Arts, Entertainment, Living

Hits and Misses of E3

Saturday, 26 June 2010 03:10 PM Written by

Last week, E3 showed a million hard drives worth of new content for gamers to eagerly wait for.   We saw a ton of sequels, some hot new IPs, and a few pieces of potentially game-changing tech.

Most of the demoed games and hardware are coming along nicely.  Otherwise, the developers wouldn’t want them to see the light of day.  But not everything looked so attractive.  So here were the biggest hits of E3 and a few misses that still need some work.  I didn’t get to see everything that E3 had to offer, so this only includes the games that I personally played.



The public finally got some hands-on looks at the big three’s latest creations.  Lines were long to see the 3DS up close, to jump around in front of Microsoft’s Kinect, and to whip around the Playstation Move.



The 3DS “wowed” almost everyone who held it.  The three-dimension effect sans glasses is a truly new and innovative way to play video games.  Ninetendo is always changing the gaming front and they’ll do it again with the 3DS.


HIT:  Kinect


Microsoft used E3 to give their new motion control camera not only a new name, but a big marketing push as well.  Kinect could be played at a number of booths around the show floor and even had its own press event featuring Cirque de Soleil.  Kinect isn’t perfect yet, but the groundwork is there for many of the games that it pairs to.  Some games worked better than others, but the ones that did work could have led to hours of fun on the show floor.  We can’t expect a final product since Kinect is still about a half a year away from hitting shelves, but I suspect success for this new gaming tool.


MISS:  Move


Playstation Move could have been revolutionary, but only if the Wii never existed.  This motion controller looks, feels and plays almost exactly like a Wiimote and Nunchuck.  Don’t get me wrong, the move functions very well and has the responsiveness of a Wiimote with a Wii Motion Plus attachment, but it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

Not only have we seen the Move before in Wii form, but also the controllers themselves aren’t very comfortable.  The motion wand has far too many buttons to be practical, and it’s difficult to figure out where each button is when you need it come game time.

I know Sony is trying to reach a different audience with the Move, but will that audience be there when it’s released?


First-Person Shooter

HIT:  Bulletstorm – May the bodies and limbs fly, and Bulletstorm rewards such behavior.  The graphics paired with fast-paced gameplay make Bulletstorm look phenomenal.  If EA can get the multiplayer right, this game should be a major player next year.

HIT:  XCOM – I’m not sure what it is about the 1950’s era that intrigues me.  Maybe it’s the post-war era, Mad Men, Bioshock, or just the optimism that seemed to grip the culture of the time.  XCOM takes you back to that era, but with a science-fiction twist.  This piece of historical fiction looks like a FPS that goes against the grain.

HIT:  Crysis 2 – Crysis 2 will go head-to-head against Rage for the outstanding visual award of next year.  The difference between them is that Bethesda claims that Rage can be run beautifully on a standard 360 and Crysis 2 needs a killer PC rig to look its prettiest.  All of this is yet to be seen, but the Crysis 2 demo looks like the God of War of FPSs.

HIT: Medal of Honor – This was one of the most significant of all of the revamps.  Medal of Honor will be gunning for the online multiplayer crown.

HIT: Rage – I’m not sure why nobody is commenting on how the setting of Rage looks shockingly similar to Borderlands even down to the driving.  Despite the similarities, Rage is an early frontrunner for next year’s game of the year.  If the visuals will really look that great on a 360 it has a good chance of taking the title.  Also, the gameplay doesn’t look too shabby either.


MISS:  Nothing to see here.  The first-person shooter genre brought its A game to E3


Music/Rhythm Games

HIT: DJ Hero 2 – This was the best game that Activision had to offer.  They listened to fans of the first title, and made significant changes to the gameplay and multiplayer.

HIT:  Power Gig: Rise of the Six String – Power Gig has a tough challenge competing with Rock Band 3 which has strong name-recognition in its brand.  The controller that doubles as a real electric guitar may attract musicians to this new take on the guitar game.  The “airstrike” drums are an excellent innovation as well.

HIT:  Dance Central – Dance Central was the best Kinect-compatible game at E3.  It recognized movements and poses almost perfectly and everyone who played it seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.  This game could become a major selling point for Kinect.

HIT:  Rock Band 3 – Harmonix looks to expand the band with the addition of the keyboard.  With this instrument, Rock Band 3 supports seven-player multiplayer.  Gather up your friends and family.  The developers didn’t forget about hardcore gamers either with the induction of the new “pro mode,” which requires a 6-string guitar.


MISS:  Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock – Shame on Activision for trying to sell gamers the same game that we’ve been playing for the last 5 years.  The music genre has evolved in that time and the Guitar Hero franchise is stuck in its stale ways.  Rock Band 3 and Power Gig should leave this title in the dust.


HIT:  Dead Rising 2 – Dead rising was one of my first loves for the 360.  It was an early game that actually felt like a next generation title.  Making early games for a fresh system is always a learning process, so Dead Rising wasn’t perfect.  With the sequel, Capcom improved on a many of the maladies of game one.  It doesn’t get any better than mowing down zombies with a buddy in co-op mode.

HIT:  Dead Space 2 – Another strong showing from a sequel.  Dead Space 2 puts Isaac in a new whole new setting.  The graphics, aliens, and scares look awesome.

HIT:  Splatterhouse – Namco revamps the Splatterhouse franchise with a 3D twist.  This over-the-top beat-em-up measures the amount of blood that you spill, which then heals you.  It played like a more violent God of War if you can believe that.

HIT: Kirby Epic Yarn – My personal favorite from the Nintendo lineup.  Kirby has always been a charming part of the Nintendo crew, so I’m glad to see him get a starring roll once again.  The art style of this platformer is certainly the standout feature of Epic Yarn and adding co-op to the mix should make this a must-play for the Wii.

HIT:  Assassins Creed: Brotherhood – Ezio is back after the huge success of Assassins Creed II. I worry that Ubisoft may be rushing this project since AC II took off.  Here’s hoping for a captivating new story for the Brotherhood.

MISS:  Saw 2 – I’m surprised the first Saw sold well enough to warrant a sequel.  Saw was plagued with shoddy lighting and controls, which kept me out of the frightening element that Konami was going for.  The sequel didn’t seem much different.

MISS:  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – 2D platforming and puzzles have always been what makes the Castlevania series great.  Things get icky when it enters the 3rd dimension.  I’d wait for the new classic 2D installment, which looks great.


New IP

HIT: Bulletstorm

HIT: Rage

HIT: Brink – Bethesda enters the multiplayer arena with Brink.  Brink adds a new a boatload of customization for each character and stresses the importance of teamwork.  This game is far from release, but Bethesda hopefully Bethesda takes their time with this one.

HIT: Lost in Shadow – Hudson brings us the Wii exclusive, Lost in Shadow. The art style and lighting effects make this title a true original.  Better than that, Lost in Shadow may even challenge gamers on the Wii which would be a welcomed change.



HIT: Mortal Kombat – Warner Brothers showed off the most pleasant surprise of the expo.  I wasn’t expecting much since the series hasn’t had its luster in over a decade, but the new and improved Mortal Kombat looks like the best installment since Mortal Kombat 3.  With new fatalities and “X-ray” moves, it should be brutal good fun.

HIT: Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – This series was never my forte, but the third of the series may get me into the game.  Hardcore fans of series will love the look and feel of MVC 3, which resembles the first two.



HIT: EA MMA – If there is one thing you should know, just know that it’s better than Undisputed. This is the Fight Night of MMA titles.  The crew at EA nailed the mechanics and fundamentals of the sport perfectly.  The only problem is MMA doesn’t have any of the UFC fighters due to licensing problems.

HIT: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit – The Need for Speed series gets a much-needed tune-up.  Hot Pursuit has better visuals, fast-paced gameplay, and new multiplayer modes that will keep you coming back to your console.  The Hot Pursuit series has always been a favorite of mine.  I’m glad to see it revisited.

HIT: NBA Jam – “He’s on fire!” One of the most iconic lines in video games.  EA brought back all of the greatness of the original in a new package with updated rosters.  NBA Jam should bring back some great local multiplayer.

MISS: Madden – Another year, another Madden.  EA has gotten a bit lazy with their franchise and Madden 11 doesn’t look like it’s changing the trend.  It looks like you’ll have to shell out 60 bucks for updated rosters.

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HBO comedies 'Entourage' and 'Hung' return

Friday, 25 June 2010 12:00 AM Written by

entourage10_16_blogIt's saying something that I came away from watching new episodes of HBO's "Entourage" and "Hung" interested in seeing more of the latter.

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We here at BlueNotes don't usually get a chance to look at old music -- the CDs that come in are for the most part new recordings.

But on the other hand, we really love fine old blues, and this album -- "Jimmy Dawkins Presents the Leric Story" (Delmark Records) -- is an excellent collection of Chicago blues from the 1980s, a period that doesn't get as much attention as the decades that came before, when the Chicago blues were at their high mark.

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CNN doc on gay dads

Thursday, 24 June 2010 12:00 AM Written by

Gary_Tony1A few day's late for Father's Day, CNN is looking at gay dads with the one-hour doc "Gary & Tony Have a Baby" (8 tonight). Soledad O'Brien reports and hosts the special that is both touching and a little eye-rolling because the show seemed to go out of its way to find characters who conform to stereotypes -- and it's not just the gay guys.

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A Living Blues readers' poll

Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:00 PM Written by

Living Blues is one of the best of the blues mags. It's especially good for us traditionalists, since it focuses mostly on what we might call the "real deal" blues, generally leaving genres like blues-rock to others. I think I even have most of their mags, dating back to the late '70s, and it was always a pleasure to find so many articles in that magazine that mirrored my own interests.

But I digress. Right now, Living Blues is holding its annual Living Blues Awards Reader's Ballot, where you can vote for for your favorite from a selection of albums from 2009. Go to the mag's home page and click on the big vote button to take part.

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