Xbox 360 Games

We got an Xbox 360 for Christmas, along with 6 games. Here are my first impressions (I haven't played 'em all - Tony Hawk's American Wasteland and Perfect Dark Zero, namely).

The system itself is a beautiful piece of hardware that looks gorgeous in my basement's entertainment center. We have a wood entertainment center, so naturally, the wood grain faceplate is adorning the system, complementing the entire area. Once the system is on, the UI is integrated very well, although I'm still a bit unsure about it in-game. The "blades" system MS implemented feels like either an OS X toolbar or a set of tabs. Navigation is easy, although it's a bit difficult to find some things, like, for instance, the M4A support file I needed to properly play my iPod (more on iPod integration below). Overall, though, the UI is clean and easy to navigate.

iPods work pretty well on Xbox 360. Plug it in, choose it on the Music blade, and play. However, I have a few gripes.

  • You have to download a plugin to listen to .m4a files (which is what iTunes' AAC encoder spits out), which is a bitch to find and is tied to an Xbox Live account (which means all you non-XBLers are effed)
  • iTMS'd music doesn't work (but we knew that)
  • There's no shuffle, AFAICT, which is suck UPDATE: Shuffle is possible, just a cryptic, unnamed button, in true MS fashion
  • If you have a playlist with more than 100 songs on it, and you want to play them all, you're stuck listening to the first 100
  • Loading up a real iPod (aka non-shuffle) takes FOREVER in-game. Damn proprietary database.

There are a few problems with the blade system and the dashboard. The first, and this is really a matter of design, is that some themes that you can get for your Xbox 360 (like, say, the Penny Arcade one, which is what I have) make the dashboard buttons hard to see. I mean, I really love this design; it's absolutely gorgeous. It just makes it hard to see some things. Also, when you're in game, sometimes you can accidentally hit the gigantic X button in the middle, which sometimes pauses the game, and sometimes doesn't (I know DOA4 doesn't). This wouldn't be so much of a gripe if it weren't a 2-3 second turnaround, which is more than enough time to get an flying roundhouse kick to the face. Finally, blades come from both the left and the right sides of the screens, which is a bit disorienting if nothing else.

Xbox 360 Overall System Rating:


Onto the games. Call of Duty 2 was the first one I popped in, having played a demo of it. The single player game is incredible, if short (my friend John beat it in a night). You play as the Russians, the British, and the Americans, on a kraut-killing quest. The multiplayer is a bit slower than I'm used to, but it fits the game very well. Lots of awesome WW2 maps, some nice weapons...it worked very well. My only problem right now is that the game got a bit repetitive - all you do is kill Nazis. Sure, that's the premise, but it got a bit stale after a few hours.

COD2 Rating:


Need for Speed: Most Wanted was one of the games I was REALLY looking forward to. I was a HUGE fan of Need for Speed: Underground 2, but there were a few gripes I had with it.

  • The open-ended nature made driving a hassle. Getting across the map is a huge pain in the ass.
  • If you wanted to upgrade your car, you had to go to 6 different types of shops - some of which are quite a drive away from each other
  • The game always took place at night
  • No cops (police chases were a staple of the NFS series for a long while).

So EA went and released this totally awesome game on me, and it's pretty much fixed all of my gripes. It's still open-ended, but, for the most part, the races you NEED to complete can be started from a menu. All car upgrades happen in one place. The game takes place in day and night. And then the cops. The cops are incredible. You really feel like you're in a chase. They're smart and hard to lose. And, the story is much better. All in all, an almost perfect game so far.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted Rating:


Now, I'm not normally a fan of snowboarding, but I played it's predecessors on Xbox, so I was excited to try Amped 3. I was very pleased. I haven't played all too much of it, but it looks like it kept the series' trademark bizarre, Monty Python-esque humor. The snowboarding itself is easy to get into and enjoy. I'll need to look more into it.

Amped 3 Rating:


And, as a huge fan of it on Xbox, I got Dead or Alive 4. This looks like your run-of-the-mill DOA game - beat some people with a certain character, a story is revealed, and a character-specific movie at the end. I really wish they could do more to make this look prettier than it already is (don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous already, but it doesn't look much better than Xbox), but I'll happily take what I've got. I'm not really sure what's new, so I'll have to investigate more.

Dead or Alive 4 Rating:

 

Why in the hell is every single Exception in Java a subclass of Exception? Why? It's way too complicated.

I'm currently working on a CS project that has 7 Exception subclasses. 7. And their implementation is EXACTLY THE SAME. Comments aside, here's what they all look like.

public class MyDumbassException{ public MyDumbassExceptionString message){ super(message); } }

That's it. WTF!

I hate Java. Grr.

 

So, Panic, owners of quite possibly the most awesome AJAX web store evar, is now selling Katamari Damacy shirts. Officially licensed by Namco.

But they're the most bizarre shirts ever. They're seriously odd. Check them out.

 

After much toiling and slaving away at fixing really, really cryptic bugs, I've released SS 1.5's first private beta. I'm going to save the details for later, but it's definitely hawt.

A public beta will, as I mentioned, hopefully come sometime in the next few weeks. I've pledged to make this thing as bug-free as possible, because of all the problems that people are having with 1.1.5.

Some details:

  • SS 1.5, as stated below, is a universal binary. It also includes some Intel detection code which (hopefully) makes screen capture work without inverting the image. I'll need someone on an Intel machine to test it, though.
  • On that note, SnapShooter 1.5 is now Tiger exclusive. SnapShooter will NOT work on Panther. This is because it uses some kick-ass CoreImage stuff on some of the views.
  • The final version of SnapShooter 1.5 will include Smart Crash Reports. Unsanity really kicks ass. 😀
 

I finally got SS 1.5 to compile as a FAT universal binary. It was all that stupid DotMacKit.framework's fault. I got off my ass and actually put in the new one.

The only thing I have to worry about is making sure the Take Screenshot function works. It was inverting the color on Intel boxes. I think I fixed it though. I sent it off to a friend with an IDK box, so hopefully he'll get back to me.

Public beta will hopefully come yonder this Christmas. I can hear you giggling with glee already.

 

I've been toying with this idea for awhile now, and I'm actually going to write it down, and hopefully spark some interest in what could be an incredibly awesome open source project.

Are you ready for this? Here it is. I want to start an open-source project to port Final Fantasy 7 for Windows to Mac OS X. That's right.

Why? Because FF7 is an awesome game.

 

This is almost not even worth writing about, and so, I'm going to write about it. While I was setting up mah blog, I had everything pointing to http://www.stevestreza.com/blogtest/. I pledged that one day I would get around to moving it to /blog. Well, that day hath come, and O! what a glorious day it is. The TLD (stevestreza.com) now redirects you to http://www.stevestreza.com/blog/, and all of the links have been resolved, methinks. Hopefully nothing asploded on the move. Hopefully.

To celebrate the move, I've replaced the header image. No longer will it be Katamari Damacy (although it may make a glorious return in the future). I hate snow. H8 it. Therefore, I'm going to look at a tropical beach every time I look at my blog, kthx.

 

I found this story on /. and Digg, and I had to check it out. It's a story of a guy who got ripped off by an online camera retailer. These stories exist for two reasons: one, to help get justice for the guy who got screwed, and two, to warn others about the scam. Check it out. Their site is PriceRitePhoto.com, although it looks like its getting slammed right now.