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Malik (3/30/09)

Playing some more Demon's Souls, I realized a few issues in this game that I can't help but feel annoyed with. I still do enjoy the game, but there's no game without some issues. Unfortunately, Demon's Souls has a couple big ones.

The first isn't so big as to be frustrating, but it still is less than awesome from time to time. When you're playing, at anytime a black phantom can enter your game, assuming you are still in your physical body (you haven't died since the last boss you killed). These black phantoms are other players who have lost their bodies and want to kill you to regain their physical form. It's a fun aspect to the game that keeps a player on his/her toes. The down side of this player killer invasion is that you cannot leave your current area if you are under invasion.

This is nice in that it prevents a player from just fleeing upon first notice of an invasion. However, it also is a bad thing since it means you cannot escape if you desperately need to. For example, if your equipment is shot and you need to repair it, then you will have to fight a PKer in your less than great state. It also means if you just entered an area too hard for your character, you cannot flee and you also cannot try to hide since you may be facing normal enemies that will destroy you. Also, if you're facing a boss and want to be ready for the fight, you may have to delay your plans as you get pummeled some in a duel.

The worst for me was when I was getting ready to leave an area to restock on supplies before quitting for the day. I had just killed a boss and wanted to do a few minutes of exploring in a new area. Getting my exploring out of the way, I was ready to go back to the Nexus (town) and repair my armor before quitting for the day. I was within two seconds of leaving the area when a black phantom entered. Unable to leave, but really wanting to repair my stuff before quitting, I was left with two options. One was to wait for a duel to start and hope for the best (which it wouldn't be with some of my armor completely shot). The other option was to keep hiding and hope the black phantom got bored and left (they can leave, even if the "host" cannot)...which could mean I would waste about fifteen minutes or more when I really did need to quit playing.

The last option makes you look like a jerk. I don't mean the hiding option. I mean the unspoken option of just turning off the game and saying "f#@$ it". Needless to say, in my rush to quit and not look like a jerk, I lost in a brutally one sided battle. Yippee...

The other problem with this game comes down to world tendencies. This is a major bug in the game and can ruin a good deal of the fun of the game. As you beat bosses, the world you're in turns more white, and as you die or perform successful invasions (kill other players), the world turns more black. This shift can make an area easier (whiter) or harder (blacker) and unlock new events in either direction when you are fully one way or the other.

Well, I have been working hard to get white world tendencies so I can see some special areas and events. Sadly, I had no idea until confusion set in on why my world 1 was still fully neutral (starting position) despite having killed two bosses and having not died in my physical body. It ends up that if you quit the game in the Nexus, for some reason the game will reset all world tendencies.

Like I said, this is a big bug and can cause some definite loss of enjoyment with the game. I mean the only real option left for me to boost the white tendency in world 1 is to kill myself (in the Nexus, since it's the only place without a tendency rank) and join other people's games to help them defeat the second boss of world 1. This is a lot slower than killing the boss in your own game. With how slow the process goes in your own game, it's almost unbearable to think that I will have to slay the damned tower knight a dozen times in other people's games to get my world where it should be.


Malik (4/1/09)

First off, I hate April 1st.  Why does every web site seem to be dominated by the thought of trying to look clever with April Fool's jokes?  Sometimes they can be good (like the fake IGN live action Zelda movie trailer), but they typically fall flat and lame.  I mean if you hit any message boards today, they are filled with the most idiotic of attempts at jokes.  Here's a hint to most people out there; you may think you are witty and funny, but the odds are in the favor of you just having a lack of any idea of humor.  A good April's Fool joke can be great, but the type of crap found online sure shows that clever is no longer in fashion.

I gave each new song a full chance for Rock Band DLC this week. By that, I mean I decided to listen to each song, and watch the full chart, all off of youtube. In the end, this meant I'd download one more song than I planned.

I still bought Heart Breaker from Pat Benatar and Don't Stop Believing from Journey. I wanted these songs, especially Heart Breaker, ever since Rock Band first came along. However, I was surprised by C'mon C'mon, which I thought I didn't know. It's a song from some Burnout game, which gave me some nostalgic fun for when I used to like Burnout (before the series got too many random changes from the original style). Plus, C'mon C'mon has a pretty fun, even if it's simple, guitar chart on expert. There are enough alternating chords to keep it fun while not becoming a chore like these chord shifts can easily become (see Bang a Gong).

Heart Breaker is definitely fun. I mean this is one of my favorite songs outside of the game, so seeing it in Rock Band is definitely going to leave me very happy (in a probably biased way). It's not a hard song, but it has a good rhythm and a fun chart. Definitely worth it in my biased eyes.

Since I only play on expert, I can't say what I think of Don't Stop Believing...why? Because I keep failing at 25%. For being a three dot song on RB2 guitar, it sure feels harder. It mainly comes down to the guitar intro, which takes forty five seconds before it starts. When it starts, it's a mess of rapid (and I mean rapid) pull-offs of b>y>r>g>b>y>r>g and so on. I just cannot keep up with this pace, and since it takes so long to get to the guitar part, I don't have the patience to keep trying. Five failures, in a row, was enough for one day. Still, the rest of the guitar chart does look fun and the song is a great cheesy classic, so it's worth the money. Now I just need a band to save my ass in the beginning.

As for the Sponge Bob songs...the charts are not really too bad on the majority of these three songs, but the songs just hurt my ears. I'm sorry, but I still think this genre is out of place in a game like RB that has an entire catalogue that doesn't match this style. Even some of the other "kiddy" songs are more suited for RB than this stuff. If you like it, go for it...but if you're like me and think that RB is better suited with rock, these songs don't quite fit in to the game.

On a final RB DLC note, there may be a new king for getting 100% perfect on expert guitar. I'm talking about Geraldine. I skipped the song since it didn't fit my tastes and the chart was just too damned boring. In all seriousness, it's the 29 Fingers of guitar, in that it has less than all of the notes. In fact, Geraldine has only green, red, and yellow single notes on a very set rhythm. It's something like eleven yellow, five red, eleven green, five red, and then repeat forever more on a very set beat. So, if you need a 100% expert guitar song, this is it. It's easier than Roxanne or El Scorcho...but also far less interesting on the ears (and this is from someone who can't stand Roxanne).

I'm also still playing Demon's Souls after a day or two off. After finding out the hell of trying to quit the game when a black phantom enters your game, I needed some time to recover. So, of course, immediately after I start playing, another BP invaded my game. It ended quickly enough, and without my own fatality, but I'm getting far too tempted to play offline. I would actually go offline, but I know I'd miss the pure humor, and education, one is given via blood pools (watching another player's death scene). Plus, some of the messages are too damned useful to go without.

Luckily, after my invasion happened, I was able to finish exploring a new stage and I was able to beat another boss. As long as I can keep getting these good events (killing a boss), I think I can survive the hell of an occasional black phantom invasion.


Malik (4/3/09)

I'm not one to do much complaining on Rock Band DLC. I mean if I don't like it, I can just skip it. It's not that hard. However, next week's DLC is really tempting me to say something.

First off, while I strongly disagree with some DLC choices, like the Nickelodeon songs, I'll still see a way to accept it. I mean, Viacom owns both Nick and MTV, and MTV is quite a strong partner in the whole Rock Band world. So, to ignore one's corporate masters is not going to happen...thus, we get Naked Brothers Band, Sponge Bob, and so forth. I can even let something like the country pack that came out in December go. There are quite a few nice crossings between country and rock. I mean rock did come about from country, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, and several other genres to various degrees.

However, when the next week's announcement is of Bullet for My Valentine and Toby Keith, it gets hard to hold one's tongue. Ok, some people do enjoy BFMV...even if I can't help but feel like they belong with Fallout Boy, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and a lot of the other "new emo" in a very important way; being music devoid of content. Yes, there is sometimes a catchy rhythm...if you dig the style. However, this is music that is as devoid of real substance as it gets. At least it would be if it wasn't for stuff like Toby Keith.

Toby Keith is an artist that I do like in one regards; anytime I'm feeling particularly bitchy towards the subject of music and how popular music doesn't equal quality music, I can point this this type of crap. I mean country is not my usual thing, but I can recognize some quality country and even enjoy some very high quality country (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Kenny Rodgers, and I could keep naming some more quality artists). However, Toby Keith is the lowest common denominator. He is right up there with Billy Ray Cyrus and his damned Achy Breaky Heart in putting out fluff that is the "new emo" equivalent for country.

Anyway, I will be saving my money next week. However, that's probably a good thing since I realized I'm now about out of HDD space on my 20GB drive in the 360. In fact, I had to delete the only demo on my system to get four songs this week (one of which was actually an old song I felt the desire to torture myself with...Joker and the Thief). I have only the better part of a single gig remaining and a saved week from DLC is not just extending the life of my HDD, but it's also saving money towards a new 120GB drive. The only thing left to delete is The Lost and Damned, which I'd like to leave where it stands on the drive.


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