Archive for the 'XBox 360' Category

Portable XBox 360

I needed a break in early December so Ben (my temporary combat SAR swimmer roomie) and I went down to the San Diego Car Show. Imagine my surprise when I saw an XBOX 360 customized car – amazing crossover. Amid the muscle cars and hopped up trucks is this little Suzuki packed with gaming hardware and cutting edge display technology. I especially liked the circuit board door paneling.

Obviously this reached out to the car show fans, many of whom were attending with their kids and all were amazed. The big screen in the back allowed the car owner to play with the wireless remote, and a reverse projector controlled all the magic.

Looking past the projector I could see the action was controlled by two Xboxes – that heat issue they have is a show stopper for sure, and who wants the action to stop in a car show!

I was very impressed with the workmanship that put the controllers into recessed compartments, and for a total of four controllers, two Xbox systems could be used for all four occupants to play head to head or co-op.

What I’m waiting for is an Xbox motorcycle.

Charles Jeter

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The Beautiful Game(s)

Don’t you love to be sucked into the experience of a game? You know, the kind of game that has such an intriguing story and cast of characters that you wish you could (and sometimes do) play the game for hours on end? The kind of game that can have flaws, but they simply do not matter? The sort of game that feels like you are getting on a ride you do not want to get off of? Those are the sort of games I look for. In this article, we pay tribute to the top 15 greatest game experiences of all time. If you disagree, feel free to comment on this post with your own top 15.

15. Mortal Kombat

Finish Him! Nuff said? For those who can remember the crowds that would gather around a Mortal Kombat arcade, that is probably all you need to jog your memory. While this game will be remembered for the sight of seeing worried parents, and rabid gamers gathered around an arcade, its game play revolutionized fighting games forever.

14. Psychonauts

After reading about how watered down the ps2 version was by a respected video game magazine, I almost didn’t play this game. But I was very pleasantly surprised to experience one of the most creative platform games ever created. I still do not understand why this game didn’t sell better than it did. If you have not played this game, go buy it, now. Definitely one of the funniest and most entertaining games ever created.

13. Maniac Mansion

Girlfriend gets kidnapped by a green looking Martian family? You have to sneak in, talk to tentacles, microwave hamsters, and radio to other planets to save her from a creepy dungeon beneath the house? What’s not to love about this game? And why hasn’t there been a sequel announced for any systems beyond the NES? Keep the point and click system! Just make it more intuitive, give us voiceovers, and updated graphics! Truly, one of the most imaginative experiences ever in the history of video games.

12. Asherons Call

World of Warcraft fans. Time to pay tribute. Asherons Call was put out by Microsoft back in the late 90’s. For people who saw thru the crap that Everquest was, Asherons Call offered an “ahead of its time” arena in which to pown monsters and guys in black armor, endlessly. Many of its genius ideas were later taken and perfected, and we call that game World of Warcraft.

11. Street Fighter 2

The fighting game of all fighting games. I am hoping Microsoft’s recent decision to acquire Capcom means we may get a respectable online Street Fighter Game. While the EX series was popular in Japan, it did not do as well in the states. The series still has a lot of potential to grow, and I hope to see some enthusiasm around this series again in the future. For now, if you decide to play the classic SF2—no, you cannot attack the elephants in the Dhalism level. You just can’t.

10. River City Ransom

The first game to introduce frequent vomiting. River City Random. *BARF* For those of you who actually had a life in the 80s, let me fill you in. Every time you defeated a character, they would usually throw up. Poor Japanese translation at its best, River City Ransom let you explore small Japanese towns, where you could read and learn about new abilities, eat sushi, burgers, and the smiles are always free! Worth a play on the GBA port for the humor alone, but truly meant to be played 2 player on the NES. Come on Virtual Console!

9. Dance Dance Revolution

D-D-R! I believe this game was made by the government to fight obesity in gamers. OK, not really, but it is a really fun work out. I wouldn’t recommend jumping on one in a shopping mall on your first try, but to wake up and get down to some Sean Paul as a start to your morning work out is pretty nice. Then if you actually like it, get in touch with me so I can own you in online mode.

8. Donkey Kong Country

The colors, the music, the rendered graphics, and the flawless game-play. These things truly made Donkey Kong Country a world in which you could spend days and days in. Too bad it was only a few hours long. This is an example of a game that really did not need to be changed much. Keep the old formula, and give us new graphics to look at, and we will be happy!

7. Zelda 3: A link to the past

Two words. Master Sword. Who can forget running in the sunlight towards the master sword as the animals parted a path for you? If you really want to feel like you are the savior of the world, this is your game. As you adventure into the world, it is not just the story that will keep you playing, but the desire to improve your game experience by acquiring new items. Also a wonderful example of how puzzles in video games should be made.

6. Golden Eye 007

While the Nintendo 64 didn’t offer many hits, the hits it offered were phenomenal. 007 lead the charge of four player game play that has now been adopted by every video game system. All hail. Oh yeah, and paintball mode rules.

5. Tetris DS

Who can’t appreciate the pure genius of this puzzle game? I believe this game was meant to be multiplayer as the online Nintendo DS version shows. Being able to connect wirelessly to anyone in the world to school them in a game of Tetris is pure gamer bliss.

4. Final Fantasy 4

As we all know by know, this was Final Fantasy 2 in the states. The first RPG to come stateside that had such a rich story line. Almost every character dies, and you feel for each one of them. As you progress towards your goal of saving the world, seeing your favorite characters sacrifice themselves for you to continue meant you couldn’t stop till you got there. I am also guessing you still have some Final Fantasy 4 music on your ipod?

3. StarCraft- with Battle.net

Easily the one game that I have spent the most hours playing. Blizzard revolutionized RTS games with this entry. Not only was the game exciting to play by itself, it developed a community of gamers who supported the multiplayer mode with fresh new maps, multiplayer RPGs, clans, tournaments, and all of the online mayhem you could ever ask for. Part of the downside of Blizzard getting rich off of WoW is we may not see a sequel for a long time. Please? Blizzard?

2. Final Fantasy 7

The game that brought RPGs to the mainstream. Final Fantasy 7. If you played RPGs before FF7 came out, you were probably a closet gamer who had to pay $80 for a copy of Final Fantasy 6 for your Super Nintendo. But once Cloud and his gang came to the rescue on the Playstation, in a game that was originally supposed to release on the Nintendo 64, by the way, you were safe to come out of the closet! There with you were a few million other gamers who enjoyed what I consider to be the best story written for a video game, ever. As well as revolutionary FMVs, cut scenes, and an imaginative world which sucked you in from the beginning. I also appreciated the amount of Japanese culture they left in the game. I sort of wish they would keep more of that in the current round of games coming out.

1. World of Warcraft

Here it is. The best gaming experience available right now. World of Warcraft. It appeared on South Park, it has over 6 Million Subscribers (probably more by the time you read this), and it will consume your life, if you let it. It is the alpha and the omega. The perfected MMO as we know it. If you don’t currently own it, its because you’re scared. I will close by quoting Cartman, “Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you.”

Dave Trager

Vega Baby – Part 2

card_charlej_small.gifContinuing his review from last time, Charles digs deeper into RainbowSix Vegas..

The AI in the game uses different scenario based voice commands and you get this sinking feeling regarding the yell for reinforcements. And everything is three dimensional. The first time the enemy drops into a room using fast ropes, if you aren’t using tactical overwatch moves, everyone is going to get wiped out. At the very least it has you closely examining every dark corner for a sniper, and every high ceiling casino floor for fastroping terrorists.

vegas2.gifSquad level tactics is a topic I wrote an online manual for another, turn-based play by email game three years ago (ed – Charles is writing an article on Laser Squad Nemesis coming soon). Using this background in a first person shooter with a co-op mode by itself is highly addictive.

Add in a real world friend in the same room, who knows the same basic moves and everything turns into a precision event. Every room sweep is a blast, and we are totally sucked into the experience. My palms sweat as they grip the wireless controller, and seeing a good sized splitscreen with 1080i detail makes it easier to pick off the waves of terrorists that we wade through. One level’s kills – 35 for me, 40 for Ben. That’s after we worked three hours to clear the single stage (Dante’s). Brutal yet somehow strangely relaxing.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Tom Clancy’s second best move was to get into interactive gaming. In the late 1980s, Red Storm Rising was a game that was actually encouraged to be used by aircrewmen as training in both sight recognition of Soviet warships and in basic antisubmarine warfare. With his franchise rights for Rainbow Six going in several different directions, the accuracy and detail payoff tremendously. This is a game with multiple replayability in co-op and single player mode.

And that’s not even covering the XBox Live experience. But after playing with a good, skilled friend, I think the Live with random teammates will pale in comparison.

A New Heaven and Earth

card_rick_small.gifWith gamers pricking up their ears over Halo, Microsoft looked to fully dazzle them as they continued the story in the second edition. Oh yes, and that little bit of spice they call Xbox Live.

You’ll have to forgive me but I can honestly say Halo didn’t do it for me. The Xbox was interesting, but before people across the world discovered Xbox Live it didn’t really draw attention from Sony’s consoles. No, Halo looked very nice and had a great story but I wanted more, the thrill of looking a real opponent in the eye, of judging my skill on a world stage, and of connecting to friends across the globe.

Ironically, when Halo 2 was released on my birthday I did not really give it much of a look. As I said, the original nevber really clicked with me, so I could not see the sequel doing it either. And Top Spin was keeping me busy when-ever the kids slept!

halo3.gifThankfully, some spare birthday money and a slow games month led to a compulsive Halo 2 purchase along with some beers and ice cream. I took it home and popped it in, expecting to be back on TopSpin with an hour. Surfice to say, Topspin didn’t get played that night and not for quite a while after.

So what was it about Halo 2 that took me away from tennis court heaven. As I have already alluded, it was the online play. From the off you could tell it was a product of breeding, which led to a rapidly growing Halo 2 community that I had never see before on such a global scale.

The robustness of lag free online play, seamless matches and ingenious ranking systems soon meant I was playing every night with my family and friends. And every so often we would clan-up and gird ourselves against screaming american teenagers, and win (sometimes).

Then there was the gameplay itself. Balanced weapons, amazingly designed maps and perfectly crafted game types. Graphically it stood head and shoulders above anything else out there, and its sound effects and voice-work were tight and crisp. I still get a shiver when I hear those monks singing the Halo 2 welcome. Everything went together just right.

Now we wait for Halo 3. No longer happy to limp on with poor 360 emulation support of Halo 2. So we are being fed by the bright light of the next-gen games, we flutter from game to game with one question only; will this game fill the void that Halo left empty.digg.gif The only answer can be to hold up and wait for 2007…lets go for a wii.

Vegas Baby – Part 1

card_charlej_small.gifBen, one of my Navy flying buddies is staying with me as a geoBach (Geographical Bachelor). He is midway through refresher training for his role as a carrier-based helo Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) air-crewman. Think The Guardian because that was Ben’s exact job when he was training in Pensacola.

He and I went through jet training for the S-3 Viking as enlisted backseat guys together in 1990. A few years back he transferred to a training command for an instructor tour, so Ben’s kids and wife are still back in Pensacola.

vegas.gifThe fun we get from playing Rainbow Six: Vegas is extraordinary. Never mind the stunning graphics as this Tom Clancy inspired FPS is brought to life on a wall-sized HDTV 1080i LCD with Bose wave acoustic sound ripping machinegun fire and explosions, it’s the cameraderie I get from sitting next to one of my best friends and doing in the bad guys with a team effort. He’s had the training through his CSAR experience, mine was privately held in the deserts of New Mexico, but we both are able to adapt to calls of:

‘Loading… Moving… Supppressing the hallway’

He and I will play from about six to nine at night, each of us talking to our significant others on our bluetooth headsets as we pause the game to answer calls. Believe me, if we were where they were, we wouldn’t get the chance to spend so much time in front of the 360, so we savor the opportunity.

Numbers Schmumbers

What a pleasant surprise it was when I first found out about Game People. A website with reviewers who actually focus on the actual experience of playing a game. In all of its joys, surprises, and controller throwing mania-there is really only one reason we all play games: for the experience of the game.

psu.gifI recently read a review in a popular video game magazine for a game on the PS2 and Xbox 360 – Phantasy Star Universe. For weeks I had been looking at the screen shots for the game, anxiously anticipating a new online universe to immerse myself in. Then, without warning, one of my favorite video game reviewers brought my world to its knees with a 6.0 out of 10.0 score. Despite my initial excitement, I was discouraged and almost chose not to play it. Thankfully, Game Fly didn’t have my first choice in my queue, and sent my second: Phantasy Star Universe – which turned out to be very entertaining, and an experience like no other.

Now don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything cutting edge about it. There are no bells and whistles, and the music is comparative to tracks I remember from the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis eras. But the imaginative art work, graphics, and character design, coupled with a simple gameplay brought me many hours of fun an excitement.

So, gamers of tomorrow, I will leave you with a question: As the “next gen” systems roll out, will we continue our time honored tradition of cutting edge imagination, creativity, fun, and excitement? Or will we sacrifice the experience of gaming for being overly critical of something that is only supposed to bring us a little fun and laughter?

If you’re looking for the experience, you are right where you should be. Consider yourself a Game Person.