Coffee Talk #365: The Angle of the Dangle

I’m reexamining my position on viewing angles and I’d love to have your input. I was talking to a few friends that review phones and they were dinging the HTC Sensation for its viewing angles. I just don’t…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the emergence of Rory McIlroy, Floyd Mayweather not showing up to court, or RIM’s declining fortunes, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I’m reexamining my position on viewing angles and I’d love to have your input. I was talking to a few friends that review phones and they were dinging the HTC Sensation for its viewing angles. I just don’t understand why they’re a big deal on phones. Mobile phones are generally used by one person looking at the device head-on. Certainly I can’t think of a case where my mobile phone experience was lessened by poor viewing angles.

My friends said that I was being contradictory for criticizing the Nintendo 3DS for its viewing angles. If you haven’t tried one, the 3D aspect of the handheld system is very sensitive to viewing angles. The 3D effect breaks if you view it from slightly off-center angles. In this case, one of the 3DS’ primary functions — 3D gaming — can be ruined due to the device’s viewing angles. I don’t think it’s the same deal as on a phone.

My reviewer friends weren’t able to change my mind, but perhaps you will. Please let me know how you feel about viewing angles on phones, portable consoles, televisions, etc.

Moneyball Trailer is…

…awesome! Hear me out on this one. I loved the Moneyball book. I loved that Billy Beane (portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie!) modernized baseball’s archaic scouting system. I loved that a lot of baseball people misunderstood and dismissed what Beane was doing with the Oakland A’s; they thought he was all about buying on-base percentage when he was actually all about buying whatever was undervalued at the time. I lost respect for the legendary Joe Morgan for flipping off Moneyball without even reading it. Billy Beane truly revolutionized the way baseball teams are made, the way players are scouted, and how stats are used acquire players.

I’m so ready to love this movie. While I don’t think it will be as big as The Social Network, I think it will be The Social Network movie for sports fans. Anyone with me on this one?

Redbox Videogame Rental Contest Celebration Extravaganza!

In case you didn’t know, Redbox has gone national with its videogame rental service. Loads of excellent games are available at more than 21,000 Redbox kiosks around the nation (of Domination). Let’s celebrate this momentous occasion (okay maybe not momentous, but it’s definitely very cool) with a giveaway! Before I get to that, here’s a clip from the press release:

Redbox, America’s movie rental destination, will offer video game rentals at more than 21,000 redbox locations nationwide beginning June 17, 2011. Top video games will join new release movies for only $2 a day complementing $1 DVD and $1.50 Blu-ray daily rental prices. The announcement follows a test of video game rentals in select U.S. markets that began in August 2009.

Redbox has hooked me up with freebie coupons to share with you guys and gals. I’ve already contacted RPadholics Lunias, bsukenyan, BigBlak, and Redd75 so that they may claim their loot. If you’re interested in some free Redbox coupons, just leave a comment below.

Click here to find a Redbox location near you. Special thanks to Laura and Cat at Redbox for being super cool people.

Tomb Raider Dives Into Lara Croft’s Past, Shows Bright Future

Although Lara Croft is the first lady of modern gaming, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games have supplanted Tomb Raider as the best action-adventure videogame series. Square Enix has Lara set for a huge comeback by delving into her past. The upcoming Tomb Raider game stars a young Lara Croft as she embarks on her first adventure. From what I saw at E3 2011, it looks like Lara will be taken to new heights by going in a very different direction.

From the gameplay I was shown, as well as the beautiful intro movies, it’s clear that Lara has been trained but hasn’t been battle tested. She’s capable, but not yet confident. I liked seeing the vulnerable side of her character…though she did a bit too much moaning and whining when she was attacked. There were times I wasn’t sure if she was under duress or on the verge of an orgasm.

[nggallery id=61]

The gameplay had plenty of exploration and puzzle solving — two hallmarks of the Tomb Raider series. Exploring the caverns and outdoor areas was lots of fun. The graphics I saw were beautiful and it was a pleasure watching someone else play the game. The early puzzles I saw played up fire and water. Lara would have to manage her torch (stop thinking about her managing your torch) and relight as necessary. The caverns were full of streams and pools, making torch management an interesting gameplay facet.

While I didn’t get to see any of Lara’s famous gunplay, I saw her engage in a number fights using her limbs, a dagger, and a bow (with arrows…duh!). The back-to-basics fighting was appropriate for the early portion of the game as she was freshly shipwrecked, but I imagine she’ll be dual-wielding pistols towards the end of her adventure.

A lot of the fight scenes implemented quick time events. The amount of them surprised me. The developers are trying to give the combat a cinematic feel while also appealing to casual gamers that are familiar with the Tomb Raider brand. It’s an interesting gambit that potentially gives the game a broader appeal and also differentiates it from a more traditional title like Uncharted.

My demo session of Tomb Raider left me wanting more. The graphics were impressive, the story was interesting, young Lara is hot, the puzzle gameplay looked like fun, and the combat was different. My chief concern at this time is the combat. It was definitely atypical, but it wasn’t as fun to watch as the other facets of gameplay. Will the fighting be fun to play? That’s what I want to know…and I’m willing to watch Lara Croft for hours in order to find out.

What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I’m almost done with my review run of Dungeon Siege III for Machinima, so I think I’ll start a new game on my personal account. If any of you want to beat up some villains and grab some treasure with me (in the game, not in real life), please let me know.

Aside from that, I expect to pick up a bunch of new games for my iPad 2. EA and Gameloft are having Father’s Day sales. A lot of great stuff will be slashed to high heaven.

How about you? What’s on your weekend playlist?

This Week’s Videogame Releases

I didn’t get around to this article on Monday since my brain was still melted from E3, but it’s an interesting week for videogames. The sequels or spiritual successors to three old franchises were released this week. After years of being a running joke, Duke Nukem Forever was finally released. Longtime fans of Rez will be thrilled to play Q’s Child of Eden. American McGee jumped down the rabbit hole once again in Alice: Madness Returns.

By the way, I’m looking for some peeps to play Dungeon Siege III if anyone is down. The game is so different from Chris Taylor’s original, but I’m enjoying it in a hack-and-slash loot-fest way.

So, any of you picking up new games this week?