Gears of War Meets the Real World

As any responsible owner of guns knows, there’s some basic safety procedures to follow when handling a firearm. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to fire. Don’t point the gun at your friends.

Thanks to YouTube user “pfcthiel”, we can add some more rules: “Do not put a Gears of War-style electric chainsaw bayonet on a working rifle” and “Do not use said chainsaw bayonet to awkwardly chase a pumpkin around.” Video after the jump.

Dude, you are going to kill yourself with that thing.

I saw this on Kotaku, but the videos are posted in a thread in

The device is actually billed as a “firearm mounted anti zombie device” rather than a Gears of War knockoff. When another poster wonders aloud whether the Gears bayonets are gas-powered, the creator replies:

I don’t know I never played the game.

But mine is more stealthy if that’s the case.

Stealth is relative for chainsaws, I guess.

Still, watching this video, you realize just what a horrible idea the Gears of War Lancers would be in practice. Soldiers would be cutting their own legs off left and right. I’ll stick with the Nerf version, thanks.

Eidos PR Firm Massaging the Review Numbers… But Nothing’s Wrong, Really.

I know I’m late to the party with this bit of news, but it’s too good to pass up.

Eidos’s UK PR firm was telling reviewers of Tomb Raider: Underworld to hold off on publishing their reviews if they planned on rating it below 8 of 10. This was confirmed by the PR firm itself.

“That’s right. We’re trying to manage the review scores at the request of Eidos.”

When asked why, the spokesperson said: “Just that we’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that’s handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.”

Which sounds a lot like “No no no, we’re not trying to ‘trick’ people into buying the game. We just want the ‘bad’ reviews to come out ‘later’ after people have already purchased it.”

In response to the news of the “review management,” the firm put out another statement, pointing out that some sub-8 reviews had already been published and saying they were not in the business of telling reviewers what they can and can’t say. The statement ended with:

Barrington Harvey has been working hard to ensure the launch scores of Tomb Raider Underworld are in line with our internal review predictions over the launch weekend – but to suggest that we can in some way “silence” reviews of the game is slightly overstating our influence.

Which raises the question, does making sure the launch scores are in line with internal predictions involve telling reviewers not to publish reviews? Like the other guy just said you were doing?

Maybe Eidos’s representatives need to finish their instructions with “Don’t worry if you don’t, though. It’s not like we’re going to threaten to pull our advertising and get you fired. Not this time, at least.”

Sony puts cork on streaming Netflix movies to Xbox

Microsoft gets a lot of flak for being a globe-spanning empire that uses its hegemony to crush its competition, but not to be outdone, Sony has stepped up to the plate. Movies owned by the company and its subsidiaries have been pulled from the new Xbox streaming movie service.

If you were someone prone to baseless supposition, you might assume Sony said to themselves, “Hey Microsoft is going to make a lot of money streaming Netflix movies through the Xbox 360, the competitor to our PlayStation 3. We own a lot of those movies! Why don’t we throw a wrench in the works?”

Sony disputes that take, of course.

Sony issued the following statement:

This issue is not specific to Xbox or any other individual platform. Sony Pictures is currently in discussions with the relevant parties to resolve certain licensing matters related to the distribution of its motion pictures. Given the ongoing nature of these discussions, we don’t think it is appropriate to comment further at this time.

However, as the L.A. Times notes…

Netflix subscribers who can’t wait to stream “Superbad,” “Drunken Master,” “Bad Boys” or “Karate Kid” can still watch them on the Roku Netflix Player…

So, you can stream Sony movies through this box, but not the Microsoft one. Totally a coincidence that that happened on launch day. Honestly.

New Xbox Experience is live, unnecessary

People who design computer interfaces often lament that their work is only successful if nobody notices it.

The new Xbox 360 interface, pushed out to consoles today under the name “The New Xbox Experience,” is designed to be noticed. That should tell you all you need to know.

The whole thing has been Vista-fied with scrolling panes instead of menus. I haven’t been able to find any instances where this works better than the old blade system. In some cases you actually lose functionality, such as the reduced number of options you’re able to view on the screen at once as you scroll.

Overall, it’s not violating any of the tenents of interface design, but it doesn’t improve much on the clumsy, cluttered layout of the blades either. In fact, check out some of this new clutter they’ve introduced.

There’s a whole top-level tab devoted to “Events,” and I’m hard-pressed to understand why I’d care. “Thursday Nov 20: Play Quantum of Solace with Kerti.” Who’s Kerti? She’s listed under “Game with Fame,” so apparently I should be excited about entering a sweepstakes to be gaming with her.

“GamerchiX Ladies Night, Monday Nov 24: The GamerchiX are Left 4 Dead.” I would think that girls who have already paid $50 for a copy of Left 4 Dead are probably not going to be waiting for a special ladies night to play it, no matter how many miscapitalized consonants the event uses to refer to them.

A good events calandar would let players schedule events themselves, sending out invites that say “Hey guys, we’re playing Gears of Wars 2 on Thursday” with an RSVP option. I don’t need valuable screen real estate taken up by Microsoft trying to convince me that it’s one of the hip kids. I’m not one of the hip kids. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be playing video games.

The other categories are buried in invitations to buy ringtone-style DLC. Pass.

The new avatars are all right, but oddly crippled in customization options. You can’t change the colors of the clothing, so if you want to be in a tie that’s anything but pink and blue striped, you’re out of luck. (The default top my character started with had a gold chain and a giant dollar sign medallion. Yeesh.)

A Netflix app for streaming movies comes with with the new interface, which is a great idea. Unfortunately, you need a Gold Xbox Live membership before you can connect it to your Netflix membership, which is an absurd stacking of memberships.

As if to say “Yeah, we know this is kind of useless, sorry,” Microsoft has included a stripped-down version of the old blades interface that pops up with the press of the Xbox button on the controller. It lets you instantly jump to all the parts of the system that aren’t marketing fluff. It’s the interface without the ill-concieved “new experience,” and it’s probably how I’ll be spending most of my time when working with the system.


Hordes of Gears of War 2

The roomies have been putting the horde mode of Gears of War 2 through its paces. It’s fun to play, or so they tell me.

Fun to watch it’s not, which is what I’ve been doing as I work form home to the accompaniment of chainsaw, screams and gatling guns. It’s pretty much them staking out the same exact corner of the Hospital map for hours on end and fighting off endless waves of enemies until they succumb. The most entertaining part for me has been Dom getting his hair caught in the Xbox Live headset and calling for Ian to get him free.

Still, it’s as pure a distillation of the Gears gameplay as you’re going to get. Mi padre sent me a link to a New Yorker interview with Cliff Bleszinski aka CliffyB aka Dude Huge, lead designer of the game. In it, he talks about his game design philosophy.

“I’m looking for a fun core-loop of what you’re doing for thirty seconds over and over again,” he told me. “I want it to grab me quick and fast. I want it to have an interesting game mechanic, but I also want it to be a fascinating universe that I want to spend time in, because you’re spending often dozens of hours in this universe.”

Arena mode is the former without the latter. It may be the same 30-second loop over and over again, but darned if they didn’t nail those 30 seconds.

Though I haven’t tried it yet, I’m pleased with horde mode’s inclusion. It’s the sort of thing we’ve been waiting for since playing the solo arena mode in the Marathon 2 rerelease on Xbox Live Arcade.

Once you’re done with the relatively short story mode, it’s something to do with your friends. My deathmatching days are pretty much behind me, with the exception of all the zombie griefing I’m going to be doing in Left 4 Dead. Video games, like sex, are always better in co-op mode.

Kind of wish they would switch levels, though.