Gamer’s Hangover News Report – 05.24.04

News

Yet Another Way To Get p0wn34 on Xbox Live
credit: GameDaily.com
SNK announced that it will produce the home version of SNK VS. Capcom: SVC Chaos exclusively for the Xbox. And yes, it will support Xbox Live play. 17 SNK characters (including some from such Neo Geo classics as Fatal Fury and King of Fighters), 17 Capcom characters (including Mega Man. Cue L.C. squealing like a little girl), 2 secret bosses, and the ability to whup up on people worldwide.

Also, there is the Super Special move and beyond it, Ludicrous “¦ er “¦ I mean the Exceed Move “to inflict massive damage.” For great justice.

I’ve never played the arcade version, but I’m hoping that capoerista from Fatal Fury is in there. Capoeira needs more video game love than just Eddy Gordo.

Now I will say Eddie Gordo’s name twenty times just to haunt Bebito Jackson.

Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo. Eddy Gordo.

Heh.

Why Wait For Vaporware When UT2004 Has New Stuff?
credit: GameDaily.com
Folks, there’s something to be said for being on schedule. I’m sure there are some people out there pining for Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Doom 3, and even Duke Nukem Forever, but why torture yourself when Unreal Tournament 2004 has been out for months and now has new content?

It’s a free download called Community Bonus Pack 2: Volume 1, it’s 199 Mb, and it contains oodles of new models, maps, skins, and other stuff. You can find it here.

That was for my homey Ken, who 0wnz all of j00.

Interesting Story Idea, But Lighten Up
credit: GameDaily.com
Folks, just check this out.
Nu-Generation Games announced today their new PC title “Origin Of The Species,” a 3rd person action adventure title. It combines real world locations; present day conspiracy with both military and Sci-Fi enemies to produce a vibrant, fast paced game world.

For the last four years, Nu-Generation Games and thousands of people across the United States and the planet have continued to observe the deliberate application of toxic particles into our atmosphere in order to implement the insidious, very highly classified black budget program which has become known as “Project G.I.Ants.” (Also known as “Chem Trails”)

Nu Generation, unlike other individuals or groups, has decided to use their skill and time to provide the general North American population with an interactive demonstration of the confirmed trouble that various government agencies are brewing behind closed doors and one possible outcome of their wanna-be god like tampering.

Okay, interesting idea for a game, but cut the Blair Witch bullshit okay?

Bebito Jackson Cast In The Role Of Eddy Gordo
credit: GameDaily.com
Yes, the bane of Ms. Jackson’s (if you’re nasty) life is coming to the big screen: Tekken. The $40 million-budgeted film is apparently in talks to have Charles Stone, who directed Drumline direct. The script was handled by Tomb Raider scripters Mike Werb and Michael Colleary (kind of like Cholera “¦ but not). Distribution will apparently be handled by Dimension Films, most famous for the Scream series.

Let’s hope it at least captures the majesty and imagination of Street Fighter: The Movie (oh Lord, Raul Julia deserved better for his last film).

Square Enix Regretfully Soils Their Hands With American Platforms
credit: Spong.com
Here’s the quote from Square Enix prez Yoichi Wada: “the thinking behind the recently announced XNA is extremely similar to what we have in mind. With that meaning, we’ll have to from now on discuss XNA, rather than Xbox 2 and such.”

XNA, being the new development platform for Xbox 2 games. This may sound cryptic “¦ okay “¦ it does sound cryptic, but what he’s basically saying is: “*sigh* I guess we’ll have to start looking at MAYBE making some games for Xbox 2 “¦ even though we really don’t want to.” They’re implying that XNA is so similar to what they “have in mind” that they fell obligated to work with it, but that’s because saying “Microsoft seems to have their sh*t together better than those dorks playing with Eye Toys at Sony” would be a little too rude, as I understand it, for the Japanese culture.

As for the possibility of a Square Enix MMORPG on Xbox Live, “Xbox Live is a closed system, so at this point we have no plans on supporting it.” Uh-huh. And that line worked OH so well for Electronic Arts, didn’t it?

Pompous, arrogant, “¦”¦.. and you wonder why I don’t play RPGs.

And For Those Of You Waiting For Gran Turismo 4, Buy A Bloody Xbox!
credit: Spong.com
I can’t believe I’m pimping a Microsoft product so hard this week. I need to check if my soul is on vacation.

Anyway, the Paris Booster Pack for MY favorite racer of all time (so far) Project Gotham Racing 2 is available for download on Xbox Live.

Some people bitch about how you have to pay if you want new content. I look at it differently. If you don’t want the add-on, you don’t have to buy it. It’s that simple. When you bought the original game, you had no idea that there would be new cities to download, nor did you care. You bought the game on it’s own merits. Now there are add-ons, and if you want them, you’ll have to pay for them. If you don’t, then don’t. That simple. As an example, there have been 5 song packs released for DDR: Ultramix, but I’ve only bought one of them. Why? Because that particular one included one of my favorite songs from DDR: Extreme. The rest I could care less about right now. I get to play the song I want; I’m happy; and the people who put together the new song pack get their fair share.

I’m sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of P.J. O’Rourke lately, so I’m incredibly up on the free market economy right now. I’m sure it will pass.

Pimp-licious

The 411 games staff has been doing a TON to cover E3! We have tons of Sega previews including:

and of course the >>Full E3 Index
today. Up tomorrow are about 10 new Capcom previews with tons of Mega Man and Resident Evil 4 shots, and then coming up on Thursday is our big 5 part E3 feature with a Kliq roundtable and more!

Misha NEEDS your input. Personally, I’m fascinated by the particulars of British cultured as compared to American culture, like the fact that a day at the ballpark is a family affair on this side of the pond, but over there it’s taking your life into your own hands. I must admit that even the worst Oakland Raiders fan out there probably wasn’t on a persona non grata list for the World Cup two years ago. (Of course, that’s only if traveling to Korea wouldn’t have broken their parole.)

Matt, it may be bigger, it may be airier, but it’s still going to be running around shooting people and stealing things. If they throw in a disincentive to killing people (a la True Crime) or some multiple endings (a la The Suffering), I’d be interested, but it’s really just looking like a Madden-job. New skins + New map = New Game.

Bryan, if the NFLPA actually goes through with the deal, I’ll be surprised. I will also be ready to boycott Electronic Arts. Not just Madden, but anything produced by Electronic Arts. Besides, if they did pull it off, they’d have to fight off all manner of predatory business practice lawsuits, and it ain’t a good climate to be on the wrong side of one of those right now.

A-Will! A-Will is back! Alex, I hate to break this to you, but from what I hear, the bottom-end version of the PS3 may be $300. If the PSP is going to be that much, I could easily see paying four figures for both systems. ($700 for a PS3?! They’ve already said they’re going to do versions with different functionality, so I don’t think that’s out of line for their top-o’-the-line, DVD-writing, Ti-Vo, diaper-changing version. Especially when you consider the price of a game for each system AND controllers/peripherals necessary for “full” PS3 functionality.)

As I told Eric S., Wichita isn’t Chicago, but it’s a hell of a lot better than Clay Center. Frankly, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in some big cities, and I really didn’t feel like any of them had any more to offer me than Wichita. WSU has the culture covered (not only symphonic band but opera and ballet). I can’t afford major league season tix anyway, so the once-a-year trek to see the Chiefs is fine by me.

Ron Gamble has apparently been pimping me for some time in Black, and I’ve been too dense to actually read him and realize it. I’ve fixed that. Anyway he talks about the clusterf*ck in Iraq and a game with a name that translates into English as “Way.” The noun sort of “way,” not the adjective sort.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

Apparently the first lesson The Boy was taught at day care was “How To Build Antibodies,” followed closely with “How To Share.” Right now we’re on lap #2 of the Household Illness 500. In the lead is The Boy with me close behind. Guess how much NyQuil I’ve downed in the last two weeks and win a warm jar of phlegm!

From their respective first-ever pro games:
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury): 22 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers, 6 fouls.
Nicole Ohlde (Minnesota Lynx): 16 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 1 block, 0 turnovers, 6 fouls.

And guess which one was pictured on the front of ESPN’s WNBA page the next day It wasn’t the girl with a double-double in her FIRST PRO GAME. Also, love that assist to turnover ratio for Taurasi. Ohlde’s is better and she didn’t even GET an assist (that’s if you make the mathematical assumption that zero divided by zero is one).

Scooter has stopped covering Smackdown. Now if we can only get him to stop covering Raw, the pay-per-views, and stop writing books, we’ll be set.

I’m sorry, but he needs to pull his head off of Chris Benoit’s “¦ and realize that Smackdown isn’t that bad. First of all, the gimmick change for Bradshaw was genius, you hear, GENIUS. Sod the in-ring work, he’s a perfect class-warfare heel who is ripping up the mic. Second, does he even realize that the WWE has figured out a way to get Rico and CHARLIE HAAS over at the same time?! Third, “Chavo Classic.” Come on, that’s FUNNY! Fifth, the only reason he’s hammering on John Cena of late is because Trips hasn’t been hogging the spotlight (completely) and he needs to vent his spleen on somebody.

And he’s going to hammer on Cena, but not The Rock? Layin’ the Smackdown, DDT, Spinebuster, Rock Bottom, People’s Elbow. “Five Moves of Doom” as it were. Every friggin’ time the guy comes out, you KNOW you’re going to see those five moves … and not much else.

And he’s going to berate the vignettes on Smackdown but call a Eugene segment on Raw the “greatest segment ever”? Excuse me, “GREATEST! SEGMENT! EVER!”? How many times did Rock flirt with Lillian Garcia during that segment? Fifty? Sixty? It was a good segment, but I have to admit that it wandered a bit with Rock on the mic.

Look, I’m not saying that Smackdown is the better show; it isn’t. But it’s certainly not terrible enough to warrant a boycott. Of course, I really should be supporting Scooter in this, since that means that there’ll be one less rant of his to try and dodge every week. But I kid; I always read him; but only because ESPN Gamer has apparently sent my buddy Matt Wong off to their studios on the Ross Ice Shelf.

I’m sorry, folks; but it was the sheer arrogance of that Smarky rant that got to me. “I think the show sucks and I’m not covering it anymore, so THERE!” I’m really hoping that he wasn’t expecting any reaction other than the obvious “So what?” Hey, maybe he wasn’t. Maybe I’m blowing this all up, but the show is still far more watchable than Raw during the darkest days of HHH hegemony (circa Katie Vick) or any TNA broadcast featuring more than two minutes of Jeff Jarrett.

God, writers suck. Internet writers suck even more, and I’m not just talking about me or Scooter. Even the folks at ESPN.com suck most of the time. If you’re a print journalist, you usually have an editor that you have to go through before anybody can see your work, but in the here-today/deleted-tomorrow world of the Internet, editing is apparently a dying art; the rationale being that if anybody barks too loudly about a piece, they can just click and drag their problems away. While this pleases me to some degree (otherwise I wouldn’t be here) since I’m a huge fan of free speech, I must also admit that freedom allows people to do really stupid things, like writing on the Internet.

Where did all this venom come from? Well, namely Szulczewski’s rant on baseball writers last week. Sports writers, as a whole, are a fairly contemptible lot, and this is coming from someone who wouldn’t mind being a sports writer. First, ALL sports writers have their biases. What makes people like Bill Simmons bearable is that they are above table with theirs. It’s the ones who claim to be impartial when asked directly and then fill their work with thinly veiled jabs at rivals and muted praise of their heroes that annoy me. Baseball writers are the absolute worst, though; for a very specific reason. They cling to a game that has both fallen out of public popularity and refused to take the financially responsible steps that almost every other major sport has done. When they were talking contraction a couple of years ago, part of me was hoping that the Royals would be a target, so I could have the perfect reason to write off baseball forever (like I should have written off the NBA after the Kings left for Sacramento). Unfortunately, it’s ass appears to have been pulled out of the fire for the time being thanks to a couple of home run record chases and the possibility of a Cubs/Red Sox World Series (the ending of which was the funniest bit of TV I’d seen in months. Note to TV execs, you’ve had successful reality TV for decades. It’s called sports. Now put Firefly back on the air, dammit).

Give me every argument against financial responsibility in baseball. Tell me that revenue sharing is unfair to the larger markets because there is a smaller percentage of nationally televised games in baseball than there are in other sports. Tell me that it’s collusion (I STILL can’t believe they won that case). Tell me that the free market is best and I’ll still say you’re wrong. Baseball needs a salary cap if nothing else; a rule that says you can spend X on your players and that’s it. That would do the most for small market teams just because it would make going to the ballpark affordable again for people in small markets. Besides, Major League Baseball is NOT a free market. It’s a tightly controlled monopoly with one aspect that is free market, player’s salaries. Everything else is price-controlled by somebody; whether it’s the league, the city the team plays in, or the team itself, down to the cent. If MLB was truly free market, then anybody with the cash could start their own team and schedule games against whichever MLB teams would play them. And if you really think that MLB is a free market, try bringing your own beer to a game.

I mean, what does it say when a beer is cheaper at an NFL game than an MLB game? I can almost understand an $8 brew at an NFL game. You can only count on eight home games a year, and even with a salary cap and revenue sharing, you have to pay to repave the parking lots somehow. But for baseball it’s just ludicrous. You have, even if you’re the Royals and have no chance of seeing the post-season, EIGHTY-ONE home games to peddle your wares. In a free market, baseball teams would have to drop beer prices to be competitive with not just other “restaurants” but with bottled beer, and they could still make a tidy profit just based on the volume they would sell over eighty-one games. But it’s not a free market, and the Royals have to keep up with the Yankees somehow (great job you’re doing there, guys) so its a beer and a hot dog for what it would cost you to get a 16 oz. K.C. Strip at the Hereford House downtown, and you don’t have to deal with rainouts or parking fees at the Hereford House.

I was so hoping for a work stoppage the last time around. It would have finally killed the sport. Given all the crap that it had gone through, that would have finished it off like the second bullet to the head. Even Bud “No, I’m not an owner” Selig – God bless ‘im – couldn’t kill it. I fear – pardon the homonym – that there’s only one guy who could do it, and while he has no problem with biting the hand that feeds him, he’s probably smart enough to not rip off the arm terminating in the hand that feeds him.

When the revolution comes, it is my hope that Donald Fehr will be among the first to be lined up in the street and shot, along with Barry “I’m better than any white man” Bonds, Alex “Yes, I’m worth more than the GDP of Costa Rica” Rodriguez, Roger “I am f*cking insane” Clemens, David “Bringing the Wal-Mart mentality to MLB” Glass, Derek “I get more ‘tang than all of you” Jeter, and Bud “If I’m this incompetent, can the Presidency be far behind” Selig.

Yes, I just gave Selig two different diatribe-names. He got off easy.

So as long as we have to deal with baseball, we have to deal with baseball writers, and sometimes I don’t know which is worse. Baseball, by itself, is a decent enough game. It’s a skill game more than an athletic one, which tends to make it a little safer and easier on the joints than, say, football. It’s a game that almost every one has some experience with, if you include variants such as slow-pitch church-league softball (the only version where it’s okay to take a lawn chair into the outfield with you). And it once held the place as the #1 distraction for the working public in this country … unless you count World Wars or watching Stock Broker Swan Diving. Nowadays things are different. Football has become civilized (and if you know the history of the sport, you know what I mean), Basketball has taken off, Hockey has moved south, and Soccer actually appears to be getting a foothold in this country. Pro Baseball is now maybe third on the average sports fan’s radar screen, behind the NFL and their college sport of preference. Maybe even fourth, fifth, or worse if someone is a big fan of basketball or hockey. Myself, I can honestly say that I would rather watch the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA football, NCAA basketball – men’s AND women’s, NCAA hockey, boxing, curling, or professional wrestling than sit through the average Major League Baseball game.

But baseball writers still think that it’s the grand, sublime game that will always have a permanent hold of the public consciousness; and from that they commit the 2nd sin of journalism: Thinking that writing about something great will make them great as well. (Strangely enough, the first, or original, sin of journalism is, “writing the lead on the way to the ballpark.” credit: P.J. O’Rourke, Give War A Chance.) So we still have people talking about the sound of balls hitting leather gloves (and if THAT doesn’t get censored….), the crack of bats, and the drama and universal meaning of ten to thirteen millionaires standing on someone’s lawn playing a highly sophisticated game of tag.

Baseball writers are also worse because of a little thing called Cooperstown, and the role they play in who gets to just visit and who gets to stay. Of course, there is one major flaw with EVERY Hall-of-Fame entity in the world: The selection is driven by Fame. Look at the NFL Hall-of-Fame and note how many offensive linemen have been inducted. Or kickers. If you tried to put together an actual football team from NFL Hall-of-Fame inductees in their prime, you’d have five receivers running one way and the other seventeen people on the field running the other. What makes baseball worse is that it’s both a statistic-driven game and a personality-driven one. Even someone as personally deplorable as Ty Cobb can get in, as long as every other record in the books bears his name, or someone as popular-but-statistically-flat as Reggie Jackson (there’s a reason they called him Mr. October, and it’s not an entirely complementary one) can get in because the only qualification to admission is the permission of a bunch of people who have never played the sport and love getting their ass kissed besides. Don Mattingly, a career .307 hitter, needed the Veteran’s Committee to get in thanks to his known disdain of New York sportswriters. It’s analogous to your chances of being allowed to go to the prom hinging on getting voted in by the A/V club.

And the arrogance of the writers isn’t the biggest problem. The problem is that baseball isn’t great anymore. The pitchers suck, the balls are juiced, and so are most of the players. Unless you live in New York, Boston, or the supposed ‘north side’ of Chicago, you probably don’t care about baseball other than it being a way to pass the time between the end of the NBA playoffs and the start of NFL training camps; four weeks at most. I follow the Royals during the season, but I don’t watch them. I have a hard enough time siphoning off the time to watch sixteen games of football a year. If I had to watch a hundred and sixty-two baseball games every summer I’d be divorced by the All-Star Break, and there’s no way I’d give up sex for baseball.

(As an aside, I still consider “Bull Durham” to be one of the best sports movies ever made not only because it’s funny, but because it shows the unglamorous, often futile world of most professional ball players. It was also easily Costner’s most believable role, since he had played college ball and didn’t have to act’ per se. In fact, name a good Costner movie that DOESN’T have to do with baseball. You can’t, can you? “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” and that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? Okay, maybe “The Untouchables” because he had De Niro and Connery to carry him and “The Big Chill” because he played a corpse and as such didn’t have any lines.)

My suggestion is, until the powers that be in MLB decide to pull their collective heads out of their collective bargaining agreements and start handling things responsibly, to blow off pro baseball. The only time you should read a baseball sportswriter is if you need a good laugh. If things get interesting near the end of the season (and there isn’t an NFL game on), I’d check out some baseball then, if just to see how the Cubs and the Red Sox are going to screw themselves again. Those situations produce some of the funniest sports writing, as half of the sportswriters in the country do barely-contained “I told you so” dances, while the other half talk like they’re trying to cover their asses with a postage stamp. It’s divine.

Above all, remember that ALL sportswriters are made up of people like me; people who weren’t good enough to actually play. Those who can, play. Those who can’t, write.

So, what does this have to do with video games? Not much, but I do an “I hate Major League Baseball” column every year, and this was it.

So, here’s a list of what has happened to me in the last two weeks:

– Broke the skylight in my house.
– Found a busted pipe in my sprinkler system.
– Got a cold.
– Had to take The Boy to the doctor for his cold.
– Received my Master’s Degree.
– Gotten my card declined at Best Buy when trying to buy my graduation present.
– Found out my eBay account has been locked out for unknown reasons.
– Got completely hammered at my graduation party.
– Took The Boy to the doctor for his second cold.
– Got another cold.
– Had my computer go Tango Uniform.
– Gotten my wife’s card declined at Best Buy when trying to buy a copy of Windows XP so I could get my computer running again.

Fortunately, the Best Buy situation has been resolved, a new glass for the skylight has been ordered and is on its way, the plumbing issues were easy to fix (the cracked pipe was in the open, six inches long, and made of PVC), I’m on the mend from cold #2, and an OEM of Windows XP Pro was ordered online for what the XP Home upgrade would have cost at Best Buy. The eBay question is still out there, but I can hold off on purchasing that Odyssey 2 for another week or so.

Next week, maybe I won’t be hacking up a lung as I write this.

Until then, do like me, and get some sleep.

-Cory