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3201  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: GalCiv II - Dark Avatar Beta 2 on: December 19, 2006, 01:57:37 AM
I wrote a review of Galactic Civilizations 2 where I talked about how much I liked the dynamic diplomacy system, the fact starbases could develop into powerhouses that drastically change the strategic landscape, and the way that players would often need to pursue a mixture of different strategies to prevail.

The Dark Avatar expansion pack is still in beta and has its fair share of quirks to work out, but from the looks of things so far, it takes all of those elements and ramps them up even further.  Unlike the original game where the player's only real consideration during the early game was whether or not a planet was habitable, many planets are now *potentially* habitable and will only become usable after the appropriate technologies have been researched.  These research projects are quite expensive at the start of the game, so you'll find yourself mentally separating star systems which are valuable from those which could become valuable in the future.

Another major strategic consideration are the new asteroid fields which can be mined to produce significant production bonuses to nearby planets.  These mining bases take time to establish and even longer to upgrade, but the bonus production they generate can transform an otherwise backwater world into a manufacturing dynamo.  The twist is that these bonuses drop off steeply with distance and the bases themselves tend to shift allegiances to whichever civilization is producing the most local influence, so habitable planets near asteroid fields are highly valued regardless of their initial quality.

Another addition is the new espionage system.  In the original game spying was completely abstract, consisting of nothing more than using a slider to allocate some spending and then waiting a while for info to come in.  In Dark Avatar that same slider now allocates money towards training an espionage agent who, in a few weeks or a few months depending on funding, can be deployed to an enemy world to sabotage one of their colonial improvements or used to nullify an enemy agent interfering with one of your own.  This new system has been undergoing a lot of changes to get it properly balanced -- early versions had the player's civilization swarmed with enemy agents infecting every planet five times over -- but it's steadily developing into an integral new tool for undercutting your enemy's infrastructure.

Finally, the jury is still out on one of the expansion pack's other ambitious features.  First, the "Super Abilities" granted to each race are aptly named because, as it stands, they seem powerful enough to upset the balance of the game.  The Super Hive ability, for example, allows the race in question to produce any level of factory in a single turn, giving it the potential to generate *vast* amounts of production in only a handful of turns.  Combine this ability with a strong economic bonus to help finance the near-limitless manufacturing, and you'll create a race which seems to have a deeply unfair advantage.  Other super abilities include the power to make other civilizations go to war with each other, to respond favorably to steeply one-sided diplomatic proposals, and to get a free first strike in combat.  Each of these seems to have so much potential for abuse, it remains to be seen if they can be balanced out in a way that prevents them from combining with normal bonuses to become totally unbeatable.

That aside, I'd say that Dark Avatar is a fantastic expansion to an already great game, and I'm anxiously looking forward to how the product continues to develop over the next couple months!  Anyone who's interested enough to put their money where their mouth is should know that the open beta *should* still be available to anyone who preorders the final product through Stardock's website.

-Autistic Angel
3202  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: TV experts help me out with my Wii :) on: December 18, 2006, 03:54:42 AM
Your television is a widescreen set and your Wii is set to 16:9 widescreen mode, so your television should be set to display the picture in full widescreen mode -- no black bars on the sides.  I would think that if you override it and set it to "Normal", everything would appear horizontally squished.

I'm sure there's a thoroughly technical definition for it, but an "anamorphic" signal is basically a video signal which is natively widescreen.  This is valuable because it means that your source isn't wasting time or signal bandwidth sending your display empty space, like the black bars which would appear above and below a regular TV playing a standard-def widescreen movie.

The Nintendo Wii does not output an anamorphic signal.  That means, even when set to 16:9 mode, it's outputting a normal 4:3 signal...but is only drawing the picture along the widescreen "stripe" in the middle.  It's inefficient, but it's also cheap and keeps Nintendo out of that whole "high definition fad" that people keep talking about.

I've owned three Sony televisions, and my experience says that your TV should probably be in "Full" mode while playing the Wii.  The best way to check would be to load something up that would display a sphere or circle (a sun, a disc, some sort of super monkey-related ball).  If the circle appears oval or oblong, you know your display is set incorrectly.  If it's circular, then you're golden!  icon_cool

-Autistic Angel
3203  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: 1701 A.D. Impressions? on: December 17, 2006, 04:39:53 AM
It's been about a month since people started playing this game.  How is it holding up?

-Autistic Angel
3204  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Huge diabetes breakthrough on: December 16, 2006, 03:54:25 AM
Why, what has ever done to you?

-Autistic Angel
3205  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: What are you buying this week? (12/11) on: December 11, 2006, 02:35:53 PM
I've had a preorder down on FarCry: Vengeance since the time I preordered the Wii, but I'll only be picking it up if the reviews are favorable.

-Autistic Angel
3206  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: I don't think this guy liked Verizon on: December 10, 2006, 04:40:47 PM
I lists his method for joining the company as a friend who got him in the door.  I sure hope that friend had moved on to a better job by the time that exit interview was turned in....

-Autistic Angel
3207  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: O'Really is going to have fun with this one. on: December 10, 2006, 04:35:39 PM
I celebrate Christmas with my friends and family.  Every year, as far back as I can remember, I've been free to decorate the inside and outside of my home in whatever fashion I choose, free to listen to as many Christmas carols as I like, and free to purchase as many Christmas presents as I want.

Can someone explain exactly why I'm supposed to feel that "my holiday is under attack!" just because my local pharmacy, town hall, or airport isn't decorated exactly the same way?  Why do a segment of conservative pundits believe that my traditions are so weak and confused that unless I see them reflected in every possible corner of my community, I'll somehow forget to celebrate them?

-Autistic Angel
3208  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: PS3 -- Keep it or sell it? on: December 08, 2006, 06:54:32 PM
Is there a smiley or emoticon that replicates the image of looking into the Ark of the Covenant?

-Autistic Angel
3209  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Star Trek Legacy - Which System ? on: December 07, 2006, 10:44:47 PM
The 1.1 patch has been released to fix an inability to connect to the GameSpy multiplayer service.

From looking through the early impressions, I've picked up on the following things:

1) You can target specific subsystems on enemy ships.  That's good to hear since I didn't see any of that in the game play demonstrations, and it was such a critical tactic in Bridge Commander.

2) Although you can specify the race you want AI players to be in a skirmish game, you cannot select which specific ships they will be using.  Instead, the AI makes its own selections based on the number of command points you've allowed.  A lot of people on the message forum seem really upset about this, so I would theorize Mad Doc might patch in more control here in the future.

3) Many people have mentioned that you cannot remap keyboard bindings within the game.  No word yet on whether or not it's possible to do through an .ini tweak or anything like that.

4) I still can't tell what the deal with with ship upgrades.  Some people have made vague comments about being unable to use upgraded or modified ships in multiplayer which makes me wonder if it's still possible to do during the single player campaign...?

-Autistic Angel
3210  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops on: December 07, 2006, 04:24:22 PM
I scanned through the thread, but I didn't see that anyone has posted GameSpot's glowing review.

Quote from: GameSpot
The Good: Excellent, thought-provoking story capably reveals much more about Snake; complex, open-ended gameplay has been updated to best suit a portable game; fully featured multiplayer options include game sharing, online play, and more; excellent presentation, including superb graphics, sound, music, and speech; high replay value.

The Bad: It's missing MGS3's incredible 3D cutscenes, full speech, and blood effects; complicated control scheme has a steep learning curve.

-Autistic Angel
3211  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Star Trek Legacy - Which System ? on: December 07, 2006, 04:16:46 PM
Well, here's one review to get us started.  I don't think it's particularly well written, and ironically, the reviewer's complaint about how you "slowly and awkwardly rotate your way through battles from any of the Trek eras" is actually a good sign to me.  If I wanted to play a game about nimble star fighters, I'd, probably FreeSpace 2.  Man, that's a great game....

Anyways, just thought I'd share the review.

-Autistic Angel
3212  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Star Trek Legacy - Which System ? on: December 07, 2006, 02:41:09 PM
I had a great time taking manual control of my ship in Bridge Commander and really loved the way it required you to divide your attention between managing multiple targets, tweaking your repair priorities, and adjusting your power levels on the fly.  The idea that there was going to be a new Star Trek game that focussed exclusively on that sort of methodical naval combat, except with a persistent fleet of ships that could be customized like party members in an RPG, made Star Trek: Legacy sound like a very exciting game.

I'm not sure how to feel about it after seeing some of those game play examples.  The pacing seems a lot faster than I would have expected -- the ships look so nimble that the combat looks like it's less about managing your firing arcs and shield facings, and just about having more overt firepower than your enemies.

Torpedoes definitely took some finesse at the helm in Bridge Commander because, unless you angled your ship to give your weapons a proper firing angle, they was no way they could arc back to hit a more nimble enemy.  From what I saw in those game play demonstrations, photon torpedoes appear capable of making nearly 90-degree turns to strike their targets.  Is it even possible for them to miss?  If not, they might as well just assign each ship a strict "damage per second" rating the way they do for weapons in World of WarCraft.

Finally, the rumor that all of the upgradeability and customization options have been removed from the game -- features which were repeatedly cited by the developers as being the features they were the most excited about -- is very concerning to me.  I really hope we can see some reviews of this game soon....

-Autistic Angel
3213  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Neverwinter Nights 2 patch 1.03 released on: December 05, 2006, 06:04:12 PM
I really can't imagine any decision the spellcasting AI could make for a game like this that I'd be happy with.  Melee AI is one thing, instructing characters to attack the next closest enemy or (in the case of a spell caster) automatically enter parry mode when attacked in close quarters.  Spells, on the other hand, are a finite resource that I want to have 100% control over at all times, and I wouldn't want to see my wizards firing their magic missiles off into the darkness without my explicit say so.

I keep all my characters in Puppet Mode anyhow.  Combat in a Dungeons & Dragons game is fought and won based on the tactical choices you make, and a major appeal of the game is getting to be the one calling those shots.  If I wanted a game where the AI cruised through battles all on its own, I'd play Dungeon Siege.

Quote from: unbreakable
Nothing will ever be buggier than a JoWood game.  EVER.

-Autistic Angel
3214  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Star Trek Legacy - Which System ? on: December 05, 2006, 05:13:20 PM
I'll be very interested to read some impressions of this one.  I've read posts from people who claim to have heard some very concerning things about the production of the game, including the fact that the much-touted ability to upgrade individual components on your ships has been entirely removed from the game.  I have no idea if that's true, but I'll be paying close attention to what people have to say about this one.

-Autistic Angel
3215  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Can someone point me to the Nintendo forum? on: November 24, 2006, 02:43:23 PM
I personally found it very strange that there isn't a Zelda topic at the very least. I mean - this IS Zelda here. And there's quite a few people who bought a Wii. Did nobody get Zelda?

I have Zelda, but I'm waiting until I receive my component video cables to spend any time with it.  According to Nintendo's online store, the order I placed on 11/19/06 "will be shipped in the next couple business days," so perhaps I'll receive them next week.   In the meantime, I've been playing some Trauma Center and Wii Sports when I have the chance.

-Autistic Angel
3216  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Was there ever a season 2 of The Outer Limits? on: November 23, 2006, 01:45:45 PM
The Outer Limits ran from 1995 to 2002 for a total of seven seasons.  If you're asking whether or not they've released those as packaged box sets on DVD, I don't know.

If you're unable to find them for purchase, the Sci-Fi channel frequently airs marathons of The Outer Limits as part of their weekly lineup.  I don't know of a way to predict when they'll do one, but you could probably get a heads up from the channel's website.

-Autistic Angel
3217  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Is anyone looking for a Wii? on: November 21, 2006, 09:25:14 PM
If anyone decides to purchase a Wii from Purge, I speak from personal experience when I say that he is a very trustworthy person to do business with.  The anonymity of internet forums can be a little offputting when real money is on the line, but he's definitely one of the good guys.

-Autistic Angel
3218  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Oooops.... on: November 21, 2006, 02:51:40 PM
What on earth are people doing to their Wiimotes that causing the straps to fray and snap already?  I thought the strap was a fail-safe to prevent the controller from flying out of your hand accidentally -- not twirling them around at high speed like grappling hooks.

-Autistic Angel
3219  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: MS Paid up! on: November 21, 2006, 02:52:04 AM

Quote from: papasmurff on November 21, 2006, 02:40:08 AM

Quote from: happydog on November 21, 2006, 02:34:00 AM

Quote from: CeeKay on November 21, 2006, 02:16:47 AM

Quote from: Calvin on November 21, 2006, 01:37:15 AM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on November 21, 2006, 12:37:40 AM

Wow!  Nice!
3220  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Old news? Call for Wii Component cables on: November 21, 2006, 02:45:51 AM
Same here.

-Autistic Angel
3221  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Ouch! on: November 19, 2006, 06:41:57 PM
Why is the media listed as "CD-ROM?"

-Autistic Angel
3222  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: DeepDiscountDVD 20% off sale thru 11/18 on: November 17, 2006, 12:16:14 PM
I have also put in an order with, but I still haven't received any e-mail or anything to confirm the order.  I double checked on their website to make sure they had all my contact information correct -- how long does it typically take from the time of order to receive some sort of acknowledgment from them?

-Autistic Angel
3223  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Excite Truck: 6.8 at Gamspot on: November 15, 2006, 06:18:46 PM
I've read a *lot* of Jeff Gerstmann over the last ten years.  He's reminiscent of Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream: he might come across like an entertaining prankster or even a doofus to the casual observer, but I wouldn't stake anything of value against him in a contest of wits.  That guy is smart, a lot smarter than he likes to let on, and for whatever reason he's chosen to dedicate a large portion of his life to critiquing video games.  It's easy to argue with his decision to give Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 a perfect score, but on the whole, I've learned to give his opinions a lot of weight.

-Autistic Angel
3224  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: PS3 Scalper = Asshole on: November 15, 2006, 05:55:59 PM
Quote from: Farscry
No kidding, it's amusing because it'll not only piss off the fanboys, but the scalpers too.  icon_biggrin

Why would smashing a PS3 in front of a line of hopeful purchasers piss off a scalper?  By taking one more PS3 out of the hands of someone who actually wants it, that's one more person who might be willing to pay a steeply inflated price to buy one...from a scalper.  Everybody wins, except for the consumer who genuinely just wants to purchase a PlayStation 3.

Quote from: unbreakable
Partially, the entire anti-consumerism statement is great.  It's a big F-U to all the people who are willing to spend days in line and gauge the entire success/failure of their holiday on their ability to purchase one high demand expensive item... or simply resell said item to milk people with said attitude.

The people willing to wait in those lines hoping to own a PS3 aren't hurting anyone.  They aren't trying to tear down anyone else's values or push their own onto other people.  Why do you take such glee in the idea of provoking them for no purpose?

-Autistic Angel
3225  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Neverwinter Nights 2 Impressions on: November 06, 2006, 11:43:11 PM
I had not read the review previously, and after I heard that it had been pulled off the site, I went looking for it out of curiosity.  If anyone else is interested, here is the full text:

Quote from: Matt Peckham
As everything-the-original-did -- and more -- follow-ups go, Neverwinter Nights 2 deserves a banner&something like "mission accomplished." Think the sequel to Jurassic Park, where Spielberg's all "You want more dinosaurs? I'll show you more dinosaurs..." As a contemporary CRPG, on the other hand, NWN2 leaves a lot to be desired, and that's too bad, because these are the guys who brought us Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale 2...and therefore they are the guys I'm least inclined to take issue with.

But issues exist, and defining them is really no more complex than saying, "Hello D&D superchrome, buh-bye storytelling and character development (you know, those things you're supposed to "immerse" yourself in)." The idea seems to be that we're meant to rah-rah about a superabundance of feats, spells, races, prestige (advanced) classes, and math-equation tickers full of the usual "I attack you with a +4 sword of --" booooooring. Fine, sure, dandy...but when is a "role" not a "role"? Simple: when it's a rule to a fault.

Ever loyal bites
I'm cruising for a bruising (don't I know it), but NWN2 is a splash of cold water to the face: A revelatory, polarizing experience that -- in the wake of newer, better alternatives -- makes you question the very notion of "RPG by numbers." It foists Wizards of the Coast's latest v3.5 D&D system (a molehill that's become a mountain at this point) onto your hard drive with stunning fidelity, then tacks on dozens of artificial-looking areas vaguely linked by forget-table plot points you check off like grocery to-do's.

Sure, the interface is sleeker with context-sensitive menus and a smart little bar that lets you more intuitively toggle modes like "power attack" and "stealth," but with all the added rule-shuffling, NWN2 seems like it's working twice as hard to accomplish half as much. Worse -- and blame this on games like Oblivion -- NWN2's levels feel pint-sized: Peewee zones inhabited by pull-string NPCs with no existence to speak of beyond their little playpens. Wander and you'll wonder why the forests, towns, and dungeons are like movie lots with lay-about monsters waiting patiently for you to trip their arbitrary triggers. As if the pencil and paper "module" approach were a virtue that computers -- by now demonstrably capable of simulating entire worlds with considerably more depth -- should emulate. It's like we're supposed to park half our brain in feature mania and the rest in nostalgic slush, and somehow call bingo.

The dungeons feel especially stale, so linear and inorganic they might as well be graph-paper lifts filled with room after room of pop-up bogeymen (Doom put them in closets; NWN2 just makes the closets bigger). Maybe you'd rather chat with the dumb NPCs that speak and sound like extras in a bad Saturday morning cartoon? Oh, boy -- there's the portrait "plus" sign! Time to shuffle another party member (improved to four simultaneous) through the level-up grinder, which you can click "recommend" to zip past...but then, what's the point?

Rule-playing game
In all fairness, it's not entirely developer Obsidian's fault. D&D certainly puts the "rule" in role-playing, and a madcap base of D&D aficionados is no doubt ready to string me up for suggesting that faithful is here tantamount to folly (to these people, I say: "Go for it, NWN2's all you've ever wanted and more"). Call me crazy -- I guess I'm just finally weary of being led around on a pencil-and-paper leash and batting numbers around a glorified three-dimensional spreadsheet in a computer translation that should have synthesized, not forklifted.

That five-of-10 is actually a hedge, by the way. For D&D fans who want to play an amazingly thorough PC translation of the system they're carting around in book form, it's proba-bly closer an eight or nine. But if, like me, you want less "rules for rule's sake" and more depth and beauty to your simulated game worlds, you can certainly find more exciting prospects. Part of the reason we call them "the good old days" and think fondly of games past is that it's always easier to love what we don't have to play anymore.

-Autistic Angel
3226  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: IGN Zelda TP impressions on: November 06, 2006, 04:06:49 AM
I would argue that using a steering wheel and pedals conveys a more accurate sense of controlling a car, even if they lack the same weight and heft of actually driving a vehicle.  The Guitar Hero controller shares very little in common with a real instrument, but I'd also say that it's infinitely preferable to using the PS2 controller.

-Autistic Angel
3227  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: I loves the cats! on: November 04, 2006, 02:21:02 PM

-Autistic Angel
3228  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: LOST kicked so much unholy ass tonight (11/01) on: November 03, 2006, 03:49:27 AM
Quote from: gameoverman
The first thought I know I had when the found the one with all the monitors was "If that monitor shows their station, then the others must show other stations".  So, for example, I would have expected Sayid to make that connection immediately upon entering that new station and seeing that bank of monitors. 

I mean, it's a no-brainer...unless you check another monitor and it just shows a different view of your station.  Then you can make an assumption that the other monitors show only the one station too.  So I just figured that they(the Losties) were assumed to look into it off camera and found that those monitors can't be made to show anything.

When Locke and Mr. Eko first visited the Pearl Station, they turned on several different monitors.  Most of them were just static; a couple were still active and showed the button-pushing hatch were Jack was tending to Sawyer's wounds.  From the decrepit status of the hatch, I think they assumed that they were tuned to video feeds that were no longer active.  In last night's episode, Sayid's rewiring job is what suddenly caused other locations to appear on the screen.

-Autistic Angel
3229  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: LOST kicked so much unholy ass tonight (11/01) on: November 02, 2006, 03:17:56 PM
Quote from: gameoverman
I'm wondering if Jack will buy into Juliet's plan.  Obvious questions that would spring into my mind would be "If you are in a such a powerful position to protect me after I kill Ben, why don't you and your people just kill him yourselves?".  And "why isn't anyone mentioning my friends Sawyer and Kate when they(Ben and Juliet) are both trying their darndest to get on my good side?"

In other words, I don't trust her either.

Neither do I.  Jack has absolutely no reason to believe that "many" of the Others want a change and would like to see Ben knocked off, nor that Juliet has either the power or the inclination to protect him once the deed is done.  Juliet was standing alone in an empty room while making that tape.  At the moment, all we know is that she's speaking for herself.

I liked that last night's episode addressed mysteries that have been lingering since the start of the series, dating all the way back to the first time Jack saw his dead father standing in the surf in one of the earliest episodes.  The mechanical smoke monster has now manifested itself as two different people, both of whom had their corpses vanish from the island.  It makes you wonder if reappearances from Boone, Shannon, Goodwin, or Ethan can be far behind.  ...or Eko... ninja

By the way, who did Andrew Divoff play in that episode?  I'm virtually positive his name appeared in the Guest Starring credits, but I don't see him listed in either or's filmography as appearing in Lost.  Am I totally mistaken, or was he listed in the crew credits...?

-Autistic Angel
3230  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Neverwinter Nights 2 Impressions on: November 01, 2006, 10:40:50 PM
For anyone interested in picking up a Limited Edition package, check your local stores.  Best Buy had several on the shelf when I picked up mine, and stores like Wal*Mart and Target say they should have received their shipments within the next week or so.

-Autistic Angel
3231  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Impressions on: October 28, 2006, 10:00:29 PM
Quote from: Destructor
1) If you intend to manually assign points, you have to do so ASAP once you start the game, and ASAP for EVERY single character in your roster once you hit your first save point. You have no way to change your mind once you assign (or worse, buy) points either.

I have not played Ultimate Alliance so I don't know anything from personal experience, but according to GameSpot's review:

Quote from: GameSpot
Perhaps most interesting about the whole hero customization system in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is the fact that few of your choices are permanent. Though you can't take back any money spent, any skill points you've earned or purchased can be redistributed to different special powers at the drop of a hat.

-Autistic Angel
3232  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Impressions on: October 27, 2006, 10:52:46 PM
Quote from: Thin_J
When you add that with the irritating fact that you only got certain characters halfway through the story or sometimes they showed up so late you never had time to even learn anything about how they played, much less got time to really enjoy them. Best example of that is Psylocke showing up about ten minutes before I beat the first XML game, and in a level full of psychic immune robotic enemies. Who the hell thought that was a good idea?

I agree 100% -- that was a totally bizarre design decision.

-Autistic Angel
3233  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: Toys R Us Buy 2, Get 1 Free starts Oct. 22 on: October 27, 2006, 07:58:27 PM
Quote from: pr0ner
This sale runs until tomorrow, right?


-Autistic Angel
3234  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Do I want the 360 HD-DVD Add On? on: October 27, 2006, 04:10:53 PM
Quote from: DamageInc
I am going to wait a bit, but for me it would make more sense to throw the $200 at the Sony PS3 as it will be built in and it seems like Blue-Ray has more momentum.

I've been following the format war so far, and I would have said that HD-DVD has significantly more momentum at this point.  Consider:

1) The image quality of the average HD-DVD is still *significantly* better than available Blu-Ray movies.  In some cases the Blu-Ray version of movies isn't even as good as their regular DVD release -- U-571 is one specific example.  The problem stems from a continuing inability to mass produce dual-layer Blu-Ray media, forcing studios to heavily compress their "high-definition" movies and resulting in an image plagued by heavy artifacting.

2) HD-DVD media is less expensive to manufacture because manufacturing plants need to make far fewer changes than they would to begin creating Blu-Ray discs.  The movies themselves seem to be priced about the same, meaning that the studios currently supporting HD-DVD should be seeing better profit margins on their films.

3) Stand alone HD-DVD players are less expensive than stand alone Blu-Ray players.  A *very* cursory search I did just now suggests that Blu-Ray players seem to average around $1000, while HD-DVD players range between $500-$800.

4) There are more HD-DVD movie titles available on the market as there are Blu-Ray.  Another cursory search on Amazon shows 174 hits for HD-DVD movies, but only 140 hits for Blu-Ray.  This gap would be expected to shift in Blu-Ray's favor except that several companies who had originally pledged exclusive Blu-Ray support have now started making noises about shifting over to dual-support within the next year.

Videophiles who are the most likely to become early adopters of either format are also the ones most likely to be familiar with the image quality, cost, and availability issues between the two formats.  I have no dog in this race one way or another, but it seems to me that HD-DVD is currently in a pretty strong position.

-Autistic Angel
3235  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: My issues with... on: October 27, 2006, 02:35:23 PM
Kobra, how do you account for people like Blackadar who quit cigarettes twenty years ago, but sometimes still get strong cravings for them?  Are you suggesting that his personality is too addictive to eliminate the cravings, but not addictive enough to make him give in to them?

Can't you allow for the possibility that potentially addictive drugs can affect different people in different ways, and that although you had an easy time kicking the habit, millions and millions of people don't?

-Autistic Angel
3236  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Might and Magic: Dark Messiah Impressions. on: October 26, 2006, 01:49:52 AM
The reports I'm reading say:

1) People who pre-loaded through Steam are suffering major sound problems, such as characters whose voices are complete replaced by white noise.  Once Steam is asked to reverify the files it will go through a very lengthy process, download the missing pieces, and fix the problems.

2) Some people are also reporting the same audio stuttering problems that plagued previous Source-based games like Half-Life 2 and Vampire: Bloodlines, including some users who say they never had any problems with those titles.  A few have reported that turning their audio acceleration in Windows all the way down can help.

3) Very early in the game, the player is supposed to climb a ladder to continue on.  A common problem is that the ladder cannot be interacted with in any way, so players have to resort to using a NoClip cheat to fly up through the ceiling and bypass the bug.

4) The people who have navigated past those hurdles seem to have few problems and agree that the game is absolutely fantastic.  It sounds like the first run-through lasts about 10-12 hours.

I don't have Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, but that seems to be the landscape so far.

-Autistic Angel
3237  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: Toys R Us Buy 2, Get 1 Free starts Oct. 22 on: October 25, 2006, 02:35:26 PM
-Lord Ebonstone-, I've checked both the Toys 'R' Us stores in my area, and neither of them had any copies of Guitar Hero or Splinter Cell in stock.  They've been fairly well swept clean of a lot of the more popular titles.  I need to go back later this week so I'll check again then, but the clerks I spoke with were pessimistic about getting any significant new shipments in by the end of the week.

-Autistic Angel
3238  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Anyone know how to pbem SE V? on: October 24, 2006, 05:04:50 PM
Play by e-mail.

-Autistic Angel
3239  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: Toys R Us Buy 2, Get 1 Free starts Oct. 22 on: October 23, 2006, 08:31:18 PM
I can check my local stores, -Lord Ebonstone-.  I expect you want to get Guitar Hero packaged with the guitar, though, and I don't think I've seen that in stock locally....

If I can find them, I'll send you a PM prior to making the purchase.  Don't pass up another offer if someone else can help.

-Autistic Angel
3240  Non-Gaming / Steals and Deals / Re: Toys R Us Buy 2, Get 1 Free starts Oct. 22 on: October 23, 2006, 01:47:40 PM
For what it's worth, I have my Toys 'R' Us receipts here right now.  It shows Super Mario 64 and New Super Mario Brothers sold for regular price, and Metroid Prime: Hunters was free thanks to a $34.99 "video promotion."  The same thing is true of my Splinter Cell / NHL / Disgaea receipt -- SC and NHL at regular price, and Disgaea 2 at $0.00.

I don't know if that helps answer the question, but that's how they're ringing things up at two different stores in my area.

-Autistic Angel
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