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First review ever!

I just posted my first review, and I wanted to know if you'd read it, and rate the review and "trust me" if you like it?

I thought I did a pretty good job, so if you did this for me, I'd really appreciate it.

http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/freedomthebattleforli/reader_review.html?id=3911514

I'm almost level 6

I can't wait to start writing my own reviews.

Maybe I'll make some unions.

1. Politics, foreign and domestic

2. Love Math? Welcome!

I got nunchakus today!

Well, yesterday, really.

They are great! I went to the gym and practiced some basic stuff for a long time. I've got them hanging on the wall in my gaming room (or as my fiancee has dubbed it, "The Man Room")

I've also got a bleached hardwood bo staff coming, although it should've come with the chucks, so I hope I am not getting ripped off by gungfu.com

Anyway, anyone who has any and knows some good resources for learning techniques, drop me a PM!

In my next life...

To whom it may concern,

I would like to make a request for my next life. If at all possible, I'd like to be a world-class assassin. Thank you.

I Need to get this off my chest.

Before there was a Grand Theft Auto, or a Halo, or a Half-life, or a Warcraft, or a Morrowwind, or a Kirby, or a Fire Emblem, or a Sony Playstation, or a Microsoft XBox...Before we knew about an X360, or a PS3, or an XBox live, or a PSP, or an E3...before there were lemmings, or cows, or sheep, or "ownage" (whatever the f*ck that means,) or even Gamespot...before there were message boards, or lists of friends, or gaming unions, or gaming clans, or gaming teams, or gaming fans...before there was all of the extraneous stuff that gets in the way of playing video games for fun (does anyone remember what that is?) instead of playing video games as a full time job...

...there was Mario.

And he will be here LONG after everything else has lived, and died, and faded away.

Just had to say that.

Finally, the truth about Next-Gen consoles.

This is the first article I have read since E3 began which actually poured cold-water all over the hype and replaced it with reality.

http://money.cnn.com/2005/05/26/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/index.htm?cnn=yes

Smoke, mirrors and the next generation
History tells us: Don't believe all you're hearing about Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
May 26, 2005: 10:08 AM EDT
Game Over is a weekly column by Chris Morris

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – There was a lot of hype last week about the next generation of game machines. Microsoft said the Xbox 360 will ultimately reach 1 billion consumers worldwide, while Sony gave a laundry list of features for the PlayStation 3, showing some jaw dropping footage along the way.

(Nintendo promised a Revolution, but didn't go much further than that.)

I hate to be a wet blanket, but it's time to come back to reality.

It's not hard to forgive the hardware publishers for a little bit of hyperbole at E3, the annual trade show of the video game industry. It is, after all, their moment in the sun. But now that the crowds have gone home and the booth babes have changed back into street clothes, it's time to recognize that a fair number of the promises made last week will quietly fade away.

Need proof? Look no further than the introductory days of the PlayStation 2 or Xbox.

The Xbox was supposed to have resolution that went beyond HDTV and have a graphics chip three times beyond that of the PC. Ultimately, only a handful of games have offered 1080i resolution (the current standard for high-def). Most titles offering advanced graphics stick with 480p resolution, which is lower than high definition. And PCs had nVidia's (Research) GeForce 3 (which featured a graphics chip comparable to that found in the Xbox) months before the console launched.

Bill Gates, meanwhile, spoke of "incredible, persistent, online worlds" that would be created because of what the Xbox hard drive could do. Only one – "True Fantasy Live Online" - was started, and it never materialized.

The PlayStation 2 was going to offer AOL Instant Messaging and have characters whose facial expressions were incredibly lifelike as they progressed through the game. AIM and PS2 were never again spoken in the same sentence – and the lauded "emotion engine" didn't come close to living up to its promise.

Phil Harrison, an executive vice president at Sony, talked highly of software that would incorporate visual imaging, saying it would enable users to import photographs from a digital camera, then "animate these in 3D, add sounds, and email them to their family or friends, just like a greeting card."

Never happened.

So what about the pretty pictures we all saw? Guess what... the graphics demos at those 1999 and 2000 press conferences were just as impressive (at the time) as what Sony showed off with its footage of "Killzone" or "Fight Night: Round 3" last Monday. Sony showed a lifelike female character from "Ridge Racer" strutting a catwalk and winking flirtatiously at viewers when it unveiled the PS2. Early Xbox footage showed a buff woman named Raven and her hulking robot friend showing off their martial arts form.

Both were amazing pieces of video, but no real-time gameplay on either machine ever lived up to that early footage.

That's not really the fault of developers. It's not hard to make early tech demos especially impressive, since you don't have to worry about including artificial intelligence or physics or any of the other resource chomping features that have to go into games to make them fun. Publishers, though, create them to have something to show potential buyers and say "Look! Look!! Now you've got to buy our new machine!" before laughing maniacally and rushing off to roll around in their piles of cash.

Let's not forget online, either. Sony (Research), back before the PS2's launch, said gamers would be able to download titles from existing PlayStation and PS2 libraries via broadband. Harrison (sounding a lot like Microsoft's (Research) J. Allard did earlier this year) encouraged developers to think of episodic games, which could be downloaded chapter by chapter.

Gates, meanwhile, told gamers they would be able to download trial versions of games to their Xbox's hard drive to help them decide whether to buy a retail copy. The same promise is being made with Xbox 360.

The fact of the matter is we will see a leap in quality with next generation games. I've had the chance to have hands-on time with several Xbox 360 games, including the very promising "Gears of War" and "Need for Speed: Most Wanted," and they show tons of potential. I'm sure when the time comes to try out PS3 games I'll be equally impressed.

But as Sony talks of users using the PS3's optional high-def camera to launch their own broadcasts and Microsoft discusses non-gamers hopping onto Xbox Live to sell shirts or skateboards they've created for the latest "Tony Hawk" game, take it with a grain of salt.

Better yet, grab a big shaker and begin pouring liberally.

Learn more about Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Check out our E3 special report.

---------

Morris is Director of Content Development for CNN/Money. Click here to send him an email. Top of page

I regret selling my GC...

I sold my gamecube of 3-4 years and picked up an XBOX about a month ago. I have really been enjoying it, the live connectivity, the larger array of games. But I saw the preview for Zelda Twilite Princess, and I wished that I hadn't sold it. I love the Zelda games (although I never played the "Wind whatever") and this one looks very reminiscent of Ocarina of Time, one of the (perhaps the) best games in all of video gamedom.

-sigh-

Oh well, I guess we sleep in the bed which we make.

E3 - marketing machinary and garbage politics

E3 wasn't about system wars, or ideas to change gaming, or what's on the forefront of technology; it was, and always will be about sucking as many customers as possible into the marketing machine that is the video game industry. It's puke politics, nothing more.

It’s E-party central
After video games expo, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo let 'er rip

By Jose Antonio VargasThe Washington PostUpdated: 6:16 a.m. ET May 21, 2005

LOS ANGELES - Here at E3, the Vatican conclave of the video game industry (only much louder), it's Sony's PlayStation 3 vs. Microsoft's Xbox 360. The new Xbox made the rounds, and Sony showed off dizzying specs for its new baby, due next year. Publicists are blowing smoke about both, but really it comes down to this: Which giant throws the best private party?

The global gaming industry appears to have picked up where old Hollywood, the anemic record industry and long-forgotten dot-coms left off -- throwing a week's worth of mass shebangs that get bigger every year, bigger even than what Vanity Fair and Elton John have done to Oscar night, minus designer gowns. E3 (shorthand for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the 11th annual L.A.-based confab of all things video game) could never just be another industry convention. Partywise, it's an all-out war. It feels like the late '90s again.

Imagine the shouting match:

Microsoft: We've got the Killers! The Chemical Brothers! We're at the Shrine Auditorium!

Sony: Oh yeah? We're way up on a hill, overlooking Dodger Stadium, with a spectacular view of Los Angeles! We've got Jimmy Eat World! Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols! Brandon Boyd of Incubus! Liz Phair!

(Nintendo, the most modest of the three game leaders, played host to a relatively intimate yet still lavish party at the Highlands -- a club in the same megacomplex on Hollywood Boulevard where the Academy Awards are held -- with Maroon 5 as the musical act.)

'We know how to throw a party'
"These parties are really about entertaining thousands of your best friends -- you don't want to do them halfway," says John Ellard, the party man at Microsoft, who for the past five years has planned the company's main shindig. Three years ago, he booked the alternative band Garbage to headline at the Park Plaza Hotel; the year before that, at the Hollywood Palladium, Blink-182 shared the bill with Third Eye Blind.

"Folks in the video game industry want to make a statement: We're in the entertainment business, and we want to be leaders, and we know how to throw a party."

Such are the insecurities of a multibillion-dollar industry -- no matter how big you get, you still want people to know it. You want them to know there are huge parties, to which they cannot be let in.

"Remember, these game companies have millions of dollars," says Christopher Heywood of LA INC, the fancy name for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Heywood has calculated that E3 brings at least $13 million to the city's economy. "They have the ability put their money behind their business enterprise. It's throwing a party, yes, but it's all about promoting their brands."

He says his friend who works for Disney tried all week to a get a ticket into Thursday night's Sony party, the must-go-to, can't-be-fashionably-late event of the week.

"I've been to many parties at the Shrine and [compared] to a Hollywood party, this is very impressive, but it's more like what music or TV or film used to be like 10 years ago," says Lorrie Boula, who is chatting with friends, drink in hand, in front of one of the three white domes set up outside the Shrine for the Microsoft soiree, which was held Monday evening. She's been living in Los Angeles for 15 years and works as a manager for musicians.

"It seems like as music and TV and film, as their businesses have sort of contracted, gaming has grown so much," says Boula. "Now the TV or film people still have parties like this, but they're not to this scale."

No crashers, please
The parties are invitation-only, their vibes are very VIP. You can't crash one, though you can talk to a friend who works in PR, who will talk to another friend who also works in PR to try to sneak you in. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. (The International Game Journalists Association threw a "Not an E3 Party" party at the decidedly unpretentious Golden Gopher bar, not too far from the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the convention is held.)

Inside the Xbox party, the Killers are about to go on in 20 minutes. The caterers -- the food people dressed in black T-shirts that read FOOD, the drink people in green shirts that read DRINK, for the easily confused -- keep bringing in more and more and more food. Past the teriyaki table, the taco table, the fondue table, the hot dog table, next to one of too many open bars (with fresh daiquiris that come in strawberry, mango and pineapple), is the cereal table.

Some guy with a red Atari T-shirt and an Activision baseball cap is mixing Froot Loops with Cocoa Puffs. Tyler Dikman, president and CEO of CoolTronics -- "We're outsourcing designing jobs to a team of Russian guys with PhDs in the Saratov region of Russia," he says -- flew in to Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. He's 20, a junior at Santa Clara University studying business management, and is standing in a line outside another party at the Avalon nightclub put on by a half-dozen sponsors, including Best Buy. The invitation says it's VIP only, but the line seems far too long for V or I, but has plenty of Ps. There's some red-carpet action going on, but it's out of sight from the end of the line. Someone yells: Is that Wilmer Valderrama?! No one answers.

"This is all an excuse for the game execs to just blow it up," Dikman says of the E3 parties, then quickly shows a piece of folded paper where he's listed the week's parties. Dikman just got back from the "chill-and-laid-back" party thrown by Ziff Davis, publisher of Electronic Gaming Monthly, at Hotel Figueroa, and he's going to the Sony party the next night, for sure. Last year's headliners were Missy Elliott, the Crystal Method and the Black Eyed Peas, Dikman says, but he doesn't know who they will be this year.

'Everything's top-secret'
He doesn't know because nobody knows. David Bowie? Maybe. Weezer? Hard to get. Green Day? That's plausible.

"Everything's top-secret -- they want the shock factor," says Dikman. "People talk about these parties for a long time. People inside the industry and outside the industry."

The Sony party, indeed, proves to be a testament to E3's overindulgences-- even for old-timers such as David Thomas, who freelances stories about the industry for the Denver Post. This is his seventh Sony party and his ninth E3. It's a 20-minute bus ride from downtown (Sony provides that, of course) to the Dodger Stadium parking lot, then a five-minute tram ride (Sony takes care of that, too) uphill to a plateau. The top of everything.

You can judge a party by the vodka it serves, Thomas says, and the Sony party is serving Smirnoff. Not too bad. You can also judge a party by the people who are invited. "What all these parties represent is how kooky the video game industry is," says Thomas. "Look at the mix of people in here: half-Comdex, half-Hollywood."

Thomas points out a balding man who's wearing a Hawaiian shirt with khaki shorts and white New Balance tennis shoes, and right next to him is a man in a white Prada long-sleeved shirt, a pair of Seven jeans and a Gucci pseudo-fedora. (That's what the dude called it.) "What typical Hollywood party would have all these types of guests?" Thomas asks. Young and old, but mostly young; of all races, but mostly white and Asian; men and women, though mostly men.

Men and men and men and men. At E3 parties, there are never long lines to the ladies' room.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

© 2005 MSNBC.com

Why I love Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

For those of you who don't know what Aqua Teen Hunger Force is, let me elaborate (although I would be perplexed as to why someone who didn't know what the show was would be interested in my reasons for loving the show): It is a cartoon about a Milkshake, a box of French Fries, and a meatball. Their names are Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad, respectively. The show does not involve water, so who knows why 'aqua' is in the name. I can only assume that hunger is referenced because of the nature of the main characters, although that might be a case of chicken and egg. Insofar as the rest, while they may be loosely referred to as a team, they are most certainly not a force of any kind.

From my unsophisticated understanding of the genesis of the show, the original intent was to have the three characters be crime solvers. That would clarify the meaning of Frylock's name, which I can only assume is a parody of Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional investigator. But the way that the show has evolved, the characters basically sit around and do nothing in South Jersey, where they live.

I've actually been trying to put a lot of thought into why I love that show so much. And I came to the conclusion that ATHF does for the cartoon what Seinfeld did for the sitcom. It is a show about a group of "people" (in reference to ATHF, I use this term loosely) who generally sit around and do nothing, yet manage to find themselves in situations that are increasingly humorous, ironic, bizarre, or the like.

Now trying to draw direct parallels between the two might cause some difficulty. There is no Cosmo Kramer on ATHF, nor is there the somewhat banal and good-natured "Frylock" on Seinfeld. But I'm not implying that the two are mirror images of one another; rather, I'm pointing out a metaphorical connection.