Film critics have decried the disease of sequel-itis since the Hollywood blockbuster era began more than 30 years ago. They bemoan the lack of originality, the reliance on popular themes and characters, and the sheeplike masses who flock to repeated installments of their favorite franchises. Video games have been onboard with the idea of sequels almost from the very start (remember Ms. Pac-Man?), but the idea of creating cash-generating franchises has taken on new importance in an increasingly hit-driven environment.
So, it's only natural for some industry watchers to bemoan the likes of Mass Effect 2, Halo 3, BioShock 2, Assassin's Creed 2, and others. But, judging from recent experience, the real problem is not that these games share too much with movie sequels, it's that they're not enough alike.
Having played nearly every notable recent and upcoming video game sequel, it's clear that the hubris of game developers and publishers is having a potentially audience-sapping effect--their unquestioned assumption is that you not only played the original game a new sequel is based on, but also finished it, and can clearly remember every plot twist up to two years later. This blindness to anything but the uber-fan audience is a disservice to the very mainstream game buyers who keep the entire industry afloat. … Read more
If you're among those lucky enough to have this week off, well, I'm insanely jealous. That means you've got time to sit around and play games, which I rarely do. But I can live vicariously through you, and give you three amazing deals on new and classic PC titles alike. Take a look:
1. Valve's Steam service is offering one of my all-time favorites, BioShock, for just $4.99. I've mentioned it for that price a few times before, but if you haven't pulled the trigger, here's another chance. BioShock mixes action, role-playing, … Read more
I am not really Batman, despite what I tell girls on dates, but if I had this badass Bat utility belt I could maybe convince them otherwise. I mean, it's only $279 and could easily hold all my portable gadgets, plus my wallet and a young lady's heart (not literally, of course).
The 38-inch-wide belt is made of faux leather and has eight pouches with Batman logo emblems on the snaps, as well as a gold-plated metal buckle with a Batman logo emblem. It'll be available in June of '10, but Entertainment Earth is taking preorders now. … Read more
Science-fiction movies show us many futuristic cars we wish we could drive. People still demand flying cars, promised to us decades ago by the Jetsons cartoon series. Science-fiction fan site IO9.com posted an article comparing driving as depicted in various movies and television series with today's reality.
The article covers all of our favorites: Batman, James Bond, Knight Rider, Doctor Who, and finds real-life equivalents. It even takes on the flying car and includes clips from Top Gear.
Check out Your Future Automotive Awesomeness: Fiction vs. Reality for a fun Friday read.
Yesterday I posted up a clip produced by Edmunds.com's Inside Line series that ran down bite-size highlights of a few of the new cars being paraded at the still-in-effect Tokyo Auto Show. Of course, there are many more vehicles making their debuts at this automotive fest, including this sports car--it's the newest edition of the bad-ass Lotus Scura. And ladies and gentlemen, this may be the most intimidating Scura ever produced.
Check it out--matte black paint, black stripes, black wheels--it screams darkness and evil; the headlights even seem to stare at you with a sinister gaze. The … Read more
Two weeks after the console launch, PC gamers finally got their version of Eidos Interactive's Batman: Arkham Asylum last week. Originally slated to launch with the console versions, Batman was delayed three weeks for the PC, presumably to give both developer Rocksteady Studios and partner Nvidia time to polish the integration of Nvidia's PhysX game physics acceleration technology.
After spending a weekend with the game, we can report that we were pleasantly surprised at how much the PhysX effects enhanced the atmosphere of the game's gloomy setting. Our last outing with a PhysX-enabled AAA PC game, Mirror's Edge back in January, was much clunkier.
In Batman, sheets of paper scattered on the floor move convincingly as characters walk over them. Bricks, glass, and tiles shatter and break apart realistically. Fog, smoke, and spider webs waft and curl around characters realistically (the slideshow at the bottom of this post shows off some Nvidia-provided screenshots). With PhysX off you get none of those effects, and a less interesting environment as a result. Compared to the tacked on PhysX-effects in Mirror's Edge, the effects in Batman noticeably improve the atmosphere.
Not every effect in Batman is a winner. The banners draped over various rafters and arches throughout the game, presumably to show off realistic cloth behavior, seem more appropriate for an athletic facility than an asylum for criminals. The PhysX effects also provide no benefit to the in-game mechanics, but given that only a subset of PC gamers have PhysX-enabled PCs, we can't blame the Batman development team for not using PhysX to full advantage.… Read more
Episode 49 of the Digital City, where we find out why Microsoft's Steve Ballmer tried to stomp a co-worker's iPhone; check out the first Windows 7 TV ad; and lament that Steve Jobs had to drag himself onstage at the latest Apple event to basically announce nothing (and that the purported Beatles/iTunes deal never materialized).
We also check out EA's Madden for the iPhone, find out why Batman: Arkham Asylum is such a hit, and fondly remember the 10th anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast.
Yesterday's show with guest host Alli went so well that we ask her to help us out again! Today we show off some beautiful fan artwork, run through outdated tech terminology, dispel "Batman 3" rumors about Megan Fox, and more!
We want to give a huge shout-out and thanks to Joe from Honolulu for sending us these two amazing woodcarvings of The 404! We're still blown away by the level of detail in the paintings and the ridiculous amount of time it probably took to make. Best of all, we love that it's a collaborative effort between two 404 fans: Blake Stevenson helped design our logo and Joe just took it to the next level. Cheers to both of you!
We're all a little worried about Chris Nolan's next "Batman" movie. We've been hearing a lot of rumors about the follow-up to last year's "Dark Knight," and even though we think Megan Fox is next level hot, we just can't imagine her as Catwoman. First of all, there are one thousand other characters in the Batman universe, why resurrect the same ones over and over? Let's see a Killer Croc! In other Megan Fox news, gamers will be excited to hear that she will be on Xbox Live on Saturday, August 29 @ 3 p.m. PT to play Gold Members in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the Game. Cross your fingers and let us know if you actually play her!
Many more crazy stories from the Web in addition to an "Ask The 404" segment on today's show. Thanks for listening, all!EPISODE 413 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more