Army of Two sequel announced

Army of Two 2

Army of Two 2

EA has announced an upcoming sequel to last years co-op bad-boy romp, Army of Two. 

Army of Two: The 40th Day will reunite players with both Salem and Rios this winter (2009) will find our troublesome twosome amid chaotic events in Shanghai. 

Electronic Arts’ Montreal branch is developing the game for XBox 360, PS3 and PSP platforms and promises many new and expansive co-op tag-team manuevers.

I for one am looking forward to this.  While the first game received medicore to slightly good reviews, I found it very fun and action packed playing solo.  Sure, there was some excessive swearing and confusing environments (meaning many skins/textures/props defied both physics and originality), but I’d really classify the game more as an arcade shooter that I would a tactical simulator that is GRAW or CoD series games.

I hope they make it slightly longer, with a few more interactive or destructible environments (ala Mercenaries 2), and easier co-op play.  My friend and I tried co-op a few times and it was fun, though we didn’t get very far due to scheduling conflicts.

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Personal Gaming Journal #3

So I’m kinda excited that my OXM subscription kicked in yesterday and I recevied my 1st issue.  It’s a pretty good deal to get the magazine along with the disc for $24.95 for the whole year as opposed to paying $9.99 an issue at the grocery store or bookstore.

I’m happy to see some offical pictures of all the new Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, and Konami’s Rock Revolution peripherals (well Konami only showed the drums kit, and it looked a little strange).  The nice thing is that Konami stated that both RB and Gh’s guitar will be compatible with their game.  I’m getting pretty psyched that these will start launching next month, and I’ll have a whole new bey of songs to play and download.

Ion is introducing there own uber drum kit for the Rock Band series which just looks crazy mad.  By itself, it’ll be $300, metal, and ships with 4 drum pads, 2 cymbals and kick peddle.  For even another $50 you can buy yet a 3rd cymbal!

Harmonix’s new Stratocaster looks pretty sweet, and they promise it will be much more sturdy than the original, meaning overdrive sensor and strum bar, plus it’s wireless.  A fine addition to my colllection.  However, RedOctane’s new axe for World Tour may be the one to get.  Also wireless, it has an additional touch sensitive neck for hand sliding and an oversized ‘star power’ button (thank God!) so you won’t have to tilt your guitar to achieve star power.

I played RB last night for a bit and tried multiplayer online play.  I experimented with both ‘Tug of War’ and ‘Score Duel’ modes and had my as handed to me all four times, but it was fun.  I have to get out of the competitve mindset and just enjoy it playing a song with someone else.  The problem for me is that Tug of War is very unforgiving…miss one note and it’s very difficult to recover against the other player.  This resulted in a True Skill point value of ‘1’ for me, even though on medium I was pulling perfect solos and completing like 97-98% of the song.  Seems a bit harsh to ever recover and be motivated to continue playing…you find yourself praying the other guy misses one note as well just to give you a chance.

I may need to buy a new HD soon with all the songs coming down the pipeling.  My 20GB drive is already 75% full lest I remove some other games and demo’s.

On the horizon for me: Force Unleashed, Rise of the Argonauts, GH WT, RB 2, Too Human, Fracture, GoW2, Lego Batman, CoD 5, Clone Wars (Wii) and a few others.  Man, I don’t even have time now….or money.

Speaking of money….I was so planning on buying a new PC today.  A new Dell XPS system to replace my 5year +, but then my wife told me yesterday she is behind on bills.  Dammit.  Well, there that goes for now.  I was eyeing a 2.4 GHz system with 3GB memory, plenty of L2 cache, and a 20″ widescreen monitor for my WoW and CoH habits.  Looks like that’s put on hold….yet again.  ::Grumble::

Been getting back into my PSP again too…playing Metal Gear Solid Ac!D and enjoying it.  My coworker was showing me his new God of War PSP slim and gameplay and it looks pretty sweet as well.

Wii: Okay, so my store didn’t get the Wii Fit today, but I also have an alert from Amazon.com sent to my phone.  If any Fit’s become available, they send you a TXT message to whcih you simply reply ‘Buy’, and they send one to you based on your Amazon account.  Well imagine my surprise when I got my alert today (WooHoo!!) at 10:17am saying they are available.  I reply at 10:20am with my text.  At 10:22am I receive a reply back saying they are now ‘unavailble’!!!  DOH!!  WTF?  So between the time I received the alert and I responded (3 minutes!) they were already sold out again.  What….did they only get 2 in stock?

Ah well, there’s always next week.

Personal gaming journal #1

Wow, I’ve had such a busy week this week with work, friends, and chores it almost seems impossible to get some free time to play any of my favorite games.

When I was able to sneak a little time here and there, I look back and am surprised that I broke out some of my older games that I never finished.  Sometimes it’s true that “everything old is new again”, and it was refreshing not to be tempted so bad to purchase yet another game when I have plenty of solid hitters that had been collecting dust.

First up, Metal Gear Acid 2, for my PSP.  It really was shocking that when I booted it up, I noticed my last save game file was just over a year old.  Wow.  A whole year since I played it last, but after a few practice rounds, I jumped right back in and on my way to moving the story along.  Complete turn based, strategy card game I forgot how much I enjoyed.

Over at XBox Live Arcade I downloaded two demo’s: Too Human (see earlier post this week on my thoughts) and Go Go Break Steady (music rythym game set in a break dance world).  It’s animations were cute and its beats kinda cool, but after playing the demo for a while I won’t be unlocking the full game.  I also noticed there has been an expansion released for Puzzle Quest.  I’ll end up getting that later as I still have a way to go on the original, not to mention my wife is already addicted to the core game without getting the expansion.

Back over at my Nintendo Wii, I’ve been unlucky in getting my hands on a Wii Fit.  I have a good line on where to get one….a store of the beaten path that a coworker told me about where he walked in earlier this week and got their last one without even trying.  Anyway they told me to call back Monday, so perhaps if I am extremely lucky I’ll have one soon and hopefully trim my figure a bit. (Note to self: I should play both boxing and tennis this weekend as my cardio exercise).

I also broke out Battalion Wars 2 and I really like that game.  I finished about 30% of the game so far, and even on the easy levels, I can’t seem to get past a ‘C’ grade right on the missions right now.  My technique is always great, usually 100% or just under….it’s the speed that hampers me.  I can clear a level in five minutes, but apprantley, they would like to see me do it under four which can be a little tough for me.  It reminds me of a real time and vamped up version of Advance Wars.  It’s been quite a while since I played this last as well, clearly more than six months, and again I’m really looking forward to playing it this weekend.

Same for WoW.  My alliance Pally is now lvl 66, and I’d like to play a good dungeon this weekend and maybe level up to 67 in preparation for Lich King expansion.  I also played about an hour last Sunday my lvl 46 undead Warlock in Hinterlands.  I like that zone.  One zone I am bored to tears with though is Astranaar.  I have my lvl 30 Shaman and lvl 29 Priest stuck there now, grinding away for money to buy some better item so I can move beyond this infernal place.

Lastly my best news of the week is bittersweet.  I finally completed my first pass through of Mass Effect yesterday which is pretty monumental for me….to complete a single play through…and I loved every minute of the game.  The last boss battle was much easier than I thought it was going to be, but the ending left me a little jaded.  What?  I can’t go back and tie up the few loose ends?  Ahh man….  Plus I was so close to lvl 50 and the associated achievement unlock.  I was literally under 200 XP away from lvl 50 and I also never got the ‘Paramour’ achievement either in which I feel a little cheated on.  Overall a great game, though I’m a little dissapointed with the lack of DLC support that was promised for it.  One ‘episode’ is a far cry on what was promised.  Now, I may have to replay again on the next diffiuclty level and work on my sniper and shotgun achievements as well since I got assault rifle and pistol completed.

E3 2008: Sony press conference – Day 2

PS3

PS3

I’m a little late on this because I am a pretty detailed person with a lot to say and with writing the Nintendo report, I needed a small break to collect my thoughts and also give time to the other things I do as well. 

Even though I don’t own a Playstation, (I do however own a PSP) I was still looking forward to what Sony had to offer and possibly counter with Microsoft’s day 1 press conference.  I also needed something to be excited about after Nintendo’s weak offerings.  And dare I say, there were moments I was excited enough that even I wanted to go out and buy a PS3 just so I could play a few exclusive titles.

So Sony’s events was held at the Shrine auditorium, and clearly since they had this by themselves (Nintendo and MS were at the Kodak theater) they were able to build quite an electronically impressive stage and light show.  They had at least 6 very large screens (possibly more) surrounded by numerous (30+) monitors.  It looked very promising to say the least.

Unlike MS and Nintendo, Sony’s host didn’t seem as scripted (even though he was) and more human and thus more believable….and funny.  Funny in the way his jokes and comments felt genuine, unlike the force fed lame lines that Nintendo’s Cammy and Alex for driveling off.

Throughout the event, they had there requisite slides and graphs and charts that are always questionable to me since every company claims the exact same industry leadership, growth, sales numbers, blah, blah, blah.  But Sony did something innovative here….they used the creative aspects of Little Big Planet to build a presentation and it looked so awesome.  A great way to show off the game and keep people interested in sales number and projections.  Kudos to the person who cam up with that idea.

Okay, onto the meat of Sony’s offerings:

  • Movie Rental and Download service: Actually went live the day of the announcement itself, I suppose is Sony’s answer to MS/Netflix partnership.  Sony will offer both SD and HD versions of many movies and shows with direct partnering with the major studios.  SD rates will be $2.99-$3.99 where HD will be $5.99.  You can also opt to purchase a movie outright for even higher, but I don’t understand this feature for any console (360 included).  What happens if you someday upgrade to PS4?  If you download to the internal harddrive, do you always have to keep the console forever to watch them?  There isn’t an option to burn to a DVD that I’m aware of (is there?).  You don’t get all the cool extras that you would get with a DVD purchase (out-takes, gag reels, making of, etc.)  What if I want to take it over to a friends house some day?  Does that mean I need to lug my PS3 over there?  Seems lame.  One neat aspect I do like though, is that if you own a PSP (firmware 4.05+) you can transfer content via a USB cable and watch on the go.  Same if you have a PC.  That’s cool.
  • Hardware:Sony will not be dropping the price on either PSP or PS3, but instead on the PSP will offer some upcoming specialized bundles for $199, and the PS3 will have an upgraded 80GB hard drive (up from 40) on all new consoles for the same $499.  No other peripherals were shown.
  • Sony Home: Ah, the often talked about and just as often delayed Home was shown yet again.  Did mention it was being tested in Beta, but no street date given (surprise, surprise).  What they did show looked graphically impressive and a cool concept, and not to be critical, but I don’t get it.  I buy a console to play a game or watch DLC, not to walk around a virtual house I can decorate and talk with friends in one large virtual IM chat room.  I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t never use it, but just seems like an unnecessary distraction from hard core gamers, which clearly PS3 is targeted at.
  • PSP:No new models or design changes anytime soon.  I was a bit surprised they didn’t have more apps mentioned like Nintendo did for the DS, especially the rumored Skype or phone capabilities.  Two new bundles by the holidays including a Madden ’09 and Ratchet & Clank versions.
  • Resistance 2: Lengthy hands on demo that was visually stunning and impressive.  It felt as the yang to MS’s ying with GoW2.  One of the games I wish I actually owned a PS3 for.  There will be a Resistance version for the PSP which I’ll probably end up getting.  I recommend seeing the trailer or demo…I can’t really describe how impressive it actually looked and jealous I am.
  • Patapon 2 & Loco Roco 2: 2 PSP offerings where shown in a video montage that should have these niche fans happy.  Though Patapon 2 looked a lot like the original, I’ll probably still get it as I enjoy the first one still and a lot.
  • PS2: They’re still making this platform and if they’re accurate with their numbers, Sony is pretty impressive that this thing is still going strong at $199.  So strong in fact they said there are at least 130 games in the pipeline for PS2….they didn’t mention how many were only to be release in Japan though.
  • Little Big Planet: This exclusive for PS3 just looks incredible.  Here is the second game in which I am jealous that it will not be on the 360 and is tempting me to buy one.  There cannot be enough said on how visually stunning and creative the world of Sack Boy will be.  There will be so much player created content, it will be crazy.
  • DC Universe Online: Wildstorm and comic book artist legend, Jim Lee, was on-hand to show us a sneak peak of DC on-line.  This will be an MMO that crosses over to a PC as well that will allow players to be either established super heroes or villains, or create there own and live out there fanboy fantasies.  I kept thinking it looked like a prettier version of City of Heroes, and some of the moves and powers looked exactly the dame, just re-skinned.  Not to many details on how the game works though and how hero/villain creation will be worked out and if (and how) you level up.  I hope to see more details in the future.
  • Greatest Hits: Similar to Microsofts greatest hits, Sony will be taking many of the older titles and repackaging at a $29.99 price point.  Expect a lot of classics here.
  • Motorstorm 2: Announced and a brief trailer.  Looked cool, but nothing innovative I saw.
  • God of War 3: Probably the big announcement was the trailer for the return of Kratos.  Out next year.  No gameplay footage, just a teaser trailer.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prologue race channel: There will be a unique PPV channel embedded with GT 5 that players can watch both live and taped events and shows related to various car racing gigs within a separate function of the game.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s exclusive here.  I’m not a huge race fan, but it seems strange to me to pay additional money to watch a real taped race or car show within a game itself.
  • Buzz series: Various incarnations of the Buzz game show will be made available on PS3 and PSP with future DLC available.
  • Various montages throughout the event showed regulars like Madden ’09, NBA Live, Tiger Woods ’09, Soul Caliber IV, Force Unleashed, GH World Tour, Rock Band, Sing It series, etc.

To sum it all up, Sony had a pretty strong showing that made up for the Nintendo sleep fest.  They showed or at least announced some pretty good heavy hitters coming up, but clearly focusing on more hardcore gaming as opposed to Nintendos casual style and Microsofts hybrid of both hardcore and casual.  ‘Home’ is still in beta and may debut by the holidays, and Sony has a counter albeit not as expansive video service at the MS/Netflix partnership.  I expect to see more PSP titles in the upcoming year too.  Microsoft and Sony clearly taking this seriously, although Nintendo has the Wii jugernaut behind them (despite crapware right now).

Gaming: What does $765 get you today?

According to a recent Gamestrata reseach poll, the average gamer spends $765 a year on gaming.

At first I thought that seemed pretty excessive, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered how much is too much, and where do I fall on monetary scale?

Sure, $765 may seem a lot to a teenager or even younger who has no ‘real’ source of income, lest he/she has an old fashioned paper route (Paperboy anyone?), but how much does $765 really equate to today?

When I was in my mid 20’s when I did a lot of serious gaming on my Sega Genesis system (1989), or my 386PC I think the going rate for games was about $39.99 each, give or take.  The consoles themselves were close to $200 and PC’s were even more at the time.

I remember almost having a heart attack the first time I purchased my gen 1 X-Box back in 2001 for $299 and games were $49.99.  By the time you bought an additional controller you’d be lucky is you could buy 8 games throughout the year just for the X-Box.  By the way, I still play my X-Box on occasion, even today.

So, by today’s pricing, my X-Box 360 came in at $399.  Add a controller and wireless capability and I’m already at $550 + tax without a single damn game.  With ‘A’ games for both PS3 and 360 coming in at $59.99, you can only buy 3 – 4 games.   If you already had the system and other hardware, your $765 might get you 11 games a year. 

You might say 11 games for one console isn’t too shabby and may actually seem like a lot.  But in reality, is it?  What about subscriptions fees for MMO’s?  DLC for games such as Guitar Hero or CoD4?  Skins?  Accessories?

Then what about your other systems?  If you’re anything like me, you may own more than one gaming device.  I own quite a few, but I guess I regularly play my PC, X-Box 360, Nintendo Wii, and even my Sony PSP.  Games range anywhere from $19.99 to $69.99 anymore.  I guess the secret is to wait just ling enough for some of the titles to get the coveted Platinum or Greatest Hits moniker, in which the game may be reduced quite a bit.  I actually just bought Gears of War for my 360 and a newly reduced price of $34.99, essentially $25 dollars from its original price a year ago.

I figure in the last year alone I may have bought 2 PSP games, 4 Wii games, 7 360 games, plus periperhals, plus PC subscriptions, DLC for Rock Band and GHIII, then I’ve easily spent over $1000 this past year alone and not even on the consoles themselves!  Yikes!