Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Beta June 25

I’ve followed this followed this game from the start. I was a hardcore Street Fighter fan back in the days when there were lines-ups around the Street Fighter II arcade machines, and I have owned various version of this game on earlier consoles like the Super Nintendo. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (Wow that’s a mouthful) will be released in beta if you buy Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 on Xbox Live arcade for the 360. I have tried Commando 3 and it’s really not my kind of game, but I think I may have to bite the bullet and buy it just so I can play the Beta of Street Fighter, I’m that much of a Street Fighter geek.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

Every single frame of animation has been redone in this game, and it aims to tweak game play and add a few new moves while still staying true to the original. The game will even run in wide screen. Capcom has also mentioned the possibility of expansions in the future. The original Xbox live file size restrictions have also been overcome.

Now for the bad news, the controllers. For some horribly bizarre and sadistic reason you cannot use a high end controller on the 360. If you have a 500 dollar DDR mat or a 200 dollar arcade joystick, it’s pretty much useless on the 360 unless you want to do some serious modding that will require an extra 360 pad. This really sucks, and it’s always been a huge beef of players on the 360, why do they even use a USB plug? Last time I checked the U stood for Universal.

Anyway, enough of my rant, I will still give in and buy this game because I can taste it. Check our the  screenshots on IGN and there are a few game play videos on Gametrailers.

Check out my last article on Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

GTA IV episode coming in early 2009

Grand Theft Auto IVKotaku has news of a whole new episode coming out for the Xbox360 version of GTA IV in early 2009. This will be add-on will be in the form of a DLC package. or I still haven’t even completed 50% of this game yet, but this is great news that there is more to come. If episode 1 is popular there may be more. Half-Life has also taken this approach in the past with Half-Life 2, episode 1, episode 2, and an episode 3 that is yet unreleased.

GTA IV is one of the most popular games of the year with over 8.5 million sold as of May 31, and 6 million copies sold in it’s first week racking in $500 million in net sales. GTA IV offers one of the most compelling single player experiences on the Xbox 360 to date, and the muliplayer is pretty fun too.

GTA 4 unknown contact bug fix

A friend of mine ran into a serious problem where they could no longer progress in the missions of Grand Theft Auto 4. When they went to the yellow way point arrows nothing happened and the mission would not trigger. It seems to happen after “The Puerto Rican Connection” mission when you receive a call from an unknown person. I did a few searches on the web and found several other people having the same problem. Many had to start the game over, but the good news is there is a fix.

In order to trigger the missions again you need to call one of your contacts. It’s probably best to call Roman and book something with him. This should trigger the stories progress. I’ve also read that a manual save can work too, but I know for sure a call too Roman will work. I have not actually experienced the bug myself, but this work for my friend. The bug also seems to effect both PS3 and 360 versions of the game. GTA 4 is still a fantastic game, and hopefully not too many people experience this bug and if they do I hope this helps and hopefully Rockstar will have a fix for it soon.

GTA IV – Does it live up to the hype?

GTA IV was released yesterday, and I managed to put in several hours last night. I played the single player for about 30 minutes and then went straight into the multi player free mode. I haven’t played it long enough to write up a review, but at first glance does it live up to the hype? Definitely, definitely definitely! That means yes.

The polish on this game is stunning. The AI is great, the graphics are fantastic, the fun level is through the roof, what more could you ask for. The attention to detail is what blows me away the most. Things they didn’t need to add, but did anyway, like dripping water when you come out of a lake, or mud tracks on the beach. Hilarious politically charged commentators on the TV and radios. The sound track should have something for everyone too. Let’s not forget the helicopters, bikes, mopeds, buses, trucks, boats, and who knows what else awaits.

If you are still on the fence about this game, GameTrailers has a fairly in depth review.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

I have been following the progress of this game for quite some time. For those who haven’t, Capcom has been painstakingly re-drawing every single Super Street Fighter II Turbo sprite in beautiful HD goodness while maintaining the original look and feel. When I look at the screenshots for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix I often find myself wiping drool from the corner of my lip.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

The game will be released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 arcade platforms. A big issue with the 360 version was the file restriction on live arcade games. Today it’s official; there will be no file size issues on the 360 version. You can also read Capcom’s official blog update on the progress of the game so far. Now the only real issue facing the 360 is a good arcade stick. I may by this game based solely on whichever console has the best fighter stick at the time of release.

Xbox 360, Microsoft punches its users in the face again!

Okay, here we go again with more great news from Microsoft. For anyone following my blog for the past week or so, or Xbox Live’s Major Nelson’s blog, then you know that due to the very long outage over Christmas (or intermittent outage as Microsoft claims) Microsoft will not be refunding us, but instead giving us a game of their choice.

I won’t go on about the details, you can read that in my previous posts titled “Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?” and “Xbox free arcade title announced“. Now today it has been announced on Major Nelson’s site that we have a whole five days to download this title. How is this compensation for an outage? I think they should have given us nothing; it probably would have generated less negative feedback than this. As one poster mentioned in a previous entry here, what about the people with the red ring of death? Or the ones that are away this week? Or… the ones who just don’t know. There is little to no advertising of this free game. Wow, some compensation. This is just to appease the angry hoards and I don’t think its working.

Undertow, the temporarily free and previously released game is also the Arcade game of the week. This has also upset some users who look forward each week to Wednesday’s new Arcade game. People are also still asking about what to do if they already have Undertow. Major Nelson posted in the comments section that people can call Xbox support, but obviously lots of people haven’t read that and will thus miss out. Couple this with the fact that many users are still having trouble connecting to live and that this very game is giving errors to some people when they attempt to download it and you have a sad state of affairs. Now if only the PS3 could get in gear and get some good games out.

Read more comments on Major Nelson’s post.

Call of Duty 4 dethrones Halo 3

Just stopped by a Major Nelson’s blog and saw that Halo 3 has dropped to the number two position on the live charts. The top played Xbox 360 game now is Call of Duty 4. Halo 2 still holds on to the top spot for original Xbox games. It is my opinion is that COD4 is the best 360 multi-player game to date, so it’s great to see it at the top. Think I would rate Gears of War next after it. Halo 3? Meh.

Xbox free arcade title announced

Wow, only two days after my post “Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?” and the free arcade game I spoke of has been announced. Turns out it is a half decent title called Undertow, and it will be available next week. Here’s the official announcement.

While I don’t want to seem ungrateful, I think this is a pretty lame deal. This offer is obviously calculated to have the least impact on Microsoft. I am still amazed that people are defending Microsoft and saying that the people who complain are ungrateful. Since when does a customer have to be grateful for goods and services they have purchased? Since when do customers have to be grateful that their service works? If my new car breaks down for a week and the company that makes it takes a week to fix it and gives me a free tank of gas and a free tank of gas to everyone who has ever test driven the car, why would I be grateful? I still had a week without a car, and why are these other people getting free gas?

Which brings me to the second point, why are Silver members getting the same treatment? They pay nothing for the service that went down, and they don’t even play games online. Their gaming experience is still pretty much 100%. Gold players that usually go online can’t even play! Okay, maybe they should have some kind of compensation since some might have bought live games with extremely strict DRM rules and had a new Xbox 360, which would require them to be online to play the games they paid for. Don’t even get me started on the DRM.

Some people don’t even like Arcade games, most of them in my mind are boring compared to the full blown store games. Now why was this choice made? What people out there that are praising Microsoft probably don’t realize is that this was not done out of the good of Microsoft’s heart. Don’t be naive, Microsoft is a corporation and the last one they are looking out for is you. They want to look good with the least capital loss. The Xbox 360 is already a financial failure so far. I actually do understand this though, as an investor myself I expect a company to balance that fine line between the public relations and the bottom line.

My hunch is that this game was picked for a number of reasons, namely cost. Forums are littered with people saying they already bought this game. Microsoft has said these users can call support and they will sort things out. So basically my time is not important, I have all the time in the world to sit on a support line. How many will know this or even bother? I’m sure this was calculated, since this is a pretty big title and a lot of people probably already own it. The best offer would have been a refund for the horrid month of live service, or free gamer points. This would have upset a lot less people, but it would have cost them a hell of a lot more. With this title, arrangements were probably already made. It never would have sold to everyone using live, whereas points would have been equivalent to every gamer getting a free game.

Anyway, I think the thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is the Microsoft fanboys. No doubt this game is better than a punch in the face, and even better than nothing, but stop acting like Microsoft cares so much about you. The corporation cares about their bottom line and salvaging their image, that’s it, and that’s all I would expect from any corporation.

I personally think Microsoft is walking a dangerous line with the constant outages, crazy DRM schemes, and constantly breaking hardware. As I post this, a friend of mine is getting ready to pack his 360 in a coffin and send it back to Microsoft due to the infamous red ring of death. As I have mentioned in the past, with a growing number of upcoming block buster titles, I think the PS3 is starting to look more and more like a serious contender, and I’m also no fan of Sony. The red ring of death is becoming a symbol of what the 360 is. It’s too bad, because there are a lot of fantastic games for this system.

Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?

Anyone who is an avid Xbox live player probably knows that it’s been a bumpy ride for the past few weeks. It all started just before Christmas and slowly got worse throughout the holidays. The problem is supposedly now solved and was related to the large number of new users, but myself and several friends are still having trouble staying connected to games like Call of Duty 4. Xbox Live’s Major Nelson had updates during the holidays, but Microsoft in general has been quiet about the issue. Xbox Live gold members have been promised a free arcade game as compensation, but there are no clues as to what this might be. I think the compensation needed to be given shortly after the problem was resolved, but here we are weeks later and still no word.

Anyway, the real point here is not whether we get any compensation. I think not being able to connect at the one time of the year when you have lots of free time cannot really be fixed after the fact. That said, this begs the question of what we get when we pay the yearly subscription fee. Yes, I know it’s not that much, and it’s funny how many staunch supporters Microsoft has over this issue. I have never understood why people become so rabidly loyal to any company. As a customer I think I have the right to complain, and of course the company has the right to ignore me and so does anyone else.

Now in North America we find that two new fairly big demos are not available, The Club and Turok (Yes I know I can create other country accounts and get them, but that’s not the point). I think these are exclusives for game magazines like Eternal Sonata was, so basically if you want them when the rest of the world gets them you have to pay for them. Now if this is over a rating issue like it is in some countries then I can understand. That’s out of Microsoft’s hands, but if this is an exclusivity deal then I’m not okay with it. Let non-paying members buy the disks or wait, don’t make your Gold users wait!

What’s my point? Okay, I admit it; I won’t be cancelling my Live Subscription any time soon because I enjoy playing online with several friends, and Microsoft probably knows this about its users. Remember, pretty much every other gaming service is free. When you play live, the users are still hosting the matches and providing the bandwidth, all you are really getting is the right to connect to other players, that and a pretty good match making service, at least when it’s working. This is why when the host of a game leaves everyone gets the boot. So again, is this service really just for matchmaking and the privilege to share bandwidth?

I am not outraged like some people and I can easily afford the price, but I do think it’s time for Microsoft to seriously take a look at its Gold offerings and server stability. I also think that maybe paying customers should be able to get Demo’s without paying or waiting for them, but hey, that’s just me, I’m sure there’s Xbox Zealots out there that will disagree. I also think that Microsoft is choosing a bad time to rock the boat. Live has been a pretty great service in the past, but it’s also had no real competition, and now the service quality seems to be pretty rocky. There are also a boat load of highly anticipated PS3 games around the corner and the tides could turn very fast. Sure there are the fanboys of both consoles, but then there’s a lot of people like me who are fickle and don’t care about brand loyalty. We will switch at the drop of a dime if we think the deal is sweater elsewhere. So far it’s not, but that is likely to change very soon.

Top 10 games of 2007

My personal list of top games for 2007. This is based on games that I played, and coming up with 10 was pretty hard. Until I got a DS Lite the list stood at 8. These are somewhat in order, although a few would be tied.

  1. Call of Duty 4
  2. Eternal Sonata
  3. Crackdown
  4. Super Mario Galaxies
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hour Glass
  6. Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon
  7. Orange Box
  8. Puzzle Quest
  9. Resident Evil 4 Wii edition
  10. Assassins Creed

Call of Duty 4
By far the winner for Multi-player gaming. It has about 95% of my online gaming attention. The game it replaced was of course Gears of War.

Eternal Sonata
The next game, Eternal Sonata has two entries on my blog, the first review and Eternal Sonata revisited once I finished the game. This probably got the majority of my single player gaming in the later half of the year.

A great single and multi-player experience, even if only two people can play it at once. This game had much fan fair at the time of release, because it gave access to the Halo 3 Beta. I personlly think this game is better than Halo 3, and I played it a lot more. The very definition of this game is FUN.

Super Mario Galaxies
Thi game has literally redefined the platformer genera. You really have to play this game to understand it. It’s one of the first Wii games I’ve played that feels like it was designed specifically for the unique Wii controllers.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hour Glass
I have only just scraped the surface of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hour Glass and from the moment you load up this game you know it is a top notch DS title. Again Nintendo innovates on every aspect of game play, from using the stylus to move to blowing out candles through the microphone.

Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon
I had never even heard of this game until I tried it and now I’m pretty hooked. It won’t be for everyone, it’s basically an RPG and virtual life simulation. The depth to this game considering it is a DS title is unbelievable

The Orange Box
What more can be said about this package of 5 games. You get Half-Life 2, episode 1, episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. You have a 1 out of 5 chance of getting a game you like. The sheer value of this game makes it worth it, and the best part is that all 5 games are great. If it wasn’t for Call of Duty 4 I would probably be playing a lot more Team Fortress 2 online.

Puzzle Quest
I actually tried on a friends DS Lite several months ago, and then ended up buying the Xbox Live Arcade version. This game is so under rated. It’s an RPG / Puzzle game combined into one, and it really works well. This is a game that has to be played to truly get it.

Resident Evil 4 Wii edition
While originally released in 2005 the Wii edition came out this year. I had never played the original, and although I haven’t finished the Wii edition, it has been great fun, and it is one creepy game.

Assassins Creed
Here is a game I have very mixed feelings about. If you had of asked me how I felt about it one hour into playing it, I would have said it was the game of the year, but like many gamers, after 10 hours into the game it becomes downright monotonous. I still believe it deserves to be in the top 10 for 2007 because the graphics are stunning, probably the best out there right now, and the game is still a lot of fun, even if you are just looking around the massive cities.

That wraps up my list of great games for 2007. I hope 2008 is as good or even better.