Let the fleecing begin!

We knew i t would happen. As with the launch of any new big eletronic toy, the impulse for the stores is to really cash it in by offering bundles, but the Xbox 360 is already at an historically steep price, and now bundles from $700 to a whopping $1200 dollars have popped up. But usually bundles include some sort of savings. These bundles from all accounts seem to just package the stuff together at no savings whatsoever. Bottom line-your better off getting your own bundle package at this point.

An early review of Uwe Boll's (Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead) latest masterpiece, Bloodrayne, is up at IGN. They call it his best work to date, giving it a generous two stars out of five.

Now onto this weekend's offerings. First up is The Cave. A really stupid looking horror film. I mean seriously, a bunch of dumbass spelunkers enter a mysterious cave that another bunch of dumbass spelunkers mysteriously dissapeared in. Featuring a C-list cast and effects that are on par with low budget midnight movies. I'd be suprised if this takes in more than 2 mil.

Then there is Terry Gilliam's latest-The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon & Heath Ledger. The reviews are sort of mixed, but I really like the concept and Ledger & Damon usually put on an entertaining show, so it's hopefully going to be a fun time.

Nothing else really go on today, but if something earth shattering happens, I'll be sure to comment on it.


How much is that doggy in the touch screen?

Out this week is the title that Nintendo's Reggie Fills-Aime has pushed as the second coming, Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS. I've never really gotten into these "virtual caretaker" games (i.e. Seaman, Tamagotchi, the Sims) where you basically substitute a real pet for a fake one. They aren't even really games, with no clear goal or end in sight. But despite that I'm sure this'll be a huge success based on the cuteness factor. And from the reviews I've read somebody finally realized that it' not fun to have to respond to a virtual pet's every whim and need, so most of that is eliminated. It'll be interesting to see if the public really picks up on this as it's meant to appeal to the non-gamer and really makes the DS take off. Personally, I'm far more interested in the new Lunar & Mario & Luigi rpgs coming out soon. If those are good, I may have to finally break down and get one.

But if the utter cuteness of Nintendogs makes you feel like unleashing some rage, also out this week is reportedly the first Hulk title that's actually good-Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. Someone finally got the idea that it's probably best to just let the game be a "sandbox" type like GTA (or more appropriately, Spider-Man 2) where while there's a story and missions, you also can just run around causing massive destruction. I'm hopefully getting it in the mail next week so I'll let you know my verdict then.

And finally, the other big release this week is 187-Ride or Die. It sounds like another GTA-themed rip-off, but instead it's like a poorly done urban version of Twisted Metal with poor controls. I'm really getting sick of these urban games, there shuld be some kind of moratorium on them & any game based on a war in the last 100 years.

That's it for today, but I'll defnitely be back tommorow with my thoughts on this weekend's movies. Until then....


Microsoft's official pirate speaks....

Regardless of whether or not you think the recently announced two-tier pricing system for Xbox 360 is a good idea, MS does have plenty of explaining to do. Around the time of E3 (and for a few weeeks after) they were fairly adamant that not only would the hard drive be a standard built in deal, but they also claimed that at least at first their would be one set price for the system. J. Allard (he would be MS' official pirate, having the shaved head and earring to look the part), was somewhat ready to field the public's questions, as he set up an online chat. I thought he defended the decision fairly well, but at the same time, was backpeddling about alot of things he claimed would be necessary for the next generation. This along with another top MS exec claiming that 95% of 360 games would not need the hard drive. But this statement is a bit misleading in itself. While a vast majority of games may not need the hard drive, the fact of the matter is that even if you never downloaded content or saved music to your hard drive, standard memory cards are notoriously small and can only store a handful of game saves (especially any game that has career or season modes to save), so odds are you would probably need at least two memory cards, thereby making the hard drive again a more than worthwhile purchase since it costs about the same as two and can store a helluva lot more.

But some hopefully good news has leaked out-MS is supposedly pricing their first party 360 games at $49.99, meaning we hopefully won't see any hike in price (although who knows what 3rd parties will do) from current games.

I picked up the first season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman last week, and as campy & cheesy as I remember the show being, time has made it seem even more so. But somehow, it still retains a large amount of it's charm. It's also sort of interesting to see where all those then young up & comers have ended up. Last I checked, Jonathon Shea (Lex Luthor) was on some syndicated Sci-Fi show called Mutant X, Dean Cain was hosting Ripley's Believe it or Not, and Teri Hatcher is on one of the top TV shows right now.

Finally, I did see both Red Eye & 40-Year Old Virgin over the weekend. Red Eye was a solid thriller, but gets a little silly and over the top at the end. It's worth seeing for Cillian Murphy's performance; between this and being the Scarecrow in Batman Begins, he'll have a nice long career as a creepy psycho. 40-Year Old Virgin is easily the funniest movie I have seen all year, it's an absolutely flawless fun comedy, Everyone is the cast is absolutely hilarious, and Carrell really shines in his first lead.

That's really it for now, but I'll defnitely be back later today or Wed. with some more thoughts on what's happening in the world of entertainment.


A tale of two 360s

Well, after weeks of no real news for gamers, several big announcements have come to light. The firs two being bad. One of the premiere games for the 360-Full Auto(think Burnout with guns), has been officially pushed back till next year. No one really knows how much This will affect the launch until we see what else is actually available, but it was something I had fully pre-ordered, so I'll have to think about what else I'd want to put that money on.

But much worse for Gamecube owners is that Zelda: The Twilight Princess has officially been delayed until at least the middle of 2006. This is realistically the one great game that was worth holding onto your Gamecube for, now with it possibly being pushed relatively close to the launch of the Revolution, they may even just move it on to their next system, as it would be a garaunteed system-seller.

And now for the big news-The 360's price was finally announced, and the rumors about there being a stripped-down and deluxe version were confirmed. The basic $299 model will not come with a hard drive or wireless controllers, but you also apparently won't need the hard drive to play most games (inlcuding the new Morrowind title, which is probably my most anticipated 360 game). But for only a $100 more (which it will cost to buy the 20 gig hard drive seperately), you will get a wireless controller, the hard drive, a head set and a dvd remote. In addition, the 360 only becomes backwards compatible with the hard drive, and obviously any downloadable content or media files you'd want to store and use for games or other purposes would very quickly fill up the standard memory card.

But the bigger implication here is that the hard drive will not be a standard in every 360 bought, possibly even only a small minority, meaning that most 360 games really won't take advantage of the possible features (i.e. save a game anywhere, faster loading, downloadable content, etc.). For me personally, things like downloadable content and backwards compatability aren't really a big deal though, so I'll have to see what if any affect the hard drive will have on any launch or near launch titles. If all it's good for is getting extra money out of me through downloadable content, I'll probably skip it.

Moving on-after a couple of weeks of mediocre offerings, we finally have some good-looking films open this weekend. First up is Wes Craven's Red Eye. This actually looks like the first promising thriller in a few years, but the previews already have given too much away, showing that Rachael Mcadams gets off the plane. Sure, it would've been harder to pull off, but a thriller taking place entirely in the confined space of a plane that has nothing to do with terrorists or prisoners would be a very cool idea.
And then there is Steve Carrell's first starring role-The 40-year Old Virgin. Normally, I would toss this off as another bad sex comedy about a total loser, but the great cast and suprisingly funny previews give me hope that this will be a great comedy.

Ok, that's really all for today, now excuse me while I readjust me 360 launch day budget.....


Same Ho, Same low.

Couple of fairly noteworthy game tidbits this week, so I'll address them first. Out this week is the forst NFL game with no competition, Madden 2006. I'll sum up my feeling s about this with a quote from Scrubs: Dr. Cox: You'd better go ahead and enjoy this while you can, Bob, because if your evil genie goes ahead and grants your wish and I'm gone forever, then the only one you're going to be able to contend with around here is yourself. And when you really get to know *that* person, oh, dear God, you'll scream so loud that Satan will want to tear up that contract he made with you at birth just so he can get some sleep.

The other big tidbit is that supposedly on August 17th, Microsoft will finally announce a firm date & release price for the 360. Hopefully they'll also announce what that standard price will definitely include as rumors are again picking up that the hard drive will actually be a seperate purchase. We'll just have to wait & see on that one.

Now onto the movies. We have 4 fairly underwhelming ones opening this weekend. First up is The Great Raid-Another true story about another small group of soldiers that faced great odds during a war. No dissrespect to the actual soldiers, but this seems so similar to the last 40 billion movies of this type that I have no interest in it.
Next up is Four Brothers which just has one of the silliest plots I've heard in awhile. 4 adopted kids come back home for their Mom's funeral. She was murdered and they want to take out revenge on whoever did it. The thing is, the previews hint at some huge citywide conspiracy, which given that she was some little old lady in a very poor neighborhood makes me laugh.
Then there is The Skeleton Key. The latest in a long line of particularly unscary and just plain horrendous horror films. In fact, it pretty much looks like a direct rip off of The Grudge, just with a Voodoo twist.
But all these seem like oscar contenders compared to this weeks biggest stinker-Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolow, starring talentless ass Rob Schneider. It'll be the same horrible jokes as last time, only in a different country (Deuce is a big loser, he only gets strange & freakish women, throw in some fart jokes). The box office has been in a huge rut this year, I seriously hope that trend continues this weekend in order to show that nobody wants to see this crap.

Perhaps the best thing to do this weekend is pick up a copy of the first season of Muppet Show. It's a good reminder of real family (meaning anyone of any age) entertainment when almost nothing is geared towards the entire family anymore.



Ok, pretty much the only thing worth talking about is this weekend's only major release-The Dukes of Hazzard, starring some of our greatest thespians-Sean William Scott, Johnny Knoxville & Jessica Simpson. In case you can't tell, that's complete sarcasm, but the fact is that there are few actors I could imagine fitting the roles better, and it looks like an incredibly fun popcorn movie, which is probably befitting the series (of which I've seen maybe half an episode ever). I know there has been some controversy stirred over keeping the confederate flag on the General Lee, but this is yet another example of PC gone too far. The confederate flag stood for a lot of things, not just slavery. It's more a representation of the rebel attitude, and removing it would be far too conformists for true troublemakers such as the dukes...


Speak No Evil

I seem to be doomed never to play FFXI. My old PS2 was barely working, and the new one isn't compatible with the required hard drive add on. But I figured that was fine because it's coming out for the 360. It was a big reason I wanted to buy the system. It's still coming out for the 360 and by the end of the year, but it won't support a crucial feature-Voice Chat. You'll still have to buy a USB keyboard if you want to play FFXI on your 360. They claim it's to help keep track of player abuse through the chat log, but this is complete bull. I refuse to play a game that only supports keyboard chat, there's no excuse for it these days, and neither will most other xbox live users who have been weaned on the good old headset. If Bungie & Blizzard can keep track, why can't Square? It's just really ridiculous and they just lost themselves a sale...

The only other big news this week so far is also from Square. Seem that Square may be going truly multi-platform, as there a big rumors that they may bring their biggest franchises (i.e. Final Fantasy & Dragon Warrior) to all 3 next gen consoles. It would be cool, but Sony would lose plenty of their pull if they could no longer claim to be the only system with most of Square's most popular titles, so my guess is they'll do whatever it takes to lock down at least a few exclusives.

And that's really all for today, but I'll definitely be back tommorow to talk about the weekend movies and if anything else pops up....