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Malik (8/9/10)

Super Bowl XL was a long time ago. This was the magical Super Bowl that saw the Seahawks in their first ever chance to claim dominance of the NFL. This was the first time that Seattle could have had a world championship in anything since the 1979 Sonics took charge of the NBA (sorry WNBA fans, but I just have trouble accepting the WNBA to be on the same level of the big four of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and even NHL). This was a moment that all long time Seattle sports fans never thought possible; for the Seahawks to actually look good to a national audience.

I mean Seattle tends to be more or less ignored in sports. In football, college or pro, the west coast is mainly dismissed. In baseball, the M's are about as amazing as the Brewers (appropriate since the Brewers were originally the Seattle Pilots). In basketball...well, NBA and Seattle are not exactly on speaking terms. Then the NHL doesn't exist here anymore...or even for the better part of a century.

So, Seattle looked like a city of whiners when the jokes started after the Super Bowl XL hangover ended; the jokes about how the real opponent was the black-and-white refs, not the black-and-gold Steelers. However, when it comes down to it, no one could call XL a good Super Bowl. It was bad enough that the officiating was crap (and this played out for both teams to some extent), but even the Steelers and the Seahawks were playing like some unranked college teams. For this reason alone, I don't think I can take any solace in knowing that the outcome sucked for outside reasons.

Yes, after half a decade Referee Bill Leavy is coming clean with Seattle. Leavy has admitted to blowing a few calls, and how it has left him with "sleepless nights". Poor guy. I mean that's just too bad for him. I think he needs a hug.

Despite just thinking the entire game was crap on all fronts, I still do have some resounding annoyance and even anger with what happened. Yes, Leavy only admits to making errors on two calls, but there were some more. I mean when Hasselbeck was called for his tackle job on an interception, or when Jackson was called for offensive pass interference on what should have been a TD...well, there were some bad calls all around. Add in the phantom TD rush by Big Ben, and you can find plenty of bad officiating.

So, when it's all said and done, I'm not sure if I'm happy to have the obvious admitted (that bad calls happened). Part of me is glad to see that there is some vindication now for the people who called Seattle a city of whiners, but another part of me is just sad to have that day of shame brought up fresh in my mind again. If it was only the officiating that had gone wrong, I'd feel pretty set in wanting this level of light being shined on the events. However, knowing that the Seahawks lost to a Steelers team that couldn't get their act together, makes it a bit more murky. Then knowing that the Seahawks played even worse than an underachieving Steelers team just makes me want to let Super Bowl XL go to sleep and never wake up again.

Anyway, there is a time when an apology or an explanation by an offending party (like Leavy did) is good. Leavy may have apologized, but the timing was just too damned late. The game was done and forgotten. The time for explanations and apologies is either when the moment is fresh, or never again. If the wounds have not only healed, but the memory is long gone, then an apology only serves to make fresh what should be dead.

If Seattle is owed an apology for anything in sports right now, it would be more appropriate to be from the front office of the Mariners for the lameness of this season. Even an apology from the NBA for the poor treatment Seattle got when the Sonics left is too late now...and that's a few years fresher than Super Bowl XL.


Malik (8/10/10)

Seattle sports just keep getting more drama filled with each day. First we have, over the weekend, the whole Super Bowl XL ref comment deal, and now we have the Mariner's firing Wakamatsu. I cannot even believe how Seattle sports look right now when I think of my old Seattle sports theory.

My theory was simple; one Seattle team in a professional league would do good at any single time, while the others would flounder. This only really included the MLB, NBA (sigh...), NFL, or MLS. For example, right when the Sonics were losing momentum in the late 90's, the Mariners picked up steam. Then when the M's started to collapse in the early years of 00's, the Seahawks became contenders. Then when the Seahawks fell to shit, the Sounders came along and were one of the best expansion teams any sport has ever witnessed. At times, there was a little overlap of good, and at times the bad hit all sports at the same time, but never with even 12 months of shit all around.

Sorry WNBA fans, but I never have really included the Storm in any of this...

This year we are seeing a change. Yes, it hasn't been 12 months yet since the Sounders were awesome, but the clock is ticking with only the Seahawks left to hold it all together. At least they start their pre-season this Saturday. On a fun side note, after needing the NFL for so damned long, I'm left missing the first pre-season game due to other obligations. I know, it's a worthless game, but it's still something to take my mind off of the MLS and MLB seasons.

That brings me back to the M's. With Wak being sent away, along with three of his assistant coaches, I am left wondering what the f#!$ is wrong with the front office. For one thing, the one bright spot this season was pitching, so why get rid of the pitching coach? That just defies logic, unless Rick Adair didn't want to go along with seeing Wak take the fall alone.

The big problem is that Wak is not the all. How do you blame a guy for a losing team that's built up of one of the sorriest sets of overpaid slackers this side of the 1980's M's? Wak is not the guy who built a team around defense without a single good power bat in the lineup. Wak is not the one who brought in a mediocre set-up man (League) in place of a guy who just pitched a one hitter the other night and holds a damned impressive win-loss record (Morrow). Wak is not the guy who tied his own hands in dealing with personnel problems. Wak is not the guy who couldn't find a use for three to four 1B/DH players and not a single good 3B or SS. Wak is not the one who traded away prospects to bring in another 1B/DH that the team could have resigned in the offseason (Branyan). Wak is not the one who decided to ignore the lack of catcher (in terms of defense or offense).

The problem with this sleeping giant is it's head. However, you don't need to cut off the head to kill this need to cut off the head to bring it back to life. Lincoln and Armstrong have been stagnant at running the front office for far too long and it's time for Nintendo to step up and remove these two passive fools before they drive any more problems towards Safeco Field. After all, while Wak had nothing to work with, and this can fall mostly down to Jack Zduriencik, even Z's hands were tied with a stunted budget. Of course, while the analogy of the giant fits, so does another saying; Shit rolls downhill. Since you can't fire an entire team, the coach is the perfect target.

Until the head of the giant is severed, and until stability is allowed to come (you can't rebuild and become solid if you're always rebuilding and tearing down the project), the M's will continue to flop. Plus, for those who look at 2009 as an example of good things after a rebuild, you need to remember that 2009 was a fluke in every possible way (just look at the stats and see the sadness of it all).


Malik (8/11/10)

Today I was talking with a friend about what upcoming games I was looking forward to. There aren't that many, but one we agreed upon was Civilization 5. I mean the game will be sweet...or so I thought.

Today, I looked up some info on Civ 5, like the release date, to get slightly hyped. After finishing Dragon Quest IX, I need something to look forward to. Well, I came across something I find interesting; Civ 5's power level is over 9000!!!

Actually, I should say the requirements are around there. Civ 5 has a GeForce 9800 as the recommended video card. Let me say that again, slightly different; Civ 5, which is a sequel of the requirement light Civ series, has insanely ridiculous requirements. I mean Civ 4 can run on my ancient laptop. A laptop that can barely handle Windows XP anymore, due to all the updates and patches from Microsoft slowing the system to a crawl. However, Civ 5 is going to push my desktop to it's limits. It may be the first game I've faced with my desktop that cannot run with settings on high.

I run Dragon Age: Origins with everything on high. I can run Oblivion, with OOO and Qarl's Texture Pack 3, with everything on high. I run everything on high. However, Civ 5 is looking beyond unreasonable with the requirements. Let's just look at the minimum requirements;

Operating System: Windows® XP SP3/ Windows® Vista SP2/ Windows® 7
Processor: Dual Core CPU
Memory: 2GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB Free
DVD-ROM Drive: Required for disc-based installation
Video: 256 MB ATI HD2600 XT or better, 256 MB nVidia 7900 GS or better, or Core i3 or better integrated graphics
Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
DirectX®: DirectX® version 9.0c

That is the minimum to run this behemoth.  I can understand needing more power to turn the cranks of the game than Civ 4 needed, but there's a point when I think the developer is going a bit overboard on pushing requirements.  Plus, when you take minimum requirements into account, you have to remember that these values are typically what you need to make the game run like ass...or with a Civilization game, make it run like ass once you start to discover the map.

So, what do the recommended settings look like?

Operating System: Windows® Vista SP2/ Windows® 7
Processor: 1.8 GHz Quad Core CPU
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB Free
DVD-ROM Drive: Required for disc-based installation
Video: 512 MB ATI 4800 series or better, 512 MB nVidia 9800 series or better
Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
DirectX®: DirectX® version 11

They look like someone at Firaxis has gone completely insane.  I mean recommended tends to mean what you need to run with some settings on high and others not even close.  Unless Civ 5 is an exception to this unspoken rule, Firaxis is telling me that I need a 512MB 9800 to make this game look more than passable...?  I need a quad core to make this game run good...?  I need to ditch XP, obviously (DirectX 9 is the limit on XP) to make the game good...?

The only part of this that makes any sense to me, as a fan of Civilization since I got the first one on DOS (on 3.5" floppies), is the RAM requirements.  I mean Civ games are memory hogs with double digit civilizations running around with hundreds of units, dozens of cities each, and a huge map filled with vast wonders.  I could even see the CPU requirements (to an extent), since it takes some horse power under a PC's hood to get all of this stuff to and from the RAM and to make some massive calculations.  I can even see the HDD issue, since a Steam download of Civ 5 is obviously going to be a large monster of a program.  However, video should not be pushed this far for a game like Civilization, which ran on my lame as shit laptop (with an ATI X300 Mobile...not to be confused with the X series that came out much later).

Luckily, I can handle this, even with a somewhat aged desktop.  I mean I do have an 8800 GTS (not bad after all these years), an over clocked dual-core that rocks out to whatever I feel like pushing it to thanks to my fan and heat sink of pure doom, Windows 7 (thanks to the douches behind TDL3), and 4GB of RAM from the same age as the rest of my hardware (about 3 or so years old).

One thing, however, that worries me is the trend I've seen in requirement whores of sequels.  Whenever I've seen a longstanding franchise come under a sudden assault of requirements that go beyond what one would expect, I have also seen a sudden drop in quality to go along with the boost in performance.  For example, Oblivion required a shit-ton more than expected after what Morrowind needed...and Oblivion, while pretty, was a game lacking in substance.  King's Quest 8 required far more than the average PC could handle at the time, versus sane requirements for prior KQ titles...and let's just say The Silver Lining (awesome project) only came about due to so much dissatisfaction with KQ8.  Ultima 9 went beyond what was even possible for several years...and it was never stable enough to be ran by any normal PC after the technology caught up to the game.  Doom 3 was a hardware slayer, and it felt like a linear attempt at forcing a plot where we only needed some mild exploration and massive doses of pure adrenaline pumping insane action.

I just have not seen a real good example, yet, of a game franchise suddenly boosting the requirement level of a sequel and still showing off quality in what is presented.  I should say, I'm sorry but pretty visuals is not the quality I crave.

Recently I had seen a trend in mainstream games getting lower requirements recently.  Many hyped titles have been dropping some of the hardware needs in favor of giving more quality in their games.  I figured this was due to the economy, in part, and some common sense by developers.  I mean you can't sell even a mainstream potential smash hit of a game, in a bad economy, if hardware purchases are a requirement.  So, why would a game with more of a cult following, and a slightly more casual (as in laidback) of a following like Civ 5 get the hardware jumping-of-the-shark?  I can't even begin to speculate.  All I know is that this alone makes me a bit more hesitant of purchasing one of the three remaining games I was actually hyped for this year (the other two are Rock Band 3 with a pro-guitar, and LittleBigPlanet 2).  At least LBP2 looks even better with each new bit of dropped info.

By the way, I will not even get into the actor to follow in Leonard Nimoy's shoes as the narrator.  I will just say, from the clips available on that link, William Sheppard is no Nimoy.


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