Malik (11/8/04)  

I spent a lot of time playing GTA:SA this weekend...a lot of time...yet I only progressed a couple of missions. When I put up my review last week (I gave a 9.25/10), I followed my usual procedures of playing a game for at least 10 hours (I actually get in about 20-25, which is where I stood on GTA:SA last week when I posted the review), so I can be as unbiased as possible...I just don't care for the bullshit that many people use of posting a single review for every version of a cross-platform title, posting a review that is completely made up of fanboy obsession, or (most importantly) posting a review for a game that I have not played long enough to justify my final score for said game. Well, I was sadly wrong on GTA:SA, since the lowest point of the game does not come until a good deal of the game is done. Usually, such a low point being so late in a game would not be enough for me to do this, but I must update the GTA:SA review

For those who don't feel like clicking the link right now (lazy bastards), I'll tell you about the hell that is working for Mr. Torreno. At one point in the game, there is only one mission available to you (ok, this happens at several points, but I'm picking a specific one here). You have no options but to do this mission. Basically, you are required to be a good pilot. I know...this sounds like fun. I mean you get to earn your pilot's license (you can get one earlier...much earlier...if you want to know how, just ask in the forum), and do some missions that require some piloting skills. However, this is only fun until you fly the airplanes (as I said in my review, the airplane controls are horrible) in the required testing. Even after you get your license (you'll get your license by the end of the 3rd test out of 10), you still must finish all of the tests (which caused me to almost throw a controller through my TV this last weekend). These tests require flying your plane perfectly through a series of closely spaced rings that require a good deal of precision to your flying skills. Each test lasts for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, and if you mess up at the end (which is when you're most likely to do so), you will have to waste another 1:50 to get back to that same point. The worst thing is that, I know, you will not need all of this precision in the missions that require flying. 

Well, it got so bad that Velveeta and I had to tag team the fourth test. The fourth test requires you to take off (easy), circle the airport while flying through those damned rings (very annoying and touchy), and then to land and stop in a certain end location (not easy at all), and if you mess up any, you have to repeat the whole damned thing. So, Velveeta and I played some hot seat on Heroes of Might and Magic 3, and whoever was not playing Heroes would play that flight test. It only took about 3 hours of trying for the test to finally be passed. In fact, I spent my entire weekend playing these damned flying tests, and I still have 3 to go. This type of bullshit (bad controls, required tests, and how picky the grading is for these tests...if you mess up even a little, you fail and won't know it until you finish the exam...wasting another 2 minutes) has just left a bad taste in my mouth for GTA:SA, and I'm now even pondering alternative games to devote my time to. Anyway, just read my updated review, and you'll be enlightened. 

On the bright side, I caught The Incredibles this weekend...well, I saw it twice since Velveeta had to miss the opening night show I went to and so I went on Sunday to see it with her. I'm left with two main thoughts after seeing this movie. The first is that if you are watching a child who is not in the mood to see a movie in the theater, don't drag that kid to the theater and ruin the movie for everyone around you (I was close to telling that lady to go f$#% herself, in front of her kid, and I don't like to swear in front of children...I like to let children learn their swearing from a source that doesn't lead to me being blamed). The only thought I had is that more movies should be like this one. It's been quite some time since I've seen a movie that I would consider going to twice in one weekend...hell, I'll even see it again when Pixar pulls out some extra footage, or a bloopers reel, or whatever else they have in about 2 months and says that we all need to see the movie again in theaters to see the new footage. 

Anyway, it's time that I tried the final 3 flight tests on GTA:SA...I think I already have broken one of my controllers for the PS2 since I started flying type missions (counting the Supply Lines mission for Zero with the radio controlled planes) by squeezing it too hard in my building frustration...time to break my final perfectly working control...why Rockstar?...why?

On a final note, since I only remembered this as I was wrapping up my post, I have encountered some weird shit in GTA:SA.  And when I say weird shit, I mean a freakin' UFO!  So, I decided, despite how geeky it is, to create a special place for these findings.  Enjoy.


Malik (11/9/04)  

Ok...let's just get it out in the open since it's all people seem to care about today...here goes...

HALO 2!!!1111!!!  It B 1337!!!1111!!!11

Now that that's out in the open, let's get to what matters...yes, GTA:SA.  I finally finished the worst excuse for a series of missions.  After you finish flight school (so f%$#ing horrible to require this bullshit) you have to do a couple of flying missions.  These consist of almost as bad of requirements, but in a 10 minute span, which makes them far more annoying when you fail.  Then, the game gets fun again (thankfully).  You have a few fun flying related missions that include driving a motorcycle into a jet that's taking off and then you must eliminate all of the people on board...then you freakin' parachute out of the jet (that was soooo damned awesome).  Then you have some fun stealth and jet-pack (yes, jet-pack!) related missions that almost make up for the bullshit of pilot school.  Now I'm in Las Venturas (as in Las Vegas) doing good old ground based missions.  Plus, I now have better weapons, more money, and can duel-wield sawed-off shotguns (instant death to anyone who pisses me off, which is almost everyone now that I went through flight school).

Now I'm just trying to regain my sanity with SA.  So, being in LV is a definite help in that area.  I'm taking advantage of my new found abilities (duel-weilding, more freedom, jet-pack) to take full advantage of a open-ended exploration system.  Also, I'm trying to tie up the loose ends (the auto-export garage, hidden items, etc).

Anyway, as I said, Halo 2 is now out, and I will get to playing it sometime tonight with Velveeta (co-op is what the first was all about...deathmatch online can always wait), but first I have some GTA:SA to play...also, my life pissed me off a lot today and involved some rather unsafe and annoying things (not by my choice), so I feel like I need to go insane with some sawed-off action.  Peace.


Malik (11/10/04)  

Ok, once again, let's get it out in the open; Halo 2. Supposedly this game sold more than $100 million dollars worth of itself in the first 24 hours. That comes out to something along the lines of over 2 million copies of the game sold yesterday. In an ideal world, in which game publishers hold true to their promises, then Halo 2 would be a "best-seller", "greatest hit", or whatever (is it "Platinum" something or other...it's like super size vs. biggee size vs. I don't give a shit what you call it). So, if things go like they did for the original, it will be considered so in about 3 or 4 years and then it will drop down to the required $20 for a best selling game. Anyway, this is just my pointless bitching. 

I got in some multiplayer with Velveeta last night...co-op, of course. The game does play pretty well, and it was a lot of fun, but it feels like something (at least in co-op) is off. There was just something about either the visuals, the controls, or even the HUD that made the game feel way too foreign to me. It almost felt more like a Halo spin-off than a sequel. However, it is still good, and I had fun. I, however, don't think that it will stop me from beating GTA:SA, by any means. 

The biggest complaint I have with the game is the weapons. So far, like with the last Halo, ammo is scarce...very scarce. Some weapons you can keep picking up to refresh (the Covenant plasma pistol and rifle), but some just don't have any ammo pickups. It's not like I want the ammo handed to me on a silver platter (although that would be cool when I want Master Chief to feel like a real master with his Grunt butler...I need some sleep...), but I would like to go through with my standard style (of conserving ammo) and not have to always rely on the Covenant weapons. I just don't care for the plasma pistol or rifle, but Halo 2 is forcing me to use them. Not only is it bad that I keep running out of ammo for the fun weapons (shotgun, rocket launcher), which take a lot of work to even find, but it's just sad when I can't find ammo for my SMG or my Battle Rifle (the standard weapons you start with). I actually find myself wanting to kill myself from time to time and then just respawn with a fully loaded SMG and BR...and that is just not right. 

On top of that, the pistol, as everyone knows by now, has no scope (the one in Halo did). This turns an almost useless weapon into a piece of shit. It is too weak to use, and without a sniping aspect, it is nothing short of crap. 

At least, on the plus side, there is one new weapon that did blow my mind. I still don't know the names of every weapon (I prefer to use a brief description since it's both easier on me and easier to understand if you also don't know the proper names), but it's the Covenant sniper rifle...or as I kept calling it last night, "the big freakin' gun of doom". It's like a sniper rifle, and it probably does about the same damage, but it just looks really freakin' cool. 

Anyway, so far, I'd have to say that there is one truly awesome moment in Halo 2 that surpasses the original in every possible way. In one of the early levels, you have to pilot a Scorpion (big ass tank). Well, Velveeta was able to get in the Scorpion, so I rode on top of the tank firing my SMG when I needed to help out. That is, until I saw an open Ghost (fast plasma-cannon packing speeder-hover-craft thingy) and jumped in. There is nothing like tag-teaming the covenant with one person doing heavy damage in a Scorpion while the other person does clean-up in a Ghost. That one level beat everything from the original Halo. 

I still haven't tried other multi-player options (including Live). I don't know when I'll get around to it. I figure I will eventually, but the co-op is always my favorite part of a FPS, so I'm enjoying while it lasts (supposedly, it's far too short...supposedly). 

I also got in some more GTA:SA time last night. The game definitely picks up after you finish the required flying missions. Also, the challenge level for the last 8-10 missions has been a lot more level and at the right level of "hard, but not pissing me off". Also, there are a lot of missions with Wu Zi (or Woozie), and that has to be the most entertaining GTA character yet. Also, with playing more in Las Venturas, it's been nice to see some shameless cameos from VC and 3 coming into play (again...GTA3 guy was in a much earlier mission). Also, it's nice to be in an area in which Infernus and Cheetah are more common of car names, hehe. For those who can find one, take either of these cars on a long straight road (like a highway), and let it rip. Then try it the wrong way on a highway; by the time you see a car, you have already hit it, flipped a dozen times, slammed into another car, spun around, hit the center divider on the highway, flipped again, caused about 15 cars to join the pile-up, and caught fire. I now have every garage I can find in LV fully loaded with Cheetahs, just for this type of enjoyment. 

Anyway, I'm aiming to get in a few more missions before Velveeta gets home from work, since she'll probably want to get in some more Halo 2 before Mythbusters. Later.


Malik (11/11/04)  

Many people have already finished GTA:SA, and yet here I am, still playing it, with at least a couple dozen more missions...so, why am I still trying to finish this game? To me, it always boggles my mind how people rush through the GTA games way too quickly, and also rely way too much on walkthroughs and strategy guides. I have only looked to a walkthrough two times (once for help on the Supply Lines mission, which was a horrible excuse for a mission, and once for Learning to Fly...the pilot school bull shit), and it's made it so much better. In a game that is so free-form, I just don't get why people who look up the solutions for everything (except, maybe, after things are said and done, I may look up the hidden items, picture locations, etc) when half the fun is exploring and finding the correct solutions, and even the incorrect solutions. I mean, after I finished GTA:VC, I looked up a few of the harder missions on a walkthrough and found that I did them all completely differently, and in several instances I even found the easier solution to a mission. 

So, my point in going off about this is two-fold. Firstly, I'm just saying why I'm still devoted to GTA:SA more than any other game right now. Secondly, I wanted to set up how I play a GTA game to explain my newest discovery (warning: if you like to find things yourself, then you should go ahead and skip the next three paragraphs and the pictures). 

I finally went to the Las Venturas airport last night (I just have a bad taste in my mouth for flying airplanes after the required flying missions, and helicopters are usually found at other locations, not the airports), and decided to do a bit of exploration. Mainly, I was trying to avoid the cops, so I was hoping that some extra firepower would be found behind the restricted area...which I did find in the form of armor and a rocket launcher. However, after a while, I found a really big hanger (I mean it's freakin' huge...you could fit your auto-shop from San Feirro inside and still have room a-plenty) that I was running by (my car had become a flaming wreck after I mis-aimed a fun looking jump by the runway). Since it was so big, it took me a while to run by it...half way past the front of the hanger, I noticed the giant doors were opening. So, thinking a jet may be inside (I needed something that was not running at this point since I was just tired of CJ's slow run), I waited for the door to open. Well, like I said, it was a huge hanger that required a long time to open. Once it opened, I saw a rather unique sight...a jumbo jet...and...a ramp leading to the main doors of the jet! So, I climber the ramp, hit the triangle (get into a vehicle) button, and watched as CJ got inside this behemoth (just look at the small single engine planes in the 3rd picture to see how giant this thing is). 



It took me a bit of time to back the thing out of the hanger and to get it turned around and facing the right way at the beginning of a runway. Then, I opened the throttle, picked up speed, pulled back on the stick and watch the city disappear under and behind me. Unfortunately, this jet still controlled like one of the other planes, so I had to be extra careful since I couldn't just make an emergency landing on a stretch of road with something this big. I took the jet to the west (over my personal airport, with too short of a runway to land at...at least with my lack of skills), then south over San Fierro. I thought about hitting the runway here, but realized that I didn't have a good approach, so I went back the way I came from. When I finally got to the LV airport, I thought my approach was better than it really was. My aim was good, my speed was good, but my altitude was a bit higher than I thought (it's hard to gauge how high and how fast this thing is actually going since we're dealing with a much larger scale than any other vehicle)...so, I started to land half way down the runway...and I tried to turn the jet a little to improvise for my lack of landing room...and then I hit a hanger (if it was only 30 feet further, I might have had a chance), head on...then I exploded like no other vehicle in GTA has ever exploded! 

My next attempt will include finding a parachute first (I forgot that I still had no parachute after the mission for the airport that involves a motorcycle and a jet...I forget the name of the mission), and then driving the jet straight down into the ground, from high up, jumping, and watching the action. I know this sounds incredibly "wrong" in the post 9/11 world, but I'm not thinking 9/11 or terrorists. I'm thinking video games, GTA, and a big-ass vehicle that explodes multiple times when it crashes...and parachuting into the aftermath. 

Anyway, I still haven't played much Halo 2. In fact, I didn't touch it at all last night. Velveeta was a bit late in getting home from work, so we just skipped playing for the night. I know that I could have played on Live (and pretend that deathmatch is not a pathetic excuse for not playing co-op), but I was too busy with my GTA:SA discovery...and doing about 5 or 6 missions. However, I do aim to play some more co-op tonight. I'm hoping the game starts to wow me soon, like Halo 1 did all so well, since H2 is feeling a bit limited, so far. It's not that it's a bad game, but I think it's not the Halo killer. I like to think of it like GTA3 versus GTA:VC; one game had better graphics, and one game had better missions...and they both had control issues, but in different areas...and they both had a different setting. The same could be said of Halo and Halo 2. Halo 2 feels really sloppy in the controls (sorta skittish) and the vehicles control too tightly, which in Halo the controls were a little too rigid at time and the vehicles were to sloppy in control. They equal out in the end. My only big complaint so far is that the weapons feel a bit uninspired (the pistol is now useless without the scope), ammo is too scarce in the campaign mode (unless you like the plasma pistol...bleh), and the duel wielding is not what it was hyped to be...in fact, I'll take a big gun in hand, a small one (or a special weapon, like the sniper rifle or rocket launcher) in reserve, and a grenade always ready to be tossed any day. 

However, my two biggest problems are quite simple and could've been avoided. Playing on Live is great in many instances, but I usually am playing when people I know are not playing (also, not everyone I know has bought H2 yet), and this new "organic" set up for online games is definitely not in the favor of people in my situation. It's more set up for getting teams together and all that shit. I just want to pop into a couple of game for a round or two and then move on to another game...I'm a bit ADD when I'm online, and I can't stand the thought of just sitting there in one game with the same people (who use the same tactics) for a long time. Also, most people on Live are dicks, so I find it better for me to move on before I say something I'd regret to anyone of them (I don't like to swear at a 14 year old...even if he thinks he's god since he can say naughty words while his parents are out since he's on Live). 

My other complaint is a far shorter and more to the point one...the level that was shown in demos of H2 for the last year and a half (which looked like it would be the best level in the game) was cut. This level looked insanely fun, diverse in game play style, and like a perfect introduction to the game (a good second level)...but apparently keeping a level that everyone was looking forward to was not in Bungie's interest...blah. 

Maybe my opinion will change with time, but once again (like with GTA:SA) I think the hype got the better of people. Reviews are giving this game a bit more than it deserves...like with GTA:SA, I agree that it's a great game, but it's not quite THAT great. Maybe my opinion will change...that's why I like to keep playing for a while before I just give a final review. So, I think I'll try to get a review up in the next week or so, but with GTA:SA still in my hands, I may have to delay it a bit. Also, the DS is coming out pretty soon, so that will probably be my personal Halo-killer in about 10 days. Too many damned games are coming around right now and I'm, like I said before, going to have to be rather picky about which ones get what level of attention. 


Malik (11/12/04)  

I honestly can't give a shit anymore. In one week, we see Halo 2 and Half-Life 2. The 2 biggest FPS games of the year (maybe of the last 3 years). We also have Vampire coming along on Tuesday, which uses the HL2 Source engine. We also have only had GTA:SA for a couple of weeks. We also have Metroid Prime: Echos coming in a short time frame. We also have the DS coming out in a little over a week. There's also World of Warcraft coming soon. We also have...me not caring anymore. Some might call this a good thing...check out my Malik's Bitchings for today to see who would be this stupid...all the excessive games and hardware are just making more and more people feel jaded on the whole gaming situation. Quite frankly, I've put my blinders up, and I'm sticking with GTA:SA. Unlike most people, I'm not just abandoning a fairly new and not completed (as in, I didn't finish it yet) game just to move on to a newer new title and then forget about it when an even newer future title comes out. 

This whole situation is BS. With so many games of such high quality coming out, they are going to be seen more as fads and trends than as actual masterpieces with this entire situation. I, for one, am going to do the right thing and get my moneys worth out of each game I buy. I have too limited of a budget, as it stands, to waste money on buying a game now that I won't even get the full value of. So, if you expect to hear a bunch of posts in the next week about Half-Life 2 here, then you're sadly out of luck. I'm in GTA:SA mode, and that is not going to change anytime soon (at least not until I finish this wonderful game). 

Speaking of GTA:SA, I am still playing it, enjoying more missions, and finding more styles of game play. I just went through a mission last night that blew my mind in how a situation was handled. I'm talking about the mission in which you must intercept a small jet, and eliminate the passengers, before it can land. First you have to maneuver your aircraft over the other plane, then you get treated to an awesome cinematic, and then...then you see a new style of game play not previously seen in a GTA game. Then, you have the challenge of landing this jet (and landing is a bitch in GTA:SA...that's the only downside of this mission). 

I'm also learning the true value of the exporting of cars. I figured it would be like GTA3 or VC. In those game, you will get a flat rate for any vehicles you export. This flat rate would usually be a value that meant nothing to you (enough to maybe buy a pistol). In SA, the value of a car is determined by how damaged the car is when you bring it in and how rare the vehicle is. For example, I was running with only about $10,000 last night when I delivered an Infernus. Let's just say that my money problems are now behind me. Then I delivered another vehicle (another fairly rare one), and then I went crazy at Ammunation, and then I hit the town and bought every property that came along. 

It it wasn't for the High Noon mission, I would've called last night a perfect night of SA playing. Sadly, High Noon requires you to race around some really sharp turns with a really crappy vehicle that seems to have a strong desire to fish-tail. Deep down, I think my biggest complaint (besides the controls of any small plane...especially in pilot school) about GTA:SA would be from this type of mission; racing in a crappy car. I do admit, however, that I'm biased since I have a great "bike" skill and a slightly bad "driving" skill, but I don't think that a better driving skill would be enough to make these crap-cars run smoothly.

Anyway, SA calls. For those interested, I have a help forum for GTA:SA still being updated periodically.