Friday, August 25

The (Near) Future of Gaming

As we come into the 'Ber' months of the year, we're inching closer to the pivotal holiday season. On top of many a gamer's mind is the much-delayed Playstation 3, the Death Star of console gaming platforms. Yes, after all this time expectations have been somewhat lowered- Games won't look as great as the initial CG ads and demos first made them out to be; The next Tekken won't have photorealistic fighters or even anywhere near the graphic quality of the 'sweaty Jin Kazama' vid shown months and months ago. From all indications, PS3 games will at least look as good as Xbox360 games, if not slightly better, depending on the programmers and the individial games themselves.

In terms of fighting games, the PS3 has at least a couple of exclusive titles that beat 'em up fans would give their eye-teeth for. First, of course, is Tekken 6, which will at the very least still retain the cast of pugilists from the last couple of games (Tekken 5 and the Dark Resurrection upgrades). I predict pretty much the same animations but with upgraded graphics and the occasional new attack or move, coupled with hopefully a Character Creation Mode (borrowed from Soul Calibur) instead of the usual Customization options avalable from before. Of course, CG movies aplenty will tell the continuing story of the Iron Fist tournament, though in-game cutscenes will probably look almost as good.
The other big gun in the PS3's fighting library is Virtua Fighter 5. Virtua Fighter is the creme dela creme of fighters, pretty much the pinnacle of technique, timing and expert gameplay. The arcade version is already out in Japan and videos of fights are regularly on display online. The fighting is fluid, fast and awesome to see, with the VF crew looking better than they ever had before. Aside from the ultra-crisp graphics and animation, there are tons of options to customize your characters in terms of items, hair styles and clothes. I have as yet to see a bikini on any of the girls (I can dream, can't I?) but what is so far available is impressive. Hopefully the PS3 version will come with tons more options for customizing... the game is still a ways off, with a TBA 2007 release.

Aside from fighting, other big titles destined for PS3 that are worth salivating for include Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Put in control of a rapidly-aging Solid Snake (or OLD Snake, as he is now called), players must take on the forces of Liquid Ocelot (the former Revolver Ocelot now possessed by the grafted arm of the deceased Liquid Snake), who is attempting a worldwide coup de'tat. On Snake's side are the regular crew of suspects, with new looks and attitudes looks like- a spunkier, more formidable Meryl Silverburgh, an older Colonel Campbell, a more booky Otacon and a more bedraggled Naomi. Even the former girly-boy Raiden is back, now coated with a shiny new cyborg body and MAD killing skillz. Snake will need all the help he can get with armies of elite soldiers and herds of creepy moo-ing Metal Gears being lined up against him. Rumored to be Snake's last adventure, the story of this incredible-looking title is worth the price of admission alone.
Assassin's Creed is another intriguing title for the PS3. Set in what appears to be Crusades-era Jerusalem, players are put in control of Altair, a professional assassin working behind the scenes to influence the events in the carnage-filled time. The game touts groundbreaking A.I. for bystanders and never-before-seen interactivity between the player character and the environment. So missions will have to planned out carefully- from the lighting-fast kill to the prolonged escape from pursuing guards, one wrong move could spell capture and death... or worse. Prince of Persia meets Splinter Cell? Good stuff.

The present platforms also have cool games coming up. The Xbox360 of course has Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, which basically has sexier DOA babes doing even more sexy and cute stuff on an all-new island paradise. Not only volleyball but jetskiing is now on offer, plus a load of minigames, titillating sequences and... tan lines.

The PS2 and Xbox will be receiving perhaps the last great MK before the next generation... Mortal Kombat Armageddon brings together pretty much every fighter who has ever appeared in an MK game, all set for a final showdown that will probably set what the next MK generation will look like. There will be blood- oh yes, there will be blood. Characters will die, but at least players will now be able to Kreate their own Kharacters in what may be the deepest and best Character Creation mode apart from wrestling games. Aside from looks and clothing, you will be able to create your character's move set, fighting style and fatality. Literally millions of possibilities for the ultimate bad-ass will be at your disposal, so this may be a reason to hold onto those PS2s and old Xboxes even when the next gen becomes now-gen.

Darn. Lots of stuff to play with, and so little cash. And time. Gamers however will have a grand time working out how to fit it all in. Heh.

Wednesday, August 23

Fantasy Movie

Here's the poster for the upcoming fantasy novel adaptation Eragon, set for theaters in December. Eragon is the first of a trilogy of novels by Christopher Paolini. Originally a self-published venture, the book was eventually picked up by a publisher and rose to the best-seller list. Among the actors cast for the film are Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich.
I haven't read the novels, but I have read about them online after seeing the poster. I remember the bibliophiles in the old gang talking not too fondly about Eragon, and it seems mostly because the novel seems quite derivative of sources like LOTR and Star Wars. In fact, some reviews have openly called it a "Tolkien Wannabee" (Entertainment Weekly apparently named Eragon the Worst Book of 2005). Still, good fantasy films are few and far between, so I'll be checking this out when it comes out later this year.

Tuesday, August 22

Lara Croft in my Pants

I finally went and bought a couple of new games for my PSP, so I finally have other things to play aside from Tekken: Dark Resurrection and MP4-encoded videos.
One game is Untold Legends: The Warrior’s Code, which is basically a Diablo-esque dungeon crawler. You choose from one of five playables and go on one monster-killing quest after another in the struggle to (shades of Oblivion) put the rightful heir of the emperor on the throne. The game looks good and the animation and action is solid, plus there’s that addictive factor that games of this type always has- how you just want to keep getting stronger, getting better gear and more powerful attacks. It looks to be a good title to just whittle away at downtime so I got it.

The other game I got is the PSP version of Tomb Raider: Legend, which makes a grand total of FOUR versions I have of the latest Lara Croft adventure (Crystal Dynamics and Eidos should give me a prize). Like all the other versions, Legends for the PSP puts you into the skimpy outfits of Miss Croft as she races across the world battling mercenaries and the odd wild animal to put together the pieces of an ancient relic of power.
Despite being on a portable, the PSP game is pretty much the same game as the other versions, albeit not as gorgeous as, say, the Xbox360 game. However, there are cutbacks- primarily on the controls. Moving Lara around is done primarily on the analog knob of the PSP (a smaller version of the Playstation controller’s analog sticks), and it can get a bit tricky, especially when you need to be VERY precise. Plus, you usually have to move the camera yourself (or constantly press the L trigger to re-center it) to see if you’re lined up correctly for a jump. Even with these minor control issues, the game is quite fun to play and the sounds are all here (though there are some delayed sound effects here and there) from the cool music to the excellent voice acting.

Overall, it’s awesome to have what I consider to be the best Tomb Raider game totally playable and intact on a portable. That, along with Tekken makes for an excellent way to battle boredom anywhere.
Since I have consigned myself to getting only legit games for my PSP (apparently, my PSP cannot be ‘modified’ to use downloaded game ISOs), I’m already thinking of other additions to my library. Maybe Streetfighter Alpha 3 Max or Valkyrie Profile Lenneth may be in order. We’ll see once I get some cash flowing again. If only Streetfighter III: Third Strike and Soul Calibur was coming to PSP. Then again, who knows? Maybe. One can always hope…

Monday, August 21


So, after setting comic-lovers' worlds on fire with their Civil War event, Marvel Comics flubs the ball and has delayed the release of part four (and pretty much every other comic tie-in with it) back to November- about a month's delay. The reason, according to Marvel, is the need for more time to keep the integrity and quality of the comics intact. Yeah, someone fucked up bigtime.

Good to hear that even big comic companies and star artists suffer delays as well. Heheh.