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Malik (5/1/06)  

Not much to say on geeky matters today.  I spent a good deal of my day getting psyched up about a job interview, and then spent the rest of the day at said interview.  All I really have to say is this...

My current employer used to look good.  That was mainly because my job looked nice in comparison to others.  However, once I was able to see what a real employer with a world class operation looks like...well, I need this job.  So, today and tomorrow, I will probably be less with geeky things (tomorrow is a second round of interviews), but I will be back with a vengeance Wednesday.


Malik (5/2/06)  

Today was my last day of massive interviews (I NEED that job).  So, I'll be back to my normal self tomorrow.

In the meantime, I started digging a bit into the Live Marketplace since I've decided a break from Oblivion is in order.  There's a few demos I've yet to try, and a few videos I've yet to watch, but a few thoughts emerge...

Tiger Woods Demo:  Holy f#@$!  This game sucks balls.  The first time I tried to tee off, I hit a whole in one.  Something is wrong there, since the controls (hold on a second...) are completely different than the only golf games I like; Mario Golf and Hot Shots.  Also, the controls are stupid.  I bet these controls are the same as other platforms for Tiger Woods, but I can't believe the interface.  The idea of swinging by pulling back on the stick, and then slamming it forward to do your forward swing is nothing short of inane.  How the f#@% am I supposed to know what will happen.  I like a power meter that explains.  Maybe if I really golfed I would enjoy it...then again, if I really golfed, I would probably prefer to play the real deal of doing a virtual version.  So, in a nutshell, the controls killed this experience.

Lost Planet Trailer:  First off, the demo is coming out in a week (the 9th).  I think this is probably part of the Live/E3 tie in.  As for the visuals...this game looks freakin' amazing.  The demo will be a definite must have.  As for complaints, I have one...either the playing (in the trailer) didn't know how to really turn, the sensitivity for the X-axis was zero, or the game will involve turning at the speed of crap (like the speed of light...but not in anyway's the speed that a piece of shit moves without outside influence).  I think it's probably not the last possibility.  I will have to wait until the 9th to see for sure, but this game may be a great fix for FPS players who liked a bit of the Mech Assault action.

Amped 3 Demo:  Downloaded late last night.  I didn't play the game due to it's incredibly mixed review (the game is supposedly either awesome or worthless), but the demo will finally give me a real answer on this.  I hated Amped 2, just because of the controls being a little too, if that is resolved in Amped 3, I may enjoy this one.  I just hope it didn't go the same direction as SSX (with, in my opinion, the first game was freakin' sweet and every game after it was even worse that you would think possible in a franchise with such a great initial offering).  I'll have a conclusion on this tomorrow.


Malik (5/3/06)  

News is a little light today...just more of the usual "week before E3" slowness. It's that wonderful time of year when analysts go ape shit over whatever tickles their interests. In other words, it's like Christmas for analysts, who will be able to determine everything so perfectly...blah. 

My main issue with analysts, in case you were wondering why I was dumping on them, is that 1/3 (at the most) of them are right. However, all of them get treated like they are equally correct. For example, last generation, 1/3 said that the Gamecube would be Nintendo's wonderful gadget to boost them back into their former role as leader of the pack...they even used some good (that's sarcasm) arguments to defend this. 1/3 said the XBox would blow away all other due to it's power, blah, blah. 1/3 said Sony would win with the PS2. Actually, it was less than 1/3 for all since some said that there would be no winners (another game crash like the 1980's) and others said all three would win. Well, you know what? Most of them were full of shit. 

About 16 months back, when the DS was hot shit, and the PSP was an importer's wet dream, most of the analysts placed their bets on Sony. Well, over a year later, and the PSP looks nice...until you place it by the DS and it's "too good to be true" sales. I also doubt the analysts could predict the retarded fuzz, squirrels, and mice PSP commercials (possibly one of the most offensive and just plain stupid ad campaigns ever dreamed up), or the "urban" graffiti marketing. 

So, anyways, I hate this time of year. I know how things will pan out. I knew the DS was good when I pre-ordered it. I knew the PSP would do good, but not as well as the DS (the thing reeked of Sony trying too hard), when I first played it. If the industry wants some real analysts, maybe the right idea would be to get people who know these trends personally, and not just those who know little of games but are "trained" to recognize trends in a group they don't really understand. 

To continue with what I was doing yesterday, some more thoughts on Live Marketplace content that Oblivion helped me to ignore; 

Blazing Angles Demo: Ubisoft...I know what you were trying. First off, trying this just shows your lack of creativity. Secondly, failing so horribly when you had a successful game you were copying is just sad. Third off, this isn't, nor will it ever be Crimson Skies. You failed. The demo is boring, the controls are weak, the speed is like the x-axis rotation speed on the Lost Planet trailer, and not being able to skip the inanely stupid mission briefings is intolerable. I don't care that you instructor is glad to be around "another yank"...the voice, the word choices, and the Gomer Pyle voice choice are all impossible to tolerate. I honestly would not pick up this game if it was given away for free. By the way, Microsoft called, and they want you to leave Crimson Skies' dignity alone. By the way, this game combines many simulation and arcade flying elements into a single game...all of the elements that can't play with elements from the other style of gaming. 

Amped 3 Demo: I was expecting a lot of things, and I got none of them. This was both good and bad. I expected sloppy controls and the same unforgiving trick system that killed my enthusiasm for Amped 2. What I got was a trick system that almost felt as good as those of SSX, and the most forgiving and enjoyable control scheme. Spot on brilliant controls. I also expected a little less hardcore urban poser appeal. This game drips "hip-hop" (as in what a suit wearing drone would consider to be hip-hop) and is almost an embarrassment...but is just bad enough to be worth showing off (I loved showing the musical number in the demo to Velveeta...worth a definite laugh...just not WITH Amped 3). The goals are pretty fun, the controls rock, the visuals are great...I just have some fears of the game, which is why I'll wait for it to hit $20 before I'll pick it up. 

Superman Returns Trailer: More of the same. I've seen this type of hype for a Superman game before, and it will only break your heart. It comes out in June, but the trailer makes it look like it's a good year away. I think this will go right up there with the last crop of Superman other words, Clearance Rack, make some room for a new title. 

Dead Rising Trailer: This will be worth a rental, if nothing else. The trailer made the game look quite repetitive, but the action looked great. Also, the humor involved in the improvised weapons is nothing short of golden. You can use anything from throwing fruit to swinging golf clubs, from axes to swords, from chairs to can even put masks/buckets on a zombie's head so it can't see or bite you. The repetitive nature will be Dead Rising's downfall, but it will be one of the sweetest rentals ever. 

Live Arcade: I get it PopCap...I really do. You like Bejeweled, and you really think we can't get enough. Well, we can get fact, we did get enough...several years ago. I can't stand how most of the games in the Arcade are either ancient ports of arcade games (with no update, at all), or they are more of the same crap you can find on any online gaming site. In fact, that's the worst can play for free on a PC online, but you only get a few demo levels unless you want to pay $5 for the whole game for the Arcade version. I say no thank you, good sirs. 

Project Gotham Racing 3 Demo: Had not tried this game yet...I now know why. I don't like this game. The game still controls a lot like PGR2...which I hated for a solid reason, there is no sense of speed. Plus, since you start with only the world's fastest vehicles, a sense of speed should not be lacking. I think you'd have to go 1000MPH in PGR3 to make it feel like 250MPH on Gran Turrismo or 50MPH on Burnout. In other words, if you have a desire for a fast game...keep on walking. 


Malik (5/4/06)  

Another day, another Take Two title being re-rated by the ESRB. Did anyone who played Oblivion not think the rating may have been a little off. First off, everytime you kill anything, there is a big smear of blood.  That isn't enough to merit an M...but it's a start. If you kill a Wisp, which is nothing more than a ball of light, it even leaves a bloody pool in it's wake. On top of that, you only have to play through the Dark Brotherhood quest to see and read some mighty f#@%ed up shit. The revenge, the psychotic references to a family member, and that family member's head sitting on a plate...yeah... 

Then again, any game that gives the freedom of Oblivion will be subject to re-rating if it gets away with anything less than M. The fact that you have dozens of ways to kill off entire villages and races is a major warning flag when a T rating is involved. In fact, for this game to escape an M while GTA is always going to be an M or higher is simply can do many of the same things as you can in GTA, but with even sharper visuals and better controls. 

In the end, Bethesda is not fighting...directly. They are saying that the original rating should have stuck, which might be true if the sandbox world of Oblivion didn't let the player do so damned much. Anytime this level of control is given to a gamer, there's no reason for the game to be anything less than M. If I can poison (through wounds or food), stab, burn, shock, bash, and send in evil clones on my way to destroying a village, all while capturing their souls to use to my own wicked means...yeah, I'm sorry, but that's M any day of the week. 

...or I should say that it's an M because it fits the requirements, but it's an M that I would let my children play (if I had children, and all of that). In the end, if there is a ratings scheme, the rules have to be universal, and the ESRB is just trying to do that with this re-rating. The game is very violent, if you play in such a way. The game allows the player to do some sick and f$#@ed up things (especially with the grab button and corpses). People can bitch and moan all they like about this game not being violent enough, or filled with enough sex, or not...well, you get the point. However, in the end, the sandbox style of play is all that it takes for this game to become pretty messed up, depending on the player. Plus, like I said, that Dark Brotherhood guild does some messed up things...SPOILER for a sentence or two: They take a dude, strip him, shred flesh from his body, leaving a blood hole where his groin once was, and they leave his body suspended in the air to serve as both a punishment and a deterrent to betraying the Brotherhood (and this is the same quest that deal with a psychotic dude killing people in revenge to appease his dead mother's rotting head on a plate).  If a game like Condemned can get an M, then the Dark Brotherhood quest should easily merit the same rating. 

Spoiler is over... also, it's not like I'm trying to be a fan of censoring (which I find fundamentally flawed in all possible ways in which it can be undertaken), but I think, if the ratings system is to exist, it should be balanced.  Graphic violence should always make the same effect, no matter the title or genre.  The same goes for sex, and the same goes for psychologically f#@%ed up shit involving flayed dudes hanging from the ceiling with their genitals being replaced with a big bloody hole.

On to more stupid news...I found this to be ridiculous. I just wonder, where do these figures and numbers come from. For one thing, no person will freely admit that they pirate movies. On another hand, many movies are pirated due to them being so fundamentally bad. In other words, people pirate in numbers that are unknown, and usually to see movies that are not worth even a rental fee. 

Just like with the music industry, if Hollywood wants to know why they are losing a good deal of money in recent years, they don't need to look to the fact that digital copying technology is improving. They need to look at what they are sending to market. If you want to make money, Fantastic Four should not be treated as the potential best movie of the summer movie season. If you want money, don't pay excessive amounts of money to make anything as horrible as Catwoman. If you want money, make some more quality movies and less of the cookie-cutter flops (which usually are given the highest budgets). 

Just like how the music industry is suffering from a creativity loss, so if Hollywood. Right now, more band are emo than anything else...even good bands are turning emo to catch a ride on what they see as a gravy-train. Before that, they were all doing the generic punk sound. Before that, it was the angst rock (with God Smack and System of a Down leading the pack). The same goes for movies. Right now, all we see are sequels, imitators, and remakes of classics. How about we see more of the movies that stand out (like how V for Vendetta may have been another comic movie, but it was anything but "another" comic movie). Audiences want to pay movie to be entertained, and if Hollywood won't do their part, then the audience won't do theirs. Why do they think that so many foreign movies are starting to do so well in theaters? Because they are different, and they don't just rely on a few big named actors. 

By the way, here's some advice to those who want a different perspective to the next-gen DVD wars. Stay away for now. On one hand, Blu-ray has been delayed a month, but on the other hand, you have to wonder what the f#@% is going on. Look at the initial release list, on that article, for what the first Blu-ray movies will be. If you remove House of Flying Daggers (which is more of a niche film), Sony is only offering crap. Hitch!? XXX?! Underworld Evolution?! If these don't sell, don't be surprised to hear more about the reason being people pirating these crap films. 


Malik (5/5/06)  

If you haven't seen it yet, there's a small tidbit of Guitar Hero 2 info out on the net. Mainly, it mentions seven songs, which will be playable at E3. It sounds like a nice mix of styles, all for the most part are within hard rock. Personally, I could do without Rush...but considering the music from Guitar Hero was "in the style" of whatever artists (meaning they were not performed by the original artists), hopefully the vocals for anything Rush will not sound like the real vocals from Rush (which are, in my opinion, the single most annoying vocal style in all of music...I'd rather take a swift kick in the balls than listen to Rush, which makes me think of someone taking a swift kick in the balls). 

Anyway, some Black Sabbath, Van Halen, KISS, and Butthole Surfers are always a good thing. In the end, once the final song list is announced (in several months), I think there will plenty to enjoy. I just hope there's no cases like there were in Guitar Hero in which the vocals are flat out terrible (Sum 41 cover, I'm looking at you). 

To continue with something I was doing earlier this week, I have another Live demo review; 

Tomb Raider Legends Demo: I am not a fan of this series. I hated this series from the blocky look of the first, up through the disaster of the last one before Legends. However, playing Legends I cannot help but think this series may be turning around. True, the series is old and should be laid to rest, but this latest game does a great job of giving a sense of exploration. I would honestly like this game (and the franchise) more if the gun battles were removed and exploration was the sole focus of the game, but even the battles in this game are nowhere near as bad as they were in previous Tomb Raider games. I'd definitely consider this game a good rental. 

On a different note, Lego Star Wars 2 has been announced for the 360. I think it's cool to see that another cross platform title like this one is coming to the system that is good enough to give us free demos. I just hope LSW2 finds it's way, in demo form, onto the Marketplace. I know that this budding franchise is one that gets ignored a little too easily, and a demo would do a great job in revealing how much of a guilty pleasure this game is to a larger audience. 

Another random note, before I go, for Oblivion players on the 360. On Gamefaqs, I came across an interesting thread on how to get to the "test area". Sounds like it might be a reason, for those of us who don't feel like dropping a couple bucks on everything that's new and shiny we come across, to download the Wizard Tower content pack. I may have to consider trying this one...maybe... and yes, I know this is a few days old...I've just been out of the Oblivion thing for the last week.


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