Gamer’s Paradise

To many gamer’s disappointment it was announced a few months ago that Grand Theft Auto IV would slip past its October release date and be pushed to Q1 2008. Since then there has not been much fuzz about GTA IV in the gaming media, could this mean that the release date will be moved even further ahead? Shock and horror!

Even if that is indeed the case, fear not fellow gamers! Here are a few titles that will be released for the Xbox 360 in October and November. Surely the wait for GTA IV will be entertaining.

Replaced

As you know, my Xbox 360 began to misbehave last week and I had to send it back to the online store from where I bought it for repairs. On Monday they sent me a mystery package, but for some strange reasons, they decided to send it to our old office address, and not to my apartment. I didn’t manage to track it down to the right post office until today.

They had solved the hardware issue the easy way; by sending me a spanking new console. Good. They had, however, failed to return the game that was bundled with my first Xbox 360 and that had I returned as per their instructions. Bad. Also, all my save games are on the hard drive attached to the malfunctioning console. Bad. And, just to top it off, one of the fans in the new box is making the familiar sounds of a fan that has only a few days left to live. Bad.

One “good” versus three “bad” is not good. It’s bad.

Heated

There has been some talk lately of the failure rate of the Xbox 360 console. Microsoft is operating with a 5% failure rate, which is not bad at all. The retailers on the other hand, tell a different story. According to some, the failure rate is as high as 30%.

The failure rate could have been 99% for all I cared, as long as my own console was safe. I know a few people with a 360 and none of them have had any problems similar to The Red Lights of Death. Sure, the console hangs from time to time due to bugs in the game code and overheating, but it’s never anything serious.

Yesterday Hans Olav came over, we played a little Dirt, talked a little about the failure rate and what do you know; the console hangs in the middle of a race.

Extender

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I installed Windows Vista Premium on my Amitech Windows Media Center box. It has behaved OK, except for a few annoyances:

  • The ting still tends to wake from sleep in the middle of the night, but I have yet to find a pattern. As with the Windows Media Center 2005 edition it’s probably the EPG being updated and I need to get into the registry to modify the time of day this should happen.
  • Sometimes, when waking from sleep, the sound card stops responding. This is probably something that can be fixed with new drivers.
  • If you hook the Media Center to an extender, like the Xbox 360, know this (if you plan to stay sane): DON’T enable the Away Mode! This will replace your Media Center’s sleep mode, but you’re not informed about this when you’re asked if you want to enable Away Mode. After connecting the Media Center to an Xbox, it simply refused to go to sleep. It turned off the video output and muted the sound card, but didn’t put the PC to sleep. It took me two hours of swearing to figure out why the hell nothing happened and at one point I was about to put the Media Center to sleep for good, If you have turned on Away Mode, you can disable it in the Power Options in the control panel; go to advanced options and change the settings for multimedia sharing.

Apart from that, little has happened lately.

Price War

About a month ago I got an Xbox 360. About a year after other people I know, but better late than really late. It’s a good console, even though one might argue that the timing wasn’t that good; the Wii was released a few weeks later and the PlayStation 3 is just around the corner in Europe. I decided to go for the 360 because I’ve never been a fan of the Nintendo style of games. The PS3 will launch at a ridiculously high price, in the US of A you can get a Wii and a 360 Core system for the price of a single 60GB PS3. The 360 with hard drive clocks in at a massive USD 400 below the 60GB PS3, and the PS3 won’t be available in Norway until March 31.

As you know I’m a big fan of the Great Grand Theft Auto computer game series. Since it’s still a while until GTA IV is released – if all goes according to plan, it will be available on the on October 16 this year – I laid my eyes on what can only be described as a desirable GTA clone: Saints Row.

I tried the demo and it felt a lot like GTA, me like, so I decided to get the game while waiting for GTA IV. For some reason it was a bit hard to find it in the stores downtown. When I finally found a copy my crave for the game disappeared as soon as I saw the price tag. It was 699 Norwegian kroner (NOK)! To put things into perspective; NOK 699 is USD 110 at the current exchange rate!

So I decided to check out the online stores to see if it was possible to get the game a little cheaper there. No luck. The best price I found was NOK 549 (USD 86), which is still a tad ridiculous, and with P&P it would get close to the store price anyway. Amazon.com sells the game for USD 53.99 (NOK 342), and that’s an acceptable place.

Can someone please explain to me what the fuck is going on that makes it possible for Norwegian stores to sell computer games for twice the price of Amazon.com? In my quest for a cheap copy of Saints Row I stumbled across an auction site and that affair ended up costing me USD 150 and beyond. But that’s another story.