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HeyMaa Blog

Modern Warfare 2 Resurgence Map Pack Announced.

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In today's (extremely brief) press release, Acitivision announced the release date for the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Resurgence Map Pack.

"The second pack of new multiplayer maps from Call of Duty(R): Modern Warfare(R) 2, will hit first on Xbox LIVE(R) online entertainment network worldwide on June 3rd with the release of the Call of Duty(R): Modern Warfare(R) 2 Resurgence Pack. Featuring five maps, the Resurgence Pack follows on the heels of the record-setting Call of Duty(R): Modern Warfare(R) 2 Stimulus Package of maps"

HeyMaa's Take:

Let just hope this isn't another $15 for new maps, half of which were from a previous title. Maybe there will be an Infinity Ward map with one team being Activision Security and the other being an Infinity Ward Freedom Force. Each player would spawn with infinite ammo of legal documents in a the melee only battle royale!

Join us at Nine2FiveGamer for more news and reviews.

Nine2Five Gamer

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I am pleased to announce the launch of Nine2Five Gamer, www.nine2fivegamer.com . Our mission at N2F is to provide our readers with unbiased, obejective reviews, news, and editorials on video games, entertainment, and electronics. We at N2F are open to reader participation and would like to welcome you to write with us.

We look forward to seeing you at our site.

Thanks!

Onlive and Cloud Gaming

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Recently there has been a lot of buzz about Onlive and cloud gaming in general and I have found myself contemplating the pros and cons about this type of system. For those not familiar with cloud gaming/computing, it is a new method of computing in which all the heavy computing is done by an advanced server and your computer just simply connects through the internet to provide interactivity with the software. Essentially, as long as your computer can run YouTube, you can play any game that the cloud server has pre-installed regardless of your computers system. So what would the impact be of such a system?

Pros

1) Mass appeal: No longer will people have to worry about whether they have the right video card or enough memory to run the game of their choice. Crysis comes to mind as a game in which I would have loved to play, but my computer might have literally caught on fire. I actually bought the Conan MMO only to have it be the most expensive paper weight when my computer (even though it should have technically been able to run it) got no further than the opening cinematic. If you own a computer that is able to surf the internet without bogging down its system, you can cloud game. Onlive will also provide a meager system in case you do not own a computer.

2) Developer Freedom: I don't know about the rest of this community, but sometimes I get a little annoyed with developers or producers complaining about one system or another. The cases of Naughty Dog claiming that it is impossible to bring Uncharted 2 to the 360 (which is most likely true) or Activision threatening not to support the PS3 unless the price point come down come to mind immediately. Developers can simply make games how they choose so long as it can run on these super servers, which supposedly can run anything, and they no longer have to focus on making frame rates work for each system or toning down graphics or content to work with limited disk space.

3) Couch Shopping: All games will be available to you from your couch or anywhere you game. Want a new game? Just get online and head on over to the store and purchase whatever game you would like. You can also demo each game before you buy.

4) No more piracy: Let me start off by saying I am not judging anyone who pirates a game. To each his own and so on and so forth, but the fact remains that piracy can sink a ship, just look at Spore. People deserve to get paid for hard work and dedication. This could even result in lower game prices since a percentage of lost sales will no longer have to be built into price points.

Cons

1) You don't physically own anything: This will probably be the biggest problem with cloud gaming. I personally do not hold onto any of my game collections, I resell them to fund my newer purchases and reduce the cost of my addicting habit. I will no longer own anything to sell. I will simply be paying for the right to play a game on a server for however long that game is available on that server. This also poses a problem for those who never resell their games and like to look at a large book case filled with every game they have ever purchased.

2) Lag issues: Have you ever tried to play a baseball game online? Unless you possess the ability to foresee the near future like Nicolas Cage in Next, good luck hitting that four seam fastball. Until a better infrastructure is laid out for internet speeds, be it more advanced fiber optic systems or whatnot, there will always be some form of lag. Though this isn't a major issue in some MMOs, it becomes a big issue in other types of games, most notably sports. Maybe there is a solution I am not aware of, but as far as I know, this will always be an issue with online gaming.

3) Barrier to entry: Not everyone owns a computer and, more importantly, not everyone pays for broadband internet. Some people purchase consoles solely for the single player experience without ever signing onto PSN or XBL (I won't even mention the Wii and online in the same sentence for fear of being smote by Al Gore, the internet god. Damnit, I just did!!). So what happens if cloud gaming becomes dominant? What if Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all decide that it is no longer cost effective to make consoles and just focus on developing cloud titles? There is a small niche of gamers who will either have to eat the cost of broadband to play game or just outright get screwed. An even scarier scenario is what if Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all decide to start their own cloud servers? Instead of console wars, we'll have cloud wars. It will be a virtual hurricane and consumers may end up paying subscription fees with each in order to play all of their favorite games. I just got a chill up my spine…

All in all, I am excited for cloud gaming. I own every console, but I sorely miss the PC market ever since my computer died. I plan to get a new computer by the end of this year, but with Onlive, I may be able to get a cheaper PC or Mac and still be able to play those video card taxing titles. I do see this scenario costing more for the casual gamer, be it from no resale's or the need for faster connection speed, but the possibilities are near endless when you give developers free reign to do whatever they want and still be able to achieve mass appeal. This is the future of gaming, but can the wrinkles be ironed out?

10 Future MMOs to Absorb Your Life

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1) Earthrise

After World War III, mankind is forced to repopulate and develop new technologies in order to survive. As a result, man has become immortal through a method of implanting ones digital mind into clones. When the single world government becomes corrupt and plays god, a shadow government called the Noir begins to form a resistance. With a skill based system and solid PvP system, Earthrise will be sure to consume many long hours of gamers' lives.

2) The Agency

This shooter MMO promises fast paced action for all those who love espionage and the crazy little gadgets that 007 uses on the silver screen. Play as a suave Brosnan-esque spy with sophisticated sty|e or as the brawling Craig-type spy that isn't scared to get down and dirty. The agency promises to be a fun and different take on the MMO genre that will slowly eat bank accounts with monthly subscriptions.

3) The Secret World

Playing as one of the three secret factions, The Templars, Illuminati, and Dragons, you fight the forces of evil from an ancient past. With no c|ass system, you will focus on building up your supernatural powers in real life environments, along with some fictional ones. Scared of the boogie man? You'll get your revenge in this hit on both the PC and 360.

4) Torchlight

With the success of its little brother, the loot based RPG, new interest has been sparked for this MMO. With its artistic and sharp sty|e free to play format, and support from an items shop, this MMO promises to be on many peoples' favorite list on release.

5) Planeshift

I can honestly tell you very little about this game, but one thing that has been proven over and over again is that the public can program great games. Look at Counterstrike and the many mods to all our favorite games. Planeshift is an open source project in which anyone can help program for this title. Since it will be free to play, I expect great things from this release.

6) DC Universe Online

Scared of all things yellow? Well your not alone. In DC Universe, you can party with the Green Lantern and live all your crazy fantasy of turning mustard green. An MMO with the DC comics license promises to have a large fan base on release. Customize your own super heros, or super villains, and fight alongside you favorite DC comic book characters.

7) Guild Wars II

With its beautiful graphics, skill based system, large fan base, and a subscription free format, Guild Wars II will pick up right where its predecessor left off. The Charr don't stand a chance as soon as the legion of pre-pubescent kids flock to this title and carry on their previous characters.

8) Final Fantasy XIV

I don't know what it is about Final Fantasy, but I buy anything with the title. Once again I will travel the plains of Vana'diel on my yellow feathery steed. The previous title was a very difficult and punishing MMO that offered a great challenge and I welcome the new addition and will be awaiting my first cactuar encounter.

9) Blizzard's Unannounced MMO

If I had a picture of this MMO, I wouldn't just post it on this blog. I would sell it for big money. Blizzard, a company that doesn't know how to make bad games and craps solid gold eggs, is at it again with an "original" licensed MMO. The day this gets released can not come soon enough.

10) Star Wars: The Old Republic

Need I say more? Star Wars universe, lore, and fan base; BioWare's near perfect track record with RPGs; Clone Wars like graphics that will withstand the test of time much like WoW's cartoony sty|e. Unless something very bad goes wrong, this game is in position to dethrone WoW in the MMO arena. I am literally buying a new computer solely for the purpose of being able to run this game at max settings. Sith Warrior anyone? How about a Jedi Knight. One lightsaber or two?

Not enough hours in a day, days in a week...

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Has anyone else found themselves with not enough time to play the games they love?

Right now I am focussed almost entirely on Borderlands. I'm not too far, lvl 15, but I find the style of the game highly addicting and I think this might be the first game that I will strive to fulfill the 1000 gamerscore. But I also have Demon's Souls, which I have started and want to get back to but just don't have the time. On top of that, I want to play Dragon Age, MW2, and others. If anyone out there has designs for a time machine...fill me in. I need more hours in a day...

Realistic vs. Artistic Design

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The current generation of consoles has given developers a large amount of resources to use in terms of graphics and game design. More and more titles are released with stunning graphics and an incredible amount of realism. Yet, are these games branding themselves with a timestamp?

In 1997, Final Fantasy VII was released. Critics and gamers around the world were frozen in a state of awe after reaching the first cut scene in the game. At the time, there was no game or developer that seems to be capable of the amount of realism achieved in this title. Square had really outdone themselves.

Recently I have started playing FF7 again, as I tend to do about every 2 years, and each and every time I find myself thinking that the graphics are laughable for a game that made me drool when I was sixteen. So this makes me wonder; is realism in a game a good thing?

When a game portrays the level of realism that at the time is the pinnacle of the technology available, it is in essence dating itself. I can look at a game like Max Payne and think to myself "Wow, at the time this was awesome. I can't believe 2001 was that long ago." Any game that tries to capture some kind of realism cements itself in a time period.

Recently there has been a multitude of games that are using a cell shaded and artistic form of graphics. In my opinion, these games are beautiful. I agree that when I want gore, Gears of War style, realism is the best route to go, but there are games that will endure the test of time because of an artistic style. Immediately Okami, Zelda: Wind Walkers, Street Fighter IV, and Borderlands come to mind. These games are highly popular and due to their graphical nature, will not be held to a specific date in time. The artistic style and fun game play mean that as long as someone is willing to plug in their old system when Xbox 1440 and PS5 are out, these games will continue to be enjoyable and not look like a game of pong does now.

Realism is something that I do not want to see go away. The drive to make a game in which you can not tell that the characters are animated rather than real life actors is a goal that I want to see achieved. And realistic games continue to be the most popular. But I believe that artistically designed games are the games that many of us will fall back to for years to come when we want an old friend after technology has gotten us to the point where Final Fantasy XIII looks horrible.

10 Game I Want To See Made

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1) Die Hard (or similar franchise)

OK. I know what you're thinking. Cheesy old school movies…who cares? Well after playing Uncharted and being awed by its ability to feel like a big budget movie adventure, I began thinking about movies that would fit well into this type of game play. Who wouldn't want to play as a wise cracking McCain as he kicks terrorist azz and has plenty of smart azz comments to make along the way. 9mm duct taped to the back anyone? How about some "SHOOT DA GLASS!"?

2) Uncharted 3, 4, 5, 6…..

As mentioned in the Die Hard entry, Uncharted really strikes a chord with me. My love for cinema and story driven media is really tickled in these Naughty Dog masterpieces. I will agree with those that say game play is lacking. But the fun and excitement these titles provide hide any flaw that can be found. I look forward to each and every future adventure Drake endeavors on, up to and including his discovery that alligators really do live in the sewers of New York in Uncharted 26.


3) One Sports game to rule them all and in the darkness bind them

I've mentioned this in previous blogs. I want a single sports title for each sport that is subscription based, rather than pay year after year for each new iteration for a roster update and a tweak here and there. People were pissed about Halo 3: ODST not being worth the full price of $60, so why is it ok that Madden does the same thing?

4) Halo 1.5

Combat Evolved set the standard for console shooters when it was released alongside the Xbox. The story was engrossing and the game play was near flawless. Not to mention the multiplayer was extremely competitive and difficult. In the more recent versions of this game, multiplayer suffers (IMO). CE separated the noob from the elite; whereas, Halo 3 allows for any guy with a spartan laser to one shot kill. The gap has been filled and the hordes of thirteen year old hormonal kids dominate the world of Halo. I would love to see a re-release of this epic title with updated graphics and Xbox Live matchmaking. Don't change one other thing in this game.

5) Final Fantasy VII remake

You've all heard this before. No surprise. Square Enix…gimme gimme gimme gimme….

6) A realistic multiplayer sword fighting game with motion controls

Who hasn't watched a movie or cartoon about samurai and immediately looked at your little brother or cousin and wanted to sword fight. I know the anime Ronin made me rip a tree branch off my grandparent's tree and proceed to "swordfight" my defenseless little cousin until I earned myself a week of no cartoons.

With Sony's new motion controller coming out, I want to relive those days by getting my little cousin in a multiplayer swordfight and pummeling him virtually, rather than the actual method he is so used to. Hmmm, I wonder if TV and video games made me violent. Damn you Power Rangers!!!

7) Zelda MMO

I love the Zelda series. I mean, who doesn't? But seeing as how new iterations are on an unimpressive Wii system and I don't own a DS, I would like to see a Zelda MMO. Ride your trusty steed across the Hyrulian plains as you acquire new items on your epic battle against the evil forces of Ganon. There are plenty of races, zones, items, and storylines to pursue. Match this with an artistic cartoony graphic system that will withstand the test of time and I think you have an MMO with mass appeal.

8 ) A greek myth MMO

As you can tell I have a thing for MMOs. I haven't actually played one in a few months due to the fact that WoW has just lost its appeal after the many grueling hours that it drained out of my life. Since then I have not been excited for any of the newer MMOs (fingers crossed Old Republic doesn't suck!). When I think of story lines that could drive a new title, I immediately think Greek Mythology. I have been a big fan since I was little and even now I still open up the Iliad every so often. An MMO of this nature has endless possibilities. Players could play as the mortal offspring of each greek god, each one with its own different abilities and ****s. Factions could be split between different gods at war with one another. I can see Zeus and Athena battling Hades and Ares. Monsters would not be hard to find in greek myth and there is plenty of ideas to work with. Blizzard, are you paying attention? Let's try something new.

9) Half Life: Episode 3…

Valve...what's the deal? We were promised future episodes available for download. Left 4 Dead is cool and all, but if you haven't checked out Gamespot in a while, Gordon Freeman is pretty popular. Get on it.

10) Clarinet Hero

A rhythm game based on the clarinet based on the inspiring music of Anthony McGill. Ok, I'm kidding. The world does not need another rhythm game. PSA here…play real instruments!

Charting Uncharted Success

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Uncharted 2 has arrived and critics are raving, some calling it the best game ever. Of course, like any gamer worth his weight in swag, I ran to the store to grab a copy. I tend to get caught up in hype so, rather than review the game immediately, I decided to play a little longer and wait for the initial "WOW" value to wear off. It never did but I couldn't exactly figure out why.

Uncharted 2 in terms of simple game play mechanics is nothing particularly special. The cover system, spawned most popularly by Gears of War, has been duplicated in multiple other titles and, in my opinion, was not perfected in this title. The third person shooting mechanics are good, but by no means the leader in the genre. Even the control scheme can be considered commonplace. So why is it then that Uncharted 2 is considered one of the best Playstation 3 titles to date and to some, as is the case with my close friend, the best game ever?

I have thought long and hard about this and I believe I know why. It is a combination of three things that as a whole accomplish what every video game should strive for…full immersion.

First, the graphics are absolutely stunning and are some of, if not the best, to date. On multiple occasions I stopped what I was doing in game to gape at the hypnotic mountain scenery or watch the rippled reflections in the water. The attention to detail in this game was spot on and a favorite from the first makes a return when Drake's clothes get wet after taking a dip in water.

The second is something that, when done wrong, can sink a game for me no matter how well it is made; voice acting and facial features. The original cast makes a return for the sequel and do not disappoint. The acting is so well done my grandfather saw a cut scene and sat down to watch. When he finally realized he was watching a video game, his only comment was that "we don't need actors or actresses anymore." To me, his comment speaks volumes about the hours of dedication Naughty Dog put into facial animations and voice acting.

Thirdly, and to me this is what truly makes Uncharted 2 stand out as other games have successfully accomplished the first two; playable cut scenes. OK, I know you're thinking to yourself, it's not a cut scene if it's playable. The point I am trying to make is that often times a videogame leaves the player to accomplish certain goals like clearing out a level of all the baby eating baddies or whatnot and once said goal is achieved, a cut scene is triggered showing all the glorious explosions you caused and advancing the story. What differentiates Uncharted 2 is that these events occur during game play. *SPOILER ALERT* You shimmy across a ledge as a tank rolls by beneath you killing rebels, you jump from train car to train car as a helicopter blasts them off the rails, you fight goons as the building is hit with missiles sending you flying into the building across the way… Most cut scenes in this game are simply for dialogue to drive the story but leaving you to cause and play through all the glorious carnage.

These three elements create an incredibly intense and dramatic experience that completely sucks the player into the game. You become Nathan Drake and often times end up feeling the exact same emotions portrayed by the character throughout the game including the boyish fun time he/you have discovering the secrets of sacred temples. This transforms your normal weeknight from a "videogame night" to a treasure plundering, danger dodging escapade in the Tibetan mountain range.

Uncharted 2 has set a new standard for future games to be held to. Focus needs to be placed on this immersion effect for this industry to continue to grow as a leading source of in home entertainment. Game play mechanics, though still very important, are nothing without and enthralling story and relatable characters. Naughty Dog is on to something and I hope to see others try to mimic their diligence and dedication.

For Rent

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Why, oh why, is it so difficult to rent a game?

In the past, renting a game was never an option. As a young child, my step father was just as into video games as I was so it took little effort to convince my role model to purchase a new title. In high school and college, my no expense lifestyle never hindered my ability to purchase a new game. Being thrust into the real world of bills and major expenses was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of renting.

So this thrifty gamer went out and looked for all possible venues where one could rent a game. His mode of choice, GameFly. In the year that I owned GameFly, I have to say that it was a horrible experience. I will give some credit to the fact that I played both Resistances and MGS4 through it, but the #1 game on my list was BioShock the entire time I subscribed. I became so desperate to play it that I erased my entire "Q" of games with the exception of BioShock. What did I receive? A random game that GameFly felt I would enjoy based on prior rentals.

In an effort to finally be part of the cult that claims to be one of the best games ever, I cancelled my subscription and trotted down to the Blockbuster two streets away from my place of employment. The game package was great, the selection was great, and I finally got my callused thumbs on BioShock and sucked the "ADAM" out of demented little demon children.

You're probably wondering about the title of this blog then if I enjoyed my experience at Blockbuster so much? Today, the release date for both Brutal Legend and Uncharted 2, I went down to Blockbuster and requested either one of these titles. The answer I received for both was no and that the Blockbuster I use was going out of business.

So I write this blog not as a testament to a good genre or as critique on the industry. I write this blog to vent my pent up rage towards the difficulty to game with quality titles without breaking the bank. GameFly and NetFlix have single-handedly put Blockbuster out of business and yet, in the case of GameFly, their service is mediocre and disappointing (at least to East Coasters).

GameStop…please consider a rental service…GameFly…please step up…I BEG YOU!


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