Gaming Steve

October 2005 Archives

October 31, 2005

Rumor Control: World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Pandaren ExpressBlizzcon is done, the new World of Warcraft expansion has been officially announced, so ... now what? What do all these new changes mean? Since I have unofficial connections at Blizzard and have been playing WOW over the past four years (yes, you read that right) I thought I would put some of the larger rumors and questions to rest. If you have any other questions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them...

Why is the Horde getting the Blood Elves?
There are many reasons for this decision but first and foremost is that Blizzard needs to do something to bring back balance to the races as the Alliance drastically outnumber the Horde. In the US and Europe approximately 61% of all users play Alliance and 39% play Horde (source: Warcraft Census Plus) and from what I understand is that the servers in Asia are even more unbalanced. Take into account that of all the races in WOW the Elves are by far the most popular race in the world and you have a nice solution for adding players to the Horde side.

But weren't the Blood Elves/High Elves on the side of the Alliance?
Yep! But Blizzard owns the Warcraft lore and can change it however they wish. In fact, this discrepancy is even pointed out and explained in the Preview Trailer on the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade web site. If you watch the trailer they explain how the High Elves were nearly destroyed out when their homeland was crushed by the Undead (as depicted in Warcraft III) and became utterly desperate to survive. During this dire time they learned how to tap into their own ambient magical energies and how to suck the mana from creatures around them for sustenance (the new "Mana Tap" ability). Like magical vampires, the High Elves -- renamed the Blood Elves in honor of their fallen dead -- learned to survive. However, their constant thirst for magical energy has left them addicted to magic and insane and their experiments with dark magics have made enemies of their former friends. And just as easy as that the Blood Elves are now members of the Horde! Remember, Blizzard owns and controls the Warcraft universe and can manipulate it however they wish.

So what is the new Alliance race going to be?
Unknown at this time, but don't rule out any race (including the "ugly" Draenei). Well, any race except the Pandaren.

Why not the Pandaren? Why are so many other sites reporting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race?
When the editors of the gaming magazines were brought to Blizzard's offices to view The Burning Crusade for the first time, there were dozens of posters and artwork depicting the Pandaren as the new Alliance race. At the time Blizzard was 80% certain that the Pandaren were going to be the new Alliance race and it was presented as such. However, due to various complex reasons, there is now a zero percent chance of this happening. At best you might be seeing non-killable Pandaren NPCs in the game.

Could this change at all? Could the Alliance get the Pandaren?
Considering the charged political reasons surrounding this issue I do not believe that Blizzard will change their mind on this decision.

Why raise the level cap to 70?
By raising the level cap Blizzard has accomplished several things at once. People who quit the game after reaching level 60 will now have a reason to come back and retry the game (and purchase the expansion). People who are still actively playing will now have a new challenges and new areas to explore (and purchase the expansion). And by raising the cap it will give Blizzard a reason to release even more powerful Tier 3 and 4 gear without destroying the game balance. Considering that around a third of all active characters in the game are level 60 (and always growing), Blizzard needs to do something to add more depth to the endgame and keep people continuously interested in playing. By raising the level cap it will allow them to add deep endgame content throughout levels 60-70, more Tiers of equipment, and more instances as opposed the current setup where all the endgame content is focused around just level 60.

But what about my Tier 1 and 2 gear from Onyxia and Ragnaros? Won't that get nerfed because of level 70?
Well yes and no. No because at levels 61-70 it will be that much easier to kill Onyxia and Ragnaros and pick up Tier 1 and 2 for the first time. Yes because there are going to be a lot new harder dungeons and new loot. Expect to start seeing all new Tier 3 and 4 gear (and higher) with the expansion.

When is expansion coming out?
Expect the expansion to be released around Christmas 2006.

Why so long?
Not only is there still a huge amount of work to be done on the expansion but it needs to be throughly tested. From what is understood the expansion will monstrous in size, larger than some MMORPGs are at launch. This will not be a simple patch but an entire new world for exploration with hundreds of new items and quests, a new city, nearly a dozen new instances, and much much more. So not only does all of this have to be created, which is a monumental effort, but it needs to be extensively tested. And considering that the beta test for WOW was over a year long expect the testing for the expansion to be just as extensive.

So what about those rumors about Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 being revealed at Blizzcon?
Obviously these rumors were incorrect. However I will tell you that if you ever visit Blizzard's office there is an entire wing which has higher security than Fort Knox. What are they working on in there? Who knows? Rock N’ Roll Racing 2? Return of The Lost Vikings? One can only hope...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 28, 2005

Blizzard Officially Announces WOW Expansion

World of Warcraft The Burning CrusadeSo it's official. The new World of Warcraft expansion has just been announced by Blizzard and The Burning Crusade web site has been opened. Again, I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but here are the details:

  • An increase in the level cap to 70.
  • Two new playable races, including the magical Blood Elves.
  • New starting zones in Quel'Thalas and beyond.
  • The entire new continent of Outland, reachable through the
    Dark Portal.
  • Many new high-level dungeons to explore in Azeroth, Outland, and elsewhere.
  • New flying mounts in Outland.
  • Many new and dangerous monsters, including epic world bosses.
  • Hundreds of new quests.
  • Hundreds of new items.
  • A new profession: Jewelcrafting.
  • Socketed items.
  • And much, much more...
One little tidbit, I just had lunch with my friend my Blizzard and it turns out that they don't expect the expansion to be released until Christmas ... of 2006! So expect lots and lots of changes until then, and even more complaining!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

Lots of Juicy WOW Expansion Info

WOW! Yeah!Okay, I usually don't approve of gaming magazine scans, but the info in here is quite good ... and in English. Basically everything that I posted about yesterday is in here but in a lot more detail. What do you guys think? Here are the links (some people are having issues with these, there are others below): Pages 1-2, Pages 3-4, Pages 5-6, Pages 7-8, and Pages 9-10.

If those links don't work give these a try: Pages 1-2, Pages 3-4, Pages 5-6, Pages 7-8, and Pages 9-10.

Also a bit of info about the origin of the scans (this letter wasn't written to me, rather the person who posted the original scans):

This is Jeff Green, editor-in-chief at CGW, and was just alerted to the fact that this article has been posted here. Now, I'm a reasonable guy and also a smart guy, so I knew the article would get scanned and posted right away. I can deal.

However, the scanner dude who did this could have at least had the decency to give credit where credit is due, don't you think? We worked hard on that article, and while I suppose I *could* be a d**k here and ask you guys to take it down, I'm not, because along with being the editor of the mag, I'm also a huge WoW fan and like sharing the info anyway. All I want to do is have it at least acknowledged by the poster where he got it from. Kinda uncool to take our name off.

Okay, I'm done. And I'm off to BlizzCon! Yay!

And this isn't a joke post, btw--you can email me at jeff_green@ziffdavis.com if you want me to confirm, though I won't be able to answer ya until I get back from BlizzCon.

Thanks.

Jeff Green
Editor In Chief
Computer Gaming World
Eggbert, Level 47 Gnome Warlock

Posted by Gaming Steve at 10:00 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 27, 2005

Finally, Some BlizzCon Details Confirmed

Blood ElfIn just one more day none of this will matter anymore, but I figured it was worth the post to straighten out what we know about the World of Warcraft expansion. My buddy from Blizzard said the following after he read last week's speculation article, "you can say you know someone from Blizzard who says that 'leak' is speculation at best, and a lot is just made-up stuff."

However, I was able to find out a few interesting things that will be revealed at BlizzCon on Friday.

  • Official title: “The Burning Crusade”.
  • Max level increased to 70.
  • 2 new races: Blood Elves for the Horde & unknown for the Alliance (unsure if the new Alliance race will be shown at BlizzCon).
  • New race for Alliance will NOT be the Pandarean.
  • Blood Elves can play mage, warlock or warrior. Still being determined if they can play rogue or hunter.
  • No new classes.
  • New profession: Jewelcrafting (exact details of how this profession will work are still being determined).
  • Flying mounts attainable at level 70, but they can only be used in the Outlands.
  • At BlizzCon attendees will be able to play as Blood Elves and will get to adventure in the starting area for the Blood Elves (other areas may be playable as well, including a 5-player group instance).

A few other interesting tidbits that I managed to find out. New raids will, if anything, require less people and not more. New high-level instances are going to be much shorter to allow for easier re-raiding and group looting. There will be tons of new areas opened up for players, including (perhaps) a raid instance in Tanaris that will allow to travel in the time and participate to the most important events of the story of Azeroth. Also the actual release of the expansion is a long way off (expected around May 2006). Hence a lot, and I mean a lot, can and will change from now until then.

And one final note ... yes, the level cap is going up to 70. Get ready to start grinding again!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:30 AM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 26, 2005

Blizzard's Xbox 360 Surprise

BlizzConSo what's going on between Blizzard and the Xbox 360? There have been several "leaks" over the past few months, including the "accidental" listing of StarCraft: Ghost for next-generation consoles, an hour-long "Microsoft Next Gen Platform" presentation at BlizzCon this Friday, and several "Next-Gen" programming positions on the Blizzard jobs board.

Most likely Blizzard will simply be showing an Xbox 360 version of StarCraft: Ghost, but there is the possibility that they will be announcing an Xbox 360 version of World of Warcraft. However, I have confirmed that Greg Canessa (Group Manager of Xbox Live Arcade) will be at BlizzCon this weekend.

Why is the Manager of Xbox Live Arcade attending BlizzCon? Is he there just to hang out and play World of Warcraft with the masses or is he going to be announcing something? Very interesting. Well, BlizzCon starts on Friday so we'll all know soon enough!

UPDATE: This afternoon Blizzard changed their BlizzCon schedule and the mysterious Microsoft presentation was renamed to "MS Windows Vista Presentation". Hum, perhaps Greg is just going down to BlizzCon to play games and geek-out with the rest of us? We shall see...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:30 AM | Posted to MMORPG | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 24, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 24 - 10.24.2005

Atari Age Swordquest!This week I got a chance to speak with Xbox Live's Major Nelson where we chat about the new Xbox Live, cool new Xbox 360 features, Major's gaming history, German booth babes, and much more. Check it out.

Gaming Steve Episode 24 Program

  • 00:04:22 Game News:
    • GameTap unleashes classic games to the masses.
    • California game restriction law disputed.
    • Big Mac, fries, and Wi-Fi.
    • Xbox 360 controller for sale in stores ... really.
    • Wal-Mart demoing the 360.
    • GameStop receiving 360 kiosks.
    • San Andreas hits retail yet again.
    • 10 million PSPs in 10 months.
    • Dead or Alive 4 ... now with more Spartan.
    • Satin Sliver PS2 buggy?
    • Gizmondo? Bless you.
    • The Main Event: Penny Arcade vs. Thompson.
  • 00:31:10 GameTalk: Interview with Xbox Live's Major Nelson, Larry Hryb.
  • 00:59:46 SporeTalk: I break open some emergency rations.
  • 01:00:40 Game Review: The Warriors for the Xbox and PS2.
  • 01:11:15 RetroReview: Swordquest for the Atari 2600.
  • 01:24:19 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and the cool prize!
  • 01:29:24 Final Thoughts on upcoming interviews, sending me audio questions, Civilization IV and more.
Download the show (96 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 24 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:00 PM | Posted to Classic | Interview | Podcast | Review | Spore | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 20, 2005

World of Warcraft Expansion - Extensive Details?

WOW Blood ElfPerhaps the only thing we know for a fact is that in ten days at BlizzCon the new World of Warcraft expansion will be released. But until then let the speculation/guessing begin!

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit just came from the site WOWGuru where someone posted an extremely detailed overview of the WOW expansion plan. Who knows if this is accurate or total bullcrap, but it "seems" to be legit.

What I do know is that the expansion will be massive and not just a simple content update and according the post the expansion will be massive and include two new races, a new class, a higher level-cap, new transportation methods, a huge number of new instances and locations and more. Hence, I believe this post to be pretty close to the "real deal". Or it's the work of a very imaginative (and creative) poster, what do you think?

The original post is quite long, here are the highlights (even the highlights are long!):

Expansion Name: The "Burning Crusade"

Max Level Increased
The max level players may now reach has been increased to 75, and many new max-level raid instances have been added to the game world (Note, other sites are reporting the new level-cap to be 70 but I believe 75 to be the correct level-cap).

New Horde Race: Blood Elves
Racial Trait: Demonic Corruption - Blood Elves begin the game with +10 resistances to all types of magic. In addition, all of their resistances to magical spells and effects, excluding Nature, are increased by 8%. Available Classes: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Priest, Warlock, Spell Breaker.

New Alliance Race: Draenei
Racial Trait: Unseen - Once every ten minutes, the Draenei may go invisible for fifteen seconds. This effect may not be canceled, and the Draenei cannot attack or cast any spells, and they are also considered to be "in combat" for the entire time of this effect. Available Classes: Warrior, Rogue, Hunter, Spell Breaker.

New Class: Spell Breaker
Spell Breaker - Among the Blood Elves, there are those who show such an amazing aptitude for magic that they can become almost immune to it's effects and can even twist the spells of others to benefit themselves. Spell Breakers begin the game with leather armor but are able to use mail once they reach level forty.

NEW AREAS

Undermine
This is a level 60-65 zone, and is now the main hub of neutral transportation.

Quel'Thalas
With the aid of the Horde and Argent Dawn, the Blood Elves drove some of the remaining Scourge out of Quel'thalas. The Blood Elves have started to rebuild their cities, and have unexpectedly found that some cities were untouched.

Gnomeregan
The new starting area for Gnomes. Gnomeregan can take the player to about level 12 after which they have to go to other areas.

The New Echo Islands
The new starting area for Trolls. These islands can take the player to about level 12 after which they have to go to other areas.

Northrend
The Horde and Alliance are now able to reach the continent of Northerend, thanks to the aid of the Goblins of Undermine. A zeppelin will take the players to the town of Valgarde in Northerend, where they will begin many quests to oppose the Scourge. Northerend is a massive level 65-75 zone, and contains many new max-level instances.

The Emerald Dream
The Emerald Dream is the primal heart of Azeroth. It is an echo of what the world would be like if intelligent beings had not altered its surface. The ethereal layer of the Emerald Dream shares the same space of the Physical layer one on top of the other - a parallel realm overlapping the physical world like an invisible and intangible layer. The Emerald Dream is a level 70-75 zone which will have players attempt to cleanse the Emerald Dream of the Nightmare - and, if the rumors that are told are true, Archimonde will once again need to be defeated by mortals...

UPDATED TRANSPORTATION
All boats from neutral cities, such as Ratchet, and Booty Bay now connect to Undermine. New boats have been added to Steamwheedle Port, Menethil Harbor, and Theramore which will take anyone on it to Undermine. In addition, there is a new zeppelin which will take the player to Undermine. There is also a zeppelin on Undermine which will take the player to the shores of Northerend, to a town called Valgarde. All goblin-owned transportations now have at least four level 62 Undermine Bruisers on them. Alliance-owned and Horde-owned transportation now force any members of the opposite faction on them into PVP, and are also now guarded by at least four level 60 guards.

NEW INSTANCES

Naxxaramas Necropolis
Within Stratholme, near the Slaughterhouse of Baron Rivendare, is the Naxxaramas Necropolis. Kel'Thuzad reigns the Undead Scourge from the Naxxramas Necropolis. This new 40-player, level sixty raid instance is equal in difficulty to Blackwing Lair, and will send the player to assault the Tower of Medivh.

The Tower of Medivh
This tower was described by Medivh as an Hourglass. As the sand particles flow slowly through the hourglass clock, time flows in different places of the glass, allowing one to see the past - and future - of Azeroth. This is a 40-player max-level raid instance, much more difficult than Naxxaramas Necropolis.

Caverns of Time
This is the lair of Nozdormu, one of the five great dragon aspects. Nozdormu, unlike most other dragons in the game, requires the aid of mortals. To repair damage done to the timeline, Nozdormu will send players on large raids into two 40-player, level sixty raid instances, and one 40-player max-level raid instance, the first two being equal in difficulty to Naxxaramas Necropolis, and the final being equal in difficulty to The Tower of Medivh.

Outlands
The desolate place of Outland emits flashes of light and streams of energy. Outland is currently a way station. Many portals are still active within some of the floating asteroids, leading to other worlds. This new zone is for groups of five or more max level players. Among the creatures that inhabit Outland are Felboars, Phase spiders, Draeni, Fire Elementals, Fungal Horrors, Succubi, Nether Dragons(composed of nether energy, and not related to real dragons).

The Black Citadel
Beneath the Black Citadel, there is a very large prison. Rumors have been created that heroes from past wars are still being held within this prison, and that even now the ruler of the Black Citadel tortures these heroes. Other rumors are that Kil'jaeden, the most powerful entity of the Burning Legion, dwells withing this Citadel, plotting the destruction of Azeroth. This is a large, 50-player raid instance.

Grim Botal
Rumors have emerged that Alexstrasza and her dragonflight are keeping anyone from getting near Grim Batol. They are protecting something deep within its walls, a secret power. Some say they are protecting a powerful artifact or creature.

Some have gone as far as to speculate that Deathwing has been held captive and imprisoned within Grim Batol, though, others believe in the possibility that the creature that now holds the essence of the Sunwell might be under protection of the Red Dragonflight. Anyone who dares to venture into this max level 50-player raid instance will find themselves standing against the power of the Red Dragonflight, Alexstasza, herself. This is equal in difficulty to The Black Citadel.

The Lair of Malygos
Malygos lives in Northrend in a deep and complex cavern. He is known to gather relics of arcane power, keeping them locked away from mortals. Frozen Orcs, Nagas, Trolls and Wendigos are many of the victims of the horror of Malygos' power, and to display what happens to those who venture into the Lair of Malygos. This is a 50-player max level raid instance, equal in difficulty to Grim Batol.

Icecrown Mountain
Icecrown Mountain is the most difficult instance to ever be in Azeroth, and will challenge anyone to stand against the power of not only the Lich King's armies, and his most trusted lieutenant, Anub'arak, but also the Immortal Lich King himself.

This is a 100-player max level raid instance, and will challenge the Horde and Alliance to work together to defeat the Immortal Lich King. To have the full 100 players, 50 players of max level on Horde and 50 players of max level on Alliance must work together, merging both groups of 50 into one large raid party. Upon Icecrown, Horde and Alliance may not attack each other at any time, but are instead able to aid each other. Leaders of the Argent Dawn have also worked together to teach the Alliance and Horde to understand both, Common and Orcish, so they may communicate as they work together to defeat the Immortal Lich King.

The Eye of Ysera
Deep within the Emerald Dream is the Eye of Ysera. The Eye of Ysera is a large golden dome that randomly appears in the Emerald Dream, and the dome in which Ysera dwells. No one has ever been able to enter or penetrate the golden dome. That is, until the Nightmare came... And once again, if the rumors were true, this is where Archimonde will most likely be...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 19, 2005

Nintendo DS Rumble Pak Revealed

Nintendo DS Rumble PakThe Nintendo DS might have started out slow but with the smash success of Nintendogs the DS is quickly picking up steam. Well the DS just got a little bit more interesting with announcement of the new Rumble Pak accessory.

The Rumble Pak is the same size as a Game Boy Advance game, and will come packaged with Metroid Prime Pinball (to be released next week). The Pak is the first accessory that makes use of the secondary slot normally reserved for Game Boy Advance games and it makes you wonder what other accessories Nintendo is going to release for us to shove up there? It is unknown how many games will be compatible with the Rumble Pak with it has been confirmed that Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (which launches on November 28) will work with the Pak. It has also been rumored on the IGN subscription threads (you need to be an IGN Insider to read the thread) that the Pak will also work with the upcoming Metroid Prime Hunters.

I don't care so much about Hunters, but if the Pak is going to work with the highly anticipated Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World I would say that Metroid Prime Pinball is going to quickly become a huge success.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:30 AM | Posted to DS |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 18, 2005

The Forgotten Game God

atthecarn.gifLost in the mix of the such classic gaming legends Will Wright and Sid Meiers was Cliff Johnson, one of the best game designers of the late 1980s. Cliff created award-winning puzzle games for the Macintosh and and in many ways the forefathers for modern puzzle games such as Bejeweled and Zuma.

Of the many games Cliff released his most popular and beloved were The Fool's Errand, At the Carnival, and 3 in Three. All three games feature simple yet striking graphics, original puzzles, and a central storyline. I have many friends who almost failed out of college playing these games and they just as much fun today as they were back when I was in college.

Though random chance I was surprised to discover that only does Cliff have a great web site with new puzzles, but you can download and play all three of these games for free!

The Fool's Errand is probably the hardest of the three, At the Carnival has the most interesting setting (classic amusement park rides), while 3 in Three has the funniest story (the number 3 escapes a spreadsheet looking for freedom). If you like puzzle games definitely give these a try, they play great on modern systems and the graphics still look good to this day.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:30 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 17, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 23 - 10.17.2005

NYC Xbox360 EventAfter spending two days playing with the Xbox 360 I decided that I needed to do something special for this week's show. So I sat down with Nick Puleo from Evil Avatar, John Callaham from Gamecloud, and James Ransom-Wiley from Joystiq to dissect every aspect of the Xbox 360. We talk about the hardware, the interface, every single game at the event, and a lot more for over an hour and a half! It's like getting two shows in one, check it out.

Gaming Steve Episode 23 Program

  • 00:02:15 Game News:
    • EA Settles Lawsuit.
    • GameStop and EB become one.
    • GameStop cuts 700 jobs.
    • The Goverantor targets violent video games.
    • Judge sentences gamer to death.
    • Activision cards web users.
    • Game pirate walks the plank.
    • Xbox 360 backwards compatible with just Halo?
    • Steven Spielberg and EA get back together.
    • Blizzard is spying on you.
  • 00:21:55 GameTalk: Roundtable discussion of the Xbox 360 New York City Press Event with Nick Puleo from Evil Avatar, John Callaham from Gamecloud, and James Ransom-Wiley from Joystiq.
  • 01:52:45 SporeTalk: SporeTalk to calm down for a little while.
  • 01:55:04 Game Review: Dragonshard for the PC.
  • 02:06:03 RetroReview: The Vectrex Arcade System.
  • 02:16:06 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a very cool prize!
  • 02:19:54 Final Thoughts on the NYC Xbox 360 press event.
Download the show (145 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 23 (MP3).

Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
Add the Gaming Steve Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator.
Vote for Gaming Steve on Podcast Alley.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 1:00 PM | Posted to Interview | PC | Podcast | Spore | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 12, 2005

My Second Day with the Xbox 360, Part 2

Xbox 360 Live and in PersonDuring my second day at the NYC Xbox 360 Event I brought along my friend Dave to try out some of the multiplayer aspects of the games. Unfortunately Live multiplayer wasn’t enabled so we could only try out two-player and co-op modes on each game. Below are my thoughts on multiplayer as well some photos from the event. Make sure to come back later in the week for my podcast show where I’ll go into even more detail about every single aspect of the Xbox 360!

Perfect Dark Zero: It was a bit hard to completely understand what was going on with all the room noise but we got to play a cooperative mission where one person played Joanna Dark and the other person played a nameless female agent (well, I’m sure she had a name but we couldn’t hear what it was). The mission we were playing took place inside an industrial complex which was being attacked by small robotic spiders -- Dave mentioned that it looked like something from the cheesy Tom Selleck movie Runaway, not a good sign.

The level appeared to be a basic tutorial level it was explaining how to use the controller and it was a bit light on the combat. The mission consisted of us rescuing a scientist being assaulted by the killer robots, unlocking doors via a timing minigame, flying remote controlled skybots (which looked like chrome sphere’s from the movie Phantasm), and taking out flying enemies on the roof. Overall co-op play was a lot more fun than the single player experience, but then again, co-op play is usually more fun. I still have my reservations about this title as I didn’t see anything ground-breaking and the graphics were "next gen" but a bit on the funky side. But the weapon selection was very nice, and I wasn’t able to try out a large multiplayer map, so I’m still reserving final judgment.

One thing which should be mentioned right away is that you can’t jump in PDZ. You can do a combat roll, which is pretty cool, but Joanna Dark Can’t Jump. It was explained to me by the Microsoft rep that one reason jump was removed is that they didn’t want multiplayer to become a jumpfest. I told him to get ready for a mini-mutiny and sure enough throughout the night I would repeatedly hear “What? You can’t jump?!” But who knows? Perhaps the combat roll will become the new “jump button” of 2006?

Call of Duty 2: Being a huge Call of Duty fan Dave practically ran to this station and was not disappointed. The game looks great and plays just like the original. After playing single player for a bit the MS rep set us up on a 2-player deathmatch game in a bombed out town in France. I played the Germans and Dave played the British. Before the match we each got to select one of five different country-specific weapons and then the fun began. Dave took the ground while I managed to find a machine-gun nest on the second floor of a bombed building. Things were looking bad for Dave, until a well thrown grenade took my guy out.

The game continued as your basic one-on-one deathmatch game with each of us dying several times. Fun, but the map was a bit too big for intense two-player action. It would have been nice to try an eight-player deathmatch, but the game looked and played great. This game looks like a winner and a solid sequel to the excellent Call of Duty.

I also played Dead or Alive 4 multiplayer a bit, but don’t really have a lot to say about that game. If you played the first three you know what to expect in this version. Overall I was most impressed with Xbox Live Arcade, Kameo: Elements of Power, and Condemned: Criminal Origins as well as the physical unit itself. Look for a lot more Xbox 360 coverage in the upcoming weeks.


NYC Xbox 360 Event
Finally, the ability to touch and use the Xbox 360 without a 3-inch protective sheet of plastic surrounding it.

NYC Xbox 360 Event
Kameo looked amazing and was a blast to play.

NYC Xbox 360 Event
Xbox 360s as far as the eye could see.

NYC Xbox 360 Event
Gaming Steve plays the most graphic-intensive Xbox 360 game ever to be released...

NYC Xbox 360 Event
... Joust! (It's part of Xbox Live and actually looked amazing in 1080i!)

NYC Xbox 360 Event
People were eating and drinking right next all those brand new Xbox 360s. It almost felt wrong.

NYC Xbox 360 Event
One nice bonus was the free Xbox 360 Memory Unit we each got to keep after the event. They even pre-loaded a few games onto the unit.

NYC Xbox 360 Event
Of course without an Xbox 360 it's just a nice piece of plastic right now.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 PM | Comments (16) | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

Play Wolfenstein 3D in your Browser

Wolfenstein 3DWhen I first saw Wolfenstein 3D way back in 1992 it was one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. It featured full "3D" graphics, intense (and scary) first person action, and huge interactive levels. I was in college at the time of this game's release and it spread through the campus like wildfire. Everyone was playing this game and everyone was totally blown away.

Well, times sure have a changed! You can now the play the entire Wolfenstein 3D game in your browser ... using Flash. WolfenFlash 3D (requires the new Flash 8) plays exactly like the original and is still fun, but doesn't quite amaze me (or scare me) like it used to. What is amazing is that this entire game was so seamlessly translated into a Flash application. I can only imagine what things will be like 13 years from now ... where we'll play Xbox 360 on our cell phones. Now that's scary!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:30 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 11, 2005

My Second Day with the Xbox 360

Xbox 360After spending one day with the Xbox 360 I went back to the New York press event and played the few games that I missed. Here are my thoughts on those and make sure to check out the site tomorrow when I do a final recap of the event, post some pictures, and talk about the Xbox 360 multiplayer experience:

Xbox Live Arcade: I spent quite a bit of time playing Live Arcade since I knew almost nothing about it before the event and ended up quite impressed. Think Shockwave.com but with more "mature" games and lower prices (each game is priced separately with most being under $10 each). All of the games from Live Arcade are downloaded onto your Xbox and they have wide variety of game categories. After you download a game you can try it our for free and if you like what you see you can purchase the game for a small fee. The games I saw were more twitch-based than puzzle-based (which I think is a "good thing"), they played great with the console controller, looked amazing in HD. You might not buy the Xbox 360 to play Xbox Live Arcade but I think people will be amazed at the selection and quality of these smaller titles.

Dead or Alive 4: If you played DOA1, or DOA2, or DOA3 know the drill. It looks amazing and it plays just fine. If you liked DOA3 (or 2 or 1) you'll like DOA4.

Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The demo only featured two levels, which I believe are the exact same levels you can play on the currently released PC demo. The gameplay was a bit rough, but the graphics looked great. Plus, it's being made by Michel Ancel and the same team behind Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil (a fantastic game that nobody played). Expect potentially great things.

Project Gotham Racing 3: I didn't get to spend a huge amount of time with this one, but the plethora of options should appease any hardcore racing fan. One nice touch was crowd reactions, smash your car into the guardrail and watch the people scatter. I heard there were "famous New Yorkers" in the crowds, but they're a bit hard to see when you're flying by at 140 MPH.

NBA 2K6 & NBA LIVE 06: Wow, I mean, wow. The graphics were jaw-droppingly realistic. Shame they didn't have NHL 2K6 there as that is one of the only sports genres I still actively play.

Finally, I got a sweet little "keepsake" from the event -- my very own Xbox 360 Memory Card (of which I'll show you all tomorrow) and they even preloaded a few games on it for me. Of course, now I need an Xbox 360 to play those games...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 PM | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 10, 2005

My Day With The Xbox 360

xboxevent.jpgSo here I was, just playing some new games when I was unexpectingly invited to a private Xbox 360 preview event right here in New York City. So I hopped on the subway, showed up to Xbox-themed loft, and played lots of Xbox 360 games for several hours (yeah, I know, I suck).

Before I get "into it" I have to say that I've been to a fair number of these things over the years but this one was by far one of the best. The space was small, quiet, comfortable, and I got tons of quality time playing Xbox 360 games.

The event started out with an hour demo of Kameo: Elements of Power (looked fantastic), Project Gotham Racing 3 (pretty good), and the Xbox Live Dashboard (beyond words cool) and then we were able to play games for a couple of hours. I have to say, I was a bit concerned about the Xbox 360 launch lineup, but after today I am starting to think that the PS3 might be in some serious trouble. I was extremely impressed with what I saw and a couple of the launch titles look downright legendary.

I will do a detailed podcast about my experiences at the event later in the week but here is a quick rundown of my thoughts:

"The Hardware": The Xbox 360 controller is "like butter" and handles better than the PS2 controller (yes, even I was surprised by that one). The system design itself is "iPod Nano slick", compact, and the little "trap doors" which protect the various plug-in elements (like the memory unit and controller slots) are a nice touch.

Xbox Live Dashboard: I have to admit I was quite skeptical about how well the Xbox Live features would integrate into the overall gameplaying experience. But after playing with the Dashboard firsthand I have to say that it is seamlessly integrated with the overall experience and Xbox Live will definitely enhance the overall gaming experience, even with games which have no multiplayer options (more on this in the podcast). Really impressive stuff.

Kameo: Elements of Power: Considering that this game was supposed to be a launch title for the GameCube, and then was supposed to come out for the Xbox, and then was "retooled" as a launch title for the Xbox 360, I had a lot concerns about this game. But after playing it I have to say that the graphics are most definitely "next gen", the gameplay was lots of fun, and the music fantastic. I think Kameo will herald in the triumphant return of great Rare games.

Perfect Dark Zero: I played two levels of this game and while it was definitely fun I am going to hold judgment. There were a lot of cool innovations in the game (the safecracking "locktopus" being the coolest), and the weapon variety quite nice, but the gameplay seemed pretty standard.

Call of Duty 2: Played a lot like the first Call of Duty but with refined controls and updated gameplay. If you liked the first one I'm sure you'll like this one.

Condemned: Criminal Origins: Of all the games I played today this one surprised me the most and I felt the "winner" of the show. Created by Monolith, the game is a bit hard to explain as it does of lot of things I have never seen before. It plays like Resident Evil crossed with an FPS crossed with an psychological thriller. The game looks amazing (when I was watching someone play the game I thought I was watching a movie) and pulls you into the story within the first five seconds. Expect this to be a huge surprise hit.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: For those of you who can't wait to get this game (you know who you are) make sure to pre-order your Xbox 360 now. Look forward to another 250+ hours of "Elder Scrolls gameplay" but with next gen graphics.

For pictures of the event make sure to check out Xbox Live's Major Nelson blog and photo album. On a side note I have to say meeting Major Nelson for the first time was great. Not only is he "the nicest guy ever" but he and I got a chance to talk "podcast shop". Very cool.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:00 PM | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

Play WOW For Free?

World of WarcraftWhenever a new MMORPG comes out some enterprising hackers manage to figure out how reverse engineer the hosting server and then play the MMORPG on their own "private" servers. And with a game as popular as World of Warcraft it would only be a matter of time before private WOW servers appeared on the Net.

Now I don't approve of this activity in any way whatsoever and I'm sure Blizzard will sue these places out of existence. However, for those of you interested in "researching" this interesting and little known aspect of MMORPGs you can view a list of private WOW servers at wowstatus.net. Most of these servers aren't in English, and I'm sure most of them don't work, and you might get sued if you use them, but if you REALLY don't want to pay $14.95 a month you might be interested. Just remember, you get what you pay for!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 12:00 PM | Posted to MMORPG |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 6, 2005

Star Control II Lives!

Star Control II IntroThe 1990s is often considered the "golden age" of PC gaming with some of the best games ever released at that time. Of course everyone remembers Civilization, TIE Fighter, Doom, X-COM, Myst, Half-Life, and so many more, but often lost in the shuffle of these classics is the excellent Star Control series. For those of you who have never heard of Star Control it was a trilogy of games released in the early/mid 1990s and all three are often considered some of the best video games ever made. Combining a nice mix of strategy, action, and adventure the Star Control universe is creates an complex compelling atmosphere unmatched by most modern games.

For those of you who have never played the original, or want to rekindle their Star Control love affair, you can now download and play Star Control II on your modern operating system! Back in 2002 the original creators of Star Control II Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III released the source code of the 3DO version as open source under the GPL. Since then, The Ur-Quan Masters (UQM) project aims to port Star Control II to modern operating systems and enhance the gaming experience with updated music and effects.

Of the three games released Star Control II is often considered the best and has almost a cult-like following. During the game you will create alien alliances (with 21 truly unique alien races to interact with), go on exciting missions, collect various resources, build a combat fleet, trade captured alien life forms for advanced technology, and, oh yeah, save the universe (no biggie!). The graphics might be dated, but the fantastic writing makes for a deep gaming experience.

Available for Windows, MacOS X, and Linux Star Control II might "look" dated but the gameplay holds up extremely well and will quickly suck you in. I just started playing again and I'm having a very hard time pulling myself away from the action. Definitely download this game and give it a try (and check out the walkthrough for a little history and how the controls work).

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:00 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 5, 2005

Super Mario Origami

Paper BowserI used to love origami when I was a kid (I guess it's just "one of those things" that all kids get into). Making paper cranes and flowers was pretty cool, but I really liked the crazy hard origami models, like cars and trucks and the like.

Well what could be cooler than making Super Mario origami! Make sure to check out the very cool Bowser model (all five parts, yikes!), the cute little red pikmin, and the always popular "Mario in a bunny-suit".

And if you're looking for more video game origami also check out the Advance Wars Papercraft.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 1:00 PM | Posted to Classic | Culture |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

October 1, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 22 - 10.01.2005

We Love KatamariEveryone has been nice and patient, waiting for the "big podcast surprise". Well the wait is over! Check out the new and improved Gaming Steve Podcast where I cover:

    00:02:42 Game News:
    • Sam & Max Resurrected ... again.
    • Field Commander to deploy on the PSP.
    • Sims 2 preparing to Open For Business.
    • PlayStation 3 controller design not final? Of course!
    • Black & White 2 descending next week.
    • G4 founder vacates his post.
    • Microsoft in legal battle ... again.
    • Advent Children DVD flies off Japanese shelves.
    • EB Games out of Xbox 360s?
    • Game Boy Micro arrives.
    • Guild Wars enlists one million.
    • GTA to release several new versions.
    • Age of Empires III golden.
    • Man sentenced in GTA leak.
    • 25 to Life delayed.
    • NYPD commish rips True Crime.
    • Xbox 360 controller sold on eBay.
    • Xbox lost Microsoft $4 billion (and counting).
    • Perfect Dark Zero loses features.
    • Far Cry Instincts ships out.
    • Ubisoft unveils PSP Prince of Persia.
    • Serious Sam sequel ready for action.
    • Get ready for the HD-DVD/Blu-ray wars.
    • Madden bug makes Michael King feel 7 inches tall.
    • Castlevania to continue haunting next-gen.
    • Half of Xbox 360 users will use Xbox Live?
    • New Metal Gear Acid 2 details emerge.
    • Cyan Worlds lives!
  • 00:44:12 GameTalk: Why is the Nintendo Revolution controller good for gaming?
  • 01:02:58 SporeTalk: I uncover a nice little surprise (look on the Gaming Steve Forums to find it!).
  • 01:05:03 Game Review: We Love Katamari for the PlayStation 2.
  • 01:21:30 RetroReview: Starpath Supercharger for the Atari 2600.
  • 01:32:09 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:35:40 Final Thoughts on finding an Xbox 360 next month and watch out for the upcoming avalanche of games.
Download the Podcast (101 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 22.

You can also subscribe to the Gaming Steve Podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 8:00 PM | Posted to Classic | Podcast | Review | Spore | Wii |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!