Monster Month: July ’08 – E3 Edition

The month of July has now passed and it is now time for us to look back at the games and topical stories that occurred over the past month, as well as give you an incite of our gaming habits and what we are looking forward to this month. Because E3 was the main focus this month, we have decided to bring you our views on all of the three platform’s offerings at this year’s event. So grab a beverage of your choice and read on for our E3 edition of Monster Month

What have you been playing?

Rob: It’s been a funny old month for me. I’ve played loads of games as I have a long summer off. I’ve been playing Halo 3 a fair bit with friends, improving my ranks while GTA has seen minimal activity in the drive. I’ve also rented Fusion Frenzy and unlocked the achievements and then decided to try Sonic The Hedgehog, but sent it straight back; it was awful! What did catch my eye and game time however is Sega Superstar Tennis which has being refreshingly fun to play with some retro goodness inside, but what overall is a solid tennis title IMO. For CM I reviewed (link) SBK 08 which wasn’t too shabby while Smash Brothers still sits sealed waiting to be played but with all these 360 titles I don’t have time!

Dave: At the start of the month I got back into Bully: Scholarship Edition and managed to get the full 200 GamerScore from Ticket to Ride, just in time for the new content. I also reviewed two movie-to-game conversions, Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E, and played Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the first time on my holiday.

Chris: This month has been rather busy for me, so I haven’t had much gaming time really. First there was E3 where the only thing I played that week was the Too Human demo. I didn’t really enjoy it. It seemed way too repetitive and not worth the 10 years production. I bought two original Xbox titles, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath and Second Sight. I had to find my original Xbox when I realised neither were backwards compatible. Then while in Turkey I played a heck of a lot of DS games by the pool our just lounging in the apartment. I had about 4 games on the go. Trauma Centre: Under The Knife 2 (amazing!), Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulation, Apollo Justice and The World Ends With You. The World Ends With You surprised me actually. It’s a strange take on the JRPG genre with a weird combat system that takes some getting used to (fighting on the top and bottom screen) Then, when I returned home, I bought Rock Band (just the game and having to use a headset and the GH3 guitar) and I’ve been loving that since.

Anthony: This month in gaming has been pretty poor for me, where gaming on the console has been taken over by watching movies or trailers on them instead. One title that has caught my attention more than anything else this month has been the Pixel Junk Eden demo on PSN. I love games that break the genre mould, trying new things and this is one of them, great fun and to chill out on. Level 3’s creatures that cut your silk can be really annoying.

Reece: It has been a quite month as I have recently moved house and have been living in boxes as of late. You can imagine my joy when I set-up my Xbox 360 console after a week of boredom, only to find the greeting of one red light. Yes, it has finally happened, my launch console has died on me; and to make matters worse, one red light (as opposed to three) means that I do not qualify for a free repair.

That being said I have had a fantastic few years with the console and it has been more than worth the money, with no regrets on the purchase. I have already paid and prepared the repair so all that is left to do is decide what games to enjoy when it returns in 2-4 weeks time.

Craig: I Haven’t had much chance to game this month. Recently been on holiday for two weeks in Zante, then trying to recover afterwards put gaming down in my list of priorities. Managed to slip in a few games of Halo 3 however, perfecting my sniping skills in the recent Double XP weekend playlist. I also decided to have a few rounds with Golf: Tee It UP! which is an arcade style golf game.

You can read my impressions on this arcade style golf game by click here.

Your best Microsoft moments from E3 08?

Rob: Has to be the new dashboard for me. Looks crisp and easy to use and it’ll be nice to receive a change like this. Downloading should be easier and I look forward to its arrival. On the other hand I don’t like the look of the avatars, they seem to have copied the idea from Nintendo which I don’t agree with. On the game front, I cannot wait for Lips, the system has been crying out for a SingStar rival!

Dave: Fallout 3, Fable 2, Gears 2: Some very nice looking gameplay and some hot trailers has made these three a must buy. The release dates were also an added bonus and has made me even more excited.

Autumn Update: My jaw dropped when I saw the new dashboard interface as it looked fantastic. Well done Microsoft for making it so much easier to use and it’s nowhere near as cluttered. The avatars seems like a “Wii Mii” copy but with more customizable options. I’m slightly disappointed but I’m sure it will be beneficial unless Microsoft start charging for certain content (such as certain hairstyles, hats etc.). Please don’t! I’m also glad you can now store games on your hard drive to decrease loading times.

After playing the Orange Box, the Portal: Still Alive announcement got me excited. More achievements, more levels and more cake.* Banjo Kazooie was also a huge surprise and I’m so glad to see it release!

Lips: The whole karaoke, Rock Band type idea didn’t appeal to me but as soon as I saw that Zune connected to the Xbox 360, I knew this would be the game for me. Singing along to my own music!? Oh the joys.

Chris: Probably the announcements of the Arcade titles. Galaga Legions? Portal: Still Alive? Could you get any more amazing than that? Well actually you can. With the shock announcement of Final Fantasy XIII which looks uh-mazing!!! The Rock Band 2 and GH4 announcements were also pretty interesting, but those weren’t directly related to Microsoft. Fallout 3 as well. Oh My Goodness. I want it now!

Anthony: Microsoft disappointed me this year, all the rumoured announcements never got a mention and the things they did announce didn’t really excite me at all. They focused on a less hardcore, more family/casual approach to the market and that will no doubt disappoint most Xbox gamers. Best moments? Gears of War 2 demo looked, as expected, impressive. The new fall features such as the 360Mii Avatars and Apples Coverflow’esk dashboard wasn’t really that inventive, but I’ll keep my mouth shut until we see more nearer the time. Fallout 3 might see me diving back into my second RPG since Mass Effect.

Reece: It was a pretty fantastic conference so it is hard to pick a complete favourite, but the highlights were easily Final Fantasy XIII coming to Xbox 360, the amazing as always Gears of War 2 Trailer and the Resident Evil 5 details. All three made me push aside any doubts that the console may be losing its edge on the competition this coming year; at least from a hardcore gamers point of view.

Craig: A few things caught my eye this year. Gears of War 2 looks amazing. The gameplay footage shown just made me want the game now, never mind in November. But the major thing was the new update that is coming our way. 8 person chat, new dashboard look and playing games direct from the hard-drive are the main highlights of the update for me. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to the new Xbox experience.

Your best Sony moments from E3 08?

Rob: I nearly dropped off watching the Sony conference. Infact I’ve forgotten what really happened, but the news about the video rental was decent and the ability to buy films rather than just rent is rather good.

Dave: Hard to decide the best moments of Sony’s conference because there wasn’t much good from it. LittleBigPlanet and MAG looked good though.

Chris: Little Big Planet charts and graphs. Need I say more? The demo for Resistance looked good, as did the God of War 3 teaser but that was only a teaser. Everyone seems to be talking about Flower, which I haven’t seen enough of to make a proper decision.

Anthony: Sony appealed more to me this year, with more focus on the hardcore gamer in mind. It was a shame we didn’t see more from Little Big Planet from the conference, aside from the live presentation demo – I can’t wait to play that game! Resistance 2 is shaping up nicely, all but still looking a little early developed. Killzone 2 is looking good too. Apart from the title name, MAG looked promising, and a title I’ll be tracking through its development. With 256 online players, it will be interesting if the servers will cope with that amount of bandwidth in a single gaming session. Sony ticked a lot of boxes for me this year, I just wish they let the PS2 die off quietly or move that development onto the PSP and concentrate on more PS3 IP and content.

Reece: The PS3 conference could have been much better if they actually took a chance and showed off some games instead of simple presentations trying to persuade the crowd that “If you stick with PS3, in a few years time we will reward you”. The main issue with the conference was that the majority of games shown were not games at all but dull CGI trailers.

Craig: Sony’s E3 this year didn’t really catch my eye as much as Microsoft’s did. Having said that, LittleBigPlanet looks like it is going to be great. It’s so unique and inventive, it also looks great fun when playing with friends or online. Resistance 2 looks to be the game to rival Gears of War 2 this year, showing off some impressive visuals in their trailer.

Your best Nintendo moments from E3 08?

Rob: Pretty poor wasn’t it? Alright Wii Music caught my eye at first, but then I realised it probably will be turd with minimal gameplay. The Wii chat device could be interesting and open up new opportunities, but then it might fail at the same time knowing the history of Nintendo and online gaming.

Dave: I didn’t watch the conference but I did hear about the announcements. The only one that appealed to me was Grand Theft Auto DS. Overall, probably the worst conference IMO.

Chris: There wasn’t much to get me excited about really. Animal Crossing: City Folk looked, as Garnett Lee put beautifully, like the next Sex In the City. Wii Music looked terribly gimmicky. Wii Sports Resort is meant to be quite fun, from what I’ve heard, but that’s it really.

Anthony: Nintendo killed it. Nothing of interest came from their conference for me. No push on WiiWare or any major hardware announcements apart from the WiiMotion Plus. This add-on was the only real eye opener for me, but Nintendo’s sole goal of always appealing to a certain type of user just plays the same broken record all over again and is drawing less and less attention for me each year.

Reece: The best bit about the Nintendo conference was easily the reaction from dedicated fans to the basic statement of “We do not care about veteran gamers” from Nintendo. You could clearly see across the internet that fans were not pleased; and a Nintendo fanboy is the most loyal fanboy of them all. I really hope, and believe, that Nintendo have much more going on behind the scenes than they are demonstrating.

Craig: Similar to Sony’s E3 conference, nothing really took my eye. Mainly due to the fact I don’t as yet have access to a Nintendo Wii, and there are no Wii up and coming games that interest me at the moment.

What are you looking forward to in August?

Rob: month? More rentals I think, I WILL finally complete GTA IV and perhaps some more Halo 3 as per usual. And you never know Smash Brothers may be opened.

Dave: Playing the Orange Box and the new Arcade releases (mostly Castle Crashers though).

Chris: Next month will be my birthday so hopefully I may get the Rock Band drums. Here’s hoping! Also it’s summer so I may not even be playing much. Might play a few Arcade titles here and there. Castle Crashers being the main one!

Anthony: Next month will really be an Arcade/PSN month for me, where I’ll be checking out more Geo Wars 2, Bionic Commando Rearmed and Castle Crashers on Xbox LIVE Arcade. I hope to try and chip a little more away from GTA IV and Rainbow 6 Vegas 2, Rock Band might get a little look in again too.

Reece: The return of my Xbox 360 console! I can only hope that it gets back to me before Castle Crashers has been released, let alone the other great arcade titles on their way. As for full blow retail games, few will interest me in the near future. I think my main focus will be on starting, and completing, Call of Duty 4.

Craig: Geometry War 2 has recently been released on the XBL Arcade, so I’m hoping to scrap together some MS points for that. My other quest for the month ahead is to finally manage to attain level 45 on Halo 3. This is a quest that this time, I WILL SUCCEED IN.

Find out next in next month’s issue of Monster Month if I succeed or not!

So how has your Monster Month of gaming been? Let us know what you’ve been playing, or if you have any opinions you’d like to share about this months topics, leave a comment below. Until next month, we here at Console Monster wish all you fellow gamers a great gaming month of August!


Console Monster

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