Last night at 1am, Spike TV debuted the first episode of GameTrailers TV, the first video gaming show on a non-tech cable channel in quite a while. If you happen to be the kind of person who is busy on Friday nights, you can also catch the show on GameTrailers.com. They say that the show can be downloaded in “High Definition” but their definition of that must differ from mine, because they are only offering the show in 960×544 streaming Flash Video format. Granted, this is about the highest quality FLV you’ll find, but HDTV it is certainly not. You can also download it in WMV format from the XBOX Marketplace. However, since my XBOX Live account is in the Hong Kong region, where there are literally no more than two shows available to download (a free episode of Viva Pinata, and an SD trailer for a 2 year old UFC event) I am unable to check it out at this time. Spike is currently not available in HD, but is expected to launch an HD channel this year.
So how was the show? It was… well… scattered.
The first episode featured a “WORLD EXCLUSIVE” preview of Command & Conquer: Tiberium. Sounds great right? Except that the preview took place during the entire show, interrupted over and over by the other show segments. Along with this, it featured a lot of whacky sound effects and flashy bumpers between segments, giving it a hectic, unorganized sense of production. Geoff Keighly, probably most famous right now for essentially being ‘trapped’ by the morons at Fox News, was a fine host. In fact, the show would probably be even better with more of him and less flashy bumpers and sound effects.
Cutting throughout the “WORLD EXCLUSIVE” preview of Tiberium were some reviews, previews, a short news segment, and a brief community segment where a co-host reads out the results from a poll on their website (woo!). All of the content was up-to-date, and covered the recent releases such as Burnout Paradise and No More Heroes. There was also a preview of Patapon (just after I got the songs out of my head after watching The 1Up Show this morning, there it is again.. pata-pata-pata-pon!… ugh) and some “WORLD EXCLUSIVE footage” of Dark Sector (which is coming along very nicely, and looks a lot better now that they’ve added dual-wielding.. although the other footage already out there makes the game look much better than GTTV’s “WORLD EXCLUSIVE” stuff).
The reviews, sorry to say, were pretty much useless, and probably nothing more than Metacritic fodder. The Burnout Paradise review contained so many silly metaphors that it was borderline comedy. I will post a transcript of the entire review, with the whackiness highlighted in red font. The rest, I guess, can be considered the actual review content.
The King of Crunch is back, with Burnout Paradise for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. This series flipped the asphalt when it debuted. Full frontal contact was encouraged, and nothing’s changed here, as Paradise gets right up in your crumple zone to deliver plenty of twisted metal to your grille.
There are no menus to navigate, just the open road, with online and 120 events a button press or stoplight away. The open world environment is massive, and all races are unlocked right off the starting line, provided that you have the right car.
Paradise veers off course, with only a quarter-tank of different race types including point-to-point, takedown, head-to-head, stunt events, and survival races. After a few hours, it can feel like you’re spinning your tires. Licensed cars have been left in the scrap heap in favour of 75 rides of distinction that bend it better than Beckham ever could (?).
When you’re driving on your learner’s permit, just about every vehicle can get the job done. But as your license class increases, you’ll need the right tool for the job. Burnout Paradise never crosses the center divide, staying right on the bumper of the previous versions. But those with the need for speed or crumpled sheet-metal will put it to the floor and never look back. And the updated crash-mode injects some serious nitrous into an already turbo-charged experience for an 8.8 out of 10.
The No More Heroes review contained less absurdity, making it just another 30 second ‘review’ you would expect to see on any other non-gaming variety show or magazine.
In the end, I think GTTV is better than what I had expected (this is Spike TV after all) and a welcome boon for gamers. And a sign of the time; games are bigger than ever, and in 2008 the industry has its pedal to the metal, with no signs of slowing down. They should probably focus more on providing insightful content directed towards actual gamers, and not the same sort of fluff that non-gamers aren’t that interested in anyway. The internet-only 1Up Show is still the best gaming show around, although it would probably never work on mainstream television for the exact reasons that make it so great.