Dead Rising 2: First Look at Gameplay

So this Dead Rising 2 trailer just made it to the internet. After taking a close look I have some immediate impressions that I want to air out.

This game does look awesome, but I’m super cautious about getting to excited. A title like this has the potential to do a lot of the same in regards to what the last game did. The original Dead Rising had it’s really great moments, it was fun, interesting, and something that people hadn’t really seen before. So it was really a great game to show up at the beginning of the “Next Gen” console life cycle. But the mechanics of  find weapon, kill zombies, replenish health, find survivor, escort got old pretty fast. And the fact that you were on a strict timeline of events and the clock never really stopped counting down was also kind of frustrating. I really don’t want to see this game do a lot of these things.

I want more RPG elements. I’d like the ability to collect, keep, and even upgrade certain weapons. So I hope that double sided chainsaw stick or the dirtbike modified with chainsaws are something that you can build or customize. I’d also like to see less escort missions. That might be my least favorite gameplay style of all time, and I’m not alone on this either. I know you hate it too.  Finally, and this is a super nitpicky thing that was beaten to death when the first game came out, but Capcom…please please please put text and subtitles in the game that aren’t 1 pixel by 1 pixel in size.

Let’s here what you think about this game. It’s less “Dawn of the Dead” this time which should open it up to more possibilities. Let me know where you think this game will go!

The Changing of Times

I guess I haven’t posted here in a few weeks. And if you are one of the 2 people who visit this site please accept my apology. I have a perfectly good explanation.

As of the past few weeks I’ve begun writing for PerpetuallyGaming.com and so far I’ve been having a great time.

I’m still going to keep up with this blog but there will be less gaming related content from now on. I’ll be focusing more on personal entries and reviews of other forms of media as well.

So keep an eye on both sites! And tell your friends about Perpetually Gaming!

OnLive, the potential flying car of gaming

The On Live controller and micro-console

The OnLive controller and micro-console


Let’s talk about OnLive, the cloud based gaming service that was unveiled at this year’s Game Developers Conference after over 7 years of development. If you’re not aware of what this is I’ll break it down for you very simply. OnLive is a gaming platform that is entirely based upon the idea that instead of going out and buying expensive and super fast computers/graphics cards/memory, all of your game processing is done by a “cloud” of servers at the OnLive Server farm. The video from the games is sent back to you through there service via your high speed internet connection and you enjoy a gameplay experience without the hassle of owning a PC that you’ve built or bought for gaming. Essentially what this means is that you can play all of the newest and most graphically demanding games on any computer, laptop, operating system, or the proprietary OnLive Micro Console no matter what the quality of your hardware is.

This is an awesome idea, I can’t argue that at all. But I have my doubts about this service actually catching on. While the technology and the potential seems interesting for OnLive I think there is a whole slough of complications and questions that come into play.

First and foremost I can see this being a licensing nightmare. Putting top tier video game titles from different developers owned by competing manufacturers together on a third party platform is going to pose major problems.

Secondly, I have my doubts that this will be anywhere near a recession busting service. Giving players access to games they’d normally pay $60 or more for over a streaming service is going to be astronomically expensive. The only way to avoid an astronomical pricing structure for a subscription service like this would be to plaster the user interface and probably the games themselves with dynamic advertising, and in this economy advertising isn’t doing so well. That or it will have to be a pay per play/on demand type service in which the user is simply renting each game.

The slick looking On Live interface

The slick looking OnLive interface

The third, and maybe biggest problem, I can see is it being hard to bring gamers who already own consoles, gaming PCs, and game collections who also subscribe to their consoles online play services to come to a new one. I think the bulk of people who are going to buy a console for this generation of consoles has bought them already. It’s going to be really hard for a company like OnLive to convince it’s users that the same experience that they get from owning a disc in a green case and playing on a custom built PC is going to be the same as the experience they’ll have with the same game on their service. Traditionally, the pride of ownership has trumped the stigma of a game that only exists when you turn on a machine.

This isn’t to say that I don’t see OnLive succeeding. I hope that one day I’ll be able to play a new AAA game on my macbook, I really do. I long to see the day when I can play the newest games on my PC without having to go out and buy a new graphics card every year or two. And I can’t wait to not have to stick a big oddly shaped plastic case with bright LED lights into my entertainment center so I can play games on my TV. But then again, that’s all part of the experience of gaming. And OnLive will have to really start painting a different and more progressive picture for hardcore and casual gamers alike to really change the landscape of gaming.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Apple

So I know that I might be blowing this out of proportion, but I value good customer service. As a guest services senior supervisor at a major Mid-Atlantic Amusement park for 6 years, I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about customer service.

I’ve been a Mac user since I was 7. I’ve always kept a special place in my heart for Apple computers even when I chose to buy a Dell for my college years. I know that computer maintenance is a fickle mistress and a cruel bitch, so when I made the plunge in 2006 and bought a Macbook, I made sure to get the AppleCare 3 year protection plan. And this week was the first time I’ve ever had to use it.

Sorry for the crappy cellphone quality. My finger was pulling on the edge of the plastic splinter.

Sorry for the crappy cellphone quality. My finger was pulling on the edge of the plastic splinter.

Wednesday – March 18, 2009 – 9:30 AM

I sit down at my desk as I always do and set my laptop to the side. A few minutes later, I open it up. I browse the internet as usual. At some point several minutes later I place my hands on the palm rests and feel a sharp pinch in my right wrist. I look at the computer and notice a crack on the palm rest where it meets the outer case of the laptop. The crack is actually more like a splinter as you can see below, but this splinter opens up to expose the insides of the computer…not good. So I have a brief moment of panic. I panic because I’m a student, a technophile, and a prisoner of the internet. I use this laptop to get probably 95% of the information that I take in on a day to day basis. To not have my laptop for me would be like a lumberjack without his ax. He’s not useless, but he feels useless.

So after a quick polling of opinions on twitter and of my co-workers I decide just to call the Apple store at my local mall and just see what the procedure would be and how long it would take. I explain my problem to an Apple store employee named Zeb. I explain to Zeb what has happened and that I’m a student and that I NEED my laptop. I ask how long a procedure like this would take. Zeb says 4 hours. “4 hour!?!? Really?!” I exclaimed over the phone. Zeb says “Yeah, well it would depend on how many repairs are in front of you but it would definitely be done today.” At that point I was sold. I hopped on apple.com and reserved the next possible Genius Bar appointment that I could and told my boss I’d be back as I drove to the mall.

Wednesday – March 18, 2009 – 11:00AM

I get to the Apple store in the mall and it’s busy as always. I’ve seen it busier so I’m not worried. My appointment is for 11AM and I have everything ready so I can get in and out. I stand around waiting. I see my name on the list of people to be served. I watch the minutes fly by. My name probably isn’t called until about 11:25AM which is understandable. I know that these Geniuses are busy, overworked, and probably sick of dealing with other people’s stupid computer problems. So I walk to the bar, where a customers boyfriend is hogging up a lot of space, and I talk to the guy who called my name. I explain the problem to him and he says “Oh you’re the guy I talked to this morning. Let me take care of this for you.” I found Zeb, awesome. Zeb takes my computer and starts entering my information and filling out paper work. I feel guilt and anxiety just looking at my poor laptop sitting on the back counter with all of the other broken laptops like a piece of meat. Zeb returns and has me sign some papers, he emphasizes that the service will be free because I have Apple Care and indicates what parts are being replaced. The keyboard/inside bezel and the display bezel. At this point I say “Hey I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but are you sure that this is only going to take a few hours?” Zeb can see that I’m nervous and tells me to wait a minute while he goes back to make sure. He disappears into the back room and appears a few minutes later. I sheepishly look at my shoes, for fear that the expression on his face will be too apologetic for me to bear. As he stops in front of me I look up and he says “Yeah, it shouldn’t be too long. 4 hours or so, but you should have it back by the end of the day. There are a bunch of repairs ahead of yours but yeah it shouldn’t be more than 4 hours.”

Notice, how many times that this employee has reassured me how long my repair will take. It helps to relieve my anxiety as Zeb shakes my hand and I turn around to walk out of the store. I feel naked without my window to the world in my briefcase.

Wednesday – March 18, 2009 – 4:30PM

At this point I haven’t heard back from Apple yet and have noticed that the receipt of repair that Zeb gave me has a lot of old contact information for me on it from when I lived with my parents a few years back. I think to myself “Ah, they’ve probably just called the wrong number and my mom is probably so confused.” So I call the Apple store to claim my computer and apologize for my mistake. When I finally sift through the automated phone tree for the second time today I get an employee named George on the phone. I explain what has happened to him and that I’m ready to come pick up my computer since it’s been 5 hours. Confused, George confirms my name and asks me to hold for a few minutes. When someone finally gets to me this is what I hear:

“Sean?”

“Yeah, hi that’s me!”

“This is Kristin from the Apple Store.”

“Hi sorry about the confusion with the numbers and stuff I know its probably been done for a while” I say excitedly.

“Well it’s not ready yet. We had to order a part for it and it didn’t get here today. It will probably be on the order for tomorrow or the next day okay?” Says Kristin.

“Uhhh, actually I was told several times that it would be done in 4 hours” I say almost stunned.

“Well we had to order the part so we’ll call you when it’s ready.”

At this point I’m blind and deaf with anger but I’m trying not to be “that guy.” You know the one in the electronics or department store customer service counter. Flipping out, face beet red, pacing wildly, hands gesturing, family and friends scattering further away as the anger turns into rage. I know what it’s like to be on the other end of that and it’s not fun. So I keep my cool and update my contact information. I probably sound like I was going to cry. I felt like it. I hang up the phone and flip out. I know I probably over reacted, but when you tell a customer something so many times, you even shake their hand on it, the customer is going to expect what you’ve told them. And thats what I did.

They knew, Zeb KNEW, that I was a student, that I was pressed for time, that I needed to have that laptop back by the end of the day. They knew it when I called the first time. They knew it when I dropped it off and Zeb reassured me. And they knew it when they ordered the part. I would’ve gladly come back at a later time to get the problem fixed if they would’ve called and told me the situation but they didn’t.

So I waited…

Thursday – March 19, 2009 – 4:00PM

I have yet to hear from Apple. I decide that if they don’t call by 4:30 I’m going to call and flip out like I tried not to the day before. I’m coming up with my script and my list of demands. It’s going to be EPIC.

Thursday – March 19, 2009 – 4:24PM

The phone rings…

“Hi, this is Brock from the Apple store”

“Hello”

“I just wanted to let you know that your repair is ready and you can pick it up whenever you want”

“Thanks!”

My elation suddenly erases my rage and I plan on how I will be reunited with my Macbook. It would’ve been an hour and a half ride from where I was in rush hour traffic. Luckily, my wonderful girlfriend was in the neighborhood and was able to rescue it.

But like I said before, yes, I probably over reacted in getting as upset as I did about the situation and maybe there were elements to the story that I don’t know about. But it’s common courtesy. If you tell a customer something, you really should try to stick to it, and you need to keep the customer in the loop. A measley little three section status update on your corporate website doesn’t suffice. I know that the Apple store gets probably hundreds of repairs in every week and you can’t treat everyone special. But I know for a fact that they hire enough people that notes can be taken on an individuals situation and people can make some phone calls.

/END-RANT

Track of the Week: Taken By Trees “Sweet Child O’Mine”

Yes, this is a Guns N’ Roses cover.

I noticed this song during the trailer for the upcoming horror film remake of “The Last House on the Left” before “Watchmen.”

Yes, it is awesome.

I was aware that this artist existed before I heard this song but had never really taken the time to listen to any of her music. Based on this cover alone, I think I’ll give her a shot this week.

March Game Backlog

As of the last few months I’ve begun to embrace the current economic climate and have been trying to find new ways to maintain my video game prowess on the cheap. I tried using sites such as playswitch.com and goozex.com before I eventually had success with swaptree.com. I much prefer the one to one trading on swaptree to the game value to points conversion based economy of many other game trading sites. There is just something that is a little disheartening about being a new user to one of these sites, listing the games, and sending one out in the mail without any assurance that you’ll get your game back. But that’s a discussion for another day.

As I was saying I’ve been using swaptree, ebay, and my superior deal finding abilities very frequently as of the past few months. As a result I’ve realized that for the first time in the past year I’ve amassed quite the backlog of games. Feel free to comment on what you think I should be playing in what order if you feel the need. I could use the guidance.

Bioshock

bioshock

Even though this game came out around the time I got my Xbox 360 I always had some game that I wanted to play before I would get a chance to go out and buy it. I have only ever heard good things about it. It even got a few nods for game of the year from a lot of people, but for some reason I just kept putting it off. A few weeks ago I made a trade and obtained a copy through swaptree and now it waits on my entertainment center to be enjoyed.

Burnout Paradise

burnout paradise

As I’ve said in a previous post this was a game that I bought used at Gamestop after hearing a lot of great things when the “reboot” of the game was released this winter. I’ve played about 6 to 8 hours of this so far and have really enjoyed it but I feel like its a game that I can pick up and put down at random. Maybe it’s because I’m not really a driving game person or maybe it’s because that’s how the game is designed. Regardless, it’s still on the backlog list.

Guitar Hero World Tour

guitarhero

This was my first ever rhythm game purchase. I have only ever played these types of games with my family or friends. I was always under the impression that I’d feel like an idiot banging on plastic drums alone in my room. But last week when I found an ebay listing of the full band version of the game for $99. I was skeptical as I usually am with ebay listings, but after some investigation I found out that the box was opened but the game was never even played. The seller had about 400 of them and had a very good reputation so I made the purchase. I’d enthused to play this but I’m still trying to figure out the level of committment you need to make to the game for it to be really enjoyable. So for now I’ll play here and there with my girlfriend until I can make time to start racking up the achievements.

Prince of Persia

princeofpersia

This is one of my two games I’m renting from Gamefly at the moment. I have heard mixed things from this game, but since it’s just a rental I won’t mind if it’s bad. I played through the first level just to get an idea of what it was like and had an okay time. It feels like more of a rhythm game than a normal third person action game. This seems like a game that if I don’t like it I’ll still finish for the achievements.

Mirror’s Edge

mirrorsedge

This is the second game I currently have rented from Gamefly. At the date of this writing, I’m at the very last section of the very last level of this game and I’m frustrated. After hearing things about the achievements and subsequently scoping things out for myself, I decided to play the game without shooting any enemies. This has made the game fairly challenging in a very good way. It seems more like a puzzle game when you take the guns out of the equation. But this section of the last level seems almost impossible. Maybe I’m just not good at the hand to hand combat in this game, but I’ve tried so many times and cannot complete it. So for now, until I feel up to trying it out again, Mirror’s Edge is in my backlog.

I’ll update on my progress as I wade through these titles, but it may take me a while. Until then I’m going to try to divert my attention from any other games I feel I need to catch up on for my sanity at the very least.

My Watchmen Movie Predictions

I guess you could call me a late adopter of  “Watchmen” graphic novel. I only just read it in the Summer of 2008 at the strong suggestion of my brother and several friends. I’d like to take this time to thank them all for what they did.

To be completely honest, I read “Watchmen” cover to cover over the course of about a week while I waiting for videos to render at work. What I read was less of what more people would perceive as a “comic book” but instead a more synthesized version of what many refer to as a “graphic novel.” It’s not about super heroes. It’s not about super powers. It’s not even about good versus evil. It takes many of these classic comic book virtues and throws them out the window. “Watchmen” is, at it’s core, a story about the breakdown in honor and trust due to threatening advancements in technology, capitalism, and patriotism.

watchmenbabies

So when I hear that there was going to be a movie, I was excited. The trailers have been awesome and I have grown more and more anxious as the release date approaches. Many of us who have read the book are extremely skeptical. The book itself clocks in at 416 pages. The story is extremely complex at times and includes a lot of history and exposition. Personally, I can’t see many people who haven’t read the graphic novel being able to really get into it on the film alone. That being said, here are my predictions for how the cinematic interpretation of “Watchmen” is going to play out:

-The film will run around 3 hours long – Like I said before, 416 pages is a lot to cover. And even if they leave out a lot of the ancilliary exposition, we still need histories and backstories, as well as the progression of events that take place in modern times.

- “Tales of the Black Freighter” will not be included – This part of the book takes up a fair amount of pages in the book. The story is parallel to a lot of what is going on in the present time period, but really there isn’t any need for it to be seen in the movie. I’m sure there will be reference to it somehow, but it’s entire or even breif inclusion will only confuse many who exposure to the story has been non-existant to this point.

- The history of the original masked vigilantes is going to be abbreviated

- The Dr. Manhattan storyline from start to finish is going to go over many people’s heads.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON – DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AT THE END OF THE STORY.

- The whole colossal catastrophe, Adrian Veidt in the arctic, Dr. Manhattan return to vaporize Rorschach from spreading the truth sequence is going to either be super brief or way over a lot of heads.

I’m probably wrong about a lot of these since I read the book a while back and haven’t picked it up to review but I remember making a lot of these predictions as I read through it. These are just my personal predicitions and they could be totally different from yours. I’ll be seeing the film on Saturday so I’ll post a full review on Sunday.