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Malik (10/31/05)  

This is a little old (as in it's been around for a few days), but I just feel like discussing how the PS3 is going to be ready for 120 FPS. So, right now, the PS3 is being reported, by Sony, to have a final price that will be "expensive". On top of that, there's some useless functionality, like being able to hook up to two HD-TVs at once...I guess to make a super wide screen game experience. That couldn't have been free in the sense that this functionality would increase the price of the "expensive" system some. On top of that, we now have 120 FPS support...which is something that almost no TVs currently can handle. 

I just have to wonder if Sony is just enjoying the fact that people will buy their system no matter what (it's freakin' Sony, after all) a little too much. They have what may be the most expensive console ever, and they just seem to keep pushing an envelope that won't even matter. First off, the human eye cannot detect 120 FPS (if you think your eye can, and you live in the US, you should be seeing your lights flicker all the time since American power runs around 120 cycles per second...and your TV should be flickering like a mo-fo). This is not only useless technology, but it will undoubtedly crank up the price of the system. 

In fact, my guess is that by the time this refresh rate of TVs is common place enough to justify having this pointless feature on a game system, we will have seen the PS4 and maybe even the PS5...and we'll still be paying off our debts on our purchases of the PS3. 

Anyway, this weekend I was able to get in a massive game of Civilization 4 with my friends Bastich and Meat Shield. I cannot believe how sweet multiplayer is on this game...especially when you play at the same time on separate computers. 

At one point, Bastich and I were both trying to law down the law on Caesar (who was unfortunate enough to piss us both off at the same time). We both had units outside one of his cities, and I would see on my monitor one of Bastich's catapults bombard the city, then my macemen would come in swinging, then Bastich's next round of catapults, and then my catapults. It's not like we took individual turns, so we could coordinate our military actions. 

I just wish I had shown some more restraint in my games of Rise of Nations with them. I was always the guy who worked hard to get nukes, and then I'd use them freely. I don't mean I'd bomb enemy, I'd drop bombs on a group of enemy workers, just because I could. I would use them in place of a traditional army. If I was attacked, then my nukes would be my frontline defense. 

So, in this game of Civ4, Meat Shield had just finished making the UN. Since I had become quite militaristic (I played as the there any other way to play as Genghis Kahn than as power-hungry?) right before this, the choice for head of the UN was between Meat Shield (who built the place) and myself. Well, being at war with all the computers put their votes on Meat Shield...which meant, he had the victory. Well, right as I built the Apollo Program, old memories of Rise of Nations forced Meat Shield to call for a vote on Nuclear's sad when a game of Civ goes on with no chance to build nuclear weapons. I was the only no vote. 

Anyway, we spent about 12 hours or so on this game so far. We didn't even finish in that time, and I don't care that so much time was washed away on a single game. This is what makes Civ so can just play for a long time and not even realize that half your weekend is gone and there still hasn't been a winner. 

Anyway, before I go, I need to correct something I said last week. It is possible to put custom soundtracks on GTA:LCS. However, Rockstar is being a dick about it by requiring the music to come from actual CDs (to supposedly prevent piracy)...even though this means that people who buy MP3s are left out in the cold. Plus, it means wasted space on your memory duo card...since if you want to have both an MP3 of a song (for listening on the music player) and you want it in your custom soundtrack on GTA, you will need two different copies of the same damned song. I would like it for Rockstar to just release a patch that actually looks at the PSP music folder for a custom soundtrack (like how you can with the have a simple folder that all games and the music player can work from), but I don't see this happening. I just hope, if more games include customer music, that Rockstar will be the exception, and not the rule. 


Malik (11/1/05)  

All I can say is I'm not happy about this...the 360 was supposed to break a few launch rules. It was the first system with a global launch (which is still on track, but doesn't mean shit to me), it was going to have more games (still on track), more noteworthy games (sorta on track), and it would be the first console launch in the US that had an RPG in the launch window. That last one has me annoyed. 

So, instead of the original estimate of Oblivion coming out with the 360, it got delayed. All of us who have been following Oblivion like slobbering fan-boys knew it was delayed 2 weeks. Well, that was until Oblivion is being pushed back to somewhere around February, at the earliest. In a time of year, like fall, when games need to be planned like a good game of Civilization, this is the type of news that tends to upset me. In particular, it's not the delay of Oblivion that annoys me as much as how it was supposedly on schedule for a holiday release until now. In fact, to be given about a month of warning that a game is delayed is pretty weak when the game should've been going gold in only a week or so to make it's previously scheduled launch. This was the type of thing that should've been seen (and reported) earlier. 

I won't even go off about how this made Take Two's stock turn into a stinking pile of shit overnight...or how it cost me a lot of money...or how this is the second time they've screwed me in a week (the other time being how I have to have two copies of a MP3 on my PSP if I both want to hear it in GTA and out of GTA)...

To bring further confusing news, Microsoft will apparently eventually release a HD-DVD version of the 360. This is confusing and lame since the DVD drive of a console is not something as easy to replace as a PC drive. So, what this ultimately means is that Microsoft will eventually release a new 360 (meaning those who bought the launch one and the one available until the HD version comes along) will have a less attractive piece of hardware long before the system is obsolete. On top of that, it means that Microsoft is already planning to milk the console audience for extra money. At least, in the end, it won't effect the console all that much, since Microsoft won't use the HD-DVD drive for games. 

So, I call this confusing since it seems like a rather backwards step in the console market to announce your plans to make your system more attractive as it ages BEFORE the system even launches. If anything, this is the type of news that will make someone who's on the fence about buying the 360 just say "I'll wait for the better one". The last thing a console maker should do prior to launching their hardware is say "the launch one is nice...but the one that's coming later will be a lot nicer!". 

Since I'm in a bitchy as hell mood (it's just been one of those days...), I will just say I'm not in the least bit surprised that the vaporware-ish Phantom is involved again with bad news. Tim Roberts, the founder of this company, who has done...what has he done? Well, apparently he's done a lot of corporate crime. I'm glade to see that I was right in my assertations about the Phontom living up to it's name and sounding quite corrupt. It makes me feel a little happier to see bad things happening to someone who deserves it, for once. That is as opposed to the people who may eventually buy into something like the Phantom (if it's ever released) or those who would buy stock in Infinium Labs. 

Well, I have nothing but complaints today. I now need to go to EB and cancel a pre-order (I won't be in the same town as my pre-order when Oblivion arrives) and try to find something else that might be worth filling the void when the 360 launches. 


Malik (11/2/05)  

So, to continue a trend of this week, I can speak more of Rockstar. This time, it's less about them f%$#ing up with delaying games, or f$#%ing up with how custom music is played in GTA:LCS, and less on them having a nightmare of a stock. This time I can get back to what I know best; GTA. 

Last night, while I was canceling my pre-order for Oblivion (I didn't cancel because it's delayed...I canceled for the one smart reason; I'm moving away from my local EB/Gamestop before the game is planned to be released after it's delay), I picked up some analogue nub pads for the PSP. Some people were swearing that GTA:LCS is a lot friendlier to control with a change of analogue nubs, so I felt like taking the chance. After all, the replacement nubs don't damage the PSP (the regular nub pops off with a simple twist of a knife or flathead screwdriver), and you get three of them for $5. 

Well, before replacing the nub, controlling a PSP game made me think of a broken NES Max controller. After replacing them, it felt like I was using a working Max controller. I should add that I always hated that damned controller. It isn't perfect, but it does make a nice difference...especially on GTA. 

So, for the first time, I played with some control of my character. I still hate using the PSP analogue nub, but at the same time, it's just too hard to control GTA with the d-pad, so I'm left with no choice. In the end, I was able to get Toni to walk in a somewhat correct direction most of the time, which is better than my old problem of him walking anywhere within a 90 degree radius of where I pressed on the nub. 

I really wish that someone would make an adapter to plug a PS2 controller into the PSP. While it may defeat the whole concept of portability, it would make the more sensitive of games (like GTA and the races on Ape Escape) easier to handle. Let's face it, the nub is no PS2 analogue stick...which is no XBox analogue stick... 

Anyway, back to my trip to EB (I wonder how long before we stop seeing that name on stores). Since I was planning on having two 360 games, I needed to pre-order something else. Originally, I intended to have Perfect Dark Zero as my multiplayer game, and I was counting on Oblivion as the game for my "alone time". Well, since the launch line-up is looking more and more typical (as in, there are too few quality much for Microsoft's claims of having "the best launch line-up ever"), I decided to just let Rare dominate my first few months with the 360. I ordered Kameo. I know it will probably be pretty fun, but I still doubt it will fill the void that a solid quality RPG, like Oblivion, could have filled. At least it could be of the best launch titles could always be something like Luigi's Mansion... 

Anyway, I'm still in my juggling act. I've been trying to let one game fill each of my night's worth of game time. Last night was GTA:LCS, tonight will be more Fable, and sometime, when sleep is not an issue, I'll let Civilization 4 come out to play. This is precisely why I like to schedule what games I buy and when. It's too easy to let on good game sit on the shelf collecting dust while some other game gets all my affection. 


Malik (11/3/05)  

Starcraft: Ghost is being canceled for the Gamecube. Wow! I didn't think an announcement of canceling vaporware is an actual announcement. Seriously, this game, like Duke Nuken Forever and the Phantom system, is about the most likely to win vaporware of the decade. There has been a total of nothing important ever said about this game. 

True, Ghost has been shifted, over the years, from one development studio to another, and it has gone through it's fair share of announcements (like the GCN version being canned). However, this game has been scheduled for release for about 3 years now. If it doesn't come out by Christmas, I say it's time for Blizzard to cut it's losses (which must be sizable by now) and cancel the entire project. 

So, yesterday I finally saw something that really brought back a sense of nostalgia. I don't mean some lame re-invention of an old console favorite that has been mutilated by 3D and modern technology. I am talking about that feeling that usually children are the only ones to really know of seeing something, seeing it's close to the Christmas shopping season, and then going crazy telling your biggest gift giver that you NEED said product to have a good Christmas...and then bragging to your friends that you're getting it. Wow! This is an awesome feeling that really takes me back. 

So, my friend Bastich and I used to go crazy at Gameworks with their guitar game (forgive me for being bad about names today...I had a fire alarm wake me up early from my sleep and force me to go without my precious caffeine) when we would have the timed free play cards. Every time the game would give us a wailing bonus or a secret bonus, we would freak out. I may not have much love for DDR style games (people raised in redneck environments tend to lack the ability to dance or have rhythm in their bodies), but I can pick up a guitar and just feel what to do. 

So, Guitar Hero is about the first game released in America (not counting Ephemeral Phantasia...damn that game) that gives players a chance to really pick up a guitar and jam. Beyond that, seeing the 2-player bundle just makes it that much sweeter. Too bad I'll have to wait until Christmas to crack this thing out, but if it's under the plastic-artificial mess that Velveeta and I call a tree, I can assure you that this will be the teh roxorist Christmas ever. 

Best of all, while many rhythm games are obviously aimed towards a certain demographic with a wide selection of J-pop, K-pop, and Americanized crap that imitates these genres, Guitar Hero is obviously aimed, at least a little, to good old redneck trash like your's truly. Seriously, this blurb from Redoctane's site says it all; 

The songs in Guitar Hero are straight out of a rock fan's CD or record collection. Over 30 incredible rock anthems fill every stage of the game. Jam to songs like Iron Man, Ziggy Stardust, Thunderkiss 65, More Than a Feeling, Take Me Out, and I Wanna Be Sedated! 

Booyah! Anyway, I have little to talk about today. Ok, I do have one thing to add about Fable. 

For those who may be having trouble finding a good way to crank up your characters "times had sex" count, I found a nice glitch in the game. Just get married to someone and get them trapped in a small area (which includes your bed). This works best with Bowerstone North (since your home is an enclosed area). Now just stand near your spouse and flirt a couple of times (throw in a gift, too). The spouse will just keep talking to you on their own, and after a couple minutes, they will be in the mood for love. Hit A a couple of times and let the game do it's thing for another couple of minutes...hit A twice more...rinse, repeat. Just keep repeating this action (of doing nothing and then hitting A twice) to not only get your sex count up (good for the demon door that requires a certain amount of "experience"), but you'll also have a happy spouse who is far more likely to give a gift or two. I don't know if this is a bug or what, but now my spouse in Bowerstone North now gives gifts like the world is ending. I guess this is Fable's way of holding up the stereotype that a spouse is really only interested in someone who will listen and not open their big mouth. 


Malik (11/4/05)  

Last night I tried to get in some time with Fable and GTA. Well, I guess you could say I had some fun and some annoyance. 

I'm trying to get a good deal of time with Fable since I want to be finished with this wonderful game before the 360 comes along (in just two and a half weeks), so I've been hitting it pretty hard. I'm now at the end of the first Fable, and I guess I'll see where The Lost Chapters goes from there after I play some this weekend. 

Also, since I am playing this game just like I did with the original Fable, I don't expect to be finished anytime soon. I found it to be such a shame that so many gamers played as quickly as they could with Fable and then called the game short. Meanwhile, I am taking my sweet time and loving every minute of my far greater than "just 10 hours to beat" game. However, I should admit that I've been rushing a bit lately since I'm anxious to see where the game goes after you beat what was the last quest on the first Fable release. 

Unfortunately, I also played GTA:LCS and can't be quite as happy about that. Seriously, this series may have to have been striped down a little for the PSP, but this is freakin' ridiculous. For example, toning down the controls to fit the fewer button PSP was masterfully pulled off. In the end, it isn't much worse than trying to play GTA on the XBox after learning and loving the PS2 controller. However, other changes don't justify the treatment they received. 

The best example is how the missions are so damned sloppy. Sometimes you'll get a fun one. For example, last night I played a mission that involved me having to scare my passenger with reckless driving. That was fun and open ended enough to give me some real freedom. I could take a bunch of jumps, I could speed, I could get into accidents, I could...well, anything that could scare a real passenger would work. That was a shit ton of fun compared to the next mission I did... 

I had to drive down to the docks. The only thing I knew ahead of time, thanks to overly brief missions briefings, was that I needed to find a four person vehicle and pick up some backup. I did that. Then I went to the docks. Next thing I knew, I was in a fire-fight, and I had no idea who I was meant to kill or if I was meant to escape. Some text flashed at the bottom of the screen, but it didn't appear until after I had taken a few rounds from some dude's tec-9. Thank you Rockstar Leeds. I lasted another 3 seconds. I would've loved a chance, but with a game that has such poor controls (partly to blame on Sony and their half-assed nub) and poor camera control (all Rockstar Leeds on that one) you don't get a chance. 

Most missions come down to this factor. They are either insanely easy and simple or incredibly difficult. Usually the difficult missions come down to a couple things. Either the developers were just being asses (just look up info online for the Chainsaw Massacre mission and you'll see what I mean) or they just didn't take into account the poorly controlled camera, controls, and hit detection. 

Yeah, that was a new one for me. The hit detection in this game is almost perfect, until you get on a motorcycle. Once you do, you can expect to flip off your bike a few dozen times in heavy traffic just by coming within a foot of another vehicle. There seems to be a slight problem in the game with ending the physical texture for the motorcycle where the visuals for it end. 

I am still determined to finish this game since I've plowed through all GTA games...and since the story is pretty times...however, I have to take it slow. Last night I found myself almost forgetting that the PSP is an entire system. I felt that urge (mainly from seeing my bike hit nothing and watching as Toni flipped through the air from hitting that nothing) to throw my controller. Luckily, I had enough self-control to realize that this is not just a $30 controller that I could replace, but rather something that I would hate myself for theory. I mean it's not like the PSP has really given me much of quality besides emulators, but that's another matter. 

Sorry. I rambled enough. I will see what I can do about GTA this weekend. I hope to have some good stories on Monday...I really do hope. Anyway, it's weekend time, and I am out of here. 


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