4
Oct
2009

modern warfare 2The third trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 aired tonight on television, and of course that means it showed up online pretty quickly afterwards.

While I’m primarily about playing the online portion of this game, there is no denying that this single player footage looks astounding. The scene of the guys going up the stairs in the shadows looks so close to real life that it is almost creepy.

And it certainly looks like the fight comes to the United States this time … whoa.

Come on Nov. 10th, hurry up and get here already!

In case you missed the other videos, here they are.

Modern Warfare 2 Teaser Footage

Modern Warfare 2 Trailer

Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Features Unveiled

28
Jul
2009

modern warfare 2The most important part of call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been revealed: the multiplayer game.

While the single player campaign is fun, but the true value in video games any more seems to reside with the multiplayer experience.  Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has barely left my Xbox 360 in 2 years thanks to the multiplayer aspects, so I have been waiting to get some sort of hint as to what we could expect from the follow-up.

While most people are “ooh” and “ahh” about the fact you can get an AC-130 gunship after an 11 killstreak (for non-players, that is 11 kills in a row without you dying), I’m a bit worried by other things the video shows.  Sticking grenades?  No… please no.  That’s what Halo 3 is for, not Modern Warfare.  I’m hoping that is some sort of special playlist as opposed to the standard Deathmatch, but if it isn’t… well, hopefully I’ll adapt to it.  Looks like a few new guns, definitely a new rocket launcher and at least one new scope (looks to be heat sensitive).

While the gunship is a nice touch, hitting that long of a killstreak is fairly rare, but it does solve a complaint I always had in the first game.  In Modern Warfare 1 you got radar at 3 kills, air strike at 5 and helicopter gunship at 7… then nothing.  If you did get an 11 killstrike, or 15, or 20, you got nothing.  It sometimes paid to allow yourself to die just so you could go through the kill bonuses again.  So, this really is something that needed addressing.

Any way, the video is below, and it just makes me want 11-10-09 to get here that much faster.

14
Jul
2009

modern warfare 2You know, when I think about video games, I think, “Man, I wish they came with working night vision goggles…” Yay for Infinity Ward!

While I am about as excited for this game as a human can possibly get, even I have to go “huh?”  Yes, yes, you use night vision goggles in the game, but to actually include a working set with the game seems a bit over the top.  You can of course get the standard release of the game for $60, “The Hardened Edition” which comes in a steel case for $80 and then you can go for the Prestige Edition for $149.99 which gets you the goggles, the hardened edition and an art book.

I’m all for giving fans what they want, but… really… working night vision?  This implies that gamers actually go outside at times or turn off their TVs to actually make it dark in their house… we all know niether of those things ever happen.

More info below in the video.

9
Jul
2009

modern warfare box artWhat exactly is there to name? When you’re one of the most popular video game franchises on the market, quite a lot apparently.

In a recent survey conducted by GamePlan Insights, it was discovered that a name can mean quite a lot.  When people were asked if they recognized the brand name “Modern Warfare“, they did, but not in the numbers one suspect.  Nick Williams, head of GamePlan Insights division for OTX, told Gamasutra on June 24th that the results were pretty surprising:

Up until the beginning of May, OTX had been tracking the title as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. More specifically, we asked a representative group of gamers in the U.S. whether or not they had heard of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. At that time, approximately 40 percent of all gamers in the U.S. claimed that they had heard of this title.

However, once it became clear that Activision was positioning the title as Modern Warfare 2, OTX removed ‘Call of Duty‘ from the consumer survey, and the awareness levels dropped to 20 percent. In other words, the Call of Duty brand association essentially doubles the awareness for the game. That is quite a remarkable statistic.

He also went on to tell the web site that purchase intent was quite high for the game even without Call of Duty being in the title.

So, this leaves the question if it would be worth spinning off Modern Warfare into its own franchise, or is it too risky to remove the Call of Duty name?  Well, it seems the name debate has been resolved in the form of a picture.  Robert Bowling, a spokesman for game company Infinity Ward, posted a picture of the box art on his Twitter account today that you can see in this post. If this is the final art, which would make sense since the game is now four months from release, then the name is going to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Is this Earth shattering news?  No, but it certainly is an interesting case study in brand management and marketing.  What was it that was going to sell this game?  Which name was more important?  Who would have suspected that gamers would be so fickle over something as simple as a name?  All intriguing, but… is it release day, 11/10/09, yet?

18
Jun
2009

magic: the gatheringMagic: the Gathering has come to the Xbox 360… my life may be over.

For those unfamiliar with the game, Magic: the Gathering was a customizable card game that was introduced in 1993  The basic concept was that you and another wizard did battle with cards that represented creatures and spells.  Each player had 20 life points and the goal was to drain your opponent of all 20 points by various means.  This is a highly simplified explanation of the game, but you get the basic idea.

I started playing the game in early 1994, and I was instantly hooked.  The ability to customize the decks, to build theme with themes (speed… land destruction… defense… etc) was intoxicating.  You would tweak your deck and test it… tweak… test… tweak… test and then head off to a tournament to see how you stood up against others.  You could get national rankings even, and it became an all encompassing past time.

My retail store was one of the first in the country to get the idea to sell the cards individually, and that turned into a new insanity all in itself.  Cards could sell for anywhere from a few pennies up to a could hundred dollars depending on the rarity and power, but during the height of the craze we could barely keep the three ring binders stocked, and I was one of my own worst customers.

kird apeI quit playing in 1996 as Wizards of the Coast, the company behind the game, started giving in to the whiniest of players and changing numerous rules that just made the game maddening.  As soon as you got used to a new rule, it would get changed, and keeping up with the constant changes was driving me insane.  The worst change was that they changed tournament structure to where you couldn’t use the oldest cards any more because players had been priced out of the market.  The original concept, as told to me personally by the president of the company, was that they enisioned a day where someone would play with a 15-year-old card and people would be all amazed by it and not know what it was… that theory lasted 3 years before players whined the concept out of existance.

Well, even with a 13 year abscence, I still think back to the height of the game with fondness, and I do miss it at times.  Well, someone decided it might be a good idea to put the game on Xbox 360 as a downloadable game.  Priced at only $10, how could I not give it a try?

While the game captures some of the old… well… magic of the game, I am not thrilled with the decks being locked in their construction and limited to only one color (the magic is divided in to five colors – black, blue, green, red and white – with each color having a ‘theme’ to what it does), and I was a heavy, heavy two color player back in my day (red/green was my choice, speed plus powerful spells).  You can unlock more cards by winning games, but even that is limited to only 17 cards at this time.

Wizards of the Coast has said they have not yet decided if they will release more cards for the game, since there are over 10,000 cards in the physical game now they have no lack of cards to draw from, but no word yet on the Xbox version.  I am hoping they do expand it, because even though I am not 100% happy with it, it is one easy way for me to revisit an old addiction withough breaking the bank or dealing with rules changing every five seconds.

In short, is it perfect?  No.  Is it still worth the purchase?  Yes!

3
Jun
2009

project natal logoWho needs some silly remote controls you wave around to control a game when you can turn your entire body into that silly remote?

Microsoft has announced at the annual E3 gaming conference that they are working on a new addition to the Xbox 360 gaming system called "Project Natal".  While small details like pricing or a arelease date are missing at this time, what is known is that this could completely change how we play video games and interact with technology.

Imagine a camera system bar under your TV, and when you walk in to the room, it recognizes your face and automatically logs you into Xbox Live.  From there you can control your Xbox dashboard with flicks of your hand like the computers in the movie Minority Report.  Don’t feel like waving your hands around?  Talk to it.

Check out the video below for more of what this this will supposedly do.

I have a real hard time believing it will be able to do true full body motion capture, but if it does, then things will change in electronics forever.  Why would anyone ever need ot buy something like a Wii Fit again?  Why buy any seperate controller again when you can simply do the motions?

One of the demoed pieces of software at the show is Peter Molyneux’s “Milo”.  From the description, it is a virtual friend that will interact with you and other members of yoru family.  He, or his female counterpart named Millie, will know each member of your family by facial recognition and will react to each person differently.  He will also hold conversations with you by relating things he or she discussed with you earlier.  (… anyone else think that could be hugely embarrassing?)  The other thing intriguing about this is the mini-review mentions Milo throws you a pair of goggles, which you catch with a motion, and then the system instructed the reviewer as to what motions to make to put the goggles on.

In short, this is about as close as we are going to get to virtual reality for a while, but there is doubt that lingers in the back of my head.  I have seen numerous game peripherals over the years that fall short of their promises, and this one is promising a heck of a lot.  I am hopeful that it will deliver on everything they are listing, heck, I really want it if it does deliver, but until I see it in person, I am going to have to remain somewhat doubtful that they can really pull off such huge leaps in technology.  If they do… Sony who?  Nintendo who?

25
May
2009

modern warfare 2Forget summer! I want it to be November 10th, 2009!

As promised, this weekend brought about a full trailer for Call of Duty 6, also known as Modern Warfare 2.  While most of it appears to be cut scenes from the single player campaign mode, it still looks amazing.  The only problem is that the vast majority of people who play these games, it’s all about the online mode.  Sure, we all play the single player game once, we need to know what to expect from the multiplayer!

It does look like we’ll be globe trotting again this time around with at least Brazil and some unkwnon spot in Europe, it appears we’ll get the same flavor as we did last time around.  It is beginning to look more and more likely we may actually drive the snowmobiles, not sure how I feel about that as vehicle driving in these games doesn’t always work out the best, but we’ll have to wait and see.  And, hey, a castle blows up, so it can’t be all bad!

Is it November 10th yet?

11
May
2009

modern warfare 2November 10th, 2009 is still six months away, but it is never too early to start drooling over Modern Warfare 2 (AKA Call of Duty 6).

You know a video game is going to be huge when not only is there going to be a video footage premiere on May 24th on TNT during the NBA Eastern Conference finals, but when they release a teaser to the teaser.  I definitely count myself amongst the most excited people on the face of the planet waiting for this game, but even I think this is going a bit far in the early hyperbole.  For crying out loud, we already had the teaser for when they just announced it would only be called Modern Warfare 2!

With that being said, I’ve embedded the teaser footage below, and it strikes me to be made up of all cut-scene footage as opposed to in game play scenes.  Sure, go ahead and get excited about the underwater diving and snowmobiles, but that doesn’t mean we’re actually going to get to play through those.  There is one scene very reminsicent of one my favorite Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare levels, the AC-130 gunship, so I am hopeful we might see that return.  Not holding my breath quite yet, though.

November 10th can’t get here soon enough…

28
Mar
2009

modern warfare 2Mark your calendars boys and girls for November 10th, 2009!

I’ve blogged a few times about my love of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and I have to say my love for this game hasn’t diminished one bit in the 13+ months I’ve had it.  The only time it has left my Xbox 360 was to give Gears of War 2 a spin, and… well… I’ve sold that off and I’m back to good old CoD 4.  I did give Call of Duty: World at War (notice they dropped the numbering) a spin via its demo, and while it was cool to hear Keifer Sutherland barking orders at you, using World War II weapons just didn’t do it for me.

So, back in the world of CoD 4, I had heard rumors the next version of the game would be back to the modern age, but it was just the usual rumors that floated around.  Then this week the gaming community finally got the confirmation we wanted.

I have to admit this is about the oddest promo video I’ve ever seen as it reveals, well, pretty much nothing,but at least we know Modern Warfare 2 will be out on November 10th, 2009.  And, yes, they have completely dropped the Call of Duty name from the title, apparently they think “Modern Warfare” became enough of a brand on is own.

Hopefully I’m not getting my hopes up to high for this game.  The last time I fell in love with a game like this was SOCOM II: U.S. Navy Seals on the Playstation 2, and when SOCOM III came about it, well, to be blunt, it sucked.  They over complicated things by adding vehicles, making the maps too big, making things so the snipers were way over favored, etc.  I couldn’t stand the game.  I am hoping beyond all hope the same fate doesn’t befall Modern Warfare 2.

My fingers are crossed, and I will be waiting patiently on November 10th… okay, maybe not “patiently” for Modern Warfare 2 to rock my socks off… oh please rock my socks off!

8
Nov
2008

In what seems to be becoming an annual event, it’s time for a new entry in the Call of Duty franchise of video games.

This year’s entry is going back to the roots of the series by moving the setting back to the days of World War II, with a heavy focus on the Pacific Rim theater.  There is also a change up in that last year’s mega-popular Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (CoD4) was by the design house at Infinity Ward, and this year’s version (Call fo Duty: World at War is the full title) is by a group named Treyarch.

Everyone on XBox Live has been able to download a demo for a few days now which allows you to play on three of the multiplayer maps.  As long time readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of online first person shooting games, so I downloaded and gave the game a try.  To be honest, Call of Duty 4 has literally not left my XBox since the day I inserted it, which has been about 8 months now, so me playing anything else is a novel concept.

First impressions tell me… I’m not going to be nearly as addicted to this game, and that is if I even buy it.

To be completely honest, this game is so similar to CoD4 that it feels more like an expansion pack than an entirely new game.  I almost wonder if that is why this game doesn’t have the number “5” in its title, it almost feels more like a “4.5” than a wholly new game.  Sure, there are some new aspects such as the addition of vehicles in at least one level of the three they let the public sample, and at some point in the game there is the inclusion of flame throwers, but otherwise the basic mechanics of the game just feel far to close to the last game.

I will say they did add far more details to what weapons damage could do to you, which I am not sure is such a wonderful idea.  I noticed after shooting a guy with a shotgun at fairly close range that I could see his rib cage clearly where the blast hit.  At another point I got hit with a grenade and as my character fell backwards I could see his left leg was missing.  Not to mention the amount of blood that gets splattered on the “camera” when you kill people at close range.  While I understand thay are going for a realisitc approach, I’m not sure I need that much gore in a game I play to relax after a long day of work.

One of the largest annoyances, and I know this is minor, is the inclusion of the attack dogs.  In CoD4, after you would get 7 kills in a row, you could call in an attack chopper.  Well, seeing as this is WW II, they couldn’t have coptors, obiously, so they replaced them with attack dogs.  As an animal lover, I’m not thrilled with haing to shoot dogs to save myself, and my 3 real life dogs are not thrilled with the barking coming from the TV whenever they show up.  Again, minor, but annoying.

True, I am judging this game by only a small slice of it, but the basic mechanics are there, and the actual character movement even feels a bit clunkier.  I mean the way the character itself moves, I expect the weapons to be clunky and harder to manage, but the actual physics of the figure you control just doesn’t feel smooth for some reason.

Will I end up buying it?  I don’t know, I’m tempted, but I may just wait for Infinity Ward to come back to being the designers with the next installment before I once again answer… the Call of Duty.  (Stop groaning!)

30
Aug
2008

Hollywood has tried turning numerous video games into movies, and most of them… well… lets be honest, most of them have sucked. Now the savior may be on its way, and its name is…

Guitar Hero: The Movie!

-commences to slamming his head against a wall-

Mind you this is in no way official yet, but according to an interview with MTV, Brett Ratner is keen to do it.  Luckily for the masses of the world, Activision, the makers of the game, don’t seem so keen on the idea.

For those of you unfamiliar with the popular gaming franchise, you play a plastic guitar and hit the corresponding colored buttons on the instrument to what you see on the screen.  The game is enermously popular, but it doesn’t exactly scream “movie plot” to me.  Ratner has an idea in mind, though:

“It could be about a kid from a small town who dreams of being a rock star and he wins the ‘Guitar Hero’ competition. One of these dreams-[come-true] kind of concepts.”

Didn’t I already see this movie?  Ah, yes, the 1989 “classic”, The Wizard, starring Fred Savage.  Not EXACTLY the same, but close enough.

Anyway, no, this is not a good idea, and thankfully Activision doesn’t want the franchise messed with.  Apparently they think a lackluster movie could possibly damage the name of the game.  Brett Ratner is a big time director though, so I’m not sure how they think the man behind the Rush Hour series and X-Men: The Last Stand could possibly make a bad movie…

Aw crap.  RUN, ACTIVISION!  RUN!

25
Aug
2008

In a move that is sure to leave me scratching my head for days, Microsoft has partnered up the Xbox 360 gaming platform with Rock the Vote.

In a press release put out today, Microsoft revealed that as of today, users of Xbox Live will be able to take polls about the upcoming presidential election, participate in forums and… oh, how this scares me… register to vote.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people registering to vote, and I actually went and did it the day of my 18th birthday I was so anxious to have the right.  What scares me is, and I know I will catch flames for this, is the goofballs on Xbox Live messing this up.

I’ve written a couple times this year about the intellectual titans I run into playing some of the games online, and it worries me that some of these folks, for laughs, may try to register fake people or some other way gum up the works.  I have not looked at the process yet, but I am hopeful there are multiple safeguards in place.  I asked my mother for her feelings on this since she used to be the president of the local League of Women Voters chapter, responsible for many people being registered to vote, and her reply was simply, “this troubles me.”

Hopefully this will lead to legitimate sign-ups, and hopefully it will also lead to people actually going to the polls come election day, but it still makes me a bit nervous to see it done in this fashion.  Going to the gamers is a great idea, but why not set it up around the release of a major game?  Madden ’09 just came out with a huge push for midnight releases, wouldn’t it have made sense to set up at some stores and do it there?  Yes, there is a certain convenience factor to doing it at home, but I worry about faked names, hacked accounts and any other number of potential problems.

In my heart, I hope it is successful because I think our freedom to vote is one of the greatest things in this country, it is just the method of registration that is worrisome to me.