The Casual Gamers News Report 05/19/04

THE CASUAL GAMERS CORNER
The Wednesday News Report 05.19.04

How y’all doing? Still recovering from all the news from last week?
The News
Let’ start this thing strong with some news and rumors about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Here’s what we know for right now about the story:
Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas…a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where filmstars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers.

Now, it’s the early 90s. Carl’s got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster.

On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets.

Murder, gangs, drugs, and corrupt cops”¦.GTA is back! While reading you may have noticed that they refer to San Andreas as a state instead of a city, that wasn’t an accident. I’ll get to that in a second. To see a couple of the new screenshots rockstar released go here.

Now onto the rumors. Game Informer magazine will have an interview with Rockstar’s Dan Houser in the June edition of their magazine who spills some of the info about the next GTA game. Some of that info has already leaked if you know where to look for it (or if you know how to use Google), but until I actually see the article there is no real way to confirm this as news. Till it’s confirmed count this as rumor but here’s a synopsis of the info:

-San Andreas will be a state not a city. There will be three cities within this state modeled after the real life cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas with countryside inbetween. In order to accommodate this San Andreas will be 4-6 times larger than Vice City thanks to a new streaming technology Rockstar has come up with.
-The element of purchasing property which was started in Vice City has been expanded upon and given more importance for San Andreas. Including buying and building your own casino.
-The game will take place in the early 1990’s.
-NPC AI has improved. Difficulty will now be based on your performance in the game to allow more people to be able to complete the game.
-New AI also gives you the opportunity to recruit a gang for missions, including 4-person drive-bys.
-There will be more buildings that you can go into for more reasons than just saving your game. One example of this is the ability to rob some houses, but they take more skill to rob than carjacking does.
-Character can earn new skills throughout the game.
-Stamina meter has been added as well as the need to feed the main character. If you eat too much without exercising, the main character will get fat and his stamina will be lower. You’ll be able to get the main character in shape through gyms. His weight will be reflected through changes in the character model.
-Targeting has improved and might be like Manhunt’s targeting.
-Better hand-to-hand fighting, and SWIMMING!
-Ragdoll physics.
-Can now steal pedaled bikes.

Just”¦wow. I might be one of the only people in the Games section that likes the GTA games, and all of this sounds amazing to me. Hopefully the new stamina system will not be too sim-like because that would get annoying fast, but all the additions sound awesome so far. Then again I’ve also heard some of the same stuff before Vice City came out and the hand-to-hand combat and aiming were still not very good. Time will tell.

Again, this was just a rumor. Check the stands for the Game Informer issue when it comes out and double check the info for yourselves.


Sony Makes Sense, Then Resumes Talking Out of Ass

Sony admitted in a report to Rueters that they don’t expect the PSP to make money at launch due to costs of components and development. I’d go even further and say if the thing releases for $299 then they can kiss any profits goodbye. It would have a chance in the market at $199 but then the PSP would be much cheaper than the projected Japanese price so I doubt that will happen. Sony may have the name recognition and the fans, but how many people are really going to shell out that much for a handheld gaming device? I still think it looks cool.

Before you think Sony started making sense and that they might be heading in the right direction in the same report they also mention that they hope the PSP will have a 10-year lifecycle. And they weren’t joking!


Death Jr. to be made into a movie

Ironically, the first star of the Doomed Handheld will be Death himself. Actually it’ll be the son of the Grim Reaper Death, Jr. Unveiled last month as one of the launch titles for the PSP, there are bigger things announced for the little guy such as a comic book and a movie.

Honestly this is the biggest (and currently the only) reason I want the PSP. I want to play as a tiny Death!


SEGA gets Owned by Sammy

Sammy announced today that it will buy the remaining two thirds of SEGA stock it doesn’t own for 165 billion yen. Can’t say I’m completely surprised after reports came out earlier this year that Sammy was using the amount of stock to take some control of SEGA.

In other news, Bloomberg who broke this story is also reporting that SEGA’s stock has gone up as much as 14% since the announcement. Here’s hoping for more good things to come from this merger.


Christian’s Crazy Game Releases
Please note that the dates listed below are the ship dates and are subject to change. Call your local gamestore ahead of time to double check that the game is in stock as it can be several days from the release date till they get the game. In fact call them over and over again, I heard they like that ;)
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May 16-22

May 17
All Grown Up (Movie) (GBA)
Jimmy Neutron Vol 1 (Movie) (GBA)

May 20
Sonic the Hedgehog Vol 1 (Movie) (GBA)
Strawberry Shortcake Vol 1 (Movie) (GBA)
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Used Game Sale: Up to 30% off Hundreds of used games from every system we carry. Coming soon! Check your local Game Crazy for details!
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Christian:Really not much this week. The only one I would consider buying is Sonic myself. Next week though, there’s going to be a battle on the GBA for my fave of the week. But in some other news, stop in now and reserve your copy of Halo 2. Microsoft has been talking with major retailers and they are scared that they won’t be able to meet demand on the game. So they may be cutting off pre-orders on the game soon. At Game Crazy, $5 down guarantees you a copy on release day and you get a 2-4-1 rental coupon good at Hollywood Video.
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Matt: 4 GBA movies this week? No thanks! I should also point out that the dates are heavily subject to change, one person wrote in and corrected one from last week, the Mega Man Collection (GBA) isn’t coming out till Sept. All the dates are the ones GameCrazy receives, and I want to thank Christian again for continuing to do this weekly (he’s more on time than I am).


Cheap Cheap Sweep

Red Dead Revolver for $30 you like action games? Westerns? I paid full price for this game and had a blast with it. It’s not that long of a game, but damn you’re getting it $20 cheaper than I am! Go here to the Curcuit City webpage if it’s sold out, print out the flier and get it price matched at Best Buy or at the Curcuit City stores.

Also there is the PS2 Starter kit for $10 which includes controller and DVD remote, NBA Street Vol. 2 for the PS2 for $14.99, and Tomb Raider: Don’t buy this at whatever cost for $14.99 here

All Platinum Hits titles 17.99 at Best Buy. Best Buy is also selling the Gamecube Afterglow controller for 14.99 (normally $19.99)

NBA Ballers (PS2) on sale at Target for $28.88 same with MX Unleashed.


The Corner

This has got to be quick, I’m really burning time here. As far as E3 goes there was a lot of big news and announcements, but overall I’m sort of disappointed. There’s plenty to look forward too, don’t get me wrong I’m excited for many of the games that are coming out. I was just disappointed by so many sequels and what looked to me like lack of original content. The DS? Still waiting to see what the extra screen is needed for. Most of the big games are sequels. Where’s the breakthrough? The only game that I heard that there was something different on was covered by Gamespot and it’s called Yoot Saito’s Odama. Real time strategy and pinball? HELL YEAH! Check it out.

Another thing mentioned at Gamespot about E3 (of which we had excellent coverage of right at this site) was a Game Conference that I want to bitch about for a second. James Mechner, one of the writers for Prince of Persia states:
“You should only count rewards as things that will affect the player later,” arguing that the story sequences don’t count as satisfying compensation for a player’s efforts
and
Mechner then claimed that a game that overly relies on story sequences might as well be “a DVD where it’s very difficult to advance from one scene to the next.”

And instead of someone arguing in an intelligent manner someone brought up Final Fantasy as a counter-argument as a successful game that rewards the player with more story. I’m a big story over gameplay person because quite frankly if you strip away the story from games that are available right now all you have left are a bunch of games that are slightly different clones of one another. Also, wouldn’t a good story affect the player later? Dumbass.

What I want out of you guys is to help me prove my point and write what some of your favorite video game storylines are and why the story was enough of a reward for playing the game. Or write in supporting his argument, I don’t care which. Got something to say about E3? Let me know. I do want this to be more interactive.

And I swear my email is working this week. At least I think it is.


Pimps Up, Links Down

Bryan Berg covered the tail end of the E3 news last week and did a good comparison between the DS and the PSP.

Cory Laflin is your MASTER, and he commands that I go watch the Linx. Women play basketball now? Kidding! He wraps up E3. I totally forgot I used a Beatles reference last week and was confused as hell by the way.

Misha and Marvin what more do you need? Go read it.

All of this went up last Thursday:
Retrograding
The Angry Gamer
Widro’s PSP Playtest

and a Shining Force review is up.


Zip it up and zip it out!