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MasterMarcus Blog

2nd Gig://prise6://HD Nerve Stapling

As a HD enthusiast, May 22nd shall be a titillating release date, tormenting and wallet sucking enough like never before since the inception of any HD format: Matrix Trilogy ( yet without a HD Animatrix  :evil: ); Pirates of Carribean 1 &2, Apocalypto, Letters From Iwo Jima, plus the newly arrived Planet Earth that majestuously constitutes THE main event right now, effectively showing less compression than the broadcast. Want somehting gaming related? Just try to get your hands on Dragon's Lair Blu Ray ( at a pricey 39.99 US no discount ): for anal nostalgics.....

I'm actually entangled to a kind of equal commitment to both HD disc formats, and don't get me wrong: though I knowingly stand my ground as a disc collector enthused enough to get the maximum PQ and bandwidth available, I also concede how ridiculous this war may sometimes be - to the profit of Internet & broadcasted sources that may entice more people in the upcoming years. Studios and camps alike are touting the niche, the few enraptured for a 1080p picture, in a directionless planning still involving arrogant exclusives. At least, during the VHS/Beta wars consumers had the choice to decide without any major studio exclusivity to one side. Not anymore, as each camp constantly proclaim victory under conspiracy swirls and, worst of it, over a measly percentage of the planetary market, growing very slowly.

Furthermore, the PS3 is in dire need of stellar Blu Ray games that could try at the very least to be looking more than a XBox game. The actual line up still pales in comparison to the vast array of excellent X360 titles. In my opinion, Sony has only one year to readjust its whole strategy before the advent of cheap Asian HD DVD players.

2nd Gig://prise 5://PDoSFAtIw 8:Tron 2.0

Heh heh...what is PDoSFAtIw???The first alternate header:

[alternate header 1: Polished Designs of Sci-Fi Art to Interact with, part 8: Tron 2.0 rediscovered ] perhaps is a series I may want to continue briefly here, started during my first ''season'' in this blog.

[alternate header 2: linear vectors in the 21st century? You gotta be kidding me.]

I consider the artists behind the whole Tron 2.0's construct to be genuine compugeek Picassos of the modern times - but why, oh why you ask me, be in awe before such ''incomplete'' vectors in 2007? So old school, hella nichéd old school ? Remember the arcade legend, Star Wars in 1983? A commercial success it was then, and, sadly but realistically, Tron 2.0 couldn't generate any interest at home 20 years later despite being the most complex linear canevas ever put together in a recent video game.

The mixture of coloring, texturing, and vectoring work was perhaps too much intricate and arid at the same time to be fully appreciated by the average joe, as if the game has delivered to the latter only an incomplete blueprint. Conversely,  what a colorful blueprint it is, nicely toned for a rich visual experience to any Tron fan. Because that's how this virtual world is designed for, a colorful vectorium of disc shooting combining smoothly the conventional FPS features, destined to the very clique of fans of the cult film I'm part of. Since the release in 1982, fans  share the liking of iconographics, virtuosity and the whole fantastical recreation of what could be an alternate micro level of electronic components, which remain incredibly convincing throughout Tron 2.0 - although in itself considered by many  very run of the mill gameplay wise. I still think it's above average. Disc throwing was never that fun in a fully 3D campaign. One can only hope Disney will have the guts to reincarnate the series, again as a movie, yet the commercial venture may be risky. Specific forms of art may be beaut' enough but not for profitably in the  mass market we know today; unfortunately, the linear vectors seem to go nowhere.

Here is another overlooked jewel I liked very much when I played it numerous times, and I just wanted to add its inherent virtual work of art - a very unique tapestry of linear vectors - to my forgotten list of buried treasures.

                                                                                                     

latest review: GalCivII: Dark Avatar.

2nd Gig://prise 4:// My Best Of 2006 (PC)

Again, in 2006, only few PC games really caught my obsessive attention, well above the generic mass of mediocrity, and worthy to be considered among the best from this era.

1-Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Herald one of the most impressive RPGs of modern times, gracefully polished, utterly immersive and, not the least, user friendly to newcomers and veterans alike. Probably the only PC and X360 game to spur GOTY material on both platforms. Although this beauty has a straightforward combat system, the environmental riches and all the optional quests make it almost comparable to the best massive online games. It happens only every 5 years or so that I play a RPG's campaign more than once, and Oblivion now stands high on that select list.

2-Medieval II: Total War

This one's a resounding update of an already proven masterpiece of the RTS/TBS combo genre, propelling the arts of the late medieval warfare to new heights. The time consuming game not only keeps the franchise as a reference, but also strikes by its incredible balance whatever the faction played ( difficulties, units, LATE GAME challenge so seldom encountered in almost ALL other good strategy titles ). Battles and sieges are always awesome to see and manage, though the game has some technical issues on non-high end machines. Since I have a very high end one, I ranked this welcomed Total War to the number 2 spot for 2006, even if I gave it a 8.8 -  just a notch below the 2 gems below.........

3-Half Life 2: Episode One

How strange, this excellent sequel to be ignored by many gaming sites as the best PC shooter of the year!? Probably because of its shorter campaign ( 4-5 hours ), but what a campaign: including a rightly timed gameplay, effective atmospherics, upon a near perfect polish like only Valve ( and Epic of course ) can do. The Valve engine has been rejuvenated with some nice twists still great to see. I also adore the new sequences involving said twists with the Gravity Gun. Now Episode Two is coming far too late, eons after the original, yet still manage to get my equal attention than the most anticipated DirectX 10 behemoths coming in late 2007. Totally unprecedented, to ''can't wait'' an add-on expected to be released almost 3 years after vanilla HL2.

4-Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords

Despite a still simplistic combat system, Brad Wardell and his Stardock team have just simply made the best 4X space empire game since.........the legendary and still played Master of Orion II ( 1996 ), though without the real galactic atmospherics of the latter. . Period. But wait, the expansion freshly released, Dark Avatar , rightfully enriches the whole experience onto something even more challenging, and now beautiful to see at the same time. That's saying a lot for a pure TBS.  DA brings features altering considerably the strategies to make, particularly the planet environmental types during the colonization phase, and also some other twists not stranger to what we found in MoO2. How comes nobody succeeded to beat a gem released 10+ years ago??? Brad is a AI buff and it shows in these latest incarnations. The expansion is so compelling, tightly balanced ( though some may whine about mega events ), with a ruthless AI for non-hardcore addicts ( the maniacs will always complain ), a highly customizable sandbox mode, and cosmetic updates ( new explosions are sweet ) that an earlier release in Q4 2006 would have certainly pushed the whole package to the numero uno spot tied with Oblivion. We'll see for my next Best Of.

Best Game I didn't play ( lack of time ): Company of Heroes.

My Two Cons Of 2006:

1-release day patches;

2-the PS3 launch line-up. And I won't change my mind: though acclaimed as a great shooter, I still don't fully agree for Resistance: Fall Of Man which remains too aggressively rhetorical for me and that shows in my ' low-ratio-approved ' review. Right now, the console serves the role of a Blu Ray movie player 95% of the time.

2nd Gig://prise 3://The PS3 Effect On The HD Wars

(Alternate header: Can Gamers Really Influence The HD Format Wars In The Long Term?)

First things first, the state of the HD wars just before the CES in January, with a light personal subjectivity:

1)In 2005 and early 2006, the industry support along a  near unanimous analyst predictions were geared toward the Blu Ray format. The way was then paved for a clear cut victory.

2)From Spring 2006 to early December, HD DVD surprisingly begun to dominate the North American market over Blu Ray by a margin of at least 3:1; whereas the latter continued its outrageous domination in Japan. China and India respectively stated their intentions to support other hi def formats ( EMD and VMD ). Is it the beginning of  a new era of multiple regional formats, vying to replace the planetary DVD? Now including the Internet providers and TV channels offering HD movies not available on discs ( though at a lower bitrate), things are going to be quite messy for the average consumer.

3)Enthusiast gamers had the opportunity to get the PS3 last November. A few days later, Microsoft launched the HD DVD add-on for the X360.

4)Post holiday reports indicate that gamers SEEM to have boosted in a way HD discs sales in Dec-Jan, albeit at a niche level. The ''average joe'' still doesn't care ( and shouldn't right now, things are quite messy). Even though I'm a HD enthusiast, I always recommend to the non -addicts of my entourage to wait a couple of years.

5)The sales increase particularly involves Blu ray titles. If the HD DVD domination in North Am was staggering over Blu in 2006, what about the stunning, meteoric comeback of the latter just within weeks? Considering the previous consoles had a negligible impact on standard DVD sales a few years ago, shall the PS3 adopters follow the same pattern once the dust clear a bit? Even if only 15% of them bought 5+ Blu Ray movies ( like me ), it's still a short term boost to consider. Imagine, Sony believes 80% bought Blu movies( err)......Perhaps a realistic ratio could be around 40-50%.

CES succinct résumé with a stronger but still light personal point of view:

1)Always keep in mind the average consumer isn't interested right now to embark on a physical HD format, and no big show will change that.

2)For the niche enthusiasts then, big hardware news from the HD DVD group, alas few movie announcements.

3)On the contrary, big software news from Blu Ray, namely interesting offers from exclusives Fox-Lionsgate-Buena Vista ( but no real big blockbusters yet ), and few hardware news.

4)Both camps claim victory. Blu ray says NOW, with an exponential growth through March ( meaning ludicrous believe me even if I like Blu Ray and HD DVD equally ). HD DVD stay calm and goals the long term ( though they candidly bet too heavily just upon the natural extension of the name HD DVD for a wider appeal ). They also bet the Chinese manufacturers will release cheap players later in 2007 ( below 299$ ? ) for the North Am market, and that could be a more serious menace for the Blu Ray.

5)In short, both camps follow the same strategy since 2005 and seem to be unaware that the stubbornness of their respective exclusives ( Hollywood studios ) could probably discourage additional consumers to the profit of Wi Fi, Internet providers, channels and so on. The iPhone was at the Show too...

My Take on The PS3 Effect: Will It Last?

Look, I do not deify Bill Gates, but what he said a couple of years ago still stands I guess: '' This will be the last physical format wars''. I couldn't agree more, but read between the lines.......that doesn't mean there will be NO more physical formats whatsoever. Far from it. We will experience HVD, holographic discs, and then the first HoloVision prototypes. Collecting discs will always stay, but chances are at a nichier level in the upcoming years. I could be such a collector; I'm already Blu and HD DVD. For the ''average joe'', again, let's face it:  the Internet providers and Wi Fi should do the job.

In my opinion, both HD physical camps in North Am & Europe are kidding themselves if they really believe to dominate the HD realm planetary wise. The standard DVD will probably be remembered as the last physical format being adopted world wide. At best, either Blu ray or HD DVD shall win against the other, at a regional level. Again, if the studios stay loyal to their camps, the founding fathers should also be kept responsible for the actual debacle: Sony and Toshiba. One will win, yet I think will have to supervise regional markets. The alexanderization of the DVD empire.....

Which finally leads us to the PS3 Effect: I guess it will only be a short term boost for Blu Ray movies, as the majority of its users still remain, correct me if I'm wrong, dedicated gamers. But what a boost in Q1/Q2 2007 it should be, unless competitor Universal ( HD DVD ) decides to ( finally ) announce some additional beasts. Perhaps it's too early considering the niche sales. Just like older consoles having DVD playback: are you using them to play movies? The PS3 is an excellent Blu Ray player right now, but has issues if you don't own a recent HDTV. Conversely, In 2-3 years from now, cheaper room players shall play at a better bitrate versatile discs. All the other actual Blu Ray players being pricey, the PS3 could be then remembered as the platform having saved both the format and Sony itself from a serious drawback, simply because without the Blu Ray drive,  it could have been the emptiest high end platform ever released......

For more whys, here's my latest review:

Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3) .

2ng Gig://prise 2://The Fragortegist

[warning://intimate & slightly pompous diary entry]

Sometimes, one can wonder how far a semi-recluse, offline addict like me finds obnoxious ways to extend his personal horizons in order to touch - and most importantly, dig enough - the various, ever tempting new platforms offered, being full HD or near HD. I'm sitting back, thinking about the ludicrous pattern my nigh compulsive consumer instincts [meaning hedonistic] coerced my unstoppable desire to acquire an unusual collection of heterogeneous tools no one in my entourage would ever think to get - even with enough money to spare.

Really, not only did I have to spend my hard earned money to get what's below, but had to loan some too ( reasonably ) for all this in the last 5 months: a brand new 42'' 1080p HDTV, a Toshiba HD DVD player, a PS3 just in time for the Holidays, a new video card for the PC - 8800 GTX, and........mindless shooters ( FEAR, Resistance, etc...)  +  thoughtful strategy games ( GalCiv 2, Medieval 2, etc...). And not to mention all the cables & connections required to. Sports wise, I completed my cycling equipment. As stated, quite heterogeneous indeed within such a short amount of time for catapulting in orbit my previous record. The Frag(ging)(Sp)ort(y)(Stra)tegist is born......

I'm also on a gym program I follow thoroughly ( 4-5 times a week, cardio, body building, swimming ) and, as you have guessed, a home theater enthusiast. I may write some editorials about the HD format wars this early 2007, after the dust clears a bit following the CES.  The HD Fragortegist ?

So what's this all about? Fear not, I'm just your humble guy befriending you here at GS. Yet I'm a gamer who appears to play octopus, sprawling his tentacles in all directions at the same time, gazed in awe and frenzy. He has encounters that may lead to trivial chat, such as:

  • --Don't you have a wife? kids? Yo, Man, cool off you pompous Merovingian!
  • --(myself) Not until I find the time to try GalCiv 2's expansion since Medieval 2' time consuming;
  • --Forget your Strats, stick to the pound, froggie;
  • --Sorry, it's frozen 'til April;
  • --Your nest is Blu or purple???
  • --A blend of both, a bit on the purplish side;
  • --What do you want, then?
  • --A turn based, action RPG offering unrealesque fragfests in huge MMO like environments;
  • --Let me see: perhaps Alpha Centauri II would be a good start? Or Master of Orion 2.5?
  • --Don't you know how to read answers??? ( But I want those too! );
  • --Well, for 2007 be content with UT2007, effendi....

Happy 2007 to all!

2nd gig://prise 1:// A Very Partial Reembody

I'm alive. And well. At least much better than I was a year ago.

Told you I'd intend to stay as a loyal Gamespotter, and as a lurker now is a good time to partially revive this blog as well,  just because....I like it to. It was about time I guess, though I don't expect to update it much regularly. I'm still a PC nut/ I bought a HDTV + Toshiba HD DVD player this fall/ I plan to get a PS3 this Jan or Feb/ lots of HD movies/Fewer gaming sessions/ Bolder body building sessions & swimming/and a Christmas without snow?

As such, my ( not even ) semi-comeback looks more like a 1/10th reembodiment. Still, I'd be happy to hear about you fine folks if you appear to visit this journal. I still check the ones I like.

Oh, I just revisited some of the newer features and I wonder if I missed some new nifty implements here on GS aside the trend around video blogs........

Here's my latest review:Medieval 2 Total War (PC).

P.S.: The logs are over! Vive les prises!

log 78: Every good thing has an end...[Final Log]

It's my turn to take my leave: I'll no longer post in the forums. I'm serious; I intend to go back where I belong: lurking. I was becoming bored anyway, without the expected feedback just as in this journal so I've came to the conclusion lately it was a complete waste of time, not to mention all the sessions I missed for gaming, relaxing and such. Plus, I had hectic weeks at work this fall and I'm now on recovery of insomnia, anxiety ( nigh burn out ). My central nervous system is mush mush. I need time. I dimished the violent gaming time to ease my recovery, if not the number of games played overall so my input stock for hypothetical contributions has become considerably diminished. I'm out of inspiration;  thus I take a prolonged sabbatical from all other contributions too; not that I won't write a review or two per year or collaborating into a special feature enticing enough should it present itself whilst lurking, but I have to cut the forums and this blog left adrift for a long time already.

Despite the little feedback, I had a blast and I want to stay a true, loyal GS member. Believe me I'll try to read some stuff whenever I can, and god knows tons of cool articles come off from this community. I'm with you with all my heart.

I wish to address my very special thanks to CraigH123, The Prophetjs, GaussGoat, mnrunner, killjoi, jervo, skullleader00, projectzdragn, FuzzyBunny55, duxup, tinoshke. To the other readers aware of this that I may forget, please forgive me and I heartedly include all of you within the positive experience I had. Take care all of you, I won't forget you!!!

Indeed, as my favorite Major said to Batou at the end of Innocence : '' I'll be at your side whenever you enter the Net''....... 

Marc

End of Line.

log 77: My Best of 2005

1- F.E.A.R.

This is an incredibly well balanced shooter, a modern opus constantly dancing between the tactical and the action adrenaline. Of course many will only keep in mind the impressive slo mo & particle effects, yet F.E.A.R's beyond that and much more. Considering the user owns a high end machine, the SWAT elements mixed with the paranormal  run smoothly together within a realistic industrial layout. Story integration kicks the good thrills like any good movie can do, which is a rare achievement in video games - inciting enough for comebacks. ( I even had to read further sources to know the intricacies of the scenario ).

Online play can be rather decent too, joining an already polished SP that spurs successfully rehashed mechanics along few mid-innovative features sure to please any fan of action games, being old school or ahead of this era alike. Monolith can now be considered as a top otpimiser, joining the elitist ranks of  Epic and Valve.

Barring that, I agree Civilization IV could have won my GOTY only if Firaxis had taken the time for a further polish before the release ( see below ), and I concur about the way GS staff and many other critics crowned RE4 ( I didn't play it enough to include in my favorites ).

2- Psychonauts

Artistry. Interactive artistry. Interactive velvet. Too bad people flee from this modern piece of art AND entertainment because of its kiddie feeling: they don't know what they missed. Once inside, even serious gamers like me usually playing serious games instantly became hooked by the genious designs of Tim Schaefer and his team. The ONLY memorable platformer having enthralled me lately.

3- Splinter Cell Chaos Theory

That is the one released earlier in 2005 that GS staff omitted to mention: the best espionage game of the year, SP and MP wise with twitchy missions, crafted meticulously for a subtile mix of action and stealth. It boosts a rightly timed atmosphere. The only inconsistency  relies about the uber hard 9th mission in the SP, compared to the easier ( and mush unrealistic )ending.....but who said fun espionage sims must always be ultra realist?

Best bugged masterpiece: Civilization IV

It has all the GOTY material; perhaps I will recognise it once it achieve the required polish status in 6-12 months from now, the way Firaxis is patching ( v1.52 seems to fix many issues ). Let's face it, what is considered as the best strategy game ever isn't stable for a huge amount of gamers, which is almost unforgivable for a title of this caliber made by a famed developer. By comparison, Civ III had an average of one bi-monthly patch ( still the hardcore community thrown a hot pot ); Civ IV has already two since the release - so it's that relevant. Moreover, some unbalanced issues remain like tech costs & balancing, the AI always prioritise tech ( and its instant trading ) above all the rest and such. Still, don't get me wrong, I have great fun playing the games on smaller maps ( huge=freeze ).

Best innovative games I didn't play but wanted to:

Lumines, Indigo Prophecy, Guitar Hero.

See you in 2006! Take care,

Marc

End of line.

log 76: Holidays and beyond

I'll briefly post my own few best from the best of 2005 in a couple of days ( sooner than the 2004 pie I made in January ), + add some comments why Civ IV's unfortunately not my personal GOTY ( the material is definitely there though, yet my log 75 still applies ).

I wish to all my GS friends nice holidays + a Happy New Year of ( transitional ? ) gaming towards ( HD? ).......   :)

log 75: The Greatest Disappointment= Civ IV!

Yeah, you read it alright. You'll all say it's , again, the whinings out of a whim from the PC nut I am. But personal journals are for such whinings and here's the time for the most disgusting hoax in my recent years of gaming.

I'm aTBS addict for years and I still respect a lot Total War and Master of Orion franchises + some classics like XCom. I WAS a Civ addict until yesterday. Now what the heck happened with Civ IV you ask???

I understand you'll point out all the worshipping articles I just wrote mere days ago regarding Civ IV. Forget about those. I made gross errors of misleaded  judgement, made too early. Forget about my Thanksgiving article too. I made a mistake, but we all make some isn't it? I was planning a lenghty review of Civ IV, which I obviously cancelled due to my subjective prejudices, I must admit, but they'll be unfettered nonetheless.

Late game corrupted save files on larger maps in modern times, that's what happened. Unacceptable. I won't restrain myself to peacefully play on tiny maps. You invest 30 hours in a perfectly setted game with all the defaults, within the game, to know - 30 hours later - it becomes too huge to wage wars in modern times, then it freezes. No CTRL-ALT-DELETE possible. Resets. No game did freeze like this via a save in the past in my optimised machines. I experienced NO stability problems with high end action games like F.E.A.R.. I tried the unofficial patch ''for memory leak'', alas to no avail. Look, I have 2 Gig of RAM so.........Anyway the fix specifically targets the numerous people experiencing CTD with Civ IV. A permanent freeze in 1917 AD is worse. A permanent freeze with a second game, in 1953 AD is even worse.

I was shocked to lose these saved games, as to take in advance my first 2006 resolution: no more civin; back to action games. My free time is precious. I may only afford some formulaic games than run like buttah. I just purchased Quake IV. Now is the time when I can understand all the console fanboys warring the PC gaming.

I won't even bother writing to Firaxis; but I may write a query to Brad wardell and Stardock to further polish their GalCiv II late games on huge maps and high end machines BEFORE it's too late.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have this much unexpected but one major grief to quell.....

:(:(:(