2.27.2009

2.23.2009

Burnout Paradise Legendary Cars

When I'm not playing Street Fighter, I enjoy certain driving games.  Lately I've been playing Burnout Paradise, which I've come to realize is the greatest driving game ever.  That's a bold statement, I know.  Even with great driving games like Gran Turismo, Outrun, Ridge Racer and even Mario Kart out there, it's still an easy choice.  75 vehicles to choose from, an enormous highly detailed city and suburbs to drive around in, over a hundred activities to participate in, including races, stunt runs, speed runs, marked man and takedown runs.  The vehicles handle beautifully, and it's FAST, FAST!  You really get a sense of speed and danger when you play.  And the crashes are the most realistic ever.  Nice, dramatic slow motion footage of your crashes with lots of debris and flying tires.  Haha fun!  Custom soundtracks, you can use the in-game soundtrack or use MP3 off the HDD.  Plus, all events are available online, to race with or against  friends.

Another great thing about the game is that since its release a year ago, the developer Criterion Games has fully supported the game with downloadable content.  And unlike some companies that shall rename nameless who overcharge for downloadable content NAMCO...  Most of the Burnout Paradise content is free.  Namco charges me $4.99 for one extra character in Soul Calibur IV.  Criterion has released multiple full updates for free.  The first was the Cagney Pack in August '08, which added new missions and new cars for FREE.  The second was the Bikes Pack which added a whole new dynamic to the game, day and night.  Plus it added motorcycles and over a hundred new missions just for the motorcycles, FREE.  Next was the Party Pack, which changed the overall look and layout of the in-game menus, and allowed you to restart a mission halfway through or if you fail (rather than driving all the way back to the start point).  It also added an 8 player party mode where you can take turns completing objectives, again FREE.  Finally, for the first time Criterion has charged for an update, but I didn't mind paying for it as they'd given me all the previous major updates for free.  Last week the Legendary Cars pack was released, they took four pre-existing cars in the game and modified them to emulate some well known "legendary" cars.

The Manhattan Spirit:

Based on The Ecto-1. when you press L3 the lights and siren turn on.  When you boost, the lights and PKE meter spin.

The Cavalry Bootlegger:

Based on the General Lee, the default color is white, but can be switched to orange.  When you press L3 the famous horn sounds.  I like to use it during jumps.

The Carson Nighthawk:

Based on KITT, this car should not exist.  When you boost, a spoiler pops up from the rear and the trademark lights and sound flash at the front.  If you look inside the window, you can see the detailed dashboard of gadgets. The car is also silly fast and nearly indestructible.

The Jansen 88 Special:

Based on Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine. When you boost, you get two fire trails behind you.  The best thing about the 88 Special is when you press L3:

Yep, it actually hovers.

Criterion also has FOUR MORE updates planned for the near future.  The Toy Cars Pack will add some interesting super-deformed versions of classic Burnout vehicles.

Boost Specials will add two of the fastest cars in Paradise City, one is a classic hot rod, the other is TBA.

Big Surf Island is one I'm really looking forward to. There is a bridge under construction in Paradise City.  When Big Surf Island releases that bridge will open and you'll have access to a whole new area to explore which promises some of the greatest jumps and stunts in Paradise City.

The fourth pack to be announced is Cops and Robbers, where they'll be adding police chases to the mix.

Now you tell me, does this not sound like the greatest driving game ever or what?  The entire game is available now for the low price of $40 as the Burnout Paradise Ultimate Box, with all the updates up to the Party Pack included.  If you have PS3, you can download the Ultimate box on PS3 Network.  That's right, don't even need to go to the store to play this one.  Xbox 360 owners will have to leave the house, guard your pasty gamer skin.

2.20.2009

Super Mario Room 2 - Yoshi's Closet

I changed up the site's main logo, I get bored with things sometimes. This one's Metal Gear Solid 2 based. I may put the EGM style one back up someday, or make even another wacky game related logo, you never know around here. I could just drop the logo altogether and put a picture of a hamster up there, IT'S MY BLOG SHUT UP! Always nay-saying! Maybe God made the Internet for hamster blogs!

I want my entire house to look like this. I asked Sarah and she punched me in the face. Pretty cool tho huh? Well, back to Street Fighter IV...


2.19.2009

STREET FIGHTER IV

After waiting what seems like an eternity, I finally found myself playing Street Fighter IV over the past few days. I got the Xbox 360 version ‘cause I know more people on that network if I decide to play it online (sorry Dilip). I would’ve gotten both versions, but it’s cold out there and I like having a roof over my head.

The game is beautiful, graphically and musically. I was a little concerned for the music after the trainwrecks that were the Capcom vs SNK 2 soundtrack and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 soundtrack, but Capcom pulled this one out (although Sarah thinks the SFIV opening song is gay, you be the judge)...



It has a unique artistic style, as you can tell by the opening movie above, it also has anime openings and endings for each character, all 12 original SFII characters are present, plus Fei Long and Cammy from Super SFII (where’s Dee Jay?). They even busted out Sakura from SF Zero. Each character doesn’t have their own stage; you just fight in one of the available stages it seems. But there are a lot of stages; they’re all really nice, with their own unique soundtracks (unless you’re fighting your rival, then the music switches to the theme song of whatever character you’re fighting).

It’s a bit frustrating playing a new Street Fighter game, you tend to get used to knowing all the moves and timing, now when I try to do a combo, I don’t know on which frame of animation I’m supposed to start executing the next move, the combo doesn’t work… Bleh. I went through the same thing when SFIII came out though. It comes with the territory. This game actually reminds me of SFIII a bit. Some of the innovations from that game made it to SFIV. EX moves and dashes. At least parries and air blocks aren’t in it. I always thought that took a lot of the fun out of it.

It’s a bit too slow and floaty for my tastes, not as bad as Virtua Fighter, where you jump and don’t land for five minutes, but a little. After coming off playing a marathon of SFII for the past few days, this game is definitely slower, hopefully there’s a way to make it faster. This is starting to sound like a negative review, it’s not. It’s just a few hang-ups I have with playing a new version of Street Fighter. I’m definitely finding myself having to change down my timing from SFII. SPEED IT UP! I’m sure SFIV Champion Edition will come out and be faster, and cost me another $60, or $80 if they do a special edition again, JERKS!

Overall I’m really happy with the game; I already like it a lot more than SFIII, which I never really got into. Playing it with the Madcatz Street Fighter Fightpad is HIGHLY recommended if you can find one. I was even brave enough to play it online last night; I did horribly, as my timing still isn’t there yet. Apparently Dilip sucks at it too:



STREET FIGHTER IV. It’s out. Quit reading this and go get it. If you already have it, you should be playing it.

2.15.2009

Como es CrazyJuan77?

Duckhead and I picked up the new Street Fighter IV FightPads yesterday. Apparently Madcatz decided to sneak them out, and stores were running out fast it seemed. SO... We decided to get on Xbox Live to test our controllers, and try a few rounds of Street Fighter II HD Remix, (since Street Fighter IV isn't out until Tuesday). Overall I think the new controller worked very well. It's no SNES Ascii Pad (pronounced ah-sigh), but it's far better than the standard Xbox 360 controller, whose directional pad was never built for Street Fighter.** You need to understand that Street Fighter requires very specialized controllers to be able to perform the precise rolling motions needed for deadly and split second precision. There is no room in competition for a whiffed move here or there due to an uncooperative controller. This is the one time the artist CAN blame his paintbrush. But the new MadCatz controllers make the grade for the most part.

This post isn't about the controllers though. It's about a new friend Duckhead and I made online. When you play online, you can set it up to where other people can watch your fights and even challenge the winner. So we went back and forth, winning for the most part. Now I need to preface this story with something you may or may not know about me, I hate people. I think this country is full of brain-dead, poorly educated, barely alive zombies who laugh at TV sitcoms and don't know their times tables or the capital city of their own state. This is why I'll never be caught playing an MMORPG. People suck and should be killed, or at the very least just beat up a little. Not by me though, I'm too busy playing Street Fighter.

Street Fighter is the rare exception to the rule. Duckhead and I used to bounce around playing people in the arcades all the time back in the day. So to me, playing Street Fighter online is just recreating that experience. But, it's not the same experience. When you were in the arcades, people tended to be more reserved for fear of retaliation by their opponents, who were within arms reach. Not so anymore, when you're online you give the aforementioned morons anonymity, and they have the freedom to be themselves without fear of retaliation. Normally when I play online, I don't bother with a headset. I'm not interested in hearing the thoughts of the twenty-something I'm playing against. If he wins, it's because I suck and he's awesome, if he loses it's because I cheated somehow. Don't care, don't care!

My opinions have changed recently, enter CrazyJuan77. I haven't had so much fun playing a video game in a long time... Since I was playing with Duckhead, I threw on the Xbox Live headset, after blowing a layer of dust off of it. We were going back and forth, commenting here and there about the gameplay, responsiveness of the network and controllers and the like. All of a sudden CrazyJuan77 enters and chaos ensues.

Since I'm not in the room, you'll have to reach deep into your imagination and muster your most stuffy nerd voice and play along with me. So we're playing this guy, and every time he loses, he embodies everything I hate about playing online. We land a throw on the kid and we hear "Ah yes, the throw, the trademark of a desperate player about to lose." (remember the nerd voice) He loses a match and we hear, "You guys would suck without those controllers with the pre-programmed moves." Duckhead picks E. Honda (who he's actually really good with) and we hear "You know picking E. Honda is basically admitting you're gay." Of course Duckhead fires right back with "But I am gay." which made me laugh, and at 1AM, it was tough to stop laughing. After about 20 minutes of it I could barely play the game anymore. I had my headset muted cause I was laughing so hard as CrazyJuan77 went on to provide me with many more shining moments of entertainment, too many to list here. He finally finished with "You know, I remember a time when Street Fighter meant something." I almost passed out 'cause I couldn't catch a breath as the tears rolled down my face. I just yelled "When was that?" as I held my aching side and absorbed the fact that this twenty-something was trying to explain to Duckhead and myself a time when Street Fighter "meant something". Oh man... Good times.

The lesson I learned last night is that I need to use my headset from now on. Rather than be annoyed and hateful, I need to embrace the sheer entertainment value of my fellow humans out there. Thank you for enlightening me CrazyJuan77. Afterward, Duckhead and I played 2p co-op R-Type. I suggested we invite CrazyJuan77 to our game, but alas R-Type is only 2 players. We had a good laugh at his expense.

**Comment unsubstantiated according to Olaf

2.12.2009

Speaking of Futurama...

I just got an early preview of the fourth and final Futurama DTV movie from "The Internet". It's called Into The Wild Green Yonder.

I just watched it, and it may be my favorite of the Futurama movies. It's the first of the four movies that actually seems like a "movie" rather than an episode. A really big story and it ends in a great way that could be a nice ending for the series, or allow it to return and go in any direction. You can tell the creators knew it might be the end, it was very clever. It would still be nice to see the show return to regular episodes after this, but if this is it, it's a nice way to go out. Shame because it's a better show than The Simpsons, now on what, it's 39th season?

I did enjoy the first three movies as well, Bender's Big Score being my favorite of the those because of the ingenious time travel plot, and the fact that it was my first time seeing the characters since cancellation two years earlier.

You'll find a copy of Into The Wild Green Yonder on my media server or here's a direct FTP link (password required). Please buy it afterwards, it's official release is February, 24th. Don't rip off Futurama or I'll come to your house and punch your neck. The more that sell, the higher the chances the show will return.

2.10.2009

Lego Futurama

Found this quite by accident, Planet Express and crew built in Lego. Apparently it's on display right now at the Woodfield Mall, I'm gonna have to make a roadtrip. Check out the rest of this guy's gallery too, he's made some other interesting and familiar creations from Star Wars and Metroid...

2.08.2009

Wow that's hot!

I've run into a problem recently... My game systems are overheating. Now I love my gaming rig, but as you can see here there's a fatal flaw. Modern day video game systems require massive cooling to keep their hot processors from melting. This kinda thing never happened in the NES days. You could put that thing in a box and leave it on for three days so you didn't lose your Metroid progress. But that was the silver age... This is the modern age of gaming. PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii all sitting behind glass, with fans blowing way too much heat into an area with limited ventilation. When I turn them on, I have to swing the glass open to help them ventilate. Wii is not so bad, he doesn't generate a massive amount of heat, and he's situated under the TV stand, which has no back. But Xbox 360 and PS3, wow that's hot!

I'm on my second Wii by the way, my first one overheated and fried the graphics processor. Many people have the same issue, but Nintendo denies it's a problem and charged me $80 to repair anyway. I'm on my third Xbox 360, but I was wise enough to get the Best Buy upgrade plan, er... 2 year warranty. The original Xbox 360 had a major issue with overheating its graphics processor just like Wii (good old modern technology). Microsoft would never admit this, but it has a 100% failure rate. They'll ALL fail eventually with what's known as the red ring of death. This can be blamed on a rushed release. Microsoft has been gracious enough to acknowledge the problem and have beefed up the warranty to three years. Luckily they redesigned the system later to be much cooler running. The redesigned system also had the benefit of an upgraded video connector, HDMI. So knowing mine was going to eventually fail, I decided pre-emptively tell Best Buy mine was broken and got the upgraded system to take advantage of the new video connector.

Joke's on me. Three months later, my replacement Xbox 360 system failed. So, with my warranty in hand, I went back for another upgrade, er... warranty exchange. By this time the THIRD incarnation of Xbox 360 was out, even COOLER running than the second, with a larger (60GB) hard drive. Now we're talkin! So now I have that system, it has worked fine since and is definitely much cooler.

PS3, different story. My PS3 has been flawless, however he gets REALLY hot and it worries me. So I was thinking of a way to protect my investment. Sure I could leave the glass door open all the time, but that defeats the purpose of the glass door, to protect everything from the crap in the air. And there's A LOT in my house with two cats floating around.

I did some searches online and eventually found this.That's right kids, it's a simple computer fan, that plugs into a wall outlet and has a vent attached. The premise is, you blast a hole in the back of your entertainment center and install this bad boy. There's a mini thermostat included. When the temp inside the entertainment center hits 80-ish, the fan kicks in automatically and vents out the air. The instructions call for the fan to be installed in the rear of your entertainment center, top dead center. Well the heat never really makes it up there, it tends to just float around behind whatever system is running, and then comes to the front if I have the door open. I decided to start by installing it in the left side, right behind PS3. It was a little scary knocking a hole in the side of my entertainment center, but my trusty cordless drill and giant cutting drill bit and it cut through like butter.

It was working pretty well, but there was really no intake. The airflow isn't as good as I'd like, not many places for air to travel in there. So enter this nifty item I found on another website. Again with the cutting, this time on the right side using my jigsaw. Here's the final installation from the inside, you can see the mini thermostat mounted behind PS3, and the fan and vent.

Eventually when time and money allows I'd like to put another one on the Xbox 360 shelf, as the heat generated on each shelf stays pretty contained. So if anyone out there has a similar setup and concern, I hope I've helped out. The fan is pretty pricey, but it's MUCH cheaper than repairing/replacing your game systems every year. This is what happens when you're on medical leave for a month.

2.06.2009

Google is taking over the world

Sure they seem friendly enough. Their simple interface, their colorful page. But think about this, GOOGLE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.

Don't misunderstand before you read this. I LOVE Google and all their convenient features. Radd's Basement was a snap to create with Blogger, a Google product. But hear me out here. When you are looking for anything on the internet, where do you go? Google. You type in a search and those searches are logged. They know your interests, they know what medical problems you have, they know what TV shows you watch, they know what celebrities you want to see naked... They even have small ads (Google AdSense) targeted to your searches. Getting the picture? There's more.

They know where you go (Google Maps), and EXACTLY where you are (Google Latitude), and where you've been. They even have satellite imagery of your house and a picture of your front door. They have all your bookmarks stored for you (Google Bookmarks) and even your web browsing history and personal information are stored on their servers (Google Account). Check your Google account, there's a link that says web history. I found that my web history was saved by default.

They're interested to hear what you have to say (Blogger), they know what appointments and birthdays are coming up, (Google Calendar), they have your credit card information (Google Toolbar w/ AutoFill) and most importantly they have the list of people you talk to and what you say to them stored for you (Gmail). Bear in mind, all this stuff is convenient and free. Everyone loves free stuff.

Now I'm not saying Google is evil. I don't know about that. But suppose, just SUPPOSE here... That all of that information got into the wrong hands somehow. Now having worked on Gaming FM with Duckhead, I saw the amount of security applied to the servers that store all of this information. First of all they're camoflauged in a building you'd never guess would be storing such things. Then once past the perimeter, you are subjected to practically airport level security. The areas that store the actual servers are protected by those little hand readers you only see in sci-fi movies. But let's say a person or group of people gets past all of that. They'd know everything about anyone they wanted to.

Now I'm sure if someone from Google read this they'd say the information is encrypted and secure and it can't be extracted and all that. Sure, maybe our information is safe with them. OR, maybe it's a conspiracy and Google is using it's friendly colorful manner to get you to trust them while they farm all the information in the universe and then destroy it like Brainiac. Maybe Google is Brainiac. Am I being too paranoid? Will Google one day change it's name to Skynet and become self-aware and create machines to kill us? Is that unreasonable? Will Google have us living in pods while our bodies supply it with power and we live in a mental realm called "The Matrix"? Maybe Morpheus will call me...

I will continue to use Google's features because they're convenient and free. So when the end of the world comes you can blame me. Or, maybe nothing will happen like Y2k or 2012. But it's something to think about true-believers... It's something to think about. Leave comments below if you like (Google account required).

2.04.2009

OMG NEW R-TYPE ON XBOX LIVE!


Well ok it's not new, it's old; which happens to be my favorite kind of new.  I didn't even realize this was coming out, I must be slipping in my old age.  They took R-Type and R-Type II and 3D-ized them and made them 2 player Xbox Live co-op, AND kept the original music.  No crappy remixes here *ahem* ...street figher hd remix... *ahem* Sorry, just wasn't a fan, classic music for me!  Just good old R-Type.  Plus swich to classic 2D sprites seamlessly in the middle of gameplay.  Just a fantastic upgrade!  2 games for 1200 Microsoft points.  I guess that's fair.  I'm a huge shooter fan, from back in the day when shooters were set in space, not in some drab 3D environment where the only part of me on the screen is a hand and a gun.  Oops, I'm being grizzled again.  R-Type was one of the two games I had to choose from when I decided to buy an arcade cabinet back in '92.  Ultimatey I went with Super Contra because it was in better shape, and we all know what happened to that.
Anybody up for some R-Type co-op?  Duckhead turn on your Xbox!

2.02.2009

Mirror's Edge makes me sick!

I don't mean I hate the game, I actually love it. I mean literally SICK...
Anyone who knows my gaming tastes knows I hate first person games. They all look and play the same with the same drab color scheme, and I can't tell 'em apart. But Mirror's Edge is colorful and different and really caught my eye. A first person platformer. You just run and jump and dodge. A test of acrobatic skill rather than marksmanship. There are guns in it, but you usually just steal them from enemies, beat them or shoot them with the gun then throw it away. Guns are not the point here.  
So I pick it up for PS3 and I play it for about an hour and start to get really sick. Headache which I dismissed as sinuses, but then nausea. So I stop playing, but continue to suffer for another hour and then just go to sleep. Next day, same thing. Now I'm the type of person who points and laughs at epilepsy and motion sickness warnings at the beginning of games. "Who the hell gets motion sickness from games?" *SIGH*
Like always, I look it up on Wikipedia, and here's why motion sickness happens. So I go to Wal-Mart and buy Dramamine. I can't believe I'm buying Dramamine to play a video game. What has the world come to? So I take the Dramamine a half hour before playing Mirror's Edge, and I can play it for 2+ hours with no problems. Gay.
Now sit back, pop a couple Dramamine and see for yourself:  (Use the little arrow to go to full screen for the full effect)