November 25th, 2010 § § permalink
I have noticed something. Anytime we have family in to visit, the gadgets come out and everything gets a good playing with. This Thanksgiving there are two huge hits, the iPad and Xbox 360 Kinect.
There have been at least 5 people stationed in the family room on the Kinect since we finished eating. It’s been mostly Kinect Sports, that’s obviously the hit. I feel quite amped about it tho, being a Microsoft boy, it’s pretty exciting to see something that popular with good ole’ consumers. If you read the blogs lately you would get the impression that we just don’t get consumers anymore at all.
The other bigtime gadget, although thankfully in second place, is the iPad. Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Tumble Drop, Scrabble… the games are huge.
Ironically the response for Kinect was overwhelmingly “I am buying one of these as soon as I get home.” The iPad response was quite different, it was “it’s pretty cool, but I wouldn’t spend $500 on one.”
Wonder what this Christmas will bring, I am looking forward to some awesome sales of Kinect, Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7 and hopefully some Windows 7 Tablets.
Merry Christmas and Happy Thanksgiving!
March 16th, 2009 § § permalink
In my house, we are big media consumers. If you think about music, movies, television, web video and podcasts, between the three living beings in our house, we consume enough for our block I am sure. There are many different ways for media to snake it’s way into your home, but my question is are those ways starting to file down to one?
Think about this, as little as a year ago we had cable, internet, bought movies, iTunes music, Netflix, Redbox and probably a few others I can’t think of at this moment. We had 5 cable boxes, one for each TV in our house. The result was a bunch of singular stations that could only watch what was live (except one DVR) could not share content anywhere in the house and was pretty much catch what’s on or pop in a DVD.
Today things are quite different. We are down to three cable boxes in our house (and considering going down to one, but I’ll explain that later) and everywhere that we regularly watch TV, we can watch TV on demand, all the shows we like to follow. How might we do this you ask?
Xbox 360 and Windows Media Center
I think this might be the best kept secret in the world right now. Sure all my buddies know about it, but I work at Microsoft, so they should. The tipping point was today when I saw that my sister had purchased an Xbox 360, she is no gamer. So what makes this little box so special? The quick rundown of features the Xbox 360 provides that don’t include gaming is:
- Windows Media Center Extender: This gives you access to live TV, Video, Music, Photos and FM radio streamed from a Windows Media Center PC. Basically any Vista computer not running Windows Home Basic. It takes about a $50 investment in a TV tuner if you don’t already have one.
- Netflix Streaming: If you subscribe to Netflix, you now have over 10,000 on demand videos you can watch right on your TV from the Xbox 360.
- Zune Integration: This isn’t where it should be yet, but you can plug a Zune in USB and listen to music off of it. While we are on Zune, if you manage your Zune on your Media Center PC, all of the music you have purchased or downloaded via Zune Pass is available through Media Center.
- Xbox Live Movie Rentals: You can rent movies on demand direct from Microsoft, we are talking same day as they come out on DVD.
That’s pretty slick right? So how does that work in a real world scenario? We have 4 Xbox 360s in our home. I talked about there being 5 Cable boxes before, now there is only 4 360s because I can also watch TV in my office on the Media Center computer’s 24” Monitor.
I have three tuners in my Media Center computer which means that it can manage 3 Live TV feeds. That could be watching one while two record, watching 3, watching two while 1 record, you get the idea. Any combination and it streams the show real time to the Xbox over the home network.
Of course all of the Xbox 360s are also fantastic upscaling DVD players as well, so watching our movie collection plays out of the same box instead of having to add a DVD player everywhere. It’s a fantastic solution. When the cable companies give up on the encryption crap like the music companies are starting to do with DRM, then you will be able to bring your cable into your house with a Media Center computer, perhaps a tuner for each place you will put an Xbox 360 and then an Xbox 360 in each room. Talk about an awesome setup. Might want to run all that wired tho! I have had a few issues with performance if your WiFi connection isn’t that strong.
So now when shows come up we like, I go to the Media Center computer, set up a recording or series recording. When we are ready to watch, we just pick it from the lovely TV friendly interface and we are enjoying our favorite shows with the Cable Box on the curb.
February 26th, 2009 § § permalink
I will admit to being a humongous fan of F.E.A.R. when it came out. I had just been given an Xbox 360 by my lovely wife for Christmas and made a hasty trip to Best Buy for a half dozen games. F.E.A.R. quickly jumped out in front and became the game that sold me on the Xbox 360 gaming platform. The F.E.A.R Files solidified that experience and when I realized that F.E.A.R. 2 was coming out I was literally counting down the days.
I made a trip to the store to pick up F.E.A.R. 2 just before we started to move and was not only instantly hooked, but I found myself stopping on purpose to make sure that I get the entire experience instead of blowing through it and feeling like it just didn’t last long enough.
As of now I am about half way through and that is plenty of time to give a rave review and explain why this is hands down the best game I have played in a long time.
This game is even creepier than the original. It has top notch textures and particle effects, the baddies are modeled in great detail and the environments are rich and immersive. They aren’t quite as interactive as some, but they are still deep and fun to roam around in. The weapons look incredible and I can’t say enough about the lighting. If any game used lighting to set the mood, this game is the gold standard. From lazily moving hanging lamps to missile fire and burning environments, the lighting adds nearly as much to the creep factor as the spectral visions that have incredible timing when it comes to making you grip the controller tightly and jump.
I am playing it on normal settings and it’s challenging enough without being terribly difficult. I don’t think you could make it though without the ability to slow down time though. Health packs seem to be a little more rare than they were in F.E.A.R. and the weapons are dropped at just enough rate to keep you wondering if you are going to run out when you need them most. They probably could have done away with armor and adjusted the health system to compensate because it’s not very obvious what it does and how long it lasts. The health bar itself is actually a little confusing. I also don’t like that when I am full I can’t grab the health shots for later, only the large health packs are collectible.
This game must have had a top notch horror sound editor. The sounds of the environment play a large part in the vibe you get walking through the different phases. It’s very well done and a full blown firefight will have your adrenaline pumping like you were actually there.
Buy this game. Well, rent this game at least. If you aren’t into the online options you could probably finish it in a weekend with little trouble. That being said, it will be one of the most fun, creepy and intense weekends you have ever spent on a game console. I can’t recommend this enough. Three thumbs up. (figure that one out)
January 13th, 2009 § § permalink
I think this is really cool. Obviously it’s something that’s dynamic because the game came out before the campaign did. It’s unobtrusive advertising and it’s pretty relative to my interests obviously.
November 16th, 2008 § § permalink
I had been looking for something new to play for a little while. After being quickly disinterested in Fable II and finding Gears of War 2 to be the same as the previous, which I disliked, (much to the dismay of my friends I might add) Andy and I made our way into GameCrazy last night after picking up dinner last night.
Dawngrrl has some friends in town and while they were out doing Girls Night in Seattle, we took our swinging bachelor freedom to the game store to pick up some entertainment for the evening. After picking up Rock Band for Wii for Andy at a steal of $100, I decided on Fallout 3 and chose Xbox 360 purely for the comfort of the controller.
I started the game and while I have a few tweaks with it, over all the game seems to be loads of fun. The world is humongous and incredibly detailed. The character interaction is expansive and in my opinion a much more unobtrusive way to get the story than sitting through lengthy cut scenes.
The combat system takes some getting used to, you can tell it’s an RPG with first-person combat as an afterthought. The movement isn’t fluid and aiming projectile weapons is pretty flaky. Luckily the depth and scale of the game is big enough to make you forgive the cludgy combat system.
I picked up the strategy guide while I was in the store, if for nothing but the maps. The strategy guide is a bit intimidating. It really puts the size of this game on display. The maps are humongous and the system for talents and skills is incredibly complex.
I can’t comment much on the soundtrack, other than some during loading scenes, there doesn’t seem to be one. The sound effects are haunting and hearing the radio blasting from the roaming robots is a bit creepy. Atmospherically it really sets the post-apocalyptic mood. It’s dry, dusty, dirty, rusty and sparse. I am sure designing and texturing an environment this size had to have been an incredible undertaking.
I am only a day in, but this is about the point in most games where I decide not to bother messing with it again. I am definitely intrigued, and much more so than I was by Oblivion which is from the same company on the same engine.
I think the game itself is much more attractive than Oblivion and game seems much more satisfying. If you are not yet into Fallout 3 and are looking for something new to play, I recommend this one for sure.
Fallout 3 is available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.