November 2005 Archives

November 1, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III DVD Review

The first film in the series to be rated higher than PG, this is a dark, brutal, and incredible farewell to the series that couldn't avoid being criticized simply based on expectations. Episode III is unrelenting in special effects, flawlessly creating worlds we've never been to, making this a fresh sequel that still meshes with the rest of the series. The dialogue is brutal to sit through though.

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November 2, 2005

War of the Worlds (1953) Special Edition DVD Review

Setting a standard rarely matched in its decade, the 1953 screen version of The War of the Worlds is one of the true genre classics. Its unforgettable regardless of changes made from the original H.G. Wells novel, becoming its own masterpiece of science fiction. Everything, from the Martian space ship design to the performances of Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, make this unforgettable.

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EA signed another exclusive. This time, the Simpsons will feel their wrath. Then again, considering some of the Simpsons games we've been dealt (Simpsons Wrestling anyone?), maybe it's not so bad to give a new developer a shot.

Buy my book!

Ok, it's not actually MY book, but I did contribute a few sections, along with a few other Digital Press writers. Once you've bought it, make sure to drop a customer review off at Amazon stating what an important factor it was in your life to have Atari Lynx games running on your Mac and what a helpful guide this was towards completing that goal.

How clueless is Jack Thompson?

Amazingly clueless. So clueless he couldn't be any more clueless. Apparently, he thinks: "... Japan's Sony has no problem whatsoever dumping this garbage into American kids' brains. Looks like Pearl Harbor 2 by Sony/Take-Two.."

Yes, Take Two must have must have magically moved out of the country when we weren't looking. Here's the full, absolutely unreal story that could only come from a guy like Jack.

Office Space Extra Special Gift Set DVD Review

Note: Read a slightly more involving look at the film by reading my first Office Space DVD review.

The second round for Office Space on DVD, this time out there are actually extras. It's not a substantial amount of features, but anything above the original is an improvement. Regardless of what's on the disc, the film remains a classic, one of the most under appreciated comedies in years, and it only gets better upon repeat viewings.

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Urban Reign PS2 Review

It's taken a countless number of years for a developer to fully understand what it is about beat-em-ups that make them so addictive. That's what happened to Urban Reign, a brutal, unrelenting, and nearly classic take on the genre. It works when the basic combat engine is in full, and fails when you look at what's surrounding it.

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November 3, 2005

New King Kong trailer online

He jumps and smashes a plane while on top of the Empire State Building. Nothing more needs said.

Ok, fine... I'll keep typing. Look at the hair. It's been lengthened quite a bit since the first teaser, and you can see debris in it. The level of detail is stunning. The tension in the T-Rex stand off is remarkable, and this is just a trailer. The brief glimpses of the New York attack just continue to impress. I'm still in awe.

November 4, 2005

Book Review The Simpsons One Step Beyond Forever

Catching The Simpsons on a Sunday night is a religious experience for some. The new episodes bringing with them a new set of laughs, most of which are easy to miss. That's what makes these guides so necessary for the die-hard fan. In fact, you probably shouldn't even consider yourself a fan unless you have them for each season.

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Darkwatch Xbox Review

It's almost impossible to make your first-person shooter stand out on gameplay alone any more. There are not a lot of directions left to take the genre, but Capcom can try all they want if they end up like Darkwatch. Brilliantly combining adult themes, humor, brutal violence, and eerie style, this is one of Capcom's best in years.

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Thompson lacks legal civilty to practice law in Alabama

Great job guys. Now if only every other state in the country would do the same... takes on game titles

Most are these are true, especially Indigo Prophecy and Final Fantasy VII. Note the language used here might influence some young minds negatively, and if you do something stupid, you'd have to take Jack Thompson as your defense lawyer.

Rambo: First Blood UMD Review

Cheapened by two sequels, First Blood is unfortunately overlooked because of the follow-ups. This is not a true action film, but a drama, and a classic one at that. Sylvester Stallone couldn't have been cast better.

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November 7, 2005

UMD Movie Review: Stargate

Providing some light summer fun, this Roland Emmerich piece is one that opened up his career (along with Universal Soldier a few years prior) for other projects, including the butchering of Godzilla in 1998. Stargate, unlike his later films, has flashes of brilliance sprinkled throughout. It's a nice easy ride that doesn't stop to explain much, instead focusing on the rapid pacing and special effects.

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SSX On Tour PS2 Review

SSX saved the Playstation 2 at launch. Littered with forgettable software, the first EA Big title made the console worth owning, and later, so did SSX Tricky/SSX 3. With SSX On Tour, the series has become lost. It's a mixture of various concepts stolen from other EA games. Its still plays fine, but it's lost what made SSX "SSX" in the first place.

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Thompson drops out of Alabama GTA III case

Awesome news. A classic Jack quote came from this one:

"The other side wants to make me the issue."

That's because you are Jack. Sadly, the case may still see trial, and if it does, then it would have been better if Jack handled it. They obviously had no interest in dealing with his shenanigans. Hopefully the judge has enough common sense to toss the case out.

November 8, 2005

This Wonderful Life by Liam Kemp

This animation is simply breathtaking. The emotion and level of facial animation is incredible.

These renderings are also rather impressive. I must say this is some of the most stunning 3D modeling, texturing, and animation I have seen.

The women in "photo-shoot" are top notch. The texture work is amazing. The only thing that looks off is the hair, which is one of the hardest things to pull of in 3D modeling.

This is also the guy who did the Maxim cyber babe last year.

1UP compares the Dreamcast to the Xbox 360

1UP has a feature comparing the Dreamcast to the Xbox 360. The 23 parallels between Xbox 360 and the Dreamcast are indeed quite eerie. Some are stretches, but most are dead on scary. I am not sure about the American debut on MTV for the Dreamcast, but pretty much every point is spot it. Favorites include:

  • Sleek white console following in footsteps of bulky, black console.
  • Peter Moore spearheaded the marketing.
  • Tetsuya Mizuguchi worked on highly anticipated First Party title.
  • Highly anticipated First Party racing game from Bizarre Creations
  • Crazy rich bald guy spotted at several promotional events leading up to launch.
  • Metal Gear Solid trailer stole much of its next-generation thunder.

Like I said, scary.

1UP also put together 10 reasons why the Xbox 360 will succeed where the Dreamcast failed.

Square-Enix and Electronic Arts support from the start is a boon to the 360. Final Fantasy XI beta will come with all 360's sold in Japan - a territory that needs to latch on to the console if Microsoft expects to make any money this time.

Could you imagine the 360 launch without Madden, Tiger Woods, or NBA Live? Neither can I. The 360 would not survive long without EA.

To be fair we do not know if the 360 will have backwards compatibility. It is planned. This is great in theory. But with less then two weeks until launch there is still no backwards compatibility list. But then there is no official list of launch software either.

Oh and by the way, only 12 days, 4 hours, 22 minutes... until launch.

World of Warcraft hackers using Sony BMG rootkit

World of Warcraft hackers have confirmed that the hiding capabilities of Sony BMG's content protection software can make tools made for cheating in the online world impossible to detect. The software--deemed a "rootkit" by many security experts--is shipped with tens of thousands of the record company's music titles.
Source: SecurityFocus

Not only is this Sony DRM absolutely wrong, it also allows cheating in MMO games. Yet another reason I do not buy CDs anymore, or play MMOs. Good one Sony. Great job!

Blogcritics has more on this hidden software that Sony deems necessary to install on your computer.

Blitz: The League Xbox Review

Over the top for no reason other than to be over the top, Blitz: The League is this years sole console alternative to the Madden franchise. It's a familiar game, obviously a basic tweaked NFL Blitz engine. The things that cause the controversy, including fights, endzone celebrations, language, and sending escorts to the opponents hotel rooms, are pointless.

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November 9, 2005

UMD Movie Review: Universal Soldier

One of the true dumb summer action flicks, Universal Soldier does not intend to take itself seriously. It's filled with camp, terrible acting, and countless shots of giant things being blown up or destroyed. It's fun given the way the subject matter is handled, but hardly a classic.

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The Simpsons Library of Wisdom: Comic Book Guy and Ralph Wiggum Book Reviews

Setting a new standard for characters, The Simpsons is a TV show that can barely be followed anymore by someone who hasn't been around from the start. It also makes it one of the deepest shows on TV, and with only a half hour of airtime, it's not always easy to learn the basics for each character. That makes these small Library of Wisdom Books invaluable.

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WIN! Herbie Fully Loaded on DVD!

Herbie: Fully Loaded is on DVD starring Lindsay Lohan, and we have a copy to give away! The rules are quite simple:

1. Name ONE surviving actor from the original 1968 version of The Love Bug.

2. Reply to this post with your answer, one per person. If you enter twice, all of your entries will be deleted.

3. You have one week to do so. This contest will end at 12 noon EST on Wednesday November 16th.

4. The winner will be chosen at random from all the correct answers. Make sure you have a valid e-mail address so you can be contacted if you're the winner.

Tip: If you want a second chance, you can always reply to a second contest of the same type we're running at Blogcritics!

Herbie Fully Loaded DVD Review

A basic children's film, Herbie Fully Loaded picks up where the last film left off. It's a direct sequel over 20 years later, and while Herbie may be entertaining, the movie is not. It's an updated take on an old story, and only the youngest kids will find this fun.

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November 10, 2005

The Xbox 360 Moving Towards an Ugly Launch

As far as history is concerned, what's about to happen to the video game industry can only be described as broken. Of course, I'm referring to the Xbox 360 launch, which at this point is nothing short of disastrous, and it's not even out yet. The majority of the problems lie with Microsoft.

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November 11, 2005

Full 360 Backwards Compatibility list

Wow! I'm so relieved we can all play Barbie Horse Adventure. I was worried. Seriously though, it's a nice list, but it sounds like an awful lot of work for an almost useless feature.

November 12, 2005

Reader Response: PDFMaker

Just wanted to say thanks for the fix of the Acro PDFMaker toolbar. Holy &*#$!, that was ticking me off!

Next time I'm in town I'll buy you a beer.

I am always glad to help! And a beer is usually a good start.

November 13, 2005

Gunstar Super Heroes GBA Review

Gunstar Super Heroes takes all of three seconds to get going. In fact, that may even be conservative. Once out of the menu system, players are thrust back into an action game they haven't been in for 12 years. Not all is well though, and the deletion/change of key features doesn't help this one draw in longtime fans.

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The Warriors PS2 Review

Just by picking up the controller and playing The Warriors, you can tell this is a Rockstar developed title. The feel is there, along with the gritty, unflinching, and brutal style that has become their trademark. It's a beat-em-up based on a cult 1979 film, and in Rockstar's hands, they can turn and entirely new set of people onto the movie.

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November 14, 2005

Locusts: The 8th Plague Sci-Fi Channel Original Review

If you've ever read a review of a movie like this and thought, "I think I read this before," don't blame the critic. There are only so many ways to pick apart a quick, cheap, and generic bug movie. That's of course the category Locusts: The 8th Plague falls into.

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November 15, 2005

Mario Kart DS, McDonald's and Intermittent Problems

I really hate buying games at Wal*Mart. But they are the only place in town that has Mario Kart DS right now. Oh well. So I contributed to the Devil's paycheck today. Sue me.

McDonald's is an official Nintendo Wi-Fi provider. Smart move for the Big N! Our McDonald's in BG is all setup. Of course the woman at the cash register had no clue what I was talking about. Luckily there was a manager at the other end of the counter. He even had a copy of Mario Kart DS. It's a shame he couldn't play.

It is a little irritating that there are Wi-Fi problems on the first day. If you look at the Nintendo Wi-Fi site, you will see the message "Global Wi-Fi Service is experiencing intermittent problems."

Needless to say getting online at McDonald's is a snap. I was online before i left the counter to find a booth to sit. The Wi-Fi interface is very nice. Yes, even with the problems with the network, you can still get online. You just cannot jump into a lobby. It just sits there and spins.

I don't want to get into too much detail as I want to write a review, but here are some numbers:

16 new courses
16 classic courses
3 new weapons
54 single player missions
4 engine classes
8 player single-card download play
And yes, it's a blast! I can't wait to play on the Nintendo Wi-Fi network.

Alone in the Dark DVD Review

Some say director Uwe Boll is a hack. Some say he's talentless. Some say he's destroying perfectly good video games by making movies based on them. Anyone who ever spoke those words is correct. Alone in the Dark is his second game adaptation, and while his first (House of the Dead) can be viewed as totally ridiculous, inept entertainment, that doesn't fly with this creature feature.

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November 16, 2005

Dragon Ball GT Transformation GBA Review

Trying desperately to become like the unforgettable licensed arcade beat-em-ups of old, Dragon Ball GT Transformation doesn't quite reach that goal. It follows the weakest parts of those titles, without injecting any character or life into it. To call it bland would be correct, but also generous.

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NBA Live 06 Gamecube Review

Broken on every level, NBA Live 06 is EA's worst major sports product in the past five years. It's nearly impossible to comprehend how far the series dropped in less than a single season. From the on-court mess that feels like it went back to the 16-bit era to the off-court franchise that was stolen from other games, this is a half effort that sports fans should avoid anyway they can.

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Walking Tall (2004) DVD Review

Walking Tall needs to breathe. This has to be one of the shortest movies to come from a major studio in some time, but the length is perfect for what it is. If you want straightforward action, Walking Tall is what you're looking for.

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Stairway to Beep-bloop-blip

I am enjoying the fruits of some SA labor just now and thought you might like them too:

"NEScover," 8-bit synth remixes of classic rock songs.

Track list:
01 REM - Losing My Religion
02 Europe - Final Countdown
03 Radiohead - Karma Police
04 Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
05 Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
06 Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
07 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
08 Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
09 Slayer - Angel of Death
10 David Pomeranz - Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now
11 Coldplay - Yellow
12 Rick James - Superfreak
13 Semisonic - Closing Time
14 (Silence)
15 Hidden NESmix Intro
16 Zero Wing (Opening Theme) (4x4 Remix)
17 Tetris (Music A) (Piano Practice)

US retains hold of the internet

The US has won its fight to stay in charge of the internet, despite opposition from many nations.

In an eleventh-hour agreement ahead of a UN internet summit in Tunis, Tunisia, negotiators agreed to leave the US in charge of the net's addressing system.

Source: BBC News

I am glad to see that the Bush Administration has done something right lately. It is a very good thing, for many reasons more then political, that the US holds sway over the Internet's addressing system. This topic was up in the air, with no clear outlook for too long, it is good to see this resolved.

November 18, 2005

Nintendo DS Review: Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart, the often imitated but never duplicated kart racer is back, as strong now as it was in its debut 13 years ago. This time the DS's dual screens add much to the already polished game.

Arguably the most highly anticipated DS game this year, Mario Kart DS is now on store shelves. From what I have seen though, it is keeping the stock boy busy. Everyone wants a copy.

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November 19, 2005

Alabama judge tosses Thompson

Florida lawyer's request to leave case denied; judge opts to revoke temporary license to practice law in the state instead.

Earlier this month, outspoken Florida attorney Jack Thompson withdrew from a high-profile Alabama civil suit against several game makers and retailers. According to Game Politics, the judge today rejected Thompson's withdrawal, and instead kicked him off the case and revoked his temporary license to practice law in Alabama, to boot.

Source: GameSpot

Jordan was just telling me Jack Thompson has been too quiet lately. Maybe this is why.

Jack Thompson, you are a moron.

November 22, 2005

Xbox 360 Launch: A Poem

November 22nd has come,
and I sit outside extremely numb.

Xbox 360 is here,
bringing with it all kinds of holiday cheer.

As crowds stand outside in the rain,
we all begin to realize this is a real pain.

Continue reading "Xbox 360 Launch: A Poem" »

Gaming Editor at Blogcritics

Did you know there was a Gaming section at Blogcritics? It is there, you just have to dig to find it. It was buried under Culture.

Not any more! Recently launched is the new Gaming Section! Yes, we finally have out day. Our Word in big letters. Or something like that.

A new section means a new section editor. And guess who is the new Gaming Editor for Blogcrtitics? Me. Yep, no joke. I still don't know how I fooled them. Heh.

I have been neglecting Breaking Windows lately for another blog. For that I apologize. I hope to have more regular posts here soon. But I have been doing a bunch of hard work behind the scenes (and more needs done). You will see. The Blogcritics Gaming section is gonna be huge! Or slightly larger then normal. No, huge! Just wait.

I am honored and privileged to be a member of Blogcritics. After a little over two years I have made it to the top! OK, really, Matt had too many other responsibilities at Digital Press.

But I have contacts. And it is who you know and not what you know. Right?

If you notice some of my writing showing up on Blogcritics before it gets posted here, that is entirely unintentional. While I have no plans of paring down Breaking Windows, I do have a certain amount of responsibility to Blogcritics now.

The Great Xbox 360 Shortage of 2005

November 22nd is here at last and most of the Xbox 360s shipped to the US have been put on sale at midnight.

As it turns out, the rumors of a Xbox 360 (360) shortage were true. We all thought it was going to be a problem come launch, we just wanted to remain oblivious to the situation.

Crunch time hit and Microsoft cut its original shipments by half, or worse. The store I purchased my 360 from was originally receiving 20 units. They now have only five to sell. Many stores, including Electronics Boutique, GameStop, Sam Goody, and the like have an unusually height number of pre-orders and not nearly enough 360s to go around. Someone screwed up and who are you going to blame? Microsoft.

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Xbox 360 First Impressions

Like a 12 year old waking up at 4:30 in the morning of Christmas to open his presents, I bolted down to my local video game retailer today. And when I say bolted, I mean it. I did not just walk on the sidewalk, I ran. Yes, I am a grown man. This is what a new video game console can do to a person.

The Xbox 360 (360) has more pizzazz behind it this time around because it is the first to market in the “next-gen” crowd. Sony and Nintendo have no tangible wares to show us. Even at this year’s E3, Microsoft had the competition beat with many more playable games.

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Xbox Review: Spartan Total Warrior

While obviously somewhat inspired by Koei's Dynasty Warriors series, Spartan Total Warrior starts off as an epic. The battles are bigger, cleaner, and far more packed than the competition, and combat it what the game does best. About halfway through though, it dies a painful, slow, frustrating death, and one that easily could have been avoided.

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PSP Review: NBA Live 06

The lackluster mess that was NBA Live 06 on consoles becomes a solid piece of work on the PSP. The feel, style, and gameplay are all different from the home console versions, and if there's ever been a game that needs to stray far, this is the one. In almost every category, Live 06 handheld tramples the home versions.

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DVD Review: War of the Worlds (2005)

While almost completely devoid of logic or sense, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds offers spectacle. It's what anyone sitting down to watch an alien invasion movie should expect to see. Anything more is a bonus, and while those pieces are missing, it's the images that make this film unforgettable.

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November 23, 2005

DVD Review: King Kong (1933)

There has never been anything like King Kong. Not the remakes, not the cartoons, and certainly not any book. It’s a visual treat, even now over 70 years later, and a testament to what can be achieved on film.

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DVD Review: Son of Kong

Even on its own without comparisons to its predecessor, Son of Kong doesn't work. It's obviously cheap, quickly slapped together, and created for the sole purpose of using the Kong name. It lacks the intensity of the original, and the slapstick comedy provided from the younger beast is almost embarrassing.

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November 24, 2005

DVD Review: Mighty Joe Young (1949)

Mighty Joe Young is the King Kong sequel Son of Kong should have been. Actually, it's not a sequel at all, but given the cast, directors, and writers, it should be. The final oversized ape epic to come from the team of Schoedsack, Cooper, and O'Brien, Young is just a small notch below the original Kong.

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DVD Review: War of the Worlds - Season 1

Picking up after the 1953 classic film version, War of the Worlds is a rather weak TV series, bad enough to wreck most of the positive memories from the film. It's not the best premise to serve as a backdrop for a long running show (and that was proven with only two seasons), and some of the new concepts introduced are just awful. The first season is the only one worth watching, but even this is tough to sit through.

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November 25, 2005

'Mr. Miyagi' dead at 73

Actor Pat Morita, who offered the famous advice "wax on, wax off" to a young karate student in his performance as the wise Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" has died. He was 73.

(Full article; sorry this is Yahoo news but I couldn't find anything else and it has some good links/lists of his work... he was with Mr. T in something? I never knew...)

November 27, 2005

Xbox 360 Review: Madden NFL 06

Not satisfied with the current Madden, the team has created something new for this generation. The changes are subtle, though enough to be noticeable. It's obvious most of the work went towards the new graphics engine, and while that's expected, people may be surprised about the play changes.

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November 28, 2005

PS2 Review: Shadow of the Colossus

Presenting a feeling of isolation like no game before it, Shadow of the Colossus is a strange, odd, and artful piece of game design. Sadly, the art seems to take over the game portion. What it does to keep itself engaging is offer spectacle and a unique experience, even if it's a frustrating one.

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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a turning point in the series. Things are no longer bright and cheery. They're mysterious. They're dark. They're deadly.

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PSP Review: SSX On Tour

Varying wildly from the home version, SSX On Tour is not the same game. This is a version of the series made strictly for the PSP. It's easy to say this is the best handheld SSX yet, though when your other options are on the Game Boy Advance and N-Gage, that doesn't say much.

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PS2 Review: Resident Evil 4

Already an almost guaranteed lock for game of the year, Resident Evil 4 has found its way onto the Playstation 2. Aside from a small graphical drop, this is the same game it was on the Gamecube, now with extra features. With that little boost, it's not hard to consider this a video game that truly earns the praise of "perfection."

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Joystiq's Top 10 Hidden Gems

At least from games in this era. I HATED Psychonauts with a deep, deep passion. Great characters and world, boring collect-a-thon platformer with the usual camera problems. Most of us on Digital Press agree Metal Arms should be here, maybe not in first, but definitely on the list.

November 29, 2005

The Myth About Defective Launch Day Consoles

Reports are everywhere, as they always seem to be, about problems with launch day Xbox 360s. Overheating, melted hard drives, games crashing, graphical glitches, and Xbox Live problems are all being reported on message boards. There's only one question I have: Who are these people?

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Sci-Fi Channel Original Review: Manticore

Manticore begins with false hope. Set during the current war in Iraq, the film opens with a great firefight between US troops and enemy insurgents. The direction, style, and action starts things off with a better than usual style. It seems like the budget has been raised a little higher, and things just may end up entertaining.

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DVD Review: Murderball

It's understandable to go into Murderball expecting a depressing, dark look at an ugly side of life. It's not, and in all actuality, it's a remarkable look at some incredible people who just love to ram their chairs into others on a basketball court. Murderball documents the journey of the US Olympic Wheelchair Rugby team, and does so without the expected angle of feeling sorry for them.

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November 30, 2005

The Farce of the "Video Game Report Card"

For 10 years now, video gamers have been subjected to the mainstream media reporting on the National Institute on Media and the Family's video game report card. This biased, ridiculous, manipulating, and sometimes even funny document needs to be dissected just to view it in the proper light. That's what will happen here.

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DVD Review: King Kong Escapes

Not a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla five years earlier, King Kong Escapes is a childish take on the giant ape. It should be though, closely involved with Rankin/Bass Productions animated cartoon series that would follow four years later. All the strange Japanese fun makes this lighthearted approach fun, if completely absurd.

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DVD Review: King Kong vs. Godzilla

The story of how King Kong vs. Godzilla came to be is likely more interesting than the film for most people. Originally envisioned by Willis O'Brien as a sequel to the original King Kong where the ape fought a giant Frankenstein monster, the film ended up at Toho after various dealings where Godzilla was inserted. There are meager connections to either creature's brief history (at the point of release), and it was created only to put two of the world's biggest monsters on screen at the same time.

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