Gamer’s Hangover


So Electronic Arts has something else to crow about: it may be the first company to ever force part of Microsoft to go out of business instead of vice versa.

For those of you that just tuned in, Microsoft is laying off 70-some people – it’s entire XSN department. This is most likely the result of EA and Microsoft finally coming to terms over online play on Xbox Live. I suppose I should be happy; I have a copy of what will probably be the only edition of Links to make it to consoles, so it ought to be worth … what … $1.50 on eBay now?

While this move makes perfect sense, it still saddens me; and moreover, it signals to me that Microsoft has completely lost the desire to innovate and compete.

At least before, when Microsoft was engaged in deplorable predatory business practices against anyone who produced anything even remotely resembling something that could almost be performed by a Microsoft product, they were competing, you know? They went out with the “kill or be killed” attitude that got them where they are in the computer industry food chain. Xbox itself was a bold, bold move into a market dominated by the Japanese since pretty much its inception.

But I guess some heavy judgments against you can take away the desire to stick your neck out, huh? M$ has gotten hammered in the courts for the last few years, and now the tide of public opinion, or more importantly public works, has turned towards open source (HAAAAALELUJAH!!) software for a lot of governmental systems. I suppose fighting a two front war against the Japanese on the hardware end and Electronic-We-Can-Release-The-Same-Game-Five-Years-In-A-Row-And-You-Sheep-Will-Still-Pay-50-Bucks-For-It-Arts on the software end in one of the few Microsoft divisions to not get a huge fine levied against them in the last two years isn’t terribly desirable to The Gates or his boardroom lackeys in Redmond. Still, I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t put up more of a fight; even more so if you make the stretch (which isn’t much of one) that blowing up XSN was part of the deal with EA.

XSN games weren’t bad. They weren’t EA or ESPN but they sure as hell weren’t 989 either (and HOW on earth are these people still in business?). After playing a bit of NFL Fever 2004, I was actually looking forward to the next iteration, it had that much potential. Now there just won’t be one. And Links is probably dead too, to be replaced with the next version of Tiger “I haven’t done squat for two and a half years” Woods 2006. I’d like to point out that, with a minimum of effort, I actuall shot a round of 48. On the PGA Tour. At Pinehurst. That’s 24 under par. It’s the only golf game I’ve ever seen where the winner of a playoff is the first player to get a hole-in-one.

Spurring this brand new round of venom against EA is the experience I’ve had playing Madden 2005 this weekend. Specifically, I have issue with the mini-camp games. Now, they’re the exact same games that they’ve had for the last three years (since Marshall Faulk could actually run) but now they’ve tied them into some of the Madden Cards. See, you can’t buy some of the cards in packs; you have to earn them by getting gold trophies in all mini-camp games of a certain type. The “LB Chase and Tackle” one, for example (being the easiest one to complete) gives you a Brian Urlacher card.

Now, I don’t mind the concept, and I’m sure that with a reasonable amount of time, I could unlock all of those cards … save one. Of the mini-camp games, there is one that it so difficult, I haven’t been able to get a gold trophy on anything but Rookie difficulty yet: The RB Ground Attack. Basically, you have to be able to bust through and around three tacklers for a touchdown at least every other play to do it, and the fullback blocking for you acts like he’s missing his frontal lobe half of the time. Anyway, guess whose card you unlock be completing this Sisyphian task. Just guess. I’m a Chiefs fan … a BIG Chiefs fan .. and this has to deal with running backs. Just guess.


And, I’d like to point out that Matt Wong and Ray Lewis must have been playing Madden in Ricky Williams’ bong room if they think the defensive play has gotten any better this year. Riiiiiight. That’s why I just threw for 507 yards against the Broncos and they’re “shutdown corner” Champ “an ‘a’, not a ‘u’ “ Bailey. That’s why I rolled up almost 200 yards rushing against a Panthers team that went to the Super Bowl last year. If anything, it’s EASIER to pass this year; the receivers seem to be better at hauling the ball in. I’ve heard people saying that it’s WAAAAY harder to return kickoffs for touchdowns now. I did it my second return, and apparently I’m not alone.

I still stand by my comparison last week (and GameSpot ripped me off … and even THEY thought ESPN NFL 2K5 was better.


Mainstream … IS … Lucard

Angeloni expresses his desire to be the next Baxley, but there is only ONE Bad Guy.

L.C. needs to remember (and I break this joke out about once a year because I love it so much) that Cthuhlu saves … in case he’s hungry later.

When IP is acknowledged the world over as THE site for video game news and opinions, I have a feeling the Cookie Stunt will end up being one of those folkloric events that most people will think is apocryphal. Be assured, it DID happen. A-Will DID send those cookies.

This week on Wall Street Week: Berg vs. Demand-Side Economics. Film at 11.

Misha, the only movie-based game I’ve EVER seen that didn’t suck outright is Spider-Man 2. Even games from GOOD movies usually suck. BAD movies … that’s not even up for debate.

Preach on, Brother Parfitt. Preach on.

O’Reilly 1, Zombies 0.

Baxley returns, thus allowing me to bring the Baxley/Lucard Transpacific Goodwill Association out of mothballs.

Eric S. and I are playing correspondence chess via e-mail. His drunken monkey style is no match for my tiger style.

Sports need some love, and I’m not just saying that because I write for them, too.

Murphy took his lumps playing poker at my house Saturday night. Yet Friday everything will be fine and we’ll camp out for Smackdown tickets. That’s the kind of friend he is. I’ll just have to keep an eye out for itching powder in my sleeping bag.

Nute discusses something that I would’ve thought was a nickname for the Boston Bruins in the 70’s and 80’s … changing one letter perhaps.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

Why the hell do I even bother with NFL Street? It has none of the groove of the NBA Street series. It’s just a game for goofy, jerkish teenagers to see their football heroes behaving like goofy, jerkish teenagers and get points for same.

Yes, I’m going to actually camp out for Smackdown tix. Just so I can have my “Widro Fears The Kliq” sign on national TV. It’ll be worth it.

Not enough time to get really random this week. I’ll have to save the Brownian Thought Processes for next week.

Until then, get some sleep.