360 Warranty Extension, Plasma Recommended Viewing, & Star Wars the Christmas Edition? – Welcome to the Christmas column that spiked the holiday writing punch known as Dare to Play the Game.
Welcome to another edition of Dare to Play the Game. Here is hope that you gave more than you received this christmas. I tried to do just that as I did my best to include everybody I could think of and give them the gift that best suites them. However, none of that could cover up how …trange this christmas felt. It felt empty, or worse yet like another day. There was no spirit in the events that took place and everything just felt like routine. With my life being as crazy as it was, I should have welcomed that, but yet I missed it. I apologize for the somber tone leading into the column this week, but just be thankful for what you have. May this time next year be far different from the precedence set this year. (Note: no releases this week that I could find, but this time of the year is ridiculously slow anyhow, stay tuned fans!)
Ode To Morgan Webb
There was an article written in early december that I found recently at Saturday Night Magazine that among the usual Morgan questions (is it great working with video games and what games do you play?), they asked what she wanted for christmas. She of course wanted Resistance, the new PS3 smash, The new Legend of Zelda but also Gears of War and Guitar Hero 2 with the wireless controller. *looks over at game room and copy of Guitar Hero 2 and Gears of War*. Hrmm, are you thinking what I’m thinking Pinky? *looks over at Morgan* Mi casa es su casa my sweet buttercup! *shrug*, its pretty cool when the gaming goddess likes the same games that I do.
Quick news stories of interest
Official Email from Lucas Arts:
“Ever wonder how Santa Claus manages to work his way down chimneys way too small for him? Or how he seems to stop time in order to visit all of the world’s good boys and girls every Christmas morning? LucasArts and TT Games know the answer: Santa Claus is a Jedi Knight whose amazing Force powers allow him to pull off such spectacular feats. A long time ago, he came to us from a galaxy far, far away to exile himself from the Jedi purge led by Darth Vader.
You better not pout, I’m telling you why. Because I’ll kill you.But what would have happened if jolly ol’ Saint Nick had stuck around to assist the Rebellion? Find out by creating him in LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. Here’s how:
Step 1: At the Mos Eisley Cantina, enter the following two codes:
CL4U5H (for Santa hat and red clothes)
TYH319 (for white beard Extra)
Step 2: Go to the Character Customizer and create the proper costume. Use a human head, the appropriate red clothing…and don’t forget the red cap! Santa can wield the weapon of your choice — we recommend the green or red lightsaber to seasonally complement his shiny red duds. (Remember, the color of his lightsaber decides whether his Force powers are naughty or nice.)
Step 3: In the Extras menu, activate Disguise 3.
Step 4: Enter the character-based level of your choice in Free Play.
Step 5: Spread holiday cheer to a galaxy in pieces.”
I think I mentioned this last week but I’ve had the opportunity to play the demo of Lego Star Wars II. It is freaking fantastic. Especially the guilty pleasure free play where you can play as any character and many of the levels have special places where only certain characters can go making it for a fun romp through the original trilogy. I this is a great move by Lego and the Star Wars clan. Who would have known that Santa was a Jedi? Maybe there are secret levels in Star Wars II for Santa as well, like perhaps a holiday house full of Yodas. I mean after all, Yoda was an elf, haven’t you seen the ears and the bizarre ways he talks? *awaits angry emails from Star Wars fans and then acts like he cares*
Microsoft Extends Xbox 360 Warranty to One YearAfter a year filled with patches to fix broken games, a year of mandatory updates that may or may not brick your Xbox 360, and a year in which shipping boxes became known as “coffins,” Microsoft is extending the warranty on the Xbox 360 to one year.
Of course, the reason for this is not a displeasing rate of failure for the Xbox 360. Or it’s not because Sony and Nintendo offer standard one-year warranties on the PlayStation 3 and Wii, respectively. Instead, Microsoft made the move to “be consistent with the standard one-year Xbox 360 warranty that is available throughout most of the world.”
Whatever the reason, every 360 owner and would-be owner has reason to celebrate. Starting today, any console sold in Canada and the United States will be repaired free of charge if found to be defective.
The retroactive warranty also covers consoles sold within the last year as well. You now have one year from the date of purchase to return a defective unit.
Even better, any owner that returned a console and was forced to pay shipping and repair charges will receive a refund. In the next 10 weeks, MS will automatically send off reimbursement checks, so there’s no need to call Microsoft and pester the company for your hard-earned cash. Unless you changed addresses. You should check on that.
“Customer satisfaction is a central focus and priority for the Xbox 360 system,” said Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.
Good, only problem is I bought my 360 a month ago. However, I did opt for Micro Center’s 2 year warranty fix so I think I’m in the clear. This is a great PR move though as they look as secure in their warranty as Sony and Nintendo. All three consoles have had some of the horror story blues in the last year and I seriously don’t think the 360 is any worse than the PS3 or any worse than the WII. *knock on wood* my 360 has been flawless. Keep in mind I did buy a strong fan for it on its own power supply when I bought it but regardless I see it lasting far beyond its 2 year warranty. (but if it wants to break, I hope it does it within the next year or so :-P). Nice moves on Microsoft’s part also to deal out the reimbursement checks. Those will help everybody’s wallet whose had a bad 360 this christmas.
Xbox 360 Gets Virtua Fighter 5
In a move bound to get certain fists pumping in the hardcore gaming fraternity, SEGA today announced that its much hyped PlayStation 3 exclusive Virtua Fighter 5 officially will come to Xbox 360 in late summer 2007.
The last game in the Virtua Fighter series was a PS2 exclusive, which sold exceptionally well on Sony’s system. Virtua Figher 5 had been hyped for some time as a killer PS3 exclusive for fighting fans, but — following in the footsteps of Assassin’s Creed and GTA IV — will also go multi-platform.
The PS3 version still retains some level of exclusivity, with a US release on February 20 and with the console’s launch in Europe. The Xbox 360 version will ship in late summer 2007, according to SEGA.
Virtua Fighter 5 offers worldwide fighting stages in which as many as 17 contestants vie, including two new characters, El Blaze, a wrestler somewhat like Wolf, and Eileen, who employs a Chinese Monkey Kung-Fu fighting style. SEGA also has implemented a new “offensive move” enabling players to take down opponents from different angles; these moves are believed to set VF5 apart from past VF games. Like in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, players can customize their characters. They can pick from four base costumes in the beginning, and then choose from a wide spectrum of unlockable accessories items as they progress. By winning more tournaments, players not only earn costumes and accessories, they receieve prizes and in-game money for browsing in the in-game shop.
“SEGA delivers the most technical fighting game experience on Xbox 360 with this installment of the award-winning Virtua Fighter series,” said Scott A. Steinberg, vice president marketing, SEGA of America. “Virtua Fighter 5 takes full advantage of Xbox 360’s hardware with action-packed gameplay, customizable characters, stunning graphics and highly detailed 3D fighting environments.”
“The Virtua Fighter series from SEGA has one of the most prestigious histories in video games,” said Jeff Bell, corporate VP of marketing at Xbox. “It’s a franchise that has grown an army of loyal fans both in arcades and on consoles worldwide, and is consistently rated extremely high by the media. Fighting game fans have been hungry for Virtua Fighter 5 and we can now proudly deliver this game with Sega to Xbox 360 gamers around the world.”
I happen to own a copy of Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution and a couple of the older Virtua Fighters on the Saturn. Very nice fighting games, to be honest not quite up to the caliber of a Tekken lets say; but very serviceable. What did set Evolution apart was the creation of a fighting mode that simulated actual arcade experiences that set up your character against numerous fighting styles. From the cheap to the insane, you beat various fighters and earned experience, cash and many other unlockables which you could customize your fighter as you saw fit. It will be interesting to see how much they expand this for the PS3 and XBOX 360 consoles. This also cements the notion that any PS3 exclusive remaining will be making the multi platform switch (unless it is a Sony home brew title). It is simply not profitable to keep to one console unless its the console’s own software. And in that case, it is the only profitable measure in order to keep selling systems :).
Plasma Tv – The Viewing Experience
If you are ever unsure about buying a HDTV whether it would be Plasma, LCD, DLP or C3PO, hopefully this will bring across a few points. I have a 42″ Philips plasma HDTV as I’ve explaned in previous weeks. This past weekend was the first weekend where I was able to enjoy it. Up until this point the largest tv I had owned was a 27 inch. Most movies I could not watch in one sitting, they had to be broken up with at least several bathroom breaks if they were anything but those short disney movies. (lets not even go through how long it took me to watch Lord of the Rings – The Expanded Edition) The color wasn’t so bad, but I often became just bored watching most movies or long tv shows. Video games were regulated to a back room with a similar tv and slightly better experiences but those were more gaming addict related. My parents had just gotten a 32″ LCD from Samsung and I had found everyway possible to go over there with some movie from my collection just I could watch it in peace. (well when my mom wasn’t nagging at me).
After the installation people left from Best Buy on friday, I spent my time playing the 360 on my new plasma. That’s actually all I did. Playing games of all varieties, from the simplistic to the complex. The colors are insane, I actually have to sit back a good bit so I can take it all in. If I didn’t I was going to suffer from a serious case of tunnel vision. For all of those that think this is some kind of new fad and are just waiting and will pick up a digital CRT or a small LCD when 2009 rolls around, they are missing the boat. With true high def tv and XBOX leading the way, even Galaga looks crazy and sounds like it too. Geometry Wars shook a couple of my Evil Dead dvds off their little bookshelf on normal bass as it sucks you in. I feel like I’m discovering gaming all over again. But the true takeoff did not occur until after Dish Network turned on the feed.
Dish Network had mentioned that since I was already on the silver package for standard tv that I would probably want the silver package for high def tv. It included about 25 channels in HD along with the usual favorites that I’ve come to enjoy. Some of those would include the locals, TNTHD, ESPN 1 & 2 HD, Food Network, NFL Network, and some other very interesting HD Channels. The highlights were the Horror Channel (24/7 of Horror movies from classics to cheese fests), Kungfu (24/7 of some amazing chop suey adventure from Jackie Chan to Asian star of the moment), and my favorite to date, a 24 hour gaming channel in HD!..5.1 Widescreen, the whole bit as they just basically show people playing games from a PGR 3 championship to Starcraft. If they could just sign Morgan Webb to the channel; I don’t think I would ever leave the house. I was in awe, this was TV like it should be. But I was left with one more test. The long ass movie. My selection as brought by my parents: Pirates of the Carribean 2. 2 1/2 hours and my parents told me they didn’t really like it that much. Oh it was so on.
I sit back, and grab a 24 ounce of mountain dew as I plop the movie into my dvd player (which reminds me that I really need to get an upconvert dvd player within the next couple of months). The credits roll and then for the next 2 1/2 hours I am zapped into a place called the Dead Man’s Chest. (funny I would like to wonder what being on top of a redhead’s chest is like but I digress). This means, I am living, eating, sleeping and drinking Johnny Depp like nobody’s business. Now, I full well know that the movie isn’t quite the first one and there are better movies out there, but this could have been the crappiest movies of all time and I still would have enjoyed myself. Even the dark scenes were vibrant and the ugliest of the pirate undead were handsome devils. Perhaps the Mountain Dew was spiked but more importantly I made it through 2 1/2 hours in little time flat. In fact, I only think I recognized the little time counter on my dvd player maybe a couple of times just as a curiousity. My final point being, I bought a $1500 tv and financed it for three years. I finally took the plunge and if I did (put it off for the last 2-3 years), most of you can finally make the plunge. Now by no means do you have to get the tv I did, there are models from 30-37 that are great starters and go for $750-$1000 now. Over three to five years it really does pay for itself. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Some Final Thoughts and Mutterings
My plasma tv was installed & mounted on Friday and the Dish Network people came on Saturday. Dish Network installers need to go back to school seriously. I knew what to do more than they did and by a long shot. If I would have knew how to afix a satellite dish on my roof I would have no use for them at all. As is, I had to authorize my own box, hook it up or instruct them how too and clean up after them. At least the people on the phone were much more intelligent when I had to call to authorize my box. Best Buy / Magnolia install did a great job, the mount wasn’t as easily as I had hoped but he got the job done and well. I don’t know if it was worth $200 or not, but I feel satsified. As far as games received in the past week, all were 360; Gears of War, World Championship Poker: All in, and Arcade Volume 1: Unplugged. Arcade Volume 1 is a fantastic bargain, I got my sealed copy for $20 off of Ebay..6 arcade full version games from Live & 1 month of Live (can be added to current subscriptions). Somewhere in the neighborhood of a $60 value when you add it up. Anyhow, I plan to have a review of a 360 title (but not Gears, supposedly somebody beat me to it and it just hasn’t been posted yet) in the coming week. Look for it kids and have fun.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)