The Elder Scrolls

After playing about 40 hours of Bloodmoon, Tribunal and Oblivion this week, I was searching for more info about the next Elder Scrolls game. What I have found is a bunch of really bad youtube videos which claim to have content of the next game in them. Looks like they are all fake.  

However what I found out was that there is a new Bethesda podcast: http://bethblog.com/podcast/ 
They are talking about New Vegas and Rage but also hint towards a new game which they don't want to show yet. I am pretty sure that they are talking about the next Elder Scolls game since Todd Howard says that they've been working on the title since they finished Fallout 3 and that people would be excited about it. 
That's about all the info I got from the web but I will keep following the podcast and eventually they will announce the game I guess.  

As for everyone else who can't wait for the game you can still pick up the old game - like I did. I was amazed by how great Oblivion still looks after it's been five years since its release. Though I prefer the mechanics of Morrowind  I still liked the dynamic schedules every character in the game had and also that the game had complete voice acting in every conversation. I think it looked kind of strange when everyone just stood still or walked in the same circle over and over again in the earlier games.  
 
Maybe I will pick up Daggerfall once I have some more time to spare, I'd really like to get back to the Elder Scrolls' roots. Arena might be a little too old for me. And as for the other games I heard that they are all pretty bad. I even own Shadowkey for the N-Gage but still never played it.

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I Just Bought Shenmue II For Dreamcast

I already played through Shenmue II a couple of years ago when it was first released for Xbox. Shortly after that I picked up the original game, Shenmue I for Dreamcast and loved it, too.  
Though it's difficult to get access into those games, at least that's how I felt during the first few hours of the games, they are worth your time. I was stunned when I noticed how the town in Shenmue I changes during the winter (It starts in October I think and goes on till February if I remember correctly). It's starting to snow, the streets turn white, people put decoration into their windows around Christmas and so on. The overall atmosphere was better than in most modern games. 
  
And since I loved the games so much I thought about playing through them once again. 
Though I already possess the Xbox version of Shenmue II, I couldn't resist when I saw the PAL version of the game in a German online shop used for 26,99€ (The game is always English so if you want to pick it up, too: www.rebuy.de) I also bought Shenmue I there for ten bucks a couple of weeks ago for a friend however it's out of stock right now. Now I am looking forward for the game to arrive... actually I am looking forward for games to arrive since I also ordered Ecco the Dolphin, Jet Set Radio and V-Rally 2 which are also three great games, V-Rally 2 had a superb track editor and got me interested into racing games back when it was released. 
 
Anyway, as soon as I get it I will post how good the condition of the games is, since they are all comparably cheap and used. Like I said I ordered at the shop before and the condition was great last time but you never know until you got the item in your hands.

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So I went to Gamescom yesterday...

...and I have got to say that it was pretty awesome. Cologne is about two hours from my home town so there wasn't much to think about when I made the decision whether or not to go there. Cologne's convention center was fairly easy to find and the layout of the whole center is in my opinion even better than that of the convention's former home in Leipzig.   

The first games I looked at when I arrived were some MMOs including Guild Wars 2, Aion and some game called Tera. Though I am not a guy who's too fond of MMOs I enjoyed my time with Guild Wars 2. The graphics looked up to date and the world looked less MMO-ish. Which means to me that the houses were closer together and the roads didn't look like highways, it just looked more realistic in it's own terms.   
There were some browser MMOs, too. One was especially horrible. You played some dude who escaped from prison GTA-style and drove around in a car which felt like a soapbox. However there was also a neat looking browser MMO called Black Prophecy. It was kind of like the old Wing Commander or the Rouge Squadron games. The controls felt pretty sharp and the visuals were more than alright for some browser game.  
After that I took a snack, which was horrible. My fries tasted like shit and so did my Bratwurst - but at least I wasn't hungry anymore and ready to check out some more games.  

So I went to the Nintendo booth to take a look at the 3DS but unfortunately they didn't have it at the show... unfortunately for them since the other Nintendo stuff didn't interest me at all. Microsoft was in the same hall as Nintendo so I went there to check out some games at their place. There was also not a lot of stuff going on there except for Kinect, which I later on checked out at the Konami booth. I played Dance Revolution and some downhill surfing kind of game which were both good enough to show how accurate the device works... and it does run accurate as can be. It had no problem of tracking my movements spot on. Though the first Kinect games don't look better than the Wii games lineup when it was first released in 2006 I have high hopes for Kinect's future. It is a little irritating not to have a controller in your hand but also strangely satisfying.  

After that I played a bit of LEGO Universe which was one of the most impressive games at the show. Though it's meant to be played by small kids (there is a lot of moderation going on in the game) I felt that it could also be appealing to some adults. The game features all kinds of themes out of the many which LEGO came up with over the past few decades like pirates, space, medieval... However there are no IPs like Star Wars, Harry Potter or Batman in the games. During the game you seem to earn LEGO bricks which you can then again use to build your own stuff. The cool thing is that you can not only share your LEGO inventions with people in the game but you can also order your LEGO design online and you get it sent to your address in real life bricks :-D 
The developer I talked to while I was at the booth also gave me some beta keys and I managed to get two keys for the GB community, I'll post them later in the comments.  
Right next to the LEGO Universe booth was Super Scribblenauts which was Scribblenauts in a slightly upgraded version, at least that's how I felt about it. The visuals were the same as in the first game, so were the game-play and the sounds.  
 
Last but not least they had this huge retro section in the hall which featured a console collection from the one German duder who has the biggest collection in the world and a booth of a new magazin which only features games up to 8-Bit. Yeah you just read that, 8-Bit games. Apparently there is still a huge community of gamers who develop games for 8-Bit systems. The magazine is called RETURN and the dude who is publishing it told me that the interest in developing games for the NES again for example is bigger than ever since all of Nintendo's patents expired for the console. You now can buy completely new NES games, however I am not quite sure how I should feel about that... have fun anybody who is into that.  

After that I went to the next hall where Sony had its stage and booth. They showed Playstation Move which really isn't anything else than a Wii-Mote just four years later I guess. I had really high hopes for Gran Turismo 5, I love racing games and I have been waiting for this game since I first saw the tech demo of Gran Turismo HD back when the PS3 was released. However the game really looked insignificantly different from Forza Motorsport 3 which I learned to love over the past year. The graphics were not stunning and the game-play didn't seem any better than that of Forza. After I saw that I felt foolish for having waited so long for that damn game... 

Moving on. I also got the chance to get my Hands on Mafia II which played a lot like Mafia I. You had two more experienced Mafia dudes with you, blasted your way through a building, ran out after it caught fire and tried to escape the police in a wild chase. I guess if you were into Mafia I you probably will like Mafia II, those games have a lot in common in my opinion. Oh and there were also cover mechanics in the game and as in most shooters today you didn't have a health bar. 

Then I saw a modified version of the RAGE stange demo that was shown at E3 (at least the guy said that it was slightly different). The only impressive thing about the game was that it ran on 60 frames/second on a 360 with quite good graphics. The game itself look like Borderlands, to be honest if I hadn't known that it was RAGE I would have taken it for being Borderlands 2 or something like that. 
 
Blizzard showed the new WoW addon which you could also play. However I think it's kind of strange to play it at a convention since you need a lot of time to get into an MMO especially if you have to begin with a level 1 character. Same goes for SW:TOR. They had a playable version of the game there but it was strange to play it at the booth. 
But what I played was twenty minutes of Diablo III. I had four classes to choose from and I went with the sorceress and killed my way through the lands. It sure felt like Diablo but didn't feel like anything more. However I know that if I had been at home I could have gone on playing this game right to its end. It felt like a remake of Diablo II with up-to-date graphics and game-play improvements. The effects looked great and the difficulty seemed just about right.  
 
After that I checked out Gothic 4. I played through Gothic 1-3 and I was not quite sure what to expect from the fourth installment since the developer changed and to be honest I am not quite sure even now that I played it. You start off on this small island where you talk to people, run some errants, do Gothic stuff I'd say. The game-play however felt a little different than in other Gothic games. The character walked strangely and didn't get to well around edges. The frame rate was bearable but far from good, even worse on the 360. I'll have to see about this game but I'll definitely will pick it up with mixed feelings. 
 
After that I played Driver San Francisco which was nice, they made the driving feel like I was back in Driver 1 which I really liked and the car swapping felt good, too. I am not sure what else to say about this game since there was only one race available in the adequate looking demo where I had to drive behind a Delorean to score points and win. 

Last but not least I played the new Castlevania which felt a little bit like Heavenly Sword on the PS3. But it was also one of those games I didn't play long enough to make a good judgement about it.  

All in all I enjoyed the show, there was a lot of stuff I hadn't seen before and it felt good to get a look at the games that I have been waiting for so long now.  
 
edit: I forgot to mention that I also watched a demo of the new Red Faction game that is coming out. It played underground because the surface area seems to have been destroyed though I didn't quite get how it was destroyed... I can't remember such an ending from Guerrilla. Anyway the demo showed how the main character had to clear the way for some convoy. The game didn't look as open as Guerrilla did but still quite spacious. There was a new weapon in the game which basically sucked one thing to another: for example they showed what happened if you shot at a brick wall and then at some strange mutant monster. The monster got smashed by the bricks of cause. They also showed this nano repair tool which was capable of repairing man made structures.  
After they cleared the area the convoy rolled in and a "Dune-esque sandworm creature" appeared out of nowhere - the end :-)

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Not A Lot Of Fanboyism Going On Here

 Over the past years I noticed that there is not a lot of fanboyism going on on GB and I am glad that this is the case. There are a lot of sites where it only takes one or two posts until the first fanboy posts pop up on a certain topic, let say a multi-platform game. It's annoying and nonconstructive. Maybe the alignment colors prevent us from feeling the need to express our feelings towards our favorite brand in every single threat or it's just that the whole community is... cooler than on other websites.  Just recently I was still going with green and I do think that the 360 is a pretty good system, however I mostly played on old school consoles lately.
Anyway, props for the whole community for being open minded.    

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IT LIVES, muahahaha, muwhahaha, mawhahahaha!

Today the capacitors for my Game Gears arrived. Though only two of the three Game Gears I ordered have arrived at my house by now I was willing to give this whole repair thing a shot. Well at least I was willing to drop by a friend's house who's also into video game collecting and had a more or less faulty Game Gear himself. Thing is that he really knows his way around soldering stuff so basically I let him handle the difficult stuff and I am grateful he did this for me. After he switched the capacitors on the first Game Gear I was pretty depressed because the damn thing still turned off once I cranked up the brightness to about half of what should be possible - big downer there. The sound board worked however.
After that he continued with his own Game Gear and luckily everything worked out for the best. The sound on the speaker was nice and loud again, the same with the headphone plug and the viewing angle problem was fixed, too. After that my second faulty device followed and again everything worked flawlessly once he was finished. The soldering took about 45min to 60min for each device and prior knowledge of the Game Gears motherboard wasn't really necessary. I bought the spare parts on ebay for 4GBP per capacitor kit including a manual (which like I said wasn't really necessary).  
So if you have a Game Gear that doesn't play sounds anymore or doesn't even start anymore it's pretty likely that you will be able to fix it. If you live in the UK (which I don't) it's even easier. There is a guy on ebay who offers complete capacitor swaps and cleaning for just 11GBP. If you don't live in the UK it still shouldn't be a big deal. If you ever held a soldering iron in your hand you can do it and if you haven't let someone more experience teach you or have a friend doing it for you. It's not much of an effort to make this thing like new. By the way faulty Game Gears cost like one or two bucks on ebay. 
In the next few days I will check out the games I bought so far and the once that I am about to buy. I guess I will blog again soon with more about my Game Gear experiences.    

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Taking apart a SEGA Game Gear - you can't avoid it

I already blogged about the Game Gear I ordered on eBay for 25€ boxed, however the situation has change quite a lot since my last blog entry. 
First of all the Game Gear was delivered to my house, but when I put in the six double As it requires all I got was 1-2 seconds of life out of the device. "Bad sign" I thought, essentially because it said on the auction page that this thing should run like it's new... So I emailed the dude who sold me the Game Gear and demanded compensation for the wrong description. Meanwhile I bought a second defective Game Gear (this time I knew it didn't work) for 1,50€ on eBay to get some spare parts for the other one (The display has horizontal lines failing) and some capacitors to fix the regular sound and display failures (tutorial on youtube). After that I got word from my first Game Gear seller that he still has Sonic 2, Prince of Persia, the TV adapter, the AC adapter and another faulty Game Gear lying around and his willing to send me the stuff to keep me happy - deal! 
In addition I bought a couple of games, some of which where recommended by you guys: Shinobi, Sonic 2 (damn), Sonic Chaos, Aladdin and AX Battler 
I also ordered Panzer Dragoon Orta (XBOX), Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei (SAT), Battle Engine Aquila (XBOX), Gun Valkyrie   (XBOX) and Jade Empire (XBOX) 
So I am really looking forward to get my hands on all the stuff I ordered and of cause to playing on a working Game Gear. I'll keep informed about my progress with the repairs, the components should arrive within the next week.  
So long then!

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Old Games Suck!!!

I just played the old Alice game on PC which was released ten years ago and I gotta say that the graphics are disturbingly bad. Normally I am not a duder who is crazy about high end crytekian graphics but when it looks as awful as it does in old 3D levels, the games become unplayable for me. And Alice was even a game I loved back in the day... when it comes to highly recommended games like Final Fantasy VII, Ocarina of Time or Panzer Dragoon Saga I fail to see their value in the 21. century. Of cause I recognize what they did for later video games but that's just not enough for me to play through them entirely.  
It's a whole different story when it comes to Sprites. Late SNES games for example still look "good" in my opinion since they seem more detailed than the early 3D games. Of cause there are exceptions on both sides. Mario 64 is still one of my favorites and preserved some nice visual delicacies - the cartoonish world made it possible I guess.  
Though I did grow up with the development of 3D games (born 88) I was never too fond of their beginnings.  
What do you guys think, how do you feel about old 3D games? I heard there where more people than just me that didn't enjoy FFVII when they picked it up years after the release like I did.

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Bought a (new) handheld today :-D

Yeah I finally did it, 
though I have been thinking about extending my collection to include more handhelds I just never felt the same need to do so, like I do with home consoles. However over the past few days symptoms of intense collector's decease surfaced and I had to act fast. Which of cause means that I bought a handheld console, a SEGA Game Gear to be precise including three games:  http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220643658597&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT#ht_500wt_1154 
Columns, Sonic 1 and Castle of Illusion look kinda neat but of cause there have got to be more great Game Gear games. So now I am thinking about getting Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Panzer Dragoon Mini, Mortal Kombat 3, Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Outrun, Space Harrier and Micro Machines. I haven't played any of these games on Game Gear yet, to be honest I only played Sonic the Hedgehog once on a friend's Game Gear so I am not sure if this really is a good selection so I would like to rely on the Giant Bomb community with this one. What should I get for my Game Gear, what do you think about the games I listed?

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Look, a nerd! He dances, is in good shape and plays instruments

Starting with the uprising of games like Wii Sports, Wii fit and Rock Band people got more invested into games that try to teach you skills from the 'outside world' rather than sticking to the old principle of making a game for the sake of making a game which is just fun to play.  
Of cause that's nothing that was forced upon us, people just seem to like working out in their living rooms or playing fake guitars from their couches. 
As the whole instrument game genre hasn't reached its climax yet you can definitely see a tendency to realism. Instruments get more complex and the drum sets already seem to be quite close to real ones. Apple already showed that it's possible to make a music program that will actually teach you to play an instrument with GarageBand, which works really well but isn't a lot of fun yet. 
With Microsoft's upcoming motion sensing technology Kinect more developers jump on the train to "move yo ass land". With Harmonix Dance Central people get to know what it's like to be on the dance floor. There was Just Dance for Wii before but in my opinion Sony's and Nintendo's motion controllers look kind of last century compared to the whole camera thing from MS.  
I am very interested in how this is going to develop and what skills you'll be able to acquire from future games (I am looking forward to Ninja Gaiden 3 where I'll learn how to snap some necks, hurray!!!)  
Maybe they will make you a well trained dancer, guitarist, keyboard player, drummer, chef, surgeon, dentist, killer, robot vampire! - Hell yeah!

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Getting some XP

When I first noticed the new quests feature at giantbomb I was more or less curious about the different quest. 
But after spending hours dealing with the various quests I've got to say that I really love it. I think 
it makes me a better user :-) Also, it gives me a new incentive to add my xbox accounts, explore the site and so on... 
So here goes my first blog entry in order to gain some more XP.  
Happy hunting everybody!

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