Author - Doc

EA to Take-Two: No More Mr. Nice-Megacorp

Electronic Arts logo

EA’s buyout offer to Take-Two has gone hostile. The software titans, having been rebuffed on a more congenial buyout offer, has gone with a straight offer to shareholders at $26/share…they’re attempting to just buy controlling interest out via the open market. Despite the timing, this deal isn’t just (or even mostly) about Take-Two/Rockstar’s marquee Grand Theft Auto franchise, whose fourth (or sixth or eighth, depending on how you count ’em) installment is just around the corner. I suspect, as do others, that GTA is a smokescreen and a nice bonus from EA’s perspective in this deal. The real juicy acquisition is T2’s competing sports franchises. If EA sews up this deal, they will be the sole licensed purveyor of video games based on any and all professional and collegiate sports. So now all you basketball and hockey fans can come to know the agony that the football side of the house has struggled with since EA got cozy with the NFL. Further analysis after the jump.

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Sci-Fi Sainthood for Moorcock

Michael Moorcock, 2008 SFWA Grand Master

With a body of work that runs the gamut from the proto-cyberpunk Jerry Cornelius novels to the high fantasy melodrama of Elric to the madcap steampunk of the Nomad of the Time Stream, Michael Moorcock’s writing chops have never been in doubt for fans of sci-fi/fantasy fiction. His more “mainstream” novels (and I use the term exceedingly loosely), like Behold the Man, Gloriana or Mother London, have received stellar reviews outside the sometimes cloistered confines of genre fiction (though my own thoughts on his more “serious” efforts run counter to the larger book-reviewing world). This April, at the Nebula Awards, he will join the hallowed ranks of the SFWA Grand Masters as the 25th member of that exclusive club.
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Who Was That Faceless Guitar Picker?


Meet YouTube user FretKillr.

92 videos of a mystery man absolutely shredding an acoustic guitar, complete with vocals and occasional harmonica. That people of this kind of raw talent can languish in obscurity while the current crop of Top 40 crap get record deals is evidence that our civilization deserves the coming fire.

All of the vids are excellent stuff, but I have a few suggestions to get you started.

I’d buy any CD he put out tomorrow.

Found via Metafilter.

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Looking to Get Us an Anniversary Gift? Look No Further.

Star BPM 37093

According to those that keep track of such things, 10 years is the appropriate anniversary for diamonds in the modern era. So, just to help out any of our faithful caffiends looking for a last-minute anniversary gift, I give you this:

The Mother of All Diamonds, Star BPM 37093. Located a mere 54 light-years away in the Centaurus constellation,

“The interior of this probably very old white dwarf is a diamond with a diameter of more than 4000 kilometers.”

Found via MeFi.
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Rock Band Review: Of A Million Faces, Both Seen and Rocked

Rock Band

In my all-too-long and all-too-expansive gaming career, there have only been a few times when a game registered on my radar and attracted my interest, despite being in a genre or gameplay mode that previously held no interest for me. I for years avoided the “extreme sports” games, because I couldn’t care less about skateboarding or BMX stunts or motocross…but then there was SSX. Rhythm games were until very recently in the same category. All the DDRs and Amplitudes and Frequencys in the world had done little to tempt me. I’m a 30-something white dude with no musical talent, for cryin’ out loud. Rhythm games are, by design, my kryptonite. Then, someone talked me into trying out Guitar Hero. Air guitar, but it keeps score? With crazy pyrotechnics and screaming fans and tour buses and actual songs I like? Sold. And despite having no rhythm and being (I suspect) tone deaf, I played the hell out of GH2 and GH3, and I do pretty well in both.

Thus it was that when Harmonix split from their peripheral partners Red Octane to announce Rock Band, I was doomed. The game promised all the goodness of Guitar Hero, but with a full four-piece rock ensemble and a steady stream of content, thanks to their partnership with MTV. Add in a selection committee for new tracks headed up by Little Steven, and release day could not get here fast enough. Months dragged by with leaked track lists, rumors about future downloads, and agonizingly brief video clips of games press folks getting to check the early builds out. Despite this, I waited too long on preordering a copy, and was informed two weeks before release that the store would not accept my preorder. Rumors swirled in the blogosphere about incredibly limited supply, holiday shortages, back orders for months…I began to fear the worst. A few friends had secured their orders, however, so I consoled myself with the knowledge I could still at least try the game out before the spring thaw.

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Season of the Shooter: Objectivism, Headcrabs, and Finishing the Fight

After a serious slump in the game release schedule through the summer, the holiday season is upon us, with every game publisher on the planet hurling out their very best to sop up those sweet, sweet gift-buying dollars. For those of us without unlimited supplies of disposable income, it can be a vexing time as a gamer. Reviews are the only tool we have to make the tough decisions about what games to buy and which ones can wait for the discount bin or be ignored.

Unfortunately, this post won’t be any help at all. The game-release equivalent of “sweeps” opened with a triad of gorgeous FPS titles in rapid succession. Bioshock, The Orange Box, and Halo 3 are all worth your hard-earned coin. Hell, if you don’t already own an Xbox 360, these three titles make a pretty compelling argument for shooter fans.
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The Boys of Summer DVD Review Round-up

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg DVD cover art Golf: The Game That Defined a Century DVD cover art Tiger: The Authorized DVD Collection

With the unbearable heat of August blazing down, sports fans have a pretty limited array of spectating options. You can watch roid-raging misshapen hulks smack a white ball around, or you can watch an array of people in varying levels of fitness smack an even smaller white ball around. If you’re not into baseball or golf, you’re pretty much S.o.L. If, like me, you don’t have hours and hours to watch a baseball game or round of golf, you’ve got these options for more condensed viewing.

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Four-Color Fisticuffs: The Good, The Bad, and The Budget

With holidays fast approaching and the next-gen console arms race now well and truly joined by all parties, there are, no doubt, those who are still looking for some quality last-gen game goodness. As long as you’re shopping to soothe your geek tendencies, look to double up and indulge in multiple dorktacular obsessions simultaneously. To assist you in the endeavor, we offer a glimpse of three comic-driven videogames available on hardware that won’t require camping outside your local Best Buy or selling a kidney on eBay.

The Budget – Teen Titans (PS2, Xbox, GC, GBA)

As a comic property, I was always a bit lukewarm on the Teen Titans. Miniature versions of real heroes with an occasional sidekick thrown in for good measure just didn’t really compel me to pick up issues (though George Perez did his damnedest to compel my pre-pubescent self to buy them with Starfire and Raven). That aside, the animated series has been pretty consistently entertaining and provides an interesting bit of levity that the comic stories never managed. The heavily anime-influenced Titans ‘toon was a no-brainer for translation to the console realm.

Unfortunately, the game just isn’t that much fun. Combat is extremely repetitive after the first hour or so, and the total storyline can be played through in a dozen hours, tops. The versus mode is a good bit of fun, especially with the absolutely massive number of playable characters, but even it gets stale pretty quickly. Fans of the series will dig the game’s light-hearted story and approach, though, making it a solid rental for even casual fans of the beat-em-up game genre. The other huge point in the game’s favor is its budget price. There’s a lot of game here for $20.

Buy it from Amazon for the PS2, or the Xbox, or the Gamecube, or the GameBoy Advance.

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Apples and Oranges: Chuck Klosterman, Lester Bangs, and New Games Journalism

I read a lot of gaming websites, play a helluva lot of games, and spend a not-completely-healthy amount of time pondering game theory, the game industry, and game writing. As such, Klosterman’s plea for a game-journalist version of Lester Bangs struck a chord with me. Coupled with a steadily increasing irritation with what passes for the gaming press over the past couple of months, add a dash of bitter, and boom.

Wrote a rant about it. Wanna hear it? Here it go.

Image snagged from In Our Times.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360, PC) – Game Review

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the Xbox 360


Published & Developed by Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PC, Xbox 360 (reviewed on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: Teen

My Advice: Buy it and say goodbye to your loved ones.

Having clocked a fair amount of time on every Elder Scrolls game since 1994’s Arena, it was pretty much a given I’d be checking out any new titles in the series. Then, at last year’s E3, Bethesda rolled out some of the most jaw-dropping eye candy gamers had ever seen, promising unparalleled gameplay on the forthcoming Xbox 360 and PCs with the fourth Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion. I obsessively checked websites for new screenshots, plunked my reserve money down for the 360 and the game on the same day, and waited impatiently for the next generation to make it to my entertainment center. Then the 360 rolled out, sans Oblivion. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Hell, I considered cancelling my console preorder, as the game was the chief factor in my decision to buy one. Then the release date slipped again. And again. I began to worry, given the industry’s track record on oft-delayed titles. Fortunately, in this case my fear was ill-founded. Oblivion is, simply, the most fantastic traditional RPG to hit computer gaming.

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