This Week’s Videogame Releases

While it’s not as big as last week — with Brutal Legend and Uncharted 2 leading the way — there are some significant titles shipping this Tuesday. The two biggest games on the list are Borderlands and WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 (which will likely go down in history as having the best writing in any videogame made by man). Here are this week’s PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo DS releases…along with some brief commentary. I’ve taken out most of the garbage and kids games (unless I found them funny).

Are you picking up any of this week’s releases? If so, leave a comment and let me know which ones.

Smackdown vs Raw 2010 a

PlayStation 3
Borderlands — Super looking forward to this one. It looks stylish and smart, but I’m not sure how well it will sell. I’m hoping the best for Gearbox though.
FIFA Soccer 2010
Madagascar Kartz
WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 — The Mickie James storyline is one of the most heart-wrenching experience you’ll ever find in a videogame.

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Coffee Talk #6: What’s Your Dream Game?

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 Anaheim Angels forgetting how to play baseball, fun with Google Wave, or how you’re going to utterly conquer this week, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Drizzt 2Is there a movie, comic book, or novel that you think would make a fantastic game? I’m sure there is. All of us have “dream games” that have yet to be made. Some of our visions are outlandish and unrealistic. Others seem so obvious that it’s dumbfounding as to why they haven’t been made.

One of my dream games has been teased, but never fully delivered. I want to play an action-adventure as Drizzt Do’Urden from R.A. Salvatore’s novels. Drizzt has made cameos in Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, and Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. You could play as him in the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance series, but he was merely a bonus character set in an adventure that had nothing to do with his storied exploits.

I want the full-on Drizzt treatment. I want an adventure that takes advantage of his history in Menzoberranzan and his adventures with the Companions of the Hall. I want cameos by Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri. I want dynamic action that’s full of twirling scimitars and impossible acrobatics. Just for the hell of it, I want a “dog button” like the one in Dead to Rights, but instead of some lame-ass canine, Drizzt’s magical panther, Guenhwyvar, appears. reader Ieyke recently wrote about one of the games he wishes for, saying, “Assassin’s Creed+MGS4-guns-white robes=awesome stealthy ninja.” Let’s use his formula to talk about our dream games. I guess mine would be:

Drizzt Do’Urden + Prince of Persia – Gimmicky Time Shifting = Awesome Drow Ranger Action-Adventure.

Using the Ieyke formula, tell me about your dream game. (Hit the break for some inspirational music that will help you write about your dreams.)

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Uncharted 2 Sells 300,000 on Day One, Third-Fastest Selling PS3 Game in North America

Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is selling like hot cakes Beanie Babies whatever sells really fast these days. According to VGChartz, the game sold more than 300,000 copies on day one and is positioned to be the third-fastest selling PlayStation 3 game in North America and fourth-fastest selling worldwide.

We can now reveal that preliminary VGChartz data shows day one sales of over 300,000 units which should rise to 450,000 – 500,000 units by the end of the week, making Uncharted 2 the 3rd fastest-selling PS3 title to date in America behind Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4.

Uncharted 2

If the numbers are accurate — VGChartz has an…uneven reputation in the business — this is fantastic news for Sony and Naughty Dog. By all accounts, this is one of the year’s best games, but as we’ve seen so many times in the past, the best games aren’t always the best selling. That aside, it looks like it’s full steam ahead for Uncharted 2. Congrats to Naughty Dog!

Any of you surprised by Uncharted 2 success? Or is this what you expected from a superior developer and a great game.


Raymond’s Random Rants!

Derek Jeter– How awesome are the Yankees looking right now? I don’t want to jinx it, but the team’s confidence reminds me of the great Yankee teams of the late ’90s. I was still living in NY when they were snatching up World Series — kind of weird to think that I’ve been watching Jeter, Rivera, and Posada their entire MLB careers.

– I know a lot of you are down on WWE right now, but I really can’t say enough about SmackDown. Jericho is doing his best work ever (though he’s on both shows most weeks) and it’s great seeing future stars like John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler develop. The Harty Dynasty should develop into something good, especially Tyson Kidd. I dig Cryme Tyme, but have to admit I’m biased because Shad Gaspard is geek chick (dude loves his comics!).

– Btw, I was toying with the idea of live blogging RAW on Monday. Anyone interested?

– This Google Wave video of Pulp Fiction just cracks me up. I’ve watched it like ten times in the last day. I haven’t gotten my Wave invite yet, but a few of my friends have…which makes me extremely jealous.

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God of War Collection Trailer

You know you want it!

Sony Santa Monica director of product development Jon Hight noted:

Available this November — just in time for the holidays — fans and newcomers to the franchise will be able to experience the epic journey that is God of War and God of War II on the PlayStation 3 for the first time remastered in full HD resolution on a single Blu-ray Disc. Both critically acclaimed games (originally developed for the PS2) will include 2X anti-aliased graphics running at 60 frames per second for an ultra smooth gameplay experience on the PS3. PlayStation Network trophy support will also be included — a first for the series.

And don’t forget, the God of War Collection will also include a PSN voucher code for the God of War III E3 2009 Demo. So don’t miss your chance to check out God of War III before it hits store shelves in March 2010.

Check out the trailer and let me know what you think (please)!


Coffee Talk #5: What’s Up With All the Wii Hate?

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, balloon boy, the new info on that FFXIII chick, or advanced sock-organization techniques, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

For many enthusiast gamers, Nintendo has gone from a lovable loser to a disdained winner. Longtime gamers professed their love for the company while it was struggling during the Nintendo 64 and GameCube eras. Now that the Wii has Nintendo enjoying record success, a lot of the same people have turned their backs on it. Why is that? Is it an abandonment thing? Sure, the company has had tremendous success with the mainstream audience, but it’s still serving up Marios and Zeldas and Metroids for enthusiasts.

Wind Waker

As someone that follows the business, I’m all for the Nintendo Renaissance. It was unexpected and made the market really interesting. As a gamer, I’m happy that the company is enjoying great success. The millions of casual gamers that bought Wii consoles will help make sure that I get new Pokemons, Zeldas, etc. I seem to be in the minority though. A lot of the comments I read at TheFeed (and a few that I’ve seen here) were full of anti-Wii and anti-Nintendo venom. Perhaps it’s entirely fueled by nostalgia, but I don’t see how anyone can hate Nintendo. All I have to do is think about a game like The Wind Waker to get warm fuzzies (of the gaming variety).

On this wonderful Friday, I want to know why you feel that way you to about the Wii. Has the console changed you opinion of Nintendo? Do you feel like the company abandoned you? Or did you just outgrow it?

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Michael Pachter Predicts $50 Project Natal and $100 Sony Wand

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter has given his price guesstimates on Microsoft’s Project Natal and Sony’s wave motion sex toy EyeWand. He recently told IndustryGamers:

I think that Natal will cost $50, as it only really involves a camera (a three-lensed camera, but a camera nonetheless). The EyeWand, on the other hand, involves a camera and two controllers, so it may be slightly more expensive. I would be surprised if the EyeWand retails for more than $100. Neither impacts the other, as neither is intended to compete with the other.

That last sentence sounded like Professor Trelawney’s prophecy on Voldemort and Harry Potter…but I digress. I’m surprised Pachter doesn’t feel that these are competing products. Am I missing something here? Both are aimed at expanding the audience for their respective consoles. Both will be used to attract more mainstream gamers. Seems like competition to me, but I’m not some highly paid analyst, so what do I know?

Sony Motion Controller

What do you think of Pachter’s price estimates for these motion-control add-ons? Do you agree with him that they’re not competing products?


250GB PlayStation 3 Slim Official — Landing 11/3 for $349.99

Sony has officially announced details on the 250GB PS3 Slim that everyone knew was coming. Here are some tidbits from the press release:

Following the successful launch of the slimmer and lighter PlayStation 3 system with 120GB hard disk drive (HDD), Sony Computer Entertainment America today announced that a new PS3 system with a 250GB HDD will be available on November 3 for $349.99 (MSRP).

The 250GB PS3 system offers the same form factor and functionality as the current 120GB system, which achieved retail sales of 1 million units worldwide in the three weeks since its launch on September 1. Both models will be available at retail this holiday, providing both gamers and gift-givers with the opportunity to choose the PS3 system that’s right for them.

While it’s not as exciting as the GameCom 2009 announcement of the PS3 Slim and price cut, the 250GB model is pretty important. In addition to giving consumers (that don’t know how to replace a hard drive themselves — duh!) more choice, it allows Sony some wiggle room in the future. With two models, price cuts can be manipulated in a clever way. Besides, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has multiple models, so Sony can use two models to compete for different customers (the differences will be more pronounced as future price cuts occur).

PS3 Slim 3

What do you think of the 250GB PS3 Slim’s price? Any of you plan on picking one up in November?

Microsoft Expects to be Outsold by Sony, Brushes it Off

With the recent price cut to the PlayStation 3, Microsoft expects that it will be behind Sony when the September 2009 NPD console sales figures are released later today. Ultimately, Microsoft feels that it doesn’t matter. Company director of project management Aaron Greenberg told Game Informer:

I can tell you to that when NPD releases September sales later today, we fully expect PlayStation 3 will come in as the console with the most units sold for the month. This is frankly not a real surprise to us or the analysts that follow this industry, as it is typical to see a short term bump following the introduction of new hardware and pricing into the marketplace. What I can tell you is we remain confident that Xbox 360 will not only outsell PS3 for the full calendar year, but for this entire generation. It is similar to a game of baseball, it is not about just winning one inning, but instead being able to win the game by consistently delivering across all nine innings.

While I doubt that Sony can sell enough PS3s to overtake Microsoft for the year, it has a strong chance at outselling its rival for the remainder of 2009, which includes the lucrative holiday-shopping season. Considering the recent economy and the immediate financial future, this console generation will probably be longer than either company expected. This bodes well for Sony; the more time it has to catch up, the better.

Console Wars!!!
Console Wars!!!

What do you think of Aaron’s comments? Do you think the PS3 will outsell the Xbox 360 for the rest of the year? What do you think Sony’s chances are of catching up to Microsoft this generation?


Coffee Talk #4: Game Review Scores and You

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, whether the Motorola Cliq will turn the company around, why the hell it’s raining in Los Angeles, or bellybutton lint, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

In Coffee Talk #2, reader rbee90 brought up the topic of game reviews, which led to a conversation about review scores. The discussion started to get interesting and reader RRODisHere suggested that I write about the topic in Coffee Talk. Well here it is!

I have a ton of problems with the way most — not all — game reviews work. Scoring is a huge pet peeve of mine. 100-point scales are just stupid. I’d love for someone to (intelligently) explain the one-point difference between a game that gets an 87 and one that gets an 88. Five-point scales — which I like a whole lot better — are a problem because of the way the business uses scores and how some consumers interpret them. Here’s a pro tip for you — three stars out of five is not the same as 60 percent. Yet that’s the way a three-out-of-five is treated by review aggregators (most of the time). What’s worse is that some publishers base royalties on aggregate review scores, which is completely unfair to developers.

Borat Thumbs Up

Personally, I think there should only be three review scores — buy it, rent it, eff it, symbolized by thumbs up, thumbs in the middle, and a thumbs down (or Megan Fox’s thumbs). Isn’t purchasing, renting, or passing what it all comes down to anyway? I pushed for this system when I worked at GameSpy, but nobody was buying it. Oddly enough, my boss at GameSpy eventually went to Crispy Gamer, which uses a scale like the one I suggested. Anyway, the bottom line is that scores have become so important that the words behind them are often overlooked and sometimes ignored.

Then there’s the way some games are reviewed. Some publishers send code to reviewers days before they’re allowed to publish their reviews. For competitive reasons, everyone wants to get the review up the second the embargo lifts. This has the reviewer cramming a pint glass of gameplay into a shot glass of time. Another practice that bugs the hell out of me is when publishers have reviewers play the game off site. In these cases, a reviewer has to commute to a hotel suite or a conference room to play the game for a few days before writing the review. Again, the short amount of time introduces a problem, but it’s compounded by having to play the game in a completely unnatural setting. My issue here is that reviewers have to play games in a way that few consumers would. Do most people play 50-hour games in three days? Of course not. Do most people make daily commutes to play games in a conference room? No.

Okay, I’m getting angry about the whole deal. What I’d like to know from you is what you expect from game reviews. Do you like like 100-point scales or do you prefer five-star systems? What information is most important to you in a game review? Do you think that the unnatural way reviewers have to play games leads to an unnatural view of the game? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!