Microsoft's Project Natal
Microsoft's Project Natal

I was fortunate enough to sleep all day and have all the news just sitting there for me when I woke up. Here’s my take on a few things.

Microsoft announced a new kind of motion sensor thing that’s supposed to cut out the need for a controller when playing games. It’s called Project Natal, and from what I’ve seen, people are getting excited about it. Call me a cynic, but I think it will be a disaster.

The example video showcases a few really bad renders that I guess are supposed to be games, including Generic Formula 1 Racing, and Dinosaur Walks Down The Street. All these scenes are blatantly scripted and none of this technology is actually being used. Which is okay I guess, because that’s marketing, and they’re trying to show what it will be like. People love new gizmos. I understand. Really, I do. You see some cutting edge technology and you totally want to get in on that. I get it. But the stuff they show in this video isn’t anything to cause a hubbub over. It’s fake. It’s all lies.

The voice recognition is probably going to be just like those automated voices you get on support lines that you end up just yelling “AGENT AGENT AGENT AGENT” at until you’re put on the line with an operator. The motion sensor is probably going to be laggy, unresponsive, and specific as all hell on where you need to be positioned in front of it, and what kind of lighting in the room you need.

With the Wii, you can make big, gyrating movements if you want to, or just flick your wrist for the same effect. According to the Natal video, you’ll have to be up and about stomping around your living room, doing the steering wheel motions, etc.. I think there’s a difference between the amount of people who think they want to do that compared to the ones who actually want to. To put it in perspective, how many people consistently stand up when they’re playing guitar in Rock Band? For a couple songs it’s fine, but after a little while you just want your ass in a chair.

Halo 3: ODST
Halo 3; ODST

Halo 3: ODST looks fantastic. Helljumpers were always my favorite part of the lore, so I’m excited about it. In the game, you play as an ODST (obviously), and it includes stealth aspects and detective work as you try and find what happened to the rest of your squad. The Rookie doesn’t have the cyborg endurance of the Master Chief, and as a regular human, is a lot more vulnerable. Should mix up gameplay quite a bit when you’re not protected by recharing shields or able to punch out giant space monkeys. I’m wondering what’s with the display of the elusive Recon armor?

I’m already convinced that Halo: Reach is in fact a followup to Halo 3, rather than a straight prequel. I’m a Halo nerd, and I’ve read the books and actually followed the story instead of just glossing over everything then playing matchmaking. [Spoilers ahoy!] Reach was the main naval yard and military post for humanity’s forces and basically the last defense before Earth. The Covenant attacked and wiped out the planet, and Chief bailed through slipspace on The Pillar of Autumn, which is where the first game starts. This is all detailed in the aptly titled (and excellent) The Fall Of Reach, by Eric Nylund.

Halo: Recon
Halo 3: Recon

Now, in Nylund’s three novels (Fall Of Reach, First Strike, and Ghosts Of Onyx), he explores the concept of slipspace extensively. Including it’s ability to manipulate space-time. At the end of Halo 3, Chief’s escape ship is torn in half just as it passes through the slipspace portal. While the front end and the Arbiter make it back to Earth, his section is caught between and sent somewhere… else. He’s left adrift in a void of space, and goes into cryosleep, leaving the impression that, with everyone on Earth thinking he’s dead, it would be years before anyone would find him, if at all.

In the super-secret Legendary ending, though, it goes one scene further and shows the broken hull of the ship drifting towards a planet covered with lights, followed by a bright light from the side of the planet and a sting of music. Exactly how the dark side of Reach looks in this trailer. I say Chief was flung through space and time and ended up right back where he started.
“You know the end from the beginning” indeed.

Alan Wake
Alan Wake

My fandom for Metal Gear Solid does not surpass the first game in the series, and while I’ve always respected the rather original themes of information control in the internet era present in MGS2, I still hate what it’s become. One long conspiracy theory with retcon after retcon. I don’t know what Metal Gear Solid: Rising will be about, other than playing as Raiden and spinning around with a sword, and I can’t say I’m even remotely interested.

Alan Wake, I already know I’m going to have to play. Remedy does good work, and this honestly looks scary, tense, and intriguing. It seems like what the recent Alone In The Dark game wanted to be. Or should have wanted to be.

Front Mission Evolution has piqued my interest simply because it is a Front Mission game, and Front Mission 3 was the only Japanese RPG I’ve ever enjoyed.

Splinter Cell: Conviction
Splinter Cell: Conviction

Splinter Cell Conviction finally took a step back into the light (oh god that sounded like a stealth pun. I didn’t mean that. Really. It’s just been a while since I’ve heard anything about it) and it seems to have taken a step beyond throwing chairs at people. Chaos Theory is among my favorite games, but Double Agent was a train wreck. Hopefully with Ubisoft Montreal back at the wheel, they can save the series. Right now, the trailer reminds me of 24.

Assassin’s Creed 2? More like, Sit On A Goddamn Bench And Listen To These Assheads Talk For Ten Minutes Again Because You Didn’t Pick His Pocket The Right Way Last Time 2.

Crackdown 2, the sequel to the free game that came with the Halo 3 Beta, will apparently be more of the same, but this time with monsters. I wonder if it will have a Beta for Halo: Reach? That would be great.