Thursday, July 31, 2008

Minesweeper Success

Don't ask me why, but the day started slow here in the office so I got the notion to play Minesweeper for the first time in at least five years. As you can see.... Success!

Buy Pile Report

I was looking forward to this week's batch of comics for a few weeks. It wasn't quite worth the wait.

I was really looking forward to the conclusion of Marvel's "First Family's" "Secret Invasion" tie-in with Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #3. But, I should have known better. After all, most Marvel crossovers don't resolve with satisfaction, so why would a tie-in mini-series? All the promise and intrigue established in this storyline, from the duplication of Sue Storm-Richards to the promise-packed idea of breaking into the Negative Zone Prison was completely lost in this final issue, resulting in a flat meaningless conclusion.

Honestly, remember how cool those last couple of page of issue #2 were? With Franklin and Valeria coming up with that "breaking villains out to help" idea? Well, that excursion is fast-forwarded to the point where you only really see one villain, who isn't even too interesting a choice despite the attempt at pulling heart strings. Another great idea ruined, Marvel.

The other two books I was really looking forward to this week also just missed the mark. And both were written by my favorite writer, Geoff Johns.

First, in Green Lantern #33, we finally get that issue dealing with Sinestro's first interactions with Hal Jordan, an issue I've been waiting for since I first heard about this "Secret Origins" idea. But, for as good as the dialog between those two characters was, it was all bogged down by Johns' attempts to tie together the upcoming "Blackest Night" arc with the past. And while I've enjoyed the little Easter Eggs he's placed in the first four issues of this "Origins" arc, this was actually one issue where all I really wanted to see was Sinestro training Hal.

This was actually one of the stronger issues of the week, it's true. I just wanted so much more out of it that just didn't deliver.

Justice Society of America Annual #1 was a pretty big failure for me too. Perhaps it's just because "Earth-2's" heyday was before my time, but I just didn't care too much about the characters here. I think the problem is, there are already too many characters in "JSA" that I really love and want more from. I would have much rather the annual look at one of those new characters than re-introduce us to all these "Earth-2" characters.

The annual also is not a standalone story, it is simply the precursor to the bulk of the story, which will appear in the normal "JSA" book -- and do we really need more going on in the book right now?!? It's way too packed, we just didn't need this right now. But, then again, if there's one writer in the world to trust, it's Johns.

Finally, I wanted to make note of Trinity #9. Not that this was the most unbelievable issue or anything, but at least I can now say it doesn't seem like Kurt Busiek is going to keep this series in a holding pattern all the time, like he did through the first five issues. He is going somewhere with the story, and introducing characters, like the "Swashbuckler" he debuts here, that is making this story a good read so far, and I find myself wondering where it is going.

How I spent my summer vacation

Hello, Stranger. It's been a while.

OK, so here's the explanation of where I've been: After a considerably busy two weekends ago, which kept me from posting any review of "The Dark Knight" (which, I actually wrote half of it, just never got around to the other half), I ran out of time before my NINE DAY VACATION began.

Yes, they unchained me from my desk for nine days, the longest vacation I've ever taken in my four years at the Journal, and I spent most of that time in Beautiful Puerto Rico, watching my not as beautiful in comparison sister get hitched (just kidding!). And frankly, I was waaaaay too busy with the wedding and trips to the rain forest and kayaking expeditions and cockfights to find time for comic books or video games.

OK, that last part is a lie. Not the part about cockfights, that was true, I watched my very first cockfight (which is legal down there) just hours before the ceremony, but the part about no time for video games was a bit of a lie, since on the plane ride down there I joined the "Legend of Zelda" mile-high club by defeating Ganon and saving the princess on the Gameboy Advance version of the original 1986 game. In fact, I got through Death Mountain without the use of a single potion, which is impressive even for me. On the way home, I played some "Phantom Hourglass," which I am slowly making my way through for the second time. I wanted to play "Mario Kart DS," but apparently flying and virtual driving wreaks havoc on my stomach.

Where was I? Oh, right, the fact that I had no time. I got back home late on Monday and spent Tuesday catching up on last week's comics and catching up on the news from ComicCon. And seriously, my sister scheduling her wedding on ComicCon weekend is proof enough that she doesn't like me very much. Not to mention the fact that she included both Strawberries and Kiwi in her choice of deserts at the reception, both of which I am allergic to.

So anyway, my vacation officially ended on Wednesday when I unfortunately reported for work and laid out a couple of pages. That also means I am back on full blogging duty, so without further ado, I'll be typing up the "Buy Pile Report" for this week as soon as I hit the 'ole "Publish Post" button right now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Go to see "The Dark Knight!"

I just got back from a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight," and I have much to do tomorrow so I cannot offer more thoughts than this, but -- don't waste time in going to see this movie. It does NOT disappoint, even after the enormous hype.

Frankly, when the lights turned on and it was time to leave the theater, with all those people there, I suddenly had the feeling that someone may blow up the whole theater for no God damned reason. That's how frightening Heath Ledger is as the Joker.

I'll have more thoughts on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Live Updates from Sony's E3 Conference

We're getting set for Sony's press conference at 2:30 p.m., so hold tight until we get there. Sony, while the least theatrical of the three companies, may have the most to show. In the meantime, scroll down and see the updates from Microsoft and Nintendo's conferences.


Aaaaand Sony has started as slowly as the PS3 did, with a joke about a dead actor. Way to be, Sony.

The talk right now is about the "10-year vision" Sony takes in making their systems. A very optimistic tone, but also is quietly admits to just how poor the PS3 launch was.

10 minutes in, and already Sony is pointing out, again, how the PS3 has a bluray player. Old news, guys. Is that what you're still hanging your hat on?

"Exclusive games are what make up consumers' minds and drives the business." And that's why your console is last right now.

"Resistance 2" kicks off the show. And the clips shown include a battle with a behemoth of Godzilla meets the Swamp Monster proportions. Impressive! Even if yesterday's "Gears of War 2" clips looked sharper.

"Resistance" was the game everyone had at PS3 launch, but mostly because there wasn't really much else to buy for the system. Right now, this clip looks similar -- a very good shooter, but if you had the choice between the "Gears" clips seen yesterday and the "Resistance" clips today, I'd pick "Gears."

Another clip is shown, this is the new trailer, focusing on new level, Twin Falls.

Next: "Little Big Planet!" Sony is using "Little Big Planet" to create their bar graphs for their fiscal numbers!!! How great is that?

And this game is beautiful, with plenty of different types of surfaces and substances. Oh, and Sackboy is wears a Boston Celtics getup right now. This may be the most creative part of the three conferences so far.

"LittleBig Planet" just looks gorgeous. I mean, we knew that already, but this game really makes me want to finally go and buy a personal PS3.

And with that, we move on to the.... PS2? Yes, the PS2, which still hasn't died. Hell, it still hasn't went to its deathbed. 130 titles coming to PS2 in the next year, and Sony is now showing a montage of those games... which all look pretty bad after the two days of demos we've just seen.

On to PlayStation Network... which, hopefully will discuss Home.

So far, no mention of Home. But, now you will have a single sign-on for any PS product to get on home, so that's kind of cool.

SURPRISE -- a NEW "Ratchet and Clank" game, "Quest for Booty" which will be a shorter game and available through the PSNetwork! Personally, I cannot get enough to R&C. AND it's only 15 Bucks!!! So cheap for booty!

We just also saw a montage of other games available in the PS Store Network, some of which looked pretty good, but none were really detailed.

Aaaaaaand another G4 commercial break. Gugh.

Here we go, Home. They tell us "Your Patience will be rewarded."

The footage shown basically looks like a version of "the Sims," in which there are special rooms you go to for every different game, that fits the personality of the game. Very very cool, and much more sophisticated looking than Xbox's new dashboard and Nintendo's Miis. I'm not saying that's better, but it at least differentiates itself.

We're currently being walked through the video portion of the Sony Store. Store rhymes with Snore for a reason, boys.

"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is the movie they choose to use as an example... funny how they chose an unsuccessful Sony movie over a successful movie by another company...

Time for the PSP to take centerstage... "Resistance Retribution" for the PSP! It looks like this one is going to be set in England and, obviously, handheld. And, from the looks of it, a third-person shooter.

Another montage, this one for PSP software in the next year, includng "The Force Unleashed" which is always good fun.

A preview of "DC Universe Online"... Jim Lee hits the stage! The footage shown featured such characters as Supes, Bats, Flash, Wonder Woman, Bizarro, Sinestro, Hal Jordan, Hush, Joker, and a couple of others. The graphics were fairly unimpressive, but its the stories that will make or break the game, right?

80GB PS3 for $399.99, core system!

Now, in what seems to be wrapping up the show, we're seen a PS3 release montage. And what I find funny about this game is, most of these games are going to be coming out on all platforms, and yet, because Sony is spending time with them here, and Microsoft did not last night, it looks like Sony is going to have a FAR more impressive year than Microsoft. Very good choice by Sony.

And now an exclusive, a trailer of "God of War III" on PS3. And Kratos looks gorgeous.

Now a trailer for "Infamous," in which you play a superpowered guy, and you can either save a dying city or kill it, depending on your choices. Almost like "Hancock," minus Charlize Theron.

Finally, new title, action MMO called "MAG, (massive action game)" which can support up to 256 real players in ONE BATTLE. It sounds like you join an army of Real People. Only the PS3 could do this, if they pull it off. Your character apparently grows over time.

The video from "MAG" does look sharp, even though it's mostly cutscene footage. I just don't know how in the world 256 people are going to be able to co-exist in the same game, online, in one battle, with no dropouts or problems or anything. but, we will see.

I've got to admit, great job by Sony showing off their assets. For me, I gotta run to the office. I'll be back in a bit!

Live Updates from Nintendo's E3 Conference

You're Welcome.

That was the "Thank You" I'm sure you have for me, now that I managed to wake up so early in the morning just to provide these live reports from Nintendo's E3 Media Briefing, which begins at noon and is being televised on G4.

And, this morning has been illuminating already. For one, I've learned that "Roseanne's" Laurie Metcalf has taken over the Sally Struthers role of asking for a dollar a day. I've also learned that Jess really does care about Rory, after he accidentally trashed her car.

OH, and there are video games. This is your place for video game news all day, so buckle up and get ready to click the "refresh" button often.

Today's G4 talking heads includes Kevin Pererra (or however you spell it), Morgan Webb and ... Chris Hardwick? No word on where Adam Sessler is. But, hey, if you're going to be missing one of the two X-Play hosts, sorry Adam.

And, the trio is discussing how they don't know anything whatsoever about what Nintendo has plans, because they are so "hush-hush." Well then why are you talking so much?


Ah, yes, I forgot about these. Nintendo always has six or seven montages in each show basically showing random people having fun with their systems. Let me go brush my teeth.

Reggie Fils-Aime is MIA! Some lady underling of Reggie's named Cammie something is standing on stage talking about how Nintendo games put a smile on her face. ... And, apparently she had a snowboarding accident. Huh?

Does this mean we won't get another "Gung Ho" moment with Reggie like last year?

Uh-oh. That was all leading to Shaun White coming on stage and showing off new Wii Balance Board game "Shaun White Snowboarding."

"For me it's just so unbelievable" - Shaun White on the Balance Board controls. Someone gave that man a large check this morning.

Although, the board does look very responsive to lady Cammie's toes, and the graphics on the game look pretty comparable to the versions from Xbox and PS3.

Aaaaaand the first random G4 commercial of the day. Honestly, this happens at least once every time G4 claims to be commercial free.

And we're back, with Satoru Iwata on stage, discussing the new landscape of video gaming. Nobody likes tooting their own horn like Nintendo.

A picture montage of random people enjoying Wii and DS... that's two.

It's waaaay too early for a speech this boring about how the psychological barrier of gamer vs. non-gamer has been broken. Honestly, I'm not slouching on these updates, Iwata hasn't said anything for the past 8 minutes. And I'm falling asleep.

And the second game of the day is.... Wii Animal crossing. "Animal Crossing City Folk."

The game will feature a microphone called "WiiSpeak", which is not a headphone, it mounts on top of the Wii Motion Bar. The question is, will this speaker be able to be used on other online games? And, is there an option to turn it into a headset?


And, the excitement of seeing familiar face Reggie has now been tempered, since Reggie brought sales bar graphs with him.

So far, this is the most I've heard Nintendo talk about the DS at an E3 briefing in years. The question is, why? Could it be that we may be hearing about a newer DS model today, after all?

Uh-oh. Fanboy alert. "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" featuring a Wii LightSaber. That's right, the Wii LightSaber. Ya think this may make use of that 1:1 motion technology Nintendo announced yesterday? Yeah, me too.

A new "Rayman Raving Rabids" game and 'Call of Duty: World at War" are also being promoted in this segment. Little details given for any of those games, though.

More DS news, this time talking about how nearly half the DS owners in the world are female.

Is it just me, or do people playing DS "Guitar Hero" look ridiculous? "Guitar Hero: Decades" is being announced. Of course you know my opinions on Music games like this... and no, there isn't anything new in this version.

A look at "Spore: Creatures," which basically consisted of "you can make creatures and share them."

"Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars" coming to DS this winter, set in Liberty City with new characters. I can't wait to see my first 8 year old playing GTA on the go. "Are you bored in the car, Timmy?" "No, I'm choking hoes!"

Here it is -- WiiMotionPlus... Using "WiiSports Resort," a WiiSports sequel. The MotionPlus will come packaged with "WiiSports Resort."

Apparently in "Resort" you can play fetch with a virtual dog. Another reason why not to leave the house anymore. There is also a waterskiing game, which likewise looks very responsive to the 1:1 controls.

And, SWORDFIGHTING. Good, responsive Swordfighting. Suddenly, I cannot wait for this game.

We have to wait until NEXT SPRING for "WiiSports Resort." Awww, Reggie! Why you gotta play me like that?

But, coming by the holidays is "WII MUSIC"! So far, we've seen drums and Saxophone displayed, all using Miis. And here is Shigeru Myamota, wearing a teeshirt of Mario playing the sax.

Apparently, the Wii chooses the notes for you? Seriously? Then where is the challenge? There has to be more to it than that. We've now seen Piano and Violin as well as Guitar.

I don't know, I have yet to see where the challenge is here. Myamoto is moving his hands wildly the same way every time and the Wii is the one looking like its doing the work.

The game also pairs with the Wii Balance Board on the drum set. You can also conduct an orchestra.

And, Wii Music will record videos of your performances, which is swell.

There's a Cowbell in this game! A cowbell! Finally, our fevers will get their prescription!

Now the whole gang is playing a song together... and yes, they're just moving their arms wildly. Not even looking at the screen. I'm awfully confused right now folks.

Seems like Nintendo is starting to wrap it up... will there be a moment similar to Sony's "Final Fantasy XIII" moment like yesterday?

It's awfully early in the afternoon to end this thing without news on a Wii Kid Icarus or some new title...

But nope, we're done. If "WiiMusic" wasn't so goofy looking, I would be more impressed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wii MotionPlus

Aaaaand, we're back.

Here's your first major Nintendo tidbit to be announced before their media briefing tomorrow — Wii MotionPlus. Click THIS LINK for the IGN story.

Apparently, it's a plugin for the back of the Wiimote, which allows for darned near 1:1 motion sensing capabilities, which I've been thinking Nintendo thought they've had all along, and I've been expecting of them. So it will be very interesting to see how this changes Wii playing.

Am I the only one who can't wait to see this in action tomorrow morning? Be on the blog for updates tomorrow if you can't see it in person.

Live reporting: Microsoft's E3 presentation

So, even though I was up half the night downloading bootleg Billy Joel concert clips, I still managed to pull myself awake early enough for Microsoft's E3 presentation, which is being shown LIVE on G4 right now.

We already know Microsoft has dropped the price on their 20-gig Xbox 360, as well as discontinued that model in favor of an 80-gig model, but what else is new? We'll find out in the next two hours.

Just before the show began, G4 was once again airing the documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," one of my favorite movies of all time. Honestly, if you haven't seen that movie you literally don't know what you're missing, since nobody quite knows what they're getting into before watching, but I don't know anyone who wasn't cheering by the end of it.

Today's G4 hosts are Adam Sessler, Morgan Webb and Kevin Perriera... or however you spell it. Kevin is looking a little out of place as the third host instead of the center of attention. Adam is looking a whole lot more confident as a live host this year, after going through months of live X-Play episodes since January. And Morgan is looking.... well, she's just looking nice.

The gang is discussing the possibility of Microsoft announcing that long-rumored motion-sensitive Xbox controller today, and they are a doubtful Microsoft is ever going to announce it, because the very concept would alienate their hardcore-gamer base of fans. Personally, I think that's exactly why Microsoft is going to announce the technology. The company's gaming division has made some horrendous decisions in recent years, and, knowing the PS3 is starting to mount some momentum, I think Xbox feels desperate for some gimmick to stay on top -- getting those non-hardcore fans. Which will, of course, backfire.

Just so you know, we're still 13 minutes from the actual presentation starting, so sit tight. Maybe get yourself some chips and salsa. I actually have a great chips and salsa bowl story, if such a thing exists. If things get boring, I may just tell it.

Ah yes, the gang is now debating the age-old question "Halo 3" vs. "Gears of War 2" in terms of probable sales. In the interest of boredom, I'll offer my opinion -- event people who couldn't tell you what an Xbox 360 controller looks like was interested in "Halo" last year. Everyone got to know Master Chief, everyone knew the name "Halo," the marketing and media buzz was just that good. And, it likely seduced non-hardcore fans to buy "Halo 3." "Gears of War" doesn't have that, and I don't think the franchise is fertile enough to grow that sort of mainstream buzz.

For the THIRD TIME the order of hosts' seats has changed. What are you doing, G4? Your production people are better than this! First it was Adam-Morgan-Kevin, then it was Morgan-Adam-Kevin, now it's Kevin-Adam-Morgan. Are we playing musical chairs here? If so, you have one too many chairs.


Don Mattrick takes the stage... without a high school band playing the "Halo" theme...

Don just cited "Xbox Uno" as a hit for Microsoft. Grasping at those straws pretty tightly, eh?

Microsoft opens their presentation with a 1950's-style video for an atomic bomb-protection vault. So, we're starting with "Fallout 3," apparently. And, the video is now apparently available on Xbox Live.

We're demoing "Fallout 3" now, which looks pretty darned cool as a post-apocalyptic world. It's a first-person shooter, in case you didn't know. And, as the blood begins to splatter, our host tell us "this is where the content might be inappropriate for some audiences." Don't worry buddy, children are never watching TV at 1:40 p.m. or anything...

We were just told the game encompasses over 100 hours of gameplay, which is very good for a FPS. Personally, I would just like to know how many US Monuments are around that we get to see in this world.

The demo is now over... and while the game looked sharp, the gameplay looks pretty standard.

"Resident Evil 5" is up next... The demo has begun. It's a third-person shooter, if you didn't know, and we're currently looking around a dilapidated African building shooting zombies. That's just good fun.

A curveball! As player one got to a dead end, ONLINE CO-OP MODE was announced, and a teammate showed up to help player one. Definitely one of the more creative announcements we've seen at an E3 demo.

One player is shooting the zombies head-on while the other is flanking them from a perpendicular building. Apparently zombies don't know enough to turn to look for who's shooting them from the side.

And, as "Resident Evil 5" is finished, they tell us the release date is Friday 13, March 2009. I betcha they could have had the game out sooner, except they wanted a Friday 13th release date.

The highlight of the show for me next -- "Fable II!" Peter Moynieaux tells us the game is complete, and we now get to see a trailer.

And the "Fable" trailer is so pretty it will make you finally go buy that HDTV you've been putting off getting. You start as a child, and grow into a "full-grown hero."

Peter is talking about the AI dog again, which is to become your AI best friend. It's just making me miss my dead car.

We're also being shown the online co-op mode, and how you interact with another friends' "Fable" world. Peter tells us you can go with your friend and get drunk in the bar together. Again, guys, 1:53 p.m. Giving us a bad name.

Release date: October of THIS YEAR. Gonna have to schedule me some vacation time, Jim!

Here it is: "Gears of War 2" ... Here comes Cliff Blesinski. And the fanboys faint.

Again, we're going to see the online co-op mode. Apparently that's the thing to do this year. What I like about this presentation is, Cliff isn't wasting all that time talking about features of the game, he and his backstage buddy have just thrown themselves into a firefight, one that looks very much like the last "Gears" game, with a little bit of polish but who cares, we're all going to buy it.

And an expletive, the "S" word makes it on to daytime TV as part of this game, which is actually looking prettier and prettier as this demo goes on.

So far, we're really very light on the HUGE announcements, as the clock strikes 2 p.m.

OK, we just went through a part of the game that included an elevator - which moves sideways since the building had been knocked over - and an enormous "Cloverfield" looking monster. That demo just got better and better as it went along.

Here's one announcement - a FIVE PLAYER co-op mode. Release date of Nov. 7, what has become the biggest release window of the year.

Aw geez, we're about to hear about "The New Family Game Night." All the blood and swearing of the last hour wasn't enough family time for you, Microsoft? This is the part of the show where we see graphs and hear numbers. Anyone ready for that chips and salsa bowl story?

G4 just told us a new announcement will be made in three minutes. Way to ruin the surprise, guys.

NBC and Universal Studios are joining the Xbox Live family... was that the announcement? Seriously? No, Seriously?

This would be around the time the new motion-sensitive controller would be dropped on us...

Nope. At least not yet. We're still talking about Xbox Live. Which, in all fairness, is really a cash cow.

Wow, a new Xbox 360 dashboard is coming, with avatars. Or, bootleg Miis, for short.

OH MAN, G4 just accidentally went to commercial. Bad form!

And we're back. Someone just said "Where else but Xbox Live could you introduce the idea of an avatar, and it immediately becomes 10,000,000 avatars." Umm, ON WII!!!

I wonder how hard it is for these guys to give us all this avatar information with a straight face.

There is going to be a new Xbox Channel (another Wii Word) in which you and your friends play gameshows online. It's called Xbox Live Primetime.

Xbox Live was already the best interface of any console... did we really want this or did Microsoft just think we needed this because of Wii?

We're also being told, in detail, that we and our party of friends can move from game to game on Xbox Live seamlessly... frankly, I don't like my friends enough to want to spend so much time with them! Honestly, who was having problems finding friends when you wanted to find them on Xbox Live before?

A New Portal debuts - "Portal Still Alive." It's coming to Xbox Live Arcade this fall. So is, apparently, a South Park game. Which do you care more about? Thought so.

Netflix is apparently joining XboxLive too, for members of both companies.

The next trailer: "Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts," The rumored motion sensitive game... It comes and goes with no announcement.

More game trailers, with the "Viva Pinata" sequel and "Scene it? Box Office Smash."

Oh geez, in "You're in the Movies," you use the Xbox camera to place yourself in goofy little skits. It looks kind of like those projection games on the floor of some malls that kids like to jump on top of. Xbox obviously doesn't realize they haven't wowed anyone yet with their current lineup of new games, or else they wouldn't be showing this junk.

Can I go to work yet? I don't want to watch ladies disco dance in front of an Xbox camera anymore.

We're on to the music games. Has there been anything new in a "Guitar Hero" game since the first? No? Then why are we putting out yet another one now?

Check that, I was wrong, "Guitar Hero" is adding drums! So.... kinda like "Rock Band?"

I feel like I've gotten much more sarcastic in the last 20 minutes... is it just me? If I have, it's because I haven't heard anything worth hearing in the last 20 minutes. We were just told "Guitar Hero: World Tour" buyers get to download an R.E.M. music pack. This is why I am suddenly in a bad mood. THAT is not a big announcement. That's something that gets sent out on a press release and I put in the recycling bin.

A new singing game is announced, "Lips." Apparently you can plug in your MP3 player to the Xbox and sing along. As a side note, you know this is a Microsoft presentation because the guy on stage said you can plug in your ZUNE or your iPod. Honestly, guys, who bought a Zune?

But, if this game works, this could actually be really big -- and it's something NEW. My problem with music games is nothing has been new in a while. This will free us of the downloadable songs costs. Although, you know it will be a while until we see if you can really sing ANY song in your Zune. You know, or iPod. If I can't sing "Waiting for a Star to Fall" I ain't buyin'!

Next up, surprise surprise, "Rock Band 2," which debuts exclusively on Xbox 360 in September. 84 Tracks in the game, pretty good. No word on anything from "Boy meets girl," though.

The show is wrapping up, with little true big news, other than the Xbox Live Interface. In fact, the biggest news is the LACK of news regarding that motion-sensitive controller.

SquareEnix takes the stage to talk about the Xbox's JRPG lineup, which I am a little surprised is coming so late in the presentation. I thought Microsoft wanted to really ram home the idea this year that they have a good JRPG selection. And, there is also no new news here. I think Microsoft is really missing the boat here.

HOLD UP... A Surprise announcement as Microsoft seemed like they were going into their wrapping up routine. A trailer is being shown, which Microsoft asked G4 to not get a great camera angle of, but you can see a the trailer small...

FINAL FANTASY XIII is coming to XBOX360! BAM! Show-stopper!

See? I told you Microsoft wanted to push their JRPG lineup.

And that's how they close the show. Well, my opinion of the show was just turned on its ear in the last five minutes. Time for me to go to work. I'll be back later. Thanks!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

E3 and this week's video game release list

OK, so HERE'S YOUR LINK to the list of this week's video games.

But, more important than what's coming out this week is what's coming out in the future -- because this week is E3 and the future is the name of the game.

It all begins with the Microsoft press conference Monday at 1 p.m. (I miss when it was on Friday night, don't you?), with Nintendo and Sony coming Tuesday. Tune in to G4 at 1 for the Microsoft presentation (commercial free!) and at 7 p.m. for the day's wrap up. After that at 9 you get to watch the Microsoft presentation again, in case you missed it.

It's the biggest week of the year, gamers! Enjoy it. I'll get on here with any of the bigger news that comes out of Monday's press conference.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Buy Pile Report

It was a LOOOOOOOOONG Day for me yesterday, so by the time I finished reading my comics for the week around 4 am I just didn't have it in me to write up a post, so I apologize.

The good news is, I cannot remember a week in the last few months that had such a balance of good quality books across the board.

And the best of those, in my opinion, was Action Comics #867. Back in the day, I listened to a lot of Weird Al tapes. I stress tapes, because that's how long ago this was. Anyway, he had a song called "Everything you know is wrong." That's how this issue will make you feel — in a great way.

Did you think Supergirl was a useless cliche of a character? Well you won't after the scene Geoff Johns wrote for her here, which gives me great hope for his plans to make her solo book a part of his Superman Universe.

Did you think Brainiac was a goofy sort of villain? Are you like me and picture THIS COMMERCIAL, in which the poor guy just wants to hide his shame? Well, not after Kara's description of him, and not after the last few pages of this issue.

Hell, if you even simply thought Clark Kent truly missed Krypton, you'll learn a thing or two here. Johns is writing a masterpiece of a Superman story, and Gary Frank is providing some of the best art of his career. This is a MUST READ arc.

Actually, you may get tired of hearing praise for Johns in a hurry here, since a couple of more kudos-filled graphs are on the way. The second best book of the week was likewise Johns', Justice Society of America #17.

I don't even know how to describe this issue, other than that a giant God walked the Earth granting, essentially, wishes, and the JSA is struggling with figuring out how to deal with it. The story, and really concept itself, is brilliant. But more than that, this issue we get good character-developing moments with most of the Society. Mr. Terrific struggles with spirituality. Damage revels in looking normal again. Hell, Cyclone revels in it too. Hawkman and Hawkgirl have an illuminating chat. And — get this — Gog cured Starman's insanity.

In fact, that moment spawned the line of the book, which I wish I had in front of me so I could quote it, essentially saying that him being suddenly sane is a sign the JSA needs to be wary of Gog now more than ever. ... that being said, I'm hoping Thom gets crazy again sometime soon!

Oh, and this issue spins directly into the JSA annual because ... spoilers coming ... Gog sends Powergirl "home."

The final part of this Johns love-fest happens to be the final issue for him and co-writer Jeff Katz on Booster Gold #1,000,000. The issue not only serves as an epilogue to the current "Blue and Gold" storyline (which did not feature a certain bug), but also a great cap to the duo's year-long run on the book they started. Oh, it also featured a brief tie-in with the "DC One Million" event from a few years back, but that served as nothing more than a plot device.

Booster spends the issue struggling with his current role of a "Time Master" and (predictably) does eventually decide to keep saving time with Rip Hunter, but the 32 pages of journey for Booster really does feel genuine and organic. I especially appreciated the role Batman played in encouraging Booster, since Batman is not only a character that stuck up for him in the first issue, but is also simply a character Booster has had an enormous amount of respect for.

And all that doesn't even get into who Rip Hunter really is — which WAS REVEALED at the end of this book. But I'm not spoiling that for you. My only hope is that the new regular writer on this series — fingers crossed series artist Dan Jurgens takes over — keeps up the high level of stories Johns and Katz started.

I also need to make note of Trinity #6 this week. Why? Because we FINALLY get moving with the story again. Honestly, I feel like the last four issues since the opener were buying time for the back-up story to catch up to the main story, because there was No Reason that fight with Konvikt should have lasted so long.

But, the good news is, this issues puts the series back on track. The trio spends the issue brainstorming all the different ways they are a "Trinity" and how that could be used against them in this mysterious plot. The intrigue that was established in the first issue returned, and that's a great thing. The only question now is, whether this series will string together another good issue for the next couple of weeks, or will we be waiting another few weeks UNTIL another good issue?

Finally from DC, we have Detective Comics #846, the first part of a new story arc and the first "Batman R.I.P" tie-in DC has published. And, while I wouldn't call this a bad issue, Paul Dini does a nice job here in a debut of a story featuring fan-favorite villain "Hush" (I can care less about him personally), this issue had NOTHING TO DO WITH "BATMAN R.I.P.!"

So there you go, fans. You know where you stand. There are over a dozen "Batman R.I.P." tie-ins scheduled, but don't go expecting many of them to be actual tie-ins. This will likely be good news for your wallets.

I only picked up two Marvel books this week, but one of them was a biggie, Secret Invasion #4. Unfortunately, this story was in a holding pattern for much of the issue. Yes, yes, we know, while Earth's heroes are trying to rally a defense, they cannot as long as they can't trust each other, and since anyone can be a Skrull, trust is at a premium. We Get It. I could have done without every sentence spoken by our Skrull Queen Narrator here.

The good news is, there are enough great singular moments in this issue to keep us entertained before the story revs up again at the very end. From Black Widow shooting first and asking second, to Nick Fury's lack of trust in Ms. Marvel, to Agent Brand's infiltration of the Skrull lair, to Maria Hill's surprise, this issue had great great moments. And, possibly the best moment came on the last page, when Thor and Captain America made their debuts. Do I hear "Avengers, Assemble!" anyone?

Lastly, there was Young X-Men #4. I really don't like this book. I'll come right out and say it, I have an extreme distaste for this book. For starters, it replaced a pretty good book in "New X-Men." Secondly, I can care less about most of this cast, as the more likeable youth mutants from "New X-Men" are MIA in the Marvel Universe right now. This first arc has really not been written well, either, as these kids are acting just plain dumb.

So, forgive me if I don't praise this book for revealing Cyclops is not Cyclops. We all saw it coming. That didn't change anything this month, as the issue was horrible despite the reveal.

Cue Porky Pig, because that's all, folks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thursday's comic expectations

You know, I was bitching earlier today about how Amazon sent me the incorrect Billy Joel: The Stranger 30th Anniversary Collection, and that they sent it to me a day late. My Mom, who just happened to be the person I was bitching to, told me I'm just impatient.

And, well, since in the back of my mind all day all I've really wanted to do is read Final Crisis: Requiem, which is a day late coming out Thursday, I had to agree.

My Dad has been an enormous J'onn J'onzz fan his entire life, and a good deal of that was passed down to me. I think love of Martians is genetic or something. Either way, you can count me in the group who was PISSED at the treatment of the Manhunter's death in "Final Crisis #1." The brief funeral scene in the second issue cushioned the blow a bit, but I still want MUCH MORE JUSTICE done for J'onn.

Which is why I will be reading "Requiem" first this week, and I am really hoping it is good. And I'm optimistic, for a change, too. I have a lot of faith in Peter Tomasi's writing, and the story, which centers around a group of heroes executing J'onn's final wishes, sounds pretty interesting to me. I even just read an interview with Tomasi, in which he said J'onn communicated those last wishes via telepathy right before his death, which I think is not only a great concept, but also a concept which reflects Tomasi's knowledge of the character. I'm pumped, I'm stoked, my hopes are way too high and I'm impatient.

Of course, there's a lot to be impatient about this week. It looks like DC is emulating Marvel's tactics from a few weeks ago and FLOODING the market full of top-notch titles on the week Marvel is releasing the next issue of "Secret Invasion."

There is so much DC goodness this week that we're going to have to use the LIGHTNING ROUND format:

Action Comics #867: Geoff Johns' reboot of Brainiac began last month with a chilling look at what the actual Brainy looks like inside that ship of his. This second issue of the arc should only improve on that mind-blowing first part with more action — the only question now is, how many Brainiac robots is Clark going to have to blow up before he knows something is up? My guess is seven.

Booster Gold #1,000,000: Johns and Katz's last issue on the title promises to bring one major DC character back to life for good — which, of course, points toward Ted Kord coming back to life, but I wouldn't say that's 100% sure just yet. I can take or leave this whole "DC 1,000,000" tie-in aspect, I just want a satisfying end to the "Blue and Gold" arc.

Detective Comics #846: The tie-in parade surrounding "Batman R.I.P." begins here, as well as the first part of a five-part storyline featuring the return of Hush. While I would never discourage anyone from giving Paul Dini's "Detective" a try, this doesn't look altogether necessary in the "R.I.P." scheme of things.

Justice Society of America #17: For as monotonous as the last arc "Thy Kingdom Come" became toward the end, last issue's first part of "In the Name of Gog," was equally impressive. The last remaining God of the Third World is now walking the Earth, granting wishes and doing good — and the best part of last issue was the JSA was just as clueless as us readers in the "Is he a good guy or bad guy?" department. While some of you I am sure are scared off by the amount of "Kingdom Come" material that's still to come (including the three one-shots later in the year), I could not be more hopeful for this storyline.

Now, DC does own the market this week, but there is plenty to like in the Marvel camp as well, beginning with Secret Invasion #4. Nick Fury and his Secret Commandos are officially in the fray, and you know old eyepatch has a few tricks up his sleeve. The third issue did a fantastic job of providing a grand scope of the Marvel Universe (which I was really hoping Bendis would do at SOME POINT), so I wouldn't be surprised to see Bendis return to his old tricks and spend a good portion of this issue splitting time with Fury and the Savage Land.

Other Marvel issues to look out for include Invincible Iron Man #3, Captain American and MI 13 #3 and Nova #15.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that last week the Freshmen: Summer Special was released by Top Cow, and I completely missed it. Personally, I love the "Freshmen" series and wish it were published more normally, but I guess you take what you get. Anyway, if any of you were interested, there you go, there may be some left on shelves for you somewhere.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 4th delays

So. You thought we got through one holiday, finally, without any shipping delays, right? You thought that a Friday holiday would have no impact whatsoever on a Wednesday shipping schedule.

Tsk tsk tsk, you should have known better.

Since every holiday nowadays means a day of waiting for us comic geeks, you should know that there will be NO COMIC BOOKS on Wednesday.

All the new books - and you can see the list of the many many many books that are coming out at THIS LINK - will be out on Thursday.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This week's video game releases

Not the most exciting of weeks, but here's your list at THIS LINK anyway.

I'm pretty bored by the way right now sitting in the office waiting for youth ball calls to roll in and major league games to end. Were it not for YouTube and cellphone Tetris I'd go mad. I should have brought my DS tonight, I could be winning Mario Kart races online as we speak.

Oh... don't tell my bosses. Much obliged.

And no, I don't know why I just said "much obliged," I don't really talk that way in real life. That's a very Morgan Freeman phrase.

I don't know, maybe I am thinking of "The Bucket List" subconsciously. When I was hanging out with my future brother-in-law last Saturday, while my family was throwing my sister her bridal shower and he and I were stuck with little to do, he rented "The Bucket List" on pay-per-view. And, is it just me, or is "The Bucket List" a very strange choice of movie on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon? I wanted to watch Wimbledon, but he wanted a movie, so he chose "The Bucket List." My whole family was off celebrating an impending wedding and my brother-in-law and I watched two old men get ready to die.

Which, by the way, we didn't even get to see the end of, since they called us about and hour and 10 minutes into the movie for us to start carting gifts on back to their apartment. And let me tell you, they got way too much junk given to them for their little apartment. They have enough pots and pans to cover their entire floor. And the only half-way fun gift they asked for was a waffle maker. I told my GF to buy them a Pancake Puff Pan, but she told me nobody over the age of 12 wants to eat Pancake Puffs. I disagree. Most things are fun in puff form.

I can't wait until I get married, only so I can ask for some random junk on a registry. Just go through with that little gun thing and scan in action figures and snarky T-shirts. Someone's going to have to end up buying me the complete set of the "Spider-Ham" series, if I can find the right comics store to make a registry.

I always loved "Spider-Ham," and I don't know why. I also loved the one-issue X-Men spoof "Power Pachyderms." Well, OK, I know why — probably it was because I was like eight when the series came out. And, the name "Peter Porker" is just plain funny.

Come to think of it, that's a pretty dirty name for a children's comic hero, isn't it? "Porker?"

"Who's Mary Jane going out with tonight?" "Peter Porker." "There goes white for her wedding!"

I wanted to make that joke much dirtier, but come on, this is a family blog. By the way, I spelled "Pachyderms" correctly on the first try. Take that, Scripps Kids!

Where was I? Oh, right. I'm bored, if you couldn't tell.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Buy Pile Report: Astonishing X-Men

I've finally gotten my hands on Astonishing X-Men #25, the first issue under new creative team Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi. Unfortunately, I was not nearly as "astonished" as I was reading the first issue of the series four years ago under the former team of Joss Whedon and John Cassady.

When reading that first issue back in the day, the bright and clear art was warm and welcoming. The confrontation between Scott and Logan set the series' snarky and energetic tone early. The presence of Kitty, walking the halls of the Mansion reminiscing, indicated Whedon knew his history and would be respectful to it. It all had a feel that was different from all the other X-offerings on the market, and really different from any X-book that came before it.

None of that is the case with this first issue from Ellis and Bianchi. It's not that the issue is bad, far from it, it just doesn't remotely have the feel Whedon and Cassady (not to mention colorist Laura Martin) established.

Every panel of art is dark, with thorough details on every background and every piece of clothing, not to mention characters' faces. And, again, I am not saying the art is bad, because it's quite good if you like that style. It's just not the bright and clear art Cassady defined the book with.

Just like his partner, Warren Ellis stamped this book all his own as well, providing more dialog and exposition in one issue than Whedon offered in a whole story arc. Where Whedon often let the art do the talking, Ellis's whole first issue consists of characters standing around gabbing in different locations, making all those words necessary. And, without giving away the story points, Ellis is clearly not writing this book with the same nostalgia Whedon did. Again, all these things are not bad, they just don't have the same feel as we were used to over the last 25 issues (24 + the "Giant-Sized" issue).

It was all enough of a difference that I wonder why Marvel wouldn't just restart this series with a new #1 issue, leaving Whedon and Cassady's masterpiece for a clean collection.

I'm also not all that nuts about the inclusion of Storm here. Yes, I know this is the A-list X-book in the House of Ideas, and yes, I know Storm is an A-list X-Man, but I just don't see where she fits into the dysfunctional lineup "Astonishing" always had. Those original characters weren't just chosen because they were big names, they were chosen because there were specific interactions and frictions Whedon wanted to explore. Here, we get an artificial fight between Storm and Emma (quickly resolved, thankfully), and nothing more from Ororo to show what she brings to the book. I don't want this to be the X-Men All-Star hour, I want a good story, with good character moments. I don't know that Storm adds in that category.

Maybe I've just come to expect too much out of the book titled "Astonishing," since the men who made it deserve its adjective are now gone.

The story really was not bad, and I'm sure all this stuff about "the place spaceships go to die" will be interesting -- it just didn't feel the same as it used to be. I kind of feel like this book may become "Uncanny X-Men 'A,' " with "Uncanny" becoming "Uncanny X-Men 'B' " -- and is that really what we want?

I'm back...

So, I've been silent for a week now. I apologize, it's been a busy week.

The short story is, I hit a Deer on the way home last Friday night, so pretty much every bit of free time I've had for the last week has been spent searching for the right new car, as the Subaru that I've owned and loved for 9 years is now deceased.

I haven't had a chance to play any games, buy any new comics, or even keep up with news on the various Web sites. Well, I hadn't had time for new comics, before I stopped in to Upstate Comics today and picked up this week's stuff.

So, yeah, I'm back. My car is bought, I'm picking it up Wednesday, and the show will go on, starting right away with my thoughts on the new issue of "Astonishing X-Men." And, if you feel like giving a moment of silence for my Subaru, you're a good man.