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Malik (2/27/06)  

If you're waiting for the bug-free demo of King Kong for the 360, you will probably be waiting for a good long time. There's been no news, no updates, and no word about anything regarding the demo since it was stealthily pulled from the Marketplace a couple days after it went up. While it doesn't matter much, this demo did at least represent something; the promises from Microsoft prior to the 360 launch that said they would offer this demo AT launch. 

However, if you want a demo of a already released title that has the highest attach rate of any 360 game so far, there's good news. The Call of Duty 2 demo is up on Live. What does this mean? It means that (as stated in the link) that Activision and Microsoft would rather get out a demo of such a popular and old game than release some patches for the buggy game play. It also means that Activision would rather put out a demo of a much owned game than pump out some demos for the less played and owned 360 titles...including both future releases and the obviously unplayed titles, like THAW and Gun. 

I suppose, with no news of a real PS3 launch, and the Revolution playing on it's own unique playfield, there's no pressure from Microsoft to do anything truly worthwhile with the Live Marketplace. Too bad that this type of action, along with a poorly met demand, will probably be remembered quite well when the competitors launch within the next year (or so...PS3 could, in theory, be AWOL until long after a year from now). 

Also, since it's been a month or so now of stupid news (I could seriously use something that doesn't feel like an insult to my geekish ways about now), let's continue. Rumors are flying, I guess, that EA will try to make sequel games to The Godfather. All I can say is one simply thing...if given the choice of dropping money on either a Godfather game or buying the DVD box set (which you can find the trilogy of for about the same price as a game), I suggest to all of you to just buy the movies. 

What part of this movie ever even said it should be a game? A game based on a movie is usually bad enough (with few The Warriors), but when it's based on something like The Godfather, which is more about plot than action, it needs to stop. It makes me think of the current state of movies. Why make something original and good when you can just rehash the same good movies over and over again. 

King Kong? Remake. The Hills Have Eyes? Remake. 50% or more of all recent attempted (and successful) blockbusters have been based on remakes for the last couple of years. The same seems to apply to games. Everything is becoming a sequel, a prequel, or an adaptation of a movie (that is usually either bad enough on it's own, like the Fantastic Four movie and game, or is just a remake of a classic film)...there is simply no originality out there. However, the sad part is that we gamers seem to endorse crappy games. 

When THAW came along, many people bought it based on what Tony Hawk once stood for in the game landscape. Movie games? We gobble them up, even when the movie is bad. Why do we do this to ourselves? It's out purchases that drive the market, yet we would rather buy something familiar and bad than take a chance with a highly regarded unknown (Psychonauts, Beyond Good and Evil, and even Prince of Persia: Sands of Time). We are fickle enough to only take in something "new" when it's a sequel that should never have existed because we ignored the first game in the franchise. Prince of Persia: Sand of Time was brilliant, yet we ignored it. When the sequel arrived, in all it's emo-glory, we ate it up...despite how the original was so much better...and even that "original" was a long overdue sequel. 

It's time for us gamers to actually make intelligent purchases. Just because a game is based on a movie, especially on classic films that many of us never even saw but have only heard of, don't give in to the temptation to feed the industry's expectations that we want more of this shit. The simple fact is out there; developers and publishers are in this for the money and if we want good games, we have to put our money where our mouths are. 

Think of it like those poorly conceived post-9/11 commercials that said "if you buy you fund the terrorists". However, instead, this is more of "if you buy The Godfather game, you fund unoriginal content". 


Malik (2/28/06)  

If you've been following the lack of news about it, then you may be interested in some actual words from Sony about the status of the PS3. It's looking like a delay could be in the works. If this is a surprise to you, then you have not paid attention to the simple fact that without any word on the system from the developer up until now, it usually would imply that a delay is coming anyway. Until Sony is able to show off the PS3, it's safe to say that it's at least several months out. Also, considering the way Sony rolls, a delay from the spring launch means a delay from a probably fall launch for the US. 

On the note of greatly rumored systems, Microsoft may, or may not, be unveiling a new portable system on the 2nd that supposedly can handle media and games. Yes! I knew, as soon as I unloaded on gameless wonder (the PSP) that I'd need another gameless wonder to fill it's hole in my life. That's called sarcasm. If Microsoft does unveil a new portable game system, all I can say is that I still see Nintendo staying on top. Nintendo offers exactly what portable gamers want in a handheld; cheap, games a plenty, and easy to obtain. A Microsoft portable would probably go the same way the PSP will be the best damned portable game system that is overpriced and game free. Yippee!!!!? 

I could go off about news that involves strong companies doing weak things all instead, I'll change things up a little from my usual talk. In particular, let's talk about gamers being ignorant. 

If you've hit up any XBox 360 forums in the last 4 months, you've probably have seen two main topics. One of them, which is good and common, is in regards to finding release dates for games, Marketplace content, and when new batches of 360s will hit shelves. The other type of topic is just ignorant and pointless; "Will this TV work for my 360?" 

I've seen it, you've probably seen it, and it's time for these topics to end. I can understand that HD-TV technology and terms are fairly new to most people and that the 360 is responsible for helping many people look beyond SD and ED televisions. However, the constant asking about certain TVs is just pointless. The odds of you getting a proper amount of feedback on a TV's quality from a video game message board is about as likely as me getting good 360 feedback from a TV web forum. In other words, these people are simply looking at the wrong place. 

So, I decided to offer something a little new; Malik's Newb Guide to HD-TV. Basically, if you know what 540p actually means, then you don't need this. However, if you're left with questions on "will this TV work with the 360?" or "Is 540p good?", then you may want to give this a look. 

It's not short, and it's not going to tell you the "best" TV out there. It's all personal preference, and that's what the guide gets at. That, and how there's a different need for all gamers, and all TV viewers. So, if you have a question, check it out and see the right way to buy your first HD-TV. Also, if you want a summary, here you go; "HD-TVs are expensive and come in a lot of, the only way to properly justify the spending of so much money, in an intelligent way, is to do the research yourself." 

By the way, I'm now a good deal in disk 2 of Grandia 3, and I have to say that I'm not seeing the deterioration of the plot that everyone claims. I wouldn't call this plot great to begin with, but I know it's not horrible either. Best of all, at least Grandia 3 is relatively emo-free. 


Malik (3/2/06)  

Well, I'm back. I had to take a day off yesterday. It was just too busy and insanely hectic of a day to think about doing anything beyond getting some R&R after I finished my day job for the evening. It doesn't happen all that often, but when these types of days hit, I may vanish for a day or two at a time. 

Anyway, the Origami project is still teasing the public. If you haven't been following things recently, you may be in the dark. Basically, this device from Microsoft was first hinted at last week. Ok, it's been hinted at for a longer time, but the first images popped up last week, showing some pictures that were about a year old. It's one of THOSE things, where a company would rather tease for a little too long than to just spit out the info we all are wanting. 

Anyway, when images first showed up, the device was shown playing Halo. It was naturally, for some, assumed that this would be Microsoft's answer to the PSP. In other words, a portable gaming device that would be able to handle some further abilities of a standard PC (multimedia, maybe an organizer, blah, blah). 

While we are still a week away from when Microsoft is now promising to unveil the project to the public, with the 9th being the magic day, some info is coming to light. Mainly, this device is actually looking like a new step in making a PC more portable while offering a limited set of gaming abilities. In other words, it's sounding a lot like a PSP, since we all know how well the PSP does with gaming...and the completely limited and non-existent gaming lineup. 

While the sources from the article linked above claim that the device will not be able to take on the iPod or PSP, it also says that the Origami will be able to let users watch movies, which obviously means it could handle sound files. Anyway, in the end, this will not mean much to the gaming world, since this thing will mainly be what Microsoft will probably show it off as; a $500-$1000 portable PC running Windows XP. That's it. 

I'm still getting time with Grandia 3. I really want to finish this thing before the 7th (the street or ship date...who ever really knows these dates anymore) for Shadow Hearts 3 and Burnout Revenge for the 360. So, I want to finish up what has been dubbed a short RPG, but has already taken about 25 hours of my life with no ending in sight. I just find it annoying how many gamers view a 30+ hour RPG as short, when they were once heralded as epic experiences back in the glory days of cartridges. 

I also have yet to see this supposed claim that the plot (which is not solid, by any means) goes completely to crap near the second half of the game. I'm over half done, I assume by being about 5 hours onto the second disk of two, and have seen no sign of the plot going into the unforgivable realm. But then again...if the other primary complaint is that the game is too short, then maybe this argument is full of bullshit as well. 

Speaking of games coming next week, I'm not sure how the first two were, but the third Naruto GCN game was freakin' awesome. So, if you like the anime, you may want to check out Naruto: Clash of Ninja for the GCN, which also hits shelves next week. Just don't expect anything too good, if you did import any of the GCN Naruto titles. This one is an old game ported very late to the US so it doesn't reveal any of the plot of the series before the Cartoon Network reveals it to us. At least we'll have English on this one. 


Malik (3/3/06)  

First off, and most important to us 360 owners who were sad to see no good games at launch and a constant delay to the game that so many of us wanted...yes, it's now official. Oblivion comes out on the 20th. This is not just some lame ass rumors from the game stores to try to boost pre-orders. This is the real deal, from the mouths of Bethesda. So, when put together with some other games I want, and some I don't want, the 360 line up is forming finally. As of the end of this month, there will be Ghost Recon, Burnout Revenge, Oblivion, Fight Night 3 (possibly the prettiest game I've ever seen), and Battlefield 2. All I can say is this; about time. 

Ok...that's not fair. After all, didn't the PS2 look like shit, in terms of it's line up, for about 6-10 months after it's launch? Now if the 360 is going to look so good in it's fourth month, then I'll take that and enjoy. 

To change directions, I can't believe how bitchy Grandia 3 gets. It's not a bad "don't want to play anymore" type of bitchiness. Instead it's a "I'd throw the controller if I faced this for one more minute, but instead I will feel like I really accomplished something" type of bitchiness. I'm talking about the Jungle dungeon. 

Most dungeons in this game begin with you landing your airplane on the outskirts of a dungeon. Then you travel through a swarm of monsters in order to reach the dungeon. Once you reach the place, you are treated to a golden save spot (which refills HP/MP instead of JUST letting you save like a green save spot does). Well, the monsters in the jungle are not only really strong, but some will devour your MP. This leaves you with most of your MP drained to heal the party while the rest is wasted on monsters eating it. However, instead of getting a reprieve from the hell once you reach the actual dungeon, you find a lowly green save, and a shit ton of strong monsters. 

Half way through this dungeon, you encounter one hell of a bitchy room that has you fighting four groups of two golems. The last time the game made you face this type of room, only magic would work on these enemies. So, as you struggle to keep your party alive (with a soon to be discovered revelation that these golems are hurt by physical attacks), and use the last drops of MP to heal between golem battles, you feel like the end is in sight. Not the end of the dungeon, but rather the end of your characters. Just when you nearly throw your controller in a fit of rage, the dungeon ends, without the tradition boss fight. 

It's, as I like to call it, more like the dungeon was just one big boss fight. I have never seen such a stealthy change to game play style in an RPG before, and I can't believe how awesome it was. It's like facing one of those special "survival" modes, but as a regular dungeon in the normal game. This was the first time, in a long time, that I felt like I actually accomplished something by strategizing my way through the level. Leave it to Game Arts to do something so well. 

I'm still further from the end of Grandia 3 than I'd like. I feel like, with Shadow Hearts 3 and Oblivion both on the horizon, that I just don't have time to play through everything. At least this is a better sense of stress than the usual "I spent $400 on this console and there's nothing to play on it". 

Also, before I log for the weekend, I have a sin to confess. When my MP3 player decided life was not worth living, I had to break down and buy a new player. I figured that, while it was affordable, the cheap option would not be reliable enough anymore. So, I got an HP iPod. I had sinned. 

Then, I tried to install all of the required installation crap. My computer knew I sinned. My computer fought a brilliant battle with me over this Apple stuff touching it. In the end, after 3 hours of fighting, the iPod and iTunes were both up and running on my PC. Then I copied over my music and sinned a greater sin...I enjoyed the iPod. I don't know what happened to me, but I feel a lot like I did when I first got my I sinned, and like it was ok to do so. What has happened to me...? 


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