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Malik (7/31/06)  

If you don't know and you have a 360, the N3 (Ninety Nine Nights) demo is now available as a download. When this game was announced, I must have been on the can because the excitement felt by so many just went right by me. I saw a Dynasty Warriors clone, but with more enemies on the screen at a given time.

Well, I downloaded the demo and gave it a shot, and my opinions changed a bit after playing it. In reality, N3 is not just a DW clone with more enemies on the screen. Nope. It's a half-assed DW clone with a lot of bland enemies on the screen at a time. I have never felt so compelled to delete a demo as quickly as I have with this game (ok...I felt that way with Rumble Roses XX, but let's just pretend that game never existed).

I played through about half of the demo before I died. It wasn't as much that the enemies killed me off as I just stopped giving a shit. N3 may not suffer some of the limitations of DW (like the game doesn't slow down when more than five characters are on the screen at a time), but it lacks all of the refinement in controls and the assortment of enemies. I saw mages, archers, and swordsmen. I also saw a lot of them. I also, and most importantly, saw myself being bored beyond belief.

I am one of the few people out there who doesn't look at a new DW game like, "YET ANOTHER Dynasty Warriors...?!". However, with N3, all I could see was that sort of feeling washing over me. I would never consider this a worthwhile game purchase...especially at $50-$60. Hell, I would not consider this a worthwhile game to buy at $20.

Speaking of poor games for the 360, I have to wonder something. Every source I've read has said that the new Bomberman (Bomberman: Act Zero) will not feature multiplayer offline. I am stuck with my first impression of the game (that it sure as hell doesn't look like Bomberman) and my new impression (no offline multiplayer makes this game into a complete joke) fighting it out to convince me which reason is more important to avoid the game.

To change tracks a little, I watched a couple of my friends playing Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis this weekend. I downloaded the demo to this game and honestly didn't care. I read the previews (way back in February and March) and didn't care. So, I have to say I was completely surprised when I watched my friends play this game and I was drawn into the action. Hell, during some really involved volleys, I was finding myself literally at the edge of my seat.

I doubt I'd buy this game. If I did, it would have to be going for about $20. However, Table Tennis is one hell of an interesting game. It reminds me of something like Monkeyball. No matter how silly it sounds on paper, and no matter how much you would like to bash the game, it can actually be very exciting when you're in a game and not playing against the computer.

Well, I don't have too much else to talk about today. I spent the weekend doing maintenance on my car, so I have little to really say...except there's nothing like the feel of freshly conditioned leather under your ass as you suffer through rush hour traffic...words to live by...I think.

Before I go, check this link "out" (yeah...I'm funny...). I hope it works. It's been acting funny all day, but it's worth a read.


Malik (8/2/06)  

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday. It's pretty obvious, since the date for the post above this one is definitely not yesterday. Anyway, I was caught up in a few things that I couldn't get out of. I had the fun of an eye doctor appointment in the middle of the day. However, even better was my fighting with my computer...

Monday night, I noticed my video was really messed up (think 1980's scrambled cable picture quality). So, I rebooted my PC. The problem persisted. I reinstalled drivers, and I reinstalled video utilities. However, after running for about 5 minutes, the picture would always revert to shit.

I was left with one obvious conclusion (which has since been proven either wrong, or at least only as a part of the problem); the video card was fried. I had a Radeon 9800 and it was a wonderful card for what I liked to do (both for gaming and for running a second desktop on my 52" DLP to watch videos on). I had previously avoided ATI cards since they had caused many problems in the past for myself, but I used the 9800 because of advice from a friend.

Well, I went out and got a new Radeon X1600 Pro (512MB DDR memory, multiple outputs, and one hell of a nice price when I factored in some gift cards for Best Buy). At first, this card was nothing short of sweet. However, as soon as I attached my DLP I could see a problem...or 10.

It started with a simple fact; the ATI Radeon X1600 Pro likes to always use the DVI output as the primary monitor. There is no way around this. Well, I use DVI for my secondary (the DLP TV) and I run my primary antiquated PC monitor on the VGA port. So, I had some issues on that side of things, since the monitor serving as the default secondary display required me to jump through some hurdles every time I booted up my PC.

This issue can be resolved. If you own a X1600 and you want the same similar setup as what I am running (the multiple displays), here's a simple bit of advice; boot up with only the monitor attached and wait to add your TV until after the PC has loaded Windows. I have to do this everytime I boot up my PC (which is a pain in the ass over the old method...of always leaving both devices plugged in and letting Windows and the ATI software remain logical)...and so will you.

The second piece of advice for the X1600 (or any other card running the ATI Catalyst software to configure your video settings) is simple...when you are done f#@%ing around, and when you are ready to use your video card without fighting your PC for over an hour at a time, UNINSTALL CATALYST.

I spent the first two days of running the X1600 with most of the time being spent on either using one display (the PC monitor) or with my fighting Catalyst and it's enjoyment of crashing Windows. However, when I finally uninstalled the software utilities, I was finally having better memory use, better visuals, and far less headaches.

In the end, however, I will give even better advice, if you're in the process of buying a new video card...NVidia. That's it in a nut shell. ATI may brag on the back of their video card boxes about how Catalyst is an award winning software package, but the only awards I could see it winning are not the type to brag about ("Worst video utility of 2006"). Considering how smooth and simple to use the 9800 was (and other cards in the ~9600 range), along with Hyrdavision (a real video utility), I don't understand how ATI could've gone this route...the route of greatest stupidity and user-unfriendliness.

Like I hinted above, it turns out that my PC has a few more issues than the video card. I think my power supply is burning out and that it has possibly effected my motherboard and/or CPU...which means a lot more of a monetary investment (board, CPU, and memory since I'm at DDR right now) than I can really afford right now, but I'll need to afford it anyway. I just wish that cosmetics were so damned important in the PC world. While I once could get a new power supply for close to $20, I now am left paying about $60 (if I luck out and find a good sale) since they all have to either be overly pretty (with glowing fan lights) or overly elite. There are no longer any simple down to Earth PC power supplies that can get the job done without being considered a real "investment".

For a little game news (besides that the X1600 Pro fails a real road test), here's some fun links and info;

The Saint's Row demo is now on the Live Marketplace. Download it! You've got nothing to lose, and the demo is some of the most entertainment you'll get from a free item on the Marketplace.

Lastly, some game industry (and non-game industry) people were reported on Gamespot of their reactions to the smaller E3 plan for the future. While most of these responses are so damned canned ("We fully support ESA"...amazing how almost all game industry people said that same exact line), the response from Ken Levine, one of the cofounders of Irrational Games, was great. I like it when a smaller company speaks up since it's far less likely to be sterilized by 15 layers of PR before it leaves the office.

Well, I'm off to Fry's to look for a power supply...and probably a mother board...and CPU...and memory...and to see how quickly this fool and his money are parted...pity me.


Malik (8/4/06)  

I think I'm back. You may have noticed a second day in this week (yesterday) in which I didn't post. This was definitely not by choice.

After I upgraded my CPU, motherboard, and memory, which was added to a new video card on Monday, I found my computer was incredibly unstable. I was left with one option HDD was shot. So, I once again hit Best Buy and had to replace my dying HDD with a SATA drive.

Once the drive was installed, I was left with only one very painful was time to flatten the box. The old master drive was removed from the picture, and the new one was installed with a completely fresh copy of Windows XP. That is one of the most painful experiences I know of as a computer user. I don't mind reinstalling Windows (it's just a slow process), but it's the reinstalling of all registry involved programs that kills me.

That meant I had to reinstall my virus scanner (which I had lost my registration info for), my hardware drivers (annoying, but possible), FrontPage, Office, most of my games, all of my video codecs (that one is going to be painful), all media players (Real, Quicktime, BS Player), iTunes (for my iPod), and a dozen other programs that I'll probably not remember until a month down the road. The worst part of this is the time suck it poses. I have only just begun...and I have a lot more to do.

Anyway, as you can tell, I placed high priority on keeping the site fresh, so all of the FrontPage/web authoring stuff is done. I am back!

If you haven't checked yet, Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting is on the Live Arcade...and does it suck. Well, the game is one of the oldest and most antiquated versions of SFII, and we really should've seen Super SFII to have Fei-Long, Cammy, and the two useless players (DeeJay and Tomahawk). However, more than that, the 360 controller is NOT meant for 2D fighters. The d-pad is sloppy (I know I'm not so bad as to pull off a classic down-diagonal-forward+punch once ever 5 attempts), and the analogue is even worse. 3D fighters may work good on a modern controller, but old-school games on new-school controllers is not a good idea...ever.

The game itself is not too bad, since it offer online support, but this can't make up for the lack of control. I also won't go into the price ($10) being too high for a game that you can get better of on the PS2 for the same price.

Speaking of the Marketplace, there's word that Gears of War will not have a demo prior to it's release. I personally find this to be some bad news. The game may be near the top of the hype machine, but I still have reservations. How many other hyped games have come out and proven to be crap? Full Auto, Prey, and The Outfit all come to mind. In fact, it's the simple fact that hype is not being a good thing lately that will steer me clear of GoW until either I play the game at a friend's home or until I have a demo.

Anyway, at the same time as when we see GoW, we will also have some new consoles to contend with. In particular, I'm looking towards the Wii, and the more I hear, the more I'm excited. Especially, I say this, since Ubisoft is planning to have seven launch games for the Wii. While most of them will probably suck, it does mean that the Wii is going to get some support up front that the GCN and N-64 both could find. Viva Nintendo!

One other bit of news...this time it should be good. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is being planned for a tentative Q1 2007 release on the Live Arcade. Since playing PSX games is becoming less enjoyable, and since the original PSX disk is becoming harder to find, this is some definite sweet news. Hopefully this will remind Konami what a good Castlevania game should look like and they will decide to make a real Castlevania (read: not 3D) for the 360 or the Wii.

Well, I'm off to return to the trenches of installing shit on the PC. I'll probably start with a good tech-demo type of thing...probably the Half-Life 2 demo. After all, while I need media players and all of that fun stuff, I really want to see what my new X1600Pro-Dual Core setup can do.


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