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User Journal

Journal Journal: My Top 10 Games of 2007

GOTY lists ... everyone's doing it! The following is a list of my top 10 games of 2007. This is not meant to be a definitive "Game of the Year" list. I still haven't been able to find a Wii in stores yet, and don't plan on getting a PS3 just yet, so don't be surprised that titles like Super Mario Galaxy or Uncharted aren't here. It's not bias, I just haven't played them. This is merely a list of the games that I have (see my collection!) that I've enjoyed the most.

Also, there are two games in particular that I just got for Xmas, but haven't played very much of. That's Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty 4. I've played a bit of both, and I'm enjoying them so far, but haven't gotten through them nearly enough to judge them appropriately. If they're "holy cow awesome!" then I'll probably blog about them separately in the future.

So without further ado ... the list!

10. Hotel Dusk
Having trouble remembering this game? I wouldn't be surprised. It was released way back in January to the DS, with little fanfare. Unfortunately, that probably means it'll be forgotten by many people as one of the year's top games. That's too bad, because I thought this game was a perfect fit for both the DS and the adventure game genre. I'm a big fan of old LucasArts and Sierra adventure games (King's Quest, Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, etc.), and Hotel Dusk fits that mold very well. It's worth checking out if you were a fan of those games back in the day.

9. World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade
Ahh, WoW's first expansion. This is also the first game I've ever done the midnight launch thing for! Yes, I was that much of a WoW addict. I don't play anymore, although I get tempted to every so often (especially after listening to the excellent Legendary Thread podcast). The Burning Crusade expansion added so much great new content to the game, that it was months before I got my fill of it. That's one reason why I'm excited for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, scheduled to release later this year. I fully expect to succumb and return to WoW, but seeing how polished almost all of Blizzard's products are, it's not a bad thing at all.

8. Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar
From one expansion to another! Dark Avatar was the latest expansion to GalCivII, one of the best, and underappreciated, strategy games in recent gaming history. I actually never played GalCivII until I picked up DA, but once I started playing, I knew that this was something special. It seems like everyone who plays it understands just how great this game is, and wants to share it with everyone else they know! If you loved games like Civilization IV or Alpha Centauri, then GalCivII and it's expansions are a must to check out. It's the whole "gotta play 1 more turn!" addiction that lasts till 4 AM, all over again! There's also another expansion slated to come out this year, called Twilight of the Arnor.

7. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
Who woulda thought the game-mechanic behind Bejeweled could be made into a stellar RPG, that has now debuted on almost every major portable and console platform? This was a fun, little addiction that spread around the office like crazy. I'd walk into meetings and get asked, "So, what level is your Wizard today?". Since I was playing it on the DS, it was also a great game to play while travelling. I'd love to see more games like this, which take an established game mechanic and turn it into something very different, but special, and lots of fun. A Tetris FPS perhaps? :)

6. Crackdown
Sadly, many people only got Crackdown to get access into the Halo 3 Beta. If that's all they did, then they truly missed out on a wonderful, co-op-friendly, sandbox, achievement-crazy game. To this day, punching my friend off a skyscraper, just to see if friendly fire was possible (and it is!) ... remains as one of my all-time favorite gaming memories. Yeah, the game maybe could have used some more in-game direction, but I don't think that was the point. The wonderful thing was making your own fun, whether it be completing the missions, working on your skills, collecting agility orbs, doing the races, or just goofing around. The game also genuinely rewarded you for doing cool things, with brilliantly designed Achievements. Anyway, this is definitely my pick as the year's most underappreciated game.

5. Halo 3
Ahh, Halo 3. There's so much that's already been said about this game ... or rather the stuff around the game (the marketing, hype, etc.). One person who I thought did an excellent job describing the game, is 1UP's Jerey Parish. You can read his reasoning as to why Halo 3 is on his GOTY list. It's a good read, and I agree with everything he says. So, go check it out! The only comment I'll make is that Halo 3 is one of those titles that does a lot of things very well. Definitely not perfect, and there definitely other games that beat it when it comes to a certain area (like story, or graphics, etc.). Yet it's one of those great "jack of all trades" games that's just easy to get into with friends, approachable, and fun.

4. Portal
If you haven't played Portal yet, go do so now. It is, quite simply, the best 3 hour gaming experience I've had this year. Yes, it's short, blah blah, but it's just so good. The writing is top notch, the gameplay is innovative and fun, and the atmosphere is brilliantly setup. Everyone's already talking about it, so if you still don't understand what all the cake jokes and weighted companion cube stuff is about, just find yourself a few free hours, go buy/download the game, and have fun!

3. Bioshock
Chances are that if you're reading this, you know plenty about the critically acclaimed darling of the industry. If you've played it, chances are you agree with the critics as well! Simply put, it's just an incredible experience of a game. For me, I loved just how immersive the whole atmosphere was. I was in Rapture, and it was a crazy place! This game, along with Portal, are one of the ones that needs to be played this year, regardless of whether or not you even like the genre. Dare I say it, Bioshock is one of the games that will define this generation of games. So, if you haven't done so yet, would you kindly play it?

2. Rock Band
Heck, I don't even own this game yet, but I love it! I'm very fortunate to have friends on both the West and East coast that have the game, and hosted several Rock Band parties. It's awesome seeing friends that normally aren't into music-rhythm games, but by the end of the night, are all clamoring for the microphone, guitar, or drums. Rock Band may also be the first game that arguably does DLC right. That is, consistent (weekly!) releases of new songs, at totally reasonable prices! I'm also seeing this as a new replacement for the Wii as the ultimate party game, at least for folks my age. We all love music, and playing/singing along is so natural and fun to do.

1. Mass Effect
I have to admit, I am a total sci-fi geek. My favorite authors include Larry Niven and Isaac Asimov, I love watching space documentaries on the Discovery channel, I was a fan of most of the Star Trek series (yes, even Voyager and Enterprise), and enjoy games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Galactic Civilizations II. Plus, as a bonus, I've loved many of Bioware's older games, especially the entire Baldur's Gate series. So, it's no surprise that Mass Effect was easily my most anticipated game of the year, and it did not disappoint. Sure, the game definitely has its flaws. And unlike Bioshock or Portal, I can't really recommend it to anyone who doesn't enjoy the RPG genre. But for those who do, it's an incredibly delightful experience. I've thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the voice acting, the universe and its setting, and the gameplay as well. I've logged many, many hours into the game, and will continue to log many, many more. So, it's no surprise it's my game of the year (and same for many other sci-fi fans!). Long live Shepard, and I can't wait to continue the journey in future games!

Next time ...
Wow, that took a while to write up! Next time, I'll be doing a recap of my 2007 predictions, and making new ones for 2008.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bottom 5 of 2007 for Games 1

Now that the end of the year is here, it's time to start retrospecting about all the games and events of the video game industry. It's something that you'll see all over the place on gaming web-sites, forums, and blogs. Since I work/live/play games, I like sharing my thoughts as well. I'll be mirroring some of my latest blog entries here in my Slashdot journal, for folks to read.

Without further ado, here's the first one!

The Bottom 5 of 2007

So, while 2007 has certainly brought in a tremendous amount of great games and times for gamers, it has also come with a fair share of disappointments. Here's my list of this year's "Bottom 5" of games and gaming-related issues:

5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Now, before the Nintendo fanboys start throwing rocks, let me explain myself. Phantom Hourglass is actually quite a fantastic game (and it's already winning many GotY awards for the DS). My disappointment, though, has to do with the realization that I'm no longer that interested with certain Nintendo franchises. It had been years since I played a Zelda game (Ocarina of Time), so I was hyped up for Hourglass. Well, although it brings in a lot of new and interesting mechanics (stylus control, use of the microphone, hourglass mechanic), in the end it's still essentially the same Zelda game as always: solve puzzles in dungeons using the same set of weapons (boomerang, bombs, arrows, etc.).

Is it good? Sure. But to me, it's also utterly boring. In a year that has brought us lots of new and interesting IP/franchises (Portal, Bioshock, Mass Effect, etc.), I'm now realizing that the Zelda franchise is no longer exciting for me. I'm hoping that I don't feel the same way when I play Mario Galaxy.

4. Hellgate: London
I really wanted to like this game. For those who don't know, Hellgate: London is by Flagship Studios, which is made up of former developers from Blizzard, many of which worked on the Diablo series. It was supposed to be a spiritual successor to the Diablo franchise, only now in 3D. Sadly, the game has been marred with a ton of issues since its Halloween '07 launch: bugs, stability issues, unfinished features, usability problems, etc.

On one hand, this game certainly could have used some extra time in development. On the other hand, I can understand just how crucial it is to get something out the door this holiday season, before all the other big-budget titles hit the shelves. Also don't get me wrong, the game isn't horrible. I do like it to a degree. However, it is disappointing that it didn't turn out to be the huge hit my friends and I all wanted it to be.

Fortunately, Flagship continues to work on the game by putting out continual patches. The 1.0 patch, which should be out in a few weeks, should address many of the biggest concerns. I'm hopeful that by the time gamers are tired of COD4, Crysis, Halo 3, UT3, etc. they'll come back and find a Hellgate: London that's much more stable, solid, interesting, and fun to play.

3. Guitar Hero III
When I heard that Harmonix was going off with MTV to develop Rock Band, and Neversoft was going to take over the franchise starting with Guitar Hero III, I was worried. I haven't been a fan of their games (primarily the Tony Hawk series), and didn't know if they'd be capable of producing another solid GH game, especially with Rock Band hot on its tail. It turns out, at least for me, that I was right.

There's just so much I don't like about GHIII. The boss battles are annoying and random (it just relies on which power-ups you happen to get). The characters themselves look hideous, and lack the awesome customizability that you can find in Rock Band. The songs themselves don't have enough variety ... it seems to skew too much into the hard metal towards the end. The song patterns also seem to make the game more difficult than it ought to be. Without a doubt, GHIII is much harder than GHII and Rock Band, and I don't think that's a good thing. I could go on, and on, and on.

Fortunately, I'm blessed by the fact that Rock Band is awesome and more than fills my music-rhythm-game needs. While I'll still play GHIII from time to time, it'll mostly be for guitar practicing purposes ... and because I don't own a copy of Rock Band myself yet (friends are awesome!). The one great thing I do like about the game, though, is that the GHIII controller rocks. I much prefer it to the Rock Band Stratocaster. I guess that's something to be proud about?

2. Continual Wii Shortages
While this isn't an issue for those of you lucky enough to score a Wii by now, it's still an issue facing the rest of us gamers. There have been many stories about this. I've been wanting one for myself for a long time now, but I refused to do the whole camping overnight, or calling stores everyday, or getting up early in the morning, or checking websites constantly, in order to get one. I want to be able to walk into my Fred Meyer and buy one, whenever I feel like it, just like I can do with any other console. But alas, Nintendo does not want my money.

Now, I have a pretty good idea why the shortages are still happening. And no, it's not intentional. The rumors that Nintendo is purposely witholding supply in order to increase demand, are definitely bogus since it's readily apparent now that Nintendo is easily losing more money from the shortage than they would gain from doing that. No, the reason is probably very simple: Nintendo has maxed out the capacity of their factories, and can't produce anymore units without spinning up a new factory. That's a long-term cost that they're probably not ready to make, and have been assuming that demand would slow down any day now. Well, it hasn't. I don't think anyone has realized just how much of a world-wide hit the Wii has become.

So, in the end, the Wii is still definitely great news for Nintendo. And it's a good system for anyone lucky enough to have one. For the rest of us, still waiting ... we'll continue to wait even longer. That said, I'm tempted to pull some strings with some co-workers/friends and get an invite into the local Nintendo Company Store. Apparently they have piles of Wii systems in stock there. ;)

1. Hardware Reliability
This probably isn't a big surprise to anyone following the games industry. Unfortunately with new systems, games, and peripherals, also comes probably with reliability. It first started off with all the talk regarding the dreaded "red ring of death" for the 360. That culminated in Microsoft's expanded warranty program, as well as later revisions of the console doing a better job of keeping everything cool and working. But oh, it hasn't stopped there. PS3 and Wii owners have been reporting various problems with their consoles (although to a much lesser extent than 360 owners). More recently, many gamers are also running into problems with the various Rock Band peripherals. Myself, I've seen a strum bar become nigh-unusable, and a bass pedal snap in two. Ugly stuff.

I am definitely hoping that hardware problems will become a thing of the past. There's been more than enough negative press about all the issues that developers/publishers/platform-creators will want to take the extra steps needed to ensure that only quality products end up in the hands of their customers.

Next time ...
So that's it for now! Next up, I'll be blogging about my top 10 games of 2007, doing a recap of my 2007 predictions, and making new ones for 2008!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rock Band is the new Wii? 1

In my other journal, I mentioned that Rock Band is the new hotness in video games, replacing the Wii. Seems like I'm not the only one thinking this!

Here's just an example of the Rock Band craze sweeping the nation:

Wii owners shouldn't fear though. Rock Band will come out for the Wii next year, so everyone regardless of platform will be able to get their groove on!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Holiday '07 Gaming Overload 17

So we're finally in the middle of this amazing holiday season, where there's simply too many games and too little time. I've got a huge backlog of 360, PC, and DS games that I want to get to. (If I ever get a Wii, I'd also love to check out Super Mario Galaxy)

A few games that I'm currently playing through:

Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - While I am enjoying this game, I also can't help but think that this is essentially the same game of 10 years ago. Yes, the new stylus controls are great, and adds a lot of innovation, but you're still solving the same type of puzzles with the same weapons (boomerang, bombs, arrows, etc.). Maybe I've just gotten too old for Nintendo platformers now (which makes me worried that I won't enjoy Galaxy after all). Still, it's a pleasant game that I pull out when I'm travelling (which seems to be a lot these days).

Mass Effect - Bloody hell, this is an awesome game. I haven't had this much fun playing an RPG since probably Dragon Quest VIII. (Blue Dragon was meh and I didn't like FFXII all that much) I love the dialog system, and as usual, the writing for this BioWare game is top-notch. Space operas, FTW!

Rock Band - Simply Awesome. I've been playing this a bunch with friends. It's amazing that it has appealed to many people that normally aren't into music games. By the end of the night, everyone wants to take turns on guitar, drums, and even singing! It's an amazing party game. I also think it's possibly the "Wii" of this year. By that I mean, the thing that people can't stop talking about once they experience it. I'm not trying to diss on the Wii at all either, that thing is still selling like crazy, but Rock Band is the new hotness.

Anyway, that's it for me. There are a bunch of other games I want to get to (Crysis especially), but they'll probably have to wait till next year. Oh and one last thing, if you haven't played Portal yet ... GO DO IT! It's short (about 3-4 hours), but brilliant. One of the best experiences I've had in a long time. (I'd much rather have puzzle experiences like that, then Zelda or Mario any day!)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bioshock 12

Wow. It's awesome! 'nuff said. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot asshats 5

Wow, I know there are plenty of asshats on Slashdot, but this guy takes the cake.

Only a few hours after the shooting occurred at my beloved alma mater, someone posts the insightful comment that Virginia Tech should not be put to blame. At this point, solidarity is important. As an alumnus, the last thing I want to be told is how my school sucks because it wasn't able to prevent this tragedy from happening. So, I completely agree with this post (and so do many others, as it's modded up +5 to insightful very quickly).

Well, the asshat 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF decides to make the woefully inapproriate comment that actually VT should be blamed for "instituting a ban on students possessing firearms on campus". Basically, this moron is trying to turn this tragedy into supporting his pro-gun beliefs.

Naturally, I decide to call him out on it. What follows is not him backing down or apologizing for being insensitive, but increasingly stubborn attempts by him to prove his point.

It ends with a disturbing post where he admits that he "doesn't give a rat's ass" about people's feelings or sensitivities. Here's another stunning comment: "You mean irrationally and emotively siding with the faculty of VT simply because their part in this tragedy is not as direct and obvious at first glance?"

Good god, this guy is scary. It's useless to argue with someone with such a different belief system than myself, or most people. And it's obvious now that he really is trying to just use this tragedy to further his own pro-gun beliefs, feelings be damned.

Ironically, he doesn't seem to realize that this makes him the same as Jack Thompson, the anti-video game activist that's trying to do the same thing. In his latest crusade, he put the blame on the VT shootings on Microsoft for Counter-Strike and Halo. Nevermind the fact that MS didn't develop Counter-Strike, and only published it on one of the many other platforms its on (and not even on the PC, where it's most played). Just utterly crazy and depressing.

Why can't some people just pay their respects and share their condolences like most?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Waiting ... 3

All close friends have now been accounted for. Now we just wait for "the list" to appear, in case there are faculty or old acquaintances that may have been victims. I already have friends of friends who knew the deceased, which shows just how tight-knit we are even though it's been years since I graduated, and it's such a large school. A bunch of us are also spooked, since we've lived in the "now notorious" buildings (AJ, Harper) and spent lots of time in Norris (classes, club activities).

User Journal

Journal Journal: Team MCG vs Penny Arcade - Ping Pong Results!

Those who follow the games industry probably know about the guys at Penny Arcade. They run the extremely popular web-comic, and are also responsible for the amazingly successful Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) conference and Child's Play charity. They are even working on their own PC game.

So, last month, when they challenged local game companies to a game of ping pong, we here at Microsoft Casual Games (MCG) just had to answer. After all, we play quite a bit of table tennis ourselves in the office.

Well, we just played our game last week, and I am happy to announce that Team MCG was victorious! For more details, and lots of pictures, you can check out my 1UP blog.

That night was a lot of fun. But I think what may be more important is the stuff that might happen afterwards. If more game companies in the Seattle area get involved, we might end up doing some kind of local ping pong tournament. I think that'll be great for the local games industry, since there are a lot of us here and it would be awesome to get some more networking, mingling, etc. going on. Not a lot of people realize how much "games stuff" happens here in the Pacific Northwest (many people just think of "California"), so I think it'd be great if we can get something going. I definitely have my fingers crossed!

User Journal

Journal Journal: 2007 Console Predictions 12

Okay, so I do blog on another site, and made some 2007 predictions. I figure since I regularly contribute to Slashdot, I'd share my thoughts here as well. Since I made these predictions last week, some of them have already come true (most notably, the 360 hitting 10 million, and Gates acknowledging that the Wii is the "toughest competitor"). How well will the rest of my predictions go, as someone in the industry? We'll see!

So, 2006 has finally come and gone. It was definately an amazing year all around. Starting with Oblivion, ending with the mega-hit Gears of War, and a slew of other worthy games in-between ... 2006 showed that the 360 is worthy console after all. Throughout the entire year, there seemed to be non-stop news and speculation about the Wii and PS3, leading all the way up to their respective launches. And let us not forget the killer success of the DS Lite and the PS2's "last hurrah", ending on a great note with FFXII.

That said, 2007 is shaping up to be an incredible year as well. If the post-launch titles for the Wii and PS3 are anything like what we saw for the 360, then Nintendo/Sony fans will be very happy. In the meantime, the 360 keeps on kicking with more great games (Lost Planet, Mass Effect, Bioshock, and eventually Halo 3). And finally, there are a ton of great multi-platform titles slated to come out, with arguably the biggest one being Grand Theft Auto 4.

Like many others, I want to take the time to make some predictions about the upcoming year. As you know, since I work in Microsoft Game Studios, I am biased. I can't deny the fact that MS does pay the bills, so it would be nice to see the 360 continue to kick butt. That said, I've always been a gamer (well before I started working here), and I'd like to think that I've got a fairly objective view of the industry despite that. (If you disagree, feel free to call me out on it too!) Besides, you can take a look at my game collection and see that I play games on pretty much all the major platforms.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how my predictions fare, compared to what other people are guessing. So, without further ado ... my predictions for 2007!

I'll start off with arguably the most successful console of 2006 (handheld or not), the Nintendo DS. There's no doubt that Nintendo, yet again, has conquered the handheld market once again, despite Sony's entry into the industry. That trend is sure to continue into 2007 and beyond.


  1. Nintendo finally admits that the DS is the successor to the GBA (despite its earlier claims), and that there isn't going to be Game Boy successor
  2. There won't be another revision to the DS (a la the DS-Lite), but expect an additional add-on or two (similar to numerous peripherals that came out for the GameBoy)
  3. Expect some cool Wii/DS connectivity to be announced later this year (see my Wii predictions for more details)

While the PSP is by no means the market leader that Sony wanted it to be, it has done what no other portable has arguably done before: be a solid #2 to Nintendo's handheld. It'll be interesting to see how Sony will respond to Nintendo's continued success. Do they continue to fight, or do we start seeing signs of a pull-back in this market?


  1. More PSP price drops (probably a no brainer here)
  2. Improved PS3/PSP connectivity
  3. UMD movie market officially declared "dead" by the end of the year
  4. Sales continue to be decent, but analysts/pundits/bloggers still regard it as a failure compared to the success of the DS

Xbox 360
Now, onto the home consoles, starting with the Xbox 360. As I mentioned earlier, 2006 was a great year for the 360, with the post-launch games really showing off the console. That should continue into 2007, thanks to all the big name titles coming out.

Unfortunately, I can't be too bold in my predictions here. If I had any cool insider news to share, obviously I wouldn't be allowed to blog about it here. Even if I make some cool speculations, though, you guys might think "Oh he knows something we don't! It must be true!", which wouldn't be right ... so I'm sort of in a no-win situation regarding predictions. :( That said, there's a couple of fairly obvious things that I can still point out ...


  1. The 360 will be the first console to hit 10 million sold (no duh!)
  2. MGS4 and/or FFXIII (or a spinoff) will become multi-platform and land on the 360
  3. 360 will continue to be the market leader, although the lead will dwindle signficantly by end of year
  4. Sales of the 360 will significantly improve in Japan, thanks to games like Lost Odyssey and Eternal Sonata, but it will still lag behind the Wii and PS3

Let's face it. 2006 was not the best year for Sony and the PS3. But cheer up, Sony fanboys, 2007 is now here and things should get better ... right?


  1. PS3 sales will pick up, closing the gap between it and the 360, but still miss expectations and continue to lose out to the Wii
  2. Lackluster sales will prompt a price drop of some kind by holiday '07 (either actual drop in price, or uber bundle-package)
  3. More formerly Sony-exclusive games will go multi-platform (360 and Wii), such as MGS4 and/or FFXIII (or a spinoff)
  4. Sony will announce more PlayStation Network features to be in-line with Xbox Live (such as Entitlements), but not ship them till much later this year

Arguably, 2006 was "Nintendo's Year", considering how well the DS is doing and the amazing turnaround Nintendo has made with the Wii. Nintendo fanboys will continue celebrating the re-emergence of their favorite company well int 2007.


  1. Wii availability won't improve significantly until February (bad for me, who is still Wii-less, but great for Nintendo)
  2. Sales won't quite reach the 360, but be awfully close by end of year
  3. In the meantime, the games attach rate will be rather low (Wii Grandma isn't going to buy a new game every month like traditional gamers), but it won't matter since Nintendo makes a profit on the console anyway
  4. A non-traditional "game" for the Wii will be announced and ship in holiday to incredible sales (similar to Brain Age and Nintendogs for the DS)
  5. Sony and/or MS will finally wake up and acknowledge how dangerous a competitor Nintendo is, rather than discounting the Wii as a "side console"
  6. Nintendo will surprise us with news of a Wii/DS connectivity feature that will make fanboys giggle with glee (imagine a Mario Party game for the Wii, with the DS as an alternate controller ... touchpad mini-games!)

So, that's it for my 2007 predictions! It'll be interesting to see how close or off I am by this time next year. Enough of my rantings though, what do you all think?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Who needs a PS3? 1

Final Fantasy XII - Amazing addition to the series! 40+ game hours and counting ...

Gears of War - Awesome, but if you've played the game or read any reviews/opinions, you already know this.

Viva Pinata - Incredibly addictive. Don't believe me? Go lurk in some gaming forums and see what people are saying. It's like The Sims, mated with Pokemon and some Animal Crossing.

World of Warcraft - 2.0 patch is coming out soon, also my guild just beat Rags for the first time, so yeah ... still addicted, still going ...

... and if I'm lucky, I'll be nabbing a Wii sometime this weekend. The only games that interest me are Zelda: Twilight Princess and the pack-in title, Wii Sports. But the console is cheap and innovative enough to make me want to check it out.

So ... who needs a PS3?

User Journal

Journal Journal: I need a good switchbox

I doubt anyone really needs this, but in case someone does ... any recommendations for a decent video switchbox? My new HDTV only has 3 HD inputs. The HDMI goes to the computer, so I can watch anime on the TV (I'm a big dork). One of the component inputs comes from the cable box (HD football, yummy!), and the other goes to a gaming system (right now 360 or PS2).

Since I've been playing a lot of Dead Rising, it's currently connected to the 360. But I forsee a lot of PS2 playing in the near future, with RPGs like Xenosaga III, Disgaea II, and Final Fantasy XII coming out (or already released). Right now, it's a manual process, getting behind the TV and switching the inputs, which is obviously sucky. I've heard good things about Pelican, but I'm very concerned about quality. The previous system switcher I used for my old SDTV was cheap, but sucked a lot. I don't want the same for my HDTV, since that pretty much defeats the purpose of having a nice TV and new consoles.

And for those who care, my plan is still to ignore the PS3 completely, until the price drops and/or Square-Enix games (FFXIII and beyond) finally are released for it. I'll probably pick up a Wii though. Gotta try out Twilight Princess, after missing out on the last Zelda game ...

User Journal

Journal Journal: E3 Impressions

Overall E3 impressions so far ...

Sony: Ugh. Expensive! $600 for the premium is just crazy. I know Kutaragi said the PS3 would be costly, but still, it hurts just to see that number. The two SKU model is pretty stupid too. The $500 model is missing too many options. It'd be silly to buy that model, since any one upgrade (upgraded HD, WiFi adaptor, etc.) is probably going to be close to $100 anyway. Why not future-proof yourself for a $100 more?

As for the games, as suspected, they don't look 2x better than 360 titles, as many Sony fanbois were declaring. In fact, they look to be on the same level (just much more expensive). FFXIII certainly looks nice, but that's CG! We're still at least a year or two before that title finally ships. I know I'll be getting a PS3 just because I'm a Square-Enix whore, so hopefully the PS3 will be relatively "cheap" by the time FFXIII comes out.

Oh, and don't get me started on that copycat controller of theirs ...

Nintendo: Wow, what a difference a week makes. Last week, Nintendo was everyone's whipping boy for having such an awful name for the new system. But now that everyone's gotten a chance to see the Wii in action, damn does it look fun. Sure, the graphics aren't all that hot, but as long as it's fun, I don't care all too much. I skipped the GameCube, but I can definately say I'm getting a Wii. Maybe even at launch, if it turns out to be $200-$250 as everyone is speculating.

Microsoft: Yeah, I'm biased, but I honestly think MS did a good job this year. Gears of War looks hot. The GTA4 announcement was killer. Sure, if MS were able to score it as a 360 exclusive, you could essentially call the PS3 DOA, but I'm sure Sony made that pretty much impossible. Still, having it on day one is going to be huge, since GTA3 alone sold millions of PS2s. Anyway, another game I'm psyched about is Mass Effect from Bioware. That, and CONTRA FOR XBLA!!! I can't wait to get on some U-U-D-D-L-R-L-R co-op action with friends. Hmm, and I'm willing to be there'll be the following achievement for the game: NOT-A-CHEATER - Beat the game *without* the Konami code. :)

In summary, I can't believe Sony has shot themselves in the foot this badly. I think trying to bundle with Blu-ray has really killed them this round. A year ago, if you had told me that Sony was NOT going to be the #1 player in next-gen, I would have said you were crazy. Now that's not so obvious anymore, with Nintendo zooming way up, Sony plummeting heavily, and MS maintaining a healthy position.

I'll be conservative and say that Sony will still be market leader for next-gen, simply because they still have so many exclusives with developers. But it's not going to be the 80/10/10 split like it was last time, and there will be a lot more parity. That will mean more multi-platform games and fewer exclusives. That should be good for many gamers, who can't afford every single console on the market.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Okay, FFXI sucks, back to DQVIII and WoW

Just got through the length FFXI install for the 360 beta. Man oh man did that suck. All of the pain was due to the stupid PlayOnline registration that you had to go through, and their ass-backwards UI. I feel like I can never complain about the 360 UI ever again, if the FFXI experience is the alternative I have to expect when game companies design their own online systems. I'm hoping Square sees the benefit of having Microsoft handle integration, letting them focus on what they do best: making games.

On the other hand, the actual gameplay experience of FFXI wasn't very good either. But it's unfair because FFXI came BEFORE WoW, and WoW is my favorite MMO so far. FFXI has a lot of the same problems that plagued EQ, which WoW has (mostly) solved. Yeah, Blizzard isn't perfect either, but I'd much rather go back to WoW than the slow grind-fest that is FFXI.

Oh well, back to Dragon Quest VIII, a Square-Enix game I'll actually enjoy. Got to finish it before Grandia III comes out ...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Got my 360 months ago ... so why am I playing DQVIII?

I'm a big Japanese RPG fan, so it's no surprise that I'm playing through Dragon Quest VIII. I happen to like it, although I can definately see some folks hating the game. Yeah, it's very old school (no "save spots" in dungeons, you actually have to spend time levelling up, very linear storyline, random battles, etc.), but for some reason, I still enjoy it. It reminds me a lot of playing Lunar and the earlier Wild Arms games.

I did get a FFXI beta disc for the 360 today, though, and will be installing that tonight. I've heard horror stories about Square's install process, but once it's all patched up, it's not too bad. I don't think FFXI is going to be all that great for the 360, but that's not really the point. The big news is that Square is doing ANYTHING with Microsoft, and with Live to boot! Hopefully that means the 360 will get some more love from Square. Something exclusive like the Gamecube's FF:Crystal Chronicles would be really nice.

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