Tuesday, August 21, 2024

Enter, BioShock

By Tyler Barber

"...a day which will live in infamy." Roosevelt may have delivered that line after the pivotal Pearl Harbor invasion, but I think it's more applicable here.

Today, BioShock for the Xbox 360 debuts to the world. Last week a megaton demo of BioShock dropped on Xbox Live, and instantly — with only half an hour of stick time — gamers everywhere are declaring BioShock the apex of gaming today.

Fear not hyperbole reader! Review scores for BioShock have been pouring in, weighing it on a scale of the good ol' 1-10:

10 - 1up
10 - GameSpy
10 - Game Informer
10 - GameDaily
10 - Eruogamer
10 - Games Radar
10 - Yahoo! Games
10 - GamePro
9.7 - IGN
9 - GameSpot

But enough numbers — all you'll ever get from Number's is crabs — the real reason to get this game is because it feels, well, real. When you play BioShock, there's this dissonance where you feel drowned in the game's world and in its story, but at the same time, there's this awareness that someone meticulously crafted this world for you to enjoy (or for you to be terrorized in).

With the current generation of gaming coming in the HD era, where the average gamer is a 29 year-old male and where it's not uncool to play games, we're finally seeing the maturation of the industry. Like the Beatles' White Album to rock and roll, BioShock is undeniably taking acid (no not really). BioShock is a game that gamers are pointing to and saying: "see, games are more to us than entertainment." When the Beatles first got together, they were practically a boy-band, playing fun, light-hearted songs. It wasn't until later that the Beatles, along with many other bands, started creating music that not only defined what we consider rock and roll, but also defined its own culture. And like the rock and roll culture pre-Blackbird, the gaming culture is relatively young. We're still convincing our parents that we're not wasting our time.

Enough preaching. If you're so inclined to pick up BioShock today, you shouldn't have problems finding a copy. Everyone is going to be stocked like crazy for the release of BioShock. Don't have an Xbox 360? Now's a good time to buy, as there has recently been a price cut across all Xbox 360 skus. I recommend the Pro (formerly known as the Premium) or the Elite. I wouldn't recommend the Core pack to my worst enemy. Do the math yourself: no wireless controllers, no hard drive (a lot of games coming out, like GTAIV, will require a HDD, or run better on a machine with one), and no HDMI output.

Too bad BioShock hit on a deadline week for the Free Press. Woe is me!

Monday, August 6, 2024

'08 is the New '07: Grand Theft Auto IV Delayed

By Tyler Barber

An emerging trend in next-gen game development is that developers are having to push back release dates, more and more. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was the most recent upsetting delay until last week, when a Take Two conference call revealed that Grand Theft Auto IV will be delayed to second quarter '08 (February-April).

This announcement was a shock because Rockstar is the one developer that will have the courage to set, and make exact release dates for their games early in their development cycle. On the other hand, the demo of GTAIV shown at E3 had obvious issues with frame-rate, pop-up, and showed alot of placeholder assets. Add to that the fact that no one's even seen the game running on a PS3 (everything shown so far has been running on the Xbox 360). So, it wasn't totally unexpected either.

I was not only excited about playing the game, but also about the record-breaking sales that the game industry as a whole would experience this holiday season. What would have been a perfect storm of games that would rival the 2024 holiday season will now be a huge proverbal "what if?"

While the Internets are busy pointing fingers to the cause of the delay, all Take Two would say is that it was due to "technical problems." Some think it's the tricky PS3 development holding the game back, others decry the hard drive-less Core Xbox 360 as being a burden on Rockstar. The reality is probably a little of both, but don't hold your breath for Rockstar to oust one console over the other.

Still, the previous Grand Theft Autos were simply time-vacuums. And now that GTAIV is out of the question for '07, I'm a bit relieved that I'm going to have the time to play all the other great games coming out this holiday. The GTAIV delay is a blessing in disguise for many involved.

So Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Fable 2, Too Human and Killzone 2 have another former '07 title to add to their club. Looks like '08 is the new '07.

Wednesday, August 1, 2024

E3 Shows Multi-Platform Innovation

By Tyler Barber

The setting and the games at this year's E3 were refreshing. I came away happy to see that several developers are actually innovating in genres which have been in danger of becoming depleted of all creativity.

For example, the Call of Duty brand is known for its excellence in the WWII shooter genre (minus Call of Duty 3), but when WWII shooters are coming out faster than boy-band has-beens, someone's gotta take a walk on the wild side. Here comes Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, where developer Infinity Ward takes a welcome turn into the modern age of combat, and presents it in a package that is delicious as it is a kick in the nuts.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare | Release Date: Fall

Forget the crapfest that was Call of Duty 3 -- it was developed by a whole different team. Infinity Ward is the development powerhouse that gets the game right, and with the newest CoD, we're out of World War II and into modern times. CoD 4 was one of the most talked about games at E3, as it blindsided everyone with its ultra-intense combat and ridiculously good-looking graphics. The game's animation, sound and scope of environments will make this game the war-shooter to beat.

Rock Band | Release Date: November 20

What do you wanna do with your life? If you know the answer, buy this game, because unless you are actually in a band, this is the only way you'll ever RAWK! Rock Band is going to sweep the world by storm. Take Guitar Hero and add, drums, vocals, the ability to jam with friends online, better art direction and song-licensing handled by MTV -- and you can begin to see what will be not only the must-have party game, but also the new King of Rock.

Skate | Release Date: September 12

The Tony Hawk games were fun, but after a gagillion sequels the series became stale. Skate, on the other hand, takes the skating genre and makes it as fresh as chronic in November. Eschewing the over-the-top skating found in the Tony Hawk games, Skate will put players in a more realistic world. And, with the skate video visual style of the game, landing a simple but perfect kick-flip never felt so rewarding. Like the Halo 3 Saved Films, Skate too will allow you to record, edit and post your replays online.

Burnout Paradise | Winter

The racing genre has many incarnations: arcade, simulation, action. But Burnout Paradise will take those and trade them for an open world with seamless online integration. You'll ride around town competing in several emergent challenges such as power-sliding into a parallel parking space, gaining the best time on any given street, or your basic race challenge. This time the races start at traffic lights, where you'll coerce you neighboring car-owners into burning rubber. Easily the most original racing-game yet.