Going away

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Even after a few days, I'm still very shocked by what happened to Jeff this last week. CNET will deny it, Jeff probably can't talk about nor can the other editors do, but it seems clear enough that Jeff's firing was probably related to his review andultimatelythis is unacceptable. If a gaming review site can't be trusted for its reviews, then the site is absolutely useless.

Because of this and in support of Jeff and the other editors, I've decided to cancel my Total Access Subscription to GameSpot for the first time since I started paying 3-4 years ago. I don't usually believe in massive internet petition or ban, but in this case I cannot let this be and continue paying for this site. Over the years, GameSpot has hired some of the best editors in the business and the "old gang" with Jeff, GregK, Rich, Bob Carrie and all the others made this my #1 choice to get gaming news. This week, CNET showed what it has in store for GameSpot and I have no respect for such business decisions. What a sad day.

It's too bad that new management seems to have screwed this up. Whatever happens next, I wish the remaining editors and staff good luck and I hope GS can return to its former greatness. We never know, the uproar over Jeff's firing may actually cause CNET to review its policies and make it up by returning control over editorial content to the actual editors instead of having marketing and biz-relation run the show.

To all the editors, thanks for all the hard work and good luck. Seems to me you'll need it.

Timely DLC

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When the current generation of console started, I jumped on it from day one,in part because I like shiny new gadgets but mostly because of the fact that consoles would be connected to the Web with updates available. To me, it seemed like something the PS2 and XBox should have done, but this gen would bring all new posibilities.

Some of the stuff was unexpected like Achievements. Pretty nice. One thing that was expected is downloadable content. I think that's great because when I finish a great game, I'm always bummed that I have to wait at least a year if not more to play more of it. My biggest problem with DLC, at least so far, is that they come out way too late. So there will be new playable characters in Marvel Ultimate Alliance ? Great! But I'm done with the game. In fact, I've been done with the game for a long time now and have no interest in playing it again because I have a lot of other stuff to play.

I understand that these things takes time to make. I really do. But several months after the game is out is just too late. Crackdown is in the same position. I loved that game, but if the DLC doesn't come out soon, I will probably not care anymore.

Seeing new songs in Guitar Hero 2 so quickly after the game came out was great. A little overpriced, but that's another debate. I like how they decided to release new songs every month. I think other publishers need to take note. I'd certainly buy more stuff if they came out sooner. 

Now that's an achievement

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I've discussed the Xbox 360's achievements system before, but tonight it's not until tonight that I was able to fully appreciate the what it could truly do. Crackdown has been on my mind lately. Not because the game I can't stop playing the game -- the new DLC really is needed -- but because I finally got 2 important achievements. Master Agent and, most of all, Free Runner, the one where you need to get all 500 Agility Orbs.


I was really pissed of at that thing and had actually stopped playing and had migrated to the PS3 to play Motorstorm and God Of War. Tonight, while trying to finally get Master Agent status, I happened upon the last orb. I had been at 499 for a few weeks now, been around the tallest building in the game at least 10 times and I finally found it tonight. It just happened to be located in Lost Muertos, 2 feets above the ground, in the middle of the starting island.

While I'm kinda pissed about having missed it the first 30 times I went around that island, it really made me appreciate the concept of achievements. It's not really about the total gamerscore, it's about what it can do to push yourself to play further and to do more. I never would have attempted to do this on any other system.

Can't wait to see what Sony does with the Trophies system in Home. Hopefully that accomplishes the same thing and if it can do that without computing a final score, it might just end up even better. Now if only Nintendo would do the same please. 

CDs, really ?

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I may well be wrong, but I believe we are now in the year 2007. Vista just shipped. OS X 10.5 is coming in a few months. Our computers now have 1 or 2 GB of RAM. New games require that much to play. And yet they ship on CDs. This, to me, is baffling. The debate has been going on for a while now but what really pissed me off this week was looking at the PC games at Futureshop (canadian Best Buy). Here in Montreal, we usually have 2 versions of the games. The first one is the US game. This one is usally on CD because who know, maybe somebody who doesn't own a 15$ piece of equipment might want to play the latest games. The other version is the european version so that we can get a french version of the game. Now, the european version is usually on DVD. (it's also in french, which is why I don't buy it) I really, really wish I would understand that. I don't. A DVD-Rom is so cheap nowadays and *all* new computers have had them for years. Is there a reason Company of Heroes ships on CDs here and on DVD in europe ? CD-based games are longer to install, there's a risk you might damage or lose one disk ... there's just no reason to want to ship a game on 5 CDs when you could ship 1 DVD. Heck, the "next" generation of DVDs are already on sale now. Isn't it time to assume people who wants to play a game that requires a 1500$ computer will have a DVD drive ? I mean, we might as well ship floppy disks just in case.

Gotta love Blizzard....

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I think pretty much everyone agrees that Blizzard is a top-class game developer. The games they have put out so far are all, without exception, quality games (since they've been called Blizzard anyway). Not everyone likes every of their games, but there's no doubt it's all been quality stuff. That alone, is a good reason to love them but every once in a while they do stuff that blows me away. Last year, they came out with patch 1.10 for Diablo II, a major patch for a game that came out 6 years earlier in june of 2000. I was pretty impressed then, but this week they did it again. This time, it's a patch for Warcraft III, a game that came out in 2002. In both cases, the games had and continue to have free multiplayer over Battle.net. What they did this time that blows me away is that they just added new maps (again!) and even more suprising, native support for Intel Macs for Warcraft III. Now, I'm a big Mac User so I always appreciate when compagnies like Blizzard come up with Mac-compatible products. It's a small marketshare after all. But to port the game to the Intel architecture for the PowerPC code some 4.5 years after release is nothing short impressive, even if you couldn't care less about Macs. This is why I love Blizzard so much. It's great to support such a company. I bought BC (just like the other 2.4 millions who did apparently on day 1) and I have no doubt I'll buy their next game also.

The Wii, so far...

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The Wii has been out for about 2 months now and I've had a couple of interesting experiences with it. So far, it seems like the console is an absolute hit for group gaming. I just spent another evening with a few friends and brought the Wii over and we had a blast. Clearly, this is the console to own if you're interested in playing with a bunch of people on a couch. Everybody seems to enjoy the party games on the system. The thing that bothers me though is that so far, I really can't see this console being great for single player games except for 1st party games and the occasional 3rd party gem. Basically, it's the GameCube all over again. I mean, am I going to play racing games on this ? What about Shooters, or RPGs, or action games ? In all those cases, the Wii is not going to be my first choice. That means the 360 or the PS3 will still see most of my gaming time and the Wii, just like the Cube before it, will probably end up with less games in my collection. The real problem with the Wii for "generic" gaming is the controller. As innovative and fun as the current controler is, it just doesn't work for most game type. The DS also has innovative controls and mechanism but at least it also has regular controls (for an handheld). I think Nintendo has done a fantastic job with the console, but not including a regular controler is a mistake in my opinion. I don't mind that the graphics are not up to par with the PS3, but I do mind that the controler means most game type just don't work optimally.

Plugging a few holes in my collection

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Even though I have a ton of games to play and very little time to play them, I recently picked up 3 more games to add to my collection. These are games I *should* have bought when they came out but never did for some reason. So over the last couple of days, I ordered Okami and Psychonauts (straight from Double Fine to encourage them). Last night, I was at an electronic shops that used to sell video games but have since stopped and they had a bin of games where I found Chronicles of Riddick for 10$. I figured it was well worth it even though it's not yet ont the BC list for the 360. I'll play this one at some point...i'm in no hurry anyway since there's a lot of other stuff to play. Pretty happy with the state of my collection so far. There's a few more things I need to pick up but at least I finally have Psychonauts. I felt bad last year when I was watching the 2005 awards from Gamespot and didn't have the game. At least now, 1 year later, I do have it. Better late than never I guess.

Wiistation 360 acquired

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Last night I was on my daily hunt for extra nunchucks and/or PS3 when I stumbled into a small gaming store and saw a PS3 box sitting there. I was convinced it was an empty promotional box but the guy behind the counter told me it was a real PS3. The last piece of the "next-gen" puzzle is now complete for me. I now have all 3 systems plugged in, with only the Wii still waiting for my components cable on wednesday and an extra controller. Other than that, I'm all set. I also recently got the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive as an early christmas present so that's pretty nice too. I'm really happy to finally have all "wireless" consoles. No more wired controllers. Now, I just need some time to play all the games. I'm currently playing Monkey Balls on the Wii and FFIII on the DS (and WoW on the PC) but I really want to get to Viva Piniata as soon as possible. Too many games, too little time. Its a great time to be a gamer though!

The Ultimate Weekend

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If one was to ask me what I did this weekend, I would have no choice but to say "Played video games". Other than that, I slept a little and ate a little but did about nothing else. It all started friday night when I picked up 3 games. Final Fantasy XII for the PS2, Need for Speed Carbon for the 360 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance also for the 360. I figured I'd wait until saturday morning to get started. Instead of playing then, I visited Gamespot where the "We just got a PS3 marathon" was just getting started. There went my friday night! I really like thos marathon though I kinda wish they had given an emblem for it. These damn emblems are just like the 360 achievements. Completly useless but still addictive. I have no idea why I even care. So on saturday I decided to try Marvel Ultimate Alliance first. I stopped playing last night at around 2AM. It's a great game and I'm pretty sure I'll get to finish it tonight since I'm already at act 5. Not much of a super heroes fan but it's great to be playing with old favorites like Spider-Man and the X-Men. I figured I would play for a few hours and then try FFXII but I ended up really liking the game even though it's little more than a button smasher. This week will be a busy week and that's not considering work and the User Group I run. Once i'm done with Ultimate Alliance I'll move on to FFXII but Tony Hawk Project 8 and Gears of War are both coming out this week. I have officially no idea how I'm possibly be playing all of this. It's a good thing I didn't pre-order a Wii or PS3. I'll pick them up as they become available and as my play list empties a bit.

Lego-fying

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Been playing Lego Starwars lately and the game's as good as its predecessor. Seeing how this completes the starwars story, I'm guessing there will not be a sequel to this one. The games were developed by a 3rd party, not lucasart so this opens up possibilities for other franchises being "legofied". The OXM guys on their podcast mentioned Indianna Jones would be great. Personally, I know it won't happen but I would love to see a lego Buffy or a lego LoTR. Can't wait to see what they come up with if anything. Judging by the sales of the first game (and hopefully the sequel), it's hard to imagine them stopping now.
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