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Malik (11/13/06)  

First and foremost, Josh Brown kicks so much ass. Another Seahawk's game, another successful last minute field goal by Brown to save the thing. True, it's not like he was going for 60+ yards, but the clutch, a good play, no matter what size or the nature of it, is always a good play. Now the Rams are basically sinking into the distance, and if the Seahawks can keep this up, especially with the likely return of Alexander and Hasselbeck next week, things will turn out ok this season.

On a different random note, I saw this article on about the Playstation. Not the PS2 or PS3...but the old school original PSX. Apparently, if you're an audiophile, you could do far worse than to use your PSX as your CD player. I guess, despite Sony typically putting half assed components into their game systems (at least the non-gaming components...see the PS2 DVD player), the PSX CD player is about the best quality you can get...even with a giant bank account. Ironically enough, you need to keep this system, one that dies so damned easily, on all the time for the sound to really shine.

On Friday night, I was finally able to get some time with Guitar Hero 2 in a multiplayer in a few of my friends and I have some drinks and started to rock out. This was my first opportunity to enjoy GH2 with more than just the single player experience.

First and foremost, GH2's two player mode blows GH1's out of the water. In fact, we never did play any of the face off competitions since that's all we could do for the previous year with GH1. All we did was co-op, and a lot of it.

The first and most important feature on this mode is that the game no longer revolves around compromise. If you suck at a song but the other player rocks, then you now have the option of alternative difficulties. One player can be on expert while the other is on easy, or any combination in between. I think this one change, more than any other, will be what will make GH2 accessible to the masses. I had many friends who tried GH1 in multiplayer with me for their first attempts to learn this game, and it usually ended with them annoyed at how hard the game was (if we compromised with a medium difficulty) or it ended with them wondering why I looked so bored (playing on easy). Alternating difficulties for the different players is nothing short of a true step forward. Plus, one person trying a harder than usual difficulty while the second player carries the song is a fun chance for people to push themselves forward a little more.

Secondly, by having one player playing the lead guitar while the other plays either bass or rhythm (depending on the song) is great. That way you really feel like you're working together. The majority of a song is made up on different sounds overlapping into that wondrous rock...with each player adding to the song. No longer do you just do a competition and hope for half of the song to sound like crap (as your competition suffers) you actually enjoy hearing the whole thing come together.

Plus, when you have a bass heavy song (Killing in the Name), it's just a little bit extra sweet to know you can control the very strong and emphasized bass line. With the right song, it's not even like the second player (the one who's not the lead guitar) is not important.

Besides my Guitar Hero 2 time this weekend, it was a pretty dull two days for me. Between not having any other game to play (and too much GH will kill your wrists) and a constant flood of rain, it's hard to keep oneself entertained.

So, I'll keep this post short and end on a different note...a constructive one...a note that involves a review of Tale of the Abyss.


Malik (11/14/06)  

I will probably keep things short today. I popped my shoulder out of joint this morning, so each second at a keyboard is about as much fun as stabbing a knife into my shoulder and twisting. Yippee...

Anyway, if you haven't heard yet, the PS3 pre-orders at Gamestop/EB will not all be honored. It seems that, from the sounds of it, Sony gave Gamestop some hopeful numbers, instead of concrete numbers prior to the pre-order deals that took place a month ago. So, in retrospect, the Gamestop pre-order situation, which was supposed to avoid the whole 360 pre-order insanity, will once again look like the 360 pre-order situation.

At least, for those who pre-ordered with Toys-R-Us, there orders will be honored. It's not much of a conciliation prize for Gamestop customers...but...well...

I honestly cannot really feel pity or anything of the sort for people who wanted to avoid the mad rush to get a console by pre-ordering. It was always a gamble in the past, and to hear it's still a gamble, but with a $600 "prize", doesn't really mean anything to me. In fact, if anything this should serve as a real reminder; pre-orders, like with anything else, are not always a guarantee...and to think otherwise is always going to be costly.

On a different next-gen note, the Wii will get DVD playback in 2007. Am I supposed to care? With the exception of the PSX with audio CDs (as mentioned yesterday), add on functions for GAME systems are pointless. A DVD player that you could get at Fred Meyer or Target for $30 or less will always outperform your $300 (average number...not much of a real number anymore) game system's abilities. The PS2 DVD player could handle most DVDs with mediocre success. The 360 DVD player will work, as long as you don't want to have easy access to any common features (subtitle and audio track selection, for example).

Anyway, my personal take on this news is actually rather simple. If you really care about a Wii with DVD functionality, you will probably not need to wait for a redesigned console. Afterall, the Wii has a DVD-ROM drive in it, and the most likely scenario will have a firmware update for the Wii (which has it's 24-Connect dealio going on for constant access to updates) that will allow DVD software on the system. If anything, since the DVD consortium does charge about $20 to license DVD playback, it will be an update you can buy for the Wii over one of the Wii Channels. It's probably that simple, since it would only alienate Nintendo customers to plan a second design prior to launching the first.

Ok. Pain is now telling me to part ways for today. So, the moral of today's story is simple; don't dislocate your shoulder as you turn off your alarm in the morning. You don't have to do it to be part of the cool kids.


Malik (11/15/06)  

I finally got tired of having no plot heavy game (read: RPG) to play, so I cracked under the pressure and bought FFV Advance (GBA) yesterday. I know...FF3 (DS) is out today, but considering my past with the FF series, I had to jump on 5 first.

I have played all past Final Fantasy games, except 12. However, I last played FFV when I was in high school (a good 8-10 years back...damn, that makes me feel a little old). I never did jump on the PSX version, since I just didn't feel like taking on the long load times of a SNES port on the PSX. It always seemed like a shame to play a SNES quality version of a SNES port, but to do it with all of the inconveniences of modern gaming technology (load times on optical drives).

On the other hand, I finished my last run through FF3 less than a year ago. So, I figured when picking a new game to keep me entertained until Zelda is playable and in my hands (when I have the Wii...since Zelda should show up later this week, if Best Buy's web site is truthful) sometime next week. FFV was the obvious choice. I know that FF3 has the newly evolved graphics and game play tweaks, but FFV is such a great game, and in reality the two games are very hard to make a choice between. They are both solid games, at least in their original NES and SNES formats.

So far, from about three hours of playing, I have one solid opinion formed from FFV Advance; the team that ported FFIV to the GBA are a bunch of pig f$#@ers. FFV had more system requirements of the SNES when it came along, it had a larger world, and it had a far more complex game engine, yet FFV Advance plays like a dream while FFIV Advance played like ass.

When you wanted to pause a battle in FFIV Advance, you would have to wait for a break in the action. If you wanted to understand who would attack next, it did not matter who's ATB meter (the meter that shows when a character will go next) was filling the quickest. After all, by the end of the game, it would take four turns of the rest of the party before Cecil would be able to act (despite having the second quickest to fill ATB meter). The entire game was a bug. True, some of these issues (the ATB one) could show up in the SNES version of the game...but you didn't get to see the ATB meter, so you never felt like the game was screwing you over this badly.

On the other hand, FFV Advance plays just like the original, but with a more refined musical score. If you hit start, the game will matter what the battle is doing. If an ATB meter was filled, then the owner of that meter would attack matter how closely another meter was filling up. If you wanted to move, the controls are spot on. If you all works correctly.

Anyway, FF3 (DS) will eventually come my way. However, with FFV Advance, Zelda (Wii), Monkey Ball (Wii), Elebits, and a few other quality guaranteed addictions around the corner, I think it will wait until next year. After all, one of life's greatest lessons I've seen is that you cannot give two plot heavy games equal love at the same time. One will always beat the other, and I don't want two classics, like FFV and FF3, to have to fight each other. It's just not fair to the children...or something...


Malik (11/16/06)  

Before I get to anything else today, let me give a big "F#@% YOU, SONY!". If you don't feel like clicking the link, or if you feel this is some sort of Sony-hating, hold on a second. This is by no means my feelings towards Sony (I don't like their recent moves, but it's the GAMES, not the system, I enjoy). Hell, if Zelda somehow became a PS3 exclusive, I would follow the bouncing Link.

No, this is about not realizing that people of the world can sometimes not have the BEST of the best. For example, that link says how the PS3 will take 720p video and convert it for sets that don't support 720p. However, it is not as simple as the 360, which will convert it to either 480p/i or 1080i. No, the PS3, in all of it's "technological splendor" [/sarcasm] will only convert it down to 480p. That's it.

I'd also like to add that what this article hints at is not quite true. It's not just the older CRT HD-TVs that support 1080i while neglecting 720p. Many HD-TVs that are still on the market are this way. For example, and this is why I'm particularly pissed off, my HD set that I bought in January (2006) is 1080i only. This is not some ancient HD set, and this is not a CRT (DLP...I love the gay-ass mirrors...sorry, those commercials suck balls). In fact, the ironic thing is that my other HD set, a CRT from last year, does handle 720p (and 720i, 1080i, and all of the 480p/i resolutions). However, it's also a tiny set (26") and I don't think I'd rather play the PS3 in my spare bedroom than play it on my 52 inches of DLP glory.

I would not be surprised to see a firmware upgrade in the near future for the PS3 in regards to this issue. In fact, I think this may be yet another case of "make it now, finalize it tomorrow", like we see with so many modern PC and 360 games already. However, this firmware update WILL take time to appear. Afterall, the PSP would see a security crack (one of Sony's priorities) and then a patch would not show for about two or so months...if not MORE.

However, the final message I see in all of this is that Sony is continuing their typical crusade of "we are the best". They offer a system that will handle 1080p, has built in Blu-ray, has built in...hell, you name a tacky and non-game related feature and it's in there. However, if it's a feature that's not cutting edge, it will not surface. In fact, anything that Sony deems obsolete is automatically screwed over.

Well, when it comes down to things, I'm a game collector. However, if the PS3 is going to be expensive as f#@% because of all of it's features, then I better be able to use them. I am not f$#@-tarded enough to spend an extra $2000 on a new HD-TV just because Sony tells me to. In fact, I buy a game system because it should automatically work to it's peak with what I own, assuming I have the basic requirements. An HD compatible system should work on HD-TVs, and not just on the BEST of the best. The 360, which Sony likes to liken to a toy, can sure as hell output on my 1080i TV. So, until I hear otherwise, I can tell you one thing this game console collector is not going to do; buy a system that thinks it's too damned good for me, from a company that thinks I should worship them because they are too damned good for everyone.

Maybe this is actually a "feature" of the system...just like the running joke on the N-Gage was all of it's "features". Like how the N-Gage made you originally look like a tool when you used it as a phone (side-talking, anyone?), how you had to disassemble it to change games, how you had no battery life, how it...well...sucked. Maybe the lack of 1080i is a feature of the PS3...the feature to alienate a good number of people and to try to force a new TV (maybe a SONY brand?...f#@$ers!) on other people.

I sure as hell am not dealing with this crap anymore. Remove features (like dual HD-TV support, memory card slots, etc)? wouldn't be a Sony system if features weren't removed. Want to jack up the price? What would a Sony product be without an over-inflated ego or price? Want to have a launch with no good standout games? That's the PSX and PS2 launch scenarios, as well. Want to tell me my TV is crap? Well, at that point Sony can f#@$ themselves.

To quote Token on South Park; "I don't know what I saw...I'm out!"

Now back to my regularly planned post...

There's a demo either out or soon to be out on the 360 Marketplace for Superman Returns. I really don't care and don't want to. I know that there has been talk of how the developer is planning to make the first good Superman game with this one, but I've seen enough Superman crap on game systems to be a little weary of these types of boasts. Also, considering how I felt about the Superman Returns movie (it was no Batman Begins...), I really couldn't care less.

For one thing, the movie itself felt so damned stupid. When you throw in the prospect of a Superkid or whatever you want to call this kid in the movie, I cannot feel compelled to give a damn. In fact, when the next movie comes along, I'm not sure if I'd even want to see it. This is coming from someone who sees almost all major "blockbuster" movies just on the grounds of "eh, why not?"

Maybe if the next movie promised the death of Superkid, I could be compelled to think of Superman as being back, and not just being a DC hero that has to be constantly bastardized in the name of making a little cash from the old license. It's like with the new cartoon of Superman in the future that is shown on Saturday mornings...Superman has died, and it looks like it'll take more than a simple resurrection of the license to save it. Maybe some real content would help...but only if it's good quality content.

Wow. I went off on some random tangents there.

Anyway, it's a rather interesting time we live in. If you don't believe me, just drive by a Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or Circuit City tonight. You'll understand. Those tents? That line? The fact that about ten times more people are already in line at some retailers than there will be PS3s waiting for them is amazing. Amazingly stupid, I mean. But, then again, some of those people are the first to camp for the Wii.

In fact, this is one of the strangest launch times I could ever think of (followed closely by the "Saturn? That came out?" launch). When you throw in truck loads of homeless people, it only gets weirder. And yes, I did say that and there's a link to it. People are so motivated to get some PS3s for eBay that they have started to pay homeless people to stand in line and purchase the system.

I would think about calling it simple exploitation, but in reality the people doing this are not too bad, compared to what they could have done. They are paying each person $100 per day of camping out for a system, and they are bringing food and all of that from time to time. In reality, it's not too bad of a least on the outside. It still feel really creepy to me. Also, what happens when the 50 homeless people walk away with only a half dozen PS3s? You combine $100 per day, with 50 people, and that's it's not just a one day deal and you see some major funding issues in the end. It's a nice way, I suppose, for these investors to lose a nice chunk of cash if the number of PS3s is not up to what they expect.

Between the two systems coming out on the same long weekend, it will make things interesting for anyone who considered that it might be possible to pick up one of these consoles without waiting or pre-ordering. At least with the Wii, it will be re-supplied on a nice and constant basis between now and five years from now (when the next unusually names Nintendo system comes along). This type of situation just makes me happy to say one thing; I have mine (the Wii...not the PS3) pre-ordered, along with many games, and I could not be happier.

With a new Zelda around the corner, and with how Zelda has never seen a launch before (only a vague launch window or two), I am determined to be enjoying some Zelda action on my Wii by this time next week. However, I still feel that Nintendo has probably done wrong by offering it for the Wii at launch, while the GCN version (the first one announced) has been delayed and pushed back a half dozen times and will not find the main target audience (those hyped about the GCN version for the last two years) until nearly a month has gone by. It feels like Nintendo is a bad girlfriend who ditched you for the guy with the better toys...but has no problems of coming back for some money a while later when things turn stagnant.

Well, I'm being nicely random today, so I'll drop out about now. I don't know why I'm bouncing off of subjects like a child with ADD bouncing off of it's probably for the best that I go and re-focus myself.


Malik (11/17/06)  

Something I learned of yesterday, for those who feel the price of next-gen consoles has just gone a bit too far. I don't have a link or anything, but I've seen it mentioned a few times from different sources (hard to link to TV...isn't it?); will probably offer the 360 for $100 on Thanksgiving. It is the Core system and it will be limited to their entire stock of 1000 units. I'm not sure the exact time this deal is starting, but it should be sometime (my guess) around noon (PST) that you'd want to start hitting F5 like a mo'fo' if you want this deal.

Considering that a Core 360 is normally $200 more, this is one hell of an offer. Throw in a HDD ($100) and you're still under the price of the Core normally and you're under the Wii price. Who says Black Friday is the only day to get crazy sales during the holidays?

Anyway, to shift gears a bit, I want to retouch on something I went off about yesterday; Sony.

I suppose you could say that Sony and I have a love-hate relationship like no other relationship I have with the gaming world. Sony loves my money, and I hate having to buy their shit in order to play the games I want. However, in the end all that matters about a console is the games, right? Afterall, if you want a console for the system itself, then something is not right with that picture...and if you want a bunch of games for a console, and it is in your means to acquire without any hardships, there's no reason to avoid the console just because the developer is an ass.

Well, my past with Sony, and their wonderful level of third party support, is a very ugly one filled with many scars of battles and conflicts. My first Sony hardware was a Playstation. With the PSX, I went through a period of loving the Sony console lifestyle...but then when I was enjoying Saga Frontier (yes, I did enjoy that stinker), the game started to lag and become unresponsive. This only continued for about a week. That's when the PSX died completely.

I replaced the PSX (at cost, since Sony nhas a convenient warrantee that ends right before the thing breaks), and moved on. A little over a year later, I was playing Xenogears. Once again the system lagged. It died a short time later. In the long run, I had to eventually buy a total of four Playstations. FOUR!?

Then along came the Playstation 2. I was enjoying the thought of being one of the first to own this thing, and I made sure (via the F5 button...try it now to see what it does if you're confused) that I had one from Amazon's initial shipment. Two days later, all was good...or it would have been if not for the lies that came up from Sony. Awesome launch lineup? Nope. Emotion Engine to make my games ultra realistic (like a Pixar movie)? Hells no.

The years passed, and Sony went through lawsuits as their system started to die more and more frequently. I figured, at least I was spared. My launch PS2 was still golden. However, I started to play with modding the system (voiding any chance of being in on a class-action settlement if my PS2 died). Amazingly, my system would sometimes have DREs, but they would be solved by turning my PS2 on a diagonal bias when I turned it on. All was good...until the week before the slim PS2 was released. Sensing that it was time to be replaced, my PS2 magically knew it was time to die for good...and leave me, with my dozens of PS2 games, needing a slim PS2. Well, it was also the holiday season, so I was stuck with having to search and kill a good deal of time to find a new PS2. One month later, I was able to play my games again.

Now, Sony has the PS3 fresh out of the factory. That's not a bad thing by any means. Afterall, competition between Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are what help to drive innovation and make the gaming world far more exciting to all of us. Well, it would be even more exciting if the lies had stopped.

Sony has promised a "true HD" experience. Well, what wasn't noticed was that any TV that handles 1080i, but not 1080p or 720p will have to have all games designed for 720p downscaled to 480p. Is this a "true HD" experience? I think not. In fact, this is the type of crap that should have been noticed before now, as someone had to program the system to downscale (just like they should have programmed the system to upscale to 1080i). So, someone over at Sony felt the need to ignore that some HD-TVs are only able to show 1080i and not 720p/i. This sounds more like a cop-out of Sony to force someone to reconsider a new TV (maybe a Sony branded one?).

As for those fanboys who say that potential PS3 owners with one of these TVs should have been more intelligent in their TV purchase, I have one thing to say; Shut the f#@$ up! No intelligent person would buy a TV for a game system. If you want an HD-TV and you only plan to use it for gaming, it should be one you'd enjoy for all gaming. If you want one for entertainment, then it should be good for all entertainment. However, if you want one for the PS3 and you bought one for the PS3, then there was no way to even know about this issue until 48 hours ago. This was not a lapse in judgment by TV purchasers, but rather a lapse in judgment by Sony.

By the way, I bought my HD-TV for entertainment. No single thing was more important than anything else. TV (especially sports and nature shows), 360, potentially a PS3, and computer all ranked right up there with each other.

To get back to things...Sony also promised an exciting launch. I guess they did deliver, but in all the wrong ways. They said there would be a world-wide launch...I guess Europe doesn't matter to Sony. They said that there would be plenty of consoles to go around and that they wouldn't launch in the same sad way that Microsoft did for the 360 (Microsoft had a real world-wide launch with more consoles supplied to each region than the PS3 did). They said that there would be exciting games (maybe Resistance can be counted...but nothing else in the PS3 launch).

They even had other promises. The PS3 would support dual HD displays. I didn't care, but they said it would be there. It would have been a completely worthless type of situation (dual widescreens), but it was still tossed out there.

In fact, this type of rant can continue for a good long time. I could go off about the PSP and how faulty it can be (especially the infamous square button or the magically automatically ejecting UMDs). I could talk about the value of a Sony portable music player (Walkman or Discman) and how much less it did than the less expensive competitors. I won't even say "Lik-Sang" (<---after that one mention). I could say a lot. However, I will just say that if this console generation doesn't see some really exciting exclusives on the PS3 then I will take my money to Microsoft (Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Dead Rising, etc) and/or Nintendo (Mario, Zelda, Smash, etc).

It's not that I'm an anti-fanboy for Sony. It's rather that I don't give a flying f#@$ about the console. If the games are there, and I like the games, then I typically find a way to get the hardware. However, if I know that my 360 version of GTA4 (next Fall) will play in 1080i and the PS3 version is 480p (because of the 720p downscaling), then my choice is obvious. In fact, this time around, I need more than the games. If I'm paying $600 or more (sale tax sucks, at over 9.0%, in Washington state) for a console, it sure as hell better be a good system...that allows all people with the required technology to use it in the same ways. Afterall, I enjoy consoles the most for how universal they are. You have the stuff needed, then your experience should be like everyone else's.

I have honestly never felt as unexcited for a console launch as this one. It just feels like the egos have expanded a little too much and this is now a time of who's better than who...instead of a happy time when games are king. Plus, when you consider the price aspects, like seeing a limited console selling for more than 5 times it's MSRP (eBay), something just feels dirty and unclean about the whole experience.

I don't know what my real message in this was. In fact, I suppose you could say this post was more about how we got there than what the final destination was. All I can say in the end is that I have no real love for any console maker, but I guess Sony had it's final straw with the 720p downscale crap and I now do hate one console maker. Will I get a PS3? Maybe in a couple of years when the prices die down some and when a firmware update fixes the 720p/1080i issue...and if the games are right. For now...well, Sony will have to wait and get their act together.


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