Will Kinect Kill the Wii?


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Someone asked if Microsoft’s Kinect will “kill” the Wii. I really hate that whole “kill” mentality.

In any case, I don’t think it will happen. I think that the Kinect will be a gateway drug of sorts – it will encourage people who never wanted an Xbox 360 to grab one. The Wii and the Kinect systems are so completely different, that many people will choose between them – or use both.

I don’t know if one technology will “trump” a second technology. Comparing the two of them really isn’t fair. They truly are different.

What do you think about the Kinect? Is it better than the Wii? Or, is that even a fair comparison to make? Should Microsoft encourage Kinect hacking? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Review


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Ali has had Call of Duty: Black Ops in his hot little hands for a while now. He was cool enough to create a screencast for all of you so that you can check out the game before deciding to buy it. This game is the seventh installment of the Call of Duty series. COD is a first-person shooter that has been wildly popular over the years.

The last game in the series has had a lot of haters, including videos of people snapping their discs. There was a lot of high hopes for Black Ops. People wanted a lot of changes, and Ali feels that many of these have been addressed.

Some of the game features include:

  • Wide array of play modes including single player, local multiplayer versus and online co-op and multiplayer
  • Seventh installment of the Call of Duty series, based on the live fire conflicts of the Cold War era
  • Diverse variety of play setting ranging from urban air and ground combat in SE Asia, to snow combat in Soviet region and jungle combat
  • Blending of traditional COD, and new first-person character scenarios designed to both retain the essence of the COD gaming experience and ensure constantly flowing and varied action
  • New arsenal of weapons and vehicles tied to the Cold War era, including the SR-71 Blackbird and sited explosive-tipped crossbows

Have you gotten your hands on the game yet? What are your thoughts so far?

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Windows Phone 7 Devices Hit the Streets Today in the U.S.

Mobile enthusiast and a garage developer Richard Mungeer was the first person to purchase a Windows Phone 7 device today in New York City’s Times Square AT&T Store. From what I’ve seen already, Microsoft is definitely back in the mobile game with this launch.

It’s worth noting that reports are circulating telling you that you can purchase one of these new devices on either Dell Mobility or Amazon Wireless for as low as $149.99 with a new two-year contract. That’s a dang good deal for phones which are going to be very big sellers.

Many of the articles we’re seeing come across the wire thus far this morning are giving high praise to these devices, and the operating system for which they were built, such as over on GearLive:

The home screen introduces you to the tiles that make up the main navigation, some of which are live tiles that update with information in realtime. The live tiles are great because they give glance-able information that let you take a quick gander at your device and get information without having to go into an app and back out.

The tiles can be removed, or rearranged however you’d like them to be. If you’ve used a Zune HD, then you will be familiar with the UI of Windows Phone 7. The phone, though, is far more customizable, with Microsoft wanting you to be able to personalize the phone and make it totally “yours.”

The general consensus so far is that Windows Phone 7 is definitely worth your time and money. “If you’re the corporate type, Windows Phone 7 will sync right up with Exchange, while also offering you a bunch of entertainment options that are built right in to the device in a way that no other mobile OS has captured yet.” This statement alone could sell quite a few large companies on making a switch to this operating system for all of their employees.

What are your thoughts? Have you actually used a Windows phone 7 device yet? Are you looking forward to getting your hands on one?

Are You Ready to Kinect?

This is a guest post written by long-time community member and friend Mike Parks – otherwise known as simply @BigRedPimp. You can also find him helping to “pimp” out his wife’s Eco-friendly Homemaker site. Mike has had a Kinect in his hot little hands for nearly three months now, and was gracious enough to give us his thoughts on the device thus far.

Video game controllers have come a long way since some of us were kids. We’ve gone from blocky, one-button joysticks that move a small, yellow circle around a maze to current iterations that have more buttons than we have fingers. Often times, we find ourselves wondering what’s next and hoping for a little more interaction with the games we play. Gamers want just a bit more immersion into worlds they choose to dedicate their spare time to.

In recent years, some companies have experimented with video-based or motion controls. Games using these technologies would allow the player to get involved through motions that either the controller or the camera would pick up and translate into movement. These often offered minimal enjoyment and, after the newness wore off, felt gimmicky at best.

Enter Kinect for Xbox 360. In order to hopefully offer something different, Microsoft has released a new style of gaming peripheral that uses camera-based game play and offers a totally new twist on anything we’ve seen before.

The Kinect is an attempt to get users off the couch and into the games they play. It offers a camera, microphone and a depth sensor that allows it to not only see and hear the players but determine their location in front of the TV. Kinect even allows for more than one person at a time to play which is great for getting families involved.

CAMERA

The camera in the Kinect is an RGB camera that captures video at [email protected] It offers an impressive image quality that is not only good for allowing games to capture detailed images but great for video chat using Video Kinect. It seems to lag behind slightly during Video Kinect sessions but that does not interfere with its processing during normal game activity. Overall, it’s a great camera for its purposes.

MICROPHONE

The microphone is a fairly standard multi-array microphone that is able to pick up a wide spectrum of sound. The sound quality is above average and great for voice communication via Video Kinect or even issuing voice commands to the Xbox 360. To get the attention of the Dashboard, you just say “Xbox” and it responds. You may have some issues with responsiveness of voice commands with certain accents and dialects but it still seems fairly accurate. The microphone is passable but far from horrible.

DEPTH SENSOR

Kinect uses a depth sensor to track a player’s location in the room. If you’re curious how it works, it basically bounces infrared light onto the play area and processes the brightness of a series of images into a sort of greyscale image. With this information, it’s able to figure out the shapes of things like your furniture as well as recognize facial & body movements. If you walk forward, your avatar moves forward. Act like you’re kicking a ball and your avatar will do the same. This is the best aspect of the product and does a fantastic job at what it does.

GAMES & SOFTWARE

Of course, the whole thing would be useless without the games. Kinect comes with a game called Kinect Adventures that has players kicking and punching dodgeballs at targets, navigating a raft down a river or even racing around an obstacle course. The game has a lot to offer players with 20 different game types to play as well as collecting trophies along the way to document your adventures.

Another game that flexes the muscle of Kinect is Kinect Sports. This game includes a few sports titles that really get you off the couch and involved in the game. One minute, you could be swearing off that last gutter ball in Bowling, hurling a javelin for distance in Track & Field or even scoring the game-winning header in Football (sorry, “Soccer” isn’t in my vocabulary).

You’re not stuck with having to buy all the software to use the Kinect either. There’s plenty of things to do within the Xbox Dashboard too. Currently, the ESPN, Last.fm and Zune applications as well as Video Kinect take advantage of certain aspects of Kinect. It has something to offer everyone, no matter the price.

OVERALL

The Kinect experience is definitely one that everyone should try at least once. The offerings as of this review range from sports, exercise & music titles with a few action games rounding out the mix. Kinect has a lot of potential to get families playing together. The core gamers shouldn’t feel left out either as there are plenty of titles both current and in the works to satisfy even the most hardcore gaming appetite. While it may not be a game-changer, it does well at enhancing the fun factor and leave players wanting more.

Fable 3 Review

Greg is a Fable fan – having played Fable I and Fable II. When I needed to find someone in my community who might be able to help review the new Fable III for Xbox 360, he was up for the task.

Instead of just looking at the game and offering a simple review, Greg played the ENTIRE game of Fable III before recording this video review. Unbelievable. That’s going above and beyond the Call of Duty. Er, I mean Fable III.

As stated in the video, Greg asserts:

I received the game less than 24 hours ago so I sped though this game at 100 mph. Keep that in mind as we go through this.

The game took me about 12 hours to get through – but don’t worry. As you’d expect with Fable, there are a ton of side missions to keep you busy for many more hours.

Fable 3 picks up at about 50 years where we left off from Fable 2. In fact, our character this time is the youngest of 2 sons of the Hero from Fable 2. Your older brother is currently King – and not doing a very good job at either. Like the other Fable stories, you need to save Albion from tyranny, only this time it’s from your own family.

So, your stent as a wealthy prince is short-lived as you escape from the castle to travel around Albion seeking help from its inhabitants to eventually overthrow your brother the King.

What’s nice is that, unlike other the Fables, once you’ve done this, you actually get to play as King and make decisions like a King. For a little while, at least. Once you’re King, you find out there there is a far greater threat – and so your decisions as King will determine that outcome.

This is cool because you basically get two story lines: defeat your tyrant brother to claim the throne; and rule for a short time, hoping your decisions make for a favorable outcome.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, that’s the story in a nutshell. Now, let’s dive into the specifics.

To be perfectly honest, I was greatly underwhelmed by this game. Because of the many differences between Fable 1 and Fable 2, I had expected more from Fable 3.

The plot isn’t the only thing that picks up from Fable 2 – gameplay, itself, is nearly identical.

The first thing you’ll notice is that you have the dog again – and, like in Fable 2, he’s pretty useless. He’ll help you find treasure and act as early enemy detection and… that’s about it. Disappointing!

Fighting is, once again, repetitive and limited to button mashing the same combo that will result in a different move, but you have no choice in that move.

It also seemed to me that there was a lot fewer weapons in this version. Again, keep in mind that I’ve only had limited time on the game, so they may be out there. Also, there is no customizing the weapons with jewels to add abilities. The weapons come with the upgrades – but you need to perform tasks to unlock them. LAME! One of them was that I needed to kill “150 ugly creatures.” What determines an “ugly” creature? That’s a lot – considering you’re throwing them at me 4 to 5 at a time. I’d much rather buy the upgrades.

You still have spells, but they are in the form of gauntlets to wear. This means you only have 2 spells at a time. You can switch between them, but you have to go back to your sanctuary base to swap them. Luckily, you can do this in the middle of a battle. One cool addition is that you can combine the spells for some pretty cool fighting. My favorite is mixing Fireball with Vortex. And, like fighting, spells are repetitive button mashing.

Let’s move on to armor and outfits. Again, they’re in very limited supply – and you get no bonuses for the outfit. They don’t improve people’s attitude toward you. They offer no defensive bonus or attack bonus. I could have played the entire game in the character’s pajamas and done just as well. They offer a bunch of customization to the outfits, but what’s the point?

Let’s talk about the interaction with the townsfolk, too. Remember, in Fable 2, that you had several choices depending on who you were talking to and how not everyone reacted the same way to a response? Well, that’s gone. Kinda. In this version, you get two choices and it doesn’t matter who they are. I went the entire game with “dance and belch” as my first choice of interaction, regardless of sex. Everyone loved dancing. Kinda took the fun out of it. Also, they took out the option to skip the cutscenes. I probably could have done the game in half the time if I could have skipped the cutscenes.

Like in Fable 2, you get to buy houses and businesses. With houses, though, you have to pay for their upkeep regularly. Their condition directly reflects how much rent you receive. Owning property is the best way to raise income (besides doing a job). Jobs are slightly new. You can choose to be a blacksmith, pie maker, or a lute musician. All stupid, but great for raising that last $1,000 you need to buy a house.

The fast travel is much improved, allowing you to even get closer to a section of the city. From this menu, you can also mange all your property and purchase some more. This is great, as you don’t have to run around from building to building to make changes.
The lack of difficulty settings is a disappointment. I went through the entire game without dying – not even once. I used the same weapon through the last 75% of the game and I only used 8 health potions and it wasn’t even the final battle. Gameplay is super simple.

So, in conclusion, Fable 3 (in my book) is a dud. Frankly, I may not even go back and play the rest of the missions. If you’re a gamer who is really into Sim games, you may love it. If you’re into RPG challenges that rock your brain, you’re not going to find it in Fable 3. Sorry.

Your thoughts?