Archives for April 2005

It could be nice to be aLIVE

Just a couple thoughts about playing games on Live.

First, there was the recent update/tweak to Halo 2’s gameplay. In a previous life, I was a Halo boxer. It was how I played – I’d rush with the Assault Rifle business end to take down the shields and then I’d use the other business end for a little smackdown action. It was pretty effective and served me well. Halo 2 1.0 nerfed my modus operandi. It took a while to divorce myself from it and I lived without it. Halo 2 1.1 has all changed that. It’s like an old friend has moved back into the neighborhood. I still take a beating going with the shoot-shoot-punch but now it’s much more effective. Instead winning three out of ten times, I’m putting the beatdown on the bad guys eight out of ten times. This simple tweak has increased my enjoyment tenfold. Just last night me and my clanmates went 8-2 in our matches. I am very eagerly anticipating the new playlists and playing on the new maps next week.

The other game I’ve given a try on Live is Burnout 3. Burnout 3 is such a great single player game (I unlock unlockables like a machine!) but most multiplayer racing games suck because it has to be split-screen. Well I gave B3 a ride (pun!) on Live and it is a great diversion. I immediately noticed the guys playing were actually cool to play with! No Halo 2 kiddies tell me what he did to my mom (or my dead corpse) and no kids screaming obscenities and farm animal noises. The guys were cool, we chatted about the next-gen Madden game, the next Burnout game, and just chilled. It was relaxing — just like a game should be. That said, I won’t be playing B3 anytime soon – I haven’t unlocked enough of the good cars. I was running around in the “Tuned Compact” when everyone else had the Dominator. I got smoked each and everytime. Once I unlock some of the better cars I’ll be jumping back on Live.

The ‘mystery’ of FIFA Street

The ‘mystery’ of FIFA Street : Guardian Unlimited Gamesblog

This is a great read about how EA is slowly taking over the world, one poor(?) video game at a time.

This is why FIFA Street is number one. It hits all the right buttons. It is mainstream, but yet has an ‘edge’. It has good graphics. It is fast enough to convince players that they are having a good time. And that empty feeling when all the bluster is over? When the lack of depth becomes apparent? It. Never. Comes. Because the mainstream consumer has rushed onwards. To another flashy, intensely marketed, brand-focused product.

Silly online poker player, Spam for kids!

I thought buttonMashing was immune to comment/trackback spam but I seem to have attracted the attention of some shady purveyors of online poker sites looking to boost their Google ranking. 285+ comments of spammy badness in less than a day. Crazy! Hopefully they weren’t able to boost the ranking of their internet site. While online poker may be fun, there’s no button mashing involved. Not my cup of tea.

Regarding the spam comments (and blocking thereof), I have installed Spam Karma 2, which has immediately gone into action and destroyed all remnants of the poker spam. I’ve only been using it for a couple hours but I recommend it, it seems to be doing its job swimmingly. Seems like things are back to normal.

But those spammers are a persistent bunch! In the time it took to download and install the SK2 plug-in (about 3 minutes) 3-4 more spam messages came in. Unbelievable.

(Update: I noticed that the sidebar is wonky in IE. I know most people visiting the site use Firefox (I use Opera myself) but I apologize to any IE users for whom the page looks funny. I imagine it’s a problem with the theme I’m using, I’m not sure if it’s been updated recently or not. It appears to be an issue with my Bloglines blogroll. I’ll mess with it later, I’m going to bed)

Next-Generation Madden

Lee HaneyI, for one, was not too impressed with the next generation of EA’s Madden Football. I watched the 60-second commercial that ran on ESPN during the NFL draft (which I’m sure by now is available online) and it didn’t do it for me.

First, the models look hyper-realistic. They look like a cross between NFL Blitz and Lee Haney. Everything glistened and shimmered unnaturally. The models were too muscular. Granted, the NFL is full of Adonises (Adonii?) but not everyone is stacked and ripped (yet). The little tête-à-tête between McNabb and Strahan looked pretty sweet but the pass to Owens and the lame, over-the-top, dive into the endzone was too cliche.

Not everything was bad. The little x-ray showing the injury to the player’s shoulder was a nice touch, as was the snow. Nevertheless, EA has some big obstacles to overcome. None have really been deal-breakers for me, but if they can’t get rid of the horrible clipping and collision detection issues that have plagued Madden (and NCAA 200x) for years, it will be pretty eye candy and not much more. Proving, once again, that pretty graphics and big, bulging muscles a good game do not make.

So it looks like the EA juggernaut will move forward into the next generation with hyper-realistic, not photo-realistic graphics. I guess this can be seen as a good thing, since the current trend of super-human physique as a model will not take us to the Uncanny Valley, which is a good thing.

Master Chief <3's Jesus

So I read about kids testifying of their Lord and Savior during Live Halo 2 games last month over at Popular Culture Gaming but really didn’t pay much attention to it. Until, that is, this evening. I played a head to head with a nice enough guy (a rarity on Live), he beat me 10-6 (woulda been 10-8 if I didn’t toast myself twice). In the exit screen, he asked if he could ask me a couple of questions. Sure, I said. First he asked if I knew where I’d go if I died (“heaven forbid, ” he tells me) tonight. His second question was what I would say to God at the Pearly Gate? I would, of course, ask if He could create a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it. But that’s beside the point. I told him I feel like I’m living right and everything is cool with me and the Big Man upstairs. He then testified to me and told me to read my Bible. He then signed off and I sat there in a state of disbelief.

Now, I’m a pretty religious guy, but I keep that kind of stuff pretty close to the vest. It’s the last thing I’d talk about at the end of a game of Halo 2. But I’ll give the guy credit. If nothing else, he gave me pause to think. My wife was watching me play but was only picking up half the conversation since voice is piped through the headset. She thought it was pretty funny that I was talking to someone across the country about Jesus. It was pretty out of place and kind of wierd.

But hey, the game is called Halo and it does have religious overtones, so who am I to say it’s out of place?