December 2005 Archives



December 2, 2005

DVD Review: Seed of Chucky

Completely unconcerned for the fans who found the horror aspect of the Child's Play series the best part, creator/director/writer Don Mancini brings us Seed of Chucky. There is many an adjective available for the film, mostly including variations on sick, twisted, stupid, and fun. The series slow slide into comedy ends here, and even if it's a complete opposite of the films that started it, it's a classic example of horror comedy.

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December 3, 2005

Nintendo DS Review: Zoo Tycoon

The touch screen on the DS should give us perfect translations of PC strategy games. In fact, the potential is there to make them even better given the second screen. Unfortunately, if they’re going to be translated like Zoo Tycoon, we’ll never see that happen.

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Contest: Win a copy of Retro Gaming Hacks!

What is Retro Gaming Hacks you ask? Why, it's a book from O'Reilly.

It's not just any book though. There are multiple sections written by Digital Press members, including myself, Rob O'Hara, and Jess Ragan!

To mark this small milestone in DP world domination, we have two copies to give away on the DP forums. However, the first prize winner will get some extras:

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December 5, 2005

Nintendo DS Review: Mario Kart DS

Super Mario Kart wasn't only an innovative and fresh title back on the SNES. It was a paint-by-numbers piece that every kart racer to follow would use for "inspiration." It was wild fun with warping mode-7 scaling and rotation that showed off what the system could do. However, 13 years is a long time, certainly enough to make the concept stale without change.

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PSP Review: Infected

A sadly rare original PSP title, Infected sucks players in with a wild action concept. In a few levels, it falls apart. Then it sucks players back in with an innovative online feature, and then that falls apart. That's the flow of Infected, and it's not possible to recommend it, even though the deranged sense of humor gives players something to work for.

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Gamecube Review: Timesplitters 2

Timesplitters 2 may be a Player's Choice title, but it's one of the most overlooked games on the Gamecube (and PS2 and Xbox). It's a quick single player ride extended by incredibly in depth multi-player and a create-a-map feature. It's a game people will still be playing in a few years, much like the developer's previous effort Goldeneye.

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December 6, 2005

Roger Ebert and Video Games: A Sign of the Times

I have a huge amount of respect for Roger Ebert. Many people have a hard time understanding why he has become rich stating his opinion. They don't understand how educated that opinion is. At least, we should expect his opinion to be educated. In a recent response to reader mail (third letter down), he's drawn the eye of many gamers by failing to give due respect to the medium.

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A disturbance in the force

This past weekend Breaking Windows was down. Actually, all the sites on the server I am hosted on was down. It was found that the temp phpBB message board that I had installed for Blogcritics got hacked. It took some talking for them to bring by blog back online after that.

It is not as if phpBB is more hacker prone then any of the others, it is just that there are a lot of assholes out there that have nothing better to do then fuck with people's web sites. Message boards just seem to be the easiest target. DP just got hit once in a while, this latest being pretty bad. There is never any reason why. It is just because they can.

So no message forum for Blogcritics, at least not from me. This is what I get for trying to make things better.

I am just glad I got my blog back. For a little while there it looked like my host would no longer be hosting this blog. Not fun at all.

Xbox 360’s Downloadable Demos

One of the great new features of the new and improved Xbox Live on the 360 is a downloadable demo. Not only demos of the fun and addicting arcade games, but demos of full 360 games - the games you will be spending $60 on.

So far you can download a demo of: Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Kameo: Elements of Power, NBA Live 06, and Madden NFL 06. These downloads range from 400 MB in size to almost 900 MB. It takes the better part of an hour usually to get one of these. But when you think about it, this is time well spent.

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December 7, 2005

ESRB to NIMF: Report card arbitrary, simple-minded

Matt posted a comment about this, but it NEEDS to be said again:

"In recent years, the report card concept has become increasingly arbitrary, simple-minded, and silly, more of a headline-grabbing tool than a parent-helping tool, and NIMF's 2005 report card continues that disappointing tradition," said ESRB president Patricia Vance in a release giving the NIMF report card an "F" for "inaccuracies, incomplete and misleading statements, omission of material facts, and flawed research."

"For years, ESRB respected the work of NIMF," Vance continued, "recognizing it as a serious-minded watchdog group sincerely interested in helping parents make smart media decisions, and for this reason we have previously sought to engage them in a cooperative and productive dialogue. But this year NIMF made clear that its real agenda is to undermine parent trust in the ESRB. We will not allow NIMF to mislead parents about the accuracy and effectiveness of ESRB ratings. Accordingly, and reluctantly, we have little choice but to publicly challenge NIMF's numerous inaccurate and misleading claims."

Source: ESRB

All valid points. Especially the headline grabbing and the undermining.

DVD Review: Cinderella Man

It's so hard to look at Cinderella Man and not make the comparison to Rocky. Actually, any boxing film is going to draw that comparison, along with Raging Bull. Cinderella Man stands out though since it's based on a true story to give it some weight.

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DVD Review: World Series 2005 - Chicago White Sox

Even though it was a sweep, the 2005 World Series will be remembered for Game 3. The longest game in the deciding baseball series, that 14-inning struggle kept many fans up late, and likely off work the next day. White Sox fans have a nice, short look at the season, and an hours worth of highlights from the Series on this DVD.

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Nintendo DS Review: Sonic Rush

For longtime fans disappointed with the direction the series has taken in 3-D, they still have handhelds to provide the experience they’re looking for in Sonic titles. On the DS that’s Sonic Rush, a near return to form for Sega’s mascot, and no, it’s still not any easier to play as the character on a Nintendo system. The speed, boss battles, and multi-player have a hard time making up for the level design though.

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December 9, 2005

DVD Review: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries - King Kong

Though it feels like a test market product, Peter Jackson's Production Diaries: King Kong is the first time the extra material has been released on DVD before the movie is even out in theaters. Actually, the material has been around since September of 2004 online. The question is then: why do we need this?

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Gamers get heated over Xbox 360

As soon as the Xbox 360 game console was released in the United States last month, the media filled with reports of widespread problems with the system overheating and crashing — but those reports may have been overblown.
Source: BG News

I posted this here for two reasons. I think Dan did a good job on it, and Matt was interviewed for it. And as much as he though he was, he does not sound like an idiot in his quotes that Dan used. So good choice of the quotes Dan!

I have to say, I am still getting the error messages telling me to put the game disc in a Xbox 360. I have to give it 20 minutes with XBL Arcade, that or twiddle my thumbs, then I can play my next game. That is just lame. The next time it happens I am going to call Microsoft.

December 10, 2005

Xbox 360 Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06

It is really sad to see all the EA Sports titles for the Xbox 360 come up short this season. And Tiger 06 is no exception. For basketball fans there is another game to consider, but not so for football and golf.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 on the Xbox 360 looks amazing. The game is truly breathtaking, especially in HD. The player models have never looked better. Tiger truly looks like Tiger. The modeling and textures for cloth are stunning for sure, but it is the vast courses that really are impressive. The only glitches are slight pop in of shadows, and some stuttering during the introductory flybys. This is barely noticeable, but the pop in is surprising when you think about what the hardware is capable of.

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December 11, 2005

Breaking Windows Best Games of 2005

It's pretty much official. This has been the biggest year for video games EVER. Yes even bigger than last year. Not surprisingly, a lot of the big software has hit in the past few months. Even still, we at Blogcritics.org are going to make sense of the software that's hit over the entire year. No, we haven't played every console game this year (though if someone would like to send us a set, that would be nice), but out of what we've played, these are the dozen titles that stick out from the pack.

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Microsoft Thanks Google for IE Fix

Google this week rolled out a fix to mitigate the risk from a newly discovered vulnerability in Internet Explorer that puts users of Google Desktop at risk even if they are running a fully updated system. Microsoft developers thanked Google for their work and say they are working on a patch for IE.
Source: BetaNews

Wasn't that nice of them!

Sony caught in another DRM snafu

It's déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra once said. On Tuesday, Sony informed the world that its other DRM software contained a security vulnerability as well. SunnComm's Media Max version 5 is the culprit, with its installation of a directory that could provide a means by which malware writers could hijack a PCs running Windows.
Source: Ars Technica

No, this is not old news. It is not about last month's rootkit debacle. It happened again. I really hope heads rolled over this, well, both incidents. It also makes me really happy I do not use Windows to do anything more then checking what is broken in Internet Exploder.

If It's In The Game, You're Hallucinating

We all know how bad Madden 360 is by now. But this is the best post I have seen on the subject. NickySantoro360 writes:

After more play time with Madden 06 for XBOX360, I have noticed even more missing features/bugs. This list is sure to continue growing. This is a list of stuff that has either already been in Madden on previous gen systems, or was in the competitions' game LAST YEAR or sooner:
See the entire Madden 06 XBOX360 Missing Features / Glitches list.

December 12, 2005

PS2 Review: Kill.Switch

While it probably would have worked as a straight action game, Kill.Switch is a unique title in that everything is based around taking cover. It grows old after a while, and years of run and gun video game conditioning can make it tempting, but it's handled intuitively. There's also an interesting backstory that unfolds that makes each stage worth playing through.

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December 13, 2005

Nintendo DS Review: Burnout Legends

Burnout Legends suffers from one noticeable problem on the DS: It's called Burnout. If was named Generic Racing Game 1, it would have been tolerable. Sadly, slapped with the label from the best arcade racing franchise arguably ever, it's a disaster.

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One of those classic "Weird News Stories"

Not entirely sure what to think on this one. Sounds like a nice guy unless you own some bras and a MP3 player.

Nintendo DS Review: Trauma Center

Using the DS like it should be used, Trauma Center is a game for Nintendo's handheld unlike anything before it (on any console). Barring a few doctor-oriented games in the past (Microsurgeon on the Intellivision), this is a completely original, wild, and oddly fun escapist video game. It's the type of title made for the DS and only the DS.

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Xbox 360 Review: NHL 2K6

Unlike another companies sports titles on the Xbox 360, 2K Sports has done things right. There's not a single feature missing from this upgraded edition of NHL 2K6, and as an already beautiful game of hockey, there's little else they could expect. You'll be getting the same game you would on the Xbox; everything simply looks a touch better.

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December 14, 2005

Xbox 360 Review: Kameo

In development since the early days of the Nintendo 64, Kameo is one of those games you would never be surprised to see cancelled. After numerous incarnations and consoles, it's here on the Xbox 360. It's hard to imagine what the limited hardware of the N64 would have done to this fantastical, gorgeous, and jaw droppingly beautiful world. It's nice to know we'll never need to know.

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Xbox 360 Review: NBA 2K6

No one likes to win a battle without a fight. It doesn’t prove anything. NBA 2K6 resoundingly wins round one of the next-gen battle for simulation basketball. And all they had to do was show up at launch. This is because most of NBA Live 06 is just not there in EA’s first baller for the 360.

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DVD Review: Godzilla: Final Wars

There's one thing going for Godzilla: Final Wars. It's not the 1998 American travesty called Godzilla. Final Wars knows this, and few references to that ugly mess are the only real highlights here. It's an attention deficit disorder nightmare of a film, radically altering a concept (admittedly quickly going stale) that's worked for decades.

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The Onion takes on video game violence

The sad thing is, I'd probably play it.

December 15, 2005

PSP Review: Kingdom of Paradise

For a system starving for RPGs, the PSP has picked up in recent months. PoPoLo Crois, Legend of Heroes, and the game here Kingdom of Paradise make up the genres latest portable entries. This action RPG is a frustrating experience with little guidance. However, the completely original combo concept is enough to raise it above the average level and turn at least the fighting into an involving button masher.

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Xbox Review: Half-Life 2

Following up to what many consider to be the greatest first-person shooter ever made, Half-Life 2 is deep, ambitious, and to put it in a single word, incredible. While there's plenty of gunfire to go around, this sequel to the 1998 PC classic features plenty of puzzle solving action. This mostly revolves around the game's most enjoyable aspect: physics.

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Wikipedia Survives Research Test

The free online resource Wikipedia is about as accurate on science as the Encyclopedia Britannica, a study shows.

The British journal Nature examined a range of scientific entries on both works of reference and found few differences in accuracy.

Source: BBC News

And people still ask me why I use Wikipedia!

December 16, 2005

New TES Oblivion Developer Diary

Bethesda has a new developer diary online today. It talks mainly about the magic system. It sounds like mages will be a lot stronger, and easier to play, as in Morrowind. This diary includes a great quote: sidenote: Havok physics + giant explosion + flaming skeletons = I love my job!

Movie Review: King Kong (2005)

Impossibly beating all odds, destroying every bad memory about the 1976 remake, and setting a new standard for creature features, King Kong is a remarkable film. It's intense, brutal, and draining on every emotion. You're actually tired after leaving the cinema. Peter Jackson's remake is a $207 million gift for every Kong fan in the world, and except for a few ugly spots, it's hard to imagine a better way to resurrect one of cinema's all time greats.

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December 17, 2005

UMD Review: Tron

Gaining almost all of its strength from its incredible visual flair, Tron is a fun, light, and occasionally engrossing film. Every frame is a joy to look at, while the basic adventure happens behind the effects. On a storytelling level it’s a failure and that’s enough to make it a rough recommendation.

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DVD Review: Cry_Wolf

Setting itself up with a plausible premise and then destroying it all with an implausible ending, Cry_Wolf digs itself deep without a way to fix everything. The slow beginning is for the better, with plenty of false starts that leave the viewer hanging. It has some great imagery too, but that's not enough to save this one from ending up entirely average.

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December 18, 2005

Xbox 360 Review: Perfect Dark Zero

Out on the N64 with a wildly inconsistent frame rate, Perfect Dark made some noise because of its developer (Rare) and great weapon set. That continues on the Xbox 360 with the prequel, Perfect Dark Zero. It's in a bigger crowd now though, and the impact isn't quite there, but this is still a well made FPS.

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December 19, 2005

DVD Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Volume 3

The third season for the animated Ninja Turtles has some truly classic moments, and it's obvious this is where the show gained some legs. The animation mistakes are rare (they were prevalent in earlier seasons), the humor stronger, and some great new characters added. This DVD set includes a dozen episodes from this season. Other episodes will likely be included in future volumes.

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Microsoft Officially Drops IE For Mac, Recommends Safari

Microsoft stated two years ago that support for Internet Explorer for Mac would end in 2005. It has finally been two years. Two very long and painful years if you ask me.

In a note posted to Microsoft's Mactopia Web site, "Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005, and will provide no further security or performance updates." This is already the case, but only unofficially. They will also pull downloads of IE for Mac as of January 31st, 2006.

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PS2 Review: Smackdown! vs. Raw 2006

Adding more floors to a decrepit building doesn't fix the floors below, so why hasn't THQ/Yuke's learned that more isn't always better?

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Xbox Review: Batman Begins

Batman Begins - a good game? It was bound to happen someday...

Just talking about games such as Batman and Robin, Batman Beyond, Batman Forever or Batman Forever: The Arcade Game with someone who reviews video games should trigger something in their head which will make them talk about how horrendous those games were for months. Batman video games are sort of like president jokes on a late night show to a video game reviewer. Hell - I could probably base an entire stand-up routine derived from those games.

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December 21, 2005

The Worst in Video Games 2005

Sure, we can call it the best year for gaming ever. That's possibly true. However, no year is perfect, and the industry as a whole provides numerous opportunities to have fun. So, instead of those typical, boring, and cheaply planned out best of lists, let's hand out some awards for the "less fortunate" people, places, and things from the industry we love… some times.

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David Letterman stalked by crazy woman

I've read this twice, and I'm still not exactly sure what this woman is trying to say he did. Even more amazing the judge allowed the claims. Only in America folks!

December 22, 2005

Dingell's Holiday Jingle

Congressman John D. Dingell (MI-15) recited the following poem on the floor of the US House of Representatives concerning House Resolution 579, which expressed the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected. “Preserving Christmas” has been a frequent topic for conservative talk show hosts, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.
Source: HouseDemocrats.gov

It's a pretty funny poem, you can even watch him recite the poem (with WMP). Thanks goes to Erin for pointing this out.

Fuck Christmas.org

Seriously – are you kidding me with this “There’s a war on Christmas” bullshit? FOX News wasn’t raking in enough cash already from all the Christmas commercials for Kill ‘em All Barbie and Girls Gone Wild Brand Toddler Gear? They had to start publishing books about some bogus attack on Christianity? And who did they pick to lead this particular charge?
Source: Fuck Christmas.org

Here is a pretty good read, with some great links in it, for those of you who think this entire "War on Christmas” is utter crap. Another link thanks to Erin.

December 23, 2005

No Christmas For You

Matt sent me this one. And it is Not Safe For Work! You could say it has a bit of language in it. But here is some more commentary on the "War on Christmas."

CodePink: Another one of "those" groups

Yes, they're against violence, which of course includes video games. However, this little section is the one that really sets me off. They not only tell their members to sticker store merchandise with absurd little stickers (and potentially ruining it when someone tries to take them off), but actually tell them to buy merchandise, come back in, yell at the clerk (who has a 99.9% chance of not caring in the least) for carrying it, and get a refund.

Look ladies, fight against the real war. Leave the GI Joe merchandise alone. You have no right to tell me what I can and cannot buy, whether it's for myself or the kids I don't have.

December 24, 2005

Xbox 360 Review: Ridge Racer 6

After a disastrous sequel in R: Racing Evolution that Namco is wise to forget, the Ridge Racer series now joins the crowded and strong Xbox 360 racing line up. This is the game for non-car buffs and those who treasure simple gameplay. While the feel is definitely outdated comparatively, the audience for this style is out there, and this is an overly extended fan service for them.

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December 27, 2005

DVD Review: Hot Shots Part Deux

Hot Shots Part Deux is a perfect example of not only a series that died too soon, but also one of a sequel that eclipses the original. Where the original was slightly locked into parodying Top Gun, Part Deux takes on everything that would fit into the script. Jim Abrahams directs this under-appreciated near-masterpiece of a film parody, and provides more comedy than should be legal.

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Jack Thompson buys Take Two stock

There should be laws preventing mentally unstable people from buying any stock, but it's Jack Thompson. Why did he do it? He wants to get inside the company during shareholder meetings and rip their CEO apart.

I think here on BW, we should have a "Jack Thompson" meter which would show how many days since his last absurd, stupid, wrong, or insane act along with a seperate meter for how off-the-wall it was.

Hootie & the Blowfish LIVE Now Available!

Great idea, and they have the Toledo show I was at. I would have sworn they did I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You, but apparently not. It's a meager $10 for nearly 90-minutes of music in great quality. I wish they'd seperate the songs into tracks (it's one long track as it stands), but I'll take it. Now it's just a matter of getting the cash to get the rest of the performances!

Movie Review: King Kong (1933) Colorized

One of Ted Turner's more controversial moves, colorizing movies was an idea that was created before the technology was ready. That didn't stop him from purchasing entire movie libraries with full plans to "update" them from black and white. With King Kong, about the only thing it does is make the special effects stand out unnaturally while ignoring everything else.

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N-Gage Review: Tomb Raider

Fondly remembered for reasons we have all forgotten, this N-Gage translation of Lara Croft's first adventure fails for all the reasons it did back in 1996. Most notably, the controls are simply terrible. It's enough to render this translation unplayable, mostly due to time.

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December 28, 2005

Interesting Read On Current Gaming Topics

I found this on Gamepolitics. It's a discussion on the ethics of the game industry, and it's actually done rationally with plenty of good points from both sides.

I Am Back Online!

It has been a wonderful Christmas! And I have not minded being off line for the past few days. I am not too sure when I will be home either - or when I will be back online again before I head back to BG. We will see.

I will have to run down all the goodies I got for Christmas later, some great stuff, a banner year for sure.

And no, I was not going into withdrawal from no Internet access. At the moment I am at my dad’s house and he has broadband, something my grandmother does not have.

DVD Review: The Day After

Disturbing 100 million people during its first TV showing, The Day After is one of those movies you don't want to watch, yet can't look away. It's harsh, depressing, and sadly, most likely not realistic enough. This is a brutal depiction of nuclear war, its effects on a small town, and doesn't skip any detail.

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Xbox 360: Real Life vs. Graphics

Check out these two pics from THQ. One is a in-game screen shot from Moto GP 3. The other is a real life pic. Good luck!

December 29, 2005

DVD Review: Konga

The world needs more mad scientists. They may screw up once in a while and unleash some huge terror that rampages through a major metropolis, but it’s all worth it. Besides, who else could come up with a movie like Konga and label it entertainment besides the criminally insane? And what would we do without it?

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December 30, 2005

N-Gage Review: Operation Shadow

Trying to bring Contra into 3-D doesn't work. It's not a style of game that is easily transferred. That didn't prevent Torus games from loosely trying to mimic a classic in Operation Shadow, a far too typical 3rd-person action title.

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