Tag Archives: September 2006

Halo 3 Logo Is Done

halo 3The highly anticipated Microsoft mainstay might not be finished for play, but its logo is good to go. Bungie’s revealed the artwork on its web site.

Bungie has posted a great piece on the making of the logo, which explains well how many steps went into making the design. And, if having a logo locked down wasn’t good enough, Bungie has some other big Halo-related news, too.

Bungie’s teamed up with Verizon to open the Halo Mobile Portal from In-Fusio. The portal offers Halo stuff for mobile phones, including ringtones. Cingular, T-Mobile and Sprint are expected to come online soon.

“Basically you can pimp your phone to include Halo themes, graphics, sound effects, music and even a feed of your Halo 2 stats from Bungie.net.”

Bungie’s also rolled out its first podcast. The 60MB file includes interviews, Halo 2 Vista details, news about the Halo 3 logo and more. The podcast can be downloaded directly from Bungie.

There’s still no release on the title other than sometime in 2007 listed on the Bungie site, but you can bet it will be an instant hit when it arrives.

Related:
Halo 3 UI To Be More User Friendly
Halo 3 Development Moving Along
Halo 3 Trailer Makes E3 Debut
Find more…

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Video Bytes Sept. 11-17

Dora
It’s been a busy week on the video gaming front with the long-awaited announcement of Wii’s release date and pricing finally coming. The rumors have at last come to an end. Now, the next-gen race will really start to shape up with fans of all three consoles drawing their lines in the sand.

In the excitement, some really neat stories didn’t make their way to our front pages. Let’s take a look at a few of them now:

Apple Take iPod Gaming To The Next Level
The newly revamped iTunes store now includes a lot of games for iPod users in addition to the much heralded movie download section.

There’s a ton of buzz about the games and even some tutorials on how to make them work on different versions of the iPod.

The game portion of iTunes is shaping up to be pretty nice, too. I’m kind of regretting buying a DS for my kid and then a MP3-only iPod.

Nickelodeon, Activision Team Up For Kids’ Games
Speaking of kids, Activision has scored a pretty big coup with Nickelodeon. The game maker has inked a distribution deal for Nick Jr. PC CD-ROM titles based on “Dora The Explorer,” “The Backyardigans” and “Go, Diego, Go.” I know serious gamers won’t care about this, but parents with little ones will flock to buy these to not only keep their mini-gamers happy, but hopefully also for the assists they provide in teaching letters, numbers, colors and more.

Mickey Mouse was my alphabet savior with my now 7-year-old, but it’s my guess Dora’s going to be a favorite of those coming up now.

Dungeon Siege II: Deluxe Edition Coming
Take-Two Interactive announced earlier this week that it would be rolling out a special collector’s edition of its popular title for the PC. The game will launch in October and November in North America and Europe respectively.
The set includes the original Dungeon Siege II, the Broken World expansion pack and all kinds of bonuses to boot. www.dungeonsiege.com

Tune Lets Potential Designers Play At It
Steveswink.com has a neat lead in to a new game that’s out to show gamers what goes in to making a game.

Tune lets video game making wannabes see what’s involved in making a game while teaching design, too. “Get under the hood and understand what goes into tuning game mechanics. Experience the satisfaction of tuning a mechanic perfectly. How well can you tune Tune?”

What a cool concept! I’m going to have to check this one out, but I can already say with certainty I don’t have the patience to program.

Sony Still Backing Online Games
With an expansion coming for EQ and one for EQII, as well, Sony Online Entertainment is making sure gamers know it’s still backing their favorites. Some neat stuff seems to be on the horizon for Matrix and Planet Side, too.

It’s good to see Sony still putting some thought into its existing titles. Word on the street is the EQ tweaking as of late has been pretty fantastic and old gamers are finding their way back there from other games like EQII, WoW and more.

Related:
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed
Sony Announces 2 EQ Expansions
Xbox Boss Ready To Bite Apple’s iPod

Find more…
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Video Bytes Sept. 18-24

Call of Duty 3Sony’s dominated the headlines this week with lots of breaking news out of the Tokyo Game Show about the PlayStation 3. A price drop for Japan, but no other regions, HDMI support on the 20GB console and even some launch titles were revealed.

And as Sony both dazzled and angered fans, other news slipped through the cracks. Let’s look at some of the stories that didn’t make the front page this week:

1st Games For Windows Released
Microsoft has released its first packaged and branded games that have features available only for Windows users. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy from LucasArts and the Windows exclusive Company of Heroes from THQ are the first in the line.

Games for Windows are expected to be available in more than 7,500 stores in the U.S. alone and will offer players a specialized gaming experience for XP and Vista.

Wii Stars On Fusion Tour
Not surprisingly, Nintendo announced this week that Wii would be the “superstar” of the Nintendo Fusion Tour that starts Sept. 27. The tour will make more than 35 stops all over America.

Visitors at tour stops will have a chance to see Wii up close and personal along with some new DS titles.

Wii launches Nov. 19 for $249.99 in the U.S.

Titles for the next-gen console that will be showcased on the tour include Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Wii Sports and Excite Truck.

Bringing It Home
Microsoft’s Xbox Live has been delivering all kinds of demos, trailers and more direct from the Tokyo Game Show and X06 in Barcelona. The Live site’s Bringing It Home area features videos, news and playable demos through Sept. 29.

The Xbox Live Arcade has also gotten into the act with some new titles and Microsoft is reporting that “100 pieces of new downloadable content will be available to gamers during the nine day period.”

Gamers can learn more Call of Duty 3, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, Need for Speed and more by checking out Live.

Cabela’s Alaskan Adventures releases
Hunting enthusiasts who can’t afford an Alaskan adventure can get in on the action virtually. Cabela has released its Alaskan Adventures that features both hunting and fishing expeditions.

Hunters can go after Yukon moose, caribou, bears, elk, sheep and more in the game that also includes 10 species of Alaskan fish. The titles available for the Xbox 360 and the PS2 for $39.99 and $29.99 respectively.

EQ Expansion Goes Live
Sony has rolled out the 12th expansion for EverQuest. The Serpent’s Spine will set gamers back $29.99, but it features a new playable race, the Drakkin – the first in three years. And, the level cap’s been raised to 75.

Related:
PS3 Good, Bad, Ugly
EverQuest Mods, Cheats
Sony Gives U.S. PS3 Fans The Shaft
Call Of Duty 3 Trailer Out
Find more…

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Peter Jackson Inks Video Game Deal

Peter JacksonWhen it comes to epic screen storytellers, few directors can match the abilities of Peter Jackson. And now it seems Jackson will be delivering more of his storytelling abilities to the video game industry.

Mr. Lord of the Rings himself has signed on with Microsoft to help create a game based on the Halo game franchise. The game won’t exactly be what hard-core gamers are used to, but fans can count on one heck of a storyline and an even better delivery.

Jackson’s also agreed to create a completely different game beyond the Halo title. The Halo game is expected to launch along with the movie sometime in 2008.

The games will be a “new form of interactive entertainment,” says Jackson, who admits he very much likes the games genre. “More and more I’m looking forward to the release of games and not movies. I am more aware and excited about games.”

Jackson is also looking at the new deal as a different way to deliver stories. “Technology is at a point where we can blend a lot of film storytelling with interactive entertainment.”

The new games, when developed, will be made available for Xbox 360 gamers. They will be created through Jackson’s Wingnut with the Halo title also involving Bungie.

It sounds like both Microsoft and Jackson have some big plans for gamers. It will be interesting to see what they come out with and if the ideas will fly with gamers themselves.

Related:
Halo 3 Logo Is Done
Halo 3 UI To Be More User Friendly
Halo 3 Development Moving Along
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Saints Row Tops Xbox Live

Saints Row
Saints Row is taking no prisoners on Xbox Live.

The fairly new Xbox 360 title has taken the top spot for Xbox Live activity for the last week, beating out all comers in the 360 list. That list, by the way, has some pretty impressive titles on it. Falling below Saints Row are:

2. Madden NFL 07
3. Call of Duty 2
4. Test Drive Unlimited
5. Ghost Recon 3
6. Dead Rising
7. Oblivion
8. Texas Hold ‘em
9. Chromehounds
10. BFMC

Saints Row is a new title out for the 360 that has gamers playing the role of a 3rd Street Saints in a battle to gain control over the city of Stilwater. The title’s been hot on the Live List since it’s debut.

Related:
Saints Row Beating Out Oblivion
Xbox Live reaches 2 million
Xbox Live Passes 24 Million Downloads
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Wii Sings Opera For Free Until July

OperaAs Microsoft fixes errors from the past and Sony fumbles on its intended launch plans, Nintendo is singing a happy tune.

Opera has announced it will offer its web browser for free until July 2007 for purchasers of the Wii next-gen console from Nintendo. Wii launches as planned this November with a pricing that’s the lowest of the next-gen bunch.

The browser won’t be installed on the console, but it will be made available for download from Wii’s Shop Channel. After July, users will have to purchase it using Wii points. How many points the browser will cost hasn’t been set.

Opera for Wii will have the same standard features as Opera 9 Desktop and will also have Zoom and Bookmarks available. The Wii remote will work with the browser to make the surfing experience more in tuned to the console.

Related:
Xbox 360 Warranty Extension Coming
PS3 European Launch Delayed
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed

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The Blu-ray Debacle

Blu-ray
I’ve received a lot of flack since posting my opinion piece on Sony’s Blu-ray drive – a whole lot. The Sony fans are coming out of the woodwork upset that anyone would dare say they believe Blu-ray is a big mistake.

They’re entitled to their opinions and I respect them for being willing to write in and give their side. But, I thought perhaps I should set the record straight on a few things.

First off, I am a Sony fan – a rather big one. I’m an EQ junkie and have been so for years. Most of my electronics equipment has a Sony brand name on it. I subscribe to PlanetSide, too, and I even owned a PlayStation at one point. So, Sony and I go way back.

But, I also happen to be a very disappointed Sony fan for a number of reasons. Let me explain:

1.) Sony’s inability to deliver. Sony’s hyped up the PlayStation 3 console so much it’s ridiculous, yet when the rubber hits the road, it’s had to scale back everything because of the Blu-ray diode. No longer will the PS3 launch be worldwide and the numbers they’re planning on offering are a joke – a la the Xbox 360’s initial launch.

2.) Sony has a history of major failures when trying to introduce new movie-viewing formats. Yet, the company is making another attempt to do so, and it’s entangled a gaming machine in the prospect. This console has the potential to be incredible, but Blu-ray is bringing it and Sony’s stock prices down.

3.) Sony’s arrogance in regard to its PS3 and Blu-ray simply is unwarranted. No. 1, the format is as of yet unproven, as is the HD-DVD format. Sony has spent so much time bragging about the PS3, it failed to make sure the darn thing could be put together in the timeframe it boasted. I, perhaps foolishly, hoped Sony would have been smart enough to learn from Microsoft’s mistakes, but it seems the only company taking the cue is Nintendo.

In regard to the movie studios falling behind the HD-DVD or the Blu-ray format, that I will concede is pretty irrelevant. All in all, it’s been seen in the past the studios and stores will toss their support one way and then pull the rug out from underneath it at the first sign of trouble. If Blu-ray sells, they’ll go that way. If HD-DVD does, you can bet they’ll be lining up to produce in this format. Right now a lot of them are in both camps, which I did fail to point out this morning. But the fact of the matter is, if neither format sells well, the shelves once occupied by HD-DVD or Blu-ray will have tumbleweed on them as far as new releases are concerned. This will hurt the PS3′s Sony-created selling point, but not the Xbox 360′s.

As for the Blu-ray versus HD-DVD pricing that folks have been mailing me about. Blu-ray all in all does fall in higher as does the PS3 console. The typical price of Blu-ray movies on BestBuy is $29.99. The average price for HD-DVD is $24.99. Both formats have titles running much higher and a little lower, too. Frankly, both are too high in my opinion.

My stand on Sony’s mistakes remains the same. Sony made the PS3 and Blu-ray dependent on each other in regard to selling this console. They’re the ones hyping the total entertainment system to justify the pricing.

I still believe if Sony had spent more time getting its ducks in a row and less time hyping a launch it couldn’t pull off that perhaps it could have pulled it off. Instead, Sony execs talked up the console, promised a worldwide launch and now have egg on their faces instead (and a stock price hit, too). It’s just bad business not to deliver on promises and Sony’s getting a rep for not delivering and that is a shame.

Sony’s a great company. It makes good games. It makes great game machines. It makes fantastic television sets. It even makes some wonderful movies. But, it also makes some mistakes.

It’s my belief Blu-ray will be one of those. In all honesty, it’s anyone’s guess as to which format will survive if either do. But, based on Sony’s past failures and its recent screw-ups, I’m not banking on Blu-ray.

Related:
PS3’s Blu-ray Destined To Fail?
PS3 Shortages Possible
PS3 Can Replace A PC?
PlayStation Mag Editor Opts For Xbox 360
PS3 Bundles Are Pricey
PS3, Sony’s Strategy Is Flawed
PSP UMDs Snubbed By Target
PS3 European Launch Delayed
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed

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Uwe Boll Boxing Online

Boll BoxingHe might be single handedly responsible for giving video game-based movies a bad name, but that hasn’t stopped Uwe Boll from taking it like a man.

The German filmmaker is so willing to stand by his work, in fact, he faced several opponents in a boxing ring during a bout earlier this month. GoldenPalace.com presented the “Raging Boll” match and it’s still available for viewing on Wavelit.com.

Boll’s directorial works have included such films as “Alone in the Dark,” “House of the Dead,” and “In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.” He’s currently working on “Postal.”

Boll’s received a ton of bad press during his career, and he takes it with a grain of salt. “Many journalists make value judgments on my films based on the opinions of one or two thousand Internet voices,” claims Boll. “Half of those opinions come from people who’ve never watched my films.”

You’ve gotta give the guy credit for being willing to do what he does, take the abuse and keep on fighting. Speaking of which, Raging Boll costs $5 to view. In it, fans can see Boll take on four of his most outspoken critics in three-round matches.

As for how he does, you’ll just have to check it out and see.

Related:
Uwe Boll Eyes Metal Gear Solid Movie
Half-Life Movie Won’t Suck
Halo Movie Delayed Until 2008
Doom Movie Scriptwriter Chat
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PS3’s Blu-ray Destined To Fail?

Blu-raySony’s PlayStation 3 has already taken a major hit, and now the Hollywood movie studios are lining up to give it a big kick while it’s down.

The president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment has come out in favor of Microsoft’s backed HD-DVD format rather than Sony’s Blu-ray. That puts Universal, Warner, Paramount, HBO, New Line Cinemas and the Weinstein Company all in the HD-DVD camp.

Sure, it does have some support coming in the form of Disney and Fox, but the line up against is looking more and more impressive.

So, why should this be of concern to video gamers? Because Sony has made it a concern. Rather than go sans next-gen movies like Wii, or opt for an external drive like Microsoft, Sony’s made Blu-ray a huge part of its console’s hype. In fact, that big-ticket price on the PS3 console comes mostly because of the Blu-ray capability included.

But now it seems Blu-ray could be Sony’s own downfall (OK, that along with some serious ego issues and bad planning).

The next-gen movie concept not being embraced by the studios is a serious blow. Sony’s been counting on it to push the PS3 as a total entertainment device. Sony execs have used the Blu-ray inclusion as a way to justify the pricing of the console. They’re now blaming it for the delay in launch and the scaling back of launch numbers.

If the Hollywood studios don’t back the device, why would anyone want to buy it? Sure, hard core gamers will want it in hopes of high-def video gaming action, but what about the rest of the potential buyers out there? Will they be willing to plunk down the price Sony’s asking for a device that may or may not have good movie support?

It’s doubtful and this could put a beating on sales when the console does make its worldwide launch. Add to this the fact Blu-ray movies are expensive, and it really starts to lose its appeal over the optional HD-DVD capabilities of the Xbox 360.

The closer it gets to Sony’s PS3 launch, the more it’s looking like Blu-ray is destined to go the way of the UMD even before it’s really hit the ground running. It didn’t have to be this way for Sony, but it appears greed, arrogance and maybe even a bit of foolishness have made it so.

Editor’s note: For more elaboration on the writer’s views on Sony, see this later post.

Related:
Sony Talks PS3 Release
PS3 European Launch Delayed
PS3, Sony’s Strategy Is Flawed
UMD Movies Might Be A Thing Of The Past

Find more…
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The Force Is With Lego Star Wars

Lego Star WarsIt’s beyond adorable, reportedly quite addictive and it seems Lego Star Wars II has some staying power, as well.

The multi-platform Lego Star Wars II is still No. 1 on UK video game sales charts despite some tough competition including Just Cause, The Godfather and a soccer management title, LMA Manager.

The game has done very well on the worldwide front, too. Just about a week after its launch, LucasArts issued a media release saying it had sold more than 1.1 million copies over its eight platform run.

“There’s definitely something for everyone in LEGO Star Wars II, and the sales and reviews so far are proving it,” said Jim Ward, president of LucasArts. “This is the type of fun, accessible game everyone in the family can enjoy. It appeals to so much more than just the traditional gaming audience.”

This version of the popular Star Wars series involves a more humorous look at Episodes IV through VI. It’s one of those games that can manage to cross all platforms and age levels and still leave people with a smile on their faces.

The game’s retail price varies by region and platform. There’s a demo available for those who aren’t quite sure about the title.

Related:
Wii Could Bring Star Wars Action To Life
Star Wars: Battlefront – Gold
New Star Wars Title Coming To Nintendo DS
Find more…

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Xbox 360, PC Holiday Lineup Listed

XBox 360 Power ButtonsMicrosoft unveiled its next-gen and Windows holiday lineup during X06, and it’s looking almost hot enough to melt snow. Most of the announcements on both fronts aren’t big shockers. But, all in all, it looks like Microsoft is positioning itself well to compete, especially when the next-gen show down really starts.

Here’s a look at the anticipated 360 holiday titles:

  • Gears of War. This game was named the Best Console Game at the 2006 E3. It’s a third-person tactical horror, action title that offers multiple modes and a customizable Xbox Live multiplayer experience.
  • Viva Pinata. This title’s based on the new kid’s show and features “an evolving paradise” that’s meant for players of all ages.
  • Call of Duty 3. This is a highly anticipated title that puts players on the front lines. The multiplayer version allows for up to 24 players to team up.
  • Cars. Based on Disney, Pixar’s movie of the same title, this game will allow players to check out more than 10 playable characters.
  • Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2. Gamers can race high-performance watercraft, take part in beach volleyball and more while enjoying Zack’s Island.
  • FIFA 2007. This title offers “true-to-life movement” and what’s being billed as “unprecedented” responsiveness.
  • NBA 2K7. This basketball title offers “breathtaking graphics” and “tight controls.”
  • NBA LIVE 07. The latest title in the series includes new moves, updated visuals and more player control.
  • NHL™ 07. Hockey goes next-gen with this title that includes the ability for players to take control of every movement on the ice without having to take their hands off the analog sticks.
  • Need for Speed Carbon. This street racing title will have gamers driving through dangerous canyon roads.
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 6. This title offers more than 150 individual moves.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • SUPERMAN RETURNS. This title is based on 60 years of DC and movie lore. It enables gamers to try and master Superman’s multiple powers in a battle to save Metropolis.
  • Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 07. It features 12 courses, new UCAP technology and more.
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas.
  • Tony Hawk’s Project 8. The title has been reworked for the 360.

Microsoft also unveiled its holiday titles for Windows, too. They include:

  • Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs
  • Flight Simulator X
  • Neverwinter Nights 2
  • Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania

Related:
Xbox 360 Title Price Drop Confirmed
Xbox 360 Big Announcements
Xbox 360 On A PR Campaign
Xbox 360 Compatibility List Expands
Find more…

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$70 PS3 Games, Say It Ain’t So!

PS3 controllerIf the latest pricing news for PS3 titles is correct, Sony might be in for a costly next-gen battle.
Kotaku is reporting that Armored Core 4 will debut on Dec. 14 for the whopping price of $70. Sonic the Hedgehog will retail for about $60, which is in line with Xbox 360 pricing.

The $70 title price, if it pans out as such, could be too high for a lot of potential gamers and might turn the waters even cooler for Sony as the PlayStation 3’s launch window arrives. Already the company has had to scale back production, eliminate the planned European launch and admits to issues with its Blu-ray diode.

Even still, Sony’s remaining confident sounding. Ken Kutaragi has been quoted as saying “we don’t care” in regards to speculation Wii and the 360 could lead sales. And, Sony’s even standing by reports that it will ship 6 million PS3s by March 2007.

As I’ve said before, I’m sure the PS3 will be one heck of a console, but I can’t imagine why Kutaragi would continue to sound so arrogantly confident unless it’s strictly to boost investor confidence, too.

The fact of the matter is the machine is going to be expensive, unless you’re in Japan, and the titles for next-gen games are already too high for many potential buyers. Letting them climb even higher just can’t be a good thing.

Nintendo’s on the right track to capture gaming fans who can’t afford Sony’s costly package. The 360’s still a bit high in price for some, but Microsoft’s been doing some price lowering of its own.

Whether Sony can actually pull this off or not remains to be seen. I’m thinking Sony might just be Sony’s biggest enemy in this battle.

Related:
PS3 Good, Bad, Ugly
Sony Gives U.S. PS3 Fans The Shaft
PS3 European Launch Delayed
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed
Find more…

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PS3 Launch Window Titles Looking Good

Heavenly Sword
You won’t convince me that Sony hasn’t done some serious bumbling in regard to its upcoming PlayStation 3 launch, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. Some of the games lined up for release on or about the time the console launches are more than making me salivate.

A story in Daily Game about the upcoming release of Heavenly Sword got me wondering exactly what’s on tap for the console’s Nov. 17 North American debut. The screen shots of this action title look absolutely spectacular. And, with Andy Serkis from “King Kong” and “Lord of the Rings” helping with the direction, it’s little wonder.

Based on what Best Buy has listed, and do keep in mind their lists are sometimes a little off, the launch titles for the PS3 offer a great mix of gaming genres. From Call of Duty 3 to Madden NFL 07, some of the biggest titles going will be going with the PS3 in addition to other platforms and then there’s Heavenly Sword, which as I’ve said, offers some major eye candy.

It’s looking like the launch list is a lot better than many, myself included, expected. Here’s what Best Buy’s launch window list for the PS3 looks like right now. (We’ll update it again a bit closer to PS3-Day:

  • Motorstorm, Nov. 16
  • Virtua Fighter 5, Nov. 16
  • Madden NFL 07, Nov. 19
  • Call of Duty 3, Nov. 17
  • Killzone 2, Nov. 16
  • Resident Evil 5, Nov. 16
  • Fight Night: Round 3, Nov. 17
  • John Woo Presents Stranglehold, Nov. 17
  • Tekken 6, Nov. 19
  • Warhawk, Nov. 16
  • Medal of Honor: Airborne, Nov. 19
  • Heavenly Sword, Nov. 17
  • Monster Kingdom, Nov. 17
  • Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Nov. 16
  • Resistance: Fall of Man, Nov. 17
  • Devil May Cry 4, Nov. 19
  • Vision Gran Turismo, Nov. 16
  • Assassin’s Creed, Nov. 17
  • Full Auto 2: Battlelines, Nov. 16
  • Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, Nov. 19
  • Hot Shots Golf 5, Nov. 16
  • Frontlines: Fuel of War, Nov. 17
  • Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Nov. 16
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, Nov. 9
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Nov. 18
  • Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Nov. 19
  • Army of Two, Nov. 16
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Related:
The Blu-ray Debacle
PS3’s Blu-ray Destined To Fail?
PS3 Shortages Possible
PS3 European Launch Delayed
Find more…

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Wii Resident Evil Speculation Ended

Resident Evil
Wii have a date. Wii have a price. And, now, Wii definitely have Resident Evil.
The folks over at Digital Battle have a post up that points directly to Capcom Europe’s message boards that give more details about the forthcoming title.

It seems the new Wii-based Resident Evil will be called the “Umbrella Chronicles.” The game will boast the third-person style of Resident Evil 4 and it will include four chapters that feature two playable characters to boot.

All in all this is just rounding out to be a good week for Wii. The pricing and dating rumors have come to a close (finally!) and the way it’s shaking down is that consumers will win with this console.

Wii, of course, won’t offer all the bells and whistles of its two biggest competitors, but it will have some neat features and now Resident Evil will be the icing on the cake. Under $300 and Resident Evil, go Nintendo!

Nintendo’s console has a goofy name, my opinion hasn’t changed on that, but it honestly appears as if the people behind the machine have put a whole lot of time in making sure it’s a solid player at an affordable price.

Will its launch be smooth? That remains to be seen. Will the console appeal to everyone? Heck no. But, one thing’s almost for certain: Those who buy it will get their money’s worth without feeling like they’ve been taken to the cleaners.

Related:
Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed
Wii Titles Will Have Current-Gen Pricing
The Blu-ray Debacle
Xbox 360 HD-DVD Rumors Sound Unlikely
Wii Caters To Nintendo DS Owners
Find more…

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Halo Breaks Out Of Its Box

Halo WarsIt’s the first-person title that made the Xbox the Xbox and now it appears as if Microsoft intends to redefine it for the next-gen race. The Halo franchise is getting another new addition with many more to come.

Halo Wars is currently under development through Ensemble Studios as a real-time strategy game. The title will be made exclusively for the 360 and will have gamers taking charge of the human UNSC armies in a timeline that takes place before the original Halo during the first encounters with the Covenant.

The move to the RTS format for this title is in line with Microsoft’s plans to tap Peter Jackson’s storytelling abilities for a different project. This title further expands the franchise that now includes a graphic novel and a movie on the way.

But, Ensemble has the best explanation as to the whys behind the RTS format: “Warthogs are cool. Scorpions are cool. Controlling lots of Warthogs and Scorpions and sending them into battle is really, really cool.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

The new Halo will likely hit the streets sometime next year and already has a trailer available with lots of cool screenshots. There’s even a possibility gamers will be able to play as the Covenant.

Related:
Peter Jackson Inks Video Game Deal
Halo 3 Logo Is Done
Halo Movie Delayed Until 2008
Halo Comic Preview Out
Find more…
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Wii Release Details Coming This Week?

Wii
The week Nintendo fans all over the world have been waiting for is upon us. It looks more than possible that by this time on Friday everything will be revealed.

But, sadly, Nintendo’s not talking – much.

The company has planned three separate Wii-related events in different parts of the world. The first one kicks off today in Japan. The second one is set for America on the 14th, and the European event in London for Friday the 15th.

The Nintendo Europe Web site is hyping the Sept. 15 event in a big way. With a headline that reads “What will Wii reveal?”, it’s hard not to speculate. Will Wii finally get a firm release date? Will Wii get a real price? Will Wii pull off a stellar launch just to show up Sony? Wii wanna know!

The London Wii extravaganza is an invitation-only event, but Nintendo’s going pretty far in pushing the excitement level. “What’s it all about? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see. But as the text on the invitation card teasingly states: All of you will be excited, intrigued and interested in what we have to show you. This is an event you must not miss. Wii promise.”

Nintendo’s American site isn’t nearly as interesting right now. In fact, there’s nothing touting the Thursday event that I could find.

There’s some rumors about that put the European release on Nov. 24 based on some Amazon UK listings. Whether this pans out as correct or not, we’ll have to see.

Here’s hoping the beans finally get spilled this week. Wii are tired of speculation.

Related:
Wii Release Details Coming Sept. 14?
Wii Oct. 2 Release Date Hidden In Code?
Wii Pricing At $170, Maybe
Wii Titles Will Have Current-Gen Pricing

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Sony Talks PS3 Release

PS3
As Sony Computer Entertainment America is starting to reveal more details about the impending release of the PlayStation 3 console, Europeans are getting hit with ads for a promised console that’s no longer coming when expected.

Sony intends to have about a half million PS3s ready for the Nov. 11/17 Japan/U.S. launches. Japan will get 100,000 of the ready consoles while the U.S. will get the remaining. The European launch, which was supposed to be during that timeframe, has been pushed to sometime in March.

The consoles that will ship to the U.S. will have an 80/20 split of premium versus core systems. The premium console comes with a 60GB hard drive, HDMI support, a multi-card reader and more for $600. The scaled down console with a 20GB hard drive will sell for $500.

More information is expected to release during the Tokyo Game Show later this month.

In the meantime, the folks over at Pro-G have noticed some big ads featuring the PS3 logo around the grounds for the Champions League matches for Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona. They’re questioning whether this is just advanced hype for the now-delayed launch or a forgotten campaign that should have been removed.

What’s interesting about the Pro-G piece is the sentiment. “The advertising will seem like a stab in the heart to all European gamers.”

Will Sony ever get its act together?

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Xbox 360 Strategy Goes For The Wallet

XBox 360
Knowing that its already lower pricing and cheaper games aren’t enough to crack the nut that’s Japan, Microsoft has announced a new version of its Xbox 360 console for customers there that’s much cheaper that what Sony will eventually roll out.

The scaled back 360 version is expected to hit Japanese stores Nov. 2, which gives it a bit of a jump on the PlaySation 3 release here.

Whether or not the move will help it push more consoles in Japan remains to be seen. This country is just not Xbox 360 friendly.

The cheaper core system will retail for about 29,800 yen, which equates to roughly $256 USD. This version will not have the hard-disk drive, a heat set and some other accessories. There will be a few perks, however, including some free games titles to entice buyers.

The move puts the console at half the price of Sony’s pricier PS3, which is looking forward to a rather bumpy launch itself.

While this might help Microsoft unload a few more 360s in Japan, it seems to me this would be an even smarter move in Europe where gamers might be a little irked by Sony right now.

Related:
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EA’s In The Phone

Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts has teamed up with Nokia to provide some major gaming action for folks on the go. The companies have announced a deal that will bring seven of EA’s biggest titles to the mobile world.

On tap for phone gamers are such EA hits as The Sims, Doom, Tetris and FIFA 06. The games will roll out this holiday season over the Nokia Content Discoverer portal, which is embedded in nine Nokia models. Another six more are expected to come online by the end of the year.

There’s no word on how much the games will cost for cell phone users, but this is no doubt a big boon for Nokia. In addition to the seven titles set to launch this year, EA has agreed to create custom-designed games for Nokia S60 models, too.

Cell phone games and other perks are becoming a hot commodity. With companies like Verizon rolling out newer, hotter cell phone models and Amp’d making a name of its own with shows like “Lil’ Bush” available exclusively to customers, the EA/Nokia team up will help give Nokia a different kind of edge.

Personally, I still can’t figure out the attraction to playing video games on a cell-phone sized screen. I can’t imagine trying to play Doom on a 1-inch by 2-inch block, by hey, to each his (or her) own.

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PS3 Good, Bad, Ugly

Ken Kutaragi/PS3News about Sony’s impending PlayStation 3 launch has dominated the Tokyo Game Show where fans have seen the console up close and personal, been able to check out some of the titles, and have been treated to a host of tidbits about the console that hadn’t been released before.

With a little bit of good, a little bit of bad and some ugly, the news out of Tokyo is definitely a mixed bag.

The Good

  • Sony has put out a list of launch titles for the Japanese debut Nov. 11. They include Resistance: Fall of Man, Genji: Days of the Blade and Ridge Racer 7.
  • Some third-party titles will make use of motion-sensing abilities. These include Monster Kingdom Unknown Realms and Ridge Racer 7. This will give players the same kind of in the game experience the Wii is expected to deliver.
  • Several game titles have been confirmed in 1080p format. They include Liar, Virtua Tennis 3 and Gran Turisom HD. The 1080p format won’t be a PS3 exclusive anymore though.
  • The 20GB version of the PS3 will have HDMI support in Japan. It’s unclear whether this will extend to the U.S.

The Bad

  • Some of the better PS3 titles won’t come out with the launch. Those gamers will have wait for include Heavenly Sword, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Devil May Cry 4. The Japanese launch line up does look pretty light, but the titles in the pipeline are more than interesting. Whether this will be enough to help with the PS3 launch remains to be seen.
  • Response to the console has been mixed. Despite some big news revolving around the console, many say it lacks a “wow” factor “Fans criticised a lack of innovation. The controller was almost exactly the same as the one that came with the original PlayStation and PS2.“

The Ugly

  • Rumors are afoot that Sony intends to charge gamers for demos at in-store kiosks. Granted the word on the street is that demos will cost only about $1 each, but the fact the idea is being entertained at all isn’t good. “Even from Sony’s point-of-view, charging people to just try your system in a store could drive away potential customers and undoubtedly hurt the company’s bottom line. As for charging PS3 owners to download game demos online, well, it seems a little more reasonable. Microsoft charges $50 USD a year to play games online and Sony has stated that you can do that on the PS3 for free, so the demos could be seen as a way for Sony to cover the cost of such a network”
  • The big price drop. Many are seeing this as a sign of weakness. This is not good for Sony – when analysts worry, stockholders tend to, as well. And, many of those who might not see it as a sign of weakness are nevertheless a bit irked the drop hasn’t been announced in other regions. The console’s already facing a hiccup in its original planned release with a delay in Europe and elsewhere and a major scaling back of unit numbers.

Related:
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Video Game Law Goes In The Backdoor

CDC
They’ve repeatedly lost in the court system, so now it seems the anti-video game camp is trying to get through the back door.

Rather than make another attempt to pass unconstitutional legislation, the anti-gaming folks now want to “study” the issue. This, of course, will require Americans fork over lots and lots of taxpayer dollars so more inconclusive and inconsistent studies about the effects of games on people can be discovered.

At hand is a bill that was recently passed by the Senate. This measure, the Children and Media Research and Advancement Act, or CAMRA for short, will have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigating how electronic media affects children. This masterful work was sponsored by the usual suspects – U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum and Evan Bayh.

The goal, according to Ars Technica, is to “examine the role and positive and negative impact of electronic media in children’s and adolescents’ cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and behavior development.”

It seems the fine senators are upset their Family Entertainment Protection Act proposal was left dead in the water. This new route to getting government’s fingers in the video game business sounds like a horrific waste of money, which means it will likely pass much to the detriment of a lot of tax payer dollars. Before it becomes final, however, it needs to go through the House of Representatives for approval.

This, along with the barrage of failed anti-video game legislation, speaks volumes about the need for efforts such as the Play For Real voter registration drive. Americans who don’t want to see their dollars wasted on studies that will be refuted by more studies in an endless and mind-boggling quagmire can make a difference by getting involved.

Perhaps if enough people voice their disdain, our fine legislators in America will finally remember that violence was around long before video games, television sets, gaming consoles and even America and it’s likely to remain long after.

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Wii Date, Price, Details Confirmed

Wii date
As expected, Nintendo’s finally let the cat out of the bag about Wii. The next-gen console will hit the shelves Nov. 19 in North America for a cool $249.99. The Japanese launch takes place Dec. 2 with the console coming in at 25,000 Yen, or about $213 USD. Guess this makes the “code crackers” incorrect, but the news is fantastic nonetheless.

The console will come with a remote strap, the nunchuck attachment, an AC adaptor, an A/V cable, a stand, a sensor bar, a sensor bar stand and two AA batteries.

Proving Nintendo intends to make its console different, there are reports out Wii will not be a movie machine, too. Unlike the Xbox 360 and the PS3, this console won’t play DVDs, high-def, Blu-ray or anything of the sort. The confirmation comes from Nintendo’s VP of corporate affairs, Perrin Kaplan.

I’m not sure exactly where I stand on this. One part of me really likes the 360’s ability to play DVDs and the idea of the forthcoming HD-DVD drive, but honestly Wii not having the ability isn’t that big of a deal. What it tells me is that Nintendo intends to make this a gaming machine, rather than a do-it-all mechanical disaster a la the PlayStation 3 and its already failed global launch.

In more good Wii news, it looks like Nintendo’s little wonder will release with quite a few good titles. The list includes The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Call of Duty 3 and Wii Sports.

Marrying affordability with a great launch line up, my guess is Wii will be hard to come by during the holiday season.

Related:
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Warner Answers Blu-ray, HD-DVD Question

The Lake HouseIn the next-gen movie format battle who will win is anyone’s guess. Will it be the PlayStation 3’s Blu-ray? Or, perhaps Microsoft’s and the Xbox 360’s HD-DVD? Maybe, just maybe, regular old DVDs will survive the battle and come out victorious?
The answer doesn’t matter much to Warner Bros.

Rather than try to figure out who the victor will be, the movie studio has created a special hybrid disc that enables a single flick to be played in all three formats. A patent application is in place for the triple-standard disc. The means the battle can come and Warner can sit back and watch the fireworks without having to pick sides or worry about ending up a loser.

The stroke of brilliance is being reported by New Scientist Tech, which says the first movie in the new format will roll out later this month. “The Lake House” will enable the playing of all three formats.

The new disc format will cost more to produce, but it is less expensive than creating all three versions. And, it would be better for consumers who fear the HD-DVD format or Blu-ray will go the way of Betamax or other failed formats.

This works out to be fantastic news for video gamers who want to bring a little next-gen movie watching to their experience. Sony’s PS3 will roll out with Blu-ray equipped and the Xbox 360’s add on HD-DVD player is expected in time for the holidays.

Even if a format is deemed a loser, hybrid movies will still be playable on the winning format. No harm, no foul for Warner and the same can be said for consumers, sans the player itself.

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Search Engine For Gamers Is Brilliant

Gazerk
Gazerk, the search engine for gamers, is a fantastic concept whose time has more than come. In fact, it might be a little overdue.

I was turned on to the site by a friend, and must say I’m pretty impressed.

If you’ve ever tried to find information about a specific video game issue, it can be more than hard using traditional search engines. Hunting down information on quests in EQ, for example, will net tons of sales sites and unrelated articles.

But, with Gazerk, the results are arranged into categories to help speed up the process of finding exactly what it is you’re looking for. If you want screens, just click on that tab; reviews or news, the same.

Per the site, “with GAZERK, you find what you want – fast!” This seems to be true in most cases, but it does appear as if the engine still needs some tweaking and building. Its walkthroughs and news sections are a little light on some games, but that I suspect will come with time.

Gazerk is a great idea that’s more than welcomed by this gamer.

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Xbox 360 Dead In Japanese Water

Xbox 360If Japan were the only battleground in the next-gen video console war, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 would already be dead in the water.

The console’s sales in Japan have been notoriously sluggish and recent figures are no better, despite news of new high-def games coming, 1080p resolution updates and the coming of the HD-DVD drive in November. According to Punch Jump, consoles sales for the week fell in at 928 units in Japan. This means the system was beaten out by pretty much every other gaming machine going, including hand held models.

All of this has some industry analysts thinking it’s Wii and not the 360 that has Sony running scared on its home turf. A degree in quantum physics probably wasn’t necessary to figure that one out though.

Sony’s move to discount the PS3 in Japan only could have ramifications that travel farther. It’s possible the price cutting will alienate potential buyers in other regions as the console rolls out. But, in Japan, the move is likely solid.

And, as the battle for Japan seems to be lost, Microsoft is making good on earlier reports that it will stand by its first runs of the Xbox 360 console. The company will comp repairs for some units and issue refunds to customers who have already paid for repairs in some cases. This is a smart move not only for PR purposes, but also for gaining loyalty. I doubt it will help in Japan, but it might elsewhere.

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Xbox 360 HD-DVD Pricing Rumors

XBox 360 Power Buttons
As Sony flounders with its production and public relations nightmares, excitement is starting to generate about the impending release of the Xbox 360 HD-DVD add on.

Rumors are starting to surface that indicate the player will sell for GBP 199 (293 Euro), and will come with two movies to boot when it releases around the holidays. There’s also talk that Microsoft will sell a package with the premium console and the movie player for less than GBP 400 (589 Euro) – and that the price could even be as low as GBP 375 (552 Euros).

If the pricing is correct, the Xbox 360 package would fall in for less cash than the PS3, which is experiencing all kinds of troubles as of late.

With Sony’s recent woes and the admission by Ken Kutaragi that the electronics giant is failing in the hardware department, the HD-DVD drive might just give Microsoft the edge over the PS3 when it’s released. That console is still on track for a Nov. 17 release in the U.S., but delays in Europe are giving Sony a black eye.

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Xbox 360 Title Price Drop Confirmed

Xbox 360Microsoft has announced that it’s going to put out a Platinum Hits line for the Xbox 360 in the spirit of the original Xbox line. This means good “old” games will get nifty new packaging and lower prices.

It’s hard to think of any Xbox 360 game being worthy of a “greatest
hits” type line as of yet, but the price reduction will be very much
welcomed by fans.

The news, according to Digital Battle, is that titles such as Project Gotham Racing 3, Need for Speed Most Wanted and even Perfect Dark Zero will come out under this line starting Oct. 15 for a greatly reduced price of $29.99.

Another round of titles will hit the stores in spring 2007.

A similar marketing move has already been announced for the UK, as well. The “classic” line for the 360 there will include titles like Condemned, PDZ and King Kong.

The cheaper titles will likely help the 360 console compete more effectively when the PlayStation 3 arrives in stores Nov. 17. As long as the 360 stock is kept up, it’s likely this could be a good holiday season for Microsoft between its newly reduced price consoles, new HD-DVD drive and now cheaper games.

According to Microsoft’s Mitch Koch, there will be about 10 million 360s in circulation by the end of the year.

Related:
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Xbox 360 HD-DVD Rumors Sound Unlikely

Xbox 360
Despite rumors that just won’t die, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be confirming or denying plans to create a “new-gen” Xbox 360 complete with an internal HD-DVD drive.

This time the rumors are coming from sources in Taiwan, per Digitimes. Previous rumors came from an Austrailian Toshiba rep.

The persistence of the rumors does make one wonder if there is some truth to the idea. Does Microsoft intend to roll out a new version of its 360 complete with the drive in place?

It just might down the road, but right now, that seems a little doubtful. There’s no way Microsoft hasn’t considered this, but doing so right now might actually take away its “flexibility” edge. The PlayStation 3 has its Blu-ray drive intact, but Microsoft’s draw is the fact it can run with an HD-DVD or it can go without. The external drive is almost a stroke of genius since it keeps the console’s overall price lower.

What Microsoft offers currently is a gaming machine for serious gamers that has “a la carte” add ons that can make it a total entertainment powerhouse – just like a PS3. The competitive edge for Microsoft is that gamers can get as much or as little as they want, or can afford, from the 360.

Plus, with all appearances making it look like the 360 and a drive will likely cost less than a fully loaded PS3, why would Microsoft want to fiddle with its formula right now?

For it’s part, Microsoft is only saying it won’t comment on rumors. Only time will tell if there’s really something to this or not.

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Xbox 360 HD-DVD Pricing Rumors
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Saints Row Beating Out Oblivion

Xbox live
It’s barely had a moment to cool on the shelves and Saints Row is already making a big impact on the Xbox 360 gaming front. The title’s already made the Top 10 list on Xbox Live and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The game debuted on Aug. 29 in the U.S. and Sept. 1 in Europe. Its popularity, however, is undeniable. This is despite some glitches that have already called for patching.

On Xbox Live Saturday night (Sept. 2) Saints Row was posting at No. 5 for 360 titles, ahead of Oblivion, Dead Rising and even Chromehounds. Madden NFL 07 topped the list with Call of Duty 2 and Texas Hold ‘Em coming in close behind.

Some of the EB and GameStop stores in the Tampa, Florida, area were already reporting sell-outs as of Saturday, too.

Saints Row is a gangland adventure that has players starting out as members of the 3rd Street Saints. The gang faces a constant threat from vile, corrupt city officials and other gang bangers. To keep the streets safe for the Saints, gamers need to take over Stilwater one area at a time.

The title features tons of custom options, an open-world city, lots of music on 12 radio stations and plenty of mayhem. It’s rated for 17 and above in the U.S.

Check it out here.

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Sony Shoots PS3 In The Foot Again

Tony Hawks Project 8
I have no doubt the PlayStation 3 will be one heck of a gaming console when the bugs get worked out.

My problem with the console and Sony in general right now is that it seems to me the PS3 is being rushed through to the point of lunacy. It’s almost like Sony wants this console to fail.

Case in point, the latest announcement in a long string of disappointments before the PS3 has even hit the stores. Tony Hawk’s Project 8 will lose its online play ability in order to launch along with the PS3.

According to Games Industry.biz, Neversoft just got its hands on the development kits for the PS3 so it doesn’t have the time to make the online play a go for the PS3 version of the game if it’s going to launch in November. The Xbox 360 title will, of course, offer online support for up to eight players.

So, why is this such a big deal? Every delay, every diode problem, every scale back just makes it look like Sony doesn’t have a clue what it’s doing. If the game developers aren’t getting their kits on time, what else has Sony overlooked?

Microsoft went through similar problems last year, and I frankly, was hoping Sony would learn from the lesson and just be above board with its launch.

Rather than set a Nov. 17 date it’s clearly not ready for, why didn’t it just wait a bit longer? Sure, it would have missed the all-important 2006 holiday season window, but with only about 500,000 consoles shipping out in two regions would this really have been that big of a deal?

It seems to me Sony would have been better off sitting on the release until all the little details (such as development kits to third-party creators) had been hammered out. Maybe it would have been a really good idea to make sure it could really deliver a worldwide launch before it promised one?

I know for a fact die-hard Sony fans will be lining up for the console and its titles no matter what. But to win the next-gen race or at least make some cash, Sony will need others to fall in line to buy, too. This means Sony needs to inspire confidence in gamers beyond the PS3 fan boys. It will have to wow the socks and wallets off casual gamers, movie fans and more.

Right now the headlines just don’t seem to be inspiring confidence in Sony’s abilities. But, maybe that’s just me.

The sad thing is Sony could have avoided all of this by pulling back, regrouping and making sure it was really ready before it said it was. Sony fans and even those just mildly interested in the console would have taken a “Gee, we’re sorry, but we’re going to wait and make sure the PS3 kicks some serious butt before we put it on the market.”

After the Xbox 360 fiasco of last year, we would have accepted and probably respected that. But, instead, we’ve gotten nothing but arrogance and broken promises.

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