Thursday, October 29, 2009

Princess Robot Bubblegum

Check out this hilarious TV spot from The Ballad of Gay Tony.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yankees Advance to World Series

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry. Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, and Tino Martinez. Now Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. The tradition goes on for the Yankees, and with it, the tradition of winning American League pennants and playing in The World Series.

The Yankees clinched the AL Championship Series with a 5-2 victory over the Angels in Game 6 on Sunday in their first year of the new Yankee Stadium, marking their 40th pennant -- a Major League Baseball record by far -- and the first since 2003 for the sport's most fabled franchise. Six years isn't a long time, you say? Well, these are the Bronx Bombers we're talking about: That six-year drought represented the fourth-longest stretch without a pennant in franchise history.

The Yankees didn't win a pennant until their 21st season in 1921, while also experiencing spans of 12 years (1964-76) and 15 years (1981-96) between AL titles. The Yankees have been to the World Series seven times since '96, five more times than any other team during that period.

The Yankees' 40 pennants have come over the past 89 seasons -- at a pace of almost one every other year. The Bombers own nearly twice as many pennants as any other team; the Dodgers have won the National League pennant 21 times. New York, in fact, has more pennants itself than the next three teams in the AL, with Oakland (14), Boston (12) and Detroit (10) combining for 36 pennants.

The Yankees' next opponent, the Phillies, will play in the World Series for just the seventh time, even though they were founded in 1883 -- 18 years before the Bombers. The second of those seven trips, in 1950, ended in a four-game sweep at the hands of New York.

The Yankees, however, have lost their past two World Series -- to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and to the Florida Marlins in 2003. That means they're still looking for that elusive second championship this decade; New York has won at least two World Series in all but one decade (the 1980s) since its first title in 1923.

It has long been a fact of life in America that the Yankees will win the pennant or at least will not wait long for their next one.

The wait for their next one is over.

The Fall Classic is coming back to the Bronx. This time, it comes to a new ballpark, but one with the same tradition. Now the question is whether a 27th World Series championship can be far behind.

-Tim Britton /

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

1up gave R&C Future: A Crack in Time an A+, Giant Bomb gave it a 100, Destructoid gave it a 90, IGN gave it a 9 and Gametrailers gave it an 8.9. In short, this is an awesome game that anybody who owns a PS3 should check out, even if you didnt play the previous installment. Although I have to say if you arent sure about this franchise, its worth picking up the original R&C Tools of Destruction for under $20 and using that as your starting point. With so many good games coming out over the next few months, its extremely tough to pick and choose what to play, but if you do have a PS3, R&C Future: A Crack in Time should be right next to Uncharted 2 as one of the games you dont want to miss. Release date is Oct 27th 2009.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Connection Testing On A Friday Night

There are two factors here, one is connection quality, and the second is connection speed. Quality, which is represented in the top image, has to do with your line stability and ping, which is the time that it takes a signal travels to a remote server and back. In my case, I got an "A" grade. The lower your ping, the better. In PC gaming, where we usually browse a list of dedicated servers before choosing which to join, we always go for a (populated) server with the lowest ping; anything under 50ms is great, although up to 100ms or so is playable for FPS games (RTS games can go even higher), but beyond that the game becomes laggy. Lag can be caused by either a server or peer to peer host who has a poor quality connection (high ping), or slow connection speed (quantity) which isnt sufficient to process the amount of data flowing in and out.

Without going too deep into the technical details, the packets that the host sends to each game client in a peer to peer hosted game like Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, or Gears of War 2 on the Xbox 360 are roughly 6-7Kb/s each in size. What this means is that if you have 10Mbps download/2Mbps upload type connection, you should be fine to host a 24+ person match. However, if you have a 512Kbps connection like much of rural America does, your game may start lagging beyond a 3vs3 or 4vs4 match. This explains why smaller gametypes (4vs4 modes in Halo 3 and Gears 1, Horde in Gears 2, Team Tactical in CoD4) seem to run much better on average than the larger gametypes featured in those games, although I think we can all agree Bungee and Infinity Ward set up their matchmaking and network code a whole lot better than Epic does.

On a scale of 1-5, Ive got a 3.8 for raw speed, which is actually pretty decent. What Im most pleased about is the 5Mb/s+ upload speed, which means my connection is solid for hosting (in theory) 48 person games, not that I would ever try it. 9Mb/s isnt amazing for download speed, but for gaming its far more than enough. While its nothing like having a fiber optic FIOS or T1 connection, its pretty good for just $50 a month. I truly wish I could see the stats of some of the other players who often get host in Gears of War 2, and what my ping to them is. Its amazing to me how often I will get connected to someone who either has a slow 512Kbps connection or lives in some remote area where their ping looks like this:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unigine "Heaven" DX11 benchmark

Is Microsoft's newest DirectX API, DX11, worth upgrading to Win7?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

L4D2 Trailer = 3 Minutes of Awesome

If this trailer doesnt get you pumped up for L4D2, nothing will.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dragon Age & Bayonetta Hype Factor

The early word on the street is that Bayonetta and Dragon Age Origins are two games for the ages. Bayonetta has received a perfect score from Japanese gamer mag Famitsu, and Dragon Age is being called "the best RPG this decade" by some of those that have reviewed and or played it. Strong words. Bioware totally blew the marketing of Dragon Age, but I think when it finally hits the streets people are going to flip out this November. Bayonetta wont be out until next year, but Im looking forward to it being the best new action franchise since God of War on the PS2 and Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox. Strong words indeed.

In other news, some of the luster has come off Infinity Ward's armor as they face a rebellion among a 100,000+ person army of PC gamers who refuse to buy Modern Warfare 2 because it doesnt have dedicated servers. Previous iterations of the game such as Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty World at War had dedicated servers, like almost all PC games. In the console world, dedicated servers are a rarity, but in the PC world they have been standard for years, and the switch to a peer-to-peer Matchmaking system has PC gamers in an ire across the globe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Snorting kittens and going clubbing is back in vogue in Liberty City.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brutal Legend: GT Review

The most metal game of all time gets an 8.5 from GameTrailers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dirty Tracks and Dirty Tricks

The Codemasters? I wouldn't have expected it from them but their anticipated DLC for Dirt 2 turns out to be 800 points for 2 cheat codes. No new content, nothing downloaded. So you can't call it DLC surely?

"As explained by Senior Executive Producer Gavin Raeburn, the said DLC would allow players to personalise and augment the boxed game – a vague and intriguing statement."

DiRT 2 Trust Fund ($4.99)
Why wait? Unlock all vehicles, liveries and upgrades instantly with the DiRT 2 Trust Fund Pack. Download now and experience 35 killer rides and access all upgrades and 93 liveries.
File size: 370 KB

DiRT 2 Access All Areas ($4.99)
Unlock every DiRT 2 World Tour event and track with the Access All Areas Pack! Get VIP entry to 100 events set on 41 tracks. You’ll also gain exclusive access to X-Games events with their electric atmosphere, outrageous courses and intense competition.
File size: 370 KB

The game already has a flashback feature to make it easier to complete the campaign racing. It's very sad and yet I must admit if EA had released a Euro code for B3 they'd have raked in the cash from many thousands of people.

Ha, ha

"The model that Codemasters should probably follow is that of Criterion. The developer has created a ton of new content for the open world racing game is has designed, Burnout Paradise. Only recently have they begun to charge money for the DLC that they released and only for those packages adding significantly to the game. One model that Codemasters should not follow is that of Skate 2 developer Black Box and publisher Electronic Arts. The first piece of DLC they put out was designed to open up the game and unlock all the content in the skating game."

Posted by umopapisdnpuaq

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Arkedo Series - 01 JUMP Trailer

Fun indie 2D platformer on XBLA. Nothing to see here Nintendo!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3D Dot Heroes: Gameplay

This Zelda style "2.9D" action adventure game is coming to the Japanese Playstation Store next month for download. Hopefully, it will make its all the way to a Western release before Nintendo notices the similarities and does something stupid. I think the game looks sweet and I cant wait to check it out the old school style gameplay.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Forza 3 IGN Review

IGN thinks Forza 3 is the best racing game of this generation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Operation Flashpoint DR: Launch Trailer

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and Arma II are the current and only real contenders for the king of the military simulation genre, with one distinction being that Operation Flashpoint is available on consoles now while Arma II is currently not, and this being a genre which typically appeals more to the sim-crazy PC gamer crowd, that might not mean a whole lot in terms of lost sales.

At this point Im undecided on buying either game. When Arma II came out to positive reviews I almost got it, but the lackluster demo with its subpar voice work, glitches, and impossible to control helicopter didnt quite convince me to buy it. Couple that with the fact Codemasters was releasing its game only a few months later, and I figured I would wait and see how the whole thing shaked out. At this point it appears to be a draw, because they have gotten very similar review scores and oddly similar reviews, with the primary distinctions being that Operation Flashpoint DR appears to have shipped relatively bug free, and the PC version is priced at a very friendly $40 (the 360 version of OP: DR is $60 and Arma II is $50 on Steam).

The guys over at CVG posted an interesting review of Operation Flashpoint DR where they explicitly compared it to Arma II. The differences between the two games are subtle but important: Arma II is the more graphically impressive and technically advanced game, it has larger battlfields, more weapons and vehicles, bigger multiplayer servers, and more custom scenario editing features. It also has a ton of bugs in the single player campaign, glitches with the voicework, and requires a beast of a computer to run. Operation Flashpoint DR is slightly more accessible and polished; the missions are better scripted and more straightforward, the battlefields are smaller, the servers are smaller, and the graphics arent quite as impressive, but at the same time they are much less demanding on your PC than Arma II and they scale well to older machines. Its quite clear that while the two games are similar, OF:DR is the more fully baked pie right out of the oven, even if its a smaller and slightly less ambitious project. Both games are hardcore military sims; Arma II is just slightly more so.

The thinking mans alternative to something like Call of Duty Modern Warfare or Battlefield 2, both these games are very realistic and unforgiving in their design. One bullet can kill you, the vehicles and guns have highly accurate physics models, the missions can be extremely long, progress at a snails pace and require tons of teamwork, proper planning and pinpoint execution. These arent your "run N gun" adrenaline fests with epic cutscenes that sell ten million copies; they arent even aimed at a general audience, more at enthusiasts. That being said, they offer a level of military realism and battlefield immersion thats unparalleled - if you can handle it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mount & Blade Impressions

Im not a huge RPG guy, yet all I can say about Mount & Blade, the 2008 open world sandbox RPG from TaleWorlds, is wow. This game is mind blowing, game changing, and it can be yours right now for an astoundingly preposterous $5 on How I missed it up until this point is a testament to what a great time it is to be a gamer. Even gems like this can go undiscovered for years.

This is a true diamond in the rough, the kind of game that if bigger developers really looked at it and played it through, they would probably want to steal a solid 50% of the ideas present. In fact, I would even go so far as to say its one of the most ambitious and impressive games I have played since GTA III. However, this diamond, as big and beautiful as it is, is clearly flawed. It has dings and scratches and its actually covered in a thin layer of mud. Its a diamond, nonetheless, but its not quite perfect.

What makes the game so amazing and so different than other RPGs? The combat. You will hear me moan on and on from time to time about how weak the combat systems are in most RPGs, especially MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. This is the antidote to the typical RPG point and click poison. This is true real time combat, and even though it isnt quite as advanced or fluid as something like God of War, it still represents a giant leap for mankind in the pursuit of realistic ancient battle simulations. From the level of 1 on 1 sword fighting duels, to small 5 on 5 skirmishes, to medium sized 15-20 person caravan ambushes all the way up to epic 100 vs 100 mega-castle-siege-battles, this game delivers on medieval combat in ways you dreamed about but have never seen before in a videogame. Mount & Blade completely removes fantasy elements (magic), and just focuses on good old fashioned swords, lances, crossbows, battle axes and horses. The sword fighting is everything Age of Conan wanted to be, should have been, and utterly wasnt. Mount & Blade makes the mounted combat in something like Oblivion look like what it was - a joke. Is it perfect? No, but its light years beyond most RPGs, in fact it the best real time combat of any classical-themed RPG on the market right now.

So how about the rest of the game? Its actually pretty good too, if you can get over some presentational quirks and some unfortunate inventory management design decisions. Travel in the game takes place on a 2D plane, with a massive open world which is yours to explore. You can travel from town to town, recruiting allies, trading supplies, gaining quests and the favor of various Lords and Ladies. There are two types of people you can recruit, regular hired grunts and recruits, who make up most of your army, and NPC characters who are persistent in the world even if they leave your party or are captured. These characters will squabble with each other, advise you on your choices, and leave if they dont like how you are running your ship. These NPCs can be fully outfitted with any gear you pick up, and you choose how they level up their skills, so you can custom tailor your party's skill tree for maximum effectiveness.

When your NPC companions die in combat, they are gone forever and you truly feel their loss. There is no autosave in the game, and I feel that its better because of it. Lose a huge battle with 75% of your troops killed and your second in command NPC captured? Carry on soldier, carry on, because your last save was hours ago. Luckily, that NPC may reappear in a tavern across the map after he manages to escape, but there are no guarantees you will find him without asking around. The role playing aspects of the game have depth, you just have to look a bit for them. This is a sandbox game after all, the adventure is what you make of it.

I could go on, but I havent even finished the game, whatever that means. Ive played about 25 hours so far and I feel as though Im only about 20-30% done with the content. I just staged my first castle siege, which was an epic failure. You can build up a large 50+ troop army and get knocked down to a handful of allies if you lose a major encounter. You need to be careful who you attack, when you attack, where you camp, where you travel, and which factions you are allied with at all times or you can get swarmed by enemies from all directions. Its also very easy to get bogged down in the hundreds of side quests and mini-quests, which have a solid degree of variance and only recently have started to be a bit repetitive. GTA III was finished in 25 hours, I feel like at 25 hours into this game, Im only just starting to achieve true power, where I can loot and pillage towns mercilessly and without fear of reprisal. I just won my first duel, and it was by a sliver of health. I had to protect the honor of a Lady whose cause I had taken up, so I accosted the accused and demanded satisfaction. These types of scenarios naturally play out all the time in Mount & Blade, its all very seamless and the various elements come together beautifully.

Very, very few games actually achieve what they set out to do. Mount & Blade achieves the goal of making you feel like a Medieval Knight in Shining Armor better than any game I have ever played, and thats saying something. Couple this with a planned expansion pack that will improve the graphics, add new weapons and combat abilities, and 32 person multiplayer support, and you have something that has potential to be played for years to come. Also, there is already a huge modding community that has taken this game and run with it, and although I havent even tried the mods or felt the need to, Im sure they will add even more depth and replayability to whats already one of the most ambitious and engrossing RPGs of all time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Call of Duty MW2 Campaign Trailer

James Bond 007 missed the first Modern Warfare campaign - one of the greatest single player FPS campaigns ever. Will history repeat itself? Or will we learn from the errors of our past?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GT Anthology: SSX

Sadly, one of the best franchises from last gen consoles is totally absent on Xbox 360 and PS3. Sure, the Wii got a borked version with waggle controls and 480i visuals, but really who wanted that? Can you imagine how awesome SSX would be over XBL? Tournaments, leaderboards, coop and tag team racing and freestyle events...

EA, seriously, WTF are you thinking? Do you not want my money?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lucidity: Launch Trailer

This 2D adventure game by LucasArts hits XBLA Ocotber 7th.

Thursday, October 1, 2009