Archive for February, 2008


The Gears of War Are Still Turning…

February 28, 2008

Following the big announcement at GDC last week that Gears of War 2 would be hitting the Xbox 360 this fall, many have jumped back on the Gears of War bandwagon, going on about chainsaw duels and “trainguns“. Everyone seems to be excited about the game and I am no different. It’s no secret that I loved the first game despite its one-blink-and-you-missed-it campaign, cliché ridden storyline and glitch filled multiplayer. Despite all of its flaws, the game was still damn fun to play alone, cooperatively and in its eight player team deathmatch inspired modes.

Since the Gears of War 2 announcement, a few of my friends and I have gotten back into playing Gears of War. Prior to this, I had swore off the game completely because it had become downright unplayable for me. Earlier I commented about Gears of War’s multiplayer modes being glitch filled. I wasn’t kidding. I won’t go into the finer details, but a few glitches stick out in my mind to this day. The first notable glitch I’ve seen involves a player running at the increased “roadie run” speed, hunched over, while still retaining the ability to shoot. With a shotgun in hand (which is, to this day, still the best weapon in the game), you were damn near unstoppable. I called it “surfing” due to the players performing the action looking like they were running sideways.

By far the most annoying glitch I’ve come across was what I dubbed the “Chainsaw shotgun” in which a player performs a certain action (I never found out what this was) and then runs toward their opponent, shotgun in hand. Suddenly, their opponent begins going through the animation of being sawed but…nothing happens. The player whom received the action goes on about their business for a few seconds when suddenly they explode into a pile of bloody bits midstep, roll or whatever action they were performing. I first fell victim to this glitch in a player match with friends. In this setting, it was all fun and games and no one cared too much but the instant I saw it being used quite frequently in ranked matches, I said to myself “I’m never playing this crap again”

It seems I was wrong. I turned on the game monday night at 11 o’clock to join the multiplayer festivities with my friends expecting to see these glitches and a great deal more. They weren’t there. Hmm…well I at least expected some of the rampant bullet lag…nope…it wasn’t there either. Suffice to say, I was actually enjoying myself. I guess playing in the less competitive environment that is player matches with friends inspires fair play more than it does in the average ranked match.

That’s not to say the game is bereft of glitches. While playing on Tyro station, my teammate showed me how to “get out of the map” by performing a rather simple action. While I was found and shown the business end of my opponent’s shotgun in short order trying to do it myself, I watched him on the spectator camera running down the side of the train tracks, going where no player was intended to go. I laughed as I saw him running through mountains, heading toward the map’s boundaries and attempting to jump off. The other dead players on my team and I laughed at our teammate’s antics until the round was inevitably declared a draw.

Despite this, for the first time in months, I was actually having fun with Gears of War. It seems it’s gone back to the early days. Sure, there were some glitches back then, but the game was still fun to play. Over the past few nights, I’ve been having a blast with the game and I don’t expect things to slow down any time soon.

Getting back to Gears of War 2, some of my fellow staff members and I wrote a Gears of War 2 Wish List at Talk Xbox and it figures that most of the things we wanted to see was related to the multiplayer. While I also want to see some multiplayer improvements this time around, the main thing I’m clamoring for is related to the single player. I’m a sucker for a good story in a videogame and Gears of War’s was…not. Too many clichés in the dialog, too many plot holes, and not enough backstory to give the player an adequate understanding of what the hell is actually happening in the Gears of War universe. 

I expect big things from Gears of War 2 and I hope it turns out to be everything I hope it will be and more. So with that, I’ll return to Gears of War multiplayer. I can’t believe it, but I’m actually starting to get hooked on it again…


Forza Motorsport 2 Review

February 27, 2008

forza2logo smaller

When Forza Motorsport debuted on the Xbox, it was Microsoft’s first foray into the racing simulator subgenre and surprisingly, the first time was the charm. Forza Motorsport earned many accolades from reviewers and gamers alike for its emphasis on realism, numerous customization options and in depth online options. Some even said it was better than Gran Turismo 4, the latest in the long line of highly acclaimed racing simulators. This makes for a tall order to fill for the Xbox 360 sequel. It seems Turn 10 has risen to the occasion, tweaking the already fantastic driving model, improving on the career mode and giving the multiplayer a significant boost. Because of this, Forza Motorsport 2 is everything a good sequel should be.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Nintendo Shoots Itself In the Foot…Again

February 22, 2008

It’s official, Nintendo has lost its fucking mind.

I…I almost don’t know what to say to this but this picture sums up my thoughts quite nicely.

Right now. These people should be replaced by…anyone. Go outside and pick a few random people off of the street, hell, you could even bring in a small colony of monkeys and cut them loose in the offices. Anything would be an improvement at this point.

Why in the holy mother of fuck would you even consider charging for the services offered by the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection? To be blunt, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is hardly worth the price of admission as it is but, at the very least, I’m not paying for it so it’s not too hard to swallow. Now, that all changes since Nintendo has announced the “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Pay And Play.” The mere thought of paying for something as lackluster as the service offered on the Wii and DS Lite makes me sick to my stomach.

In the past, I haven’t been very vocal about how much I despise the Nintendo WFC but I figure now is as good a time as any to vent. My biggest problem with the service is not the lackof services. No, what really brings my blood to a boil is the “Friend Code” system, which is utterly convoluted in concept and even more so in execution. Instead of, God forbid, taking a page from Sony or Microsoft and creating a simple online infrastructure in which each user signs up for a single username that covers all games (ala the Playstation Network or Xbox Live), they choose instead to give each user a series of numbers (usually 12 or so) for them to memorize and hand out to friends. What fun that must be!

“Hey buddy, my Friend Code is 392847-496073! What’s yours?” I mean, that’s obviously much easier than telling your friend “Hey, my online name is The Game21x” right? Want to know the best part? You have a different Friend Code for each online game you play! Doesn’t that sound like fun? Worst of all, some games don’t even allow you to play online if you aren’t playing with friends.

Another of my many annoyances with the service is the incredible restrictions and regulations Nintendo is putting on developers who want to implement online functions in their games. It’s like they want to make their online services as user-unfriendly as possible. Communication in a Wii game is next to impossible or convoluted as all hell due to Nintendo’s restrictions. There are no games on the Wii that support voice chat, and even fewer that allow for even basic forms of text communication, even between friends.

 As it stands now, there are…what…4 games on the Wii that support online multiplayer (Pokemon Battle Revolution, Battalion Wars 2, Mario Strikers Charged and Medal of Honor Heroes)? While there’s likely a few more I’ve missed, but the Wii’s online catalog is sorely lacking in comparison to its closest competitors, the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

All of these problems with the service, and all of a sudden you expect us to pay for it? Seriously? Please tell me this is all one big joke so I can have a good laugh and go back to respecting you again. I can stomach paying $50 a year for Xbox Live because at least Microsoft provides the illusion that I’m getting my money’s worth, and I’m placated by that. The only scenario in which I could see myself paying to play Wii games online is if Nintendo does a complete overhaul of the service and offers something similar to Xbox Live. This would mean a completely new policy on online play, and a release of the choke-chain currently around the necks of any developers wishing to develop online-capable games on the Wii.

Honestly, I don’t see any of those demands being met and as such, I will not be joining the “Pay And Play”party any time soon. Nintendo, I really hate to say this but you have devolved into a shadow of your former self. In this longtime gamer’s (and longtime Nintendo fan) opinion, Nintendo is, in a purely business sense, doing everything right with the Wii…while screwing gamers over in the process. I hate to be so blunt, but Nintendo needs a wake up call, and fast.


Devil May Cry 4 Review

February 20, 2008

Devil May Cry 4 Review 

Here’s an excerpt of my review of Devil May Cry 4, one of the biggest releases of the new year.

 “Devil May Cry 4 for the Xbox 360 is the first game in the series to appear on anything other than a Playstation platform. Because of this, first time players might not know what to expect. Those expecting a fairly standard action game are in for a big surprise when they witness Devil May Cry 4’s enormous emphasis on stylish, over-the-top action. They might be surprised to see Devil May Cry’s sarcastic, almost lighthearted take on a world plagued by demons. Because of this, Devil May Cry 4 is rather unique in the action/adventure genre. If this is something that excites you, dive in headfirst and prepare yourself for one hell of a ride.”

Justin McBride, Talk Xbox

Full Review


New Blog and Introduction

February 18, 2008

Well, I’ve started this new WordPress blog, replacing the few I’ve had over at Blogger. I had a good run with it but I figure this is the best route to go in transition to my own website (which I’m considering, but I’ll talk more about that later).

To start, I figured I’d write a short introduction (after all, that’s just proper blog etiquette right?).

Well, my name is Justin McBride; I’m 20 years old as of this writing and attending Wayne State University, majoring in Journalism with the possible addition of an Education or Business Administration minor somewhere down the line.

Whew. That was easy.

Alright I’ll keep going. My interests include watching television, the occasional movie, listening to good music (yes that includes hip-hop and Rap) and surfing the internet. Of course, my two biggest passions are in writing and gaming, respectively. I’ve been writing and playing games for as long as I can remember.

My first experience writing came in the form of a school assignment I received in the first grade in which I wrote a short story entitled “A Giraffe Tall Tale” in which I told the imaginary tale of how giraffes got their trademark long necks. After that brief experience, I discovered, at six years old, I had a knack for it and began to cultivate my writing talents. 14 years later, having written countless stories encompassing various subjects ranging from the Power Rangers-esque “Super Soldiers” a friend of mine created (I volunteered to transcribe their adventures) to the novel I’ve been working on for a few years now (more on that later as well) my skills have increased substantially.

My gaming career began sometime in the early nineties when I received a Super Nintendo Entertainment System with two pack in games (Super Mario World and Super Mario Kart) for Christmas. I absolutely loved it and would spend hours down there playing the games as my collection grew.

Over the years, I’ve owned all of the major consoles out there at some point or another besides the Sega Saturn. My favorite console is, by far the Nintendo 64, which has my favorite game of all time, Perfect Dark, in its library.

But I digress…

The main reason behind my journalism major is because I think gaming journalism is the best way to combine my two passions into a career I’ll love doing on into old age. Since September of last year (2007) I’ve been writing freelance for a site called Talk Xbox, which you’ll probably see me reference quite often in the future. So far, everything’s been amazing for me and I imagine things are just going to get better from here. I can hardly wait to see what the future holds for me as I progress toward a more serious career in the industry.

Well that’s it for now. More will come later if I feel like posting it.

Until then, See ya when I see ya.