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Malik (5/6/09)

It has been a crazy start for the week for me. I would go into details, but I'll just keep it simple by saying a few things. The first, which is not really geek based is that the WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) loves to be as uninformative as possible...even when they have an active construction crew within a few feet of your bedroom window and you simply want to know what the f#@$ is going on.

Secondly, I wanted to play some of the new Rock Band tracks last night. The Allman Brothers two pack sounds fun and the charts (expert guitar) look awesome. One song is just a fun audience sing-a-long type, but the second song is a solo driven marathon of awesome charting. Smooth Criminal is a fun song I've always enjoyed, and the chart looks like a perfect amount of challenge meets fun. Lastly, the Franz Ferdinand three pack looks like good fun and the songs are some I've always enjoyed.

I didn't try these new songs since one of my friends was wanting to introduce me to Left 4 Dead. I know, it's getting old in terms of game age, but I've never played L4D. After playing through three of the campaigns last night, I feel like I have cheated myself out of some good fun. I mean L4D plays like I always wanted a game to play; one part adrenaline and one part being scared shitless. It's a perfect mix, with a great engine to drive the game. It's also a great mix of feeling like you're on top of the world one second and then feeling like you're in a race to see how many infected (zombies) you can kill before you're inevitably taken down.

I'm not sure if I'd want to own the game, since it seems like a bad game in single player...and I tend to avoid Live (played the 360 version) a bit much with the ass-factor (9 out of 10 people I meet online are asses...maybe I'm just cursed). However, in split-screen co-op, the game is awesome. I can only imagine having four human control people in the team would make it even better than having two AI partners who range from inept and idiotic to being the best partner you could ever hope for.

Still, I have one more campaign to play through and I'm looking forward to getting some more adrenaline pumping action coming my way. It's also nice to take a break from Demon's Souls making me feel scared and doomed and playing a multiplayer game that makes more than one person, at a time, feel doomed.


Malik (5/7/09)

Last night I played some Demon's Souls. At this rate, I may beat the game, for the first time, in several months. It's sad that I've resorted to so little gaming lately, but I hope this will all settle down as I knock out real life responsibilities.

The only thing that is sadder than my lack of playing is what I find when I do pick up Demon's Souls. The world tendency issues are really starting to piss me off. When I played last, before last night, I had somehow gotten a white tendency in world 5 (which is one hard world and the difficulty decrease from a white tendency is definitely desired). However, instead of loading my game to find this world at white (maybe pure white after one more boss is killed), I loaded the game to find all of my worlds have been reset to neutral. Every single one. I had nearly pure white in world 5 and white in three other worlds.

A known bug exists that makes all tendencies reset if you save and quit in the Nexus (safe central hub area) and then load your game online from the Nexus. However, knowing that and having lost previous progress due to this bug, I never saved in the safety and logical quitting place of the Nexus. So, I have to say I'm a bit saddened by this loss of progress. The only good news is that if I chose to go for pure black in some areas to unlock some special instances, then I don't need to worry much about that world remaining so difficult the next time I play. Still, that's not much of a consolation since black is easy to get and white is nearly impossible to obtain after you've started to make some progress in the world you want pure white in.

The only thing I find more annoying is having a black phantom (player killer) break in to my game repeatedly. I wouldn't mind it so much, since it's part of the game, except I've found a lot of min-max type people who take advantage of a poorly devised level system glitch to be overpowered while fighting low level players.

To enter the game of a low level player, you must be within ten levels of the host's game. This means that, until you hit level 100 (out of over 700), the PKer you face, or any help you summon, will be plus or minus ten levels, or less, of you. However, one boss will lower a single level of a stat with his special attack. Using this knowledge, and the fact that stats can equal anywhere from -99 to 99 (which each stat point equal to one level for your character), some players build specific PKing machines with 99 in several important stats for their assassination style (magic or melee) with -99 in the unnecessary stats (like luck and the opposite stats; -99 for strength in a magical build), to have a final level in the region of 20, or less. This means a player who is just starting, or is just taking it slow and easy, may all of a sudden find a level 11 PKer (who can invade any newb's game) with the best gear and some stats at 99.

Sadly, it's not obvious when you are new to the game who these glitch users are. So, you lose fun for the game dreading every PKer...wondering how the hell they are so damned powerful. If you're like me, and just jaded on this, you just quit the game every time a PKer arrives. It's sad that an honest PKer will never meet me, but I have been burned too many times already. Yes, I could play offline, but this would eliminate some cool features, like seeing how other people die (you get a five second death shot of some of the other victims of a stage), seeing real time people playing in the same region, and sending and reading messages to or from other players.

After playing and quitting so many times last night, however, I may have to quit on online playing unless something changes for me soon. Just too many headaches from online issues. The only good news is that you cannot be invaded by a PKer after you've killed the boss of the area you're in. However, that doesn't help that you cannot leave an area or use the proper (auto-save friendly) game quitting option from the menu when you've been invaded. So, it's either fight it out, quit via the XBM (PS3 dashboard...and risk save file corruption in very rare cases), or spend twenty minutes running in circles while the PKer and you fail to meet up and face your destiny.


Malik (5/8/09)

Next week is going to be another cool week for Rock Band DLC. At the very least, it will be a week of most ways. I mean there's a three pack of Social Distortion (YES!!!), some Disturbed, some good old Steely Dan, one from The Replacements, and one from Elvis Costello. With that type of line up, it would be hard to complain.

So, with a challenge like I set up with "it would be hard to complain", I think I shall do just that.

First off, nothing against Costello or The Replacements, or even Steely Dan. I'm glad to see more of them (maybe not as much with The Replacements, but I will not complain over what isn't my cup of tea).

My complaints start with Disturbed. This is a very minor complaint. I just don't like them for this game. I mean I hate most of their music, on a personal level, but I also have a bit of a problem. That problem would be that I just don't get the concept of including them when some of the coolest parts cannot be accurately done. The vocals cannot seem to properly judge for doing of the sounds done by their singer.

Although my major complaint for this is with Social D. First off, unlike with Disturbed, I am a huge fan of Mike Ness's music, be it his solo stuff or his Social D songs. However, he's not getting much appreciation on many of the rhythm game message boards I've seen. It's always about how Story of My Life (first seen in GH3) and I Was Wrong are too damned easy and slow. I cannot really fault someone for saying, after such an observation, "no teh more Social D."

For some reason, Social D is always associated with just a few of their songs. The songs that have received way too much airplay for the last going-on-twenty years. That would be I Was Wrong, Story of My Life, Bad Luck, Ball and Chain, and Ring of Fire. On one hand, these are some of the slowest Social Distortion songs. On the other hand, they have some awesome songs that just don't get any notice. Where is Don't Drag Me Down (f#@$ing awesome song), Cold Feelings, 1945, Mommy's Little Monster, Drug Train, Telling Them, Prison Bound, Like An Outlaw (For You), On My Nerves, Mass Hysteria, Live Before You Die, When Angels Sing, or...I could go on all day. Ok, When Angels Sing is a slow one similar in flavor to I Was Wrong, but it has some damned powerful lyrics.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this; when a band has around three decades of being around, and when they are a punk band, why must they be type casted into having their slower or more pop-ish (not pop, but closer to it than anything else they play) songs be the only ones ever presented. It's like calling yourself an Alice in Chains fan and then proceeding to repeatedly play Would and Man In The Box on your stereo. Yes, a good song is a good song, but enough with the well known ones. I can see only including well known songs from an artist on the Rock Band disks, since these songs will never be swapped out of a set list...but not in DLC. Three song pack that only has the most well known songs from an artist...? Really? There couldn't be one song that better testifies to how Social D is not just some slow band with family/radio friendly crap?

My other complaint comes down to one other part of this pack. Maybe Harmonix only wanted well known Social D songs so that the three pack for a discounted price would be more enticing than asking people to try something a bit more out in left field from their comfort level. However, when the pack is $6 and each track is $2, there's no damned discount. In which case, mix things up some, Harmonix.

Ok...rant is done...

I'll just say that I am happy to have Social Distortion DLC, at long last. I've requested them many times on the request feature on the Rock Band site. Of course, my requests were never for the tame overplayed songs. Also, I still think Don't Drag Me Down would be one hell of a song for Rock Band, with a great bass line, solid drum line, great lyrics with some thought behind them, and one of my favorite guitar lines in punk.


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