I am now done with
my time off from work. Of course, it wouldn't make my first day back
at what I don't really want to do feel right without it being a day
of horrible weather. So, as I write this out, I am soaked. It is
raining...a lot. It is enough that my coat and whatever other
precautions I use mean nothing more than how I have an additional
five seconds of dry before I am soaked as if I went outside in a
t-shirt and jeans. If only the Seahawks were playing at home tonight
(instead of being in Philly yesterday) it would feel like the
typical weather for a Seattle Monday Night Football game.
Speaking of which,
the Seahawks did win yesterday. That surprised me since both teams
played like they had forgotten how the game works. For one thing, as
a reminder to both QBs, you only want to pass to people wearing the
same uniform as yourself. You are not supposed to just give the ball
away to the other team. Of course this worked more in Seattle's
favor as Tatupu picked off three interceptions to easily make
himself the MVP of yesterday's game.
Tatupu even had
what could easily be called the most important play of the game. As
the fourth quarter was winding down, Philly was down by four and
coming close to a touchdown. It was looking like Philly would score
and the Seahawks would be left with only a minute, or less, to pick
up at least one final field goal to force overtime. Then, as the
final Philly play unfolded, Tatupu looked almost like a deer in
headlights...nicely deceptive of him. He was watching Feeley's eyes
as he prepared to pass. Then, as the ball was fired off, Tatupu was
ready to go and snatch the ball from mid-air. That was all it took
for Seattle to be able to end the game and allow the clock to run
out as Philly sat without any of the timeouts they used to get that
far on their final drive.
The one thing
about the game I really noticed was the obvious difference in
playing styles of Alexander and Morris. Alexander had 65 yards while
Morris almost tied with 64. The one big difference is that Alexander
reached this on 20 carries (for a 3.3 average) with one touchdown.
Morris had the same single touchdown (on a 45 yard run!) but only
needed 5 carries (for a 12.8 yard per carry average). I also noticed
that many Seattle drives faltered as Hasselbeck handed the ball to
Alexander on successive plays, only to see him get shut down with no
I was a big fan of
Alexander. He was once an amazing player. However, his time has
passed. He is not in his prime, and thanks to injuries last season,
and even this year, we don't even get to see him slowly decline to
infamy. Instead, we get to watch as Alexander has gone downhill and
has stumbled quicker than Richie Sexson did for the Mariners. He is
done and unless something impossible happens, it is time for Morris
to be given the 20 attempts and Alexander to be demoted to five or
so carries a game. The times have officially changed.
Ok...I noticed one
other thing; Brown is in a major funk. Of course anyone could notice
this. He has missed 5 of his last 9 field goal attempts. The man who
last year was responsible for keeping the team afloat in close games
(with last second field goals to claim victory) is in a major
problem. I don't know what the problem is, but it's sad to see it
happening when he was once the most reliable part of the team. Maybe
his time has passed as well...but I'm more willing to bet,
considering he's a kicker, that it's some rattled nerves and he
needs a bye week badly right now to find a way out of this.
On a different
note, I finally did play through the Hall of Fame on Rock Band. Of
course it was away from home, so I didn't have my gamer tag to log
in with. However, I can happily say that the game does not require
you to play on anything above medium to reach this point. This
matters since it's not exactly easy (for me at least) to find
someone able to rock out the drums on a 11 song set on anything
above medium...yet. Next up, my "band" and I need to find a time
(like a weekend) to plan for the endless set. When that happens, I
will need to remember to bring my gamer tag with me.
On a final 360
the Winter Update is due to come along tomorrow. Most of the
stuff being added doesn't mean shit to me. I don't care about
parental controls (no kids and if I had them, I would be more
inclined to watch them instead of letting a game system do the
babysitting), turning the system into a personal networking device
like another myspace, or any other gimmick they toss my way.
I do care about
additional video codecs. That is my only place of interest on these
updates. I have had the 360 for over two years and have yet to use
the video playing abilities from any of my PCs (including the one
running Windows MCE 2005) since I use AVI files almost exclusively.
AVI, in the right codecs, are more reliable, easier to find, and
have far better compression than the WMA crap that the 360 has been
able to play. If this codec support is as good as it's been rumored
to be (I don't have the links anymore, but I've been following this
for a few days on various sites), I may finally have a use for the
media playing support on the 360. I guess we'll all find out for
I've been playing
some more Mass Effect lately, but I'm starting to see the game more
and more as one of my friend's nick named it...Mass Repetition. The
game really seems stuck on using the lowest amount of resources
available for the longest game possible.
For example, if
you enter a ruin or a cave, it will look a certain way. Maybe the
boxes, crates, rocks, and other forms of cover and item to scavenge
will be in different places, but the actual blue print for the area
will always be the same. If you enter an outpost or lab or whatever
other man made structure...well, there will usually be one of two
different layouts, but with a few additional rooms sealed off or
some crates in different locations. I could literally draw out every
blue print in the game, for secondary missions at least, without
referring back to the game or any guides. The game really does lack
variety in this regard.
The same is true
for planets that you can explore. Any non-essential planet is a big
open area that is square in shape, it will contain at least one
resource (like lithium) to lay a claim to, a few anomalies (usually
a crashed probe that, for some stupid reason, contains weapons), and
some sort of generic ruin or outpost (see above)...you may even get
three outposts on some planets/moons (but all three use the same
Each outpost or
ruin will include some random weapons and maybe some armor, as well
as some upgrades to your equipment, that are all scaled to your
level. You may even find a thrasher maw (giant sand worm) or two
that will screw you over with an insta-kill (if they touch you, or
appear under you, you will be killed instantly).
That's it. That is
the secondary missions for the game, in a nut shell. The only thing
I didn't mention is that 95% require constant fighting, and only 5%
require any dialogue or strategy (beyond combat strategy). The game
is really that devoid of content...at least on secondary objectives.
objectives do require you to explore unique lands and explore unique
cities, as well as interact with unique people. However, if my
playing is any indication, I think the main game (primary missions)
only make up about 15-20% of the total game's content. That is to
say that for a game that took so long to develop, Bioware really
didn't offer that much bang for your buck. The game really lacks the
experience that one would expect from a game so highly hyped...and,
like Fable, this was hyped as much by the developer as the media and
gaming community. So, Bioware is responsible.
Also, like Fable,
a sequel is in the works. Hopefully Bioware will draw from the
awesome setting of the first ME, but actually offer content this
time around. In fact, the more I play ME, the more I think of Fable.
I don't feel like either game wasted my money, but I don't feel like
either one was what they were really presented to be.
On a different,
but equally bitchy, note...
It's around the
holiday season, so it's natural that we're seeing shortages of what
one may like to get as the ideal gift. In particular, the Wii, Rock
Band, and anything else that is game friendly and hyped. That's
cool...in a way. I do like to see games selling well since with each
game sold I can hope for a little more tolerance from non-gamers for
the gaming community.
However, I find it
sad that the
Wii is not living up to the demand that is there for such a open
audience system. However, this is to be expected.
The Wii has been
selling at a hotter rate than anyone could have imagined when the
system was first announced. The console that was expected to come in
a distant third this generation is devouring it's competition as
fast as new units can be produced. It has been this way since the
launch, last year. This is the first console that I can think of
that has actually been hard to find sitting on a store shelf more
than one year after it's release. It has just been selling too well.
That is why I'm
really sick of the ignorant bullshit I read on
message boards (yes, it's the same link as before...scroll to
the comments section at the bottom of the link and read). A lot of
people who prefer to keep a closed mind and act like spoiled
children (usually in the name of buying gifts for their spoiled
children) seem to have "figured out" why the Wii is not in large
supply. What can we learn from their "logic"? Apparently, Nintendo
is holding back supplies because this will create an artificial
That is bullshit.
That is not true and it's the same crap that people go off about
every single year around the large gift giving times. No artificial
demand is needed. The demand is there. For each post on that
backwards forum (not the forum itself, but the people responding to
it) claiming that Nintendo lost a sale due to "holding back" their
supplies, it only shows why Nintendo is NOT creating a fake
shortage. People want the Wii and will try anything to get one.
If Nintendo was
creating a fake shortage, they, for one, would have ended it by now
as they see Sony and Microsoft dance for joy as failed Wii purchases
turn into PS3 and 360 purchases. Nintendo is losing out because of
shortages. Secondly, if Nintendo was creating a fake shortage, then
they would not have been able to remain the quickest selling console
out there. The Wii is selling and is hitting giant numbers in record
Each year we hear
this same bullshit that is having artificial
shortages to drive up demand. I'm glad that Kim Peterson (the author
of that blog) was smart enough to not fuel this stupidity. However,
we will always hear it this time of year as the average consumer,
who cannot see beyond their own "I want it NOW!" mentality, cannot
find what they want and takes the blame on the faceless companies
instead of accepting a simple truth; if you want it, odds are that
others do too and no supply is ever unlimited. More than that, if
you expect to buy your popular and hyped gift in that time between
Thanksgiving and about the 23rd of December, and it's a popular
gift...well, you shit out of luck...and pretty damned stupid.
The other side of
this that I love to hear are those occasional comments that say how
Nintendo (or whatever major, usually not American, company that
makes the hot Christmas gift) needs to hold back supplies to other
countries and only send units to the US. That just makes Americans
look even worse when those words come out of their mouths..."we want
it, so screw the rest of the world!"
It's that type of
behavior that makes Americans look like bullies to the rest of the
world. It's that level of selfish attitude that is not needed in a
time when people are supposed to be thinking of peace, love, and all
that other stuff (the immaterial stuff).
Anyway, I'm glad
to see the Wii is breaking borders and bringing non-gamers to the
game embracing community. It's a great thing. I wish Nintendo had a
better chain of supplies, but I accept this issue existing for a
very obvious reason; not even Nintendo could have predicted such a
hit product after two generations of slumping sales. Too bad there
are enough people out there trying to bring hate against a company
for simply being too damned good at what they have been doing.
NIMF has their
report card up and running. Like always, this is a joke. Why?
They focus on things that do not matter and things that should not
be of importance.
For example, they
like to list the ten worst offenders in the gaming market for being
games that children should not be exposed to. Every year and every
game that always makes this list is a M rated title. At the same
time, they like to talk about random facts about how too many
children play M rated games (that are designed for adults, as
opposed to children).
Well, I'm sorry
but this has no place in a "report card" that analyzes the game
industry. This belongs more in a place that discusses how parents
and retailers are failing...not the developers and publishers. If a
child is playing M rated games, and this child is not ready for such
content (all children mature at different rates, despite that
magical 17+ age range put on M ratings), this is not the developer's
fault anymore than the fact that they are trying to appeal to many
To blame the
industry for M rated titles is the same thing as blaming the movie
studios for R rated movies. More people play games than just
children, just like more people watch movies than just children.
Plus, like with movies, not all games are rated as "mature" for
simply including excessive blood and violence. Sometimes a subject
cannot be handled in a touchy-feely way and this requires an M/R
rating just to breach unpopular or brutal subjects.
Maybe it's more of
a time when we should focus on why some kids get away with
watching/playing content that should not be in their hands. I think
this falls, with games, more to the fact that many people (and I'd
wager that most, if not all, NIMF people are included in this
grouping) don't accept, after all this time, that games are not just
for children. It's an old style belief for many adults who were
adults when games came along into the mainstream (1980's), that
games cannot have a targeted audience beyond 17 year olds.
When it comes to
games falling into a younger audience's hands than they should, it's
time to ask where these kids are getting $60+ and who is helping
them to get to a store to buy an inappropriate game.
gets put upon content makers, but these companies are mainly
targeting a higher aged audience versus trying to corrupt the young.
This is not smoking we're talking about where it's a
one-size-hopefully-fits-all audience as the companies involved see
it. This is more like any other business that makes popular media;
there is an audience for everything and not all audiences overlap.
Anyway, I had to
say that. On one hand, if any parent who vilifies games see this, I
hope it helps them to open their horizons and maybe accept there
could either be games for them (gaming is a good and fun thing for
all ages...especially with thanks from Nintendo) or at least that
there could be some games that are not for their children or younger
people on their shopping lists. On the other hand, I don't have
children as of my posting of this, however I can say that if/when I
have some, I will keep in mind that being a parent is a full time
gig. You cannot just put in a game or a DVD and let the TV be the
parent. It may not sound glamorous or fun all the time, but when you
have a child you need to be responsible for their entire youth...not
just on whatever days fit your schedule.
Anyway, I'm still
trying to finish Mass Effect. I had what was probably the worst boss
fight yet (some spoilers ahead for people who have not beaten Peak
15)...and maybe the worst of the game according to many frustrated
message board posts. I'm talking about when you face Benezia (Deanna
Troi, as I call her). It's a battle of you facing, for the first
part, an invincible boss with too powerful of biotics and a super
pistol. The only thing you can do is take out her henchmen. This was
not fun, especially when your party AI is so stupid as to stand in
one place getting shot while shooting back at the invincible boss.
It makes matters worse when your party will not follow proper
commands to seek cover or to move to a specific rally point.
After one round of
henchmen, you face another. In fact, you face the same thing but
only worse. I was lucky enough to find a safe spot and be able to
rest long enough for unity (life spell) to recharge a few times as
Talli kept deciding than an engineer is strong enough to be a meat
When you kill
enough weaker opponents, you finally are forced into a conversation,
on friendly terms, with Benezia...but are not allowed to heal before
the battle resumes. I had no shields at this point and little life
left. You also resume the battle facing straight at the boss. I was
lucky enough to have Talli in a nice place to dive behind and use as
a meat shield as I threw on a barrier, shield boost, and a med kit.
Talli was not so lucky.
At least the
battle ended quickly from there as Ashley commit a great suicide
strike to knock Benezia down to almost nothing, leaving me with the
need for one well placed shotgun blast to end the mess. It didn't
help, however, that there were still three enemies left after the
fight, and I was running out of options.
would have been a lot more fun of a combat if my squad had any
intelligence. With that not being the case, it was hell and I think
I would have taken a long vacation from ME if I had died any point
after the first two minutes in that horrible fight. Hopefully this
is the last time I face such a poorly designed combat scenario for
this poorly built system of AI.
Luckily, I am
mostly done with the game. I got the completionist achievement (game
is 75% done) last night on this mission. I figure I will try to keep
sane as I finish the game, and then I will probably never touch ME
I do look forward
to the next ME game, since Bioware is working on ME2 right now.
However, I hope that they don't mess with their amazing world they
have designed, but instead work on the faulty AI and the fact that
most secondary missions focus on barren time consuming planets. Most
of all, I hope they fix the sloppiness of the Mako control system.
It's too fun of a world for me to give up on yet, but it's still not
a good game system.
Also, we need more
real cities to interact with people upon. As far as ME is presented,
the universe/galaxy shown is simply a giant warzone with not real
society outside of the Citadel. A little more interaction with you
party would also be cool to see.
I still want to
finish the main quest before passing too much judgment on the entire
game, but as of now, I would only give this something around a 6.5
out of 10.
I was amused
yesterday. Greatly amused. Shortly after Velveta came home from
work, she informed me of something her doctor told her...to help
with some arm related issues, and for general fitness purposes, her
doctor recommended Rock Band. Specifically, the drumming on Rock
Band. So, I guess this game, which is probably my ideal to call
"game of the year", can now be known as "doctor recommended".
Something about that just brings a smile to my face.
I was also amused
by Mass Effect. Some spoilers may follow, since I'll be talking
about Saren's base/lab on the planet that, I think, starts with a
"V" (sorry, I can't keep these planets straight nor recall most of
On one hand, it
was the first mission of the game that really felt like a well paced
action scenario. True, I think the game could use a bit more
adventuring (I don't count random barren worlds as real adventuring)
and dialogue related scenes, but some good run and gun is fun. The
action was well timed, included a good setup for the levels (the
blue print of the area was unique and very well laid out), a nice
mix of Mako (for once it was a Mako area that was fun to play) and
on foot action, and some nice choices that do actually effect the
rest of the game.
I was actually
having fun scouting out areas and planning my routes to infiltrate
optional areas and then escape after taking facilities offline. Each
area was open enough to make using cover important, but also small
enough to not feel like you were always fighting in one giant empty
room (unlike most bunkers and ships for the secondary missions). It
was the first time that I honestly felt like Bioware put any
attention into a level's design...and didn't just count on a random
room generator to do all of their work.
It's a shame that
this exciting of a level was not found until the main quest is half
(or more) way completed. In fact, most of my complaints about this
game would have been erased, except for the poor controls of the
Mako and the AI issues, if Bioware had used the infiltration of
Saren's lab as a template for the game and not as some unique
Best of all was
being able to actually decide the fate of several party members.
This is where the spoilers are going to come about...consider that
First you have the
forced choice of destroying the cure for the phage that has doomed
Wrex's people to a slow extinction. However, the level is designed,
plot-wise, to force all party members to be present at this
"decision"...including Wrex. You then have a nicely heated debate
with Wrex (including him pulling a gun on you) on why the phage must
not be cured (hint: Saren is using the cure to breed a Krogan army).
You choices can either lead to your party being the same afterwards,
or you could have a firefight and one dead Krogan on your hands. For
the record, I liked Wrex (not in my party...just for dialogue), so I
used some charm to make him happy with his inevitable extinction.
It's funny, one
mission earlier, I save the Rakhni (or is that "Rahkni"? Who
cares...the big ass bugs of Peak 15) from extinction, and no one
pulls a gun. This is despite how the Rakhni are seen as nothing more
than a threat to all life in the universe. However, when I doom a
race that includes one of the party members and is a productive (if
not barbaric) race friendly to the council, no one, besides Wrex,
even bats an eye. I think this is something that could have been
further analyzed in the plot by Bioware...but that doesn't matter.
Both are fun scenes to make choices upon.
Then you're soon
in the run and gun section of the level. Like I said above, it's an
amazing level that really does capture the best of Mass Effect. If
any single level was to show off what Bioware was intending to
design, I think this must have been the level. It looked good, it
was well staged, and it included more options (Save the Salerian
slaves? Trust the Aasari servant of Saren? Divert guards towards
your Salarian friends or take them on yourself? Help the Salarian
allies by sabotaging Saren's network and systems or avoid the
additional chance for suicide?) than any other part of ME...at least
It even ends with
(mega-spoiler...fine I gave one more warning) a choice of sentencing
one of two party members to a quick and fatal end. You have to
decide if Kaiden or Ashley will get back up from your party when
they both get rapped behind enemy fire. To complicate matters, this
choice comes right when a nuke has been armed, so you only have the
time to help one person or the other. On top of the choice, you even
get a few chances to spice up the dialogue and gain some paragon or
renegade points by praising your soon to be fallen comrade...or
being an ice cold bastard about it.
For the record,
Kaiden is weak in a fight (Ashley is a 100% soldier with all weapons
and all armor) with no weapons specialization, and only light armor.
Also, Kaiden dabbles in both biotics and technology...which I have
the same level of biotics and I like bringing Talli (who is 100%
technology, but with the ability to specialize in pistols). So, the
choice came down to saving a jack of some trades and master of none,
or to save the tank of the party. Since I can't take too many hits,
as a vangard, and since my weapons are limited to shotguns, my
choice was easy. However, when you consider what a depressive dick
Kaiden is, it makes the decision go from easy to being fun when you
can finally send him to his doom.
It was the type of
"fun" as when you play through KOTOR (the original) as a dark side
character. When you finally get to the last planet (forget it's
name...been too long since I played) and your affiliation to light
or dark plays out. In the dark side path, you not only get to do a
bit of party killing, which is good fun, but you also get to be rid
of Carth (who is the same damned character as Kaiden...annoying and
a bit too goody-goody, even for a light/paragon player, to tolerate)
in total dark side brutality.
spoilers are done. However, with playing out that planet and all the
awesomeness that surrounded it, I have to say I'm re-energized
towards ME. I think I finally have a bit of motivation to play
through some more of the game. Hopefully it doesn't go downhill from
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