May 11, 2006

Live Anywhere - the Next Big Step

It's funny that my gaming buddy Ken and I were just talking about this topic Tuesday night while playing WoW. Since building my new XP gaming rig, I've been listening to PC Gamer magazine's exceptionally well-done podcast. This morning, they posted the first of several special installments covering E3.

The biggest news, in my mind, was Live Anywhere. Big Bill himself showed up to discuss Microsoft's gameplan for the Xbox 360 and Windows gaming. One of the announcements introduced Live Anywhere, which will be a shared incarnation of Xbox Live, tying together the Xbox, Vista PC's, and mobile phones. OK, fine, Gamertags are cool and all, but that's not the extent of it.

The big surprise is totally integrated cross-platform gaming. That's right, PC and Xbox gamers will be able to play together for the first time, sharing all the great stat data, content distribution, and communication tools that are Xbox Live. Very, very cool. I'm feeling just a little better about dropping all this money on a new PC. :) Perhaps I won't even need to buy a 360? Except it looks like Forza Motorsport and Halo 3 are 360-only. Or maybe they are 360-only for now due to the Vista delay? Hmm...

May 10, 2006

Board Game Friday: the Horror!!!

Well, I'm quite excited. This Friday night is board game week!

See, I've been gaming weekly with a great bunch of guys for the past six years or so. Here's a link to our campaign website. The main focus of our weekly Friday night game is several ongoing Dungeons and Dragons (d20 3.5 ed.) campaigns set in the world of Greyhawk. I've not been playing with them as of late, as my D&D jonze waxes and wanes, and I was looking for an opportunity to carve out a little more family time. (Note that the group is actually looking for another regular player if you're located in the Lehigh Valley and are so inclined.)

That said, I'm still meeting with them when they take a week off of D&D to play board games, my true tabletop gaming love.

Up this week - a game that I've been drooling over for some time, Arkham Horror by Fantasy Flight Games.

Now, I'm a huge fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. If you aren't familiar with his writings, Lovecraft is the author of a collection of deliciously, disturbingly macabre 1920's and 30's sci fi / horror stories, including the famous Cthulhu mythos works.

Arkham Horror is a board game set in Lovecraft's 1920's fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts. The game is cooperative, and the players take on the roles of various investigative Arkham citizens braving the horrors of the night. The investigators must strive to close off a variety of gates to otherworldly realms before too much eldritch mojo has built up, allowing one of several Ancient Ones - insane elder gods hailing from the blackest recesses of time and space - to slip into our world and destroy existence as we know it.

Now come on, that just sounds like a fun Friday night, doesn't it?

I picked up the game last night, and I must say, like most of Fantasy Flight's fine games, it's a brick. Serious fart-factor, as the boys from Pulp Gamer podcast would say. (Fart-factor is a phrase the Pulp Gamer fellows coined to describe the vacuum-induced burping noise that a substantial, heavy new game makes when one picks it up by the lid and allows the inner box to drop to the table.)

Seriously - I popped open the box this morning to grab the rulebook to read over breakfast. The game box is about 12 inches square by perhaps 4 inches deep, and when one opens it up, the thing is literally packed to the top with contents - there is absolutely no airspace in the box whatsoever. Now that's a game, baby! Components galore, a large, beautifully detailed game board, and 24 page, 11" x 11" rulebook. Mmm, now that's good eatin'!

I've just finished reading the rules over lunch at work, and this really looks to be a well-designed game - can't wait to try it out! More to come after our first go at the Ancient Ones on Friday night.