Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The Games of February post is turning out to be more involved than I'd anticipated. I suspect tomorrow I'm going to come back to it and cut 90% of what I've written, and just do something sleeker - but we'll see.
So yeah, that'll be up tomorrow. For now, please enjoy these videos of a fan-made 2D Pokemon fighting game that will never be released!
Monday, January 30, 2012
This video was made after Sevrin - who had climbed the highest peaks of World of Warcraft - quit the game to rediscover the real world, and put this together as a project for a 3rd year film production class.
I have a very succinct take on WoW: It is the greatest massively multiplayer online game ever, and you should never ever try it. Here's why.
I don't often talk about my own three-year stint in WoW, but I will tell you I never invested heavily in the raiding culture like many others. In fact, it drove my friends and guildies nuts.
When Chances - my Rogue, named after Chance, my Samurai in Final Fantasy XI Online - reached about level 32, I stopped leveling her. I consciously stopped doing anything that would gain me any experience points, and dedicated all of my time to farming the required reagents for Thistle Teas (which allowed me to perform more special attacks, and created devastating combos) and explosives (my personal favorite was the Goblin Sapper Charge).
I would then head to The Crossroads, in The Barrens, which was a small Horde settlement and hub for early-level questing. I wrecked that place. More than that, I turned wrecking that place into a science.
By my mid-thirties I could wipe the entire town - every single non-player character, and thus, quest givers - and by my early forties I had mastered killing the Flight Master.
The Flight Master was a level 55 elite NPC. When you attacked him, two level 55 elite wyverns would spawn to protect him... but they could be driven away with a particular explosive. All you had to do was kill the flight master before the effect wore off, and they returned.
Shortly after I demonstrated that I could do this all the time, they patched the game to remove the bomb's effect on the Flight Master's wyverns. Hah!
This was all I did in WoW. Sometimes I would fiddle about with my alts, but for the most part I was either in the Barrens harrying The Crossroads, or I was getting more gear to head back to continue mucking with that town.
I developed quite a reputation (hit ctrl-F, type in Chances... and for the record, Rentesh and Alphamage are both real good dudes.)
Once I was down there, doing my thing with a Hunter friend named Sarabi who had decided to accompany me. Given her non-stealthiness, she stayed outside town picking off PvP-flagged Hordlings while I wrecked shit inside the town.
A level 60 Mage had shown up, but couldn't find me (stealthy!), so they went out of town and killed the hell out of my friend. On the way bank into town, the Mage performed their Blink spell to save time - which was, at the time, the only ability that could break a Rogue's stuns - and crack.
Cheap Shot -> Backstab -> Thistle Tea -> Backstab -> Cold Blood -> Eviscerate -> Goblin Sapper Charge. Takes about four seconds - the duration of the Cheap Shot stun effect.
I killed my first level 60 (which was the cap, at the time) when I was 42. It was at that point, I'm told, that the "highlevels" - as I called them - in the Horde began talking. Given that I wasn't highlevel and not party to the raiding discussions occurring therein, I only heard it second-hand - but word was "they're praying you never hit 60."
So I have a lot of positive memories about my time in WoW - I ended up with a lot of good friends in the Horde, just by being such a fun enemy to them - and made a few more on my own faction when the Outland expansion hit, and I rolled a Shaman.
As I was leveling her up, I met a few nice Warriors - I still keep in touch with those two (congrats on fatherhood, Xero!).
Also, I will never, ever go back. WoW is the greatest MMO ever made, and it will consume your life.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I feel I've been a very good boy, lately. I suffered through Amy's entirety and completed the middling Scarygirl - and now, naturally, I feel the need for a game that attempts the whole triple-A thing.
For years, now, I have been well away from the Mass Effect bandwagon. When the original came out, it was rather like BioShock - an incredible game I was unable to actually play, and had to weather everyone else in the world going on about how it was the single best example of its genre ever.
Last year, I picked up a 360 - sampled a dozen or so hours of Mass Effect - and dove in to Mass Effect 2's PS3 version, quite certain that I would not be left behind by this franchise again.
Then the rest of 2011 happened, I forgot about ME2, and the Great PS3 Crash of '11 robbed me of my saved games. I had gotten really far in ME2. I had probably put fifty or sixty hours into it, and now - when I actually need that save again, it really burns to have it gone.
This time, I do not intend to be left out of the discussion. I switched my class from Infiltrator to Soldier - I rather appreciate Adrenaline Rush - and went off to Omega to rescue Garrus again.
Oh, Garrus. This time, I am gonna' be all up in that scarred Turian grill.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Once upon a time, a little girl is abandoned on a clifftop road. She has one eye, a bone where her left arm should be and a tentacle for the right. A gigantic sentient octopus named Blister adopts the child. Utilizing his spectacular eight-armed carpentry skills, he constructs her a dream house. Swimming to the inky depths of the sea, he obtains stylish garments for her - names her Scarygirl - and together they spend their days discussing the nature of the universe...
Immediately, Scarygirl draws one into its corner. Perhaps some of us simply have affections for beautiful and morbid tales of courageous young women, but this thing has a very endearing setup. Still, as a work of art, one would be better-served to consume its source material - as a game, Scarygirl is merely decent.
It's not bad. It's okay.
It's a game I wish I could have played when I was six or seven. Kids, I expect, will get a great deal of joy out of Scarygirl - but for a palette that's tasted more than a handful of platformers, it's a merely acceptable diversion - and not worth one's time, when compared to more ambitious and refined pursuits.
At the same time, though, being an acceptable platformer - in an age when beautiful, fun 2-D platformers are the exception rather than the rule - is perhaps a rather valuable asset, and worth consideration.
Scarygirl employs a pleasant, pastel-hued art style directly drawn from the original comic, but never quite achieves the same striking, joyful whimsy of its inspiration. It's thoroughly troubling that a ten-dollar PlayStation Store game, done up with polygonal models and backdrops, isn't as visually enjoyable as the free flash game you can find on Scarygirl scribe Nathan Jurevicius's website. Honestly - the flash game even has an opening cutscene of higher quality than anything you'll find here.
Still, graphically, the game is good - far better than your average little PSN platformer, to be sure - it only suffers in comparison to Jurevicius's original art. A real, significant disappointment - and a lost opportunity - is that Scarygirl's animation is perfunctory, lacking any real character or charm.
The game's music - some lifted wholesale from the flash game - is also a standout, but that raises the question of why on earth one would want to play this game instead of that one.
I suppose it's because Scarygirl is indeed "an acceptable platformer," and that alone is cause enough for some.
Keeping in mind that 'acceptable' doesn't imply 'remarkable,' Scarygirl does indeed scratch the ancient gamer itch to play a running-and-jumping game - it's good, simple fun - and at the very least, I love spinning her tentacle like a helicopter blade to hover. Its mechanics, at first, are somewhat at odds with modern conventions - you don't press the button harder or longer to jump higher, for example - but the environments are designed to only ever take perfect advantage of its slightly unorthodox gameplay.
Scarygirl doesn't evolve its platforming much over the course of the game - merely asking you to address more complex and lethal hazards as you edge closer to the final level. Instead, it leans more heavily on its combat as it progresses- regularly offering new skills that turn Scary's whippy, hook-tipped tentacle arm into a weapon of mass devastation.
Like the platforming, it's a bit disappointing that the combat - which is unusually well-fleshed-out, for a game like this - does not evolve or become more complex over the course of the game. It would be nice to have new combat skills that make significant changes to the mechanics, offering greater options, but for the most part you merely get flashier and harder-hitting attacks.
You want those attacks, of course - 'need' may be a better word - because Scarygirl's enemies can and will wipe the floor with you, before you learn how to dominate them. In that, at least, it's rather satisfying.
The game's boss fights are similarly simplistic, and - like 2010's Shank - will kick the hell out of you multiple times before you simply memorize their patterns and utterly dominate them.
If you find yourself desperate for some easy-going platforming and a touch of whimsy, Scarygirl is an acceptable diversion. Its characters, its world, its art style are all valuable and interesting - and I'd love to explore them more - but taken on its own, this game isn't really worth ten dollars.
Its greatest feat is that is has piqued my interest in the Scarygirl brand. I want to read the original comic, now. I want to spend more time with that lovely flash game - I just don't want to put any more time into TikGames' riff on the property.
It's not terrible. It's okay. It's meh.
- lovely art direction
- a great set-up, and a pretty good ending
- great music
- there's a surprising amount of combat mechanics
- a reasonable length for the money
- Scarygirl plays skip rope with her own tentacle as a wait animation
- regularly rather fun
- an easy-going, simple platformer that scratches the itch
- there are far better platformers out there
- the source material is way better looking
- the flash game based on the source material is also way better looking
- rote animation, completely dodging an opportunity to offer some vitality to the characters
- boss fights come down to simple memorization
- the platforming doesn't really evolve over the course of the game
- neither does the combat
- throwing an enemy or object into a target is near-impossible. Honestly, would it have been so awful to let us target things?
Scarygirl is neither great not bad, but not nearly as endearing as its source material.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Sorry, that's the highest-def version I could find.
The apple thing is a bit ridiculous. The old lady looks up - my apples! - and then the camera pans up to reveal hundreds of apples! How many pies did Granny Apple intend to bake? There are apples across the city's entire skyline! Oh, they all came from this one dude's apple cart. ...no, I'm still not buying it.
So yeah, kinda' silly, but when I tried to imagine the commercial without the apples - with just gameplay footage - it wouldn't achieve the same sense that the game is trying to convey. Of being in control of this universal constant, and wielding it at a whim, rushing through the skies.
I can dig it.
There's a rather large post over at the PlayStation Blog detailing the content, but for the most part it's just a breakdown of what SSX is, for the uninitiated.
The short version? You bust down awesome mountain ranges on snowboards. The more tricks you do, the faster you can go, the bigger tricks you can do, until you're flying through the air doing The Worm dance off a snowboard and an avalanche crashes down the mountain behind you.
Y'know - good stuff.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
And on the seventh day Chance spake
Unto them, saying "Lo, I cannot but alter
My course, for the gerbils and the lions
And the orangutans and the kookaburra
Have whispered unto me, and they have
Cried out, in their wisdom,
"Maketh thy blog wider, that we may
Sup our gaze upon trailers and screenshots
That be not shriveled and microscopic,
And be joyful in their glory."
And so I say unto thee,
dig this shit."
It is done. And now - once I get these fonts reasonable - I'm going to spend the evening getting to know Scarygirl.
Now, the question is, do I intend to go back and update the images for all my old features and reviews? Also, what will I do, in lieu of a tag cloud?
(1) I'm leaning towards no.
(2) I have no idea.
Or so he said in a recent interview with VG247. Specifically,
"We won’t be making any more Resistances."
And really, can you blame them? Insomniac did their best to make an arcadey FPS for Sony - to give them a blockbuster - but the games just never caught on like Gears or Halo or even Uncharted.
For Insomniac, it's just the right choice. The problem is, Insomniac's biggest hits have always been the core Ratchet & Clank titles. While the Restistance games are great, they never really showed Insomniac at its best the way Ratchet does - and I worry that Overkill may not, either.
[update] After the furor from the interview, Ted took to YouTube to try to offer a very mellow explanation.
[update] After the furor from the interview, Ted took to YouTube to try to offer a very mellow explanation.
First of all, watch this trailer. This entire trailer - from its source on GameTrailers would be best. Game protagonist Geralt is nowhere to be seen, but it does an excellent job of setting the M-for-Mature tone of the game.
Finally, you bet your butt it'll have a big 'ol Collector's Edition - and here it is.
The Witcher 2: probably the only disc-based 360 game I'll buy all year.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
But now, at least, one does.
Yep. It's definitely Video Day.
Heck, I may just do this all day. Last week Tycho mentioned in his blog post that the PATV show Extra Credits (which started as a YouTube thing and then became an Escapist thing and then The Escapist stopped paying them and now they're with PATV) which concerned itself with SOPA and PIPA was seriously worth your time.
If you're unfamiliar with Extra Credits, I suggest you remedy that. It's essentially a once-a-week, intensely thoughtful examination on game design, the industry or issues that affect it. Last week, they took on SOPA/PIPA, and - in their usual humble but precise and perfectly-argued way - explain why it is the devil, and you Americans need to get off your duffs and start annoying your politicians.
They go a bit into the specifically abhorrent provisions set forward in the bills, but if you want to hear the best argument against this thing passing, click this link and skip to 5:22.
Those few precious frames are all the gameplay you'll see of Namco Bandai's new RPG Tokitawa. Apparently the title will be be a bit like a third-person shooter, with a fixed camera. The title says it's the first "animation RPG" on the PS3 - and judging by the screens and action that starts at 0:47, I'm not sure they're lying.
It's due out this year, in Japan.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The above trailer shows no gameplay, and is meant to get us hyped for the idea of playing as Deathhhhhhh.
This video comes courtesy of Kotaku - I highly suggest you watch it there, in HD - and shows off a little combat and a lot of Darksiders II's platforming, which looks much better than you'd expect. A lot of it seems very akin to Prince of Persia '08.
Ooh! And here's an interview with Vigil Games co-founded and artistic center, Joe Mad talking about the game. Wow. He is mellow.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Survival horror titles have been entirely absent from the current gen since Siren: Blood Curse dropped almost four years ago, and the idea of a new entry in this most cherished of genres that offers a few interesting twists is a delightful proposition. Amy offers two such twists - and those two Good Ideas are good - they just happen to exist in a game that is, in all other ways, mediocre or just plain bad.
If one were to take a step back and compare Amy to the heyday of its genre - the PS2 - it's not entirely awful. What's awful is that it keeps a very great deal of what made much of those games awful, and finds new ways to disappoint along the way.
I want to like Amy. I like some of Amy's ideas very much. The fact that player-character Lana is suffering from the same zombification infection that plagues the game's setting is lovely. Without a constant feed of syringes to keep the infection at bay, her skin will grow pale, her cheekbones hollow, her eyes sunken and dead. Ugly black veins spiderweb across her face and out from her mouth. She hears mad whispers - the world turns red, and her vision begins going a bit liquid.
When she's that far gone, Lana can even walk unmolested among the game's undead enemies, passing through them as a fellow nightmare creature - until she reaches out and holds the hand of the game's titular tot.
Amy, a mute girl who takes instruction well and seems to have psychic powers, will cure Lana of the infection whenever they are close. A white shimmer flows over you when you take her tiny hand, and she cleanses you with a touch.
Many have lamented the concept that Amy is essentially one long escort mission - but that's hardly true. The girl herself does not seem very threatened by the monsters that stalk this game, and given that your survival relies entirely upon her close proximity, if anything, she's the one escorting you.
I like that. I like that Amy's protector is also a monster - that the only thing stopping her from becoming a monster is the girl she's promised to help. I like that your ostensibly helpless ward is - much like Elika from Prince of Persia '08 - a supernatural powerhouse.
She never hinders, only helps.
God help me, I also kind of like that Amy is - more than anything - a throwback to the survival horror games of yore, when we accepted and even championed terrible combat as a necessity of the genre. Unfortunately, Amy isn't just a throw back - it's a long bomb.
Its puzzles - if one would be generous enough to call them that - are tedious. We're talking about weird "hack the computer" puzzles that see you rearranging symbols until the game lets you advance. We're talking about pointless elevator puzzles that have you standing on one while Amy flips a switch across the room, and then having her stand on one while you flip a switch placed in the stupidest location possible.
The ones that really annoy are when you guide Amy into a little crawlspace, so she can hit a switch or open a door from the other side. This wouldn't be offensive if Lana were a bit meatier than she is, but the woman is as skinny as a runway model (complete with impressively high cheek bones and short pumps) - she could fire through those spaces just as easily as her tiny ward.
There's a great deal in Amy's construction that, similarly, just makes no sense whatsoever. The game asks you to ignore its rote combat and the way it will introduce a mechanic by making it the only means to move forward and then not telling you it exists - but if a game is going to ask that of us, it had better step up, elsewhere.
We could ask, for example, that it have a compelling narrative - worth suffering the game's slings and arrows, elsewhere. Amy does not have that. It has a bare-bones, uninteresting story with voice acting and dialogue that feels totally at odds with the game's setting. It even switches voice actors for Lana here and there. One line of dialogue will be from one actor, and the next from another - it's somewhat stunning, really.
We could ask for a survival horror game with somewhat enjoyable combat - but bare-bones, wiffy-feeling melee is one of the tropes of the genre Vector Cell have decided to champion.
We could ask for gorgeous presentation - or at least interesting art direction - but Amy doesn't offer it.
We could ask for decent checkpoints, or a manual saving system that would allow us to make reasonable progress before breaking for the day - but we have, maddeningly, been denied that.
Perhaps - most within reason - we could ask for a game with mechanics, design and rules that are consistent throughout the experience. We could ask for a title that doesn't change its own rules several times over the course of a single level - rules that we, the player, consider rather important when they are the difference between losing a half-hour's worth of work in the game or not.
I do not use the term "work" loosely. Amy is simply not a fun game.
In its attempt to put an interesting spin on the survival horror genre by way of its mechanics and protagonists, it trips over its own inane, amateurish design. There is tension in Amy, but it's entirely the wrong kind.
It's not as a result of the game's atmosphere. Amy barely has any.
It's not a building fear of the next terrible monster hiding around the next corner - combat is simple, rote and not too difficult to master.
No, while playing Amy - along with a general sense of boredom - you will constantly be aware of a creeping terror that here, there, anywhere, the game will suddenly assume you know something it never told you, and kill you for not knowing it. Then, through no fault of your own, it will send you back to the beginning of the level (and there are only five).
In that way, it's not fear, really. It's an long, slow-burn appreciation of the fact that that this game is just going to make you more and more angry until you decide it's not worth it and walk away.
As you attempt each level, again and again, Amy reveals itself to be a tedious, insipid little title that shames the bad old survival horror games.
Honestly, this is worse than Galerians.
This is a bad game.
- I like that Lana is infected just like everyone else, that Amy is her lifeline, and that the infection can even be used to your advantage
- it's rather pleasing that Amy herself is rather like your super power
- a throwback to classic survival horror
- holding hands feels weirdly wholesome
- classic survival horror was much better than this
- amateurish writing and a story that goes nowhere
- boring combat
- Amy's autistic. Is it just me, or is anyone else a little tired of autism being the flavor-of-the-month go-to mental illness?
- totally forgettable presentation
- awful stealth implementation
- the electrical mines are just stupid. they seem to only exist to make you walk slower - as if this game really needed another thing to slow it down
- it bothers me that Lana is a rail-thin blond sporting high heels and a miniskirt. It's like, c'mon - can we try something else?
- whoever designed Amy's checkpoint system should be tried in the Hague
- the game, its enemies and its mechanics will change, here and there, just because the devs want you to do something different...
- ...and they expect you to do that different thing without suggesting what it is in any way, shape or form - and until you figure it out, it's killing you over and over - which makes Amy...
- a tedious, frustrating, forgettable experience
This is a bad game.
The lineup and release dates for this year's House Party were announced today.
First up will be Warp on February 15th ($10).
Warp is a rather awesome-sounding top-down stealth puzzle game which sees you in the role of an alien attempting to escape from a human lab, who can 'warp' through - or into - solid objects. Tempted as I may be, I doubt I'll be more interested in Warp than a new platform from Sony.
One week later, Alan Wake's American Nightmare drops on February 22nd ($15)...
...which I would very much like to play and review, given that Alan Wake was pretty awesome - but that's one day after Uncharted: Golden Abyss drops - so we'll see.
Following Wake is Nexiuz on the 29th ($10).
Built on a (very) heavily-modified Quake engine, Nexiuz started as a mod and turned into a full-on game - rather like Defense of the Ancients. It's basically your old-school arena shooter.
Finally, I Am Alive - after so long - is actually coming out on March 7th, 2012 ($15).
The title's development is shrouded in mystery. Announced with a big-budget CGI trailer at E3 2008, word was that Assassin's Creed celebrity-developer Jade Raymond was helming the project - which turned out to be bunk. It started development at a lesser-known studio called Darkworks, which eventually bowed out.
The game went on to Ubisoft Shanghai, who are generally responsible for Ubisoft's bread-and-butter pop games - Raving Rabbids This, Tom Clancy's Splinter That. I Am Alive is the first original IP they've ever worked on.
Basically, we can look forward to Ubisoft-style 3D platforming, with some survival elements mixed in - if it didn't have such a depressing development, I would be nothing but stoked for this game.
* * *
...I wonder when I Am Alive is coming to PSN? I'd much prefer to play it with a Dualshock. Also - if this is what's dropping for the House Party, I wonder what they've got up their sleeves for Summer of XBLA?
Sunday, January 22, 2012
The Monthly Hate is a (rare and non-monthly) feature
where I try to complain about things.
I'm not a huge complainer, but I'll do my best.
I'll start with swearing more.
A few weeks ago, while perusing Best Buy's flyer, I noticed this little gem:
Welly welly. That sounds rather perfect, for me. I definitely want a PSVita, I absolutely want to get my hands on it a week early - the better to blog about - and fifty bucks for a 4G memory card, Little Deviants and a case is a reasonable saving.
Now, granted, Little Deviants is not very high on my to-own list. More precisely it's not on the list - and a 4G memory card will hardly serve me for long - but I definitely want to get my mitts on this thing as soon as possible, and the fact of the matter is Little Deviants (while a full game in its own rights) is basically the world's best tech demo for the Vita's various features.
It takes great advantage of the front and rear touchscreens, and the system's giro controls - it'll be a good way to familiarize one's self with the system's intricacies.
So, I follow the instructions on the flyer and type bestbuy.ca/psvita into Google Chrome and... that website does not exist. Hmph. I head down to Best Buy.
This is the Best Buy I frequent. I've had good and bad experiences, here. When I bought my first, second and third HDTVs, this is the store I went to. I got great service, and when I decided I didn't like TV #1, they let me swap it right out for a different model.
On the other hand, when I went shopping for a PSP, the doucher dudebro who's generally milling around the games section assured me - along with the dude who took my money for said PSP - that a PSP-3000 comes with 8GB of onboard internal storage, and doesn't need a memory card.
Anyway, given that the website for their advertised deal was unavailable, I entered the store in the hopes that discussion with a living, breathing person may help.
What a fool I was.
The fellow in the gaming department had no idea what I was talking about. I asked if he had a copy of his store's flyer (he did), and pointed out the promotion to him.
He was amazed by it, and directed me towards the customer service desk.
The woman who came to my aid at the customer service desk had, similarly, never heard of the promotion, and advised me to visit the website that didn't exist. I explained that situation, and she went and fetched someone else to help me.
Best Buy Customer Service Associate Mark III suggests I visit bestbuy.com/psv.
After explaining it a third time, he plays around on his computer for a while and tells me all I have to do is walk up to the cashier at the front of the store, tell her to type in a certain code on the flyer, pay her fifty dollars, and I'll have my preorder.
The cashier has absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, when I attempt to explain what Mark III's instructions were. She assures me that - in a case with a preorder like this - all I need is a card they should have on display back with the other gaming stuff. I assure her no such card exists, but she goes to look for it anyway.
She comes back, and tells me to visit the website on the flyer.
I explain it to her again - Mark III comes over and explains it again - and they come to the shared conclusion that the only place I can get the Week Early deal is at bestbuy.ca.
So, today - several weeks later - Kayla and I swing through that same Best Buy in the hopes of securing a pretty-good romantic comedy my parents have asked me to locate. As is usual, I swing through the gaming section... and there are the cards!
The cards are there! I can preorder the Vita and get the deal and get Uncharted: Golden Abyss a week early as well!
I grab both cards (and a copy of Willow) and head to the checkout.
"You have a Rewards Zone card?" she asks me. I give her my phone number. "And the Gamer's Club card?"
"No," I tell her.
"Oh, well you need that to preorder this."
"...how much is that going to cost me?"
"Nothing! We can sign you up right now and it's free."
"Fine, sign me up."
"Now you just need to wait for the SKU number to get emailed to you."
"Emailed to me? What email address will you send it to?"
"The one on your Rewards Zone membership."
...which is, of course, my father's fucking email address, 'cause he's the one who first used that phone number to sign up for the account. And they have no idea when the email will be sent.
"Shortly after the promotion ends, I expect. So... the short version is... this time, you have these cards - and you still won't let me preorder this thing."
I was so pissed off.
They're advertising this thing - indicating, in a way I did not perceive as obfuscating - that they would like you to purchase it. And then, at all ends, they make it as hard as fucking possible for you to just buy the goddamned thing.
I don't get it. I don't understand it. Fuck it.
I went home and poked around on the internet. I checked out EB Games' website.
I went down there, put fifty dollars on the counter and walked away with a preorder for the First Edition Bundle.
It was so easy. Of course, now that I've put down an order at EB, I have absolutely no assurances that they will actually have the product on the 15th - such is the nature of that beast - but at the very least, the process was utterly painless.
Best Buy, I swear on all that is good and holy - I will never attempt to preorder anything from you ever again.