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Critical News Rundown - Wednesday, 10/22/2008

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is back; Playboy's Damon Brown wrote a book about virtual sex has evolved since the crude days of the Apple II and Atari 2600; the music genre surpasses sports as the second most played genre; patent for real-time censoring of audio streams; Microsoft finally gets its patent for real-time censoring of audio streams; and finally, fans have put together an elaborate handbook for anyone who can't wait for Nintendo to get around to localizing Mother 3.

Electronic Entertainment Expo (e3) and (hopefully) the Booth Babes are back!

Video: Playing Guitar Hero 3 one-handed with pedal controller

Via AbleGamers.com

This video shows a Guitar Hero pedal controller in action. Designed by console-hacker guru Benjamin Heckendorn specifically for a customer, it allows someone to play Guitar Hero 3 one-handed:

LittleBigPlanet: Don't expect a dime for all of your hard work

LittleBigPlanet

This isn't the first time Sony tried its hand at giving PlayStation owners the ability to create content for its console—anyone remember the Yaruze? Well, unlike that obscure piece of expensive tech, LittleBigPlanet is a trojan horse—a software development toolkit in the guise of a videogame that will automatically create content that Sony can just take and resell to whomever it feels like. So far gamers are more than happy with this arrangement, but as familiarity with the software and ambition of the content creators grow, so will their desire to reap some benefits from their labor.

"...we could all be working for Sony, crafting and sharing levels that Sony owns outright. Perhaps some of those levels will end up being packaged as downloadable content, much the same way that fruit of some of LittleBigPlanet's best beta players is being packaged with the official release.

But how does the equation change as user-generated content becomes less a matter of remixing existing intellectual property by 'modding' a game and starts to look more like the creation of original work? What happens when the systems game developers build for us are less games than platforms for the creation of new games?

National Federation of the Blind vs. Target: Virtual world ramifications?

Via Gameculture.com

On August 27, 2008, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Target announced a $6 mil settlement in a class-action lawsuit concerning the inaccessibility of the Target.com website to blind users.

A major bone of contention in the suit, filed by the NFB in February 2006, was whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies only to physical spaces, or to virtual ones as well. Target argued:

"Target.com is not a place of public accommodation within the meaning of the ADA, and therefore plaintiffs cannot state a claim under the ADA. Specifically...the complaint is deficient because it does not allege that 'individuals with vision impairments are denied access to one of Target’s brick and mortar stores or the goods they contain.'” (PDF of the decision available at Disability Rights Advocates).

IGN study challenges gamer stereotypes

Scanning the local and cable news channels, I haven't seen hide nor hair of this study. You would think FOX News would give it cursory coverage given that IGN is owned by NewsCorp, but that is probably asking too much.

"The study reported that 55% of gamers polled are married, 48% have kids, and those who have started gaming in the past two years are on average 32 years old. 'Based on the research, it's obvious that the gaming market has outgrown many commonly held stereotypes about the relative homogeneity of video gamers,' said Adam Wright, Director of Research for Ipsos MediaCT. 'Today's gamers represent a wide variety of demographic groups: men and women, kids, parents and grandparents, younger and older consumers. All this underscores the fact that gaming has become a mainstream medium in this country that appeals to people from all walks of life.'"

The Horror Geek presents: Max Payne (movie) review

Max Payne Movie PosterIn a different world, Max Payne would be a solid contender for the worst videogame to film adaptation in movie history—taking its place right alongside Super Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat II as the main exhibits in the case that Hollywood simply doesn't understand gaming. However, as long as the Antichrist (known more commonly by his human name, Uwe Boll) continues to churn out films like Alone in the Dark, Max Payne will just have to be content with the title of "not very good" as opposed to "out and out awful".

Payne, starring an angry and mopey Mark Wahlberg as the title character, is a film that I really wanted to like. It's beautifully shot (it's got a gorgeous neo-noir color palette working in it), it has some decent action scenes (although I think the games did a better job of integrating the John Woo influence), and it feels like the people involved cared about the end product to at least some degree. This makes it all the more disappointing that the end result is a film that feels a bit like Constantine part 2 (which was another film I wanted to love because I've dug the Hellblazer comics for years).

Critical News Rundown - Friday, 10/17/2008

Sony delays LittleBigPlanet so as to not offend Muslims; Braid gets a negative review (not new, but still interesting); Obama uses Electronic Arts games to advertise to our kids; Uwe Boll gets a positive write-up; a London mayor decides he actually does love (money from) games; a study shows parents happy with games; new ESRB ratings (just for fun); Will Wright's take on DRM; and one lucky kids gets a cool Mega Man costume for Halloween.

Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet

First up is news that Sony will be delaying LittleBigPlanet worldwide. It is unfortunate, but to play it safe and avoid an unpredictable backlash from the Muslim world, Sony will delay its most important title of 2008. It's all because of two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an are present in some background music.

"During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur’an. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologize for any offense that this may have caused."

Another film critic says games can't make us cry

Film Critic Roger Moore (of the Orlando Sentinel) has sparked a mini controversy in his Max Payne review. The blurb quote for the piece, posted at Rotten Tomatoes, says the following:

"As good as a couple of its action beats are, Max still suffers from the heartlessness that makes games emotionally inferior to movies. Nobody ever shed a tear over a video-game character's death."

Max Payne

Naturally, both sentences are pretty inflammatory to gamers, who've taken him to task in the comment section. Moore, who's no stranger to controversy (he earned Kevin Smith's ire a year or two ago) has yet to respond, but this clearly looks like another case of a guy who hasn't played a game since Space Invaders commenting on a medium he has no clue about.

You can follow the comments (which have been fairly civil so far—although that seems likely to change) here.

Breaking News: The PS3 was meant to play video games

So the PS3 isn't the best Blu-ray player on the market? I'm confused. Seriously though, Sony has a major branding problem when the head of Sony Computer Entertainment, Kaz Harai, makes headlines for reminding the public that the PS3 is actually a machine that allows people to control images on screen and have fun!

Here's what Harai said in an interview with Japanese business website NB Online (translated by Kotaku):

"The thing that I did when I took over last year was to boast the appeal of games themselves... The main premise of the PS3 is video games. That's the absolutely most important thing that we cannot lose sight of."

After this year's E3, I wrote a blog post about how Sony lacked a strong vision for the PS3 in the market and with this sound-bite from Harai, it doesn't look like much has changed since then. The problem may be that Sony as a whole, had too much invested and at stake with the PS3 to allow it to simply be a game machine. They needed it to be so much more, but now that the PS3 isn't the monster success that the PS2 was based off the same technology-from-the-future branding, Sony is backtracking and trying to put more emphasis on the games. Just what the heck has Sony been up to all these years?

Unfortunately, you only a one chance to make a first impression and then its an uphill battle to get people to think otherwise. Is it too late for the PS3?

LittleBigPlanet beta, hard work for a little bit of fun

Little Big Planet - sackpeople skateboard

I got my greedy paws on a key for the Little Big Planet (LBP) beta, which I had the opportunity to play over the last weekend. All in all, I'd have to say... not bad. (Bonus points if you know the movie in which Lisa Luder said those words.)

"Not bad." Which is not the praise that Sony and Playstation 3 owners everywhere would like too see bestowed upon this key video game, a unique entry and selling point as we go into the fourth quarter of 2008.

Although I had mixed feelings during my time with the beta, it was after discussing them with (our very own) Brad that they solidified into something I could concretely describe. Is LBP a game I want to spend $60 and countless hours of my limited free time exploring? I'm a generally creative guy. I like to sing, write music, draw or write in my free time. (Depending on my artistic mode and inertia at any given moment.) This game initially spoke to me as a good outlet to make things that I can share with the PS3-owning world. Yet after playing the beta for a while, I have some doubts.

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