Learning to love Forza 3 slowly

I’m playing a fair old bit of Forza 3 this week. It looks lovely. It plays fine. It’s just, hmmmm, a little hard to put my finger on it, but it’s just not there at the moment. I think it might be that it just isn’t any big jump from Forza 2, it looks a bit nicer, it’s got more cars and tracks, but there just isn’t a wow factor that lets you know it is a new game. I’m going to keep going, maybe when I’m in the better cars I’ll love it more.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with it either prix de viagra en tunisie. It’s all done right, but I just want that X-Factor (X-Forza?) to push me over the edge, make me love playing it.

Xbox and windows

Later today we get the Fall update to Xbox 360 Live. It doesn’t look like there is anything dramatic coming, but they are starting to introduce more of a social networking element, with profiles and searchable friend lists. There is also the Xbox Originals, old xbox games for download, and also a platinum service for Xbox Live Arcade games, which means we’ll get a bit of discounting going on, which is no bad thing.

I’m also troubled by the new tv commercial for Safestyle UK, the noisiest of all the double-glazing companies advertising today. They seem to have come up with their own version of Firestarter by the Prodigy for it, and it may well be the most annoying of all the Christmas commercials, even more so than the Spice Girls ad for Tesco.

What am I into at the moment?

I’m currently playing Super Mario Galaxy, which is a gorgeous game to watch and play, Puzzlequest, which is an RPG meets a Bejewelled-style puzzle game, and the expansion version of Phantasy Star Universe.

I’m watching Heroes of course, the new series of Curb Your Enthusiasm (which is compulsory, it’s very good), the Mighty Boosh, and I’ve just watched my first episode of Flight of the Conchords, which I’d heard was a very marmite show, but I got it straight away, stupid in a great way.

Settlers of Catan

I’ve been playing quite a bit of Settlers of Catan on the Xbox 360 recently. It is a great board game brought onto Xbox Arcade, which as far as I can tell keeps all the board game elements, and then provides you with either decent opponents or the ability to play online. I picked it up pretty much from diving right into it, and I’m rather enjoying it. Let me know if you get it and fancy a game.

Sushi Master

Well not quite, but my sushi the other night was, if I do say so myself, bloody fantastic. When I tried it not long after preparation, it wasn’t all that. It tasted too seaweedy, which is not a taste you want in particular. I didn’t realise what it really needed was fridge time. The next evening we had some as a starter, and it tasted great, and bar my clumsy presentation looked like they should. So I’ve bought more stuff for sushi last night, including a bamboo mat (which I did have, but I think I cut it up to use for something else, some project or idea I really can’t remember). With bamboo mat I may yet attain perfection!

Also starting to plan seriously for upgrading my computer at home. It is coming on for four years old now, has done sterling service, but is getting slow. I am not getting rid of it, but it can be a fileserver now, whilst I build a new computer. Decided to build my own from scratch again, I hopefully have a case coming from a friend that looks promising, have settled on an Intel Duo Core processor at the centre of the machine, which then helps you focus on which other elements you want to add in. I think graphics card is the toughest choice now, as I really don’t know how much I am willing to spend on that. You can easily spend the cost of a new Xbox 360 just on a graphics card should you chose, but I think I’d rather get something up to date but mid-range. I also this time need to take account of wanting to run Linux as my operating system of choice, I have been using Ubuntu for about 3 months now on all my machines, and I can’t see me going back to Windows now. Just so much cleaner and easier.

So what do I like about the 360?

I was just considering that I’d had a moan about the 360, but hadn’t really talked about what I do like so far. A lot, basically.

Wireless controllers are probably the biggest improvement. They are comfy, and you just are not restricted to where you sit anymore. Love that. Also with the headset attached (which is far more sturdy that the old one) I can even talk whilst wandering into the kitchen to make an inbetween round cup of tea.

The interface is great, moving between live, the arcade, and playing full games is all pretty seamless and quick to navigate. And the games, well. I’ve only really been playing Project Gotham 3 and Arcade thus far. PGR3 is a wonderful update, hasn’t lost a single thing from the previous version that I miss. Looks better, plays just the same, more features, even a track editor hidden away. Lot of gameplay left there. Have Perfect Dark Zero to try soon as well, plus a visit to some game store on Monday.

Xbox 360 Innovation

So Bill Gates is giving his keynotes speech at CES 2006, and finishes up with the X360. Talks about sales for a bit, then demos a new game, Fight Night Round 3 (okay, when I say demos, I mean he actually plays against Steve Ballmer on stage). Fair enough. However, when they have finished, he casually mentions that Xbox 360 owners can download the demo right this second. Nice. It isn’t a massive technical innovation, it is simply a marketing one, but a beautiful one. I’m hoping we will start to see more of this at conferences like E3, or even in TV adverts for games.

Slowly getting my head into the working new year, starting to figure out what I am up to. Lots of small tasks to be getting on with now, but it is quite good in that they are all new things, rather than things that have hung around from last year.