Dale Dietrich
friedman: always supply your comparative advantage
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Search Results for "ps3"

Netflix Launches in Canada–With the Cupboards Bare

Categories: canadainteractive mediainternetmoviestv
Tags:

image

This week, Netflix launched its long awaited and much coveted Netflix Canada service. Unfortunately, the content selection cupboard is mostly bare.

The limited offerings (and lack of DVD service) explains the $7.99 Cdn per month price. The minimum monthly fee that Americans pay for their Netflix service is $9.95 U.S.. For that they get a DVD-by-mail service and a substantially broader array of on-demand offerings.

Limited Launch Offerings:

Browsing through their movie and TV offerings, it appears that there are only about 100 older movies available – too many of which are third-rate movies. There are no new movie offerings.

There are only 18 TV series available at launch, with Heroes seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 constituting four of the 18.  Mad Men seasons 1, 2 and 3, but not any of the current Season 4, make up another three of the 18. Several of the available TV series I’ve never heard of (Hoarders, Paranormal State, The Boondocks, Drop Dead Diva?). Aside from Heroes and Mad Men, there are no other past or present broadcast or cable network prime-time hit TV series available at all.

Happily, the service is not chock-a-bloc full of the made-in-Canada TV content that riddle the Canadian versions of the Apple TV & Xbox 360 on-demand services. In fact, there isn’t a single made-in-Canada movie or TV show available through the service.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 1 Comment 

Cost Components that Make up a Typical Video Game’s Retail Price

Categories: industryvideo games
Tags:

video game price breakdown

What are the cost components that make up the retail price of a typical video game? Put another way, how much does each participant in the video-game development / distribution chain get?

I get this question all the time.

In this presentation to Columbia University students, Steve Perlman, OnLive’s founder, both demos the OnLive system and discusses their business model. At the end of part 3 and the beginning of part 4, Perlman discusses the graphic to the left (click for larger view) which shows the cost breakdown for a typical video game.

As you can see, for a typical console-based video game that costs U.S. $60:

  • $15 goes to Retailers: eg: GameStop, Electronic Boutique, Walmart, Amazon
  • $7 goes to Returns/PP/MDF: Returns are money paid-out to retailers for product returns. PP stands for “price-protection” which is money paid back through the chain if/when the publisher reduces the video game’s price. MDF stands for  ‘Marketing Development Funds” which are paid to retailers for promotions such as TV ads, local flyers, and in-store marketing displays.
  • $4 goes to Distribution/COGs: Distribution = shipping and warehousing. COGs = Cost of goods sale. ie: the cost of the physical DVD, manufacturing, the instruction manual and the case.
  • $7  Platform Royalty Fee: For every game sold approximately $7 goes to Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo, as applicable, for whatever platform the game plays on – eg: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii.
  • $27 goes to the Publisher. Unfortunately this $27 is not further broken down to show how much of the $27 typically goes to independent developers. The amount paid to independant video game developers can be anywhere from 10% to 70% of the amount paid to the publisher – but often only after the publisher has first recouped any advances paid to such third party developers.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 15 Comments 

Sony’s E3 2009 Press Conference Summary

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediavideo games
Tags:

sony e3 2009 - jack trenton

Sony’s 2009 E3 Press Conference can be viewed here.  See also my 2008 Sony E3 coverage. Click on images below for larger views.

Exclusive PS3 Games Shown

sony e3 2009 press conference - god of war demo God of War III:  (demo’d – coming March 2010 ) Looks terrific! Except, that is,  for Sony’s continued reliance on quick time events in boss battles. Grrr! But I still can’t wait GoW 1 and 2 were terrific games.

sony e3 2009 - gran turismao teaser trailer Gran Turismo 5 (polyphony – teaser trailer – still no ship date) – photo realistically gorgeous as you’d expect – first time cars show damage in this franchise – still a SIM that is likely only playable by extreme racing gamers.

e3 2009 sony - uncharted 2: among thevesUncharted 2: Among Thieves (demo’d – naughty dog – no ship date – multi-player beta starting immediately) I’m looking forward to this one! Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is still my favorite PS3 game to date. Demo looked terrific but the female lead has changed. Elena Fisher seems to be gone :( 

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 1 Comment 

Microsoft E3 2009 Press Conference Summary

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediasocial networkingvideo games
Tags:

image

The Microsoft Press Conference can be viewed here. See also: My 2008 Microsoft E3 coverage.

Big Announcements:

  • halo reach logoHalo Reach: Bungie teased this new Halo game, set for a fall 2010 release. Whoo hoo! If its a Bungie shooter, and it has the name Halo on it, I’m in! Is ‘Noble 1’, Will Master Chief?
     
  • metal gear rising logoMetal Gear Rising: The next Kojima / Konami Metal Gear game is coming to the Xbox!!! Holy Cow! The final coup de gras against Sony.  Kojima seemed genuinely happy to appear on stage for the announcement.
  • lyons gate mylo demoProject Natal: A ‘controller free’ , full body motion capture, item scanning, facial and voice recognition. Will work on every 360. See demo here. I’ll believe it when I see it! I don’t believe the Lion’s Gate Milo demo pictured on right. It had to be heavily scripted (click for larger view).

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 2 Comments 

Prince of Persia (2008)

Categories: reviewsvideo games
Tags:

prince of persia (2008) - the so-called prince

3 rating

(3/5) – action – adventure Reviews: Metacritic 81%| Game Rankings 80.68% | zero punctuation
Reference: wikipedia12 | Achievements
Walkthrus: Mahalo | WikiCheats | GameFAQs
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Engine: Scimitar / Anvil

Game Synopsis

In Prince of Persia (“PoP”), an unnamed prince, who isn’t really a prince, travels with Princess Elika to each of the 24 regions, jumping, climbing dodging, fighting enemies to get to the region’s ‘fertile ground". He defeats a bad guy, Elika ‘heals’ the fertile ground, then they retrace their steps on either side to collect light ‘seeds’ (Crackdown-style) to level up. THEN HE DOES IT ALL AGAIN – TWENTY-FOUR TIMES. That’s the game.

It’s gorgeous and somewhat fun, but left me wanting. I preferred the the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time on the original Xbox – especially the fighting elements and the ability to rewind time.

General Observations

Tomb Raider Meets God of War : The game style can best be described as a cell-shaded combination of God of War, Crackdown, Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider without GoW’s terrific combo-leveling up system. I note that PoP uses the same game engine as Assassin’s Creed (Scimitar) which explains a lot.

prince of persia (2008) - grand scale Grander in Scale: This Prince of Persia is much grander in scale than the original Prince of Persia: Sands of Time  and similar in scope to Assassin’s Creed.

Level Intricacies: The intricacies of the 24  regions are quite amazing – especially given their three dimensional nature. You explore every nook and cranny, but, unfortunately, you must explore each nook at least three times to fully complete the game. This is the poster-child for games that extend play by forcing you to retrace your steps, over and over.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us No Comments 

Drobo Recovers from Drive Crash as Promised

Categories: geekhardwaresmall office
Tags:

droboData files on each of my web server, laptops, primary computer and iMac are regularly and automatically backed up to my networked Drobo. I also use the Drobo as a primary repository for 100’s of Gigabytes of centralized data – accessible from any device on my home office network, including my Apple TV, TiVo, PS3 and Xbox 360.

drobo flashing red lightAs of three days ago,  I had two 500 Gigabyte drives and 1 Terabyte drive installed in the Drobo. Two days ago a flashing red light appeared beside one of the 500 Gig drives. This meant that the drive had failed. I purchased a 1 Terabyte Western Digital replacement drive for $114 at infonec.

True to data robotics claims, I was able to hot swap out the defective 500 Gigabyte drive and slide in the new Terabyte drive without incident. It took about 15 seconds to do. Subsequently, it took about six hours for Drobo to reconstitute data redundancy – ie: to format the new drive and redistribute my data across the newly constituted drive array such that data would once again not be lost if any drive failed. During the recovery process, lights beside the three drives blinked green and red. This page on the drobospace.com website says the lights blink green and yellow. It looked more like green and red to me.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 2 Comments 

November 2008 NPDs – Nintendo Blowout

Categories: consolesindustryvideo games
Tags:

Nintendo Wii Console It’s time to create a whole new category for the Wii phenomena. Holy cow– more than 2 MILLION in sales in North America in November is crazy. Yet, to this day there still isn’t a single game on the Wii I’d want to play – not one. Yet you can’t deny those sales numbers.

Video game industry sales are UP 10% year over year. Terrific given the economic downturn.

I was happy to see the 360 outsell the PS3 and PSP combined. Though I’m starting to worry about the PS3’s long-term prospects given its continued poor results. Despite the industry upturn, the PS3’s sale’s numbers are LOWER than its November 2007 numbers.  The PS2 results show its time is coming to an end. I wonder how many months before Sony kills it?  But, it still hasn’t reached the $99 price point. Perhaps it can grasp a few more months of breathe with a price drop before Sony puts it out of its misery.

gears of war 2 cover art Meanwhile my copy of November’s top selling Gears of War 2  is collecting dust as I finish Resistance 2 for my review. Gears 2 sold 1.56 million sold – trouncing Resistance 2’s comparatively meagre 385K unit sales. I’m really looking forward to Gears when I get the time – especially online co-op.

November 2008 Console and Game sales results after the break.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us No Comments 

Had to Replace My TiVo Series 3 Power Supply

Categories: tivo
Tags:

TiVo Series 3 Power Supply Failure - Tick, Tick, Tick Three days ago I pulled the power chord on my TiVo Series 3. As I have done several times recently, I was taking my Series 3 to take it to a friend’s house to see how many over-the-air HDTV channels TiVo could receive in his neighbourhood.

Embarrassingly, when I got to my friends house, plugging the S3 in yielded only a a soft, staccato tick, tick, tick. Later, at home, I removed the cover and isolated the ticking as coming from the power supply (see the circled area in the picture above – click image for larger view).

Happily, a quick Goggle search lead me to this weaknees trouble shooting page where I identified the tick, tick, tick sound as a classic sign that the TiVo’s power supply was caput. A few emails back and forth with weaknees support and I was off.

Replacing a TiVo Series 3 Power Supply - Before Picture

Getting Started

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 6 Comments 

Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches

Categories: healthvideo games
Tags:

nausea in video games

In the early days of console gaming, about 25% or so of all games made me nauseous, dizzy or gave me headaches to the point where I couldn’t play them. A prime example was Deus Ex: Invisible War. I enjoyed the game and wanted to continue playing it. But I couldn’t play for more than 15 minutes without becoming dizzy and nauseous. Ultimately, I had to abandon the game.

[Updated May 25, 2009. Added first person bobbing-while-walking factor.]

In the current (Xbox 360/PS3) console generation, the percentage of games that are unplayable due to nausea, headaches or dizziness has dropped dramatically to, perhaps, 5 to 10%.nausous gamer For example, I couldn’t play the otherwise enjoyable Laura Croft: Tomb Raider Legend for more than 15 minutes without feeling ill.

Below, I identify three four factors that cause me dizziness, headaches and nausea when playing video games.  I also list specific games that have made me sick.

I’d be interested in your thoughts – especially with respect to what might be behind the X-Factor discussed below.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 864 Comments 

Silent Hill Homecoming is Unplayable – No Y-Axis Inversion

Categories: reviewsvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

Reviews: Metacritic 73%| Game Rankings 77%
Reference: Achievements| wikipedia12
WalkthrusWikiCheats | GameFAQ   | Mahalo
Developers: Konami | Double Helix Games
Genre: survivor – horror
Status: Abandoned after escaping hospital

As explained in my “Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches” post, I had to abandon Silent Hill Homecoming due to nausea caused by the inability to invert the Y-axis.

It came as a shock to me that, while there is an option to invert the Y-axis when shooting, Silent Hill Homecoming does not give you the player the option to invert the Y-axis when walking around, fighting or doing anything else in the game. This is extremely rare in modern video games.

silent hill homecoming nurse killingA quick Google search to see if there is a patch, cheat code or some other way  to rectify the situation yields posts like this one and flame wars like this one. It seems that Konami is aware of the issue and just doesn’t care. No patch is available and none is in the works. It’s truly bizarre that Konami does not provide an across-the-board option to invert the Y-axis in a major title such as Silent Hill. This is a standard option in virtually every console game that comes out these days.

The upshot for me – the game was unplayable. I tried. I killed some nurses and critters, got a couple achievements and made it out of the hospital. But 25 minutes of playing without inversion made me too dizzy and nauseous to continue. FYI, the game also suffers from reliance on quick time events – which I detest.

Thank goodness this was a rental. Back it goes.

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 14 Comments 

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames – Abandoned Due to Nausea

Categories: reviewsvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

Reviews: Metacritic 73%| Game Rankings 72% | zero punctuation
Reference: Achievements| wikipedia12
Walkthrus: MahaloWikiCheats | GameFAQ  
Developers: Pandemic Studios | Pi Studios
Genre: Third person shooter
Status: Abandoned after first level

As a shooter fan, I was looking forward to Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Unfortunately, I had to abandon it after the first level due to nausea. 

jennifer mui - mercenaries 2Mercenaries 2: World in Flames was fun – as far as I got. Nothing spectacular, but some good old-fashioned sand-boxy, shooter fun.

I unintentionally ended up playing the hottie female character, Jennifer Mui, pictured to the right. I’m not sure how that happened because I didn’t necessarily intend to pick her. But she was fun to play nonetheless

The weapons were fun, the controls were responsive, the vehicles were enjoyable. I liked the tracer-bullet effects (would like to see that in more shooters). The sounds were realistic. The collecting cash bit was a bit cheeky. It looked like it was going to be a fun romp.

But, within minutes of starting, that old-familiar dizziness, headachy feeling that, in me, leads to nausea, reared its ugly head, forcing me to stop playing an otherwise enjoyable game.

It’s been awhile since nausea (in this case for the x-factor reason) forced me to stop playing a game. Having also been forced to also stop playing Silent Hill Homecoming due to nausea (caused for a different reason), I decided to write this “Video Game-induced Nausea, Dizziness and Headaches” post.

I hope those with stronger stomachs/heads enjoy Merc 2. :)

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 1 Comment 

Most Anticipated Fall 2008 Video Game Releases

Categories: industryvideo games
Tags:

gears of war 2 box art little big planet box art resistance 2 box art mirror's edge box art tom raider underworld box art image max payne movie poster call of duty world at war box art

Below are the fall 2008 video game releases that I’m most looking forward to, not sure of and two 2009 games that I’m chomping at the bit to play.

Fall 2008 Can’t Wait

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 6 Comments 

Star Wars: Force Unleashed

Categories: reviewsvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

3.5 rating  (3.5/5) 
Reviews: Metacritic 72%| Game Rankings 72%  | zero punctuation
Reference: Achievements| wikipedia12
Walkthrus: MahaloWikiCheats | GameFAQ  
Developer: Lucas Arts Genre: Action-Adventure
Engine: Ronin, DMM, Havok and Euphoria

Pros:
engaging story – music – excellent auto-save points – genuinely fun – first rate physics – achievable achievements – fair

Cons: some camera issues – use of quick-time controls – boss battles – no co-op or online modes – corridor corralling

Fun

Simply put, for action-adventure fans, Star Wars: Force Unleashed (SWFU) is a fun game, with a nice difficulty ramp, good auto-save points and challenging for players at all skill levels.  The primary gaming mechanic are force powers similar to the telekinesis powers in Deus Ex: Invisible War  While a tad glitchy, the game was generally solid. Unlike so many other games, (except for the star destroyer boss battle discussed below) I didn’t feel cheated by silly gimmicks to prolong game-play or artificially make the game more challenging. It was generally all-round good fun.

Star Wars - Force Unleashed - Darth Vadar on the Wookie Planet of Kashyyk

Star Wars Story Between Episodes III and IV

Star Wars - Force Unleashed - Juno kisses Starkiller Star Wars fans will enjoy the story. It is a reasonably immersive, entertaining and well told story about Darth Vader’s apprentice, Starkiller and his love interest Juno Eclipse. The story takes place between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars series. However, it wasn’t a ‘bridge’ between the two episodes as I had been lead to believe. It was more or less an irrelevant side-story (much in the way the Enter the Matrix game was an engaging side story to the Matrix Trilogy) involving some of the familiar Star Wars characters (Darth Vader, Princess Leia (using Carrie Fisher’s likeness but not her voice), Senator Organa (using Jimmy Smits likeness and his voice), Senator Organa (briefly using Ewan McGregor’s likeness) , R2D2, Emperor Palpatine, among others).

Star Wars - Force Unleashed - Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and Starkiller Star Wars - Force Unleashed - starkiller and princess leia

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 6 Comments 

Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black (2000)

Categories: modernmovies
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

3.0 rating  (3/5) sci-fi, thriller

While I enjoyed Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Boiler Room (2000), I became a fan after watching his unexpectedly good performance in xXx (2001).

In 2004 I discovered, Vin Diesel’s cross-media Chronicles of Riddick franchise after playing the terrific Xbox video-game Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay (2004) (“Butchers Bay”). The video game serves as a prequel to the movie that is the subject of this review – Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black (2000) (“Pitch Black”). The third work of this series, the movie The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) (“Chronicles of Riddick”), is a sequel to Pitch Black (I haven’t formally reviewed it on The Daleisphere. It is about on par with Pitch Black).

Somewhat confusingly, the sequel movie, Chronicles of Riddick, came out at the same time as the prequel video game, Butcher’s Bay – and both came out four years after Pitch Black. To confuse things further, the developers of Butchers Bay (Starbreeze Studios) are developing a remake of Butcher’s Bay for the Xbox 360 and PS3 with a different name: The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena (due out in late 2008 or 2009). Confusion notwithstanding, playing the critically acclaimed video game before watching either of the the not-so-acclaimed Pitch Black or Chronicles of Riddick , made both movies more understandable and enjoyable.

Back to the movie at hand: Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black (2000).

chronicles of riddick - pitch black - the eclipse approaches

Until today, Pitch Black was the only part of the series I had not experienced. When I discovered that the HD version was available on Apple TV [review coming soon], I chose to download and view it as my inaugural Apple TV rental test. I wasn’t disappointed.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 2 Comments 

E3 2008 Sony: Movie-TV Service Launch – Not Much More

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediavideo games
Tags:

 E3 2008 Sony Press Briefing - Jack

Sony Movie and TV Service: The biggest ‘news’ of the Sony press event was the U.S. launch, today, of the previously announced (see here) video service. Sony, Fox, MGM, Lion’s Gate, Warner, Disney, Paramount and Turner Entertainment have partnered with Sony to provide movie and TV content for the on-demand download service. The system uses progressive downloads so users can watch as a movie/TV show as it downloads. Sony says, content is playable a minute or so after ordering. Purchased content only plays on PS3 and PSP. No PC, iPod, iPhone or other device support was announced. No official word yet on how long rentals will be available for viewing – one site mentioned that it will be the usual 24 hours and 14 days to start.

E3 2008 Sony Press Briefing - New Movie-TV Service

Note: While the previous announcement stated that a service like this would be made available ‘world-wide’, I checked my PS3 in Canada and there was no such content available. Note the "video" button circled in red in the picture above (click for larger view). If it isn’t there, no movies for you!

E3 2008 Sony Press Briefing - Resistance 2 Resistance 2: They showed a little of Resistance 2. It’s looking good and includes 8 player online co-op support (probably only for certain missions). I quite enjoyed Resistance 1 so I’m looking forward to this one. What is it with the ‘brown’ colour in all the PS3 and 360 games this year?

E3 2008 Sony Press Briefing - Massive Action Game (MAG)Massive Action Game ("MAG"): This massively multiplayer shooter looked interesting. MAG supports up to 256 simultaneous players with 8 player squads, ongoing faction campaigns and character growth. The trailer looked great. It’s hard to imagine that 255 players will follow a command hierarchy that goes up to one or two generals. In my experience 8 players will rarely ever co-operate in an online shooter battle. I’ll have to see this one to believe it. See the blatantly pre-rendered trailer below.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 2 Comments 

E3 2008 Nintendo: Wii Music, Wii Speak, MotionPlus, Wii Speak

Categories: consolesindustryvideo games
Tags:

E3 2008 Nintendto Press Briefing - Reggie

And nothing happened. Nothing captured my interest and certainly nothing was announced to satisfy the hard-core gamers.

New Products

Wii Speak Wii Speak: A microphone that sits atop the TV that picks up all the sounds and voices from a room. This will be used in games in lieu of a headset. But the Wii doesn’t have a system-wide voice system (let alone a decent online game strategy). This will need to be supported from game to game.

Wii Motion PlusWii MotionPlus: An add-on that plugs into the WiMote to add wrist based twisting motions to its repertoire of recognized real-time movements. One wonders how developers are going to appreciate the burden of developing titles that work with both the WiiMote alone and with the MotionPlus adapter.[gizmodo review here]

 

E3 2008 Nintendto Press Briefing - Wii Sports Resort Wii Sports Resort: A new game, similar to Wii Sports, but situated at a beach resort. They demoed Frisbee throwing (with a cute dog catching it), sword fighting and lumber chopping. This game uses the new Wii Motion Plus for accuracy. Coming March 2009.

E3 2008 Nintendto Press Briefing - Wii Music Virtual BandWii Music:  A new music game featuring 50 virtual instruments was announced. A virtual piano, violin, sax and drum kit were demonstrated. Unlike Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the user doesn’t need to purchase physical plastic instruments. Nor do they follow note patterns on a screen to play. The instruments are ‘virtual’. Waiving/moving the WiiMote around in a manner similar to the instrument being played simulates the instrument. The virtual drum kit (see picture below) that uses the WiiMote and Numchuk as the drumsticks and a WiiFit board as the drum peddle was clever. But the other instruments looked like little more than air-instruments where regardless of what the user does some facsimile of music will be produced. Lame. And it sounded pretty awful. [more info here]

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 1 Comment 

E3 2008 Microsoft: New Dashboard, Netflix, Final Fantasy XIII

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediavideo games
Tags:

E3 2008 Microsoft Press Briefing

(Click image to watch abridged version of Microsoft’s 2008 E3 press briefing)

[Full Microsoft E3 2008 coverage is here]

E3 2008 Microsoft Press Briefing - New Dashboard Interface A new Dashboard Interface for the 360: It’s coming this fall. [ Watch demo here]It’s nicer than, but seems influenced by, the PS3 ribbon. It looks like it will be easier to use than the current blade system. I question whether people will want to learn a whole new interface.

E3 2008 Microsoft Press Briefing - New Avatar System Avatars coming on 360: Looks like Microsoft is trying to bring a bit of the Wii and Playstation Home to the 360. I’m not sure if my adult friends will take the time to create their own avatars.

E3 2008 Microsoft Press Briefing - Netflix Coming to 360 Integrated Netflix coming to the 360: Netflix users will be able to queue up their Internet ordered videos to be played on the 360. This probably won’t be available outside of the U.S. for years (if ever). Regrettably, it appears that movies will only be streamed through the Netflix service and not downloaded. This means (i) fastforwarding and rewinding will janky; and (ii) the quality of the picture will vary depending on your Internet connection speed.

E3 2008 Microsoft Press Briefing - Final Fantasy XIII Coming to 360 Final Fantasy XIII Coming to the 360! The hitherto PS3 exclusive franchise is coming to the 360 on the same day and date as the PS3. Final Fantasy XIII coming to the 360 is another Microsoft coup. Other than Sony Studios first party games and Metal Gear Solid, I can’t think of any major game franchise that is a PS3 exclusive any more. Interestingly there will be no Japanese 360 version.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 4 Comments 

Battlefield: Bad Company – Diary #1

Categories: diariesvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

Diary: Entry #1
Reviews: Metacritic | Game Rankings
Reference: GameFAQ | wikipedia12
Developer: EA DICE, Engine: Frostbite
Status: Finished “Welcome to Bad Company” (the intro level)

Pros: Boat load of shooter fun – Immersive – Humorous – Destructible environment – Terrific death/penalty system – Save points therefore a non-issue – Very good graphics/character models – Difficulty Level is just right – Amusing squad – PC can jump

Cons: Fighting with camera while driving – No coop – No customizable controls – Daft syringe/help system – No prone position

Introduction

In Battlefield: Bad Company (“BBC”) you play Private Preston Marlowe, of “B”ad Company, a band of misfits in the 222nd army battalion of the U.S. army -currently fighting the Russian Federation.

Somehow BBC had escaped my radar until I read Paul Thurrott’s review here. Our tastes in gaming are almost identical. So on his recommendation, I decided to try it.

Other than a few hours here and there, I’ve never played a Battlefield franchise game before. So I’m new to this franchise and, so far, I’m really enjoying it! Much,  more so than MGS 4.

Battlefield - Bad Company - 360 - tank blowing up

Initial Impressions – The Good Stuff

Fun From the Start: From the amusing jazzy-organ playing opening credits/main menu this game felt like was going to be something different.

Immersive: As with other leading shooter, the ambiance, 5.1 sound, terrific graphics and, in this case, almost instant death if hit, give this game a terrific immersive (feeling like you are really there) quality that is still too rare.

Destructible Environment: The much touted destructible environment is definitely fun! But it is odd that you can’t totally destroy a building. You can knock out most of its walls but try as you might its support pillars will not blow up. So you can not, for example, topple over a two story house – even though you can knock out every one of its walls. Kinda lame.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 3 Comments 

I Abandoned Metal Gear Solid 4 (for now)

Categories: diariesvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews: Metacritic | GameRankings.com
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

As beautiful and cutting-edge as MGS4 is, after making it past the laughing Octopus stage in the second act, I abandoned the game, at least for now. This surprises even me. I have been waiting for years to play this game, but the lack of a decent checkpoint system and endless cut scenes turned me off.

Poorly Implemented Checkpoints

You cannot save the game when you want and it’s checkpoints are few and far between. Adult gamers do not have endless hours, nor the desire, to replay extremely long portions of even a great game over and over.

Solid Snake being Sneaky in MGS 4When I play stealth games I want to be stealthy and play it right. This means taking my time, exploring every nook and cranny. Being sneaky. But when I sneak around for 30 minutes, successfully execute difficult manoeuvres and then die, I do not want to play through the whole 30 minutes again. No game should ever force a gamer to replay more than 5 or so minutes. Period.

Yes, I could have cheated and run through sections with abandon, gunned down everyone until killed, thereby learning where all the baddies are and what their tricks are, to avoid them on the next play through. But I refuse to do that. That’s gaming the game and not playing the game. It takes all the fun out of it.

Stealth games, by definition, are designed to be played thoughtfully and slowly. The player should have a realistic chance of beating a level if they play that way. But, when they die, as they will, they shouldn’t be forced to replay the last thirty minutes or an hour to get back to where they were.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 12 Comments 

Wimbledon Live – Stream or Download Wimbledon 2008 Matches

Categories: interactive mediatennis
Tags:

Wimbledon Live Streaming Demo - Federer v Roddick 2005

Wimbledon 2008 starts this Monday June 23 and runs to July 6.  I just discovered (ironically through an adsense ad on The Daleisphere) that Wimbledon provides a two week ‘Wimbledon Live‘ service where, for a flat fee of $24.99 (approx.  £12.65) you can stream live matches to your PC or download up to 250 matches in .wmv format after the match is complete.

2008 matches will be available until May 1, 2009. Day passes are will be available but so far I have not found pricing details.

As usual, my TiVos are queued to record as many matches as TSN and NBC air. But, all too often,  matches that I want to watch are not broadcast. Or, too frequently, certain channels have exclusive rights to particular high profile matches with the result that they are not shown on the channels that my cable provider, Rogers, makes available to me!

Formats and Quality

All video is in 384 x 288 format with a 4:3 aspect ratio.  I took a quick look at the free streaming demo of the 2005 Federer vs. Roddick Wimbledon Final.  The quality wasn’t great (see pic above) but it wasn’t bad either. Because the service works with Windows Media Player only, the service is not available to Apple users and, presumably, not available through AppleTV.

Note: In addition to the free streaming demo, I tried downloading the free downloadable version but it would not play without my having to first sign up and give them my credit card. This kind-of defeats the “free” part of the ‘Download (FREE)’ offer :).

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 2 Comments 

Metal Gear Solid 4 – Diary #2

Categories: diariesvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews:
Metacritic | GameRankings.com
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

Progress: I made it to Act 1 – Crescent Meridian (7th of 8 parts to Act 1)

What a difference a day makes. Discovering that Weapons/Items need to be equipped before they appear was important! (See Update in Diary Entry #1). You’d think the game or manual would have mentioned that somewhere up front!

Visuals

I can’t say enough for the visual and cinematic feel of MGS4. The particle effects, fabrics, lighting, character models, rich and detailed environments, the camo suite, the Dolby surround sound audio. This is a visual and audible masterpiece.

Love the Bright Sunny Arab World

Stealth games are usually too dark (can you say “Splinter Cell”). Heck, too many video games are too dark. One of the reasons I love the GRAW series so much is because they are mostly set outdoors in the bright sunlight. I wish more games were set in the sunlight.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between MPCs and Militia?

If you kill militia, by accident or not, they’ll turn on you. So it’s important to either avoid them and PMC’s in all battles with stealth or determine which of the factions is militia and which is PMC and then side with the militia (you can side with the PMC but they’ll still shoot you).

So that’s been my big question/challenge today?  Previously, the only way I could tell was to use the solid eye and zoom in close to read the character’s names (militia’s are named ‘militia”). I had thought there was going to be a colouring difference (ie: the text and symbols) but there is none – at least initially.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 2 Comments 

Metal Gear Solid 4 – Diary #1

Categories: diariesvideo games
Tags:

buy-from-amazon.ca

MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews: Metacritic | GameRankings.com
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

Progress: I made it to Act 1 – Urban Ruins  (4th of 8 parts to Act 1)

This is the first video game I’ve played since slicing open my left index finger on May 15. I had to abandon my GTA game play and diary to let my finger heal. It isn’t fully back to normal again (still can’t feel anything above the knuckle on my left index finger) but I couldn’t wait to give MGS4 a try.

I wrote this first diary entry mostly in real time as I played through the initial scenes of the game.

My Limited MGS Experience

The only prior experience I’ve had with the Metal Gear Solid franchise is when I played a couple levels of MGS 2: Substance on the original Xbox. What I recollect from that experience was that the cut scenes were spectacular and the game was, to me, unplayable. It had a clumsy over-head camera mechanic. There was a handicapped first person view that only allowed you to look around when you were stopped. You couldn’t shoot or move in that view. After a couple levels I gave up in frustration.

From everything I’ve heard about MGS4 (and I’ve heard, read and watched a lot over the years) it has been revamped into a thoroughly modern stealth, shooter.  I guess we’ll see.

So here we go.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us No Comments 

iTunes Movie Rentals Come to Canada

Categories: canadainteractive media
Tags:

iTunes CanadaStarting today (press release), Apple Canada is making movie (and some TV show) downloads available to Canadians through the Canadian iTunes store. Apple says 1200 titles are available at launch, including 200 ‘high-def’ titles.

Despite Canadian dollar parity, as usual Canadians will pay more per rental ($4.99 for new releases, $3.99 for older titles) than our American friends who pay $3.99 and $2.99 respectively. In both countries ‘high-def’* versions cost $1.00 more when available.

Canadians will have 48 hours to view iTunes movies after pressing play. This is surprising because Americans have only 24 hours to finish watching iTunes movies. I expect the U.S. service to follow suit shortly.  As in America, Canadians have 30 days after downloading to start watching their rented movie before it is deleted.

I took a quick look at the iTunes Canada movie offerings. There seems to be a good selection of new and older movies. Unlike in the U.S., there are no current prime-time T.V. shows available for download through the service. The available TV shows are either shows you never heard of or older TV shows. I expect that to change over time too. Participating studios include Disney, Paramount , Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Universal, MGM, Sony, Lionsgate and Maple Pictures.

Below I discuss your iTunes movie play-back options and compare the iTunes movie service to Bell’s recently announced video download store, the Xbox 360 movie download service, the Amazon Unbox-to-TiVo video download service and the pending PS3 movie download service.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 4 Comments 

French Open 2008 First Week

Categories: broadcastingcanadatennis
Tags:

French Open 2008 - NBC HD - Nadal There’s not much to love about this year’s French Open – so far. There wasn’t one memorable match in the first week.

Two of my favourites, Davenport (not playing for ‘personal reasons’) and Roddick (out for a rotator cuff injury) are not participating. Three time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, one of my all-time favourites, formally retired from professional tennis this week after an early round loss (I’ll miss Guga). Clijsters’, Henin’s, & Agassi’s retirements have left big holes in the sport. Hingis was forced out of professional tennis due to a cocaine scandal. Baghdatis, Fish, Mauresmo, Safin, Blake, and V. Williams’ were all early round losers. Significant rain delays resulted in the poor already Super Signal coverage (see below) being even worse than usual.

On a happier note, it was a pleasure to see Hewitt go down to Ferrer and Serena Williams go down (once again with little grace or class) to Srebotnik. I was a Hewitt fan in his earlier years. But his success made him too cocky and arrogant for my tastes. Serena’s always been in my bad books with rarely a kind word for anyone.

French Open 2008 - NBC HD - FedererPerhaps I was spoiled with the terrific first week of tennis at the 2008 Aussie Open. The early round Roddick-Kohlschreiber and Federer-Tipsarevic matches there were probably some of the best matches I have seen in years.

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 12 Comments 

Grand Theft Auto IV – Diary #4

Categories: diariesvideo games
Tags:

GTA IV - Nicko Drives Boat Past Statute of LibertyGTA IV Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Entry #3, Entry #4

Key Stats: 43.45% done |  55 missions passed | 66 missions failed | $323,224 in cash | 37:47 Playing Time | 3rd & 4th safehouse

It’s been a week since Diary Entry #3. My objective was to get to the point where all of Liberty City was unlocked before making this entry. It was harder and took much longer to get to that point than I thought it would.

Despite being frustrated with GTA IV’s save system (see below), I’m still enjoying the game. I suspect I won’t post diary entry #5 until I complete the campaign.

Helicopter Fun!

Soon after the last entry, I was surprised to discover that you can park (and then save) the helicopter within the yellow lines outside the various safehouses. It’s not easy to land close to buildings without destroying the helicopter but its possible, as these pictures demonstrate (click on them for larger view):

GTA IV - Helicopter Parked at Bohan Safehouse GTA IV - Helicopter Parked at Algonquin Safehouse

I was able to fly to Michelle’s house, land there and take her out on a helicopter date – a personal flight over Manhattan (see picture below).

CONTINUE READING →

Digg! Digg Del.icio.us 9 Comments