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E3 2012 Winners (and Losers)

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Sorry for not posting this sooner. I, along with two other staff members of OverclockersClub.com, picked our E3 2012 winners in a variety of categories. If you'd like to read my rationale, check out my runners-up, and/or read my colleagues' picks, head on over to OCC. Otherwise, here is a list of my winners:

Best Action-Adventure Game: Star Wars: 1313 (PC)
Best Shooter: Crysis 3 (PC, PS3, 360)
Best Platforming Game: Deadlight (360)
Best Fighting Game: PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale (PS3, PS Vita)
Best MMO: Defiance (PC, PS3, 360)
Best Strategy Game: Company of Heroes 2 (PC)
Best Racing Game: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PC, PS3, 360, Wii U, PS Vita, 3DS)
Best Role-Playing Game: South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, PS3, 360)
Best Free-to-Play Game: PlanetSide 2 (PC)
Best Family Game: LEGO The Lord of the Rings (PC, PS3, 360, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, DS)
Best New IP: Sacrilegium (PC)
Most Innovative: Unreal Engine 4
Biggest Surprise: Watch Dogs (PC)
Biggest Disappointment: Wii U
Game of the Show: Watch Dogs (PC)

Feel free to voice your opinion here or at OCC.

Why You Should Oppose SOPA/PIPA

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I posted this editorial on a computer site I'm a staff member of, OverclockersClub.com, but thought I should post this here too.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it — piracy is bad. But no amount of legislation is going to put an end to piracy. The black market, bootlegs, and cheap knockoffs have all existed well before the Internet. The best anyone can hope for is a reduction in piracy, but is SOPA/PIPA really the answer? I'm not going to go into all the details of the proposed bills, as you can find that stuff strewn across the web if that's something you want to learn. It probably won't be as bad as some people are suggesting, but it's not going to be good either. And the thing is, if reducing piracy is actually the goal, there are better means to accomplish that. Steam, GOG.com, and others have proven that piracy can be lessened simply by providing good services. Most people are driven to piracy due to two factors: pricing and convenience. Those services have addressed the convenience issue and the various sales have addressed the pricing issue (and the extreme success of such sales have proven this). Before you think me naive, I know piracy of Steam and GOG.com games exist, but certainly to a lesser extent.

The problem with SOPA/PIPA is the language is too vague and probably purposefully so. Piracy won't be thwarted, legitimate sites will be, especially social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube. See, under the proposed bills, sites can get in trouble for user content. An innocent machinima creation, for example could result in a heap of trouble for any site hosting or linking to it. Out of fear, it's highly likely that sites will self-police before it even gets to that point, thus reducing content and ruining what we have become to expect from the Internet. Recording and streaming of games will probably take a major hit, even those officially sanctioned by developers like in Team Fortress 2, Starcraft II, and League of Legends. Ever been on a server where someone plays music over their headset or has custom sounds? What happens when the copyright holder of said music threatens the site hosting the recording or streaming a match? eSports has really taken off, thanks in large part to broadcasting competitive matches — do we really want to see that end? If just a couple of complaints are filed against a site, the whole site can be taken down, even if 99% of the posted material is legitimate.

Now I'm fully aware that we get a ton of international visitors to this site and on the surface, this is a United States issue. But you shouldn't shrug this off just because these are US bills. For one, like it or not, the US controls a lot of the Internet — what happens here can and probably will affect the Internet for everyone. In fact, one section of SOPA permits the US Attorney General the right to take action against foreign sites if "the owner or operator of such Internet site is facilitating the commission of [copyright infringement]." If the site owner responds to prevent this, they will be seen as volunteering to be under US law and thus subject to the US courts. If they chose not to respond, the attorney general can force all US ISPs and search engines to block access to the site, as well as block ad providers and payment providers. It's easy to tell companies to move their servers to other countries, but think about all the revenue sites would lose if US citizens couldn't reach them. There will always be workarounds like VPNs and proxies, but the average user isn't going to utilize them, let alone even understand them. In addition, if something like this passes, other countries can look at it and follow suit. In fact, similar laws have tried to pass in the European Union, but luckily to no avail at this time.

If you're an American and would like to contact your Representatives, you can get contact information by going to this Wikipedia page and entering your zip code. If you'd like to read the full text of the proposed bills, you can find SOPA here and PIPA here.

CES 2010 Coverage

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OverclockersClub.com's CES 2010 Coverage

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was a couple of weeks ago and I was fortunate enough to attend for the second straight year thanks to hardware and technology enthusiast site OverclockersClub.com (OCC). It's amazing that a whole year went by since the last one because it certainly didn't feel like it. Still, this year's CES felt different. Many vendors opted to invite people to private suites rather than set up a booth on the convention floor.

If you interested in checking out the best CES coverage on the Net, go check out OCC's CES 2010 Coverage. If you don't have time to read it all (it's a lot!), as gamers, there are two sections in particular you'll want to check out (aside from five pages of Booth Babes); Razer and Peregrine.

Razer

Razer showed off two new products that you'll definitely want to check out - the Onza Professional Gaming Controller for the Xbox 360 (and useable on the PC) and the Sixense Motion Controller. Read all about it at the above links, and definitely check out the HD videos posted on YouTube (links can be found within the article). They're definitely worth a watch, especially the Sixense ones! I got to personally try out Sixense and was definitely impressed with the precision. Although I still think motion control is a gimmick, Sixense is ten times better than what the Wii offers. As for the Onza, if you're an Xbox 360 gamer, you WILL want to buy this. Onza is without a doubt the best 360 controller there is, and at $50, it's competively priced to boot!

Peregrine

Whereas you've probably heard the name Razer before, you may not have heard of Peregrine. Well if you're a fan of RTSs and/or MMOs, you may want to take notice. Peregrine has created a gaming glove like none other...meaning it actually works. With eighteen programmable touch points and three activator pads, the Peregrine gaming glove provides over thirty programmable actions, perfect for any game that involves a multitude of hotkeys and/or macros. Just touch your fingertips with your thumb and the associated action is performed. There's an HD video in the article showing Trevor Reesnor demonstrating the Peregrine Gaming Glove, so you'll definitely want to check that out.

That's basically it. I can go on and on about the other vendors we visited, but that'd take forever. Check the table of contents on the bottom to see if there are any other vendors you'd like to read and/or watch videos about. I just figured I'd touch on the Razer and Peregrine because in my opinion, they're the two manufacturers that are poised to have the biggest impact on gaming in 2010.

OverclockersClub - Educating the World One Noob at a Time

The Man, The Legend, The Free Man

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All Time Greatest Hero - Gordon Freeman

What makes Dr. Gordon Freeman the all time greatest hero? People often bring up that he doesn't talk, like that is supposed to disparage him in some way. Apparently these same people enjoy sitting through cinematic cutscenes depicting game protagonists in the developers' vision, speaking as the developer wants. Unlike many other developers, Valve took a different approach to Half-Life's protagonist, Gordon Freeman. It's not that Valve was too cheap to hire a voice actor (one can see evidence of voice acting in the many NPCs), but rather because Valve is letting you BE Gordon Freeman. Every time you play a Half-Life game, you do not play AS Gordon Freeman, you ARE Gordon Freeman.
All Time Greatest Hero - Gordon Freeman
Gordon Freeman graduated from MIT with a Ph.D in theoretical physics and wrote a thesis entitled Observation of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Entanglement on Supraquantum Structures by Induction Through Nonlinear Transuranic Crystal of Extremely Long Wavelength (ELW) Pulse from Mode-Locked Source Array. How many other game protagonists have a Ph.D or have written any kind of thesis, let alone one on such advanced matter? Disappointed in the slow pace of teleportation research, Freeman decided to take a job at the top secret Black Mesa Research Facility. At the mere age of 27, his life would be forever changed.
All Time Greatest Hero - Gordon Freeman
One moment he is a theoretical physicist performing the menial task of pressing a button, and in the next moment he is defending himself against hostile aliens. Donning a Hazardous Environment (H.E.V.) suit and equipped with a mere crowbar, Freeman goes from geek to badass in no time. This is one of the reasons Gordon Freeman is the all time greatest hero. He is not a soldier. He is not a half-god. He is a scientist. He takes on throngs of enemies out of necessity, not because it is his job. He quickly adapts to his situation and becomes a soldier of the resistance on his own accord. For all intents and purposes, he becomes a modern day messiah. He eliminates the evil alien race, the Nihilanth, thus freeing the Vortigaunts who later join the human resistance against the trans-dimensional Combine Empire. In doing so, he is not only praised and referred to as "The Free Man" by the Vortigaunts, but he is also called "The One Free Man" by Earth's survivors. Furthermore, the Combine recognize him as the single greatest threat to their empire, referring to him as "Anticitizen One." The fact that an alien race that spans several dimensions considers Gordon Freeman its number one threat is further evidence that he is the all time greatest game hero.
All Time Greatest Hero - Gordon Freeman
Now some may argue that because the Half-Life series isn't over, he cannot be considered a hero, let alone the all time greatest hero. After all, we do not know for sure that he'll "succeed" in Half-Life 2: Episode Three or any other subsequent Half-Life games. But should not a person be judged by all his actions and not simply his or her last deed in life? Even if somehow Freeman dies in Episode Three, is he not already a hero? He already saved Earth from one alien invasion, he freed a whole alien race, and he has given Earth's remaining survivors hope for the future.
All Time Greatest Hero - Gordon Freeman
If you do not view Gordon Freeman as the all time greatest hero, I can only assume that you have never played the Half-Life series the way they were meant to be played. You have never experienced the true immersion Valve provided in the Half-Life games. You never BECAME Gordon Freeman. And if that's the case, I feel nothing but pity for you, for you have truly missed out on one of gaming's greatest gifts.

Half-Life 2: It's just that awesome.

Be sure to vote for Gordon Freeman as All Time Greatest Game Hero here!

BEST (and Worst) of E3 2009!

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Best and Worst of E3 2009

Here are my selections for the best and worst of E3 2009. Runners Up are listed in alphabetical order and do not indicate a ranking. I'm really interested to hear your take on each category, so please do so in the comments!

Best Overall Game: ModNation Racers
Runners Up: Alan Wake, Assassin's Creed 2, Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer
Rationale: There were a lot of great games shown at E3 this year, so choosing the best was no easy task. As a PC gamer, choosing the PS3-exclusive ModNation Racers may be a bit of a shock. However, the appeal of a Mario Kart-inspired racing game with user-generated content a la LittleBigPlanet is too grand to overlook. The ease of creating your own tracks provides this game with insane potential.

Best Xbox 360 Game: Alan Wake
Runners Up: Mass Effect 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction
Rationale: Though it may not sell as many copies as Halo 3: ODST or Halo Reach, Alan Wake promises to bring something unique to the table, and the demo shown off at E3 certainly intrigued. My only fear is that it doesn't live up to that potential.

Best Wii Game: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Runners Up: Mario Galaxies 2, Metroid: Other M
Rationale: Who would have thought a 2D side-scroller would be the best game shown from the Nintendo camp? Mario Galaxies 2 and Metroid: Other M may have the superior graphics (and maybe even superior gameplay), but New Super Mario Bros. Wii has that nostalgia factor going for it. Throw in a little co-op action and a few new suits, and Nintendo certainly has a big winner in its hands.

Best PlayStation 3 Game: ModNation Racers
Runners Up: God of War III, Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Rationale: I've already talked about ModNation, so let me give a quick shout-out to the runners up. God of War III is going to be huge, no question about it. Taking one of the biggest PlayStation franchises and melding that with the PS3 graphics is a no-brainer. Heavy Rain was surprisingly not shown during the Sony press conference, but if you watched GameSpot's Stage Demo for the game, it certainly is very promising, and its unique gameplay and structure make this one to watch! Lastly, Uncharted 2 simply looks great. The gameplay video Sony showed looked amazing; the graphics were great, the animations smooth and the cinematic integration was seamless.

Best PC Game: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Runners Up: Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Supreme Commander 2
Rationale: A lot of the games shown off at E3 will be arriving on the PC, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the few that is exclusive to the PC, and with good reason; you just simply can't pull off massively multiplayer online role-playing games on the consoles. Sure, there have been some MMOs, but nothing like the scope of PC MMO's like World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online. SWTOR has the potential to be HUGE. I don't think it'll be able to topple WoW, as it may be a bit much for the casual crowd that WoW attracts, but SWTOR should enjoy success with hardcore RPG fans and/or Star Wars fanatics. Although the last Star Wars MMO (Star Wars Galaxies) didn't do so hot, with RPG-powerhouse BioWare behind SWTOR, I have high hopes!

Best Game Not at E3: Diablo 3
Runners Up: Bioshock 2, Crysis 2, Portal 2, Starcraft 2
Rationale: The fact that Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 were not shown off during E3 is no surprise; Blizzard decided not to attend. Nevertheless, that doesn't change the fact that both games are sure to be huge hits, and it certainly would have been nice to see more of either of them. I'm giving Diablo 3 the slight edge simply because it'll probably suck up more of my time than Starcraft 2. The other three runners up, Bioshock 2, Crysis 2 and Portal 2, are a little more surprising as no-shows. All three games have been confirmed, so you'd think they'd be shown off at an event like E3. Alas, they were not, and I think many of us were disappointed at that.

Game That Should Have Been Unveiled at E3, But Wasn't: Half-Life 2: Episode 3
Runner Up: The Orange Box 2
Rationale: I was hoping for something big from Valve; nay, I was expecting it. But instead of unveiling Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and/or The Orange Box 2, Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2 instead. WTF? Not to take anything away from L4D2, but L4D was just released within the past year, whereas we've been waiting for HL2:E3 for years! Yet, there was no announcement, not even a small teaser trailer. I love Valve, seriously, I do. But seriously, WTF?! Maybe Valve just figured that no matter when it releases HL2:E3, it's going to sell? After all, every single HL2 owner is going to buy it. Regardless of whether they have purchased Episodes 1 & 2, once all three are available, they will, there's no question about that. Still, come on Valve, throw us a bone here!

Best Cinematic Trailer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Runner Up: Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age: Origins
Rationale: For the past few years, cinematic trailers have always been amazing, but unfortunately they don't really tell us anything about the gameplay (just go watch any of the cinematic trailers for World of Warcraft). Nevertheless, they're still highly enjoyable to watch, and three of them stood out above the crowd this year: Star Wars: The Old Republic Deception Trailer, Assassin's Creed 2 Carnivale Trailer and Dragon Age: Origins Warden Trailer. I give the edge to SWTOR simply because it's Star Wars for crying out loud. How can you not enjoy any trailer that features light saber duels?

Best Press Conference In-Game Demo: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Runners Up: Assassin's Creed 2, God of War III
Rationale: When I saw the Uncharted 2 demo during the Sony press conference, I was like "no way this is actual gameplay!" But indeed it was. The action looked intense, and as I said before, the graphics looked very smooth. Assassin's Creed 2 may have arguably been the best demo, featuring a new flying machine and dual-blade assassinations, but Uncharted 2 was simply something I wasn't expecting, and I was blown away.

Most Surprising Press Conference In-Game Demo: MAG
Runner Up: ModNation Racers
Rationale: MAG (Massive Action Game) may look like your typical modern first-person shooter, but with its 256-player battles, it certainly brings something new to the table. In the past, we merely heard that this was possible, but never actually saw it in action. When Sony fired up MAG during its press conference and showed a surprisingly smooth 256-player battle taking place, we finally got to see what MAG is all about; massive action. From what GameSpot showed of Sony's booth, MAG was also the focus of a fairly large section, allowing several players to test it out for themselves (though there were certainly far less than 256 systems set up).

Best Stage Demo: Dragon Age: Origins
Runners Up: Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer, Splinter Cell: Conviction
Rationale: It's not often we get to see an epic battle in previews, and you can't get much more epic than a huge dragon. The Dragon Age: Origins Stage Demo certainly whet my appetite, and the rather lengthy dragon battle showed off some melee action, spell casting, shape-shifting, and culminated in a pretty sweet finishing move.

Biggest Surprise: Left 4 Dead 2
Runners Up: Final Fantasy XIV, Halo Reach, Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Rationale: In all honesty, we should have seen this coming. Despite L4D not even being a year old and despite Valve promising ongoing updates, releasing a sequel is more practical for Valve because of the Xbox 360. Valve reached the Xbox 360's memory limit when it came to Team Fortress 2, thus not allowing them to provide the TF2 updates that PC players have enjoyed. Though I am merely speculating and this hasn't been confirmed by Valve, I'm almost certain this is the reason why L4D will be getting a sequel so soon rather than updates. I don't fully blame Valve for this decision, although I really hope PC gamers who own L4D get a break in the form of a (substantial) discount.

Biggest Disappointment: Half-Life 2: Episode 3
Runners Up: Beyond Good & Evil 2, Portal 2
Rationale: Though I think it's pretty obvious, it's important to note that I'm not disappointed in the games themselves, but rather their non-appearance at E3. We know for a fact that all three are in the works (development of Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Portal 2 has been confirmed, and one can assume HL2:E3 development has already begun, despite lack of official word). So why were they absent from E3? Beats the hell out of me!

Best Press Conference: Sony
Runner Up: Microsoft
Rationale: Microsoft's press conference was great, and was certainly a good way to kick off E3, but for me, Sony was number one. Sony showed off more true exclusives and for a lot of them, they showed actual (amazing) gameplay footage, including the first time we saw Assassin's Creed 2 gameplay.

Worst Press Conference: Ubisoft
Runners Up: EA, Nintendo
Rationale: This was a tough call, but Ubisoft gets the nod for worst conference. The only redeeming part of Ubisoft's press conference was the Assassin's Creed 2 cinematic trailer. However, those five minutes toward the end of the conference couldn't make up for the rest of the snorefest. I mean, how could Ubisoft think it was a good idea to let James Cameron talk for ten minutes without showing even a second of his game, Avatar??

Best Booth: Ubisoft
Runner Up: 2K Games, Warner Bros.
Rationale: Despite having one of the most boring press conferences to ever grace an E3, Ubisoft made up for it in its booth. Ubisoft seemed to have the biggest booth at E3 and watching Homer try to traverse it was entertaining. Despite some silly tween games for the Wii, Ubisoft has a lot of great games on the horizon and they were showcased extremely well. In addition, they had a giant Avatar mech! 2K Games gets props for recreating Borderlands' planet Pandora and Warner Bros. gets credit for having a Batmobile!

Best Developer: BioWare
Runner Up: Ubisoft Montreal
Rationale: RPG specialist BioWare showed off three highly-anticipated games at E3; Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic. As such, this was a no-brainer. Ubisoft Montreal showed off two pretty big games itself with Assassin's Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction. All these games show great promise!

Best Publisher: Electronic Arts
Runner Up: Ubisoft
Rationale: I'm not counting Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony in this because that wouldn't be fair. EA gets the nod because it featured a ton of big names, such as Dragon Age: Origins, Left 4 Dead 2, and Mass Effect 2, not to mention its big sports titles, such as Madden NFL 10 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. Ubisoft featured such gems as Assassin's Creed 2, James Cameron's Avatar, R.U.S.E. and Splinter Cell: Conviction. With all these great games, I guess this is why these two publishers held their own conferences, huh?

Best GameSpot Staff Member: Homer Rabara
Runner Up: Kevin VanOrd
Rationale: I considered abandoning this category because, in all honesty, all GameSpot staff deserve a huge round of applause. Without any one of them, the event would just not have been the same; at least not for us GameSpot members. I for one relied on GameSpot for ALL of my E3 coverage. Nevertheless, Homer really knows how to fight his way through a crowd to show us a little bit of everything and it was humorous watching him bump into random people along the way. Kevin VanOrd gets runner up because he asked great questions and even elaborated on what GameSpot members were sending in.

Best Post-E3 News: E3 2010
Runner Up: None
Rationale: After two years of smaller shows, E3 was back to its big bad self this year, and it was a huge success. Gamers were happy, retailers were happy, and most importantly, developers were happy. As such, it didn't take long for E3 2010 to be confirmed and booked; and yes, the current "big" format will remain. E3 will be back in the L.A. Convention Center June 15-17, 2010. Seriously, how could any other post-E3 news compete with that?

E3 2009 Big 3 Analysis

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E3 2009

E3 2009 has come and gone, and it was quite the event. Although it wasn't without its share of disappointments, this year's E3 was certainly one of the best, and I'd like to first start by thanking GameSpot for its impeccable coverage. Despite frequent stuttering and freezing, GameSpot's E3 coverage certainly satisfied my gaming appetite. But you're not here to listen to me praise GameSpot (unless maybe if you're a GS staff member). No, you're probably reading this because you want to know my take on the biggest gaming event of the year. As such, I think it's only natural to start off with the "Big 3" Press Conferences.

Before I begin, I think it's important to note that I am a PC GAMER. Although I have played all three current-gen consoles, I do not own an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii. I say this not only so you know I'm not a fanboy of any particular platform, but also so you realize where I come from. Being a PC gamer, I probably view the conferences in a different light than console gamers. What I want the Big 3 to show me is why I should buy their console. What benefit does their platform give over the PC? In that respect, despite what Microsoft and Sony want us to believe, in my opinion, if a game will be released on the PC, it is NOT an exclusive. The PC is a platform, and as such, if a game appears on the PC and at least one console, it is multi-platform. Period. With that being said, let's begin, shall we?

Microsoft E3 2009 Press Conference As usual, E3 was kicked off by Microsoft (MS), and as usual, they kicked off E3 with a bang. Microsoft always seems to have the star power, and this year was no different. MS started the conference off with The Beatles Rock Band and brought the (remaining) Beatles on stage. Sadly, there was no performance; how cool would it have been to see them play their own song(s) on Rock Band? lol. I'm not even a fan of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, but even I would have enjoyed that. Later in the show they had Tony Hawk on stage and even Steven freaking Spielberg! In reality though, us gamers could care less about the people on stage. We care about one thing; the games.

So after Rock Band, which doesn't appeal to me one bit (seriously, why are these so popular?), there were several games announced for the Xbox 360, some exclusive, some not. Exclusivity for the Xbox 360 was a rare occurrence. You had Halo 3: ODST, which everyone already knew about, so not much excitement there...but then a surprise unveil of another Halo game, Halo Reach. I've only played the original Halo for the original Xbox, but I'm not a stranger to how huge these games are. Another exclusive game, coming to Xbox Live, is Shadow Complex. Personally, I thought it looked really cool and wish I could play it on the PC. It's sort of like old-school Contra with updated graphics and in a much bigger, quasi-open world. Certainly looked fun, and at XBL prices, I'm sure will be more than worth it. The only other true exclusive worth mentioning is Forza Motorsport 3. Never been much into racing sims, plus Sony has its own big racing sim coming soon (more on that later), but I know this certainly appeals to a lot of people.

In addition to exclusives, MS showed off several other games that will also be available for the PC, PS3 or all three. Games we already knew about included Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction (wow, this looks sick!) and Alan Wake (looks very promising!). In a very un-Valve move, Valve unveiled Left 4 Dead 2 coming in November. Wait, I know what you're saying...the first game just came out, how can Valve already be deep in development for the sequel? Hell, we're still waiting for Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Though this hasn't been officially stated, I'm pretty sure you have the Xbox 360 to thank for this, for better or for worse. Surely if you're an Xbox 360 gamer who enjoys Left 4 Dead, this is great news for you. If you're a PC gamer? Not so much. If it wasn't for the Xbox 360's memory limit, I'm almost certain we would not be seeing a sequel, but rather updates a la Team Fortess 2 (TF2). I'm sure many of you are aware that PC gamers have enjoyed TF2 updates (for free), which have included new items, maps, gamemodes, etc. Unfortunately for Xbox 360 players, they've been left out in the dust. The reason comes down with Valve reaching the Xbox 360's memory limit for TF2. It's not a matter of not wanting to provide Xbox 360 players with additional content, it's a matter of them not physically being able to. I'm pretty sure they'd wind up running into the same problem with Left 4 Dead, and as such, decided releasing a sequel would be more feasible. The sequel essentially amounts to a few new weapons and maps; certainly something that would seem to fit in gradual updates nicely, no? Now I've always loved Valve, so I'm hoping they offer PC L4D'ers a break...maybe a discount on the sequel or something. I just don't like seeing PC gamers suffer because of consoles. Even console gamers should be upset about this; would you want a game on your favorite console hampered due to a limitation of another platform? Didn't think so. Okay...rant over. lol

The next big announcement out of the MS camp was a half-surprise. Leading up to E3, everyone expected MS to unveil that PS3-exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) would make its way to the Xbox 360. Much to the disappointment of Xbox 360 gamers, MGS4 will remain a PS3 exclusive, but what they get instead is the next game in the series, Metal Gear Solid: Rising (MGS:R). This is big news for MS, but not as big as the MS fanboys initially made it out to be. I must say it was rather humorous watching it live and seeing comments from MS fanboys stickin' it to PS3 gamers. Why were they gloating and trash talking? Well it seemed like many of them thought MGS:R was an Xbox 360 exclusive. I guess that's what happens when bias clouds your vision (and hearing). In actuality, the game will be released on the PS3 as well, and probably most surprising of all (and my favorite part), it will also be coming to the PC. SCORE! In addition, another PS3 mainstay is making its way to the Xbox 360 in the form of Final Fantasy XIII. I've never been a Final Fantasy fan myself, so it wouldn't be fair for me to comment on the game, but this is a huge franchise, so certainly good news for Xbox 360 owners.

What many consider the real star of MS's conference was it's unveiling of Project Natal. Project Natal is a motion sensing controller...sans controller. All you do is move your body to control actions, whether it be in a game, navigating a DVD menu, or browsing Xbox Live. There are many words one can use to describe Project Natal. Xbox 360 fanboys would probably use such words as "awesome" and "amazing." Me? I'd use a few different words...like "gimmick" and "fad." In fact, any true gamer that doesn't have a bias toward MS should agree. In theory, Project Natal is indeed awesome. From a technology standpoint, this is a huge step in interaction. But the real use of this technology won't be found in hardcore gaming. Yes, this is a huge slap in the face to Nintendo, and I'm sure there will be countless casual games to take advantage of it, but as with the WiiMote, the fad will eventually fade. Also, the presentation for this made it look even sillier.

Lastly, MS announced several improvements to Xbox Live; instant 1080p streaming thru NetFlix, simultaneous viewing, last.fm, and facebook and twitter integration. The 1080p streaming is great news for anyone with NetFlix and an HDTV, but I really don't understand the simultaneous viewing. What's the point of you and your friend simultaneously watching a movie? Are you going to call him or her up and chat while watching it? "OMG, did you see that? That was hilarious!" Um, yeah, what? Facebook and Twitter seem to be infecting everything these days, so take that as you will. As for last.fm, what are my thoughts on that? Well personally I love last.fm. I use it on my PC all the time. I used to listen to the "radio" thru it, but now I mostly use it for tracking what I play; it's like X-fire for music. That being said, I just don't understand why anyone would use this on an Xbox 360. Is someone really going to turn on their TV and Xbox 360 just to play music? I thought company's are supposed to be getting greener? lol. Now if you'll be able to play music off of last.fm while playing a game, then I can see the appeal in that, but at least during the conference they didn't state that.

Nintendo E3 2009 Press Conference The next of the Big 3 was Nintendo, and I'm just going to get this over with now; once again, it was by far the worst of the conferences. Hell, I think I'd even rank EA and Ubisoft's conferences about Nintendo (though I'm not here to talk about them). There just isn't much about the Wii that gets me excited. Nintendo announced Wii Fit Plus, which is undoubtedly an improved version of the original Wii Fit, but, as a GAMER, I just don't see the appeal. I do not suffer from photosensitivity; if I want to exert myself physically, I'll go outside and do some real activities. I play games to escape. This would probably be why Nintendo showing off Wii Sports Resort didn't excite me either. And then there's the Wii Motion Plus; an extension you attach to your current WiiMotes that makes it more accurate and precise. Yep, the Wii Motion Plus essentially makes your WiiMote act like it should have acted when the Wii was first released. Considering Nintendo was completely showed up by Microsoft (Project Natal), the disappointment in Wii Motion Plus could not be fully expressed in words.

Now that I got the negatives out of the way, there were a few highlights. The game that excited me the most was the New Super Mario Bros. Wii (NSMBW). Yes, that is its name. Apparently Nintendo has exhausted all its creativity trying to stretch Mario into 200+ games that they've just given up on naming them. NSMBW brings us back to the cla.ssic 2D side-scrolling days of Mario, but what makes this version unique is its co-op play. NSMBW can be played in single-player, but you can also have three friends join you. Four-player co-op plus new abilities (such as the propeller hat and penguin suit) plus several different Yoshis is a definite win. NSMBW isn't the only new game Mario will be appearing in though. Toward the end of the conference, Nintendo unveiled Mario Galaxies 2, which is sure to please many Wii gamers. The other two big announcements were for a new Zelda Wii game and Metroid: Other M. If you're a fan of either franchise, you'll want to keep an eye on these for sure. These four games, however, was not enough to overcome the overall disappointment out of the Nintendo camp.

Sony E3 2009 Press Conference And then, there was Sony. Sony's struggles over the past few years are no secret, but I must say, you wouldn't know it by watching its conference. I'm going to start with the worst kept secret of E3; the PSP Go. First, I'd like to say that I found it pretty cool that the speaker joked about the leak. As for the PSP Go itself, it certainly looks sleek. Although when I first read about it, I was rather disappointed it didn't have the much-asked-for second analog stick, upon further consideration, I fully understand the decision not to include one. This is not PSP 2, this is simply a revision. PSP3000 will still be produced and sold alongside the PSP Go. PSP Go is simply for those that want a more mobile device. It's significantly smaller and lighter and does not contain a UMD drive. As such, digital distribution is the only way to acquire games using its 16MB onboard memory or an external memory stick, but it'll come at the benefit of a better battery life, as the UMD drive was the biggest power draw on the PSP3000. To go along with the PSP Go, Sony also unveiled a multitude of PSP games. There are way too many to list, but a few of the big names were Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, LittleBigPlanet, Resident Evil Portable and Gran Turismo for PSP. Oh, and there will be a ton of PSOne cla.ssics available on the PlayStation Store.

The PSP Go may have been a big part of Sony's conference, but there was a lot of other good stuff shown. Say what you will about Sony and the PlayStation 3, but it certainly has a lot of awesome exclusives. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of them, and holy crap, it looked good. Sony showed off a rather lengthy video of the game and I just couldn't believe I was watching actual gameplay. It looked good, it looked smooth, and the blend of cinematic moments looked seamless. Another huge PS3 exclusive is of course, God of War III, and really, does it come as any surprise that the game looks amazing? And then there's MAG, which stands for "Massive Action Game"...and it's just that. Although on the surface, MAG doesn't bring anything new to the table (a modern first-person shooter), the real appeal of the game comes from the "massive" part; 256 player battles. Even on the PC, the undeniable first-person shooter king, you don't often get to see 128 vs. 128. Sony didn't show very much, but at least they showed actual gameplay this time around. Surprisingly, PS3-exclusive Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer was not shown. Not really sure why, but it was on the show floor and GameSpot covered it later on.

Another highly-anticipated PS3 exclusive is Gran Turismo 5 (GT5). For those GT fans, the Sony conference probably left them a little disappointed. Yet again, Sony failed to show any gameplay, resorting to another cinematic trailer. With Forza 3 arriving on the Xbox 360 this Fall, Sony better show us something a little more on GT5 and/or announce a release date. Another big PS3 exclusive unveiled (in a rather interesting cinematic trailer) was The Last Guardian. Not much is known about the game, but seeing as it's from the same people that developed Shadow of the Colossus, this surely has great potential. And then there's Agent, the new game from Rockstar, developer of the Grand Theft Auto series. Apparently the game will take players "on a paranoid journey into the world of counterintelligence, espionage, and political assassinations during the height of the Cold War at the end of the 1970s." Sounds intriguing, but little else is known at this time.

All those exclusives are great, but the real star of the show for me was ModNation Racers (MNR). If Mario Kart and LittleBigPlanet had a baby, this would be it. It's premise is very much Mario Kart, but with the customizability and user-created content of LittleBigPlanet. It's hard to put into word how awesome and fun this game looks. You owe it to yourself to go watch the demo! Creating your own tracks looked so easy, that this has the potential to be the next big thing for PS3 gamers. I am truly jealous!

Before I get to the several other games shown at Sony's conference, I think this is a good point to talk about Sony's answer to Project Natal and Wii Motion Plus; the as-yet-unnamed EyeToy Motion Controller. Sony's motion controller is a wand with an orb at the end. As I stated before, I think this motion-control technology is a fad and doesn't have a real place in the gaming world. That said, I did find Sony's method the best of the three. Many people seem to think Project Natal is the best, but let me explain. I believe that some sort of controller is necessary. People like to say that Project Natal increases immersiveness and an interactive environment, but how does waving your arms around increase immersiveness? If anything, it decreases it. How does one actually apply this to non-casual games? Now I don't think either of the three motion control systems are good for first-person shooters, but at least Nintendo and Sony have controllers that will make moving easier. How exactly do you move your character forward using Project Natal? Do you run in place? Wow, yeah, that looks like fun. But I'm talking about Sony now, not Microsoft. What I liked about Sony's EyeToy Motion Controller was that it seemed very accurate and precise. Maybe it's not actually better than Project Natal, but the tech demo that Sony showed was far superior, and as of now, that's all we have to go on.

But now let's get back to the games, and let's start with one of the best gameplay demos of the conference, Assassin's Creed 2 (AC2). Ubisoft showed off a rather intriguing cinematic trailer at its conference the day before (about the only redeeming part of the whole conference), but no actual gameplay was shown. I guess we can now assume that Ubisoft held off on showing gameplay so that Sony could be the first to do so at its conference. Simply put, AC2 looks great! I didn't have a chance to play the first one, as I just could never find the time to squeeze it in. After watching the AC2 gameplay, I was intrigued. When I saw Steam had AC on sale for a mere $9.99, I snatched it up immediately. I'm too early on to really judge the game, but I'm enjoying it thus far. Lastly, there was of course some Final Fantasy lovin'. Everyone already knew about Final Fantasy XIII (FFXIII), but the big shock came just after FFXIII was shown; the announcement of Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV). As if the mere announcement wasn't big, just like FFXIII, FFXIV is expected to be released some time in 2010. The difference is that the FFXIV will be a massively-multiplayer online game similar to Final Fantasy VII (FFVII). FFXIV will also be released on the PC, and if FFVII is any indication, we should expect cross-platform play!


So that is basically how the Big 3 kicked off E3. I watched the conferences live and am going mostly off of memory, so I'm sure I left a few things out. Most likely, if I left it out, it's probably because it wasn't memorable, so who really cares, right? lol. Overall, I give the slight edge to Sony, narrowly beating out Microsoft (sorry, Nintendo, but when it comes conferences, you just never seem to compete with the big boys). The main reason I give the edge to Sony is because it has more true exclusives than Microsoft, and that's not even counting PSP games.

Now I said I was only going to discuss the Big 3, but I do have to mention one quick thing. A cinematic trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) was shown during the EA press conference and it looked great. Of course, these days it's not surprising that a cinematic trailer looks good. Still, I'm really looking forward to this game. After Diablo III, Dragon Age: Origins and Starcraft II, it's probably the post-E3 game I'm looking forward to most. Speaking of Diablo III and Starcraft II, it was slightly disappointing that Blizzard was a no-show at E3. I know Blizzard holds its own event and E3's focus seems to be the console market, but I still would have loved to see more of those two sure-to-be-awesome games. Speaking of disappointing no-shows, though Valve announced L4D2, I was really hoping they'd make a surprise announcement about The Orange Box 2, containing Half-Life 2: Episode 3, Portal 2, and an as-yet-unveiled third game (maybe Counter-strike 2?). How freaking sweet would that announcement have been? Ah well.

Overall, E3 was fantastic. The media often likes to harp on negatives, but I really hope everyone took notice; gaming is hear to stay...and there's something out there for everyone.

Escape From City 17 - Part One

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Escape From City 17 - Part One

I haven't posted a GameSpot blog in a long time, but after watching this SICK movie, I just had to post it. It's simply unbelievable.

For anyone that's played HL, HL2 and the episodes, I don't think it's any surprise that the series would easily translate to the "big screen". Storyline has always been a huge part of the half-life series success. I honestly don't know how there hasn't been a film yet. I know it'll lose something by not being a game since it removes the interactivity, but it'd still be pretty sweet, and they could easily do a full-length movie of HL1 alone.

Be sure to watch the video in HD.

It cost them $500 to produce parts one and two. Now we don't know how long part two is, but let's assume in total parts one and two come to 10mins. At that rate, if they made a 2hr full length movie, that'd be $6000 in production costs. HOLY CRAP!

Can't wait to see part two!

Virtually There: E3 2007 GameSpot Show Zealot

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Virtually There: E3 2007 GameSpot Show Zealot

My life for Footage!
These special viewers caught all three days of GameSpot's live stage show at E3 2007. Now if we only put subliminal messages into our broadcasts, we'd have an army to take over the world...
GameSpot

w00t! Not only did I get emblems for all three conferences, but I also got a special emblem (shown above) for watching all three days of E3 coverage! I was secretly hoping those of us that spent hours upon hours listening/watching GameSpot's E3 coverage would get an emblem, and was slightly disappointed when one didn't show up. But finally, it has arrived!

Though I wasn't thrilled with the GameSpot interviewers (eg. If you're interviewing someone from Valve, make sure the interviewer actually played Half-Life 2...WTF?!?!?), the coverage, overall, was pretty good. It covered a lot of different genres and all systems, including the handhelds. I only wish I knew how to submit questions because some of the questions asked were freaking idiotic. Owell.

E3 2007 may not have had the glitz and glam of previous E3's, but there was a wealth of (excellent) information.

E3 2007 Press Conferences Analysis

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E3 2007

I watched all three E3 press conferences (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony), and here's my brief synopsis and analysis for each one (keep in mind, I'm a PC Gamer, so I have no bias towards any console manufacturer):

First up was Microsoft. They spent a majority of the time boasting sales numbers, like anyone at the conference really cares about that :roll:. The only thing I liked about MS's conference was the announcement of Gears of War coming to PC's. Otherwise, MS talked about only two Xbox 360 exclusives? Halo 3 and Mass Effect. Oh, and of course there was the announcement of the special edition Halo Xbox 360. But 98% of big Halo fans already own a 360.

Nintendo introduced the fugly zapper (decent deal at $20, but I'd rather just use the Wii Remote) and the two-year-old's chewtoy steering wheel (I don't think they could have made it any smaller if they tried). They also babbled on and on in the beginning with the most useless statistics. They were comparing stats against THEMSELVES! what the heck?! I loved how they were like, the DS doubled in 2007...oh, and this other percentage represents GameBoy Advance and not PSP. Oh, thanks brilliant Nintendo people, so you just showed you taking a bite out of your own sales :roll:. Only good thing about the Nintendo conference was Super Smash Bros. (for me), and I'm sure Mario Kart and Galaxies intrigued others.

Sony on the other hand, when everyone was hammering about the lack of PS3 exclusives and 360 fanboys betting that MGS4 would be announced for 360 (after Konami said there would be a big unexpected announcement (wound up being Silent Hill V, for those wondering)), came out of the blue with a ton of new PS3 exclusives; MGS4 & Killzone 2 (of course), and then InFamous, Heavenly Sword, FolkLore. I'm probably missing a couple, but all those games looked pretty sweet (and as a PC Gamer, I'm hoping the latter three make their way to the PC). Sony needed a big showing, and they certainly delivered.

Of course, I'll still stick to the PC exclusively....though the PSP's new games/features look intriguing, so maybe I'll finally get one of those new ones when they come out (The new ones, for those that didn't watch, are 33% lighter, 17% slimmer, have improved battery life, and have a TV-out connection so you can watch UMD movies or play games on a large screen; the clarity looked good in the conference, but not sure how it'll look IRL).

E3 2007 Round 1 Winner = Sony (hands down)

2007 Salisbury Men Bowling Champion!

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Last night was the Championship round in my bowling league. It's a mens league...4-man teams. Every Thursday we bowl 3 games against another team, battling it out for 30 points (each game is worth 4 points, then there's 1pt for each head-to-head matchup (player-vs-player), then there is 2 points for winning 2 of 3 games, 2 points for high series, and 2 points for total pins). Playoffs are elimination rounds, so the first team to get 15.5 points wins the night. In each of the first two rounds, we knocked out our competition after just two games...and we did the same last night! We dominated! This is my third year in the league, and my first Championship. It means an extra $50 per person (over 2nd place), plus a big trophy :). I'll also get money and a trophy for having the high game this season with a 288!

Next Thursday is our annual Dinner where we'll get our earnings and trophies.

YAY!

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