November 2006

Microsoft just announced that a 60 second trailer for Halo 3 would be airing in North America on Monday, Dec, 4th on ESPN’s Monday Night Football and in Europe.

[quote]Fans can tune in to ESPN on Monday, Dec. 4 between 5:50 and 6:20 p.m. PST to catch this stunning new look at “Halo 3.” Additionally, the ad will be aired that same evening on at 8 p.m. PST /04.00 GMT/05.00 CET (Tuesday, Dec. 5).[/quote]

They also officially announced the future plans for a Halo 3 open beta. On Monday Dec. 4th you can visit and register for a chance to be selected as one of the few people in the beta. It should be available to selected members in early spring of 2007.

Telltale sent over some new screens for the 2nd episode of Sam and Max. Episode 2 Situation: Comedy will be available on January 5, 2007. You can get some more information on this episode on the Sam and Max [url=]website[/url].

  • Backstage
  • Director
  • Hugh
  • Rat
  • Sitcom 1
  • Sitcom 2

Call of Duty 3

November 30, 2006

In northern France, near the towns of Vimy and Givency-en-Gohelle, at the top of a hill marked on the war maps as Hill 145, sits a piece of Canada. It is a small piece, about a kilometer square, given in perpetuity to Canada by France in 1922. On this hill sits the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, a testament to the 66,000 sons Canada sent to the first great war and never got back. An impressive edifice of marble stretching 27 meters skyward, it is a poignant reminder of the totality of such global conflict and the dedication of the Dominion of Canada in securing world peace while still finding its place in the world as a country.

While many countries participated in the first and second world wars, few had the conflict play such an extensive role in national self identity as Canada. While their homeland was spared the grim realities of war, the Canadian solders who fought, both the the ones that came back and the ones who did not, left an indelible mark on the construction of the Nation. This might seem an irrelevant history lesson, but Call of Duty 3 will always have a very special place in my heart, as it is the first game of the oh-so-many World War II shooters to acknowledge the involvement of Canadians.

But if you’re not a Canadian, I doubt you’ll find swelling patriotism a compelling issue in regards to Call of Duty 3. So what does Call of Duty 3 offer everyone else? Well, plenty.

Despite a much-ballyhooed switch in development teams, Call of Duty 3 comes off as a sincere and genuine continuation of the Call of Duty franchise. Everything you knew from the last iteration is back. The control is the same, level structure is the same, and the quality and attention in the visuals are all on the same level. Call of Duty 2 was a premiere title for the Xbox 360, and fans of it will take considerable comfort and feel right at home in Call of Duty 3. For the most part it is just more of what we all loved the first time around.

Indeed, it is where Treyarch deviated from the previous chapter that Call of Duty 3’s rustiest spots are found. A new melee combat mode drags you from time to time into single hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. One is then prompted with on screen directions as to what buttons to press to emerge victorious while simultaneously being filled with an emotion that could only be called disinterest. It’s certainly a new feature, but its integration comes off as shockingly incidental and entirely trivial. That being said, that is a hell of a lot better than coming off as intrusive and obnoxious. The criticism, if one can even call it that, is how unnecessary it feels, rather than accusing it of bringing the title down.

Levels this time are on occasion quite a bit more open than the last game. And the super-scripted AI tends to show its occasional ineptitude more often due to this. It will not be uncommon to find yourself recovering from a frenzied conflict with no clue as to where your team has gotten itself – they’ve moved on to the next slickly produced cinematic encounter, you just need to catch up. The map design this time out also includes more confined combat, down narrow corridors and alleyways. Again the AI proves slightly embarrassing, as traffic jams are much too common in these environments.

But the gameplay on the whole is still the same frenzied, inspirational, and enthralling World War II combat we’ve come to expect from the franchise. While the human sacrifice of the encounter is glossed over – this is entertainment, not history – it is still a real and rather foreboding presence that has blessed the Call of Duty franchise with an enriching atmosphere despite the disjointed arrangement of missions.

Indeed, what Call of Duty 3 mostly feels like is Call of Duty 2, with new scenarios, pushed further and harder. While the resulting pressure causes quite a few more seams to show in the cloth, the overall effect is just as enjoyable. Gears of War may have defined some new paradigms for the shooting genre, but Call of Duty 3 is a solid expression of mastery in the older style. Is it as compelling as Call of Duty 2? Perhaps not, but only because it very much follows in footsteps already trodden, and Call of Duty 2 made such an impact due to the competition (meaning the lack thereof) at the time of release. World War II is undoubtedly overdone as a thematic element in games, but when you are the best of the field you’re still a darn fine game well worth playing.

But in multiplayer are where the best enhancements to the game are really found. While the last edition topped out at 8 players, this time 24 can join up. As you can expect, the team combat modes are all the more impressive due to this simple improvement. This is further enriched by the class based modes – drawing on tried and proven mechanics found in so many other games – as well as the inclusion of vehicles. Call of Duty 2 had an extensive run as an extremely popular Xbox Live game, and Call of Duty 3 will undoubtedly take that torch and keep running.

Visually, Call of Duty 3 absolutely trumps the previous game. While profound launch titles like Call of Duty 2 always strike a special cord, it is exhilarating to see the console mature and develop so far after only a year. There a deep satisfaction to be found in Call of Duty 3 on 720p, and while a few odd collision and occlusion bugs nag the attentive eye, Call of Duty 3 easily earns some chevrons as a title to show off the visual abilities of the 360.

Without a doubt, Call of Duty 3 is likely to take you down familiar roads and into familiar scenarios with familiar enemies. Attempts to change things up in the single player campaign mostly fall flat, but in a way that is innocent rather than detrimental. While this won’t win over anyone who has already passed on the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty 3 is extremely solid and a lot of fun, with undoubtedly a substantially long shelf life on Xbox Live. There are going to be some people who won’t really find this their cup of tea, but for the established audience this is an easy sell that will stir hunger for the next iteration of the franchise.

Score: 85%

Major Reorg for Sony Execs

November 30, 2006

It looks like Sony is shuffling its Executive deck this week. A few of the major changes include the current SCEA top man, Kaz Hirai, heading for Tokyo to be the new Pres of Sony Computer Entertainment. Jack Tretton is Kaz’s replacement and everyone’s favorite Ken Kutaragi will be the new SCE chairman.

Sony added:
[quote]Kutaragi will continue to oversee the entire SCE Group as chief executive officer, and will fully exercise his power to reinforce and further accelerate the development of the PlayStation business.[/quote]

[quote]Moving forward, we will remain focused on the continued market leadership of the PlayStation brand, driving consumer demand for the new PS3 and existing platforms such as PSP and PS2.[/quote]

Xbox Dashboard Update

November 30, 2006

Major Nelson sends word that a new dashboard update is now available worldwide. Here is a list of the updates:

[*]Improved support for HD video output over VGA, including 1080p resolution
[*]Improved plug and play performance for wired headsets when being used with wireless controllers
[*]Changes made to recently played games list to improve accuracy