Classic Games I Love

September 29, 2008

The recent purchase of Xcom: UFO Defense and it's sequel Xcom: Terror From the Deep via Steam has reminded me of some classic games that I will always love to play. There is something about them that was done so well, they were great to play, and even after completing them, I can always go back and re-play them again and enjoy them just as much as before.

Xcom: UFO Defense
Created by Microprose, Xcom is one of those rare games that successfully blends 3 game genre's together to create it's own type of game. It's part turn based strategy, RPG, and civilization all rolled into one fantastic game. The turn based strategy is where you spend most of your gameplay time, and while it is very simple in nature, it's very fun and can be extremely challenging. The RPG element deals with your squad of soldiers, they get better in different areas after each successful mission. The civilization aspects deal with building and maintaining your bases around the globe, reasearching new equipment, and manufacturing new facilities and equipment your squad can use on missions. The goal of the game is to protect the world from invading aliens, intercept their spacecraft as well as protect innocent civilians from attacks on world cities. As the game progresses you learn more about the aliens themselves through your research and eventually the aliens begin to attack your bases directly. The game culminates with a final showdown attack launched against their home base of operations.

Xcom: Terror From the Deep
The sequel to the original Xcom, takes the same game and puts it underwater. I actually enjoy this version of the game more than the original because of the updated graphics and other all around improvements on the original. The gameplay is the same, just underwater, the story is also essentially the same as well. While it may sort of lack originality, they knew the original gameplay wasn't broken so there was no point in fixing it. Alas, they did change everything for the 3rd and 4th installments of the series which I ended up avoiding like the plague.

Syndicate was created by Bullfrog and was originally a Peter Molyneux creation I believe. Bullfrog was responsible for quite a few great games and Syndicate was one of my all time favorites. Essentially a mission-based, action RPG, you are put in the control of a squad of enhanced cyborgs and tasked with various objectives to increase your Syndicate's influence in the world. Battling rival syndicates for world dominance is the ultimate goal of the game, and you also have RPG elements and research that allow you to upgrade your cyborg squad with enhancements you can activate during gameplay to literally reign in complete destruction in the mission environments. It was always lots of fun to activate your squad and watch them go on a killing spree, mowing down police, civilians, rival syndicate cyborgs, and usually blowing up half the screen in the process. The sequel Syndicate Wars, messed with the game enough that it wasn't enjoyable which was really too bad.

Dungeon Keeper
Another Bullfrog classic, Dungeon Keeper was the first game I remember that took a different perspective on the player being an evil dungeon master instead of the expected benevolent protagonist. Another Molyneux real time strategy game, your goal is to build a dungeons that can attract strong and powerful monsters while holding off would-be heroes from cleansing your taint from the land. The notable things about this game were the ability to treat your minions with an iron fist making them work or train harder. You could also step into any of your minions viewpoint and get a first-person view of your dungeon which made the game a lot of fun. Not only could you walk around in your dungeon, but you also took on the abilities of that creature, so that if you were an imp you could dig walls and fetch gold, or as a monster you could engage directly with fighting heroes that entered your dungeon. The game also offered multiplayer where competing dungeons would be built out of the same earth, but that was only so fun. The games always ended up in one large conflict, where the victor would destroy the other player's dungeon heart. The bigger draw to the game was the single player campaign and it was a lot of fun. The voice of the narrator was deliciously evil as well. I never got a chance to play the sequel, and it's something I need to try and find somewhere and give it a playthrough.

A Halo MMO?

September 24, 2008

It was revealed yesterday that soon to be closed Ensemble Studios was at one point working on a MMO set in the Halo universe. The project was killed by Microsoft, which was probably a good thing.

While the Halo universe is most likely rich enough to support an MMO game, I don't think it would really work too well in practice. There is a continuing struggle between 3 different races, a war that rages across many different planets and locations, but that really wouldn't fit the game play mold for an MMO in my opinion. Maybe it's just that I've played too much WoW, but whenever I've tried the futuristic scifi based MMOs such as Anarchy Online, they always seem to have something lacking.

I think were a Halo MMO would work, would be something similar to Planetside in which it's a class based first person shooter set in a persistant world where battles are continually on-going. The problem with that is it would compete too much with Halo's multiplayer already and not bring anything really new or different to the series.

The released concept screenshots, look like something right out of WoW and I don't see 5 spartans joining up to investigate a bunker and rid it of flood or covenant. I think that the game would have to go away from a class-based MMO and allow players to customize the type of game play they would want to have and it would largely be based as a single-player multiplayer game similar to the first Asheron's Call. Players could accomplish 90% of the game on their own but have a social component built into the game to group up with friends and have fun.

All in all, I'm glad this project was scrapped because I think it would have just cheapened the Halo series. The upcoming Halo Wars on the other hand looks to be a good game and something that works perfectly well within the Halo universe. I'm looking forward to seeing how they make the controls fit the console for a real time strategy game that are traditionally only worth playing on a PC.

Fable II

September 23, 2008

Well I recently discussed my thoughts on the Fable 2 Pub Games cheat, and I'm a little surprized and dissappointed at what has now happened. Apparently there is a patch that removes the ability to cheat from Fortune's Tower which really doesn't make any sense.

When the games first came out, it was clear right away you could cheat in Fortune's Tower and people quickly got lots of gold and items from the exploit. It seemed clear to me that if they didn't want the ability to cheat in the pub games, they would have patched it with in a week or 2 of the release.

Then we find out that Molyneux, intended the cheat in the first place, and that those who cheated would be in for a surprise in the game. Fable being a game of consequence, you'd expect exactly this type of thing and a fun and clever way for the developers to pull a little prank on those who used the exploit.

And now there is a patch that removes the cheat from Fortune's Tower? This makes absolutely no sense. If they intended it in the first place, why remove the ability? This move has me a little worried. It seems as if the game may not have all of the bells and whistles we were promised. Supposedly there will be all kinds of things one can do to entertain themselves besides moving along the story line. It is possible that they had to scrap this little prank to ensure the game made it out  in time and that is what I'm hoping for, but it also makes me a little sad they couldn't pull it off. Maybe at some point after the game is released we will find out what was originally intended and why it had to be removed, or perhaps it can be re-enabled in a future patch or expansion of game content.

In other Fable 2 news, the game has gone gold and is shapping up to hit the Oct 21st launch.

Busy Weekend

September 19, 2008

I'm thinking of changing up the structure of the site a little bit. I want to try and review a new game each week but in addition to that I think that smaller posts about a variety of the week's current hot topics will probably serve the blog better and provide my viewers with more variety in my posts. With that said, let's begin...

Sarah Palin's E-mail Hacked
There is a heck of a lot that one can say on this topic it's almost hard to begin. My overall impression on the matter is that Palin was doing something she shouldn't and she got caught. Now it doesn't really matter if any of the emails show some actual proof that something shady is/was going on, she crossed the line using a public email for more than personal stuff and should've known better. As soon as she accepted the Vice Presidential ticket, she should have cleaned out skeletons in her closet because being quickly thrust into the political lime-light brings a fuck-ton of scrutiny on everything you have previously done and every step you take up until the election.

Now I'm not defending the hackers for what they did, although it seems it wasn't too complicated in the first place. I'm sure since the FBI and Secret Service are investigating them, they probably have a limited amount of time left before they aren't so "anonymous" anymore. This is more question about having the brains to cover your own ass if you are going to play in a grey area of legality. The moral of the story? People who do stupid things get caught, eventually. Some are quicker than others such as this case, and some take several years of bad investments as seen by a few of the great American corporations who have officially wrecked the stock market for the last 2 weeks.

Spore DRM (Redux)
The whole Spore DRM thing started to piss me off a little yesterday after thinking some more about it. Originally I didn't care one way or another too much, it was just another retarded move by EA which was to be expected. I guess what I think is so stupid is the amount of idiocy on both sides of the equation. EA was the first to show how much they have been whacked with the dumb-stick by including SecuRom in the first place in the game. It absolutely has done nothing but screw over the individuals who purchased their game. People who will pirate their game will do so no matter what anti-piracy measures are in place. A fact they just need to live with instead of trying to alienate their player base.

Players who are vocal about the inclusion of SecuRom have chosen poor ways of voicing their opinions. While creating creatures hinting on DRM and doing the Amazon poor rating scheme garner some attention to the issue (which there was already plenty to begin with before the product's release), ultimately people are still buying the game and EA still wins. In order to truly make a statement, boycotting the game is the strongest method in which to tell EA you are pissed off and don't want to give them any money. While the whining has gotten EA to say they will allow more installs of the game, it has put them in a power position by being able to please the petulent screaming children, and taking away their lollipops at the same time.

For a different take on Spore, check out Zero Punctuation's review.

The Force Unleashed
I was thinking of picking up a copy this weekend but I'm going to wait until all the hype dies down and I can just grab a cheapo copy of the game in late Oct or Nov to see how it plays. Hopefully I will forget the below average reviews and come in with an open mind. I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy it anyways, even with some of the game play pitfalls. The story is supposed to be very good, and the graphics for the environments are top notch. I'm just afraid that if the game ends up being "throw the controller at the wall, while screaming obsenities" annoying, then I don't want to have paid $60 for the pleasure.

Weekend Plans
Well the weekend is finally here, but instead of just watching football and swilling beer for it's entirity, I will have to actually do some work around the house starting with re-painting the dining room. I hate to paint, or rather, I hate doing the prep-work to paint. It seems to take forever to get all the tape up the way you need it in order to make clean paint lines and not color everything incorrectly, but I guess that's life. Once you get started with the actual painting, it's not that bad. Hopefully the Hucking Fuskies can figure out what they need to do to get a win this season and be prepared for Stanford in a week. The Seahawks aren't doing much better starting the season 0-2, but are favored by 9 points this weekend over the Rams. This being Holmgren's last season as head coach, they need to step it up a notch despite the injuries plauging our reciever core.

A couple of things

September 17, 2008

Force Unleashed Reviews
Got a few different things to talk about today. Starting first off with all of the bad reviews that The Force Unleashed has recieved since it's release yesterday.

I'm not quite sure what the problem is, and granted I've only played the demo. There was so much hype surrounding this game and the amount of talk it has been getting in the video game media since very early this year, it makes me wonder if the industry shot itself in the foot by hyping it up too much and then had no choice but to give it poor reviews when the game didn't live up to their own bloated expectations. From all the reviews I've seen or read, they all seem to nitpick some of the same issues and really what it boils down to from what I've seen of the game is that the game environments got a huge amount of polish to create a fantastic Star Wars universe to play in, but the game play didn't receive the same amount of polish to ensure that you had a good time while looking at the pretty graphics.

Cheating in Fable II Pub Games
The pub games on Xbox Arcade give players a unique opportunity to earn some gold before the game is released for your Fable II characters. Pretty much as soon as people started playing them, a cheat was found that allowed you to amass huge amounts of gold very quickly. Since the cheat was very simple and Fable has always been a game of consequence (your game play morality choices affect the outcome of your character) it seemed fairly clear to me that this "cheat" was intentionally put into the game so that it would alter the game world in some way. The easiest thing they could do is give your character lots of evil points for cheating, but they may even take it a lot further by making the game have incredible inflation on all the prices of anything you can buy in the game. 1000s of gold to buy some apples wouldn't be much if you had several million gold in starting cash. Several people have speculated that the cheat was intentional, but now we know for sure that it was. It will be interesting to see what happens the day the game is released and people choose to cash in on the items and gold they collected in the Pub Games.

The other thing that was a bit of a clue this was planned is there was a lot of talk and hype about a "patch" that would reset the gold and fix the cheat, however, one was never released to fix the issue allowing players to continue. Since it was widely known about and could have been easily patched via Xbox Live, why wasn't it done if it truly wasn't intentional? Well it was intentional and we will get to see what prank the game plays on us with all our gold we cheated.

Spore DRM Issues
EA has taken a lot of flak for their inclusion of SecuRom as Spore's DRM. Everything from the Amazon review fiasco and now EA's changing their stance on allowing an authorize/deauthorize mechanism for moving the game to and from different machines. My opinion is that EA really screwed the pooch on this one. The people who are going to pirate their game will pirate it no matter what kind DRM they implement. All they do is screw the regular paying customer with crazy restrictions on content they legally purchase. It comes down to bad PR, but that is also something EA is pretty much known for, so I guess no surprizes there.

Something fun...
If you haven't seen the fun little video with the Portal song "Still Alive" then you should check it out.

Spore Review

September 15, 2008

Finally getting my hands on Spore over the weekend, I thought I would do a little review of the game so far. I've had a chance to play through all of the stages (except for completing the space stage) and going a carnivorous route as well as trying the herbivore route.

For those who aren't sure what Spore is, the game gives players the opportunity to create a race of beings that start out as cell organisms that land on a planet from a meteor and evolve into beings that can eventually dominate the starting planet as well as reach into space and later colonize planets. The game plays through 5 stages (Cell, Creature, Tribal, Civilization, & Space) with each stage having it's own type of game genre but also retaining some overall similarities such as how you advance from stage to stage or how you enhance your species.

Cell Stage
The Cell stage plays very simple, you move your creature around to eat your type of food (green for herbivores, red for carnivores), you look for new parts to collect for your creature, and you avoid or do combat with other cells that are in your pool of primordial soup. For being the first stage and also a rather quick stage, this stage is a lot of fun quite simply for the sense of scale that it brings as your fledgling organism grows up. You can often see much larger organisms in the background and when you grow up, they will dynamically change and reflect your new size. At one point I was being chased by another carnivore and I grew up, turned around and swallowed my persuer in one gulp. 

Here are a couple of tips I've noticed for getting through this stage no matter what your food type. Make sure you aren't slow, look for ways to speed yourself up so you can quickly attack or flee from persuers. Defense can be a good offense, make sure you have defensive spikes or shocking parts around your body that have a good length to them, for herbivores this is especially important and I've found having them on the rear of your creature is good when you are being chased, often other cells will attack from behind and run into your defense. Also don't be afraid to search far and wide looking for new creature parts. As a carnivore I killed a much larger herbivore and was rewarded with a new part besides lots of food.

Creature Stage
The creature stage is very similar to the cell stage, but there is a bit less chaos. You get a nest which is your base of operations and as you progress you can add to your pack so that you aren't a lone individual fighting in a strange world. Depending on your path, this stage can be a little more difficult. I've found that carnivores can quickly go through this stage as you can run around hunting almost any other species you come across. Planties have a tougher time as you have to impress other species to earn points and depending on the amount of attributes you have spent in areas like singing, dancing, charm, and posing some species will be hard to impress. You continue to hunt around the land looking for new parts to add to your creature, they are most often found near other species nests which provokes contact with them for good or ill. There is still a sense of scale at this stage of the game as well. One of the most fun things I encountered was an "elite" version of a T-Rex I made back in June with the creature creator. I heard a loud roar and found this very large animal bearing down on me, he ate one of my pack but I managed to survive with a large grin on my face and exclaiming "That was fucken cool!".

Tribal Stage
After your species becomes the dominate creature in your area, you evolve into a primitive collective that is capable of wooing or eradicating other tribes on your planet. You stop altering your species itself, but rather change how they are dressed. You gain technologies and new clothing apparel from other tribes. How you dress yourselves help with socializing, gathering, or combat and the technologies allow you to outfit members of your tribe with different tools. The tools range from combat, social, or gathering oriented. Your main sources of food remain the same, animals for meaties and plants for herbies. I was a little dissappointed that carnivorous races can't eat other races, I guess they didn't want hints of cannibalism in the game even though it really wouldn't count. Since they knew they would piss off all the Creationists out there, not sure why not just push the envelope a bit further. Anyways, I found the tribal stage to be my least favorite and a little boring as far as the RTS style game play it brings. I've found members of my tribe not eating when they are hungry, or even my chief getting stuck and not engaging in combat.

Civilization Stage
Once you move into the civilization stage, you no longer are evolving the look of your race, but begin to craft buildings and vehicles to help conquer the rest of the planet. So far I've played this through as warrior and religious based cultures and they both really play exactly the same. You need to gather resources and take over other cities. Land based cities can create land and air based units, while cities with sea access can create ships. There seems to be more depth to the building of other houses, factories, and places of entertainment within your cities but it doesn't seem to have any real affect to the gameplay of this stage. Basically get lots of resources, get lots of units, and take over the enemy. It seems to be best to rush through this stage and get to space as that's what seems to be the longest stage of the game.

Space Stage
I've only just recently reached the space stage and it almost seems a little overwhelming. You start out by creating your space ship in the similar fashion to creating vehicle units from the Civ stage. Once ready, you get a small tutorial to get you the ins and outs of piloting around as well as a basis for some of the types of missions you will be doing in space. Being able to colonize planets, investigate ruins of other civilizations, capture, study, and eradicate animal life are just a few of the things you get to do. There are lots of items you can add to your spaceship as well as lots of rare animals to collect and what looks to be hundreds of planets possible to explore.

Final Thoughts
Overall the game delivers what it promised. While a few of the stages don't really feel like more than bumps in the road to get to the space stage, they don't take very long to complete and do provide some interesting challenges. The large elite creatures still exist in the Tribal stage and are fun to hunt as payback from when you were chased by them in the creature stage. Don't play any stage expecting it to be a good RTS or good Civ clone or anything like that, they are just very basic knock offs of those types of game play, familiar enough that you don't need a long tutorial but also very basic as to what you can do with your bases and units. For some reason achievements exist in the game which reward you for certain accomplishments based on the type of species you develop. Since this isn't an Xbox game and unless you are playing around with Raptr, achievements are really only for yourself.

Death Magnetic

September 12, 2008

The first album release from Metallica in 6 years, Death Magnetic is the band's 9th album and thankfully brings back the sounds that one comes to expect from Metallica.

When listening the tracks to this album, the first thing most older Metallica fans will notice is how similar it feels to "And Justice For All..." and could have been an album released before the "Black" album. Out of the 10 tracks, only one clocks in at under 6 minutes long. Each song also features a fierce solo by Hammet who sounds very much like the crazy lead-guitarist found on "Kill 'em All", "Ride the Lightning", and "Master of Puppets". There is even an instrumental only track (Suicide and Redemption) on their latest offering, which I haven't seen on a Metallica album since Justice.

Like most Metallica fans, I have been very reluctant to purchase anything that has come from the band in the last 10+ years. They just had a very completely different sound that wasn't the Metallica that I knew, I'm glad to say that Magnetic really brings back what I consider the Metallica sound. Multiple intro-riffs to each song, hard and fast pounding riffs that build and change through out the long songs, hinting at what is to come later. Amazing solo's that would make your fingers bleed if you try to play them as fast as Hammet.

Also new for the first time, this full album is available for Guitar Hero III at the same time it has been released for regular purchase. The band's position on the digital medium for music seems to have done a 180 this year and finally embraced the Internet as a way to get their music to the fans instead of worrying about music being stolen. They even have their own YouTube channel.

Overall this is a fantastic album and a must have for any Metallica fan. The band will soon be starting their North America tour soon. Here is where you can find the tour dates.

Check out The Day That Never Comes, similar to One in many respects.

Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band

September 8, 2008

I've been waiting a while to weigh in on the whole Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band debate. Originally when both products were released last year, I didn't really feel they directly competed with each other. Both games really had their target auidence, Guitar Hero focusing mainly on being a guitar god and Rock Band being more of a party-game version allowing your friends to participate instead of just watch you be really good at Guitar Hero.

With Guitar Hero World Tour (the 4th installment in the Guitar Hero franchise) as well as Rock Band 2 fast approaching launches for the holiday season, there are a lot more features that pit these two products head to head.

The first is most notably the addition of a drum kit (pictured), bass guitar, and microphone to the Guitar Hero package which brings it up to speed with the number of instruments available to Rock Band franchise.

Clearly one of Rock Band's most successful selling points was the drum kit in the first place, even spawning a drum kit only version of the product. For Activision to include this in the next Guitar Hero product, it's clear they noticed what helped make Rock Band a success.

The other draw that Rock Band originally had was the release of new tracks each and every week for use with their game. While Guitar Hero has done a decent job of adding new track packs, Rock Band has had the edge.

Instead of simply copying Rock Band and trying to get more DLC, which they are doing anyways, the next Guitar Hero will also feature the ability to create your own music tracks that you can share with the community. This is pretty innovative and for the first time actually makes the game more like a real music product than just "push-this-button now to make the music play" game.

So far the Guitar Hero franchise seems to be leading in the battle for best rock rythym game in the next two installments. I'm not entirely sure what the new Rock Band is really bringing to the table as far as innovations besides more of the same. They've made much welcomed improvements to the instruments and have also made sure most of your previous Rock Band tracks will work in the new game but there really isn't anything differentiating them from Guitar Hero anymore.

Guitar Hero is also doing some amazing things with track line ups for the next product, starting this Friday as the entire new Metallica album is released for GH3 and will also work with World Tour. If that wasn't enough, Tool has also got 3 tracks lined up for World Tour as well as their own set done in the style of their music videos and concert performances.

Originally the GH series was the king of the hill, Rock Band recently displaced it by bringing new instruments, and the party with your friends atmosphere to the genre. GH3 is prime to reclaim their spot as the #1 rock rythym game with all the new features in World Tour. I will be waiting to purchase either products since my little living room really does not have the room for all of those instruments in either package I also want to give them some time in the market to see what the early adopters of each new game think.

On a side note, I'm a little tired of the ad campaigns for both games trying to hype it up that you are forming a "real" band, or somehow playing real music. The music creator in GH World Tour is finally the closest thing either product can claim to being more than just a button mashing game. Now granted, they are both fun to play, but it's not "real" like they seem to try to make it.

The real sound track to this commericial would be a lot of clickety-click, click, click.

Blu-ray dead in 5 years

September 5, 2008

Really? No freaking kidding...

I'm not sure why this is such a shock to anyone in any technology based industry, but for some reason I keep seeing sites posting about the comments from Samsung on where they think Blu-ray will be a defunct technology in 5 years, like this is some kind of earth-shattering announcement. As far as I'm concerned, saying "5 years" is a gift and over estimating it's actual shelf-life.

CDs, killed records & tapes, MP3s killed CDs. VHS killed Beta-max, DVDs killed VHS, Blu-ray killed DVDs (as well as HD-DVDs) and each of these conquering technologies killed their predeceors in a quicker time frame. What right did Blu-ray earn to be king of the hill for any length of time at all? Blu-ray is just a stop over in the technological gap before we can almost instantaneously download any type of multimedia content to our PCs or more likely our 72 inch OLED TVs via the Internet. All it takes is one of three things to happen.

1) An "MP3" like format for HD video content is developed, which allows existing Internet technology (fancy series of pipes for the less-technology inclined) to handle delivering the new herald of HD digital medium to our living rooms.

2) The way in which the Internet is delivered to our homes is changed in a manner that allows for higher bandwidth consumption at either metered or un-metered rates so that as our need for bandwidth increases per household, ISPs can deliver. Already there are some ISPs that are offering extreme bandwith to paying customers, it costs a lot today, but how long before that standard becomes the measuring stick by which most people have for their upload/download speeds? I remember not so long ago when 4800 baud was a heck of a connection to have to the fledgling Internet.

3) The third and most likely happening, is really just a combination of 1 & 2, where both new methods of compression for HD content as well as increasing speeds for home Internet access usher in an era where set-top boxes can provide HD content delivered in a matter of moments at the whim of the user. Who in their right-mind is going to pay over $300 for a Blu-ray player or the expensive discs at $30 a pop?

The other catalyst is storage space. As drives get larger and larger, and cheaper and cheaper, the "Tivo" 5 years from now will probably come with at least a 1TB drive in it for storing HD content downloaded directly from the net. Besides TV and movie content, why not video games. The Xbox Live platform already offers HD downloadable content (games, TV, & Movies) that are delivered via the Internet to your Xbox and stored on the hard drive. For a measely 120gb you can store quite a bit on your Xbox, 5 years from now an appropriate device would easily have 5x that amount. Really all that leaves is the delivery hurdle.

Storage is already cheap and getting cheaper by the month in almost every format available. We just sit waiting for the next major way to compress HD content for easy Internet delivery and/or the ISPs to increase delivery speeds to the home user at affordable prices.

Where is the real downside to this equation? The Internet itself is pretty much a horrible delivery medium at the moment. It has gotten much better in the last 2-3 years, but still has some major pitfalls to overcome. First of all, it really needs some major restructuring and an easy way to get rid of all the junk. The amount of Internet traffic that is currently wasted on spam and other crap needs to go for it to be a successful delivery medium. 

Update: This stuff is already in motion, just look at what Tivo has.

Google Chrome

September 2, 2008

It was inevitable that Google would some day release their own browser. While in the Google vs. Microsoft wars it seemed as far as browsers broke down on the fields of battle, it came down to Firefox vs. Internet Explorer. There are a couple of interesting issues that come to mind as I await for the beta of Chrome to be released today.

Where will Chrome fit in?
Google's take on the browser seems to promise much, and it had better come through on those promises if it wants to take market share away from Firefox as well as IE. But taking users away from Firefox probably isn't Google's aim. That may end up hurting their tug of war against Microsoft, mainly because IE is already on all windows based computers right out of the box and anyone who looks for a different browser gets Firefox because it has the name for itself as the "Anti-Microsoft" browser, or the "more secure" browser. There are those Google-fan boys that worship anything the company does as pure gold, which will ultimately be the largest voice for Chrome support out on the Internet, especially in the next couple weeks as we get to poke and prod at the beta version. In the end, Google probably won't mind stealing Firefox users. As long as they aren't using IE, they will be happy. I'm sure this will create a rift in the Anti-IE browser community, fighting over Chrome and Firefox as the best alternative to IE.

What I hope to see in Chrome
Chrome sounds very nice on paper. I'm eager to see what their "new take" on the browser is going to look like. There are some obvious features, it will most-likely support all Google products and will have a way to integrate right in to each and every page you are viewing. This way you can look at a map that relates to the site you are on, while writing a blogger post about some new topic, as well as chatting with your friends in the Google Talk app, all while using Google's search to come up with new links for you to peruse. Google Calendar may pop up and notify you of appointments or upcoming birthdays while you have the option of saving any image you see to your Google Picasa account. What I'd really like to see is a mobile version of the browser that will work on Windows Mobile devices so I can get a replacement for the mobile IE, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Google will reserve a mobile version of Chrome specifically for the Google Android mobile phone platform. At some point later they may release their own mobile version but not until Android has the amount of market share they are looking for.

Final Thoughts
I like most Google products, in fact I can't think of one that really is all that bad. The spreadsheet could be a little more robust, but as far as being an online application it does well and has potential. I used Google Desktop when it first came out and while I kind of liked it, it didn't really end up being very useful for me and removed it after a couple months. Chrome will be good a solid browser platform, I'm hoping that the integration of Google widget applications will also provide a good developer API so that others can create their own with easy integration, or even use existing Google Desktop Widgets with a minor tweak or two. As I sit here looking at my Firefox toolbar, I note lots of extensions on my toolbar for various activities. For Chrome to be successful, those extensions will need counter-parts which will most likely take time to develop and also be a major contributing factor to its success as a browser platform.

Looking at the bigger picture, this may also be a first step for Google in writing an operating system to directly compete with Microsoft. As every thing becomes more web-oriented and websites themselves become applications, as the concept of "Cloud Computing" becomes more and more prevalent and concrete, it makes perfect sense for a company like Google and all of the technologies it represents to create an OS that directly operates with the Internet as it source rather than the machine itself that it runs on. It could end up completely changing the way we know computers today and pushing all future hardware into a 1 single compatibility construct that only has the purpose of interacting with the Internet using a Google OS of sorts.

Once the shift of home and business machines changes over to a new medium, it would then push into the mobile devices. Or perhaps more likely, it will be the mobile devices that will be a the forefront of this change. The iPhone is already a product that could be eventually seen as the pioneer product in 10-15 years. Imagine having a single device you carry around with you that integrates into "The Cloud" for all your applications, when at home or the office, it automatically connects to your workstation peripherals. In 20-30 years we could even see bio-engineered versions of this technology directly embedded in people themselves. We live in interesting and exciting times, who knows where we will be in 30 years.