Saturday, November 29, 2008

PINOYXBOX Events this December!

Lots of events lined up for the Pinoyxbox community this December!

PINOY GAMERS TV SHOW 1st Episode: Gamers Battle!

Full details here posted in this thread here.

Date: Some time this week, more details TBA
Time: TBA
Venue: TBA

We're currently looking for players to participate in a "Gamers' Battle" segment for Pinoy Gamers. The taping for this will be held some time in the coming week. The games being considered for the Gamers' Battle are:

1. Guitar Hero World Tour / Rock Band 2 (Guitar or Drums pro-face off)
2. Soulcalibur IV (Note, we may not have fighting sticks available; just default Xbox 360 controls)
3. Gears of War 2 - either 1vs1 or 2vs2 depending on available hardware
4. Virtua Fighter 5
5. Any other competitive game.

The game chosen will depend on the available volunteers and their preference for which games. So if you're interested to join, please visit the discussion thread here and sign up. We need players that have a flexible schedule, because we're still ironing out the other details with Pinoy Gamers.

* * *

Launch Party : Playground On Air
Date: December 19, 2008
Time: 4PM - 12MN
Venue: Eastwood City Central Plaza

Discussion thread for this event is posted here.

PLAYGROUND Magazine is holding an event on December 19 at the Eastwood City Central Plaza. Pinoyxbox will be on hand to set up a gaming booth where gamers can sample the latest games and demos. We'll also be holding a tournament there for Gears of War 2.

Our tournament for the Playground Magazine event will be based on Gears of War 2's HORDE MODE. Basically, players each have to score the most number of points against other players by killing as many Locust monsters as they can. The player with the highest score at the end of the tournament, wins. Prize details for this tournament will be posted as soon as Playground magazine makes those details available.

For now, check out the details on the tournament and the Pinoyxbox booth at Playground Magazine's event here.

* * *

PINOYXBOX GRAND EB AND CHRISTMAS PARTY 2008!

Date: December 20, 2008
Time: 6PM onwards
Venue: 35th Floor Function Room LPL Tower, Greenhills San Juan

The biggest event for the Pinoyxbox community will be the upcoming Grand EB and Christmas Party! Pinoyxbox members and their guests are welcome to join the party, where we'll have food, gaming, and big prizes on hand for participants!

Pinoyxbox will also be holding a GEARS OF WAR 2 Tournament during this event. For the rules and details, keep on checking the threads for the upcoming Grand EB posted below.

Gamehopper members have an exclusive treat for this party---they get a chance to win a BRICO 32" LCD TV!!

Yes, you heard me right....a brand new, large-sized, High Definition LCD TV is up for grabs!

This is probably the most incredible prize ever to be given during one of Pinoyxbox's gaming events...thanks goes out to Gamehopper for their generosity and their continued support for the Pinoyxbox community.

Here are the threads for full details on the upcoming Pinoyxbox Grand EB and Christmas Party 2008:

LIST OF PRIZES FOR THE PINOYXBOX GRAND EB / CHRISTMAS PARTY 2008

VOLUNTEERS LIST FOR THE PXB GRAND EB / CHRISTMAS PARTY 2008

ATTENDEES LIST FOR THE PXB GRAND EB / CHRISTMAS PARTY 2008

DISCUSSION THREAD FOR THE PXB GRAND EB / CHRISTMAS PARTY 2008


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For New Guitar Hero World Tour Band Set Owners : Video Tip for Fixing the Cymbals

Do your yellow and orange cymbals for Guitar Hero World Tour seem to be not sensitive enough?

Watch this video for a very, very, VERY simple way to fix your cymbals so that they will be more sensitive. All you need is a screwdriver and some tape. Any kind of tape will do; masking tape or electrical tape. We actually used electric tape and it works fine.



Thanks to duffman3 from youtube.com for coming up with the solution and taking the time and effort to make this video. It was really, really helpful!

Thanks also goes out to Servo101 from Pinoyxbox for finding this video online and posting it on Pinoyxbox.com to help other users in the community who recently bought the Guitar Hero World Tour Band Set.

Guitar Hero World Tour Impressions!


Scytherage: Just got the Guitar Hero World Tour Complete Band Kit.

1. Graphics - better, more colorful, more detailed and more creative than Rock Band 2 (whose graphics were really just recycled from Rock Band 1....)

2. Drum Kit - 5x better than Rock Band 1's (because of the 'quieter' drum pads and the wireless functionality)

Cymbals add a whole new dynamic to the game (makes it feel like an upgrade from Rock Band 1's drum kit).

The pedal slides away if you don't position it right. If it had a heavier base or something to keep it from moving, the drum kit would have been 6x more awesome than Rock Band 1's drum kit :D
3. Guitar - Bigger than the GH3 guitar, feels more solid; huge strumbar hahaha! But great quality as usual, and as expected from Activision/Red Octane. Touch pad---I haven't used it in a song yet, just about to learn the new mechanics.

4. Best played with the METALLICA DEATH MAGNETIC TRACK PACK (DLC). Played the song 'All Nightmare Long' on drums, medium difficulty OMG AWESOMENESS GALORE!

NOTE: If you downloaded the Metallica Death Magnetic Track Pack for GH3, I can confirm that it does work with Guitar Hero World Tour! It works with both games :D

5. Song list - pretty decent, since we just bought it we haven't unlocked everything. There must be an 'unlock all songs' option somewhere hehehe....

Overall it doesn't feel like an expansion pack for Guitar Hero III, which is a good thing.
************************

Wuffy/Tankblitzer:

We have RB1, RB2 and now GH4 so here are some of my impressions:

1. The Guitar

No doubt the GH guitar is better than the RB guitar thanks to that clicking sound in the strum bar. I absolutely hate the RB strum bar since it felt so stiff and I can't time the beat of the music as much as I do with GH.

The one thing strange I noticed with GHWT is that the timing is extremely different from GH3. At first I thought my GHWT guitar was broken because I was missing the hammer-ons and pull-offs for 'The Unforgiven III' (Metallica: Death Magnetic) on hard. I also tried Rafael's working GH3 guitar and I had the same results with GHWT. Then I put in GH3 and played the same song on both guitars and I got my beat back. The timing in GHWT is definitely more strict than GH3...almost similar to RB but a little bit more forgiving than RB.

Another thing with the guitar is that the motion sensitive bar mechanic will definitely take some time to get used to. Sliding my fingers from the buttons to the motion sensitive area will take some practice. Sometimes my fingers get caught on the buttons making it harder to slide. Luckily this part of the note chart doesn't seem happen that often.

The verdict:
GHWT Guitar > RB1 Guitar

2. The Drums

While I don't play drums as much as the guitar, the sound of the GHWT drums is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than the RB1 drums. With RB1, hitting the drums is so loud and annoying that you have to turn up the volume of your game so you can still hear what you are playing. There is also recoil in the GHWT drums that the RB1 drums doesn't seem to have.

Pedal is ok...seems like it will hold compared to RB1 but the problem here is, it easily slips. You'll need to put something to stop the pedal from slipping when you're using it. The pedal is also quite sensitive and you don't need to step on it too hard for it to register.

I haven't gotten around to check if the cymbals are ok...but if there are fixes on the net it shouldn't be a problem. We modded our RB guitars because of sensitivity issues.

If you're coming from RB you might be confused with the cymbals. It certainly did confuse me at the start.

The verdict:
GHWT Drums > RB1 Drums

3. The Mike

Not much to say about this.

The verdict:
GHWT Mike == RB1 Mike

Instrument wise, the build quality of the instruments for GHWT seems better compared to RB1. I have no idea how the RB2 drums or guitars are like but I love the feeling of the GHWT instruments. No question about it, graphics in GHWT is much better than RB1 & RB2.

Anyway, I'll post more impressions on the notecharts when I actually get to spend more time with the game. Rafael should be getting his copy soon din, so I'll ask him what he thinks about the game.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The New Xbox Experience!




Yesterday night, we were able to download the much hyped New Xbox Experience (NXE) from Xbox Live, which is essentially an Xbox Dashboard (Xbox 360 Operating System) update. Aside from streamlining the user interface and making it more easy to use, the NXE lets you create and customize an in-system Avatar (much like Nintendo's Miis or the avatars on Playstation Home). It also adds some new features to the Xbox 360 such as the ability to install your games to the hard drive. This has some benefit for a few games which continuously stream data from the disc, like Fable II and Gears of War 2. Installing the games on the Xbox 360's drive are still optional, so players who want to save on hard drive space aren't forced to use this feature if they don't want to.

Creating an Xbox avatar is a lot of fun; here's ours:


Xbox 360 owners can choose from a wide variety of options to customize the look of their avatar. For instance, all kinds of faces, eye shapes, skin colors, clothes, shoes, accessories, etc., are available to users when customizing their avatar so that no two avatars are exactly the same. And with enough effort, you could make your avatar look exactly like you!



The update added a lot of other improvements to the Xbox 360 as well. For example, now it's possible to party up with several friends and voice chat with them simultaneously. Previously, you could make a channel to chat with one other person; but with this new update, you can group together with other friends and party chat, which is really useful and cool when you want to set up a game. It's also possible to invite a group of friends to a game (party invites).



They also added new background themes, called premium themes, which seem more 'three dimensional' compared to the older ones. It's a nice little touch that makes buying a theme much more worthwhile. For instance, if you buy a Fable II Premium theme, when you browse your friends list you can see that your friends' avatars are situated in environments from the game. Presentation-wise, it adds a lot to the overall look and feel of the dashboard.

The NXE adds so many improvements to the Xbox 360 user interface---so much that it makes the Xbox 360 feel like an entirely new game console. It's absolutely fantastic that this was all done through the power of online connectivity and software. Xbox 360 owners don't need to buy any additional hardware or software to avail of the NXE; it's a major benefit of being connected to Xbox Live. Both Silver and Gold Xbox Live users can avail of the NXE update, so it's practically free to Xbox 360 users. Microsoft really did a great job in creating a more 'friendly' user environment through the NXE.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Championship Gaming Series (CGS) Goes Out of Business

Just something I found on Kotaku today...

http://kotaku.com/5092536/another-pro-gaming-league-goes-under

Another Pro Gaming League Goes Under

The Championship Gaming Series is no more. Sponsors BSkyB, STAR and DirecTV have officially ended their professional gaming business, according to an announcement posted on the league's web site. The statement explains that the CGS — which I'll always fondly remember as my ticket into the Playboy Mansion — was killed off because "profitability was too far in the future for us to sustain operations in the interim." Things are tough all over, basically.

The CGS focused on competitive gaming in titles like Counter-Strike: Source, Dead or Alive 4, FIFA, World of Warcraft and more. It joins the [b]CPL [/b]and [b]World Series of Video Games [/b]as failed attempts to garner profitable interest in watching other people play games really, really, really well.


http://www.thecgs.com/AN_IDEA_WHOSE_TIME_CAME_TOO_EARLY

Today BSkyB, STAR and DIRECTV ended their Championship Gaming Series® (CGS) business.

While the concept was ahead of its time and we are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, it became increasingly clear as this ambitious project evolved, that profitability was too far in the future for us to sustain operations in the interim.

Our goal was to be ahead of the curve in the e-sports space, and we conceived of CGS as a true sports league. We invested wholeheartedly in the venture and presented viewers with a top-notch production, but the economics just didn’t add up for us at this time.

Our only regret is that we will lose a team of creative and talented individuals who invested their hearts and souls into Championship Gaming Series. We recognize their achievements and thank them for their hard work and passion.

BSkyB, STAR and DIRECTV continue to be committed to the video games sector, which is an important part of many of our customers’ lives and a great source of entertainment.

Sincerely,

The CGS team


It does make one wonder why Professional Gaming succeeded in one country (South Korea) and not everywhere else. I wonder what factors made it such a huge phenomenon in S.Korea and why the same thing just didn't work out in other places around the world, at least with these other gaming leagues (the CPL, WSVG and now, CGS)? Another one bites the dust, then...

The New Xbox Experience (NXE): Available November 19, 6:00PM Philippine Time

According to this thread on NEOGAF:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=342491

The New Xbox Experience (NXE) will be online on Wednesday November 19th from 10am GMT. In PHILIPPINE time, that is 6:00PM on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

What time will it be in your country when NXE gets released? Check this link:

http://timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?day=19&month=11&year=2008&hour=10&min=0&sec=0&p1=0



Other useful information from NEOGAF, Game Install Sizes (How much space will your game take up when installed via NXE, and will there be a performance benefit?):

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=341808

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gears of War 2 Horde Mode Played Solo....

...is just unbelievably addictive for me. I can't explain it, it's just nuts to be the sole survivor on a map crawling with Locusts. Yeah, I know the game mode is meant to be played with 4 other players online, but for some reason playing on the map 'Day One' on Normal Difficulty against numerous Locust hordes is fun. It's great target practice! I think I'm getting better with the Torque Bow now thanks to this mode.

The map 'Day One' reminds me of 'I Am Legend' for some reason ^_^

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Plot Twists in Gears of War 2 That I'm Glad Didn't Happen

Throughout the course of Gears of War 2 I was expecting the storyline to have a couple of [predictable] twists and turns. These are a couple of the things I was thinking as I was playing which, thankfully, never happened when I finished the game. Why 'thankfully'? Because in a way, these twists I expected were cliche, they're the type of things that are either supposed to shock you or "take the story in a whole new direction" [which usually results in disaster, anyway. Think HEROES Season 3.].

So here's my list of PLOT TWISTS IN GEARS OF WAR 2 THAT I'M GLAD DIDN'T HAPPEN:

WARNING! EXPECTATION SPOILERS!

[Why? Because you might read these, thinking these will happen in the story, but seriously, they don't. The only reason I'm spoilerizing these is because you might have these same expectations, and if you read these, you'd already know they won't happen. Now that would make the Gears 2's campaign mode a lot less surprising, now, would it?]

[Highlight to read below!] :

1. Chairman Prescott, the guy who gives the rousing, inspiring speech to the COGs at the beginning of the game, turns out to be the main villain in the storyline, engineering the Locust horde in a typical government conspiracy plot to create a war economy out of weapons and ammunition sales.

2. It turns out that the COG fabricated the Locust horde in order to stop the wars between the governments on the surface. If you recall the story of Gears of War 1, the humans of Sera were in constant conflict before the invasion of the Locusts. So they could have made the story in such a way that another faction (either COG or some other faction) creates the Locusts in order to unite humanity on Sera (in other words, make humans stop waging war on humans). It's similar to the idea that, if the Planet Earth were invaded by aliens, all of humanity would find a reason to put aside their differences and unite against a common enemy.

Technically, I think this 'plot twist' is still possible in Gears of War 3, but it's just a very, very remote possibility.

3. Dom's wife, Maria, disappeared because she was chosen by the Locusts to be their 'Locust Queen', Starcraft-style (Remember Kerrigan?). Dom becomes conflicted in continuing the fight against the Locusts, and then the story ends. Thank God this wasn't the plot of the game!

4. After Maria dies, Dom goes on a rampage and eventually gets killed off in the process [and then we get an extended death sequence dialogue between Marcus and Dom, Metal Gear Solid 4 style.]

5. Dom, Baird or Cole gets killed off doing some heroic deed [It would have been a waste of characters to kill them off; so luckily none of them died. Too bad for Tai, though. The guy had potential....Is Dizzy Wailin still alive by the end of Gears 2? I'm not quite sure....]

6. The Locusts were created as genetic supersoldiers by the COG to fight in the pendulum wars. Something went wrong while they were being created, and thus, humanity's new enemy is born. Yup, this is as typical as it could probably get. But there's one scene in the 'New Hope' facility level, which makes this plot angle seem doubtful.

7. The Locusts are 'undead' soldiers (reanimated corpses) from the Pendulum Wars who were experimented on by the humans. I was actually thinking this during the part of the game where you fight in the cemetery, right before you go down to the hollows.

8. The Locusts are aliens from another planet who buried themselves in the ground a thousand years ago; they awaken at some point because the Pendulum Wars 'woke them up....' LOL


END EXPECTATION SPOILERS

Gears of War 2 : Comments on the Story and Ending

Finally finished the game together with my wife this morning, at hardcore difficulty.

Comments on the story:
WARNING, SPOILERS! [highlight to read]

As a moderator on Pinoyxbox, I've had to read a few spoilers here and there, and going online I try to avoid some spoilers but inevitably I did read some. Most of them don't say exactly what happens but they say the same thing: Gears of War 2 ends abruptly with a cliffhanger.

After getting to actually finish the game, I was quite surprised because I was expecting a Halo 2-styled cliffhanger ending. Granted, you could say that Adam Fenix's last lines at the end make it seem like a cliffhanger, and a great deal goes left unexplained when you reach the end, but the story for this 'chapter' of the Gears series does feel complete. By the time Jacinto falls it does feel like the conclusion to a certain story; in a way the humans dealt a strong blow against the Locusts by drowning them in the hollows. There'll probably be a few survivors here and there on the Locust side, but for the most part, it was a victory for the humans, even if it was a bittersweet one.

So, yeah, I found the ending quite satisfactory. Thank God it wasn't a 'Thank you for playing!' screen or a '5 seconds of dialogue then credits start rolling' type of ending. Now THOSE kinds of endings in games are annoying. Gears 2 ends, obviously hinting at a Gears 3 [why would Microsoft throw away such a glorious franchise like this? Of course it has to hint at a new game!], but it does have an ending, a real conclusion to this particular story. I recall Halo 2's ending. Now THAT was a really bad ending to a game. In Halo 2 you arrive at what could probably have been the final battle and then..."I'm going to finish this fight!" then the game ends. Ouch. Halo 2's ending is outright traumatic, I don't want to see that kind of ending again. I was worried that the things I read online hinted at a Halo 2 styled end, but thankfully that didn't happen.

END SPOILERS

Spoiler free comment: This is the most spectacular action shooter I've ever played since Halo 3. Congratulations to Epic Games, this is probably the greatest game they've ever created in the history of their company (since their humble beginnings with the Unreal series).

Gears of War 2: Game of the Year!

- The single player mode is literally a non-stop, action-packed, explosive spectacle that every hardcore action gamer/shooter fan should experience. Play this game and you'll have the unfortunate side-effect of expecting this level of quality from every other shooter you play in the future.

- The multiplayer mode guarantees endless replay value. This game can be enjoyed competitively online, or casually with friends through its cooperative MODES - note, that's plural because not only can you play coop through the campaign, you can play coop through HORDE MODE which feels like an entirely different game altogether. It has leaderboards and rankings which add even more value to the game as something you can play long after its release date. I can already see that this game is going to be on the top 10 played Xbox 360 games until 2010 (the likely release year for Gears of War 3).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gears of War 2: More Impressions

Just finished Act 3 last night, daaaamn! I think the best way to play campaign is multiplayer (co-op) with a friend nearby (either in splitscreen or a second console). Some scenarios in the first three acts are just too much fun when your buddy is right there with you in the room and you can just tell each other what to do (and you can see his/her POV). It's extremely entertaining during certain boss fights :) And perhaps the best difficulty level for players who've already played shooters is HARDCORE; we found ourselves restarting some spots because the enemies were really more challenging (and winning is that much more satisfying). The tension is higher, the possibility of dying is real, and the game takes longer to finish. Why play on NORMAL or CASUAL and water down your experience if you've already played every shooter there is in the book? If you're starting on the game, but you do have the playing experience with shooters, HARDCORE is the way to go. At least, if you plan on playing this game just once in your entire life, your one experience with the game will be the best one you've ever had in YEARS.

How many times did I find myself thinking, "Shit, this *is* GOTY!" throughout my time playing this game in campaign mode? I can't count anymore. Sometimes it's the little scenarios in each act which blow me away (the way the game doesn't always involve shooting, although there's still a heck of a LOT of shooting), sometimes it's the environments, which are just jaw-dropping, sometimes it's the overall feel, presentation, design, enemy variety and A.I., which is far, far polished from Gears 1. Granted, in terms of pure innovation perhaps you could say Gears 2 doesn't have anything completely new, but in terms of presentation, immersion and overall experience, Gears 2 just delivers.

Each Act seems to take about 3 hours, which is pretty long already. Combined [since it's five acts] I'm guessing this game is 10-15 hours (just a guess, since I'm not done yet; i don't know if the last two acts will be as long as the previous three). Perhaps I'm taking so long because I started on HARDCORE difficulty, but it's making the first play-through experience totally satisfying for me. Awesome game. GOTY! GOTY! GOTY!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gears of War 2 - Find Clan-mates and Fellow Players on Pinoyxbox.com!

This week it's all about GEARS OF WAR 2 on http://www.pinoyxbox.com ! If you're a player in the Philippines itching to try out the game's spectacular variety of multiplayer modes, check out our forums on Pinoyxbox and find fellow players to play alongside with, or against :) In our experience it's best for players in the Philippines to find other players that have the same Internet Service Provider as they do, in order to get the best online connection. For example, if you're a player using PLDT MyDSL, find other players that are using PLDT. If you're on Globe, find other players that use Globe. The local online community for Gears of War 2 is growing rapidly, so it should be relatively easy to find other players with the same ISP as you. Here's some forum links to Pinoyxbox.com's Gears of War 2 threads:

Gears of War 2 - The Discussion Thread

Here's the thread where you can sign up with online clans in the Philippines for Gears of War 2.

Get on XBOX LIVE and make the most of your Xbox 360 experience!
Single player mode ends all too quickly for any game, including Gears of War 2. However, thanks to multiplayer, a game like this can last for literally months on end, because human opposition (or cooperative play) brings in a whole new dynamic to the gameplay that A.I. has yet to duplicate. It's also a great way to get introduced to the growing community of Xbox 360 gamers in the Philippines; make new friends and use your Xbox 360 as it was always intended.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

GEARS OF WAR 2 : Buckets of Awesome


After spending more than an hour playing Gears of War 2, trying out both its single player and multiplayer modes, I can only think of one thing to say: this game is, quite literally, buckets of awesome. It's that rare game that comes along after several years that you won't easily forget. Gears of War 2 seems to have improved on many of the original's faults. Take, for instance, the cutscenes. One thing notable from the first game is how the cinematics were really choppy, and this really affected the immersion factor. For Gears 2, the cinematics are now really, really smooth; they continue to be real time which improves the immersion but because they're smoother, they're a nice bonus to look forward to when you complete some single player challenges.

Other improvements are more subtle but they're definitely there: gameplay is tighter, the user-interface does a better job of telling you what's going on, and co-op play is implemented more smoothly than it was in the first game. GOW2 is so well polished, and it never feels like a rehash. Presentation-wise, the game screams quality, from the menus to the actual gameplay; the sound effects and music have been beefed up, and when the action gets really heated, the game is a cinematic spectacle. It's cinematic not in the sense that you're sitting there watching in-game cutscenes all the time; it's cinematic because you, the player, seem to be put in a lot of in-game scenarios that feel like something out of a action-packed, special-effects laden, big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.

As for multiplayer, I spent so much time on my first playthrough just enjoying the new HORDE mode cooperatively with my wife. For veteran gamers you'd probably see HORDE mode as essentially GOW2 with bots; but it's the type of 'bot mode' that has never been done right on PC games. There are things on Horde Mode that make it more enjoyable to play over and over again, things like scoring and multipliers which make each run more unique. And it's just something else to play this mode with a friend; once you've finished playing co-op in the single player mode, you have something else to do thanks to Horde Mode.

Later on, the friendly players from Pinoyxbox invited me online to a HORDE mode multiplayer match, and I was really surprised to see that the netcode of the game seems to have been improved dramatically. It's not yet at the level of Halo 3 in terms of feeling 'lag free' but it does feel tighter and making sense of how lag affects your shots is easier to perceive. HORDE mode with four other guys is really enjoyable; it's something else. After a few rounds of the new game mode, there's no denying how much replay value multiplayer can put into a game like Gears of War 2. I've read in other places that some people who have finished it think it is not that long of a game....I can't say yet because I did not rush through the single player campaign (I just picked up the game yesterday). I will say, though, that this game is best experienced as a COMPLETE package when you play BOTH single-player and multiplayer. With multiplayer modes, it's clear to me that this game will last for months on end---you don't measure Gears of War 2 play time in hours, but in months. While playing Horde mode I noticed that some players on my list had some kind of online ranking already, which I suppose they've garnered through multiplayer mode. That just increases the game's value immensely; you haven't played Gears of War 2 until you've experienced everything that the game has to offer out-of-the-box.

The Gears series was built from the ground up for the Xbox 360 platform; there's that story online which says that the reason why the 360 has 512MB of RAM as opposed to 256MB like the PS3 is because Epic Games really lobbied for it, so they can put in large textures for the graphics. It may have made the console more expensive at the outset, but Gears of War 2 really makes you see the benefit of that early decision. I can't think of an Xbox 360 game right now which can stand toe-to-toe with Gears 2 in terms of graphical fidelity. The one effect which I kept on noticing in the new game is how the graphics still look great even if the camera zooms in on a character. In other games, the textures on a character's body seems to lose detail and you can see how it's really just one simple texture. In Gears 2 they seem to be implementing this new effect where, if the camera is close to an in-game object, you see a more detailed set of textures on the object. The way that happens is so smoothly done, I barely notice the transition but I do see how detail increases when the camera zooms in on someone or something in a game. It's one of those rare effects that I haven't seen implemented in other games, whether first person or third person.

If a game really impresses me, I can't stop writing about it. Gears of War 2 is one of those rare games which you could talk about endlessly with fellow gamers. For veteran/hardcore gamers, Gears of War 2 is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Article on WCG 2008 from Manila Bulletin

Manila Bulletin Online posted an article about the World Cyber Games 2008 and the Philippine Team. Click HERE for the full article.

Here's a snippet...

*****

RP team puts up a good fight at 2008 World Cyber Games tourney in Cologne, but fails to advance in semi-finals

Tjader Regis, WCG Philippines project director, said despite of the RP team failing to advance into the semi final rounds of the tournament, he is proud of what the group has achieved in this year’s WCG competition.

"Eventhough it was our first time to join in games like Command & Conquer and Guitar Hero, and despite our players being up against the top players from established countries like the US, Germany, etc. immediately on the first day of eliminations, they have shown that we are capable of putting up a good fight in their game."

Moreover, he said the RP team has exhibited a new level of maturity and discipline in their craft that has been developed over the years, one that could serve them in attaining their goal of one day making it into the finalmatch when they join in future competitions.

*****

Myself having been part of the Virtua Fighter 5 tournament at the WCG Asian Championship 2008, I understand the pressure of being put into a competition scenario. Players can be quite good at a game when they're put in a comfortable position (say, at their local LAN shop, or at home battling via online connectivity); but when put in an environment of an internationally recognized, professionally organized competition, the scenario changes completely. I don't doubt that the Filipino players sent to the games at Cologne, Germany were great players. I believe they really are the best in the Philippines. What the Filipino players really need, to improve their chances of winning medals, is constant exposure to the pressure scenario introduced by professionally organized competitions. That means local players have to have the opportunity to participate in multiple tournaments to not only hone their gaming skills, but to also condition their minds to deal with the pressure of competing professionally.

For instance, it takes only one visit to scorehero.com's forums to see how many competitions take place in the United States for Guitar Hero III alone. There are a lot of tournaments being held in the USA on a monthly/weekly basis, for several types of games. This makes their players very formidable opponents, because they are used to having all that pressure, and they're used to dealing with it. The same goes for other countries which have players that win medals from the WCG. The constant availability of competitions in other countries allows their players to eventually be able to condition their minds so that they can still play their best (and, perhaps, play even better) even when faced with the pressure scenario of a competition.

Of course, it's a reality that in other countries, there are just more organizations that are willing to fund gaming competitions consistently, and that's another factor that gives other nations a distinct advantage. In the Philippines, we don't see that happening because most businesses would rather invest their money in other things which they feel are more practical. Also, gaming still has that stigma that it is nothing more than a time-waster, a worthless activity or simply a luxury for the wealthy. Furthermore, specifically for the Xbox category here in the Philippines, there is no official support from Microsoft or other game developers. This means that any console-related event held locally will have a hard time securing the funding / sponsorship needed to hold any kind of local, console-gaming-related gaming tournament.

If there were a way to let Filipino gamers be constantly exposed to the pressure scenario of a professionally organized competition, I believe that they'd be better prepared for events like the WCG Grand Finals. For example, if more publicly visible gaming tournaments were held locally for the different games that are part of the WCG lineup, that would provide local players with enough preparation for an international competition. It might not be possible yet today, given very real constraints such as sponsorship or other concerns, but it's a good thing to aim for in the future.

World Cyber Games 2008 - Results for the Philippine Team


Here are the results from the Philippine Team at the World Cyber Games 2008 in Cologne, Germany:

GUITAR HERO III - GROUP A

Country/Player/Record(Win-Loss-Tie)/Points/

New Zealand/massi4h (New Zealand)/6-0-0/18
USA/witwix (USA)/5-1-0/15
Germany/NOLIMIT32 (Germany) 4-2-0/12
Philippines/wuffy (Philippines)/3-3-0/9

Portugal/JonnyGun (Portugal)/2-4-0/6
Austria/Bananenbrot (Austria)/1-5-0/3
Switzerland/Shroudi (Switzerland)/0-6-0/0

Champions for Guitar Hero III

1st Place: Monkey from United Kingdom
2nd Place: Lo7_ from Italy
3rd Place: Gugge2000 from Sweden

COMMAND AND CONQUER KANE'S WRATH - GROUP B


Country/Player/Record(Win-Loss-Tie)/Points/

Germany/Dackel (Germany)/5-0-0/15
Singapore/echo_elite (Singapore)/4-1-0/12
Philippines/johnray (Philippines)/3-2-0/9

Saudi Arabia/Scorpion (Saudi Arabia)/2-3-0/6
Serbia/Lav. (Serbia)/1-4-0/3
Luxembourg /a-L.nami (Luxembourg)/0-5-0/0

Champions for Command and Conquer: Kane's Wrath

1st place: Dackel from Germany
2nd place: Heckenheinrich from Germany
3rd place: khufu_ownz from USA

WARCRAFT III - GROUP C

Country/Player/Record(Win-Loss-Tie)/Points/

China/EDzengzhuo (China)/6-0-0/18
Russia/Xyligan (Russia)/5-1-0/15
USA/sonkie (USA)/4-2-0/12
Norway/HenL (Norway)/3-3-0/9
Hungary/RG.DNA (Hungary)/2-4-0/6
Philippines/fredz (Philippines)/1-5-0/3
Armenia/Devil_May_Cry (Armenia)/0-6-0/0

Champions for Warcraft III


*TOURNAMENT STILL ONGOING....*
3rd place: Happy from Russia

HALF LIFE - COUNTERSTRIKE 1.6 - GROUP H

Country/Player/Record(Win-Loss-Tie)/Points/

Ukraine/DTSlchatrix (Ukraine)/5-0-0/15
Belarus/k29. (Belarus)/3-1-1/10
Belgium/tek-9 (Belgium)/3-1-1/10
Philippines/-HoA- (Philippines)/2-3-0/6
Vietnam/1st.vn (Vietnam)/1-4-0/3
Argentina/Argentina (Argentina)/0-5-0/0

Champions for HALF LIFE - COUNTERSTRIKE 1.6


*TOURNAMENT STILL ONGOING....*

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gamehopper Presents PINOY GAMERS! TV Show


Great news! ^_^

Gamehopper together with Makisig Network channel 76 will be hosting the second season for PINOY GAMERS, a TV show devoted to console games for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii. The online communities for console games, Pinoyxbox, PinoyPS and Pinoy-N are all invited to participate on the show.

More details will be provided on this development as soon as they are available.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Survey for WCG 2009 is now up

On the official site for the World Cyber Games, a survey to choose next year's lineup of games is already available. Based on this survey, WCG will choose which games will be part of WCG next year.

It's viewable the first time you visit the site:
http://www.worldcybergames.com

In case you can't find it, it's here, too:

http://www.wcg.com/6th/poll/poll_PTT.asp

Just some interesting observations:

- ROCKBAND 2 and GUITAR HERO WORLD TOUR are part of the possible choices

- STREET FIGHTER 4 is in the list along with Soulcalibur IV. I'm surprised because no release date has been given for SFIV but it's already listed.

- GEARS OF WAR 2 is in the list of choices (of course, Halo 3 is also listed again)

- A surprise to me: FORZA MOTORSPORT 3 is one of the choices for racing games. That's odd, because there's really NO INFORMATION on that game yet, unless Microsoft (being a big sponsor for WCG) already told the organizers that they're releasing in a short span of time....

***

On that note, my brother-in-law Rafael Formoso is there in Cologne, Germany right now, preparing for the Grand Finals which will begin on Thursday. He was the Philippine Champion for Guitar Hero III, and one of his prizes was the opportunity to participate in the WCG 2008 Grand Finals. I hope he does well :)

We don't really know what games will be chosen for the local (Philippines) Xbox competitions for WCG next year. Most likely they'll again pick one or two games (and there's always the possibility that they'll axe it completely if they're getting more sponsors just for the PC games [considering MS Phils does not support the Xbox 360 locally]). We'll just have to hope for the best....