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bdhoff Blog

Battle of the motion sensors!

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I find it funny that when the Wii debuted people were so quick to call motion sensing a fad. They were saying that nobody wanted it and that the "hardcore" gamers that call the shots won't ever go for something like that.

Well, I think that the last year an a half has taught us a few things:

  1. Motion control is bigger than anyone thought.
  2. Wagging a remote equals big money.
  3. So-called "hardcore" gamers don't even remotely call the shots.

Motion control has been such a phenominal failure that Microsoft and Sony are trying to cash in on it while Nintendo is pushing out Motion-Plus to try to rake in even more cash.

To me this all says that the more casual gamer who wants to hang with friends and just have a good, non-serious time is all about what the Wii has to offer. If that weren't the case we wouldn't be seeing Natal and the as-yet-unnamed glowing ball-on-a-stick controller that Sony's showing off.

So what's going to be the best motion controller? Looks to me like with Motion-Plus that Sony and Nintendo are going to be playing in the same ballpark. You're going to have a much more immersive experience as you sit on the couch and waggle your hand. I think that Natal holds the most promise of immersive gameplay because it motion captures your body, not just your hand. But is the technology really there? And how much will it cost? I guess we'll have to see.

Playstation Home Beta

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I received a Playstation Home Beta invitation today. I'm going to download it in a little while and check it out. I haven't been eagerly anticipating it because I think that it's going to be a lot like Second Life, just without the stuff that makes Second Life remotely fun.

Here's to hoping that it changes my mind. I'll try to remember to update and say whether it has changed my life or not.

Update: It hasn't changed my mind. I'll try it a bit more, but so far it's incredibly boring.

In light of the RROD, why do XBox 360 owners continue to support the console?

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Now that NXE has released and we're seeing a slew of RROD reports, the old argument about the problem has flared up once again. I see people across various forums asking why in the world people continue to support a console that is obviously as problem riddled as the Xbox 360.

Do you guys want to know why people continue to support the 360? It's because the RROD really isn't as bad for actual 360 owners as the people who don't own one make it out to be. If you add all of the issues together then it looks like a pandemic. But on an individual level the typical scenario is that someone's 360 dies once, they go through the two-week swap process, and then they're back to playing.

If video games aren't the center of your life then it isn't as devastating as the negative press makes it out to be. Sure, it's happened to a ton of people. There have been some highly publicized horror stories. I have friends, both online and offline, that went through multiple consoles. There are Gamespot users I've watched (ColoradoKindBud comes to mind) that gave up on the console at one point because theirs broke so many times.

But for the majority of consumers Microsoft handles the issue politely and efficiently, and people are compensated for their time with a month of Xbox Live Gold service. So all you're really out when you get RROD is two weeks of your time that was probably better spent in the real world anyway. And if you're blessed enough to own more than one console you probably don't even miss it. It really isn't that hard to understand.

I suspect that many individual attitudes may begin to change now that the RROD warranty for launch consoles is beginning to expire and people will be required to pay for repairs. But the vast majority of consoles are still covered by the 3 year warranty, so that won't happen all at once. People may just opt to buy an Arcade unit to take advantage of more stable hardware, HDMI and lower power consumption. That's what I'll probably do when the time comes.

LittleBigPlanet; Showing me how uncreative I am since 2008.

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LittleBigPlanet. When I first heard of the game I didn't give it a second thought because I believed that it was going to be another also-ran platformer with a cutesy mascot created to wow the little children of the world into begging their parents to buy it for them for Christmas. Little did I know at the time that the game held the promise of being able to create and customize your own game levels, something that gamer nerds like me have been jonesing for since forever. Sure there were titles like RPG Maker and Fighter Maker 2 that promised me that I would be able to make my own games, but let's face it. Those games sucked. But LittleBigPlanet didn't offer the cookie-cutter patterns and simple pallette swaps that lesser titles offered. It promised a toolbag and textures and physics and the whole 9 yards.

I've had my copy of LittleBigPlanet for a couple of weeks now and do you know what? Media Molecule have delivered one heck of a game. They delivered on what they promised. This game probably could have stood out as a solid platformer even without the ability to create and share, but I am so happy that they didn't stop there. I've played tons of online levels and people have really put their creativity hats on and have published some interesting things. Some of my favorites are that awesome calculator and the popcorn machine. Those things aren't traditional levels, but they show that you don't have to think in a linear fashion.

So seeing all of this creativity got me thinking. I wanted to make my own LittleBigPlanet level. I mean, how tough could it really be? So I went to my little moon and started a blank level. I went through the tutorials and got all of the cool tools, shapes and textures. And then...mental block. Brain frozen, did not compute. I couldn't think of a single cool thing to create! I have everything I need at my fingertips to be able to create the best level ever and I couldn't think of a thing!

So I've given up on the create thing for a little while. But I'm not giving up on playing through the levels that everyone else keeps publishing. Sooner or later my brain will thaw and I'll put something out there that I was able to create. One of these days.

Oh, and the story mode is still fun, too.

So back to Burnout Paradise

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What a difference 6 months makes, right? On Saturday I was browsing the shelves at Gamestop and I saw where Burnout Paradise had dropped to $29.99 for a brand new copy. Then I saw the PS3 version for $26.99 used, so with my Edge card I picked it up and I was on my way. I only have one question...

What the heck was I waiting for???

This game is so much fun! I really enjoyed the demo, and several months ago I debated about whether to get the PS3 version or the 360 version. Well, I'm glad I picked up the PS3 version because I can play online for free. And the Freeburn mode is awesome!

Does the game have drawbacks? Sure it does. I find it completely predictable, and the new cars that are prowling the city always seem to find me. I've yet to have to look to hard for one. The races seem to be more of the same, but that's ok. Because I really liked the same!

So overall, how is it? I'd give it a 8.5/10. The game is just plain fun, just like the previous installments. The open city idea is cool, but I like the format of previous games better.The free online and free updates from Criterion are pure gravy.

Grand Theft Auto IV

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So I've been playing this game for several weeks now. I haven't finished it. I don't think I'm even through 50% of it, to be honest. Is the game a perfect 10? No, I don't think so. But it is a good game.

In my opinion, GTA IV gets back to what made GTA III a great game. A consistent, open world where you can choose to follow the story or you can choose to strike out on your own and cause some mayhem. I think that the car physics and NPC interaction are fun. But I think that the police AI and number of police officers is insanely skewed. If I'm on top of a 7 or 8 story building and I pop someone a crazy distance away with a cool headshot, how do the police know exactly where I am? That's what I liked about GTA III; the sniper rifle let you pick people off in a stealthy way.

I'm glad that the RPG elements of GTA: SA are gone. I like that there isn't a massive load time between islands or crazy, extra long distances that do nothing but take up time to try to mask massive load times between islands. I'm glad that character customization options are limited to only a change of clothes. I don't enjoy having to spend time with friends to maintain the abilities that they offer, but I can live with it.

All in all a well-rounded game. Easily a 9/10.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is really good!

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I've had Uncharted: Drake's Fortune since December. When I got it I played it for a few minutes and lost interest. I was still working on Assassin's Creed at the time (which I still haven't gone back to beat the last bad guy), so I guess I just had tunnel vision. Anyway, I picked it up again a few days ago and I have to admit, this is a high-quality game. It is probably the most beautiful looking game I have ever played, and that's stacked up against my experiences with Heavenly Sword and Mass Effect.

And the story is amazing!

That's not to say that it is the perfect game. It is a bit linear for me. And I think that the "explore for a while, shoot bad guys for a while" thing gets repetitive. I also hate the way you use the sixaxis to throw grenades. However, my urge to find out what Nate's going to get into next keeps me interested. My fear is that I'm going to get to the end of the game and have no reason to re-play it.

So is it the best game ever? Hardly. Does it deserve a sequel? So far I think it does. Hopefully I'll remember to revisit this topic once I make it through the game. It'll be interesting to see how my opinion changes.

I think I'm in a slump...

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Lately I haven't felt much like playing video games.

I've been a gamer for at least 27 years and I've always had a great time playing. But it seems that these days I just can't get into the groove. I've let my Live subscription expire because I wasn't using it. I've been buying games and they just sit there. I really want them when I get them, but I play for a few minutes and just stop. The list of games I bought in the last four months but haven't really played are:

Assasin's Creed
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Guitar Hero 3
Mass Effect
Super Mario Galaxy
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Super Smash Bros: Brawl

All of these games I've played for minutes to hours and I just lose interest. The one I've put the most effort into is Assassin's Creed. I've played up until I've got maybe two bad guys left and I just...stopped. No interest in continuing.

You know what's worse? I'm really looking forward to the games that are coming, too! I really want GTA 4. I mean come on! Who doesn't? I really want Mario Kart Wii, Guitar Hero Aerosmith and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The one game I don't want is MGS 4. I've never been a Metal Gear fan, but if this one is as good as they say I'll probably buy it, too.

My fear is that I'm going to continue to spend money on games I'm not going to play. And I would be a moron to do it. Any ideas on how to get out of this? I mean, look at that list of games sitting on the bench waiting for some action. I must be crazy, right?

Debate over Burnout Paradise

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I really want this game. No doubt about it. The problem is that I'm unable to commit to which version I want. I'm really working to build my PS3 library, but I'm somewhat drawn to being able to listen to my own music while playing. My 360 controller has rumble and there are the achievements that look like a lot of fun.

Then there's the whole online aspect. I haven't renewed my XBL gold membership because I just haven't had time to play online. I have the 30 day card that Microsoft sent me when they returned my 360 after it RROD'd, so I could play online there. All of my online friends have 360's. I only have one friend on PSN right now, but I wouldn't have to pay to play. So do I shell out the money because that's where my friends are? Or do I just search out new friends on PSN?

I know I'm rambling. I thought if maybe I typed this out it would give me some perspective. We'll see.

My Xbox 360 came home!

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It got back yesterday. Except it isn't really my console. It came with a letter explaining that in order to serve me better they were sending me a replacement unit. I guess it's an upgrade since mine was manuactured in February 2006 and this one was manufactured December 2006. So it is newer, but I guess that at one point it was just as broken.

Anyway, I hooked it up and it seems to work well. Hopefully this one doesn't ever break.

Now for some Mass Effect!

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