Arnold's Press Pause and Rewind: January 20th
No, FUD you! Yeah, you!
After last week's recap featured lots of confusion and mud-slinging, I was a little worried that this week wouldn't quite be able to follow up. While it's certainly not as drama filled, Microsoft still managed to throw in a few fighting words here and there. Specifically, Bill Gates claims that the Xbox 360 is the premier online console. But Gates also takes a few jabs at Nintendo, and their console's visual capabilities and online network. And as much as I hate to use this painfully tiresome acronym...this is the FUD tactic employed at it's finest. In case you don't know what FUD means, Google it.
Quite frankly Im getting tired of reading this mindless banter, and Im especially tired of Microsoft always the first to open their mouths. Im kind of enjoying Nintendos low-key approach, right about now. But Microsoft has had a big mouth since before the original Xbox shipped, so none of this is surprising. If indeed what Sony says about breaking even with the PS3 in late 2007 or early 2008 is true, it may give them some room to play with the PS3s price-tag. And if Sony passes Microsoft in sales during this console war, then were going to have to go on a crow-hunt.
The Sahara Never Looked This Good
On a lighter note, I hate software droughts for new consoles. Back when the PS2 launched it saw a trickle of crappy titles appear from November 2000 into January 2001. It wasn't until February that the first killer app arrived on the console: Onimusha. The PS3 (and even the Wii) is experiencing a drought that's even worse than the PS2's. Basically, all of January is completely empty as far PS3 releases go. While Sonic does ship on the 30th, it will appear in a number of areas on the 31st, but February 1st on most store shelves. Although, based on the reactions Sonic garnered on the X360, it'd have to be completely overhauled on the PS3 to even merit an ounce of care from me. Either way you look at it, January is pretty much one solid blank.
I really hate the new-console software drought; it's an absolutely terrible way to kill a console's momentum after launch. I have this PS3 here and I'm playing God of War on it, but mostly it's my PS2 that's getting some Final Fantasy lovin'.
Though of course, this isnt quite Sonys fault. The developers have released their rush jobs and ports for the PS3 launch (with the exception of Resistance), and are taking an opportunity to put a higher level of care into their upcoming products. As soon as the drought is over, PS3 owners are in for a treat, though. We've got Virtua Fighter 5. Oblivion, F1, DefJam Icon, MotorStorm, NBA Street: Homecourt, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Armored Core 4, and Virtua Tennis 3. And those releases are just some of what's coming out between mid-February and March. So use this drought time to save up for some pretty amazing content coming our way -- there are at least three games in that list that will be must owns.
Wanted: Heroes From Ivalice. Must Posses: Courage, Strength and Kick-ass Scar!
I saw some of the screens Square-Enix released of Final Fantasy Tactics: Lion's War for the PSP, and I'm satisfied. The new cut-scenes look gorgeous, the art is spot on. But I was really looking forward to seeing some screens with Balthier (from FFXII) in the mix, as he is supposed to be one of the main characters in the game who accompanies Ramza throughout his journey. Perhaps it's still too early for Square-Enix to say anything on the matter, so I'll continue to wait patiently.
No Mr. Spock in Final Fantasy, Please!
This week, the prospect of a Final Fantasy XIII demo appearing on the PlayStation Network store got me pretty riled up. Some forum dwellers have sparked, saying that a demo like that would likely lead them to purchase a PS3. Meanwhile others say they'd pay as much as $10 to download this demo. I personally don't think Square-Enix should charge anything over $3 for the demo...in fact, it should be for free. But I've digressed. I'm a little worried about the aesthetic direction of this new FF, as it looks a bit too sci-fi for me. But knowing Square, the game is probably still loaded with tons of medieval influences. FFVII didn't exactly look like the standard FF game when it was first shown; but we would soon see that there was more to the game's environments than just some dark, mega-corp's, ghetto. Let's hope the same for XIII -- I'd love to see some lush Final Fantasy colors and Chocobos rendered on the PS3. Keep the sci-fi to a minimum.
Paging Mr. Jones. Life-Support Assistance Required.
How much life does the PS2 have left in it? Everyone will agree that God of War II is probably the last AAA game to hit the PS2 in a few weeks. But believe it or not, there's still a few decent titles awaiting release for the aging powerhouse. Sony's Action-RPG Rogue Galaxy is set to be one of those games. Likewise, MLB 07: The Show will continue to please MLB fans. Burnout: Dominator will be arriving and the series continues to impress. But aside from God of War II, I'm really looking forward to playing Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a remake of the original Tomb Raider game with a plethora of enhancements. Come to think of it, PS3 and X360 versions of the game would be downright amazing. Make it happen, Eidos! So yes, there's still quite a bit to look forward to for the PS2. There'll be quite the catalog of RPGs coming out for it this year, and a number of sleeper hits, so keep your eyes open for them.
On the topic of remakes, Ben and I briefly spoke about Final Fantasy VII becoming a reality on the PS3. We came down to the conclusion that it'd be pretty stupid of Square-Enix to not make the remake happen. Square has two game engines to choose from, they can use their all new White Engine to render the game in. Or they feel like it may cut into FFXIII sales, then why not just release the game running in an HD version of the FFXII engine with some visual enhancements? The latter would probably satisfy most gamers and also save Square-Enix a good deal of money. Ideally, 90% of the game is complete; the art is there, the environments are there, the storyline is complete, the dialogue is there, the entire battle system, weapons, bosses, etc. etc. etc.
The only thing that's left for Square to do is fix some of the translation issues and wrap the game with a new graphics engine. Tech-demo or not, when I saw that opening teaser in front of me, on that gigantic projection screen, Square-Enix awakened a beast inside; and that beast is hungry for an FFVII remake. I'm happy that FFVII: Crisis Core is nearing its Japanese PSP release, but it won't completely fill the void of a wanted remake. You're sitting on a potential gold-mine here, Square -- make use of it.
1/20/2007 Arnold Katayev