6.11.06

Ninety Nine Nights (N3) - Review

The Xbox 360 is an amazing machine for sure but in Asia especially the Xbox and its sequel have never really taken off at the level these consoles have achieved elsewhere. N3 was Microsoft’s attempt to lure the Asian market towards the 360 by hiring the famed game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi.

By all accounts it was successful in capturing the attention this market, so much so that Microsoft decided that us Westerners should have a go too, and all I can say is yippie!!

N3 is one of those games were you are the super-uber warrior leading your forces into battle against mind staggering odds and basically single handily destroying anything that gets in your way. Its simple, its violent and it is a guilty pleasure for sure. This is the type of game you sit down with and turn off your brain and just enjoy. Oh and the graphics? They are excellent! Sure they could do with a little gore, but apart from that they really do start to show off the true power of the 360, especially if you have a decent HD capable TV.

Make sure you do turn-off your brain though or you could find yourself laughing at the ridiculous fantasy placenames and character names that put Tolkien to shame in their silliness. You also risk many groans and headshakes at the corny dialog and silly situations your mostly teenage heroes get themselves into. If you are a fan of Asian media however N3 might be right up your alley with its teenage angst ridden heroes and ridiculous, and in the case of the females, revealing outfits.

It’s not all hack and slash fun however, there are some problems with the game. The first is your ally AI, its stupid. Horribly, horribly stupid. Basically the only thing you can rely on your AI allies’ do is stand around, get in the way and get into trouble. Oh and stand there and cheer ever so often. But hey when you can decimate whole armies by yourself what does that matter? So then there is the second and most serious problem, the save system. Basically you can only save after missions, and there is no check point system during the missions. On the later levels this leads to undue frustration as you are forced to begin levels right from the start just because the boss who took an hour to reach managed to get the upper hand. Thirdly the combat is basically about learning which combo does the most damage and then using it again and again… personally I recommend X X X Y Y for most characters.

All and all however N3 is a great game when you just want to slaughter several thousand enemy in beautify rendered surroundings and not have to worry about mind-bending puzzles or difficult strategic situations.

Overall score 3.5 out of 5

15.12.05

Kong hits Wellington

Well Fi and I headed down to watch the Kong goings on last night, and here is what I have to say;

First of all the day itself was bloody hot! The sun was baking!

We got there about 5:45pm and most of the good spots were gone already but after a bit of walking around we did manage to find a place were we could just see over the heads of some of the crowd and make out the red carpet.

At the start there were a few of what passes for a celebrity in NZ but then the real stars showed up and by real stars I of course mean Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Andy Serkis. Naomi who? Adrian what? Peter Jackson certainly got the biggest cheers and was in the highest demand for autographs from the rather chilled out Wellington crowd. It must be interesting for big name stars to perhaps not be treated as they are used to. Adrian Brody was certainly WAY too cool for school, and basically was chilly and somewhat rude when interviewed by the excellent Jackie Brown.

But yes, people were really there for Peter, and that leads me into a story (I like stories!)

There was a little girl (10 perhaps) hanging out of a tree (rather monkey like) next to us with a big blow-up banana and she was there for only one person. Peter Jackson. So when he came down infront of us she leaned out, only just holding onto the tree, over the heads of the crowd for him to sign her banana. At first it looked like he wasn't going to see, but then he looked up and looked slightly surprised and then looked right into this little girls eyes and gave her a huge smile, his eyes even light up and all that. Well she was ESTATIC! She didn't really know what to say, I think she was trying to tell her mother that "Peter Jackson is signing my banana" but all that really came out was "peter... peter..."

Of course the funny thing was as soon as she got her banana back, signed, see flung it back at her mother ("don't fall out dear") and grabbed the digital camera ("don't break it dear") to take photos of Peter as he slowly moved away.

I myself did not get close enough to the action for any signing (I am sure a Peter Jackson or Richard Taylor signature on my weta King Kong hat would look good) but it was still a good experience. Now I just have to wait to see it on Friday. Jesse went to the Weta crew screening and insists that Kong is the best film he has ever seen, better even than StarWars (and Jesse loves StarWars). He says it is WAY better than any of the Rings films... we shall see.. we shall see.. Its going to be great though!

Oh and yeah I did see Narina. Its a kids film, and I am sure they will like it, but it lacked emotion, it lacked impact and it lacked good special effects. That's all I am going to say really.

8.12.05

To Blog or not to Blog?

I have a problem...

I have this blog, and I do like posting to it and keeping the 4 or so people that actually read it up to date :) But I have a problem, not actually I have two;

1. I am now a public servant, that means basically I cannot talk about my job or about road safety as anything I say, and I have some strong opinions on road safety, could be taken as either the offical MoT line or as critism of the government in the transport area. This is a big no, no in the public servant area and we have been warned that blogs are considered to be published and advised to basically "not go there". So that is a huge part of my life I can't talk about, but such is the life of the servant of the public ;)

2. I get paid by Macguide to write about Macs... and since a blog is published, and not to mention free material anything I say on here, say about how excellent a game the Stubbs the Zombie is, makes it then hard for Macguide to pay me for statements around the same line (look out for a review of Stubbs in an upcomming Macguide.. be the zombie!).

Now of course that does leave quite a bit more for me to talk about, but it has also taken two large chunks of my interests out.

But anyway, that is my problem.

In other news, I have tickets for both Narina and KONG! So I will be seeing Narina this friday with Fi and my brother and I will be seeing KONG with Fi next Friday. Yay!

I am sort of looking forward to Narina, though it is a "kids" story and is very christian based, which can get in your face... but we will see what we will see.

As for KONG there is no question, I am looking forward to it, and by all accounts the Kong vs T-Rex fight is an epic event that will go down in history..

Last but not least I have an Xbox360 on preorder, its expensive but I figure if I get one I can review games in TONE and it will pay for itself!

23.11.05

Xbox 360 Info

I swear I posted this last night right after the information arrived in my inbox.. ah well here is the Xbox 360 press release.. March 2nd people, March 2nd..

"Auckland, November 22, 2005 - It’s only 99 sleeps until New Zealanders can get their hands on the world’s most powerful games console, the Xbox 360.

Microsoft today announced that two versions of the console will go on sale from 12:01am on March 2nd, 2006. Consumers will be able to choose from the Xbox 360 at RRP$719.95* and the Xbox 360 Core System at RRP$549.95*.

“Amazingly realistic gaming experiences are now within our reach,” said David McLean, Regional Director, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft Australia and New Zealand.

“Xbox 360 ushers in a whole new generation of gaming. Game characters and environments are just like the real world or as fantastic as the imagination can dream up. The New Zealand lounge room has not seen richer or more detailed games.”

Xbox 360 is the first console that lets gamers enjoy the freedom of wireless gaming, as standard. The Xbox 360 offer will include the console, 20GB hard drive, media remote, wireless controller, component high-definition cable and Ethernet cable. Xbox 360 Core System delivers the same powerful gaming as Xbox 360, but starts with the basics and lets you expand at your own pace. The Xbox Core system includes the console, composite AV cable and wired controller.

Both packages come with a complimentary Silver subscription to the world’s leading online gaming service Xbox Live, which provides gamers new ways to compete and hone their skills.

There are currently more than 200 games being developed for the Xbox 360, with 18 titles now launched in the United States and other markets. A full list of titles available on New Zealand launch will be available in 2006.

A wide range of Xbox 360 accessories will be available on launch. The current list includes:

· Wireless (RRP$89.95*) and wired (RRP$69.95*) controllers
· Play charge cable (RRP$39.95*)
· Rechargeable battery pack and cradle (RRP$59.95*)
· Battery pack (RRP$24.95*)
· 20Gb hard drive (RRP$189.95*)
· 64MB Memory unit (RRP$59.95*)
· Wireless networking adaptor (RRP$189.95*)
· VGA cable (RRP$59.95*)
· Advanced AV pack (RRP$44.95*)
· High Definition AV pack (RRP$59.95*)
· Headset (RRP$59.95*)
· Faceplate (RRP$34.95*)
· Universal Media Remote (RRP$59.95*)

Xbox 360 consoles, games and accessories will be available from leading retail outlets."

16.11.05

Conference and DOOOOMMM

Well all of this week so far I have been at the Australasian Road Safety conference in Wellington. Its been a great time with lots of interesting speakers and of particular interest to me Professor Frank McKenna has been in attendance and speaking. Frank's work was very important to my thesis so it was great to meet him and he has to be the most interesting speaker at the conference.

The main message that seems to be comming out of the conference is that we have the technology and the know-how right now to solve our road safety problems. There has been a lot of talking about attitude change, in that the ability to speed is seen as a "right" much like smoking whereever you are or drunk driving used to be also seen as "rights". This will have to be changed if people ever expect to get speed limiting engineering solutions into place.

Anyway its been a good couple of days and I am looking forward to going back again today.

Moving away from serious issues like Road Safety, I saw DOOM the other day...

Its a markedly average film, which is actually better than I expected. I thought it would be awful but as it is it seems to almost reach the point where it might have been good but then falls down on several points. I again have to say how amazed I am that the Rock can actually act. I stand by my statement that he is taking the kind of roles that the Governator would have taken if he was young enough today, and pulling them off.

So what could have made it great? Well if they had kept to the DOOM storyline a little more (like actually having demons and experiments with teleportation) it might have been better, and also they needed to get it going into action faster and keep the tension level much higher. There weren't enough deaths in the marine team until too far into the film. Also the reason why people became monsters was horribly flawed in that near the end there were heaps of "monsterfied" people running around.. they all were potential psychopaths? The lab workers and their familys? Really? And the guy with the troubled past nicknamed Reaper who chooses to kill people for a living isn't? What? Huh?

Anyway, it was average but made somewhat worse by fringes of potential that stuck out. The First person scene (they only did it once and for a limited time) was actually pretty good, I get the feeling though that there was going to be more but they cut it down, perhaps they had some motion sickness issues or such.

9.11.05

Star*Drive, Enterprise, Saw 2 & Eating Media Lunch

I have recently been re-reading some of my Alternity books, specially my Star*Drive RPG books (I have basically everything ever put out for Alternity). And as always I am struck by how alive and well written these books are. I have always thought it was a really pity that I never really got a game of Alternity going, it was a nice system and both the Star*Drive and Dark@Matter campaigns were some of the best I have ever read.

Star*Drive is particuarly in my head at the moment has I have been watching quite a bit of Sci-Fi, and even though it was written in 1998 the simularities between the Star*Drive setting and say, Firefly are quite close. There are even "reavers" in Star*Drive, except they are just people who have installed too much cyberwear. Its great stuff though.

Perhaps once I have a regular roleplaying group I can float the idea or something... Much to think about really.

Moving on, I have also been watching my way through the series of Enterprise (I have finished series 1, 2, and 3 now) with Fiona. It does have its problems, in that the first two seasons were kind of weak "exporing" stuff that had been done before, with some temporal cold-war stuff thrown in, which never did mix. Plus it would appear that womens lib went down over time to when the orgional Star Trek is set, but never mind. Also the ethic mix of the ship could do with a bit more cultures. BUT series 3 (apart from the awful change of start music, which was even worse than the first 2 seasons) was really good. The show had purpose and it was interesting, especially because the crew couldn't afford to stay on the Moral High Horse that can be so annoying in Star Trek (has anyone else ever been bothered that this Utopia is actually run by a Starfleet run dictatorship? I mean did you see that episode of Voyager (I think) where one of them was back on earth and running from the law, but people just keep teleporting in whereever he went? I call that a terrifying view of the future!)

I will hold judgement on Series 4 until I have seen it, but I hope it doesn't stay in the past long. The whole Nazi thing has been done to death.

Hmm what next? OH yeah I saw Saw 2 the other day. Hmmm worked out the twist about 10 minutes in, the less said the better.. I am not even going to link the film title.. that's right! No link for you! Instead have this one! (Oh NSFW)

Lastly Eating Media Lunch is back and its as funny as ever. Sure I enjoyed the unauthorised history of NZ, but EML is really just the bestest thing on NZ TV at the moment. Collecting dontations on the street for El Qaeda? excellent stuff...

7.11.05

Because Pa says

Hi All, My Dad says that I should post in more blog more often.

Perhaps I shall, but I am pretty lazy :)

Anyway, what's been going on here?

Well I went along to a Xbox event where they were showing off the Xbox 360 but more so they were saying to all the retailers there "pllleeasssee keep selling Xbox until the 360 arrives.. please! PLEASE!". I have to say it was rather funny... The highlight of the night was probably seeing the King Kong game (for Xbox not Xbox 360).

The game looked very cinematic and you couldn't really tell by watching when the guy was or was not in control of the action on the screen. Very seamless transitions, and the Kong vs T-Rex fights looked great!

What else?

Oh yeah for fireworks Fi and I went down to the Habour, it was very cool, we had our backs to the city so everytime a firework went off the "BOOM" bounced off the skyscrapers behind us, as Jesse said it made it sound like the city was under attack.

Finally I am still looking for people to Roleplay with! I am having to luck at all.. my sign up in Graphic has had "contact me" tags ripped off it, and the RPGcentral website thingy in Wellington must be hosted in Iraq or something from how often it is up and down. Though when the forums there are up the answer seems to be "no room in current games and no interest in new games".

Looks like I am screwed really.