Integrity will get you nowhere...

(No posts about movies seeing as the only major release this weekend wasn't even screened for critics)

Ah integrity. Supposedly the rarest form of currency in just about all facets of life. While we all strive to have it, we generally have to give up some in order to get by in life, and it's always under attack by those against us. I've kept the integrity on this blog pretty high to date. Ads are minimal, and I don't get paid for anything I plug, and I have gotten offers to plug things for at least some compensation that I've turned down. But god forbid this blog ever takes off, I may be forced to make a choice between those sweet, sweet advertising dollars and whether or not to rip on somebody. And it's a lose/lose situation for anybody, amateur or pro in the industry. I have been accused of blatant bias in previous writing positions as well as this blog even with any compensation being minimal at best and none garnered from some big game/movie company paying me to support their product.

So I can only start to imagine the pressure big sites that have a full-time staff to pay face when they get a shitty game from a company that is footing the bill and have to review it. Do they tell the truth and risk losing not only their current advertisers, but potential future ones as well? That helps nobody, The irate idiotic fanboys will still bitch and moan no matter what and all the site gets is the fun decision of possibly having to cut some staff or in serious cases shut down entirely. The guys at Penny Arcade are in a very unique position where they are a small company supported by a huge army of loyal followers that support them pretty much no matter what and they don't really need advertising dollars to survive. But when the story of a Gamespot editor's firing over a bad review of Kane & Lynch broke late yesterday, the internet community was understandably up in arms because apparently he either didn't notice or didn't care that the site was plastered with ads for the game. I personally think the oddest part about this is Kane & Lynch has gotten mediocre scores across the board, but because a site they chose to advertise on also blasted the game, they chose to punish that one site over it. Seems kinda silly.

It's again very easy to call for Gamespot's head in this case, but if it is true, I'm not sure any real blame should fall with Gamespot itself. I will say if it was me and such an action would only affect myself, I probably would tell Eidos to go fuck themselves. But if I've got an entire staff to consider, higher ups to answer to, and a major advertising possibly threatening my bottom line in not only the present, but the near future, I'd honestly most likely throw the reviewer to the wolves because again it's a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation no matter what.

Eidos on the other hand, should be held fully accountable and possibly legally liable if this is indeed the case. They have every right to choose who they advertise with, but for somebody to actually get fired over a bad review they must've have made some major threats such as badmouthing to other companies or not letting Gamespot in for any more interviews or previews, which is far from acceptable in any instance. Whatever the conditions, PA is claiming that the reason for the editor's firing was the poor review and I tend to believe PA, which means I'll definitely be exercising my right as a consumer to not buy anything from Eidos and while not condemning Gamespot because they were probably in a tough position, not giving any future reviews of theirs as much credence as I once did.


Video Day: Bite My Shiny Metal Ass Edition

That's right, pathetic Earthlings! Futurama has finally returned! One of four, count 'em FOUR DVD movies comes out today. They will also be shown as a fully blown "new" season on Comedy Central, and I hope that much like Family Guy, this leads to many more years (only without the massive drop in consistent quality that Family Guy has suffered). So My post today is some of Futurama's best stuff. Enjoy and BUY BENDER'S BIG SCORE ON DVD TODAY!!


The Lean Times are Upon Us...

Sorry for no updates for basically a week, but the week of Thanksgiving is retail hell and I was way too tired from my actual job to write anything.

But yes, after weeks filled to the brim with AAA & AA releases making our banks accounts cry, we are in a much needed dead zone, with no major releases this week and few on the horizon. The problem is that that horizon will most likely stay that way until at least next August like it does every year. Sure, we'll have a few select heavy hitters such as Smash Bros, Mario Kart & GTA IV. But overall, be thankful that you have so many titles out right now you don't know what to do with them because that's what will hopefully get you through the lean months to come.

I did manage to get in about 20 hours with Mass Effect so far, and I'm loving it. The action, storyline, character building, are all pure genius. But, if I had to nitpick, there are some glaring flaws that seem like they were things that were simply left without much effort in order to get the game out before fans starting burning down Bioware's offices. Firstly, the sorry excuse that is your land vehicle. The thing is not only lacking in decent firepower, but it can't take much of a beating and handles like a broken down jalopy. Gimme a goddamn Warthog! But the real sticking point is the vastly confusing menus. I'm never completely sure what armor or gun I have equipped on my characters not to mention any add ons they may have attached to those items. But the rest of the game is so utterly fantastic that much like KOTOR I can already see going through it multiple times and it's quickly become one of my favorite 360 titles.

That's pretty much it for today, but now that the insanity of Thanksgiving week is over, I should be back to updating on a regular basis.

FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Anika's Odysssey


Microsoft is missing the point...

It seems like it would be a fantastic announcement, original Xbox games for download on Xbox live, and for the fairly reasonable price of only $15!. Surely, these will be enhanced with cleaned up graphics, leaderboards and achievements, RIGHT?!? Not so fast. MS claims it isn't possible, but then what the hell is the point? Many original Xbox games I can already find used pretty easily for $15 or less and what possible incentive would I have to get them online without any enhancements whatsoever, hell some already have reported issues. This is beyond ridiculous that MS would do this of all things in such a completely half-assed way. It speaks to the fact that aside from online multi-player, they don't really give a shit about how the rest of Xbox live works and just see it as additional revenue for the smallest amount of effort rather than using it to really expand the online experience. The sad thing is that if they took their heads out of their fucking asses for two whole seconds they'd probably realize there actually is more money to be made in fixing up the damn things and making them better than they were. But when a company can't even get games over a decade old to run smoothly on their system, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Luckily, Microsoft is doing things right on the actual console side, as we have yet another AAA console release with what may be my most anticipated game this year, Mass Effect. I can't even begin to accurately describe how excited I am for this, and anybody who has played any of Bioware's previous works will understand why. Their ability to make you really feel like you are the one actually driving the story rather than just being along for the ride like so many other titles in unparalleled and always makes for an extremely satisfying experience that you love going through time & time again. To get you even more excited, check out this new fanvid I made:

Of course. Mass Effect is far from the only huge title hitting this week. 360 & PS3 wannabe rock stars also get to try and strut their stuff in the newest music title from Harmonix (the guys who made the first two Guitar Hero titles) in Rock Band. It certainly seems to be poised to be a smash and much like the Guitar Hero games. I can see the appeal, but also like the Guitar Hero games, the high price tag and gameplay style just don't really hold much appeal for me personally. But I admittedly say this without ever having played any of these games, so maybe if I actually get around to trying one of the bazillions of demo units in stores I may change my tune.

Even though Wii owners like myself are probably still collecting stars in Mario Galaxy, we may want to take a brief second to check out Nintendo's new Wii Zapper, which hits stores this week. Not so much for the zapper, which most reports have said is a giant waste of plastic, but for the reportedly awesome game that is Link's Crossbow Training/ For $20, it's probably the best of an already very healthy light gun-esque shooter selection on the Wii along with last week's release of Umbrella Chronicles and the additional releases this week of Ghost Squad & Geometry Wars: Galaxies.

GAMERS THE TV SHOWS LIVES! Well, sort of. While there actually is a development deal on the table for this promising comedy, the Writers strike has put a halt to any further progress on the show becoming a reality for the time being. But I hope everybody continues their support and hopefully this show won't be forgotten when writers start making scripts again. In the meantime though, you can check out the pretty awesome spec pilot that's already been made:


Manliest Poem Ever

Granted, the words "manly" & "poem" don't usually go together, but this weekend's CGI action epic Beowulf is based on an ancient poem all about the title characters epic exploits. I'm really hoping it succeeds, as it may make a case for more mature animated fare showing up on the big screen. Animation is a genre like any other, and as long as Hollywood treats it like nothing more than children's fare, it won't have much of a chance to really grow & evolve.

That's pretty much the only movie worth discussing this weekend, but I have great news on a long-awaited movie sequel. Ghostbusters 3 is in the works! The catch is that much like Stranglehold, it's a video game sequel. The fact that the developer's list of games is none too impressive worries me a bit, but all the gang is back, so it should be a great experience if not too hastily rushed out.

I know you PS3 owners expected to have a little breathing room between Assassins' Creed and Uncharted, but we're getting this awesome modern Indiana Jones-inspired adventure tomorrow. Seems like an odd move, but maybe it's too avoid the hype machine that is Mass Effect. Regardless, this is arguably the last quality title for the PS3 until at least sometime next year, so PS3 owners would be to wise to grab it. Thank god pretty much all of this insanity will be over soon and I'll actually have time to beat a few games...



Facing a Crysis Head On

I worked a very long and tiring shift, so I've really only played about an hour of Mario Galaxy so far, but it was an extremely awesome hour. I plan to play it a ton this week, and I can't imagine anything interrupting me until Mass Effect hits in about 7 days.

PC gamers (at least those with monster gaming rigs) should be very excited as the highly anticipated Crysis finally hits this week. I know the game is about some alien menace, and looks insanely gorgeous, but games that basically require me to have around $1000 worth of equipment just to have them play smoothly tend to not get anywhere in my radar.

The legendary Contra series returns to it's 2D roots on the DS with the simplified title of Contra 4. Impressions and vids show the Contra of old, which is good in most ways, but the old 2D Contra games could be hard to the point of giving you a stroke, so I may see about giving it a rent before a full purchase.

Any other week, Kane & Lynch, the new ultraviolent co-op title from Eidos, would be a virtual guaranteed smash. But with what's been out in the last week or two and what's coming out next week in addition to the flood already hitting this week, it seems the most likely to slip through the cracks. Is it even good? I don't really have any clue, but it probably won't even get a fair shake anyways.



Plumbers, Assassins & Rabbits, oh my!

There may be weeks with bigger single titles, but this upcoming week is arguably the biggest in gaming history in terms of sheer volume of high profile stuff. So much so that some not quite AAA titles may get left in the dust. The Wii arguably has the biggest lineup which may hugely bolster it supposedly thin library. You've got two huge shooters in Medal of Honor Heroes 2, which proves that the Wii can be a serious online contender with a whopping 32-player online capability. If I wasn't so massively sick of WWII titles, I'd pick this one up immediately. The other big shooter is the first of what may be a wave of light gun-esque Wii titles in Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. This emerging trend excites me in some ways, as I had lots of fun with Saturn Light Gun titles such as Virtua Cop (and of course the legendary NES classic Duck Hunt). But there's a reason why not too many of these games have been released in the past decade, and I think it's because nowadays FPS games provide a much more immersive experience, and this resurrection of the practically dead genre may be short lived with lots of terrible quickly developed clones like all the minigame collections we are swamped with now.

Speaking of minigame collections, our crazy rabbit friends are back in Raving Rabbids 2. But honestly, this genre has pretty much quickly worn out its welcome, so I have little to no interest in yet another waggle-fest of which the point seems to make me look like a jackass (not that I mind looking like a jackass, but there are already a plethora of games we can do that with). Rabbids will have the edge on humor, but really nothing else new to see here.

Saving the best for last, easily the Wii's most important game to date will be in stores Monday morning in Super Mario Galaxy. Adding to the importance was the not so hot reception given to Mario's last platforming effort, Sunshine. But the reviews are already in, and they thankfully say that this is arguably his best adventure yet, thus proving that Nintendo knows what they are doing. I plan to be spending all my free time this week traveling the galaxy with everyone's favorite plumber, and so should everyone who has a Wii.

But 360 & PS3 owners have a hugely anticipated title to check out this week as well in the mysterious Assassins' Creed. Not only mysterious in what it's really about, as futuristic elements have been hinted at even though it seems to take place during the Crusades; but also if it will turn out to be the year's biggest flop, as hands-on previews haven't been all that reassuring. But I saw this live at PAX awhile back, and it looked fairly impressive, and when it comes to huge titles like this, Ubisoft knows how to deliver, so I'm willing to bet we'll all be enjoying learning to live by the Assassins' Creed.

There are a few more titles coming out this week worth discussing, but I'll hold off on those for tomorrow. In the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: The Mind Bender


Vince Vaughn & Paul Giammatti are going on the naughty list...

I'm sure the script sounded like a great idea-dealing with living in the shadow of a famous sibling, arguably the most famous sibling one could possibly have in the form of St. Nick. But it's fairly apparent from not only the previews, but the critical response, that Fred Claus just doesn't do much with this idea. Admittedly though, I'm a bit of a sucker for Christmas films, and there may not be much other option for moviegoers this weekend. It certainly seems a better option than Lions for Lambs, which has already earned the dubious honor of the worst film ever directed by Robert Redford.

The closest thing to a sure bet this weekend is the latest from the Cohen Brothers, No Country for Old Men, but it's limited release may make it hard to find.

Two things of note for PS3 owners-The 2.00 firmware update is here, now you can do revolutionary things like use wallpapers for your background! All kidding aside, possibly my biggest complaint about themes and gamer pics for Xbox live is that you can't really see what you are buying, so hopefully the PS3 at least will address that issue if they are going to start charging for the things. The other is that a demo for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is finally available for download. Aside from Ratchet & Clank, this is the only real worthwhile PS3 exclusive this year, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

The crazy dudes over at sarcasticgamer.com are back with one of their best parody songs yet, Hey there Mr. Thompson, a great little diddy about everybody's favorite batshit insane lawyer (seriously the guy is just completely fucking mental). Wanna bet sarcasticgamer gets hit by a totally baseless cease & desist order?

That's pretty much it for today, but I'll definitely be back Sunaday at the latest to talk about the impending release for the biggest Wii game yet, Mario Galaxy, which is already getting ridiculously stellar reviews. In the meantime, in addition to the Trailer of the Week, check out my newest music vid, another for Nights Into Dreams for the Wii:

TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Great Debaters


BACK TO THE...Present

I an certainly understand why World War II is such a popular setting for video games. Most who play the games weren't alive during that time, and the Nazis were a clearly definable evil that needed to be stopped rather than the much more murky morals that have plagued most wars since then. But the glut of games (mostly FPS) that we've had based around that area has milked the cow until it's bone dry and then milked it even more. Thank god, the series the has set the benchmark for excellent WWII titles, Call of Duty, has finally stepped up to the modern era with it's latest entry, Modern Warfare. Sadly, my 360 was in the process of dying right when the beta started, so all I have are secondhand opinions, but luckily those opinions seem to be that this game will give even the mighty Halo 3 a run for its money.

I did actually go and see American Gangster today. I thought it was very well done and a definite recommend, but I think there's way too much material here for even the two & a half hours it runs. It probably should've been a miniseries, but then it might not have had so much good talent involved either.

And one last thing I want to comment on is the WGA strike. Mainly because two comments I seem to see way to often are some variant on-"TV/movies suck anyways" & "They are a bunch of rich crybabies". Yes, a lot of TV & movies suck, but there's also a lot of brilliance out there, and this strike won't affect just brainless big budget films that barely seem to have a script. It'll affect every single scripted TV show, indie movie, giant Oscar contender, etc. Also, with a few notable exceptions, writers make a ridiculously small amount of money. Many of them are lucky if they sell more than a couple of scripts a year, which they don't get paid all that much for. It's ironic & ridiculous that they are basically the lowest on the Hollywood totem pole hierarchy, but are essentially responsible for all the good creativity in Hollywood. These are the little guys we should be rooting for, unlike when ridiculously overpaid athletes strike. So I hope they get everything they ask for & then some, but I also hope it ends quickly cause I don't want to see extremely shortened or rushed seasons of my favorite shows.



The King Returns

YES. Joss Whedon is coming back to TV! With Buffy Alumni Eliza Dushku! Unfortunately, it is on FOX, which has badly burned Whedon in the past, but given that Whedon swore up & down he was done with network TV after Firefly and doesn't need to go back, I believe they will hopefully give this guaranteed awesomeness a real chance.

Moving onto this weekend's movies-I want to believe that a guy like Jerry Seinfeld would only do quality projects. After all, it's not like he's made a habit of whoring himself out after his show was canceled. But I'm not seeing this with his new animated film, Bee Movie. It just feels like most non-Pixar efforts, bland and uninteresting, but I'm sure the kids will love it.

Speaking of kids, have we had enough of peculiar ones with special needs that suddenly become parented by an adult that isn't well adjusted themselves, cause we got another one with Martian Child. Granted, this one has the great John Cusack and seems to take a more serious tone than the mostly comedic films of this nature, but it doesn't make it any less cliched.

But there is some hope in Denzel Washington's latest turn as a bad guy in American Gangster. It's been too long since we had some good mobster drama up on the big screen, and the last time Denzel played bad, he got an Oscar out of the deal, so I expect similar quality here. I will check it out if I'm not too tired from working all weekend, otherwise, I'll probably check it out sometime next week.