Playing With My Weiner

Gaming at the mercy of miniature daschunds.

WeinerCast Wednesday! GVGA Edition December 31, 2008

The Weinercast is go! This week: Gwyddia Hosts The 2008 Gnome Video Game Awards.

As always, the Weinercast is available on Gwyddia - Weinercast

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!

A non-iTunes link if you need it.

 

Get Your Log On December 22, 2008

Filed under: Other Folks,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 12:19 pm

Are you sad because you can’t get the Yule Log Channel this year? Fret not – the wacky users of XNA have programmed an ever-burning piece of dead tree for your holiday enjoyment. For only 400 Microsoft Points you can have a bit of Christmas cheer forever, without the ash!

Snap, crackle, pop.

Snap, crackle, pop.

 

Weekend Woundup December 15, 2008

Lots of news that I’m not sure that I classify as news over the last couple days. More like a bunch of shinies. Well, I like shinies, so here goes.

– GTA Chinatown Wars will be for DS released on St. Patrick’s Day. Get your drink on IRL and in-game.

GTAIV Lost and Damned screens look smoother than original GTAIV.

– Brutal Legend trailer:

– God of War trailer, now with 4x texture resolution!

– i ❤ Katamari his the iPhone. Praise Ceiling Cat.

 

Brutally Lost and God Damned December 5, 2008

Filed under: Games,GTA,Industry,Other Folks,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 9:12 pm

Following in the controller presses of Brutal Legend and God of War III, Rockstar will be showing footage from their upcoming GTAIV DLC, “Lost and Damned”. L&D is the first of two extensive DLC packs that will come exclusively to the 360 in 2009. Rockstar has confirmed that L&D will not focus on Niko Bellic, but rather another main character on the mean streets of Liberty City.

It looks like the Spike VGA’s are going to be worth watching this year, even for those of us with a uterus. That’s saying something.

 

360 Install Base Passes Original XBox Installed Base November 25, 2008

Filed under: Hardware,Industry,Microsoft,PS3,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 10:41 am
Tags: ,

154466-xbox_xbox360_originalAnd it only took 3 years! This week Microsoft’s Xbox 360 hit the 25 million console mark. Of course, there are almost 150 million PS2s, even today, so who really knows what that says about the state of the console wars.

 

Microsoft seems to have scuppered their plans for a box in every home, and is rather focusing on the 10 million folks on XBox Live. The New Xbox Live Experience still has a few hiccups, like frequent network drop-off, but the company continues to patch the product. Nothing like load testing to put a spring in your step, eh, Microsoft fans?

 

“The Guild” is Coming to a 360 Near You November 24, 2008

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Congrats to Weiner and Twitter friend @feliciaday!

 

The folks responsible for internet sensation “The Guild” have signed a semi-exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Independent Video Channel. The show, a comedy which features the “real life” experiences of a small MMORPG guild, will air its second season exclusively on the IVC for four weeks before releasing the episodes on The Guild’s own site. The deal also includes a holiday episode shot in HD especially for the service.

 

Full of Patchy Goodness November 20, 2008

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Well, as promised, the New XBox Live Experience appeared this week. So far, so okay. The green blades are shiny and smooth, the avatars are like Miis all grown up and Netflix is working. Sorta.

 

The vaunted Netflix service has been up and down all day, with frequent patches. When it works, it works well, with instant streaming of lots of good stuff. The visual quality is pretty good for streaming video, much to my surprise.

 

The Marketplace is the real stumbling point at the moment. There is no easy way to get a complete list of what is on offer, and everything is incredibly slow at the moment. Microsoft is monitoring the situation and says it will be all better soon, and I really hope so.

 

XBox Live Issues Are Not All In Your Head November 16, 2008

Filed under: Hardware,Microsoft,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 12:47 pm
Tags: , , ,
It's not just for the console anymore.

It's not just for the console anymore.

If you can’t get on or stay on XBox Live today, you are not alone. Microsoft’s Major Nelson himself copped to the connectivity issues, stating:

 

In the past few hours, the Xbox Operations Center noticed that large number of members were disconnected from Xbox LIVE, some more than once. Our Engineering teams are actively working to determine the root cause of this issue and to prevent it from happening again. If you are disconnected, you should be able to reconnect after a few minutes. Thanks for your patience as we work quickly to solve the issue.

As of this writing, things are still iffy, despite a quick “All clear!” and “Nah, just kidding” from the Major this morning.

 

Review: Fallout 3 November 11, 2008

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There is a Fallout fever in my house.  The Weiner Daddy is playing on 360, I’m playing on the PC using both keyboard and mouse and the Microsoft game controller.  We’ve been playing since the game was released on October 28th, and neither of us is anywhere near completing it.  I will also note that neither of us have encountered any of the nasty bugs reported by Kotaku, but these are known issues, so your mileage could vary.

 

Theme:

Welcome to post-apocalyptia, children!  The theme and setting are the same no matter which version you choose. Fallout is set in an alternate history universe full of retro-futuristic kitsch and post-bombing hell. Imagine the American 1950s, only with 22nd century laser and gene-mapping technology.  By the time you are on the scene, the bomb has long since dropped.  It’s 200 years later, you are ready to crawl out of your sealed Vault and see what’s what in the ruins of Washington, DC.  The Capitol Wasteland comprises a HUGE area, and the sidequests alone can take you hours upon hours.  Unlike Bethesda’s Oblivion, however, you can and will want to get back on track with the main quest eventually.

Welcome to the world of yesterday's tomorrow!

Welcome to the world of yesterday

 

Art:

Think bleak.  As befits the setting, the Fallout 3 world is full of brown, grey, and yellow.  Unlike the repetitive trash-strewn levels of Hellgate: London, the environment of Fallout 3 is huge and fairly varied. When does Bethesda reuse something in the game, they are doing it on purpose.  Think all those tract-home shells look alike? That’s the point.  All of that suburban sameness makes it much more powerful the first time you see the ruins of the Washington Monument or the Capitol Building.

 

The character models are straight out of Oblivion, albeit with different clothes. The facial mapping and details are improved from Bethesda’s RPG, but the idea is the same, with the PC having the edge over the 360 in detail.  Enemies vary, from mutated critters to raider gangs to super mutants.  The critters are pretty much all the same, but the raiders and mutants are varied.  If you look closely you can see the attention to detail, as most of the humanoids’ armor is actually pieced together bits of the trash strewn across the Capitol Wasteland.

 

Gameplay:

It is here that the PC and 360 versions diverge.  Fallout 3 is not a shooter and it is not a full-on action RPG, but is something of a chimera of the two.  After fighting with the mouse and keyboard for over 20 hours, it is clear to me that Fallout 3 was designed for a controller.  Even the lowest mouse sensitivity option will swing your view way wide of the enemy in front of you.  Lockpicking is nearly impossible to do without failing a few times, due to the twitchy nature of the PC controls.  My experience was vastly improved when I used a gamepad on my PC.

 

Combat is its own strange bird.  On the shooter side you have the option to take a first-person view and use your weapons as you see fit. On the ARPG side you have the V.A.T.S. system; action points-based pause-and-play combat.  Contrary to popular belief, you can’t really play Fallout 3 entirely as a shooter or entirely in V.A.T.S.  Most of the time you’ll use V.A.T.S., then try and duck and cover while your AP recharges to use it again.  Why?  Because the FPS perspective doesn’t work that well.  The target reticule is small and inaccurate, and there is no lock-on.  This is true in both the PC and 360 versions.  

 

Use V.A.T.S. to shoot the junk off his trunk.

Use V.A.T.S. to shoot the junk off his trunk.

Searching for and picking up items must almost always be done in first person view.  The “target boxes” for small items, such as stimpaks, is ridiculously tiny, and unless you’re nose-to-nose with them, you may not be able to highlight them to grab them.  This is a little better on the 360 version, but here again the PC version suffers from poor mouse control.

 

Overall:

Don’t let the PC control issues dissuade you.  Fallout 3 is a fantastic game.  It is engaging, fun, and deep.  You will care about your character.  You will care about some NPCs and want to kill others. You will make irrevocable choices early on that will truly affect your game path and the game world. Evil is as viable a choice as good, and your experience will differ greatly depending on which path you take.  You can get through the main quest in about 10 hours, yes, but if you do, you’re missing the point.  I didn’t miss it at all, and I’m wondering how I’m going to balance playing more Fallout 3 with the release of Wrath of the Lich King on Thursday.

 

For being an excellent and engaging game with real consequences and deep story branches, I am giving Fallout 3 five weiners out of five.

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Preview: Hands On With Mirror’s Edge November 7, 2008

Filed under: Games,Previews,PS3,XBox 360 — Gwyddia @ 7:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

mirror-s-edge-first-gameplay-footage-1With only a week remaining until its North American release on the XBox 360 and PS3, it is time to delve into Mirror’s Edge.  We’ve been playing the demo here at the Weiner and we’ve got some pretty interesting stuff to report.

 

Mirror’s Edge is a new twist on an old genre – it is a first person parkour game.  As per Wikipedia:

Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK) or l’art du déplacement (Englishthe art of movement) is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body.  It is meant to help one overcome obstacles, which can be anything in the surrounding environment—from branches and rocks to rails and concrete walls—and can be practiced in both rural and urban areas. Parkour practitioners are referred to as traceurs, or traceuses for females.

Founded by David Belle in France, parkour focuses on practicing efficient movements to develop one’s body and mind to be able to overcome obstacles in an emergency.

 

I may not kick your ass, but I'll run like Hell.

I may not kick your ass, but I can run like hell.

The protagonist is a courier named Faith who takes to to the rooftops to deliver important packages in a world where information on the ground is locked up tight. Faith’s world is detailed in shining white with spare primary colors, notably red, indicating your path.  That isn’t to say that the game is linear, but instead the bright accents give you a sense of direction when your body is hurling through space.

 

There is some fighting in Mirror’s Edge, but the action centers on Faith’s movement through the levels.  Weapons are generally used to get out of a jam and then tossed, because combat will slow you down too much.

 

The demo feels solid.  The jump buttons are on the shoulders, which gives your motion a more organic feel as you maneuver through the sky. They offer a couple different configurations, but the default has (Jump/Duck-Slide) mapped to the LB/LT and (Punch/Kick) to RB/RT. (Although RB will also do quick turns.)  It takes a moment or two of getting used to, and then it really feels smooth.

 

There is a definite sense of urgency to the missions, which makes it feel even better when you hit your jumps and turns and swings just right.  In that way it feels like a well-designed platformer, and the pleasure you derive from play is oddly similar to what you might feel when flawlessly completing a level in a Mario game.

 

 

Falling to your death never looked this good.

Falling to your death never looked this good.

The checkpoint system is reasonable, which is good.  You’re going to plummet to your death 20 or 30 times while getting the hang of this thing.  The time trials are not nearly as forgiving – the demo’s “qualifying time” of 2:00 will take more than a few tries.

 

All in all, Mirror’s Edge looks like it has come together well, and shaped up quite a bit from when we saw it at PAX.  Check out the launch trailer here and enjoy the game when it comes out next week.