Before going into EA’s latest NYC visit yesterday, I gotta tell you all about the bar me and the boys went to the night prior.
Just $4 For A Jack & Coke?!
After some Indian with Joe and Mike, the plan was to continue our drinking from earlier in the evening (we always kick things off at Grassroots), but had no idea where to go. Then Joe brought up a dive joint he went to earlier in the week with some other folks, and… when most people say such-and-such place is a dive, it’s generally an exaggeration. Well, the seats were completely covered with, and therefore made of, duct tape. The rest of the interior? Just as dingy. Or should I say classy? Lots of dirty Heineken wood cutouts. The jukebox? Apparently, it’s only capable of playing Bruce Springsteen. I won’t even bother try describing the bathroom. The centerpiece of it all is the bar itself, a half circle with a tiny old man in the middle, dolling out the drinks. Joe was not exaggerating when he said the old man was completely incomprehensible; no matter what you ordered, he would annoyed by it, and then quietly mumble to himself. But it doesn’t matter cuz everything is DIRT CHEAP. Should I also mention that this place is right on St. Mark’s, one of the busiest streets when it comes to bars and young folks out for a drink, but was completely dead? Basically, the joint was indeed as dive-y as they come, and it is officially my new favorite watering hole!
Later on, Mooney joined us; he had dinner with Katie earlier in the evening, and I thought she was gonna join us, but instead opted to go home and check on the cat, as well as leave us alone to have “GUY’S NIGHT”. Anyway, what the hell do we talk about anyway? Well…
- As much as I respect to Mike’s opinions, I had to let him know that every time he says something, especially when it relates to movies or books, I remind myself that the dude likes Family Guy.
- Joe brought up an awesome idea, an updated spin on American Psycho, taking place in Willamsburg. Since hipsters is today’s equivalent of the yuppie.
- I noted how Katie though Christian Bale looked really good in Dark Knight, and also mentioned how she digs the dude who plays James Bond these days. Which was nice to hear, since I’m always going on and on about how much I want to bang actresses that look like they’re 13 years old. Note: Ellen Page maybe look 13, but she’s like 22 or something, and Emma Watson is (finally) legal.
- Related: advice that I should constantly shower Katie with jewelry and flowers.
- Bets on when I’m going to kill the cat.
- Related: advice on how to keep my various little naked 12 year old plastic figures from being knocked over by the cat.
Oh, and while out on the street to check my messages, I ran into this guy…
… His name is Brett, who among many other things, is a t-shirt model for Chopping Block. Are we friends? Not really… but I ALWAYS run into the guy. Usually at shows or parties. And now I can also say we both worked at the same place, technically. Anyway, I found him on the street, coming out of another bar next door. He was drinking with some pals, before flying off to Switzerland! His wife got a gig there, and will be there for the next two years. Which means I won’t be running into him at the New York Comic Con or DigitalLife till 2010!
White Bread. LOTS Of White Bread.
Oh, I guess I should mention that Katie and I went to the diner that just opened up. It’s okay. The food is decent (especially the onion rings, which are clearly homemade and not the usual diner far) though kinda over-priced. The service is thus far great, but that’s always the case for some new eating establishment. Hopefully it won’t totally suck in one month’s time. We’ve actually been there twice; the day of the grand opening and last night, because we were too busy to cook (hence why we’ve both been looking forward to it for so long), and each time it was packed. About the other customers/my neighborhoods: Christ was a collection of uptight, humorless white folks.
I Should Mention This Upfront: Didn’t Play Any Celebrity Sports Showdown. Sorry.
Anyway, onto video games: EA was back in town yesterday, for their yearly Christmas in July event, and I got to check out a bunch of things. Including…
Remember Ready 2 Rumble? Yeah, me too. And since Nintendo seems to be taking their sweet ass time with Punch Out for the Wii, here’s the next best thing: FaceBreaker. It’s a cartoony, arcadey boxing title that’s about as far removed from EA’s usual boxing fare, Fight Night, as you can get (though its from the same team behind part 3); it’s a total button masher that relies on combos and wacky antics from it wacky cast of characters. The roster includes a Russian ultra heavyweight (imagine Drago from Rocky 4 but bigger and badder), a VooDoo practitioner, a fat dude in a karate outfit, a crazy guy in a straightjacket, some lady assassin… you get the point.
Controls were easy to get into; you have a basic high and low blow, plus a dedicated haymaker button, along with a throw (the person in the corner) move, all of which can be easily chained together to create combos, with lots of them taking the fight into the air. Each character also has his or her own finishing move. Graphics were pretty decent, especially when it came to… I guess my favorite part is the create-a-character mode where one can import a picture of themselves and map it onto a character model. Some might have already seen Peter Moore in the game, which was apparently created with the same exact method that players will be utilizing; the producer simply found a pic online, uploaded it to EA’s servers (the same basic process is already in use for some Tiger Woods game), brought it into the game and manipulated it with the authoring tools, and that was pretty much it. I next got to see Peter Moore get the shit beat out of him, with action slowing down to show a nice zoomed in shot of Moore’s eyes crossing and bulging out of his skull, along with bruises covering the rest of his face… it was so good that it was kinda creepy!
Anyhow, the demo was just released today on XBLA and PSN, so download it for yourself and see what you think.
The next highlight was Rock Band 2. Gotta say, after chatting with the folks behind both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I must confess to loving their rivalry. Both camps are extremely passionate about what they do, as well as competitive as all hell. And who are the real winners? Us the players of course. The more they keep pushing themselves, the better the games are. And as impressed I was with Guitar Hero World Tour, which I checked out a few weeks ago, I was just as blown away by the new Rock Band. Also, it was just cool seeing the folks behind the game once again; they’re just awesome people.
Anyway, from the top: not too much has changed. Everything that was there before is back, simply tightened up and enhanced. Nothing was broken, hence the lack of any dramatic changes. There is a “shitload” of new songs things time around, plus the ability to import all the songs from the first edition, by literally ripping its content and have it rest on the hard drive plus be listed side by side with the new stuff (needless to say that this is a Xbox 360/PS3 feature…. though I was told that they’ve got “something” planned for Wii owners). All the downloadable songs from before can be brought into the mix, and playlists can be created. Is there a music creation system mode as well? No… The Rock Band team seems to have a completely different philosophy about such things, though that’s not to say that they haven’t considered it. Though if they were to do it, they just want to do it right from the get-go.
As for the instruments, I got the chance to check out the new guitar, and its even better than before. The neck felt nice and solid, and the fret buttons don’t click whatsoever. The strum button was exactly the same, but I was told that its being worked on (I know some folks have complained that its too mushy, but I’ve never had a problem). For those who have a problem with the sound and picture synching up, since visuals produced from some high end projected sets are often not in time with the audio (a problem that us standard def players never have!), there’s actually a tiny camera and mic built into them that is held up to the game to read information and set the timing. That’s neat! As for the drums, the pads are quieter when struck and can detect velocity. It’s also wireless, which is really neat. The footpad has been replaced with one made of metal, to avoid breakage, and that’s probably the best part. Plus the standard drum set allows for expansion for additional pads, from any professional electronic drum manufacturer in fact, to help build it up to the level of the super deluxe $300 model that folks have the option of buying into. There’s also additional game modes being built into the game that allows one to truly learn the drums; one can’t really learn how to play a real guitar with game’s axes, but its actually possible with its drums, since they’re not so far removed from the real thing.
I asked about the Japanese version of the game, and how Q Entertainment was helping out, and was delighted to hear that it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility to download and play tracks from that version of the game here in America! God, the chance to either play either songs by Boris or just Q-Entertainment’s very own Keiichi Sugiyama would be SO fucking amazing Apparently some of the music from other localized versions, primarily Europe, is currently available in the States, but only stuff that might be remotely interesting to our tastes. I also asked what the chances are for Killing Joke to appear in the future, and they’re basically gonna look into for me!
The final really interesting thing I checked out was Mirror’s Edge, the first person game featuring the ultra realistic female lead character (ummm… I still have to say “whatever” on that one… its still a stereotypical female, just one that’s not nearly as annoying or offensive) and ultra realistic character movement. That last bit is definitely no bullshit. When I heard that lots of people have gotten sick from just watching the trailer, including hardened gamers, I wondered if I should even come close to it, given my penchant for getting sick for almost any FPS, but hey, I’ve got a job to do, right? I was told that’s what the tiny white dot in the middle of the screen is for; its for folks to concentrate on, similar to how ballerinas, when doing pirouettes, will keep their eye on just one thing to avoiding become nauseous themselves.
And it worked! I was actually able to play the whole demo without getting ill! Which is good, cuz it’s pretty awesome. I just loved the game’s realism… which is not to say that it’s completely entrenched in reality (you’re not some regular woman, but a clearly agile super woman), but there seems to be little of the normal cliches, like blasting away aliens. In fact, the emphasis is more on just running through, and jumping around, the environment, and not so much combat, though there is some of that (though it was completely absent in the demo). Personally, I’m bummed to hear that there’s any combat whatsoever, but hey, they need to make money in the end.
Controls were great; just push forward to run and the shoulder buttons handle either grabbing/jumping or ducking/sliding (which kinda reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus, believe it or not). Most actions were either contextually based, or dependent on inertia. There’s also a wall running move that feels very natural (Lord knows I struggled with such a mechanic while designing the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon game back in the day). In no time flat, I was running across large distances, then rolling to a ball, then bouncing between two structures, sliding, and even running up walls. Thinking back, I’m actually surprised I was able to do so much without falling flat on my face! Also, the game looked great, with very nicely, and brilliantly lit environments. Another thing I could do without from most FPSs is the drab, “realistic” colors. In fact, all those blue skies, the running… not saying that it felt like a Sega game, but…
We Are The Reset Generation
And earlier today, I got to check out Resent Generation, the N-Gage Version 2.0 launch title that I was covering quite a bit over at my now defunct cell phone blog. To put it in the most simplest of terms, its basically a video game about video games. A concept that’s been explored via numerous freeware efforts, such as Rom Check Fail, but never commercially explored, at least as far as I can recall. The stars of the show are various characters that are take-offs of famous characters/clich?d archetypes, such as an ethnic plumber and an attitude ridden hedgehog. I especially like how the level 50 elf chick is simply named Level 50 Elf. The most interesting part here is that each one was designed by various notable artists, hand-picked by the producer (Scott Foe, one of the bigger and prominent names in the world of cell phone game dev). Dan Paladin, the artist behind Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, for example did Hedgehog and Ryan Church, one of the bigwigs at Lucasarts that does a lot of Star Wars stuff, crafted Cyborg, which is a take on Master Chief.
Which I suppose is just one example of how Reset Generation easily one of the biggest budget cell phone games ever, eclipsed only by Spore, though that may not even count since it’s simply part of some bigger game with a ginormous budget, and who knows if the cell phone versions has its own budget or if its just shares it’s bigger brother’s. The production values truly shines in the game’s visuals and audio (which is provided by chiptuner 8-Bit Weapon); it is easily the nicest looking and sounding cell phone game you’ll encountered in this day and age, or at least the most polished.
As for how it plays… it’s intended to be a celebration of games, not just via the characters but the gameplay. So does it play like Rom Check Fail, which tosses the mechanics from a whole mess of different things into one pot? Not exactly; it’s not quite as ambitious, nor as daring I’m afraid. In fact, it’s a more or less a fairly conservative, or perhaps extremely sensible, combination of two tried and tested formulas: Tetris and Bomberman. Hey, both work on their own, and if done right, together it could be lots of fun, and I guess the addition of characters couldn’t hurt, right? To be honest, once I found out that it was just a puzzle game that tried to cash in on video games via the kooky cast, I got a bad Family Guy taste in my mouth, but from what I’ve seen, the game appears to be a legit game and not some stupid joke. The best part is how N-Gage gamers won’t be the only ones able to give the game a whirl; anyone on a PC (and for free!) can play as well when it’s officially launched this upcoming Monday. Till then, just check out the trailer.
Guess that’s it for now. Next time, reviews, including 1942 Joint Strike! Was actually gonna include reviews in this post, but I haven’t beaten it yet, plus I’m too hungry (haven’t had dinner yet) to move onto other stuff. And I’m also hoping that my copy of Soul Calibur 4 will have arrived by then as well!