Monthly Archives: July 2008

Quick E3 rant

While I’m on the subject of E3 please allow me to rant just a little:

Am I the only one that is sick of hearing all of this whiney bullshit from various journalists and other “industry insiders” about the current state of E3?

E3 grew and grew for a long time until the whole thing seemed like one giant, debauched party where games practically took a back seat to booth babes, concerts, swag, celebrities, and cocktail parties. It seemed like it got particularly bad when the big web 2.0 explosion hit and every other gamer with a PC had their own shitty gaming blog (errr… 🙂 ) or podcast and started attending in droves.

At some point I saw a noticeable shift in the bulk of the content of the E3 coverage as well. Personally, I’d rather hear about upcoming games, accessories, and other gaming industry related news and announcements than about what developers you got drunk with or what celebrity was hanging around whose booth. I’d also usually rather look at screenshots of new games and pictures of new hardware than massive albums of dorky looking guys posing with “booth babes” and other silly shit.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one who thought it was getting out of hand as the whole event was restructured for 2007. As a result starting as early as just after rumblings of this first started making the rounds in 2006 I’ve had to endure lame article after lame article of people whining and bitching about how E3 wouldn’t be as good or exciting anymore, often even admitting outright that they were going to miss all of the parties and free swag the most.

The topic of whether E3 “will survive” and “is worth it any longer” is one that still comes up quite a lot on gaming blogs and news sites of practically every size these days. I guess it is hardly surprising since these journalists are some of the ones losing out the most by the E3 restructuring and these sites are often their mouthpieces after all. Still I have to wonder if everyone feels this way. Does Joe Blow Xbox really give a damn about all of the fanfare he doesn’t get to partake in anyway going away? Was he enjoying the festivities himself, living vicariously through these bloggers and journalists, and now he’s depressed because the party’s over? Somehow I doubt it.

Personally I think all of these people bitching and moaning about E3 need to step back and reevaluate what E3 is actually supposed to be. Is it supposed to be a big, fun paid party/vacation for industry insiders or is it supposed to be an industry tradeshow? Maybe I’m the one who has it mixed up? Hell, maybe I’m the only one who sees the difference?

As for whether or not it is still exciting I personally still find it plenty exciting when a new game is announced, some new hardware is revealed, or we’re finally shown gameplay footage from a much anticipated upcoming game for the first time just as I always have since the days when you pretty much only heard about E3 in print gaming magazines.

E3 2008 stuff

There hasn’t been anything too exciting going on with me lately. I’ve mostly been playing Grand Theft Auto IV on 360 with the little bit of spare gaming time I’ve had lately. That, and a retro PC game I’m planning on reviewing very soon. I’ve also been playing a little bit of Armed Assault single player on PC and the occasional romp through my Rock Band drum tour.

Speaking of 360 games my library got a tiny bit more respectable this week. A friend saw a copy of Beautiful Katamari and nabbed it from Toys R’ Us for 8 bucks or so. I went back there with her to check on what else they had and the gaming section clerk practically forced me to purchase a copy of Prey for 4 bucks. I’d heard mostly good things and I figured for 4 bucks why not? He also offered me a cheap copy of Condemned from his private stash but I (foolishly?) resisted temptation. Monday afternoon I ran over to Gamestop to take advantage of the 20% off 3 used gamed or accessories coupon that I had been waiting on and ended up picking up Battlestations: Midway, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet. Oddly enough only Battlestations: Midway was actually on my “games to buy cheap sometime” list but Dead Rising I’ve heard almost nothing but praise about and I had thought Lost Planet looked slick since well before its release. It’ll probably be quite a while before I play any of the above though as it seems that GTA4 will continue kicking my ass for quite a while to come but at least I’ll have them for a rainy day. Now I just need to resist the urge to go back out and buy some more of the older games on my wishlist…

Since last time I posted we’ve had E3 so I figured I’d briefly run over which of the games shown more or less at or around the time of the show that I’m interested in. I’m sure I’ll forget quite a few!

First, the Microsoft stuff impressed me the most. This shouldn’t be any big surprise since I’m generally not a Sony fan and most non-rabid fanboy types from all circles agree that MS had the best showing. The Netflix integration, if its as good as it sounds, should be amazing. As it is now I use a lot of Comcast’s “On Demand” service and would probably use Xbox Live’s rental service more as well if it weren’t for the very similar content selection. I’m assuming that Netflix would give me a much wider selection along with hopefully much more economical flat monthly fee based pricing. Sign me up! The new player avatars (dubbed “MiiToos” by some forum comedians) seem interesting. I’ll hold off final judgment until they’re in our hands. I’m not sure what to think about the new layout but unlike some 360 fans I don’t hate it and since I do think the dashboard interface needs an overhaul I’m willing to give it a whirl. The new parties addition sounds great. Lets just hope it works as good as it sounds.

I can’t not mention Nintendo. The Wii MotionPlus thing, a controller add-on that is supposed to give the Wiimote more precise, 1:1 detail motion detection seems like a pretty big deal to me. The sometimes amazing inaccurate and just plain weird motion controls in virtually all Wii games is one of my biggest complaints about the system and I’d love to see more games make use of 1:1 controls especially given that I, like a lot of people, was under the impression that was what the Wii was going to give us in the first place. New Wii sports game? Bought!

Ok, ok… Some games in no particular order. I’ll try to keep it brief:

  • Spore still looks awesome. The creature creator was a lot of fun. I’ll definitely be purchasing it.
  • Rockband 2 looks great. I’ve gotten a ton of enjoyment out of the first one and still do for that matter. The fact that it’ll be compatible with Rock Band’s DLC and even many of the songs on the disk is a big selling point for me and an amazingly smart move on their behalf. Now I just need to decide if I should drop the 300 bucks for the super badass drum kit. 🙂
  • Gears of war 2 is definitely on my list. I played the first one well after the hype had worn off and it actually surpassed my expectations on every level.
  • Fable 2 is almost certainly a purchase for me. Most of the criticisms of the first game were accurate but ultimately my biggest one was that I had a great time playing it and wanted more.
  • Mirror’s Edge looks very interesting. I’ve got my eye on it.
  • Alpha Protocol looks killer. I generally love espionage games as well as RPG+FPSish hybrids.
  • SOE’s Free Realms looks pretty nifty despite its kiddy focus. I’ve always been drawn towards more social MMOs such as Ultima Online, Eve Online, and early Star Wars Galaxies. I really don’t understand why there aren’t more companies going that direction. I guess it is simply easier to bank on people being addicted to vicious level grinds than having a second life.
  • Left 4 Dead has a lot of potential. Valve + Zombies… OK!
  • Little Big Planet still looks amazing.
  • A new Wolfenstein game? Ok… In my humble opinion Nazis + undead, sci-fi, alternate history stuff always has a chance of being great… period.
  • A new KOTOR MMO eh? I like Star Wars and I enjoyed KOTOR so I’ll definitely be watching this.
  • Deadspace. Sci-fi survival horror. Jury is still out for me but if it incorporates enough interesting gameplay elements I could definitely see myself purchasing it.
  • There’s also apparently a new Halo game of some sort in the works, rumor has it that it may even be an MMO. If it’s an MMOFPS then I’m sold. I loved Planetside and I love other FPSes that try to incorporate massive and persistent qualities such as the Battlefield series. Sign me up!
  • Speaking of the MMOFPS genre one of Sony’s big show offs was MAG – a “massive” tactical FPS (or 3PS?) game. I have to admit this kind of shit is right up my alley. I hope it ends up coming to PC… I’d hate to have to break down and buy a Blu-ray player. 😛
  • Halo Wars looks cool. I dig the Halo series and am definitely drawn to the idea of a Halo RTS.
  • Castle Crashers… Where are you?
  • Fallout 3 looks great. I loved the first two games and I loved Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series of games so this seems like a no brainer to me. I’m sure a lot of Fallout fans are still crying about it but not I.
  • Mercenaries 2 needs more press. The first game was one of my favorite console games from the last generation and was seriously underrated in my opinion. Mercenaries 2 looks to be more of the same GTA3-in-a-warzone type goodness.
  • Megaman 9! This shit looks tight! I’m not a huge fan of platformers but when I’m in the mood, along side the Castlevania series, the Megaman series is one of my absolute favorites.
  • Puzzle Quest: Galactrix – hey, how cool is this?
  • I don’t know much about Battlestations: Pacific but the first game (Battlestations: Midway) looked and sounded great, in fact I just bought a copy as I mentioned above, so I’m definitely paying attention to its sequel.
  • The Brothers in Arms game looks interesting. I’m a large fan of the Full Spectrum Warrior series and the first two Brothers in Arms games were essentially FSW and a WWII FPS mashed together. I only played the first one but I enjoyed it enough for this to catch my attention.
  • Dawn of War 2. Not much to say about it except Dawn of War is probably one of my favorite FPS games of all time and 2 looks to be more of the same.
  • Operation Flashpoint 2 has finally recently come out of hiding and looks amazing. I need to see more but I can’t imagine not buying this.
  • I haven’t play Saints Row yet but it looks and sounds like a competent GTA3 clone, enough to make my “someday” wishlist even, so naturally I’m watching Saints Row 2.
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld looks decent.
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition will probably end up in my collection sooner or later. I’ve yet to play The Witcher but it looks good and I figure this re-release is the perfect opportunity to finally nab it.
  • Finally, Borderlands looks amazingly interesting. I remember hearing about this game before but somehow it fell completely off my radar until I watched some of the newly released gameplay footage. Another FPS with RPG elements… And like Fallout 3 it seems to be set in somewhat of a dark, gritty future as well. I’m very interested in this one!

All in all plenty to look forward to. I’d almost say “too much” if I didn’t know that half of the games that look interesting now will probably either suck or at least be too mediocre to worry about come launch time.

More fun with ArmA scripting

I spent much of my precious little free time this week playing with my chopper evacuation script again. This time, as I had planned, I cloned the escort chopper portion of the script replacing the attack chopper with a transport chopper.

Unfortunately I had quite a bit of trouble getting this part of the operation to work as smoothly as I had imagined. No matter how I got my script working it seemed that the whole rescue squad that disembarks, waits for the player to board, and then hops back on concept was destined to failure. Most likely the squad would be slaughtered while leaving the chopper and, if not, the chopper would probably be full of holes before any of them decided it might be a good idea to shoot back. I decided to simply put an infantry squad on the chopper in case it got shot down but that was it – nothing fancy. I figured the door gunners could suppress the ground a bit if enemies were around and hopefully even fire while waiting on the ground.

After doing a bit of testing with live enemies in the immediate area of the landing zone I was pretty dissatisfied with the whole thing. The Blackhawk barely returned fire at the enemies on the ground and often got shot down or, better yet, destroyed after landing on the ground. Still, it was pretty exciting, dynamic stuff. Here’s proof:

I spawned standing only a hundred feet or so from a full squad of enemies who were luckily all facing the other direction. I quickly jumped to the ground and dialed up both an escort and an evacuation choppers on my radio. Soon enough I got to see the awesome sight of both helos flying in together as if in formation over my position as I crawled behind some bushes – the Cobra coming in low over the enemy squad and the Blackhawk swinging around to make a quick landing on the nearby beach.

After a few short bursts from its miniguns the Blackhawk actually lands quickly for once so I leap up and make a mad dash towards it, circling around rocks and bushes to put some soft cover between the now very aware enemy squad an I. As I’m about 20 feet away from the Blackhawk… BOOM! A massive explosion! Most likely from an enemy RPG. It doesn’t blow the Blackhawk up but definitely disables it. The living squad and crew members immediately disembark just as I make it to the door of the chopper… Doh! The squad begins to spread out and take cover behind the unexposed side of the Blackhawk, the sound of bullets spraying its thin metal armor deafening.

The Cobra swings in a few more times over the enemy squad unleashing a small volley of rockets and then zooms off towards the enemy armor in the distance to do what it does best. The remaining enemies continue lighting up our position with automatic weapon fire as they start to slowly advance on the sight of the downed Blackhawk. As the volume of fire lessens slightly I decide to creep up through the underbrush to see what is left of the OPFOR.

I come across a couple of bodies of the friendly squad from the downed chopper and grab myself an M4 and an AT4 so that I can actually defend myself. I crawl up further and spot an enemy laying a couple of hundred feet away and hear the crack of his weapon’s report as he evidently spots me as well. I duck behind a small bush and then peep out to finish him off. Suddenly our Cobra is back although all it is doing is hovering over the enemies and not actually shooting at them… I really need to look into that. At least its letting me know there are still enemies around. As I crawl forward a bit more I see another and immediately start trading shots with him only this time I’m not having much luck actually hitting him. Luckily another friendly soldier takes a knee 15 feet or so behind me and is able to finish him off. Sensing his work is done the Cobra zooms off back to base.

Well, I’m stuck out here with a handful of soldiers I have no control over (something else to add!) and with no way home I might as well go over the hill and see what kind of damage the Cobra did to the enemy armor I had setup for earlier escort request tests. I slowly make my way over hill after hill until I can just barely make out the thick black smoke of a downed tank – I’m close. As I crest the next hill I come across an lone BMP-2 sitting in a small valley. He doesn’t see me so I sprint out, take a knee, and launch my AT4 at him – direct hit but oddly not much happens. Doh! This one has already been destroyed by our Cobra friend. I’m so out of practice…

Don't pilots get paid too much for this shit?
“Don’t pilots get paid too much for this shit?”

I again very, very slowly make my way over the next hill. This time I can see the smoldering wreckage of another BMP and a couple more wrecks as well. Strangely enough I don’t see any of the enemy soldiers that I know should be in the area. I do see what appears to be two intact BMPs although they don’t seem to be manned. I put my AT4 on my shoulder and carefully toast both vehicles and now that I’ve effectively announced my presence I see a small group of enemy soldiers make a dash out of some bushes and onto their bellies – time for some action! I start lighting them up but it quickly becomes apparent that their are way more of them than I expected never mind that I’m having serious issues with actually hitting any of them because of the distance.

After moving back and forth between bushes to attempt to conceal myself somewhat, popping out on occasion to try to take out some of my targets, I pretty much finish off the last of the guys I can see and at last stop taking firing. That was an intense little firefight! I cautiously creep forward just a bit more and suddenly hear the roaring of a tank, possibly multiple tanks, starting up. They wouldn’t be moving unless they had a good reason to – they spotted me!

I dart 20 or 30 feet back to where I came from and dive behind a bush and a large protruding boulder. It sounds like they’re getting closer and closer – what in the hell can I do? My AT4 is empty and I’ve got nothing else that can harm a BMP let alone a T-72. Then it pops into my head – my Cobra escort made it back to base… he should be available for another mission! I quickly dial him up on my radio and try to stay calm as I listen to the loud engines and crushing tracks of the enemy armor getting closer and closer. If they see me before my air support comes, which will probably take quite a while, I’m done for.

Watching the fireworks.
“Watching the fireworks.”

Finally after what seemed like an eternity of hiding curled up in a bush making peace with my maker I hear the all too familiar sound of the Cobra’s rotor slicing through the air. It slows down drastically as it sees the enemy armor, at first I think he might even be going down, but no, he launches a couple of missles and soon mops up the remaining enemy armor on the beach. Thanks, that was intensely close!

In the commotion I saw several more enemy soldiers running around so I inch around, assault rifle dug deep into my shoulder, looking for any sign of these stragglers. An enemy machine gunner unleashes a massive spray of fire at me but totally misses and I smirk as his tracer rounds spray ridiculously far off target. I spray indiscriminately at the bush he is taking cover behind and the fire sppm stops – one down! I inch forward a bit more and squeeze off a few well aimed rounds at another enemy who is taking pot shots at me from prone position about 40 feet away. I slowly make my way forward, towards the sight of the majority of the now destroyed armor, as the Cobra circles over head.

Black smoke fills the horizon and then, suddenly, the sound of a new engine and the addition of a new, brown, puff of smoke joins the others making an obvious contrast. What the fuck? Someone just jumped into another abandoned BMP! The chopper appears to be out of ammo as he circles it harmlessly and I still have no means of taking something like this out on my own. Hoping the luck is on my side I slowly approach the body of the last enemy I shot and… eureka! He had an RPG!

Well, it might have seemed like a good place to hide...
“Well, it might have seemed like a good place to hide…”

I grab the RPG, reload it, shoulder it, peer through the sight, and squeeze the trigger resulting a direct hit to the back of the BMP before any of the crew even have a chance to notice me. MISSION COMPLETE! Man, what a tense and action packed little scenario, especially considering it all started out as such a simple little code test. Damn, I love this game! 🙂