I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to stick with this, but it’s Disco night so I can’t resist doing an Idol Tweet tonight. So check it out at twitter.com/eclipsemagazine. I guarantee no matter what Lil does she is going to get trashed tonight.
The folks at TV.com has posted the ratings for Fox’s Prison Break return, saying “the first new episode of Prison Break in months drew only 3.38 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the important 18-49 adults demo, according to TV By the Numbers. Those numbers are pretty much on par with the time slot’s previous resident, the soon-to-be-cancelled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” I still have faith that Sarah Connor will be back, but that’s just me being “hopeful.” I haven’t watched Prison Break beyond the 7th episode in the first season, but I do want to catch up with the complete series on DVD. You can read the full TV.com story Here.
The folks at Sony are going to try and cash in on Earth Day tomorrow by making a charitable donation to Conservation International by donating $1 for each of the first 10,000 transactions made on the video delivery service for PlayStation 3. To participate in the promotion, consumers can purchase any of the nearly 7,500 pieces of standard and high-definition digital video content available through PlayStation®Store between the hours of midnight to 11:59 PM PST this Wednesday, April 22. Conservation International is a nonprofit organization that seeks to protect Earth’s high-biodiversity wilderness areas and important marine regions around the globe. PlayStation Network chose Conservation International to receive the charitable contribution because of its work based on cutting-edge science, comprehensive partnerships and concern for human well-being. The Sony Team has created a special collection that they are calling “Save Our Earth.” I don’t get what selections like Cloverfield, Hancock, Independence Day and Superman Returns has to do with the environment but whatever it is a good cause so I’ll let it go.
I’m not going to start this review off by going into the history or the franchise or the Treyarch vs. Infinity Ward versions. This review won’t mention it, I promise, sort of. If you pick up the latest Call of Duty epic expecting last year’s amazing COD 4, then you will get a mixed experience. In certain ways the latest COD feels more like it’s a WWII mod than a brand new experience. It kept all of the elements that made COD 4 fun – tight controls, great graphics and fun, addictive multiplayer are all intact here.
At first I was a little skeptical about the series returning to WWII but the minute you pick up a M1 Grand or a Thompson it just feels right. Instead of focusing the entire game on fighting “Gerries” throughout Europe W@W splits the story between two characters – Pvt. Miller who is fighting with the Americans in the Pacific and a Russian named Dimitri, who is chasing Nazi’s around Europe.
Splitting the story in two makes for several jarring transitions. One minute you are fighting guerilla war fare in the jungles of the pacific – making me think, for the millionth time why aren’t there any Vietnam based games? These jungle levels are lush, beautiful and deadly. The Japanese set ambushes in the trees and build little bunkers in the grass and pop up out of nowhere. It’s really unpredictable and chaotic. You really see a lot of original thinking here. When the game switches to the traditional – let’s storm this German building mode, the game feels repetitive and looks pretty bland. In both modes the character models are almost indistinguishable there were a couple of times I walked next to what I thought was a fellow marine only to realize it was a Japanese soldier.
Another annoying thing is, this year’s installment includes more “invisible” walls where it forces you to go through a shooting gallery. One of the things that made the COD Campaign experience so great was, the open nature of how you complete your missions and the ability to either go straight up the gut, or do flanking maneuvers. There are too many levels here where you have to die about 30 times before I finally got through. There was several times where I wanted to throw the controller at my television. At these points the game ceases to be fun and becomes an annoying pain in the butt.
Towards the end, the Campaign mode gets to be a little frustrating because it feels like it’s never going to end. The first few hours, I was really enjoying myself but it eventually gets repetitive. The lack of any progress meter in games is starting to become a major issue with me. I like to know exactly where I am so I can tell if it’s worth playing through yet another level of storming a building. At one point in the game, I sacked Berlin. At that point, I thought the game was over and was satisfied with that ending. Instead it turned out to be I don’t know the halfway point, because then the game switches you to a Bi-plane flying over the Pacific. Then I played through 4 or 5 more levels for a few more hours and I find myself back in Berlin. I was like – didn’t I just level Berlin? There’s this feeling that this Campaign will never end. I never developed any kind of attachment to either character, there are no amazing moments like the Nuclear death in the last one
The weapons in the game aren’t as exciting or cool as the modern day COD4. You get an assortment of machine guns, rifles, on rare occasions you’ll come across a scoped rifle or sniper gun, I found a shot gun just once in the entire campaign mode. The game’s much talked about new weapon – The Flamethrower is disappointing. You never really feel the full impact of using it. It has a limited range and it’s too controlled. If you use it to burn out the Japanese hiding in bushes, I want to see the entire forest catch fire, or see the flame go all over the place. Instead the flames go out almost right away and only stay in the area that you burned.
Multiplayer is almost exactly like the last year’s game. You earn perks and rewards as you play. I always loved this aspect of the series. Generally, I suck at multiplayer but COD keeps me playing because it makes me feel like, I’m still gaining something – like new weapons and enhancements (Scopes, Grips, Suppressors), character Perks (Special Grenades, Health, etc) and the ability to unlock and achieve special talents. While, constantly dying, I know there’s a whole other game going on. I don’t know how many multiplayer maps there are, but I seem to keep getting the same 3 or 4 boring, bland maps – I know there must be more, but I never saw them. I played about 13 hours of multiplayer over the course of a week and kept thinking, why? They also made it harder to unlock things like the Scopes (instead of 25 kills with the weapon, you have to have 75).
You start with 3 modes – death match, team death match and a noob mode. So you don’t get the other numerous modes – until you reach level 14. I’m at level 12 and don’t care enough to unlock everything. It’s very addictive, but not all that fun playing the same crappy 3 or 4 maps and 3 different modes. It only made me miss playing COD 4. I wish they would set it up so that the stuff you do in Campaign mode translates to the multiplayer. Specifically have the kill count added to the multiplayer challenges.
Call of Duty: World at War is a very competent game that I enjoyed but didn’t love and I question some of the unnecessary changes. If it didn’t have the COD moniker attached, I’m not convinced it would rise above the level of just another fun, but bland shooter. Its fatal flaw is that it’s not original and I think I’m officially getting Shooter fatigue.
Final Grade C
EM Review by
Originally Posted 11.28.08
Am I the only one having problems activating the Netflix Streaming on the New Xbox Experience? After waiting for months and slowly getting excited about this update, I was really impressed with the ease and speed of the update but now having some issues with it. To activate the Netflix Streaming you have to go to the Netflix website and enter a code, only problem is the activation process is broken. I entered six different codes and none of them have worked. In the Video Store they have the entire James Bond collection available in HD, in it’s own private space, looks great, I love the idea of having the entire Bond on my HD (even though I own 2 different DVD Collections and the Blu-Rays) was ready to buy all of them only problem is they don’t work. You click one of the links and it just hangs. Keep in mind I have Verizon Fios so my broadband connection is pretty rock solid. What problems are you all experiencing?
I was so excited this morning to wake up and finally give the new X-Box Live Experience a quick spin before I head off to work. Right off the bat it was disappointing, the installation routine was quick and easy, but the first thing I noticed was – where the heck are avatars for black people? It’s bad enough that when I used to go to E3, I would be like one of maybe 5 or 10 black people at a convention that had over 70,000 people in attendance, now I have to look at all of these White and Asian avatars. I had to click the more button 4 times before I finally found one, ONE, black female model and I didn’t see any black male models. The creation tools are excellent and I was able to create my custom avatar. But it felt like a slap in the face that out of the samples on the front screen they couldn’t squeeze in a representation of black male and female models. It’s pathetic really. For the last ten years the game industry has given lip service about gaming diversity but things like this don’t help. I’m not one who sees everything through the lens of race, but this is just so blatant it’s hard to ignore. Beyond this, there other problems with the service which I’ll go into later today.
I’ve never been a big fan of Activision’s Spiderman franchise. I always thought they were beautiful looking games but found the open world nature of them to be quite boring and hard to get into. I didn’t have that problem with Spiderman Web of Shadows. The game grabs you from the beginning and manages to keep you interested. The missions are all well defined, clear and I never once thought, “Ok, what am I supposed to be doing.” The trailers for the game are a little misleading, you are lead to believe that the game is about Spiderman trying to save a post Apocalyptic New York city and while this is true, these elements don’t come into the game until the 3rd act. The game starts with you battling an outbreak of humans that have been infected with the Venom virus. You are then transported back to 4 days prior where the story unveils how you got to that point. Mary Jane somehow gets injured as you follow her to the hospital you get sidetracked into stopping a gang war from breaking out in New York City. With the help of Luke Cage you learn new skills as you help him solve the gang problem. Spiderman isn’t a particularly hard game, which was refreshing. I get tired of playing games that are overly long and complicated. I love Spiderman’s pick up and ease of play. But after playing the game for about 10 hours, I really got tired of beating up on useless gang members. One of the early side quests include taking out 200 gang members. At first this was a lot of fun because Spiderman has got the moves. Zipping around on your webs, using your Spidey sense to spot gang members through buildings and then coming in fast and hard to lay the smack down is exhilarating.
Since Activision isn’t going to send me my Guitar Hero World Tour kit for another few weeks, I’m not going to be able to review it for awhile. Which is good because I’m still stuck on Rockband 2 a game I don’t think I’ll ever be able to finish because I have over 300 tracks and the damn game is forcing me to play any tracks but the new ones. But if you ever wondered what the differences are between the two new games are, there are about 19 tracks that are on both. One of those weird YouTubers actually did a comparison between the two games and the one thing you come away with is how unrealistic both of these games are, when they both use different "notes" for the same sequences. If RB and GH were truly accurate you would think it’d be the same. For instance instead of hitting the green notes you hit the orange, which is at the complete opposite end of the scale. Check it out, it’s pretty neat.
After almost two years of unbelievable hype, the Playstation 3 savior has finally arrived. Little Big Planet hits the streets this week, the 28th. By the time you read this, you should be able to go to your local Target or Best Buy and pick this up. This game is truly unique and the greatness of it is the community they are building around the game. I’ve always been a proponent of games making level design more accessible than the standard PC Modding community where you actually have to know what you are doing. LBP’s level creation tools will hopefully open up a world of creative possibilities for it’s users. Check out the official press release after the break.
The more that I see of the new Tomb Raider: Underworld game, the more I’m looking forward to. Could this be the version that finally restores Lara Croft to the top of the gaming heap? In this NEW video, hope on board a motorbike with Lara Croft as she tramples through the rugged terrain in the stormy Mexican jungles, out witting wild beasts and narrowly escaping death! Tomb Raider: Underworld will be released on November 18th for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PS2 and PC platforms.
The Incredible Hulk is out on DVD and Blu-ray this week in a super dooper 3 disk special edition and it includes digital copy. I actually kind of liked this version. I thought it was a solid, no brainer, popcorn flick with a horrible last act. I’m actually going to be speaking with the SFX honcho from this sometime in the next few days. Here are a couple of clips from the extras.
Making of the Opening Chase Scene.
Becoming the Abomination