Review: Borderlands

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Cool guns have become as much a part of gaming’s fabric as health packs and life meters. Whether it’s a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle or a machine gun that fires heat-seeking bullets, many gamers have their favorite brands of fire-spitting, death-spewing hardware. For some, it’s even an obsession.

That’s where the true power of Gearbox’s Borderlands lies. It’s the “Guns & Ammo” of gaming, appealing to our inner firearms enthusiast. Not only does it stroke our urge to search for, collect and play with new toys that go bang, it gives us the ultimate playground. Sure there’s a plot and a story, but who cares when you have a high-powered rifle that shoots electric rounds?

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What kind of Mickey Mouse game is this? Oh, wait …

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This morning, Disney announced that they were creating Disney Epic Mickey, an action platformer for the Wii that’s looking to give the vaunted mouse some new life. Mickey travels to a place called the Cartoon Wasteland — a place for Disney creations that have either retired or faded into obscurity. The caretaker of the wasteland is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who was Walt Disney’s first star … until Mickey came along. Naturally, this leads to issues when Mickey stumbles into the wasteland and ruins the land’s sense of balance. Now, it’s up to Mickey to provide damage control.

Here’s a snippet about gameplay from Disney:

Players use the Wii Remote to wield magical paint and thinner to re-shape the world around them. Paint’s creativity and thinner’s damaging effect give the player robust tools and empowers them to make choices about how they move through the world. Each player’s decisions to use paint, thinner or both dynamically changes the world with consequences that affect the environment, interactions with other characters, and even Mickey’s appearance and abilities.

The painting concept immediately brings me right to Okami, an outstanding game from Capcom where you had the ability to “paint” items into the scenery and watch them spring to life — for instance, if you painted a sun at night, you would immediately make it daytime.

Disney sent over some screens and art for the game, so you can see it after the jump. The game’s slated to drop in the fall of 2010.
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Not an issue

I love Sony’s new ads featuring Kevin Butler, the VP that wears as many hats as Sony needs him to and with plenty of style to boot.

On that note, and in view of Red’s review of the amazing Uncharted 2 (I’ve played it,too), here’s a little example of what I’m talking about. Enjoy!

And don’t forget, it’s also fun for the whole family!

Modern Warfare 2: One star rating on Amazon

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At least according to “customers” on Amazon.com in the UK.

Today’s information saturated world has turned the internet into an open bulletin board allowing anyone with a chip on their shoulder to post their unflattering review of the Transformers in less than three words, accessible to anyone with a browser. But it’s not all off the cuff. Some of that anger is also backed by a number of legitimate concerns.

Amazon is no stranger to this kind of internet vengeance. Last year, Turbotax maker, Intuit, raised the price on its flagship product by $15 and started charging users $9.95 for each additional return made on it. Predictably, this made many upset for a variety of well thought out reasons spanning more than three words. People who quickly downrated Turbotax’s listing on Amazon to one star.

The good news is that Intuit actually listened and reversed the $9.95 charge.

In another example, self-help author, Cooper Lawrence, had stated on Fox News that Mass Effect had “full digital nudity and sex.” which was extremely misleading, sensationalist “SE”XBOX” news header not helping. Mass Effect does have one sex scene, but it happens late in the game and is the kind implied on prime-time television, even for a game rated “M” for Mature (titles like Max Payne 2 or even the original Duke Nukem were a lot more explicit compared to Mass Effect). Of course, to anyone that believes that games are just evil, this is great ammunition…even if it is absolutely wrong.

Gamers quickly protested by hitting her self-help book on Amazon with one-star ratings, indirectly attacking her in the process and questioning the veracity of her own work in their comments. Soon, enough of these were submitted to drive it into the ratings basement until Amazon deleted them, but it did elicit a retraction of sorts from Lawrence a week later.

And now with Infinity Ward’s controversial decision to build IW.Net and remove dedicated server support from their latest game, Modern Warfare 2, moving it closer in design to what console players are used to, PC players furious over the changes haven’t wasted time in making their anger felt. A petition already passing 100K ‘signatures’ is still earning more, Infinity Ward’s response to the furor has only thrown more gas on the fire by simply looking at the comments, and angry gamers have already found its listing on Amazon’s UK storefront.

Interestingly enough, Amazon’s storefront over here has wisely opted not to open up the ratings for the any version of Modern Warfare 2 yet. It’s probably hard not to wonder why.

UPDATE 9.25.09: It looks like Amazon.UK have removed the PC title’s star rating (although the screenshot above shows what it had appeared as), likely because the reviews rating it aren’t from people that have actually played the game. The Xbox 360 version, though, has a five star rating according to one poster. The petition is still going strong, though, now surpassing 150K signatures. Not bad for one week.

Can you spare $12,000?

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Bitmob has a report from TechEBlog on one of the rarest of rares being put up for auction on Ebay: a Nintendo World Championship cart with a matching controller and hat from the event.

In 1990, Nintendo did a tour through thirty cities in the United States dubbed the Nintendo World Championships and attendees would be able to compete for prizes, one winner per age bracket.

The special cartridges used for the event had three games built into them: Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer, and Tetris. Gamers were given six minutes and 21 seconds to get fifty coins in SMB, finish a race in Rad Racer with the shortest time, and score the highest in Tetris with whatever time was left. One of the prizes given out were these specially modified Championship cartridges and only ninety are believed to exist (corresponding to the three age bracket/thirty city tour).

The only other thing rarer than the grey Championship carts are the gold ones. The gold variants are virtually identical aside from the gold casing and the number made: only twenty six for a special contest held by Nintendo Power. Both are considered “holy grails” among serious game collectors and as a result, go for thousands of dollars.

So if you want to snag a piece of gaming history, and if you’ve got the cash, here’s your chance.

UPDATE 9.25.09: The auction has ended and it doesn’t look like that there were any takers. Granted, it’s a large amount of coin to part with and in this economy, I’m not sure that even collectors are willing to pay top dollar for something like this. Still, I hope that the guy finds a way to sell it off to help him land on his feet.

Just leave the keys with the parking deck

As part of Ford’s promotion for the 2010 Mustang, World Drifting champion, Vaughn Gittin, Jr., takes it to Japan to embrace the roots of his sport. He also takes the time to park his ride, Japanese style, as shown in the time-lapsed video below.

Because space is at such a premium in the Land of the Rising Sun, drivers may find that the parking deck will do the parking for them, stacking their cars like Matchbox collectibles underground (or in a high-rise carousel) and then picking it out when they’re ready to go.

This is also a problem that isn’t unique to Japan. As one example, Munich in Germany had to contend with the same issue when building a typical parking deck just wasn’t an option.

But can she play “Through the Fire and Flames”?

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Guitar Hero too hard? Well, you could memorize every note and keep practicing to get past those songs that you have the most trouble with. Or you could build a robot that does it for you.

Product Design & Development writes about how an engineering student and a teacher combined their talents to build the guitar star, named Roxanne, as a special project utilizing sensor technology.

According to the article, she boasts 100% accuracy on Medium, drops to 95% on Hard, and finishes at around 80% on Expert, so players like the nine-year old in the video below won’t have anything to worry about. Yet.

Review: Brutal Legend

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If there’s a way to appease the metal gods, Tim Schafer, the mind behind Brutal Legend, may have done it.

Brutal Legend is the game director’s vision of rock and metal, using an unsung hero (a roadie) as the vehicle to explore a fully realized, almost Nordic world built around the mythos of the music.

But while this game showcases Schafer’s and Double Fine’s considerable gifts for producing comedic, edgy wonder (remember Psychonauts), it’s also an example of what can happen when there are one too many gameplay styles. The result is an experience that falls just a bit short of legendary status.

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