Saturday, October 28, 2006

Paying for unlocks

There’s been lots of discussion about what game companies are charging for additional content on Xbox Live and future plans for the PS3 and Wii networks. Up until a few weeks ago, the most outrageous content was several bucks for some horse armor. It has since escalated to odd items like a new stadium and video tutorials. I say odd because these are traditionally things included in the game for free.

I think there’s going to be a very ugly period where we see some ridiculous attempts at gouging gamers, but it’ll all settle into something that works. Remember the early days of UMD movies? Those damn things were flying off the shelves at the same price of DVDs, but with far fewer features and crap picture quality. Well, the novelty wore off and now the format is just about dead. Unlike UMDs, digital purchases, micro-transactions or whatever you want to call it are here to stay. It’s a solid concept that gamers have embraced up to a point and would continue to do so with the right pricing and products.

EA recently announced plans to allow people to buy items in Tiger Woods that would take a long time to obtain in-game. Now I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time unlocking extra costumes and such items are rarely given out through normal cheat codes. You almost always have to earn them. In these specific cases, I might be tempted to purchase an unlock. It really depends on the game, amount of unlocks, amount of work required to obtain items for free, and how much is being charged.

Let’s take the original DOAXVB for example. After a while, it became very tedious to earn enough money to buy items and swimsuits. It was an endless repeat of volleyball, pool hopping, and gambling. That’s definitely a situation where I might have caved. Rumble Roses XX is another good example. There is a ton of match grinding you have to do for each character and it’s way too much. I only completely had access to one wrestlers outfit selection (you have to meet requirements to make certain costumes purchasable), and even then it wasn’t worth the trouble of collecting enough money to buy everything.

DOAX2 seems like it will be a different story though. The variety of money earning activities is much greater and gambling looks like it’ll be a lot more interesting. Plus, the frustrating system where the girls would throw away expensive bikinis has been altered to make things a bit easier. Although there are a ton of outfits and items, I usually buy only the stuff I like anyway. A recent interview in Famitsu supposedly confirmed that some Gravure scenes will be purchasable on Live, but they can be obtained through the game. Hmmmm…..

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

School Girls and Elves

The newest Bullet Witch costume is (surprise) a school girl outfit. Pretty unoriginal. You can’t really tell from the screenshot, but her shirt is somewhat transparent and you can easily see her bra. Um…okay. I guess if you want to satisfy the school girl fetish folks out there, you have to really deliver something extra.
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The developer’s weblog shows off some other costume possibilities although none are very exciting. Even though they aren’t blowing me away, I’ll be fairly satisfied if the US release can ship with a good handful of costumes. These one-at-a-time costume downloads for the Japanese release are way too spread apart for my taste.
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As a Kingdoms Under Fire fan, I’ve been keeping an eye on the upcoming Circle of Doom action RPG. One interesting discrepancy that has popped up is what the elf character is wearing. Everything from the armlets to the boots is very different from each other. Is it just old concept art? It would be nice if she had both in the game, but we’ll have to wait and see.
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If you have a 360, then you MUST download the new DOAX2 trailer on Xbox Live. It’s a whopper (I didn’t time it, but I swear it’s over 5 minutes) with tons of in-game footage. Watching it on your home HDTV gives you a much clearer idea of what the final game will look like.

I’ve heard some folks griping that the graphics don’t seem much improved from DOAXVB, but do a quick comparison. Watch the 360 trailer, then fire up your Xbox and pop in Beach Volleyball. It’s quite a big difference when you really compare the two.

The footage doesn’t contain what the camera mode looks like, but the screen below shows that it’s fairly similar to the system used in DOA4. Again you can adjust the shutter speed and how much light you allow in to the lense. Basically that means you can eliminate blurry pictures or keep the motion blur, and you can make photos look darker or brightly blown out to achieve some crazier looks. There are two cameras, one is manual as shown below and the other is a super fancy automatic.
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I’m sure the game will force you to take pics in real time as well. That means you can’t pause and perfectly frame a pose like you could in Rumble Roses XX. Both methods have their fans I’m sure.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Armor, water color peaches, golf, and expansions.

I keep telling myself there’s no way I have time to play lengthy RPGs like Final Fantasy XII, then I see something cool like the above art from the official soundtrack and I start to waffle. Wow, such an interesting mix of Samurai and European armor. I bet they’re some bad ass enemies…or are they friends? Oh the mystery! Then again, I’m not too excited about the costumes of the regular characters, at least not yet.

Something I definitely had to make time for was some Okami. I’m about 2 hours in and loving it. It’s pretty much a dead-on Zelda action adventure clone, but there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you do it right. The art style is amazing, but I had to do a double take at the back of the Tree Spirit Sakuya’s outfit. It’s breezy back there (didn't have time to take a pic of it myself so that rear shot was lifted off Kotaku).
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I was wondering what the first Wii game to get some costume action would be… and it looks like Tecmo’s Super Swing Golf is the winner! I’m not sure if that character is actually Kasumi or just someone wearing her outfit (Update: pretty sure it's Kasumi), but the pig-tails gal definitely has at least two changes of clothes.
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Who knows if there will be any downloadable new bikinis for DOA Xtreme 2 down the road, but its naughty counterpart, Sexy Beach 3, has already announced an expansion disc! You get at least two new characters (maybe more), new outfits, and new “scenes”. It’s set for release Nov 24th, which is just two months after the main game’s release. Fans are shelling out some dough since SB3 costs around $90 and the expansion is about $40.
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blu-ray = more costume texture storage?

I mentioned in my other blog that I was most likely passing on a PlayStation 3 till the price comes down or there are enough “I can’t live without” games out.

It amazes me that a good number of the launch PS3 games already come close to using up all 25GBs on single-sided Blu-ray discs, and yes claim the developers, that is with compression in effect. That means it’s supposedly all additional data, especially for texture and effects.

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For clothes, does that mean we will see a level of detail impossible on other systems? Not exactly. That sort of thing depends more on the guts of the console more than the storage capacity of the discs, but the point is moot since the PS3 does feature some fancier abilities in that regard anyway.

More developer interviews are popping up as we get closer to launch, so I’ll be looking for any details in that area.