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Malik (1/14/08)

I would say a lot of things in regards to the Saturday playoff game between Seattle and Green Bay. I could say a lot of things. There is a good deal of thoughts on my mind...but I'll just focus on a few ideas or points.

First off, the Seahawks quit. I don't mean they went into the game with a losing mentality. Hell, the first two minutes proved that the 'Hawks were in it to win. Two turnovers on Green Bay's stupidity and clumsiness that led to quick touchdowns. That is not a quitters mentality.

However, when Seattle punted on fourth down near the end of the game, it showed that the Seahawks quit early. Were they in a prime position for an upset? No. Would it be a nearly impossible task to come back? Yes. Was it impossible? No. That final answer is why I feel a bit disrespected by being a Seattle fan. If they fought until the end, I would be in a better place mentally right now as a fan. However, with them quitting that way shows that they were not willing to fight until the end. If this was a normal regular season game, then quitting like that could be taken with a grain of salt...but on a game that would end their season, the Seahawks NEEDED to play until the last second. Afterall, they scored two touchdowns in two minutes to start the game...hell, they scored one touchdown in the first twenty or so seconds of the game. That alone showed that nothing was impossible.

Secondly, the Seahawks cannot play in a real snow storm. That probably didn't help any, but it's also not an excuse. I felt like Seattle just didn't play hard enough to overcome such a home field advantage for Green Bay and more effort and planning was needed.

Third off, for being a team known for sacks, Seattle seemed to have too much love for Favre. That's the only explanation I can think of for how many times Favre was given love taps instead of being face planted into the turf (or snow).

Fourth of all, and this applies to the whole damned season...Holmgren, we all know when you plan to call a rushing play. When I say "we all know" I mean the opposition knows it as well. Knock it the f#@$ off with rush plays on obvious downs. Why couldn't Seattle covert hardly any third downs this season? Because Holmgren would always call a rush with a poor runner and/or poor rushing blocking. If you cannot play the rush, then don't try to. With a strong QB and a strong army of receivers, it doesn't make sense to make so many damned rushing plays.

Fifth, when Seattle could play defense so well to shut out the strongest link of the opponent's team all season, what went wrong on Saturday? We knew that Green Bay had it's true strength in one Mr. Grant. After Grant pulled in so many yards in the first half, the second half should have seen a re-tuning of the defense to cover this madman. Instead, we saw the defense get even worse...especially noticeable on that play when Grant made his longest gain of the day and Kerney is seen before the play trying to tell his fellow defenders to not leave half the field unprotected. Yes...Seattle's defense left an entire half of the field with only two players. What the f#@$ was that about?

I can't even say anything good about the broadcast. I think the only thing worse than the playing of the Seahawks was the presentation from Fox. Where else can that damned "I don't want to work" song (why the f#@$ was that being played ever five seconds), Rollin' (shouldn't we be past anything Fred Durst about eight years ago), and music from Sesame Street all be found together? Only in the hell that is known as the Fox NFL broadcast.

At least I can say that I'm pretty happy with the results from the other games this weekend. Yes, I could have used seeing the Pats go down, but at least the Colts are out (I'm just getting a little tired of Peyton Manning about now), as well as the Cowboys. I think next week will give at least one interesting game when two of the least reliable quarterbacks meet when Favre (Mr. Interception) meets Eli "what the hell am I doing?" Manning.

Anyway, I guess now you can expect a lot less NFL talk on Mondays and a lot more geek stuff since my interest in the NFL is dropping as I have one too few teams still in it to really get excited about.

On a final note for today, tomorrow holds one interesting set of DLC for Rock Band. While I know many people would find, in an elitist way, that this set sucks, I am slightly excited. Yes, All the Small Things (Blink 182) is played out and another of their songs (Dammit) would have been better, but I think it will add a nice different flavor to the game. I don't know Action (cover from Sweet), at least by that name, but if it's anything like Ballroom Blitz, I think we've had enough Sweet already. The one I'm really excited about is Last Train to Clarksville (cover of The Monkees). The Monkees were an awesome group with some great old school rock-n-roll and some more true classics like this are needed for Rock Band.

I don't know for sure which songs I'll get, but I damned well know that 24 hours from now I will be playing some Monkees on Rock Band!


Malik (1/15/08)

With Rock Band tiding me over, and soon with GTA4 coming, I can at least swallow this news without too much frustration; Smash Brawl is now delayed until March. In specific, Sunday (what's with Nintendo and Sunday releases?), the 9th of March.

Also, I cannot really get too upset with this game being delayed again. For one thing, it's not like the game has a 50-50 chance of being shovel-ware. This is going to be an awesome game. With the past two titles, and with the obviously obsessive mind of Masahiro Sakurai behind the game, it's safe to say that any delays will be rewarded with more quality and substance.

In fact, if the game gets released any time in the next six months, I'll be good. Afterall, it wasn't until a year and a half ago (at the last real E3) that Nintendo even got the ball rolling by bringing Sakurai onboard with the project. So, for the game to get up and running from absolutely nothing in a small time frame of less than two years, and with how much has been shown off on how sweet the final product will be, I think this is a true feat of wonder. I mean look at some of the other recent games that were in development much longer and offered so much less to them (need a game or two? Just look at the more hyped games of last year...Halo 3, Mass Effect, Blue Dragon, Prey, etc.).

I don't have much more to say today (I'll have more things to talk about tomorrow, after I try the three new Rock Band tracks for this week), so I'll end things today with one thought;

How does Uwe Boll still get funded? It would be one thing if he made either highly grossing, yet horrible quality films. It would also make sense if he made poorly grossing films but they were major contenders for critical awards and recognition (although that's more of a long shot to be funded). Also, if he failed on returns for a movie and made his next with a lower budget, it would make some sense. Instead, all Boll gives is crap with a budget that's too high to be explained...and he still gets work.... least with so low of returns in it's first weekend, it means gamers are at least waking up and smelling the steaming pile of shit...

...yet I still have trouble finding a new job with a very strong resume and a proven list of peer reviewed and appreciated journal publications...sigh...


Malik (1/16/08)

I spent a good deal of time yesterday with Rock Band. Just to re-cap (since it will give a better idea of where I'm coming from when I review the new DLC for this week), I am only really playing guitar (sometimes bass on Band World Tour with one band) and have only played half of the easy set on drums. I am also playing primarily on expert, but I have a few songs on hard that I cannot complete yet (Flirting With Disaster, Green Grass, Number of the Beast, Ride the Lightning and Blackened) least on solo. However, with my higher ranked band (now working back into the top 1000 after not playing for a couple weeks), I do play random set lists on expert.

So, I have to say the new tracks have me surprised...very surprised. There's some fun where I didn't expect it and some pain where I expected ease.

The only song that did not surprise me was All The Small Things (Blink 182). This song sounds easy, and the band is not very technical, and the guitar part on Rock Band is a piece of cake. The only hard part is that the song can wear you down quickly with it's machine gun style of (on expert) two note chords that never seem to end. There is a small part with some weird alternating colors, but nothing that's not possible to beat on a sight read. This song just isn't all that much fun on solo, and probably gets only a little better if your band is able to be silly while playing (I'm talking mainly about the vocalist maybe bringing some energy). Is it worth $2?'s just not worth it.

As for Action (cover of Sweet's song)...I was surprised. I have to say that after the pain that is Ballroom Blitz, I expected some overly technical weirdness. I also expected to take a few attempts on expert to actually get this song down. However, as long as you have a bit of star power before the end of the song, you'll be able to beat this easily if you are in the same general skill level as what I described above.

As for how fun Action is; the song is actually a lot of fun. Firstly, the cover is better sounding than the original glam filled song. It has the same general goofiness one would expect from something like Talk Dirty to Me (Poison on GH3). It's a silly song, and it is filled with some awesome guitar note patterns. I think this song, which I would have normally skipped (got some MP for my birthday and Christmas that I felt like spending), is more than worth the $2 price of admission.

Lastly is the song that I expected to be short and easy as hell. However, I was most excited about this one since I was a huge fan of the TV show and a pretty big fan of their music (yes, I have eclectic tastes in music). I'm talking about Last Train to Clarksville (cover of The Monkees).

While I expected an easy song since most music of that era was very un-technical in nature, I was hit with a song that I still cannot get beyond 54% through on expert. There are a lot of notes, a lot of hammer-ons that cover all buttons (reminds me of the hammer on parts of Wanted Dead or Alive), and a shit-ton of three button chords with single button hits on some off beats (like Cherub Rock on expert, before the three note chords start on that song, but with triple note chords in these sections). It is not a song for the unprepared to face. However, I also think it may be one of the best tools in the game for learning both triple note chords and hammer-ons that cover the whole scale. This is a great learning song to bring someone's skill up.

That practice worthy ability alone makes this worth $2 to me, but it's worth more than that in my eyes. The song sounds great, it has a good powerful vocal and guitar line (and maybe the drums and bass...but I was stuck in a mental tunnel of only hearing the guitar while playing and I personally know the vocals too well), and it's a lot of fun. I imagine that many Rock Band fans will not be familiar with The Monkees, but this is a perfect song to buy to have a good time with (might be an awesome multiplayer song) and to expand one's musical horizons. It may sound bubble-gum to the uninitiated (and it a way), but it's a great example of what the past held for music and it might be the closest we ever get the The Beatles on Rock Band.

So, to summarize all of this, I have two things to say. Action and Last Train are both more than worth their cost. These are excellent songs and we need more songs like these to add some good old fashioned silly fun to Rock Band. On the other hand, All The Small Things is crap to play (too damned repetitive and easy) and I wish Harmonix would have gone with a different Blink 182 song (Dammit anyone?). However, while it's not my favorite Blink 182 song, and while I don't have the same joy for the band that I once had, I am glad to see more variety to the game with each passing week.

Afterall, while a given song may not be your thing, someone out there will enjoy it and someone may find a new band to listen to...and that's all good in my book.


Malik (1/18/08)

Not too much to say today. I'm feeling a bit drained after playing too much Rock Band last night. I can at least be proud to be back up in the leader boards. I'm now sporting over 20 million fans with one of my bands. Plus, I'm feeling good that I did beat Last Train to Clarksville...finally...on expert guitar of course. It's not a song that I feel 100% comfortable with, yet, but it is possible for solo play. As for band play, the song rocks and is fun as hell.

According to IGN, there is a new list of what we will see for the next two weeks on Rock Band downloads. Specifically, next Tuesday is supposed to be three songs from Oasis. The following Tuesday will be some more Smashing Pumpkins, more Coheed and Cambria, and another cover of a Rush song.

Just to end this on a quick rant...

I like that RB is giving fresh material each week, however, assuming that the list on IGN is true, then I just feel like complaining about Rush. I don't like Rush (except for instrumental songs...but those songs, like YYZ, will never come to a vocal friendly RB), but that's not my complaint this time. My complaint is this; didn't we see some downloads for Rush this month already. We need some variety and multiple Rush downloads in one month is not variety. Maybe save up three and make a pack of them...just don't give one per week multiple times in a month. It's overkill and under kill at the same time. Just make them into a three pack and all of that good stuff.

Also, when are we going to see some Social Distortion? That's what I need right now.

Since I'm in the right mood for it, I'll add in one more rant for free (seeing as how it's Friday and all that...and how I couldn't post yesterday).

It has been announced that the free game for the XBox Live failures (due to increased console purchases around Christmas and all that jazz) is Undertow. Well, as far as I'm concerned...f#@$ that!

If you care, it will also only be free for a limited time of next Wednesday through the following Sunday.

For one thing, Microsoft could not have gone with a more limited appeal game. I don't mean that Undertow is necessarily limited in audience appeal as much as I should say that the genre is more limited. While many people would have trouble admitting to it, the casual type puzzle games usually will win in potential appeal. While no genre is going to appeal to everyone, certain genres have more appeal or less appeal than others...and action/shooter/whatever tend to be more in the "limited in scope" group.

Also, from how it sounds (I could be wrong here), it seems that "all of our Xbox LIVE members" implies that this goes beyond just gold members. This doesn't sit right with me. Not to sound petty, but I pay for gold. I pay more than I should for how much I actually use it (but that's my own problem), but most importantly I do pay. Why, when my paid service has issues (and unlike some people who are just demanding free shit for the sake of it being free, I did notice the issues directly), should I get the same compensation as someone who isn't paying. I guess that's supposed to make up for people who used one month gold cards/trials, but it is still overcompensating for the silver only people.

Actually, this has me a bit more than annoyed. At the least, couldn't Microsoft instead extend the service of anyone paying to one additional month (or however long the actual issue persisted). In other words, give an exact equal compensation. If Live was bad for three weeks (I don't know the exact time since I've been off of Live for a while and some people claim the issue still three weeks is an example time), then give me three free weeks on top of my subscription. That would make me happy (and I don't think I'd be alone in this) and it would have spared Microsoft the hassle of arranging with Chair Entertainment Group for the ability to give their game away. Hell...give me the choice of compensation equal to what I lost or something worth about the same but will not be used, and I think I'd take the first option.

Plus, the game is only available for a short half week time frame. So, if you were screwed by this outage in any way, and you had paid for service, but will not be around your 360 for a four day span (which is possible with vacations, work, or whatever you have in your life), then you get nothing but jack and shit for this.

I know it's only a game service, so there is a limit to how angry people should get. However, it's also something we (if you're a gold member) paid for and I don't like to waste money. If I did, then I would go out across the street from my work and buy a Starbucks white chocolate mocha (damned good kick of caffeine and sugar to get you rolling in the morning) each day. However, that would be some money down the drain when I could drink free crap coffee at my work. My money matters. I don't mind spending a few bucks, but only if I am getting something from it. The little things add up quickly (especially as the dollar falls, gas goes up, and inflation continues to rock my world while I see too little of an increase from cost of living raises).

I talk a lot of shit about Comcast (I have no choice but to use them for internet...and their service for a lot of things, not to mention their actual customer support, sucks shit). However, I can say one thing about them that Microsoft fails to get. If I lose my cable or internet service for some time, I will call Comcast and complain. It may take a while for the service representative to get on the same page as me, but when we finally meet in the middle something wonderful happens...I get a refund added to my bill for my lost service. Why does this happen?

It's two-fold. The first part is that Comcast wants to keep my business, and this will at least acknowledge their fault and acknowledge that my money matters to me. In other words, it's a sign of respect (the little bit of respect they ever show, that is) and it's going to keep me happy...or happier.

The other side of the reason is that Comcast has competition. Be it DISH or Direct-TV, FIOS, DSL, the local phone company, or whoever else is offering the same services as them. Competition means that if they screw over a customer, then that customer may leave them. Microsoft has a monopoly on the 360's online abilities (and that's fine since it's their hardware on their own proprietary system of interfaces), so they will never have to worry about anything causing me, or you, to switch providers. Plus, if you're a gold member, then you probably want to keep playing online...and if you leave (opting to try to "stick it to the man" in a futile way) you will no longer be able to play online on the 360. In other words, Microsoft has nothing to fear. They only offered the free game as an example of trying to win over anyone given to offerings of shiny stones and baubles. That, and to try to prevent stupid lawsuits (like that one in Texas) from coming along...despite how Microsoft will win (read your XBox Live user agreement to see why), it still costs them money to get their day in court to get the case dismissed.

Anyway...Undertow? At least they could have offered something more universal...or better yet, why not offer a code (redeem through the Live website when you log in to your user profile) for Undertow's value in MP and let people pick their game? I guess that's just being too damned thoughtful.

...and for the record, I would be a lot less annoyed if Live was not tied in to offline playing nearly as much. I cannot tell you how many times I've had a local game of Rock Band get screwed by my 360 disconnecting from Live. Here's a hint, it will cause the game to freeze for about 15-60 seconds looking like the system crashed...and it will break you combo every damned time.


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