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Malik (1/11/10)

IIt was an interesting weekend for football. I know, I said I was done with the NFL now that the Seahawks are done for the next eight or so months. However, hearing that Pete Carroll is probably coming to Seattle has kept me slightly interested in the NFL. It was a good thing since the playoff games this weekend were unlike anything I ever imagined possible.

I mean the Pats lost horribly with Brady throwing interceptions like he was a rookie high school QB. Who saw that coming? Especially against the Then you have the Cowboys repeating last weeks game against the Eagles. You also have the Jets dominating the Bengals...which just defies the odds in too many ways to put into text.

Then the repeat of last weeks Cardinals game against Green Bay, but with a lot more flair than humanly possible. I mean this was not a good game by either team. The Packers started the game like how New England started. By giving up a giant point deficit. It was 17-0 in the first quarter, before Rodgers started to actually play the role of a NFL caliber QB. Then it turned into the largest yardage game in NFL playoff history, with one of the largest points totals (maybe the largest) for a playoff game. In the end, the game had more excitement for an unaligned viewer than any game has the right to have. It was like watching pure adrenaline on a rampage.

Anyway, the best part is watching Green Bay and the Bengals both get out of the running. I have nothing against either team (and I'd prefer the Packers over the Cards any day), but the circumstances are great. With the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl this year, it means any players in both of the games will not play in the Pro Bowl. Well, the ideal Super Bowl for fans of the (typically pathetic) Pro Bowl would be for the Packers to play the Bengals for a total of only three players missing the Pro Bowl. That's not a possibility any more.

On a different line of thought, I beat Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia this weekend. No matter how much the boss fights pissed me off, I can now say, having finished the game, that I had fun. Was it frustrating at times? Yes. Was it fun in the end? Hell yeah! In fact, I even started a second play through to see what I can find that I missed the first time through. Not too bad for a game that I thought I'd give up on long before I actually finished.

Maybe now I can get back to playing Dragon Age Origins. Maybe...


Malik (1/13/10)

Now the Wii is getting Netflix streaming. This is following the leads of, first, the 360 and, later, the PS3. Just like with the PS3, a disk will be needed to do the streaming. Which, once again, leaves me wondering about the nature of technology.

Ok...the Wii has storage issues. Yes, the SD slot is implemented to some extent, but at the end of the day, the average Wii owner has a small half gig of memory in the box and probably no SD card (or at least no large sized one). I mean the Wii, as has been said numerous times, usually by trolls, is technologically inferior to the PS3 and 360.

However, this just reminds me of the PS3 and Netflix. While the 360, which came first with this streaming feature, has a downloaded application that makes the process smooth and seamless, the PS3 (and soon the Wii) has a clunky interface. It's clunky primarily due to it needing a disk to be used. Not an install disk, but a run disk. It also seems, from the last time I tried the PS3 Netflix streaming (shortly before turning it off and loading my 360 to stream a movie), that the system is ran in on a movie DVD disk and not a PS3 gaming disk. In other words, the system felt very slow and clunky, not like something optimized for the PS3 and it's technology. I know the PS3 can handle internet related things far better than the 360 from hands on experience, so I cannot see why the Netflix application would have to be so backwards.

Technology, typically, evolves over time. For example, game systems keep going forward with technology and implementing old ideas in new ways with each generation. The analogue controller is a great example, as it's been evolving and being refined in each generation since the Saturn first brought large market analogue to gaming with the analogue controller bundled with Nights. Now we have multiple analogue sticks, or even analogue style motion control, with finer control and more reliable results.

So, why is it that Netflix just keeps going in a de-evolution on consoles? First you have the ideal (the 360 Netflix app is so damned amazing), then you get a clunky version on a disk. Now you get another disk version, that I'm betting with be as lag filled as the PS3 version (if not more so). If anything, it would be a lot better, at least to a person like myself who has experienced both the PS3 version and the older 360 version, if Netflix would work on getting an installed application version for the PS3 instead of pushing another disk based format. Maybe even allow the option of either disk or installed for people who may have drive space issues (like for Wii owners who don't use SD memory for anything vital).

Anyway, on a different subject, I downloaded some more Rock Band DLC yesterday. To be precise, I got the new Alice in Chains five pack and Rock N Roll High School (from The Ramones). First, I just have to say the AiC stuff, as always, is good fun on expert guitar. Nothing too crazy, but a few challenging solos and a slightly tricky riff on We Die Young.

I think Harmonix must have gotten too much angry feedback about how simple the earlier Ramones stuff was on guitar. Rock N Roll High School has a very butchered chart, when compared to the official tabs found in the The Ramones Greatest Hits guitar tab book. There's a lot of single note chains with a quick hit of a two note chord, which is completely against how the real song is a power chord banana in the real instrument (like the main riff of Rebel Yell or Uncontrollable Urge). If this was done to please Rock Band fans who hated the simplicity of the earlier Ramones tracks on Rock Band, then it was a lame change for the actual Ramones fans out there.

While speaking of weird changes in Rock Band, I found one while trying the Challenge mode of RB2 for the first time since importing my Lego Rock Band songs a few months back. I was checking some challenges, and saw some weird changes. For example, when I checked the tracks in Foo Fighters Pack 02, I was surprised to see a song from The Kaiser Chiefs in the challenge. I was also surprised to see that the Alice in Chains challenge now only has songs from before the release of Black Gives Way To Blue (the newest album). I didn't check all of my challenges, but I think the Lego Rock Band track data has messed up the algorithms used by Challenge mode to determine sets. It's nothing major, but I sure would enjoy a full AiC challenge, and to find back specific challenges not being populated by entirely unrelated bands.


Malik (1/15/10)

As another week draws to a close, I'm in the same situation I've been for a little while. I still have Dragon Age Origins to play, and I just can't feel too motivated. On paper, the game is good. I mean it has solid visuals, a fun system, and a mainly interesting setting. However, I'm still have trouble finding the reason to play as I deal with the small issues, like a lack of something to really get me interested in the game.

I think what's hurting my desire to play the most is that the game just has nothing to interest me in terms of the plot. I mean I've played this game before. I'm sure I have, since the plot seems too much of the generic "dark hoards are gathering and will destroy the world, but your band of adventurers can stop them." This may be the most over used plot in RPG settings of all time. I mean there are some variations, but in the end the "you versus all the evils of the world" setting is a bit overly played. It's not even like it's a new-ish idea. It is the plot of Lord of the Rings even.

I'm just wishing for a RPG setting that doesn't put you in the most impossible situation possible and expect all levels of disbelief to fade away. Just like with Frodo, in DAO you are some newb to adventuring and are also somehow the savior of all of the standard three races (humans, dwarfs, and elves).

Anyway, it's not like DAO is a bad game. Like I said, on paper it can be an awesome game. However, it's not a great game by any means. Between the lack of a truly great plot, the sometimes idiotic AI (how I wish for another tactical slot for all characters to remind them, at no cost of useful tactical slots, to remind them to heal when they are nearly dead), and the clutter you get for your inventory (better than Mass Effect, but still leaving you with too much crap that seems useless, but you don't want to sell and then regret), I just have trouble finding a reason to play.

As for Rock Band DLC next week, I'm not impressed. Seriously, I love a lot of bands, but even as a fan of Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, or Nirvana, I can see the need to keep things fresh with variety. For the second time in about two months we get another six pack of live Tom Petty tracks. Harmonix really does good with DLC most of the time, but then they have to just go crazy with overly proliferating certain bands until the game just feels like they wanted, and failed, at making a "Rock Band: ".


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