Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finishing the Fight ... later

Okay ... so it goes without saying that I picked up Halo 3 last night (this morning). I originally had pre-ordered the Limited Edition (that would be the expensive one WITHOUT the helmet). Thing is, I'd heard that apparently the folks over at MS were having some problems with the Limited version, as the discs were popping off the pegs in the packaging, resulting in a lot of scratched discs. So, using this as a perfect excuse to validate a decision I'd probably already made subconsciously, I managed to upgrade at the last minute to the Legendary Edition. Yeah, that's right ... I have the helmet now.

So, first off I had to play a little 1-on-1 with my friend Jenn. After getting her set up, we played around on a couple of the maps, and she got to try out some new weapons. Personally, I'm loving the Spartan Laser, and the flamethrower kicks serious ass too. After that, I popped in the bonus discs to check things out a little, watch the RvB episodes (Episode One redone in Halo 3 graphics is CLASSIC), and then decided to jump into the single player campaign. Then I realized something ... I haven't slept in a couple of days, and barring anything unusual, I don't think the Chief is going anywhere. So, it looks like I'll "Finish the Fight" later today ...

Oh, and for the record, Heroes STILL kicks ass!!

End of Line ...

Monday, September 24, 2007

State of the WldCard address

First the bad news:

Unfortunately, I'm no longer working as the News Editor over at Game Almighty. I could make up some grandiose tale involving superheroics, midget mobsters, and ninja accountants, but the only truth would have probably been about the accountants part. The truth of the matter is, the company hit a bit of a financial speed bump and had to put a lot of the staff on a leave of absence for an indeterminate length of time.

Does this mean the end of Game Almighty? Hell, if you read comics enough, you know that nothing is dead 'til you see the body ... and even then it probably will come back. The site is still up and running, and you may even see an article from me on occasion during the restructuring. If and when things change, I'll let you guys know.

Now the good news:

Where one well dries up, another springs forth sometimes. Although I was never technically exclusive to Game Almighty, since I started there six months back, the only other real work I've done elsewhere was my usual production work with Electric Playground. Another season means another batch of Comic of the Week segments and more. Now that I'm freed up, I've been popping up again all around the place. New to the list of regular haunts? TeamXbox. Expect to see me doing a lot of writing over there in the coming months too.

Want to see some of the most recent stuff?

So, what's looming on the horizon? Look for an interview w/ Eric Holmes, lead designer on Radical's upcoming next-gen hit, Prototype as well as an exclusive interview with California State Senator Leland Yee regarding his thoughts on the video game industry and bill AB 1179 (the bill restricting the distribution of video games to minors that was struck down in CA District Court).

Now for the newest feature on the blog: the WldCard Omnibus, where I'll answer some frequently asked questions in rapid fire.

Here goes ...

  • Yes, I AM in fact single (big surprise)
  • Umm ... I don't really know WHY it's important for you to know what I'm wearing
  • Tonight? Probably watching Heroes and playing Halo 3. Got any better ideas?
  • No, you can NOT borrow $20 ... quit asking
  • Yes, I really do get paid to play video games
  • Yes, the job has its REALLY bad days (try putting together a list of the worst games ever)
  • Yes, there are still some surprises up my sleeves
  • The profile pic was by comic book artist, Kelly Yates. The colors were thrown on by me and my Photoshop.
  • The background pic is by comic artist Randy Green
  • Caboose is doing fine
  • Yes, I'm still deeply entrenched in the comic industry
  • Not real sure of its "meaning", but I hear it makes for a decent cereal, an okay magazine, and Brian's was a HILARIOUS Monty Python flick.

Okay, that's all for now ... feel free to submit your own questions for the next Omnibus here in a message or comment, or email it to me through the usual means.

End of line ...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Drawn to Life

So, this week THQ and 5th Cell finally released Drawn to Life to DS audiences. In case you've never heard of it, the best way to describe it is: "Classic platformer with a twist".

The gist of the game is that you are the mythical Creator of legend, who drew an entire world into existence. Now, that world is being overrun by evil little shadow creatures and you've been called in to lend a hand. To help out, you infuse a small wooden mannequin with some of your power, drawing the character into life (hence the name of the game).

The big hook here is that when you're playing the game, you create a custom hero. Using the basic paint tools offered in the game, you can make the character look like just about anything. Also, at key points in the title, you'll be called upon to draw more assets, such as custom platforms, weapons, and even spaceships. While these items react the same no matter what you actually draw, it's a great way to "draw" the player into the experience. Right not, for example, I've drawn up a custom animated Master Chief as my hero, armed with a crude representation of a Covenant Plasma Rilfe. Through the first stage, "M. Chief" was hopping around on the Xbox 360 logo and having a grand ol' time on the DS.

The game supports 3 saves/heroes, and players can trade out their characters with friends via local connections. While I haven't tried this yet, you can also apparently swap out parts between characters, making for some cool little Frankenstein's monster mashups.

The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward ... think along the lines of the original Mario games (before he went all 3D). The player runs around collecting coins and bouncing on enemies. The touchscreen is used sporadically for things like clearing the inky shadows from the landscape, but otherwise it's main focus is drawing.

I'm having a lot of fun with this right now. It's nothing too deep, and it's a casual yet creative little gem that may fly under most people's radar. Still, if you're looking for a change of pace and are feeling a bit artistic, give Drawn to Life a whirl.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A shifting of priorities ...

Where do I start on the beginning of this fine, fine week?

Here's the scoop, due to some unusual events last week, things have freed up a little bit for me finally. So, what does that mean for all of you? Well, besides seeing a lot more in the way of freelance work here and there around the net, you're going to be seeing some changes here as well. You'll likely start seeing a new design roll out this month, and you'll definitely be seeing more content.

My goal is to create a one-stop shop for news relating to video games, comics, movies, and other such stuff. Until everything gets finalized, you'll be seeing more in the way of news posted here, albeit in a slightly unorganized manner. Consider this your "Pardon our mess while we remodel" notice.


Saturday, September 08, 2007


So by now most retailers have gotten in their shipments of the new PSP Daxter Entertainment pack ... which is also the public's first gander at the newly redesigned PSP (dubbed the PSP 2000 in the press, but carrying an actual PSP 2001 model number). I decided to bite the bullet and pick this up, and I've gotta say that I'm impressed so far by what I've seen.

First off, I've gotta say that if you're in the market for a PSP, this is definitely the way to go. For just 30 buck more than the core unit's $170 retail price, you get a copy of the HILARIOUSLY fun Daxter game ($20 MSRP), a copy of the Family Guy Freakin' Sweet Collection UMD (another $20 MSRP), AND a 1G Memory Stick Pro DUO (ringing in at an MSRP of $50). So, all in all, you'll save about $60 total ... even better, this weekend, Target has the pack listed at 15% off ... making it the same $169.99 retail price as a core system. And keep in mind, you've still got a week or so until the new PSP models hit stores in the Core packs.

Moving along to the system itself ... I'll skip any mention of the cool "Ice Silver" (bad pun) color. The first thing I noticed when I pulled it out of the package is that the new system feels ... well ... fake. I'm not knocking the system, but it's just SUCH a huge change. Basically, Sony has swapped the heavy metal outer body of the original PSP with lighter, seemingly durable, plastic body for the new model. The result makes the new model feel ... well ... like a cheap prop when compared to the original.

Another physical tweak to the design is the new UMD loading tray. Gone are the days of sliding in the UMD and trying to get the spring inside to lock into place. Now, you just pop open a small door, lay the UMD inside, and everything just falls into place. I'm a little split on this design. I LOVE the way the UMDs fit into the tray now, but I'm not a fan of the elimination of the eject button. Every time I manually pop open the UMD slot, I'm afraid I'm going to snap the damned thing off. Maybe I'm just being paranoid since it's new ... and since the rest of the PSP feels like a prop.

On the original PSP, the speakers were situated on the bottom side of the unit (where the serial number and wrist strap loop are). This was fine, but occasionally, depending on how you held the system, your fingers couldn't help but cover them. With the new speaker placements, at the upper portion of the main menu, this isn't a problem. As a result, the new system SEEMS to have sharper sound. It really isn't much of a difference in terms of hardware, but without players' hands getting in the way, the speakers sounds richer than before.

Now, maybe it's just me and maybe I'm losing my mind, but I'll be damned if the new screen isn't somehow sharper looking than the original. Playing games like Dead Head Fred on the system, everything looks about as crisp as if I was playing it on my HD LCD. Right now, I'm just itching to get my hands on the video cables to see just how this stacks up when actually ON the LCD TV. I think Sony kinda missed the boat by not including the AV Out cables, especially considering that the video out function is one of the new system's biggest draws. Either way, it looks like I'll have to wait til a little later to see the AV out in action.

Now, I do notice a slight decrease in the load times with the new PSP over the old one. I bring this up because, while it HAS been described as a feature in earlier material from Sony, some of the press has said there wasn't much of a noticeable change. Others have said there was a measurable change. For my personal experience, I'm in the latter group. While still not exactly lightning fast in some cases, the UMDs do, by and large, load up quite a bit faster than they did before.

So, if you already have a PSP, should you buy this new models? Eh ... I guess it's a matter of preference. For me, and in my line of work, the video out option alone was worth a look ... and the extra onboard memory and such was a nice added bonus. Would it have been a necessity to get the new model? No. But was there enough for me to justify it? Personally, yes. For others, maybe not so much. But if you DON'T already have a PSP, this is definitely the way to go for getting one.

I'll write up an update later to discuss more of the software features of the new PSP, as well as the infamous video out function. In the meantime, the PSP 2001 is definitely worth a look.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Four and Twenty (HP) Blackbirds ...

No, I'm not talking about pie here. So, if you're a computer geek, you may have heard that HP bought Voodoo not too long ago. People kinda figured that meant HP was going to be getting into the gaming rig business ...

They were right ...


Looks like I know what I'm getting myself this Christmas (or sooner).


From the HP Blackbird 002 PC website:

AMD® X2 Dual Core Architecture

* 64 bit data paths and registers
* Hypertransport-- I/O Bus
* 16 128-bit SSE/SSE2/SSE3 registers
* Integrated DDR2 memory Controler


* Athlon-- AMD X2 6000+ 3.0GHz
o 1MB of L2 cache per processor

Intel® Core-- Micro architecture

* 128-bit SSE3 vector engine
* 64-bit data paths and registers
* Energy efficiency optimization
* Thermal cut-outs to mitigate damage from system overclocking


* Intel® Core2-- Extreme 2.93GHz
o 4MB of L2 cache per processor (8MB total)
* Intel® Core2-- Duo 2.66GHz
o 4MB of L2 cache per processor (8MB total)
* Intel® Core2-- Duo 3.0GHz
o 4MB of L2 cache per processor (8MB total)
* Intel® Core2-- Extreme Quad-Core 3.0GHz
o 8MB of L2 cache per processor (16MB total)

1.33 GHz, 64-bit front side bus


* 1GB 667 MHz DDR2 PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM
* 1GB 1GHz CORSAIR PC2-8500 DDR2 SDRAM SLI enabled

Four FSB-DIMM slots supporting up to 8 GB of main memory

256-bit-wide memory architecture

Graphics and Displays

Two Doublewide, 16-lane PCI Express graphics slot with one or more of the following graphic cards installed:

* NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600 GT with 256MB of GDDR2 SDRAM, one single-link DVI port, and one dual-link DVI port
* NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS with 640MB of GDDR2 SDRAM, one single-link DVI port, and one dual-link DVI port (available with liquid cooling)

* NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX, with 756MB of GDDR2 SDRAM one single-link DVI port, and one dual-link DVI port (available with liquid cooling)
* ATI RADEON-- X2900 XT 512MB, with 512MB of GDDR2 SDRAM, (available with liquid-cooling)
* ATI RADEON X2900-- XT 1GB, with 1GB of GDDR2 SDRAM, (available with liquid-cooling)
* ATI RADEON-- HD 2600 XT, with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM, Dual configuration only.

Ageia PhysX-- PCI-E GFX Accelerator Card

Four slots for up to two PCIe graphics cards

Dual-link DVI ports support up to 2560 by 1600 pixels.

Support for analog resolutions up to 2048 by 1536 pixels at 85HZ

DVI to VGA adapter included

Dual-display support for extended desktops and video mirroring modes


Two independent 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet (RJ-45) ports that can support jumbo frames


Five independent Serial ATA slot loading hard drive bays

Up to 4TB of internal storage using drives with the following capacities:

* Hard drive bays 1 – 5 160GB 10,000 rpm SATA (Western Digital Raptor)
* 320GB 7200 rpm SATA
* 500GB 7200 rpm SATA
* 750GB 7200 rpm SATA

Two Super multi-drive, slim slots with Lightscribe (DVD+/-R/RW+/-DL)

* Writes DVD-R discs at up to 16x speed
* Writes DVD+R DL discs at up to 4x speed
* Reads DVDs at up to 8x speed
* Writes CD-R discs at up to 40x speed
* Writes CD-RW discs at up to 24x speed
* Reads CDs at up to 24x speed
o A single 5 1/4 bay for Blu-ray Rewriter and , HD DVD-ROM Super multi-drive with LightScribe CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW/RAM, +R/RW, +/- R DL
o BD-R/RE SL/DL read and write compatible
o CD Family, DVD-ROM read compatible
o HD DVD-ROM/R read compatible

Electrical and environmental requirements

* Line voltage: 100-120V AC or 200-240V AC (wide-range power supply input voltage)
* Frequency: 50GHz to 60Hz single phase
* Current: Maximum of 12A (low-voltage range) or 6A (high-voltage range)
* Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)
* Storage temperature: -40° to 116° F (-40° to 47° C)
* Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
* Maximum altitude: 10,000 feet

Peripherals and audio
Back panel:

* One PS/2 mouse port
* One PS/2 keyboard port
* Two eSATA ports
* One IEEE1394 port
* LCD screen (for diagnostics and status)
* LCD back light button (some boards only)
* SPDIF out and optical out port
* Two RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet) ports (number depends on MB)
* Four USB 2.0 ports (number depends on MB)

Top panel:

* 15 in 1 multi-card reader
* One IEEE1394 port
* Two USB 2.0 ports
* One 1/8" microphone jack
* One 1/8" headphone jack

Optional audio cards:

* Creative Audio Sound Blaster® X-Fi-- XtremeGamer
* Creative Audio Sound Blaster® X-Fi-- XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional


* Speaker and Headphone connections: Stereo to 7.1 (Line Out via three 3.5mm mini jacks)
* Flexijack: Line In / Microphone In / Digital Out / Digital I/O via shared 3.5mm mini jack
* Auxiliary Line level Input: 4-pin Molex connector

Expansion slots

* 3 PCIe x16 slots (The two blue PCIe x16 slots operate with a full compliment of 16 PCI Express lanes, while the third white slot operates with only 8)
* 1 PCIe x1 slot
* 2 PCI v2.2 slots

Operating System and Software

* Microsoft® Windows Vista-- Ultimate
* Microsoft® Windows Vista-- Home Premium Security


* AVG Anti-Virus


* Adobe® Reader®
* Microsoft® Office Pro 2007
* Microsoft® Office Small Business Edition 2007
* Microsoft® Office Basic


* CyberLink DVDPlay
* PowerProducer
* Power2Go

... all that, and it looks all nice a purdy too :-P

So, I'm a geek and I'll probably never need all of that. But I'm a greedy little bastard of a geek who wants it all anyway.