilogy is over. The two initial staples and original exclusive juggernauts of the system are complete. Years ago, 2015 (the projected end of X-Box 360’s life cycle) seemed like a long time. Now, with Gears of War 3 here, that date doesn’t seem too far away.

I’m curious to see how much time will pass until there becomes an official announcement of a new system tech from Microsoft. Next Summer? A year or so? It’s hard to say.

But I believe that the release of Gears of War 3 is the beginning of the end of Microsoft’s Sophomore year in the video game industry.

Advertisements

Link

Oh Dragon*Con… How I love thee.

Dat Garrus

Dragon*Con has become a yearly ritual for myself. There is nothing else out there quite like it. As soon as you enter downtown Atlanta, you can feel the energy of the Con buzzing in the air. It’s an outstanding feeling. The interesting thing about Dragon*Con is that every attendee welcomes everyone with open arms. There are no outcasts. There are no geeks. There are no weirdo’s. Everyone there is just one big happy family. There are cosplayers, Trekkies, Star Wars nerds, comic book geeks, horror freaks, and sci-fi aficionados everywhere. In fact, if you are not wearing a costume, or ironic shirt, you are the outcast. It’s almost as if it’s Halloween for the entire Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta during the Con. In other words, it’s home.

But there is another, darker side of Dragon*Con which has definitely become more popularized over the years. The amount of sexual energy and tension is ridiculous. A favorite blog of mine, Bleeding Cool (http://www.bleedingcool.com) actually did a series of articles on the sexual shenanigans of Dragon*Con exclusively. But, to be frank, I don’t see how in the world the Con could exist without that level of tension. I mean… Half of the people at the convention are running around half nude. Which brings up an interesting topic. Women and men who would typically not show any skin attend the con in skimpy outfits. They let loose, and go wild. It’s that one time of year where they can do whatever they’d like. And no one cares. It’s all a part of the fun. And basically, to quote a local Atlanta band, Le Sexoflex, “If you haven’t done it all year long, you know you’ll get laid at Dragon Con.”

2011 being my third year attending the Con, I’d like to consider that I have a good grasp on the convention as a whole. I am wrong each year. Dragon*Con is like… a Dragon. It’s unpredictable in so many ways. You never know what or who you will see, hear, or do.

Predator don't care

Like a Predator choking Robin.

This year, like all of the others, will hold a special place in my heart.

I slept on the floor in a hotel room for one, which definitely let me know that I am not as young as I used to be.

I got Edward James Olmos, Tricia Helfer, and Tom Felton’s autographs. Bumped into Felicia Day. Saw a topless woman just going on a stroll. Saw the Peculiar Pretzelmen perform live. And just had a blast.

There are panels going on the entire convention on tons of different subjects. If you’re into paranormal investigations, podcasting, Star Wars, Star Trek, cosplaying, comic books, programming, professional wrestling, modeling, Steam Punk, Cyber Punk, Fantasy settings, Dungeons and Dragons and other roleplaying, religion, social activities, or zombies, there is a panel for you (and many many more.)

But the two things that really suck up a surprising amount of time is people watching, and shopping.

NEVER go to Dragon*Con without a big chunk of money. Because you will spend it. A lot of it. When you’re not wandering around looking at people in costume, you’re most likely getting trapped in a vender room walking around in awe of things you never knew you could buy. Last year, I bought a Buster Sword replica from Final Fantasy 7. The Utilikilt vendor is a popular vendor as well for those who have always wanted a kilt that can hold all of their belongings, and doubles as a good kilt for a modern barbarian. There’s so much you can buy, it’s unbelievable really.

Tony Stark v. Whiplash

CHEWIE!

And like I said… lots of people watching.

Dragon*Con is a very special annual event. I plan on going to it for a very long time if I am able. If you’ve been on the fence on going for the last few years, just go. Venture forth and enjoy yourself. It’s worth it just for the experience alone. There’s nothing else like it.

 

The Future

I typically don’t write in the summer. Thus, that’s why the blog has been so inactive. I find it much more productive to write during the semester. So, I will be updating much more frequently now that the new semester has started, AND we will be seeing some changes. I have a couple of cohorts that are interested in beginning a podcast, and it will most likely be hosted on this blog. It will cover the same topics that I do (which is pretty much anything pop and geek culture) so have no fear. We are in the beginning processes of getting it off of the ground and much more work will need to be done in order to get it going. Therefore, I’m not sure when it will actually appear on here.

But, in other news, I will be posting several new posts within the next couple of days, so definitely check back soon!

Gabe Newell and the Curious Comment

Yesterday, Gabe Newell,  co-founder of the video game company, Valve, stated that Portal 2 will be the last stand alone single -player game the company will make.

But what about Half-Life 2: Episode 3? Or, for that matter, Half-Life 3?

Valve is known for their amazing single player experiences. Half-Life 1 and 2 hold a place in many people’s minds as being two of the greatest games of all time. And now they don’t want to do single-player anymore?

Hmm.

What’s interesting about this statement is that Portal 2 isn’t strictly a single-player game. Valve included a full fledged co-op mode in it so that you can play through puzzles with a pal.

Does this mean their future games might consist of more of a co-op mode compared to a solely single-player mode? Are they just going to include the option to play the game single-player while the game is meant to be played with others? (i.e. Left 4 Dead 1 & 2)

I trust Valve. They’ll make an amazing experience no matter what they do, single-player or multi-player.

But they do not need to go in the path that Blizzard has. Release your games. Don’t scrap them at the last minute after letting thousands play it at video game conferences and conventions. Stick to your word. Release Half Life 2: Episode 3.

I can wait for everything else. Team-Fortress 2 has started to lose it’s flavor with the Mann Co. update. Counter-Strike: Source has been dead to me for awhile.

Just verify the future for your fans. Let us know for SURE that Episode 3, Half Life 3, Counter-Strike 2 (Newell commented on this awhile back) are being worked on and will eventually be in our hands. Portal 2 is amazing, and we need more.

The good 'ol days...

The New Arcade

There was an interview done with Ed Boone (the creator of Mortal Kombat) earlier this year. In short, he said that online gaming on consoles is essentially this generations Arcade.

He makes a valid point.

Online gaming has been around for a good while now, especially on the PC. But, the console online scene is still relatively new. X-Box Live has flourished, as well as the Playstation Network.

And, as we’ve talked about before, Arcade’s are dead.

I can see his point though. Especially with fighting games. All fighting games have a mode that really brings the feel of the arcade back to life. You have eight people in a game. One guy fights until he loses. If he keeps winning, he continuously plays more and more players until he loses. People can enter and leave the game while these fights are going on.

Just like standing at an arcade machine.

Fighting games are really the best example I can think of though.

Racing games sort of have that similar feel to them, but racing games online tend to be pretty dense. Some large scale racing circuits go on, ranking systems. It just gets complicated.

Fighting games can to, don’t get me wrong, but they are also a much more simple type of creature.

I’m not sure if on-rail shooters are going online now a days or not. I can only think of a hand full on the top of my head, most of which being on the wii, so I really doubt they do. I could be mistaken. But if that was the case, that would be a good arcade experience by keeping your game online at all times so that anyone can hop in a join your game at will, just like they would at an arcade,

Need help with this level in Time Crisis? Let me just insert some quarters… and there.

And with fighting games being all the rage now, I think Ed Boone had it right. Want to get that good ‘ol arcade feel again?

Get a slushi, and go play a fighting game online.

The Return of Kombat

Last night, the return of a childhood favorite made it’s way back into my life.

I had to work the midnight launch of Portal 2, Mortal Kombat, Socom 4, and The Conduit 2.

We received a playable copy of Mortal Kombat to put into one of the demo units so that people who came could try the game out while they wait to pick it up.

I clock in, and my boss tells me to go over and try it out.

I put my hands on the controller, and I was in love.

Apparently, the main story from what I gathered from my short time playing, is that Raiden is going back in time in order to warn the other tournament fighters of the future so that they can change it.

Levels from my childhood that have been imprinted in my memory have returned. So the level with Shang ‘Tsun sitting in his throne behind a crowd of monks is back. Only now, the monks are there, but there are two monks with spears that follow the two fighters as they fight (meaning there’s no escape I suppose. Either live or die.)

The haunted forest level from Mortal Kombat 2 is back with the trees with faces. The bridge level with the spike pit is back, and even the street level from Mortal Kombat 3 has returned.

All of my favorite characters from all of the games have returned, even secret characters such as Noob Saibot.

But the combat is where it’s at. I was so impressed with how fluid the game was. I was worried because in DC v MK the combat was sluggish and the gameplay seemed slow overall. This has been fixed. The combat is fluid, and it’s more gory than ever.

I personally have not bought the game yet, but it will be one of my next purchases, along with Portal 2 eventually.

It’s really interesting to see that fighting games have returned. Super Street Fighter 4, Marvel v Capcom 3, and now Mortal Kombat.

Feels good. Street Fighter v Tekken comes out later this year also. So there’s more to come.

Also, to tie in to this fighting games post, Thursday’s post is actually going to based on a quote by Ed Boone.

So, check back Thursday!

Aaaaaand you need to download a free version of a game called Words With Friends on your smart phone. It’s a blast. Get some friends to get it with you, and you’ll all be addicted!

The Summer Itch

The weather is warming up. The sun is shining, and flowers are blooming.

I wake up every morning, and head to my University.

I open the door, get my stuff, and walk out of the garage.

As soon as I step out of the garage, a little voice says in my head:

“Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal…”

Just kidding.

 

“Don’t go to class. It’s such a nice day outside. Enjoy yourself.”

It’s definitely Spring semester.

I, alike every other college student, am ready for classes to be over.

I’m ready to get out of classes, not just to be done with them, but to be closer to the big movies of the summer.

 

Thor comes out in less than a month on May 6th. It’s hard to imagine that it’s almost here. I remember when it was announced. Thor’s really almost here.

Then come the next big two: Green Lantern, and Captain America.

A lot of things I have been hearing regarding Green Lantern seems to be very mixed. Fans of Green Lantern are extremely pumped with the new trailer. Critics on the other hand appear to think that it’s losing steam and that it’s going to flop once it hits the box office.

I think it’s going to be huge. Yes, some sources are calling it “the next Star Wars”, which I think is over hyping it a little bit, but I think it will be the next step for super hero blockbusters. Thor will be good. Captain America will be good. But Green Lantern will be great.

The problem with Thor is that not everyone, even those who read comic books, are really interested in him. I for one was not interested in him at all until J. Michael Stracynski began writing his phenomenal Thor run. But, for a lot of readers he tends to be a “boring” character. I know there are some huge Thor fanboys out there, but I don’t believe Thor has the mainstream push that other super heroes might.

Captain America is a well known super hero. But, I think he falls into the same category as Thor. Yes, he’s iconic to the Marvel Universe, but how many people that are not comic book fans will go out and watch the film? The trailer is good yes, and leaves anticipating it’s release. Yet for people who have never read the comics, or just those outside of geek culture, will probably see him as a really cheesy super hero.

I mean, his name is Captain America.

Captain America.

Almost as cheesy as Super Man.

Green Lantern on the other hand looks to be a high octane, space odyssey. And if things go right, it will be the biggest hit of the summer.

Yes, he’s similar to that of Captain America and Thor with those outside of the geek culture not really knowing who he is, but I think Marvel has set themselves up for failure by letting Green Lantern come out after Thor.

Thor will create the want for more. More super heroes, more action.

Green Lantern will quench that thirst. And then it will begin to dwindle once Captain America comes out.

I will be going to see them all, so I’m not bashing Marvel here whatsoever.

Just guessing the future.

Oh, and before I forget. We also have the new X-Men First Class coming out as well. For that one, I wouldn’t expect too much. I would just expect to have a good time. It’ll be a fun movie regardless of the critic reviews.

Also, remember to tune into HBO this Sunday and 9:00 for episode 1 of Game of Thrones. It’s gonna’ be epic!