By JJWeatherman 9 Comments
I'm late, for a very important date!Blah! Kind of a busy weekend, which explains the tardiness of this blog. I usually try to get them up late Saturday night, which is actually Sunday morning, so that usually works out perfectly. My uncle is in town form across the country though. Plans were made, things happened, and here I am. I was at one of Oregon’s many cold beaches earlier today. That was exciting if only because I ate a lot of great food. I had fish at a seafood place called Mo’s, and then had pizza just a few hours later after some shopping and art browsing had been done. Speaking of the art browsing, I was told that I could sit in these really nice looking rocking chairs. I almost did until the store owner told us that the chairs were like $5,000 a pop. IT’S A WOODEN CHAIR! Needless to say, I didn’t dare sit in it. I didn’t want to risk breaking it in any way and having to buy it. That price is just crazy for a single chair. So anyway, that all was fun. I took some pictures of the sad overcast weather with my relatively poor camera phone. I swear it wasn't as dark and dreary as the pictures make it seem. Take a gander if you’d like:
I’m wise enough to know that most of you don’t care about anything you just read, so I’ll get on to the games. I’ve had a metric ton of games that need plowing through. From Jade Empire, to Back To The Future: The Game, to Brutal Legend, to Dragon Age: Origins. Oh yeah, and Beyond Good and Evil HD. All of them are calling to me; however, I never committed to one in particular. Instead, I played a bit of each and then sprinkled some Rock Band 3 and NBA 2K11 in there for good measure. RB3 and 2K11 are definitely my “go-to” games in almost any situation. Even when I have a stack of new stuff to play, I constantly find myself crawling back into a heated match of 2k11, or jumping on drums to jam a bit in Rock Band. I can’t help it; I just love those franchises too damn much. For that reason, instead of talking about the sprinkling of newer games that I’ve played recently, I’ll take some time to tell you about the ole faithfuls. Read on, reader, and experience my feelings on the games that I play perpetually.
The community is still a threat!As you may or may not know, the Giant Bomb community has been trying to start up a Rock Band night. Fellow user (and gentlemen and scholar) swoxx got the ball rolling last Friday before the Happy Hour show. We still don’t have a final schedule or anything, but four of us were able to get together and play a few four song sets until the Happy Hour started. It was good stuff. We had swoxx and Lifes_Avenger on guitar and bass, sofacitysweetheart on vox, and myself on drums. Sorry to pepsimax who wasn’t able to join due to our party’s... fullness. When you put ellipses before a word like fullness, it almost makes it sound dirty. Sorry to Melcene as well. We’ll have to do this at a later time to fit schedules in better. I hope more people join in in the future. We’d of course need to split into two separate bands, but that seems fine. Too bad there isn’t some kind of head to head band mode that eight people could all participate in at once. I think one of the Guitar Hero games may have had something like that. Oh well. Rock Band’s a great game.
I’ve been playing Rock Band for a long time now. It’s been four years since this all started; longer if you want to go back to the old Guitar Hero days. Four years for Rock Band, though. It seems like just a year ago that I first laid eyes on that funky drum controller. Rhythm deficient and lacking any kind of limb independence, I stepped into a brave new world of video gaming. Of course we’ve all witnessed the boom and bust that is the rhythm game genre’s life trend over the past four years. If it’s still possible to get the community together to play together though, then I‘d say the genre is far from dead. From what I can tell, it’s simply dying off in the mainstream market. That’s natural. Sadly it also affects the revenue of good companies like Harmonix and forces them to maybe tone down their business model due to the decrease in overall popularity. But my point is that it’s not like people are strait-up done with Rock Band now. The only people that are, were never true fans of the genre in the first place. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Maybe that’s not completely true; maybe some people were legit fans that just grew tired of it. Hard to say for sure, but all that really matters is that there are still plenty of fans like myself that want to continue playing these games despite the fact that it’s simply not as “hip” to do so anymore. I think that’s awesome. Keep on keepin’ on, fellow Rock Banders!
Boom shakalaka!Basketball games, man. I just keep playing ‘em. I suppose it’s somewhat similar to my love of Rock Band. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I love simulating basketball matches so much, but I do. It’s such a simple concept. Unlike something like Mario, a simulation basketball title requires very little gameplay creativity. The game is the game. There are no levels to design, there are no characters to create, and all rules are already established. Though, there is a lot of creativity on the technical end in order to get everything feeling right; I’m definitely not denying that. It’s just funny to me that year after year I can continue to do the exact same things and never get tired of it. Sports games are basically the most repetitive games in the world on the surface. It’s when you dig into the specifics that you start to uncover what makes these games so great. And really, the specifics are the foundations of basketball itself. Simply the rules of the game make the sport worth watching and the video games worth playing. The same could be said about simulation racing games, or any other simulation game. Of course this is all fairly obvious, but the concept of a simulation video game is just kind of strange to think about. In a medium that offers unlimited possibilities, some choose to strive to match reality. 2K does a great job putting the product of basketball into anyone’s hands to manipulate how they will.
I’ve played a lot of basketball games over the years, and nothing has been more right than the NBA 2K series. I was a die-hard fan of Live for the longest time. NBA Live 2005--featuring Carmelo Anthony on the cover--was the last iteration of Live that I put any amount of serious time into. That was the year that I converted to NBA 2K5 and never looked back. As some may remember, 2K5 sold for the bargain price of $20, brand new. Despite this, the developers brought players an experience that was deeper, and truer to the real NBA than Live ever was. While Live felt floaty, 2K5 felt heavier. While Live felt fast, 2K5 slowed it down to realistic levels. They just seemed to get everything exactly right and it made for a much better game of hoops. Fast forward to current day and not much has changed. Well, OK, Live actually doesn’t exist anymore, but of course that’s because EA decided to rebrand the game to NBA Elite. I think even non-basketball fans have heard about what a disaster that game turned out to be. It didn’t even ship, and on the year of their rebranding no less. Anyway, my point is that 2K has been the king of hoops for a good seven years at least.
What 2K does to make me want to play it is simple: They design the game in a way that allows me to easily execute what I want, and maybe equally importantly, they make it look as natural as any sports game on the market. I think the reason I love sim basketball games, and 2K in particular, is because these games allow me to feel like I’m doing things that can be done in real life. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; that’s the goal of sim games. 2K just pulls it off extrordinarily well using a shit load of unique player specific animations as well as a physics engine and atmosphere that all feel dynamic, exciting, and most importantly, realistic.
The whole point of this was to explain why I play simulation basketball games in the first place, and 2K specifically. My being extremely tired probably doesn’t help me to explain things very clearly, but I did my best. I think more people should give NBA 2K11 a shot. It’s been called the greatest sports game ever created for good reason; it’s a lot of fun. No matter what new game plops into my lap over a years time, I'll always return to good ole NBA 2K for a game of hoops. Next year I'll buy 2K12 and the process will begin all over again. I just can't help myself.
Forza 4 Trailer Leak [source]I don’t know about you guys, but I freaking love the Forza series. I grew up on GT and a bit of GT2 as well, but I’ve shifted my focus over to Turn 10’s corner recently. I like their style, and I’m really liking what this rumored to be leaked trailer shows us. Microsoft’s official comment was that this trailer was not meant to be released. Despite it being leaked on April Fools Day, it seems legit. Click on that source link and go watch the trailer now. It's really good.
There are so many amazing things in that trailer. The most forgettable of features is the Kinect enabled steering. On the flip side of that though, the out-of-race car navigation using Kinect looks slick. Then there’s the “Hollywood style effects” that I think is a fantastic addition. If there was a problem with Forza it was just that the racing felt bland after doing it for long periods of time. I hope these effects will lead to an increased sense of speed and danger. There aren’t many games that I’m more excited for this year. Looking forward to some official confirmation and more announcements!
Metacritic Pulls A 180 [source]As was featured on last week’s blog, Metacritic had planned to start rating individual developers based on their collective work’s scores. Well, they’ve come to their senses. The idea was scrapped after admitting that “the information is incomplete and can't be trusted.” This is good news. What would this industry be turning into if scores were placed on individuals? It’s bad enough that games get that treatment, although I can at least see the upside for doing it with games. I guess all I can really say is: Oh Metacritic, you so crazy.
Kinect’s Evolution [source]As a Kinect owner myself, a sign of advancement in the technology this dramatic is exciting. Without modification to any of the Kinect’s current hardware, students have been able to reduce Kinect’s input lag to an amazing 2 milliseconds.
I recommend visiting the article and watching the trailer. If this is ever implemented into Kinect, it could be huge. It could make all the difference. Exciting!
”The team's research does not build on Kinect's existing technology; rather, it strips it away at the base level and replaces it with a new way of "thinking". Rather than using a recognition system built on tracking limbs, the researchers built one that could identify body parts in an image, pixel-by-pixel.”
Later, gatorsWhat else did I do this past week? Ah, I watched The Graduate on Netflix and wrote a blog about it on screened. It was a stream of consciousness type of blog that I wrote at like 3 AM though, so maybe lower any expectations. I loved that movie though. I’d been wanting to watch it for the longest time, and I’m glad that I did. Kinda makes me wonder what other great old films are out there waiting to be discovered. If you have any recommendations, I’m willing to listen. I’ll try to play more than sprinkles of my newer games before next Sunday. Come back then and see what’s up. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. Final note: The Blazers just beat the Mavericks to move into the one game range of clinching a playoff spot. Either Houston loses one game, or we win one more, and the Blazers are officially into the Playoffs! That'll happen sooner or later, but now the big question is what the first round playoff match-up will be. It could very well end up being the Mavericks who we just beat, so that would be nice. Go Blazers!
(Blast! This is going up at 12:07! I really am late now!)
Love from Rip City,