Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 07.17.03

Tomb Raider
Well, we all know Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness sucked. You even read Bebito’s piece on how the developers knew it sucked. Now, the heads are beginning to roll… some by their own hands.

Jeremy Heath-Smith, founder and development director of Core Designs (property of Eidos), has stepped down. Most believe that the decision to step down is in direct response to the critical bashing and poor sales of the latest entry in the Tomb Raider series. And who could really blame the guy for taking a hike instead of taking all the heat? He’s the one with the right idea here.

The Tomb Raider franchise reminds me of the New York Mets – a team that was on top of the world not too long ago, but is now so far from what they once were. It’s sort of a shame, but when you put out a game with numerous bugs as Eidos did, failure is the only option.

There’s evidently this game coming out called XIII from Ubi Soft. It will be a cel-shaded shooter. David Duchovny and Eve will be providing vocals for this game.


The important part about this game is that Mr. ADAM WEST will also be providing his very extensive vocal talents for XIII. That’s right, folks. BATMAN will be coming to all platforms this October in this cel-shaded shooter called XIII. He will be playing the role of “General Carrington”. Says Mr. West….

“XIII’s visual style is extremely eye-catching… the game’s comic text and pop-up windows are similar to elements we used with the Batman series to stay true to the comic. In XIII, it builds this graphic-novel world to the last detail.”

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Adam West on two occasions, and each time he’s been a great guy. So even if this game is terrible, I’m still getting it so that I may be privy to Adam West’s incredibly….. slow…… delivery. Please join me in this crusade so I don’t feel like a complete loser.

Remember NARC? The old drug game from the 80’s? Like a drug addict having a relapse, Midway will be releasing an updated version of NARC for today’s systems. It will appear in 2004.

With today’s games pushing the envelope quite far, Midway should be able to get away with a lot. Among the features that will be included in the final product will be the ability to arrest criminals, real-life drug locales, and a soundtrack including “the best drug songs of all time”.

Some of the 411 staff and I have been discussing the topic of social responsibility in games, and this game should be a good test of this. Will Midway take the “gray area”approach of the GTA series, or will it be staunchly anti-drug? It will be very interesting to see. The game does sound really neat, though, and this game should have some high (HA!!!!!) sales figures in 2004.

In an interesting move, Sony has begun recruiting emulator programmers to work in an effort to hire them. Not at all an unwise move – not only does Sony get people with true technical know-how, it might also sway the feelings of the emulator programmers so that they’d be against distributing the illegal software. This is a venture that Sony can only profit from.

Rumor has it that the programmers will be put to work on Playstation 3’s backward compatibility. This does make good sense, since those who make emulators are well-versed in programming that allows one to play another system’s games. Is the rumor true? Who knows? In any event, Sony usually knows what it’s doing with things like this, and this writer thinks they’ve struck gold again.

Vice City
Those clever cats at Rockstar have done it again. As most of you know, the Grand Theft Auto series is exclusive to Sony as per an agreement between Rockstar and Sony. Now, Rockstar has found a way around this agreement.

Late this year, we will be seeing “Vice City”for X-Box. That’s correct, it’s not “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”. Just “Vice City”. Microsoft has not confirmed this, but has heavily hinted at a “major game”from Rockstar. Vice City will have graphics identical to the PC version and may feature customizable soundtracks.

This is a major coup for the X-Box, especially if Vice City is indeed released in time for the holidays. The two can do huge business together, and odds are excellent that they will. As for Sony, the egg is on its face and there’s nothing Sony can do about it. It should have found this loophole a long time ago and closed it, but it never did, and Microsoft and Rockstar will most certainly reap the benefits.

Bebito Jackson – 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. Just read it, ok?
Ya know, nobody has ever been offended by anything put in the Down-Lo surprising enough. At least no one has written me about it.

Alex Lucard – Retrograding Mailbag. Mailbags are more fun and eminently more quotable than the average news report…
I don’t think Americans are uptight about Alcohol, just that the Brits have taken Alcholoism from a disease and turned it into a way of life.

Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. Lee, on the DOA bikinis…
The funny thing is that these bikinis would only be bought by the people that played the game. And the people who buy the game probably don’t have girlfriends, because what girlfriend would let their boyfriend buy the game?

Best of the Rest
Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover News Report. Cory is the new master of the out-of-nowhere comment.
I’m listening to Body Count right now, just because I feel like it.

Rest of the Best
Jeff Watson – Friday’s Slice O’ News. Jeff, on the DOA bikinis…
Is this a sign of the impact games are starting to have on other industries?

Jeff Watson – Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Tides of War. Mr. Watson pulls double duty this week.
One thing that I did find a bit odd though, why do all the Nazis speak English when you are in Germany??

Michael Blaszkowski – Lost Kingdoms II. Quoting teasers is kinda boring, but not when they’re this good.
It’s so good and then…it’s done so soon. I feel like a woman.

Cory Laflin – F1 Career Challenge. This game doesn’t sound so fun.
In the blind push for ultra-realism EA has done possibly the most effective job I have ever seen at alienating, frustrating, and just plain pissing off the mainstream gamer.

Lee Baxley – Golden Sun: The Lost Age. A GBA review? On 411? Not by Lucard? Perish the thought!
Playing the game makes me reminisce about the good ole days of RPG games where it wasn’t about the graphics, it was about the story and gameplay.

Non-411 Games Link of the Week
These are pretty funny. First, click this link. Then, go to Google. Type in French Military Victories from the main page and click “I’m Feeling Lucky”. Enjoy!

CD of the Week
The honor goes to Minor Threat – First Demo Tape. I actually don’t own this one, but I really want to. If you’ve heard Minor Threat, like them or not, you have to respect the energy they brought. Demos tend to capture more energy than the average studio recording, so I can only imagine how this CD sounds. It should be excellent!

Commentary of the Week
So the All-Star game has come and gone, and I’d like to give my take on the state of baseball.

The All-Star Game
Before we even get to the game, some words on the selection process – it was a mess. The flaw of the “Every team must have one representative”rule is clearer than ever. In the end, all was rectified due to injuries (for the most part), but the teams could have been selected in a much better fashion.

As far as the game went, it was a good game. At first, it was like the games of old. But once Jason Schmidt beaned Edgar Martinez, it seemed to get more serious. It was pretty apparent that the game actually mattered, and it showed in the managerial maneuvers. Can you recall the last time a position player got four at-bats in an All-Star game? Me either. Match-ups proved to be key at the end of the game, as the AL got what they wanted and actually delivered a defeat to the unstoppable Eric Gagne.

It was poetic justice that some of the more questionable All-Star choices didn’t see any action. However, had Armando Benitez been put in the game, the ending would have been much more clear. It was truly a shame not to see Dontrelle Willis get in there, but he’ll be back many, many times in his career. And while I hate Roger Clemens, he definitely deserved to be there and it was nice to get to see him in one last All-Star game.

So the question is, did the new format change anything? I think it made the game’s strategy far more compelling, and that made for a better-played game. Next year’s game should be even better, provided MLB irons out the kinks in the selection process.

The Mets
We unloaded another high-priced player in Jeromy Burnitz, and I’m not really sure how to feel about it. I guess it’s a good thing. This is a guy who you couldn’t GIVE away last winter, and he worked himself into a very serviceable player this year, resulting in something for the Mets. Besides, he was gone after the season anyway as a free agent.

Not that the season was salvageable anyway, but now our outfield is pretty much a mess. Cedeno’s not getting any PT (and rightfully so), Floyd needs surgery, and Timo Perez is still the Devil for costing the Mets the 2000 World Series. So who’s left? Nobody. That’s so appropriate for this team – a youth movement was necessary, but only came about due to a plague of injuries and the removal of the GM that brought the mess to begin with.

Most recently, the Mets traded Armando Benitez to the Yankees. One can only wonder what the heck the Yankees were thinking here. Do they remember Game 1 of the 2000 World Series? Do they even remember a month ago when Benitez blew yet another save in a big spot? They should. But enough about the Yankees. The Mets have now traded away three high-priced, big-name players, and to show for it, they have SEVEN pitchers and two position players. That’s a horrible balance of positions. It’s great that they’re doing all of this unloading, but I’m not so sure if they’re getting the right guys in return.

The Second Half
Here’s what I think is going to happen. First of all, Albert Pujols will NOT bat .400, just incase you didn’t know. The Triple Crown is possible, but pretty doubtful. As for the playoff picture, here are my predictions. Don’t hold me to any of these, and apologies for some of the very generic picks:

AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Royals (probably not, but how awesome would that be?)
AL West: Mariners
Wild Card: A’s

NL East: Braves
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Giants
Wild Card: Diamondbacks

AL MVP: Carlos Delgado
AL Cy Young: Esteban Loaiza
AL Rookie of the Year: Rocco Baldelli

NL MVP: Gary Sheffield
NL Cy Young: Jason Schmidt
NL Rookie of the Year: Dontrelle Willis (don’t forget about Brandon Webb, though)

So another TGIT is in the books. I hope it was a good read for all of you. Enjoy all the rest of the guys. It’s been fun, so we’ll do it again next week. Till then, thanks for reading.