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Malik (9/10/07)

Since it's a beautiful new week, which will contain enough stress to nearly kill me (but not enough to finish the job since I need to be ready for an equally stressful next week), I'll try to not dwell too much on what was annoying the shit out of me last week. That is, that certain Company C (that's supposedly fantastic in sound) and what came about from a service call. I'll just say that customer service is not a top priority of this one company and they need to expect a little more from the integrity of their customers.

Anyway, what matters the most to me right now is that football season is off and running. I want to be happy when I say the Seahawks dominated the Buccaneers. I really want to say that Seattle kicked the shit out of these perennial losers from Tampa Bay. I want to say that Hasselbeck and Alexander were on fire while a great defensive game took place on the other side of things. I want to say a lot of things.

The only thing I can easily say is that Seattle is undefeated, for the time being. I also can say that Seattle faces Arizona next week and this should be an easy game. Which, by what I saw yesterday, means Seattle may squeak by. Seriously, Seattle is showing some rust, and it's a little more rust than a team that is supposedly the easy dominators of the NFC West should be showing.

The first quarter of yesterday's game was humiliating. Tampa Bay scored twice before the Seahawks could put the dismal quarter behind them. Seattle took an easy turnover on the first drive of the game and made it into a sad situation. If Cadillac Williams did not get banged around a bit too much, as well as Garcia, this game could have easily gone the other way. There might have been a resurgence of offense from the Seahawks in the second quarter, but it just wasn't enough to feel like a team that should be laying such an underpowered opponent to rest in a brutal and shameless way.

The defense of the Seahawks had a few too many obvious holes in it. I could see, well ahead of time, where the ball was going to be ran by Cadillac. If you could not see it, here's a hint; the big wide open freeway of no defense that he eventually would use.

The same thing applied to the offense of Seattle, but in reverse. There were some good opportunities, but usually the plays were all wrong. For example, the flea flicker pulled attempted by Seattle half way through the game was almost too painful to watch. It played out, in my eyes, in slow motion. As soon as the play started, and I saw what Seattle was attempted, I know that losing ten yards was the best possible option for how things could turn out.

To remain upbeat, Seattle did in fact win. However, the team just felt slow and almost confused. I hope this is not a sign of where things will be heading as the season progresses. Yes, we played an easy team, and yes we play another easy sure victim next week...but that guarantee doesn't mean much when yast year we played the same clunky game and some easy wins turned into brutal battles of confidence being drained into despair.

At least Jeremy Stevens played like ass the few times he did anything on the field. Since he's an eternal foe of Seattle (and one of the few people who would be cheered by Seattle fans when he was on the team and got kneed in the nuts), his dismal playing was a nice dose of comedy in this otherwise dismal showing.


Malik (9/11/07)

I'll keep things short today. There's not much to really discuss beyond the fact that it's a slow day for gaming stuff. Then again, it's a pretty slow day for most current news of any sort since more news is geared today towards remembering 9/11 than for almost anything else.

This goes a little (or a lot) away from gaming stuff for a short time...

While it's good to remember the past, I think any news of any sort needs to be more focused on remaining in the present (while remembering lessons of the past in a format more suited for such things; like history book and lectures) than to be ever shifted entirely towards events that have passed us by. I'm not saying 9/11 wasn't important, but rather that there are a lot of important things that happen around us each day and to be stuck in the past only creates weird moments in time when no longer relevant events (sometimes they were never as relevant as they were made out, by the media, to be...such as the recent flood of Princess Di recollections) outweigh what could be far more important or urgent to the world of the present.

Anyway, to go back to game stuff, I just want to say one thing about Blue Dragon that contains minor spoilers. If you have not finished the second disc, then you may want to look away.

There is only one cliché of old RPGs that is in BD that really annoys me. It would be when you lose a key party member just because she is the heroine of the game. It happened in FFIV when you finally get Rosa, only to have Golbez capture her. It happens in the first Lufia when (no spoilers beyond that) Lufia remembers a certain something. It happens in just too many RPGs.

I can see having party members leave for various reason, be them long term departures or short. However, it's a little annoying when it's always the same type of character; the most important female character to the plot. It's also for the same reason; enemy captures or coerces the character. Why not have some random dude in the party, who still is given a key plot relevance, be the one to leave? Why is it always the possible love interest of the protagonist?

Anyway, I'm now in a part of BD that's both interesting (the plot around these events has some cool minor things) and annoying thanks to the departure of my best offensive mage. At least BD broke that one stereotype by having the female magic user be geared towards offensive magic instead of healing. True, you can always change that in BD by guiding characters towards alternative jobs, but it's obvious who they try to gear towards each role.

Hopefully this part won't go on too long. It's not that the challenge just got bad with the loss of my black mage (to the contrary, my fighters rarely need magical support thanks to some awesome possible skill selections). It's just annoying to think that each level I gain while Kluke (the mage in question) is out of the party will also be a level that Kluke will be further behind the rest of the party.

Which, of course, means more chance of needing to grind once she returns to the group so she's not completely useless.


Malik (9/12/07)

Guitar Hero 3 is coming to the PC. I will not even touch this for the most part, but I'll say two thoughts on my mind. For one, the system requirements better be pretty low for this game since any lag or hanging, or even a single hic-up in performance would make this game into complete crap.

Secondly, with how easy it would be for the right talented individuals to make custom tracks (it happened on the PS2 already with GH games), I hate to imagine the lawsuit mine field this will make between gamers, Activision, and the RIAA's overly trigger happy legal team. This is like walking into a GTA knock off and expecting a quality game...only in the legal side of things. There's only one thing that can come about from this, and it's a very bad thing.

On a totally different note, Sakguchi has finally given a solid release window for Lost Odyssey. The game should be coming along sometime around February (2008) in North America, with the original Japanese lauch coming on December 6th of this year. That's good to see since I've been beyond happy with Sakaguchi's 360 work so far (with that work being Blue Dragon). I think the old school fan in me is really happy with having an RPG maker on the market who actually understands that not every player wants to experience the "innovation" that has become Square Enix. Some gamers just want some RPGs that are fun and follow the old methods. It may not be cutting edge, but that's not the point in games or any other media format. Entertainment should be the goal of entertainment media and that's what Sakaguchi is giving.

Speaking of entertainment, I played some Blue Dragon last night and went through the only part of the demo I could stomach. I hated the demo. I loathed it's poor setup, it's lack of explanation, and the fact that the first stage shown was one with a timer. This timed dungeon was the dungeon I played through last night.

First of all, when you understand what your abilities are and what the purpose of a bomb being on Kluke's neck is supposed to mean, things feel a lot better. When you're also not given every single ability in the game to start things off, it also feels more enjoyable and less like you're being given some lame and half assed tech demo.

Anyway, unlike the demo (which I only played through two fights with and then quit in disgust), the timed dungeon was pretty fun. That probably has to do with how the plot picks up quite a bit around this dungeon. This is, afterall, the final dungeon of the 2nd disk (out of 3 DVDs). Big things usually happen before disk changes on RPGs...and BD is no exception.

I'm now around 40 hours into the game, have built up my characters how I want them (through picking classes and skills), and am getting into the plot. While the game does offer some annoyances, like how slow battles can be when you're just running into weak monsters, it's still more fun to play BD than almost any other RPG I've seen in the last three or four years (with DQ8 and the DS take on FF3 being the only real exceptions). Also, unlike a game like Rogue Galaxy (which started fast and fun, but became tedious and annoying as time went on), I know I will finish BD and not feel the need to quit well before the game stops.

It's another busy day in my world, so this is where my post must end for today.


Malik (9/13/07)

According to an article on Gamespot, originally on the Financial Times, the Wii is now the quickest selling console internationally for this generation. It's also the best selling current console (ahead of the 360, with their one year head start). In the bottom of this is the PS3, which is about 1/3 of the way to the sales figures of the other two consoles.

I could mention this because it could be used as ammo against Sony and the PS3. Actually, I will say one thing about that; Sony needs to re-plan what the hell they are doing. I know, I've said that many times before, but I'll keep saying it. I really am not wishing for the PS3 to suffer and die, despite how Sony has gotten an ego of uncontrollable levels and needs to be put in their place. I'm speaking as a gamer, and as one, the PSX and PS2 were two of my favorite consoles of all time. Besides the SNES, no console has given me as much enjoyment as a Sony machine. The PSX gave the world games like Xenogears and the advent of modern RPGs. The PS2 continued this and even gave us games like Guitar Hero and Katamari in the process.

However, the PS3 is becoming more of a joke of a console with each new day. It's overpriced, and this will not change for quite some time. True, we should see some new versions of the console with some lower prices in the next few months. The 40GB system is supposed to be in the works and will cost $399.99 (sorry, I lost that link, if it was true). However, the constant changing and removal of system configurations is not a solution since it only serves to show that some owners of the console are second class system owners.

Microsoft is doing the same thing with the Elite, Pro, and Core systems, but at least most features of the three can be obtained from lower leveled systems with added hardware. Sony, on the other hand, just offers less impressive systems and calls them "equal" (until they start calling owners of the best "hardcore" and the others as "casual" gamers).

Then there is how Sony has alienated third party developers and publishers with constant issues. This is the core of their problems. Until they can both please the wallets of gamers and the third party companies, the PS3 has no incentive for the mainstream gamers (those who care about games and not status symbols).

I really do want to see Sony come through, since the PS3 is the only true competition for the 360...and without competition, gamers are the real losers in the battle.

I never thought I'd say this after the N-64, the GCN, or the Virtual Boy, but maybe it's time for more console makers to take a look at Nintendo. They are not number one right now just because they have a cheaper console. They also have the console that doesn't require different levels of commitment (only on Wii configuration out there). Most of all, they have embraced all levels of gamers. True, some genres are lacking in Wii support, but on the other hand, the Wii offers casual games, more dedicated of games, and soon the more obsessive hardcore franchise I've ever played (Smash...and if you're not a Smash fanatic, don't be deceived by how it looks so damned cute and friendly...that game will eat you alive).

I just hope that things can shift for the supposed big boys of the console wars (Sony and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft) before the next generation is upon us. It's never too late to change, but the fiscal world may make that difficult for two companies that have poured too much money and research into aiming for the wrong demographic (that being, not all demographics).

At least on the bright side, if Sony doesn't change their direction soon, it may mean less competition for Microsoft...but it also means my bank account will not have to suffer a major hit just so I can get all the games I want to play.

Lastly, happy birthdays all around.  At least to my dad and my mother-in-law.


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