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Malik (9/11/06)  

I finally was able to lay Saint's Row to rest over the weekend. I may go back for a few of the activities, since I never finished the chop shops, the mayhem activities, the hitman activities, and I never even tried the hijackings. So, while the main plot and insurance fraud games are done, there's still plenty left to keep me entertained when I need a little M-rated wholesome fun.

I do have to say that while many have complained about it not making sense, the ending seems fitting. I won't spoil anything here, but I will say that there is no open-ended sandbox mode after you finish the final mission. I think this has disappointed people because it's not what GTA has been doing. However, considering the ending was the end of an actual plot, it makes sense for there to be some sense of finality to it. That is what Volition delivers...closure to the game.

Plus, in all honesty, you can treat the game like as if it had an open-ended ending by saving before the final mission (check your stat'll say 35/36 missions accomplished) and just reloading that final save. Plus, the last mission is actually just a cut-scene, so it's not like you'll have a long mission to replay when you're finally done with this "sandbox mode". So, while the game may not give what many GTA fanatics want, it will still deliver if you know what a video game and a save are truly meant for.

Speaking of fanatics...I'm a Seahawks fan. Been one longer than the Seahawks have been good. In fact, since I was born and raised in King County (the county that calls Seattle it's own), I've been cheering for the Seahawks since I was in grade school.

Anyway, I just have to say, for being the first opener after their first Super bowl appearance, yesterday's game was ass. There is no better word to call it. While I can take some comfort in the 'Hawks winning, there was nothing pretty about that game. Nothing like too much of the D and far too little of the offense to make a game very boring. I just hope this is not a sign of where the Seahawk's season is going (to slow games with low scores). After all, the only thing worse than your team losing is for your team to play a very uneventful game full of field goal attempts and massive defenses.

Like I said...all I'll take solace in is the W. I can take it for this week...but I wouldn't mind a side of points to go with my W next week.

After the game on Sunday, I played a little Enchanted Arms. So far, since I never really played much before, my real initial impressions are quite good. The game looks amazing, it plays like a good RPG should (a little bit of tradition and a little bit of novel concepts), and the plot is pretty easy to get into. Sadly, I will soon be able to answer if the game is good enough that replaying an hour of the game is tolerable...since I lost power after a few hours of playing, and the last time I saved was an hour before this happened.

So far, I have to say that EA is one of the most interesting blends of gaming concepts. There is a bit of Pokemon (in your golems), FFX (the visual style), Megaman Battle Network (in the battle mechanics), some Xenosaga (in how you can build and develop the human characters), and a big healthy dose of traditional J-RPG. Even a bit of Shadow Hearts in the humor used in the game. Despite having such an eclectic mix of gaming conventions, EA is looking like a damned good RPG and definitely better than the usual first generation J-RPG offerings that new consoles typically offer (like the PS2 with Orphan, the XBox with Metal Dungeon, the GB with FF Legend...the list goes on). In fact, if this is a sign of what's to come, I think the supposedly shaky line-up of 360 titles is looking damned good.

In fact, to randomly shift gears, the 360 is showing one damned good library after less than 10 months. We have RPGs covered with EA and Oblivion, racing games with Burnout Revenge and PGR3, action with Saint's Row and Dead Rising, some fun Arcade games to fill in the blanks (like Marble Blast Ultra), and some solid offerings for fans of online multiplayer (GRAW, Chromehounds, etc). If this is a sign of where the 360 is heading, I think the common consensus of the system lacking games is completely full of shit.

Ok. Like I said, last night I had a power outage. That wouldn't be too bad, but it required me to stay out a bit later than usual, and I am tired and not fully with it. So, this is where I'll cut out from my ramblings.


Malik (9/12/06)  

I'm really glad to see it works both ways. Assassin's Creed was a PS3 exclusive, and now it's coming to the 360 and the PC. Well, now we finally see games like Enchanted Arms going from 360 exclusive to being available on the PS3. It's beautiful to see this type of thing happening, since Sony has unleveled the playing field so much that it's no longer about what system you have to play what games. It's now all about what level of price commitment do you want to face.

I even see this going further in the future. For example maybe we won't wait too long to see Metal Gear Solid 4 come to the 360. I think very few third party titles will actually remain exclusive in this new generation. In the end, beyond a handful of games that may be third party but Sony or Microsoft will handle like first party will remain exclusive. The major sellers are probably going to hit multiple platforms just because the publishers can easily see that raising their sales in ways that were not fully relevant in the XBox/PS2/GCN generation.

To further talk about Enchanted Arms, I hope at least the PS3 American version will be fully translated. I don't know if anyone else plays RPGs like me (I investigate everything), but occasionally receiving messages in Japanese characters is slightly irritating. If you haven't noticed this, I suggest you simply investigate the first area with random battles (no spoilers here) and talk to all of the people on the'll see it soon enough.

Back to that second pseudo-subject (I'm in a random mood today), it's now being thought that 80% of all launch PS3s will be the $600 model. I don't know how truthful this is, since it's coming from one of analyst. However, if it's true, then the two simple facts remain obvious; first of all, this means the price point comparison is worthless. For those who blindly obey Sony and say that it's only $100 more than a premium 360 for a PS3, you may no longer be correct. With so few PS3s expected around launch, and with the vast majority being the $600 model, then the price has to be compared off of that one.

Secondly, this would have to imply, in some way, that the $500 model must have something not adequate about it. Why would Sony ship fewer of a less expensive model, unless it just doesn't cut it as a gaming machine? There are a few reasons, but none of them are polite (in terms of Sony) enough to discuss in this post without coming across as a major Microsoft fanboy...which I am far from (I just like my 360 since it gives me that a problem?).

In the end, this "news" is all analyst speculation, so we won't see how it really plays out until it's closer to November. However, if there's any truth to this, it could be rather interesting to see if Sony has any honest feedback on this situation.

I know what you're probably thinking..."honest feedback" and "Sony" never belong in the same sentence. Well, it's usually the truth, but Ken Kutaragi has actually proven this old adage wrong. Kutaragi has admitted to Sony hardware being in decline. On it's own, this isn't news. After all, it's becoming obvious that there's some problems internally with Sony. They will not get nearly as many of their far more expensive system into stores nearly as soon as they thought. Supplies are being cut back, releases (in Europe) are being delayed, and most gamers are just not understanding the price issue from an empathetic point of view.

However, the real news of this is the fact that Sony has actually had someone within the company (and Kutaragi of all people!) admit to some shortcomings. This does not happen. Sony had to be sued in a class action lawsuit to admit any PS2s were defective. Sony still won't acknowledge that the DS is kicking the PSP's ass, and they will never say that the Blu-ray versus HD-DVD battle is going to grant no easy winners. However, for once, Sony will admit that they are having some problems and that can face reality from time to time. If this holds up, and Sony continues to accept reality, that's when things might finally start making some sense from this backwards facing company.

On a side note, and complete subject change (it is one of those days), I found this interesting; a nice debate/forum on digital distribution with some input from many sources...Warren Spector, in particular, speaks of things near and dead to this geek. Especially about microtransactions.

Well, it's time for me to log off and get back to some Enchanted Arms. On a final subject jump for the day, expect a Saint's Row review in a few days.


Malik (9/13/06)  

The endless cycle seems like it will never come to completion. First Sony pushed the UMD movie format for the PSP like it was the next big thing. They even gave away Spiderman 2 (on UMD) to the owners of the first batch of PSPs. However, it didn't take long for consumers to see that when a low-res movie came out for such a non-friendly media format, and then at almost double the price of the industry standard (DVD), and then it lacked almost all bonus features, that this was a sinking ship. So, Target, Walmart, and a handful of other retailers said enough is enough and quit selling this abysmal reminders of why Sony and proprietary media both don't belong in the same sentence (unless it's a joke).

Well, now Sony has a new PSP bundle in the works. For $250 you can be the not-so-proud owner of a PSP, with an actually useful 1GB Memory Duo Pro, a crappy game (ATV Offroad Fury), and...yes...a bad movie on a bad format; Lords of Dogtown on UMD. Just when the industry figured Sony would end this charade, they just bring it back as a "bonus", which is obviously responsible for some of the large price of this package.

Two important facts remain on this. The first being that this is a bad deal unless you were the one person who enjoyed that movie and is also ignorant enough to think that the UMD movies just need a shot in the arm to boost sales and bring them back. However, if you are not this one sole person, then you may be better off getting any type of bundle from a vendor like Fry's, which will find a better game, and less lameness in the UMD movie department, for a lower price total.

Secondly, I have to say it again since it was a documentary, and therefore it escapes more people's notice. Lords of Dogtown is just a bastardized and dramatized version of one hell of an awesome movie; Dog Town and Z Boys. Now if you want to see the real origin of street skating, with a lot less of the modern music (in a movie based on events that took place before most of these artists were even born), and a good deal of additional content and a lack of the faked drama, then Dog Town and Z Boys is the answer.

Well, there isn't really much else to say on this not-so-fine day. There isn't much news...including no real notice of a Lego Star Wars demo on the Live Marketplace (which I'm greatly anticipating). I guess I will, instead of writing a long post, go about doing the important thing that needs to be done;

Here's my review of Saint's Row. It's a little late, but time is needed for a thorough review. In other words, this is a review done by someone who finished the game, played all activity types into the ground, and tried to mess around as much as possible with the game and it's engine, to ensure that everything was seen. I might also add, I made a strong effort to do what no other review I've seen for Saint's Row has done; no comparison to GTA...well, a tiny one at the end. However, since Rockstar created a GENRE with GTA3, it's fitting to stop calling these crime/sandbox games "GTA clones" and to start accepting that they all share in a genre that was pioneered by Rockstar.

Anyway, check out the review, if you are wondering how this game may fit into your grand schemes of killing a good 20+ hours and having fun doing it. I'm off to play some more Enchanted Arms.

To wrap up for the day, a couple of birthday wishes...Happy birthday dad and mom (in law).


Malik (9/15/06)  

I wasn't available to post anything yesterday...of all days...because I had what looks like what may be my final interview for the next few years. I think I've finally found a place that works for me and that I will fit in nicely with. So, I don't know what this means to my daily posts, but some changes may be in store...and a happier Malik is definitely in the works.

So, the reason I said "of all days" about yesterday is simple; yesterday we saw a lot of sweet news come our ways. To start with, Bully is getting a T rating. Yes, this ultimate "Columbine simulator" may just be like Rockstar has been saying; not nearly as evil as the supposed watchdog groups would like us to believe. However, while this may get some people (like a certain Mr. Thompson) to shut up or to at least eat a nice serving of humble pie (ok...that will never happen with Jack-o), the main question is if the game will be any good. After all, when Rockstar makes a new GTA, things are usually good. However, their track record when GTA is not in the equation looks more like EA's...spotty at best.

Also, yesterday we finally had Nintendo's big Wii news. The Wii will be here on November 19th (which, like with the GCN and I believe the N-64, gives us a Sunday Nintendo launch). Also, the final price should be no surprise. Nintendo kept saying the Wii would be "under $250", so the price was obvious when they announced $249.99...which is not "under $250" in my books since a single penny doesn't mean shit to me, or to most Americans.

Also, the news kept coming in the form of Zelda: Twilight Princess being delayed for the GCN. The Wii version, which was announced after the GCN version, will come out on the 11th of December, while the Wii version will still be a launch title. Interesting, considering the game was originally a GCN exclusive. Also interesting since the Wii versions sounds like a slightly more labor intensive one to create and develop. At least we'll still have a truly unusual event in the form of Zelda being a launch title. Good news, despite the delay.

To continue the Wii news, since it's almost like Christmas in the news department, Nintendo has announced some of the multimedia abilities of the Wii. I wish I could comment, but I seriously don't care all that much. After all, Nintendo said it so well before; the Wii is about games, and thus we shouldn't need to worry about Wii Channels, web surfing, or any other non-game news.

However, I still have one all important question that is out of Nintendo's realm to answer; when can I place a pre-order already? This one is up to Gamestop more than anyone else, since they are almost the entire pre-order business. I just want to be able to drop some money now and not worry about this stuff when November rolls around.

One nice extra bit of news is that the Wii will be launching with Wii Sports included. Not counting Hexic, for the 360 Arcade, this is the first time a system has launched with an actual game included since the SNES days. While Wii Sports may not be the top game on many peoples' lists, it is nice to see a real game being included with a system. Also, on that note, first party titles will run about $50 each, making the game prices comparable to the 360 first party titles. That's another thing that makes little sense to me, since the development costs of a Wii game are supposedly so much lower.

On a final note of prices, the emulated classic games are finally a rather disappointing $5-$10 each. Considering some games can be found on eBay for well under that price range, and considering how the classic games could have been a major selling point, this price scheme seems unbalanced. After all, if Nintendo offered some sort of subscription rate, like maybe $10/month, that would've made this service go from seeming awkward to being brilliant. I guess not all of the Wii news can be as good as we all originally hoped.

Anyway, this is a lot of news to sink in at one time. I still am finding new little bits of info to pick apart or to praise and get giddy about. I just can't comment anymore until I give some more time to combing through the announcements. So, for now I will poof out for the weekend. If all goes well, it'll be a great weekend with a potential new job offer before I call today over.


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