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Malik (7/2/07)

I watched that new GTA4 trailer on Friday. I have to say that I really wish Rockstar would change their hype machine a little. It's nice to see some more info, no matter how little, in how the protagonist acts. However, I feel like I've seen this second trailer in how it's the same as every GTA game before it. You have the protagonist, who you can't figure out if he's wanting to be a criminal or is simply forced into it. You have the unknown woman who tells you to stop being a violent thug. You have a shoot out with the cops. You have the random action scenes as someone drives quickly through a city area. You have the generic motorcycle zip through one scene. Another has a high tech looking helicopter. You even start it all with the protagonist slowly cruising in a classic looking car.

What you don't have is what I need to know the most; how has the engine been overhauled (or replaced, in this case) to make the game more enjoyable? I know that the engine is new (well, as new as Rockstar Presents Table Tennis), but how does it fit with this type of game. What can the hero do that he couldn't before? How does aiming work? What can the hero no longer do that he once could?

I know I'll buy the game when it comes along, but I really can't take anymore of the flashy trailer to build my hype. Rockstar...I want this game already. That applies to almost anyone who plans to buy it. What we want now is justification for our blind and ignorant love (or addiction) to what you do so well.

On a different note, I bought Mario Party 8 (Wii) on Saturday. I was hanging out with some friends and we felt the need to play some Wii. Well, after Blockbuster turned up to have no good Wii titles (or multiplayer ones), I decided to break down and get MP8.

On one hand, it is mainly the same game we've seen seven times before. I'm not complaining. MP is always a game you hate, but you can't get enough of at the same time. MP8 is the same way. It's more of you all taking turns for the board game part of the game, but then you all have some nice quick action in different games between rounds. Then, as you collect stars (which are like points, for MP newbs), you start to feel awesome or like a loser. Then, when th game ends, Mario parties all over by completely destroying the rankings by giving out a bunch of random as hell bonus stars. At least it's better than some of the old MP games which gave pity stars ("For the player with the least stars, you win a star!").

What has changed is the board layouts. There is some nice variety going on. For example, both of the boards I've tried so far (Goomba's and Troopa's boards), you no longer bought a star for 20 coins. On Goomba's board, you simply traveled a straight line. You're money was spent on taking dolphins (think of them like ferries) to hurry your way to the goal. Once you reached the goal, Goomba gave you a star and a ride back to start. Money was no longer a way to buy happiness, but rather to buy passage towards your happiness.

The Troopa's board was more of Monopoly-lite. There were various roads with hotels on them. As you passed one, you could invest money to own the hotel, and to upgrade the hotel. However, only one person could own each hotel. So, when you are the owner, you gain that hotel's star (as you upgrade to a two star and then a three star hotel, you get more stars)...but if someone invests more in the hotel than you, you lose the star and that person gains it. It's more of a case of there being limited stars and you need to use money wisely to keep as many under your control as possible.

I need to try out the other boards still. I don't know what other changes await me. However, I am happy with the game so far. The only exception is that some of the games (in particular the 3 vs 1 games) are beyond broken...especially the jump rope (three people jump, one controls the speed of the rope...hint: rope swinger, swing your rope like mad). The use of the Wiimote in controlling the mini-games is also a blast...although the learning curve of some games will annoy some newer player when they face veterans.

To end this post, I just want to say that there may not be another post until either Friday or next week. Tomorrow, Velveeta and I make that dreaded (people in Yakima, I don't loathe spending time with you...I just loathe the hot, windy, and very sunny conditions of Yakima in the middle of the summer) trip to Yakima, to not return until sometime Thursday.

Happy 4th to all. Remember to celebrate your country's independence with fire and explosions...stated that way, I'm surprised fireworks are still allowed in the post-9/11 American culture.


Malik (7/6/07)

I spent the last few days in a weird state...both in terms of location and of mind. I was in Yakima, Washington, which is like a different state than the Washington where Seattle is located. It's hot, usually dry, and it's a big vast stretch of apple orchards and wineries. Sadly, it wasn't hot and dry this time was hot and humid...which is a dangerous combination. After three days of experiencing a true NEED (as opposed to a desire) for AC, I am glad to be back in a world that's less reliant on the need of air conditioning. At least I got to see a store dedicated to beer (now that's an awesome sight to see).

As for state of mind, let's just say that between my job and seeing the effects of Velveeta's job, I spent Tuesday in one hell of a bitchy mood. I'm glad to be home, but now that mindset will be able to return to me. At least in August I'll find more than two weeks of freedom. I just need to survive a hair over a month before my sanity can get a good break from the harsh reality of an institute that cannot handle it's money any better than a dwarf in the crappy first D&D movie can be trusted to handle the party's alcohol supply.

On a different note, at least Microsoft is doing something smart with money...taking a hit. Yes. Microsoft is now extending all warranties for the 360 to three years...despite when the system was sold. It's good to see that Microsoft has realized that they can only keep their current lead in the console market running by giving good service on a less than admirable quality level of the 360.

Of course, from what I've seen, the problem is simple enough to fix with most red ring of doom cases (I would link here, but it's been a while since I've looked this up). Basically, it sounds like most cases involve the heat sinks being improperly attached to the GPU and CPU. There are two small X-shaped brackets holding on the heat sinks for these two components, and these X braces tend to cause problems when they heat up. They end up bending the motherboard in a way that causes the heat sinks to lose contact with the components they should be firmly affixed to. Basically, if you system breaks, and if this warrantee was not in the picture anymore, the solution can be found from Home Depot, Lowe's, or whatever home improvement store you like...and for only a few bucks. You just need a few screws, a couple of brackets, and a few washers to keep everything cool and in good running condition.

On a final bit of good news (for me, at least), before I call these last two posts a week of work, I have something to look forward to later this year. I am glad to finally have a good concert to look forward to that doesn't involve me driving into the middle of nowhere. Typically, any concert in Washington that deals with multiple good bands is sent to the Gorge. It's a nice and big venue for concerts, but is literally a long trip for 99% of the people who would attend the show. Meanwhile, with Endfest being in Seattle, I have a good concert to see that will involve more than one good band (the Pumpkins, and mother f@#$ing Social D!) that will be in an easy enough of location to attend...Downtown Seattle.

True, September is a long way off, but when you work a job that is draining your will to live and is turning you into more of an asshole psychopath with each day, small victories are always good.


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