Dead 360 :(

Just minding my onw business, playing some Halo 3, launching flags on Valhalla...

HOLY CRAP. MY 360 just had what amounts to a seizure. Take a look at the screen:




Shut it down, reboot....

FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUU

What's the procedure for this error? Is it under warranty? My 360's a little under two years old.

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<3 Atlus

Seriously, is any other company in this day and age as good to their fans as Atlus is? Not only does Atlus Japan develop some amazing games, like the Shin Megami Tensei series (including Giantbomb favorite Persona 4), but Atlus USA actually brings these obsure games over- things no other publisher would take. Atkus USA localizes some of the WEIRDEST shit, which is great because it gets some of the things people would never experience outside of Japan to this sde of the Pacific. And their translation team is fanatstic- as anyone who's been watching the Endurance Run can surely tell you. Not to mention all the art books and plushes and other cool stuff they give out as preorder or loyalty bonuses for their fans.

Anyways, not much point to this besides to extoll the virtues of Atlus. They're a really great company, pretty rare in this corporate day and age. They're absolutely worth supporting.

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Awesome Movie Posters

I've always loved movie posters- have a couple hanging on the walls. I saw a thread on GAF today (and one on Penny Arcade a while back) about the best movie posters and thought it was pretty interesting, and I wondered what posters you all like. Some of my favorites:

Hitchcock's Vertigo:


Episode 1 had a great poster, even if the movie wasn't so rad


The Shawshank Redemption had a great one too

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Here is a question

Why the FUCK have they not written any KOTOR novels yet?


They have about a bajillion Star Wars novels. These sell well.

They have a KOTOR comic series. This sells well.

Why have they not combined the two yet? I would read the hell out of some KOTOR novels (Never been a comic guy really). Seriously these would be so awesome. KOTOR is the best thing to happen to Star Wars since the original trilogy, yet it's treated like some red-headed stepchild.

Wait-- oh shit yesss: http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/story/Alex_Irvine_Talks_Of_His_KOTOR_Novel_117941.asp
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Bungie Day Blog of Raining Recon

Two days from now, 7/7/09, is Bungie Day. Why should you care? Why, because Bungie day is always great for Halo and Bungie Fans. Last year we got a free map in Cold Storage, this year there's a chance to win some Recon Armor early, face Bungie in matchmaking, and play some community maps. The've also teased releasing some screenshots for the ODST multiplayer maps.

All Day 7/7, there will be a special Halo 3 playlist called "Bungie Vs. The World". It will be 4v4 on 35 brand new community-Forged maps (made on Sandbox and Foundry). Bungie Employees will be playing in this playlist all day in teams of four. If you manage to come across a Bungie team (You can tell them by their flaming helmets) and beat them, your team just earned themselves some Recon Armor. If you're unlucky and DON'T run across Bungie, there are still some unknown metrics you can complete and get Recon Armor.


Me and some other dudes from GB are going to be playing, and we're going to hopefully beat Bungie. Even if we don't it should be good times, and an opportunity to check out some sweet community maps. You can check all of the maps that will be in the playlist here, and Bungie should be posting their roster of teams with the times they'll be playing soon. If any of you guys want to hit up some Halo on 7/7, send a friend request to beat82 and we'll see if we can't get a GB team rolling.

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New Penny Arcade Site Layout

Penny Arcade, one of the best gaming webcomics out there, is getting a site redesign. But before they launch it, they're doing a public beta. Mostly just new looks, but they've also got an improved search and archive.

You can check out the new site design here:

http://beta.penny-arcade.com/

I am not a fan. The design should go live soon, but I figured you guys might like to see it a bit early.

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How Not To Expand Your License

Hey, suppose you make a sweet-ass next-gen sci-fi RPG. It's critically acclaimed, sells over a million copies, and has a sequel coming soon. You feel you want to expand this universe and bridge the two games. You want to know what to do. I'll tell you what you do.

YOU DON'T MAKE MASS EFFECT GALAXY.

Game is terrible. Being a fan of the original, I figured I could spare the three bucks to give this a try. That was a BAD IDEA. Galaxy is like they made a checklist off all the things that made Mass Effect great: galaxy map, dialouge system, companions, non-linear mission structure- and then MADE ALL OF THOSE THINGS TERRIBLE. Gameplay literally consists of tilting your phone and occasionally tapping the screen. It runs hideously, there's very little voice work, and does nothing unique or interesting.

Two of the main characters from this will appear in Mass Effect 2, but playing this game will make you hate them. You'll be better off meeting Jacob and Miranda in Mass Effect 2. Galaxy is terrible, no way to carry on a great franchise like Mass Effect. You want to know how to bridge Mass Effect  and Mass Effect 2? Here Bioware, this one's free: MAKE MORE THAN ONE TINY DLC FOR THE FIRST GAME. THE FUNCTIONALITY EXISTS. USE IT. DON'T MAKE A SHITTY IPHONE GAME THAT NO ONE IS INTERESTED IN. Or hell, write another novel, those were good. Just don't make Mass Effect: Galaxy.

Honestly, the most enjoyment I got out of Mass Effect Galaxy was re-watching the included trailer for Mass Effect 2. That's the quality we're talking. I like seeing great franchises extended beyond games. But please Bioware, not like this.

Not like this.
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Franchises which should have good games but don't

You ever run across something in another media form and think to yourself: "this would make a great videogame"? No? Well no matter. Because I did... and this is horrible stylistically. Let's cut to the chase, shall we? These two franchises should have better games than what they currently have.

Harry Potter

Dude look at this PS2 shot of HBP. Wait... PS2???
This is a no-brainer, as the books are practically already set up like a game as is. A large, open castle environment with lots of secret places to explore, going to classes to increase abilities, sports mini-games, a continuing story that isn't too overbearing and progresses slowly throughout the year- there could even be dialouge trees or a dating mechanic to inteact with other students and form relationships a la Bioware games. And you know... magic. Spells and potions and shit. Unfortunately, Electronic Arts has seemed content to pump out movie tie-ins with little creative use of the license. The Harry Potter world is vast and expansive- it would be a perfect game world that could support many different game styles. All EA is likely to show us though is Harry's story, which isn't all that compelling since we know where it ends, and it allows the player almost no freedom to make their own choices. Think about an action-RPG or the like set in Hogwarts, putting you in the shoes of a new character as a completely new story unfolded. The setting and world could make great videogames, especially with Wii controls. Maybe after the last movie comes out EA will get a little more creative with the license (or maybe it's something to do with J.K. Rowling). All I know is that Harry Potter has tons of videogame potential, but we haven't seen very much of anything yet.

Lord of the Rings

LOOK AT ALL THAT
This one is slighty different, as there are some pretty decent LOTR games out there. Nothing too spectacular though (ignoring LOTRO, because I have no experience with MMOs :P). Again, LOTR has an incredible wealth of source material, with Tolkein having essentially mapped out the history, geography, and social structure of this entire world from the moment of creation. The mythos has been treated to an almost insane amount of detail, and there are plenty of interesting ways to use that canon for games. All that we've really seen so far though is hack-n-slash and RTS, set during or around the story put forth in the books and movies. There was a Hobbit game from Sierra recently which was surprisingly good, and The Third Age, which was hilariously bad, but besides that it's been mostly rote. This is probably related to the Tolkein estate, as they tend to keep a tight fist on his work, but the possibilities for games are limitless. Any of the stories from the Simillarion, Aragorn's travels in Harad and Rhun, only breifly touched upon in the books, Gandalf and his Wizard homies (RIP The White Council, it was not yet your time). Middle Earth is so broad, it could do so much more besides RTS and Hack n Slash- or at least try different time periods besides the frame around the books and movies.

Both of those franchises (Both EA Licenses, oddly enough) really are something special, but haven't been put to good use in the videogame space. It's kind of saddening to see such potential not fully utilized, although I'm sure EA is laughing all the way to the bank. Any franchises you feel this way about? Disagree with my choices? Sound off in the comments :)

Thanks for reading. It is appreciated.
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Why you SHOULDN'T replay Mass Effect

Some minor spoilers probably. Might not want to read this if you've yet to play Mass Effect.

Mass Effect is a great game, no doubt about it. One of it's main selling points is the massive (excuse the pun) replayability the game has, as you can make different choices each time through. I took this to heart, and have played the game an unknowable number of times (My 360 harddrive erased itself a little ways back, so I can't check the clearsaves). I even got all the achievements, which everyone knows is a giant pain in the ass. And I have an important message for you all: Don't play Mass Effect multiple times.

It will ruin the original experience for you. When playing through the first time, the game seizes you with a sense of wonder and impact. It feels as if everything you does has an impact, and every choice you make seriously alters your play experience. This is a lie. Going back again and playing through really shows how little the game varies- the linearity is cleverly disguised, but it's still there. Oh? I can choose to save or destroy this colony? Well even if I save it I can't ever re-visit it and no one will ever mention what happened to it besides this Citadel elevator. Oh, I can kill or save this entire species? Bet THEY won't ever re-appear. Even though you're told that your choices will have huge impacts on the galaxy, they do not. Most of them don't even have a self-contained impact- someone will make a comment about your decision, then the story moves forward.

This even carries over to some of the dialouge trees. If you have a conversation and choose one option, then reload and choose anoher, the response is often exactly the same. There are a few honest-to-goodness moments that really do have an impact- the showdown on Virmire was probably the high point of the entire game for me- but these are few and far between really. They do certainly exist, but not to the degree you would think. And let's not even go into sidequests. Because really, I think we all know the problem there.

I'm not necessarily saying this is bad. There's a remarkable illusion of choice built up, and if you're anything like me, that will make your first playthrough downright magical. But when you go back and try to see how you could do things differently, the man behind the curtain begins to show a bit. You begin to see the petty little tricks used to create that illusion, and begin to see the underlying framework of the game, instead of the experience that Bioware's trying to lay out for you. It's simply a matter of using resources practically- it's inefficient to build game content that will only be seen by people who made a certain choice. You're given the illusion of choice, but in reality, are railroaded down a fairly linear story corridor.

Bioware has said they want to tone down the amount of illusory choices in the second game, and make each have more impact, but faced with the prospect of a third game and having to carry over choices to that product, it's likely you won't be able to deviate too much from a preset path in ME2, much the same as in the first game, which is a shame, but probably a necessity to get ME3 out sometime before 2015.

It's ironic, but I think exactly because of the features that Bioware touts make Mass Effect more replayable, the game is better suited to be played once then set down forever. Becuase going back through again will tarnish your first playthrough, make the reality of the situation much more apparent than it was the first time through, when you were wide-eyed and full of wonder. In the case of Mass Effect, ignorance really is bliss.
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