Well, it’s been pretty slow around here. If you’re wondering why, I’m working on transitioning all my gaming-related thoughts into a new project with some friends and past co-workers. As soon as we get everything lined out, I’ll provide a link to the new project.

Since most of my gaming production will be transferring over there, I’ll be filling my blog with random thoughts on other things, like politics, current events, weird news, and just about anything else. I hope you enjoy the change!

Well, it looks like the E3 hype is officially kicking off, and it’s just barely February. The Entertainment Software Association has released a list of the attendees that have been confirmed so far, and there are a few folks on there that didn’t show for last year’s iteration.

Most notably, Activision Blizzard makes a reappearance. I’ve been speculating since last year that their decision not to attend in 2008 would either mark the end of E3, or would signal the need to transition the expo back to its original format. Obviously, the ESA has opted for the latter. Additionally, the rabid success of PAX (The Penny Arcade Expo) has basically backed the ESA into a corner. Either they improve, or they rapidly become irrelevant.

This should be a very interesting year to be at E3. We’ll have to wait and see how it all comes out.

The list of confirmed attendees so far is:

• Activision Blizzard, Inc.
• Atari, Inc.
• Atlus U.S.A., Inc.
• Bethesda Softworks LLC
• Capcom Entertainment, Inc.
• Disney Interactive Studios, Inc.
• Eidos Interactive
• Electronic Arts, Inc.
• Epic Games, Inc.
• 505 Games
• IndieCade
• KOEI Corporation
• Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
• LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC
• Majesco Entertainment Company
• Microsoft Corporation
• Midway Games Inc.
• MTV Games
• Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
• Nintendo of America, Inc.
• Rebellion
• Sega of America, Inc.
• Serious Games
• Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.
• Sony Online Entertainment LLC
• Square Enix, Inc.
• Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
• THQ Inc.
• Ubisoft Entertainment
• Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Inc.

You know, I’ve found myself in a strange state of mind over the past few days. I was using this blog as an outlet for my meager creative urges, when I realized that it was still lacking something. In my years writing for gaming sites, I always had that most effective of measuring sticks, the audience.

The readers will always tell you how they feel, and often, they will feel like you’re an idiot. In some cases, they may even be right. I never realized how much I would miss that until it was gone. It’s ironic. I find myself somehow wishing for a reader to comment on my blog calling me some sort of fanboy, or a whore for some company or another.

With that thought fresh in my head, I felt another thought bubbling up from the muck-ridden swamp that passes for my mind. What if I was writing for a gaming site? Why couldn’t I? I mean, why start one of my own? Everybody’s doing it, right? I could even resurrect my old podcast, assuming I could find someone to talk to.

Well, I don’t know where to go with this thought. I feel that I could definitely make some small contribution along those lines, but I don’t know who would join in, what they would be willing to do, or even how I would pay for it all. I just know that I’ve got that old itch to make my thoughts available to the general public.

If it actually matures into anything concrete, I’ll let you know.

Well, since I still have a little bit of my hated XBox Live Gold subscription left, I thought it would behoove me to check out the Resident Evil 5 demo that became available for download. After all, I had heard some really good things about it.

I have to admit, the game looks great. The graphics are smooth and well done. Enemies look appropriately menacing, and the environments meet the recently enacted ‘grittiness’ standards.

Unfortunately, my positive impressions end there. The control scheme is an absolute nightmare. Down the sight aiming is a great feature in games, but it’s sadly missing here. Instead, Capcom presents us with a laser sight of dubious value, and the ability to move it at what could generously be referred to as a snail’s pace.

The co-op actions feel forced, such as having my partner hit a button to punch the enemy that has me grappled. Haven’t we all about grown tired of quick time events, no matter how they’re structured? Just give my partner the ability to punch, and allow them to determine if my sorry butt is worth saving or not.

I understand that people feel the need to ‘innovate’ in the shooter genre. After all, if they don’t try, they get to hear critics say “This is the same old thing.” Unfortunately, this often leads to change for the sake of change, instead of change for the better. This appears to be the case with Resident Evil 5, and the game suffers for it.

RE5 may turn out to be an excellent game at release, but this demo is a lackluster showing at best. At this point, I can only recommend it to absolute die-hard Resident Evil fans. In good conscience, I can’t ask anyone else to subject themselves to it.

I must admit to a healthy amount of skepticism surrounding F.E.A.R. 2. After all, at E3 2007, Warner Brothers was showing off Project Origin, which was developed by Monolith, the developer of the original F.E.A.R. At the same time, Sierra, the owner of the F.E.A.R. IP, was showing F.E.A.R. 2. A few months ago, when Activision closed down Sierra, Warner Bros. picked up the IP and rebranded Project Origin with the F.E.A.R. 2 name.

Now, I was excited to hear that Monolith would be continuing their work on this franchise. I’ve always loved their work in the past (No One Lives Forever, Tron 2.0, F.E.A.R., and Condemned, to name a few), and I have high hopes for their future releases as well. Still, I held my enthusiasm in check pending the arrival of the PC Demo of F.E.A.R. 2.

Well, it arrived shortly after lunch today. After a quick download (1.76 gigs – about 35 minutes from FileFront here), I jumped right right in. I was quickly rewarded with the type of gameplay one would expect from a F.E.A.R. title: gunplay with slo-mo and a variety of specialized grenades.

On the hardest difficulty, the demo is still fairly simple to complete. There’s only about 25 minutes of gameplay, but what is there is all the tension, fun, and goose-bump inducing interludes that you’d expect. Nothing gets the heart rate up quite like having a flash of light reveal a zombie-like female stalking you and eventually grabbing you, only to vanish again.

Combat remains virtually unchanged. You kill a variety of Replica soldiers, all of whom seen genetically enhanced to take massive amounts of damage before succumbing to your assault. Of course, you’ll get a chance to peruse a wide range of weaponry, including shotgun, submachine gun, assault rifle, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and even a handheld laser gun. They even toss in the powered-armor mech suit that has been featured so prominently in the trailers.

All in all, this demo is just a small taste of the game, but I have to admit that it has assuaged a lot of my trepidation about F.E.A.R. 2. Now, I’m looking forward to the game’s release on February 10th with anticipation instead. Hey, isn’t that what demos are all about?

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