Another week is
upon us. I have a bad feeling about this week. I'm probably going to
drop way too much time and get far too little enjoyment out of
Xenosaga 2, yet again. I'm also doubting another Malik's Bitchings
this week since there's still no real sign of news. I also have a
feeling that my time I waste on X2 will not be enough to finish the
horribly long and under-developed title to start a review. I also
think that GT4 and RE4 are both going to keep tempting me with no
remorse...but, as I've said before, there's no way I'll get a new
game until I slay X2, since otherwise I'd never have a reason to
finish this game (and I so do want to rip it apart in a good
review...I'm not biased against this game...just pissed at the major
let down...Game Informer compared Xenosaga 2 to Devil May Cry 2 and
with good reasons).
The only real news
I've seen since last week is along the lines of Nintendo finally
testing the wireless capabilities of the DS. As reported on Gamespot,
Nintendo is starting some tests in Japan for downloadable demos and
add-on content for a few games (like Jam With the Band). These
downloads will be centered around special kiosks. Sadly, with this
type of development, it sounds, to me at least, like this plan will
be pretty pointless in the US. I mean a kiosk based plan would not
be too unusual in Japan, but it is not really the American style for
I, as I hinted,
played a lot of Xenosaga 2 this weekend. I got through one more
dungeon and was bored out of my mind at the pointless battle system.
To win a fight, boss or normal, all you mainly do is keep selecting
"stock" (which is used to build up how many attacks you
can do in a single combo) until each character does it 3 times. Then
you have to make sure you have a nicely full boost bar (if you're
facing a boss...not needed on most normal enemies). Then you do a
special combo to break the enemy's defense and send it flying in the
air or knock it down to the ground. Then you use the boost bar to
cut in line for combat and unleash your massive combos. Thne, if
it's a boss, you have to repeat, over and over, until it's dead.
There is no strategy. The only strategy is remembering to get the
"focus" skill (which restores your EP...magic points...by
10% with each stock command so you can keep healing and using
buffs). This whole battle formula makes for some drawn out and
pointless battles. I've yet to see a truly hard battle...unless you
count me not having the patience as a difficulty factor.
Luckily, after I
flee the dungeon I'm in (which has a teh lamezor 30 minute timer,
counting battle time), I have a pseudo dungeon and 2 real dungeons
and then I can play something fun. However, my patience is about
gone, so this will take far longer than it should. However, a good
deal of the game and your abilities are locked until you play
through a second time. So, with how crappy this game is, I'm not
doing that. There's nothing like a cheap way to try to force replay
in order to have the developers feel like they made a good
I did, however,
play some GT4 at my friend's place this weekend. Now I know I made
the right decision in putting off buying this game. If I bought it
now, I would definitely throw away X2. In fact, after playing GT4,
as I would play X2 I could only think of how I'd rather be racing my
3000GT Turbo...my car from GT3 and my car from GT4.
GT4 feels a little
weird when I first picked it up. I think the physics were reprogrammed,
with both good and bad consequences. Overall, once I play through a
few races, this all became comfortable. Also, the number of options,
tracks, races, cars, and game modes are insane. Like with the other
GT games, you start with browsing for a new car (or used car). This
alone can take hours as you check out the dozens of dealer showrooms
and the two used dealerships and the classic car dealership. Then,
you have both the dealerships and a special area of a dozen other
merchants to buy some upgrades from. Then you have about 10 times
the options in GT3 for where to race your first race...or you could
just take your car around the world and take pictures of it. It's
like all of the features of the past GT games were not even
considered nearly enough to be a complete game, so on top of having
all of them we have a new set of features that could make up their
own game. Anyway, I only played a couple hours, so I don't want to
rush to a judgment too soon (although my initial judgment calls this
game hella sweet).
On a silly note; I
keep getting emails from various websites about how I've been added
to their directory of links and how they would like the same favor
in return. I would usually find this to be a cool thing,
except I like to keep my site dedicated to the more geekish of arts
(like games, movies, music, anime, etc). These sites, however,
have a subject range from immigration to acting...which makes me
wonder what the hell these people are smoking. Actually, it
really leaves me wondering why someone would use their tactics to
build a link section. For example, the immigration site found
my disclaimer (which is
about how I'm not some dick, but will be more than happy to throw
around 1337 speak if I feel like it), probably through a simple web
search for "asylum" (an immigration related word).
Or there's how my site was added to an acting site when they did an
obvious search for "acting" and found one of my rants
about "voice acting". Anyway, with these random
links to individual pages on the old Geek-Asylum site, I am now
realizing more than ever how I need to deal away with the frame set
up (these links have no links back to site since the left frame is
absent). Anyway, I'm still working on this, and will see what
I can do. For the time being, I'll just sit here confused
about why I'm found on an immigration site.
Anyway, I'm hoping
I can knock out X2 a little quicker. I really want to get this
"game" over with so I can play something fun (like GT4 or
RE4). So, it's time for me to...sigh...play more of this
I've finally come
to a possible conclusion on my never ending talk of eliminating
frames from the Asylum. I decided that the easiest solution may be
the best; that being flash animation. I was thinking about this one
for a while, but I couldn't overcome the obstacle of price.
Macromedia makes a good deal of flash and shockwave editors, but
these all run in the hundreds to thousands of dollars to buy. This
would be great if I was not just wanting to make a menu system that
is easy to proliferate through every page on the site. However, it's
hard to justify spending more money than I spend on rent each month
just to make a menu system.
So, I did some
investigating. The first option I found was from CoffeeCup. They
make a good variety of shareware applications, but they have the
horrible disadvantage of having a shareware related phrase on your
final product. I figured this would be a crappy way to make a simple
menu system (to have it labeled with extra text). So, I did some
looking and came across a few nice options from other shareware
programs. Plus, if these work out fine and impress me (without the
addition of a shareware related ad on the menus I make), I may even
drop some cash on them.
So, I spent some
time this morning downloading a nice variety of shareware and trial
programs that I'll give a test run tonight. If one works, I'll be
revamping the entire site either Monday or Tuesday of next week (two
days I have off of my day job and thus will give me the time I need
to get this huge job done). Also, since I love to see what I can't
afford (hence, like other people, I like GT games to see what cars I
could never afford), I'll even try out a trial version of
Marcomedia's Director program. It'll be like tasting geek truffles
for a brief moment.
Anyway, I did drop
a nice chunk of time on Xenosaga 2 last night, as usual. This game
started to impress me for a moment, until I decided to take care of
some side quests before continuing the main quest. The side quests
each take far too long to accomplish and usually have too crappy of
a reward (like unlocking a new skill that I'll never use). So, after
I blasted (as in: moved really slowly) through a few, I decided to abandon
complaint with these side quests (the Good Samaritan Campaigns, as
they are called in game) is that a good 25-30% cannot be accessed
until I play through the game a second time...as if I'll ever play
this crap-tacular game a second time. I am barely able to handle one
time through. A second would destroy the little sanity I have left
after playing this far through the game.
At least Xenosaga
2 did one thing that made me quite happy last night. There is a
dungeon that has a timer that you must outrun on your way out from
the very end of the dungeon. Normally, in an RPG with a timer, you
get a feeling like the game developer hated you when a battle loads
and as the characters are loaded you can see the timer ticking away.
Then, after the battle, when your characters do their "battle
over" pose, the timer keeps going. Well, in Xenosaga 2, the
timer stops when the battle is loading and when the battle has
ended. Between the moment the last enemy dies and the map screen
returns (which included the awarded experience screen, the winning
pose, and load times), the timer is stopped. Also, this timer is
stopped when you face the required boss at the very end of the
escape route. I cannot begin to tell you how much this impressed me.
This is not only the best feature of Xenosaga 2 (beyond the plot),
but it's something that's been long overdue in RPGs.
Anyway, I blasted
through the remainder of a dungeon (the one with a timer to escape),
a good 6 or so side quests, and a pseudo-dungeon (the path leading
to the next dungeon is treated like a dungeon in many regards). This
leaves two dungeons and a handful of boss battles before I can throw
this game back to EB and use the credit to buy something useful and
worth my time (like GT4). Also, this means I'm really close to being
able to start a fair and unbiased review of the game. Yes, I have
admitted I hate the game, but this is not from bias, but rather from
the game being a major let down.
Anyway, I have
some flash animation tools to play with. Hopefully, if things work
correctly, a little time playing around tonight can lead to some
major overhauls on the site next week. Then...then, I'll finally
shut up about hating my frame layout.
As Hannibal (from
the A-Team) would say; I love it when a plan comes together. So,
after working for a while at looking at some nifty options to
eliminate frames and make the site look a little less like it's
trapped in the 90's, I have come up with a few. The most important
step is that I purchased a copy of Flashation.
I was once, a long
time ago, hardcore with programming. I can pull out a visual basic
program in a few hours that could do some really fun things. I could
program in the original BASIC, QBASIC, blah, blah, and make it look
pretty spiffy. However, my skills have gone to crap and I'm not in
the mood to learn how to code. Enter: Flashation. This will finally
put some nice menus up on the site without forcing me to code them
all. Anyway, this will make a nice departure from the navigation
menu you should see in the left frame right now.
Also, I've started
to play around a bit more with Photoshop and ImageReady (both Adobe
programs), and am starting to come up with a nice little banner to
replace some of the plain old text you see at the top of the page.
It's nothing special so far, but it will be...in theory.
Anyway, to wrap up
this plan coming together, I am free from my day job for the first
two days of next week. This means I can take some time next week to
change every page I've made in the last year and get them ready to
be sans frames. Sadly, this will be a hassle and a shit ton of work
for me, but I'm willing to bite the bullet now to prevent having to
do it later. Anyway, all of this works out for me to say that some
nice changes are coming sometime around Tuesday.
On to a different
note of frustration; I am now at the boss of the next to last
dungeon on Xenosaga 2. This means I can stop playing this horrible
excuse for a game (and great excuse for a movie or series of some
sort) in only a day or two. Then I'll be free! FREE! HEHEHEHE!
Sorry, I got off
topic. I should be finishing soon, which means a review will be in
the works quite soon. I already know how the bulk of this review
will look, but I don't know how much the ending will effect
things...I mean if I'm actually left wanting more, that would be
cool. I'm expecting the opposite, but who knows. I mean KOTOR2 was
awesome until I got to the ending and then felt extremely disappointed.
This game keeps
fluctuating on difficulty like a tug-o-war game. That's what is
really getting to me now. I mean the slow pace of the game is just a
minor annoyance. The real frustration, for me right now at least, is
from fighting a really hard enemy in one room and then fighting a
really simple and wussy enemy in the next.
In the end, the
difficulty is easy enough to outmaneuver, but it's still annoying. I
mean the game has 4 people in your party who are in the reserve
position (they don't fight in combat unless you chose to swap out
someone), and these reservists also regain some EP and HP between
battles. This means that you rarely want to heal during combat since
you can heal for free after combat...just have a reservist heal the
party after the combat ends, and then after the next fight the
reservist will probably have full EP again to do more healing. It
negates the extreme difficulty of everything short of boss
Anyway, I feel the
need to finish this game, if possible, tonight. I don't know for
sure what I want to play after I am done with this crap-fest, but I
want to play something else. If I try to play something else now,
I'll never come back to Xenosaga 2, so I'm in a pretty lame
situation here. My guess is that by the time I'm done with this
game, either my violent urges or my need for speed will take
control. If it's violence, then I'll either hit RE4 or re-play
GTA:SA. If it's speed, then it's time for GT4. Maybe I'll just
reward myself with some speed and some violence. It's hard to say
since it's hard to think when a single game is taking your will to
I have to admit, I
didn't get much time with Xenosaga 2 last night. I wanted to, but
this game has worn down my endurance for crappy games. Each new
battle only makes me feel more and more like abandoning X2 for
something that's actually fun all of the time (not just fun only
when a cut-scene is playing). Something like a GTA or GT game.
I did, however,
get to the final dungeon. I also got some really fun cut-scenes. In
fact, it was only after these cut-scenes ended that my will to game
ended. However, at the same time, I can see some problems developing
in these great cut-scenes. Mainly, I see the issue that this game is
bringing up far too many questions and has far too little time to
properly handle them...which means Xenosaga 3 will once again focus
on the same characters.
This wouldn't be
too bad of a problem, except after playing such a bad game as this I
don't want to ever see anything directly related to this game again.
I wouldn't mind if the next Xenosaga took place on either a parallel
story arc, or if it dealt with a whole new time frame that deals
with what happened after Shion and company bored the crap out of me.
I really just don't want another game of the exact same characters
(with only a small substitution or addition like how X2 was to the
original). I know the abilities of these characters, I know their
skills, I know their powers, I know their plot, and I know their
weaknesses...I don't want to have that pounded into my head with
another game of the same damned people.
Sadly, the next
Xenosaga will probably have all of the same people and will have
either no changes to the roster, or only a minor change. I really
cannot give a shit any less about Shion. KOS-MOS is boring and only
serves as a tank in combat. Ziggy wants to die, so let him die. Jr.
is interesting, to a point, but he's done all he should do. chaos
would be an interesting character to retain, but only if they
actually handle the mysteries of his origins. Momo is boring as
hell...she's a little girl with some power who keeps wanting her
"mommy". Jin may be an interesting character, like chaos,
but only if they team him with a more interesting party for the bulk
of the story. However, as I look at the obvious future of this
series, I see all, or at least most, of the characters coming back
to resume their adventures of being whiney and un-united.
I just hope I can
finish this game tonight. However, I have a feeling that I'll only
get so far before the urge to take a break gets the better of me.
So, my real guess is for it all to come to a close, for me, this
weekend. Then I can start to tear this game apart in a fair
review...yes, I said I'll bash it AND be fair because this game is
really bad. It's not just that I don't personally like it, it's that
it has so many flaws. I mean KOTOR had some bugs, but the developers
tried and delivered a good experience...X2 stinks of a large budget
on writers and animation experts, but a lack of budget and talent in
the game mechanics...and a lack of game testers to say "this is
I'm also putting
some nice effort into some touches to revamp the site with. I should
still have everything up and running on Tuesday. It will be a hell
of a lot of boredom but it will be worth it...and it won't be as
boring to alter every page on the site to the new style as it will
be to finish Xenosaga 2, so I'm up for it. I'll aim to have, at the
very least, a complete elimination of the current frame setup and,
hopefully, a nice new logo to replace my all text logo. In other
words, I'm having to learn some fun new skills, but it's going to be
Also, as a
warning, there will probably be no Malik's Bitchings this
week...again. It's not that I am wanting to slack off, but there's
still no news or games worthy of bitching about...except Xenosaga 2,
but I did that last week. I think the real solution for this will
come when the next generation of consoles are further detailed,
probably around E3. I don't want to have to wait that long, but it
looks like the trend of the game industry right now is to hold off
all major news until E3...blah.
I played about an
hour of Xenosaga 2 last night...I know, I want to finish the game as
soon as possible, but it's hard. As I told my friend Bastich last
night, this game reminds me of Saga Frontier. For those who didn't
play that game, it was a really bad RPG with 7 scenarios you had to
finish to get the real ending. The only thing is the level up system
was a random new skill or stat after a battle, if you're lucky, and
each scenario used the same characters, locations, abilities, items,
blah, blah, but at starting stats each time. This meant that after
you barely manage to beat a scenario (and it was hard since the
level up system was so broken), you have 6 more to "look
With SF, most
people quit and sold the game off before even beating one lame
quest...I got through 6 and was near the final boss of the 7th when
my will broke. And it broke with authority. I was near the final
boss and I just turned it off, put it on my shelf, and walked away.
I usually will pick up an unbeaten game after I take a vacation from
it. After 5 years, I sold SF (for almost nothing...but it felt like
I was ripping off the game store) and never looked back. Also, SF
was noted as one of the worst games ever made by Square, and I have
to agree (beyond Star Ocean 3, which is more from the Enix side of
things, this is the worst title Square was ever involved in).
Well, Xenosaga 2
is giving me that same feeling. In fact, my will to play it broke
about 2 days ago (and has been weakened for about 2 weeks). I'm now
only playing so I can write a fair review of a game I beat instead
of a game I gave up on, just so I can back up my review with a
simple fact; I beat this piece of shit. I am hoping to finish it
either tonight or tomorrow, but that will still be a pretty tall
Anyway, I had a
far better offer last night of playing some GT4, and that's an offer
you can't refuse when the alterative is Xenosaga 2.
I played some
really cool 1 on 1 duels with Bastich. Some of the best were the all
American redneck rally of the Ford F-150 vs. the Dodge Ram, the
Dukes of Hazard revisited (through the narrow streets of some
European town, the orange 1970 Dodge Charger versus a 1969 Camero),
and the Scion challenge through Seattle (the A and the B went one on
one to have the xB finish only 0.4 seconds out). Anyway, this game
is ridiculously fun two player and the split screen mode has the
best resolution I've seen for a split screen game.
I'm still really
tempted to get this game when I put Xenosaga 2 aside, but I may have
to wait...Xenosaga 2 makes me feel not just like I want speed, but
like I should be violent, which would be where GTA:SA would come
back into play. Either way, the goal is fast cars.
As you might have
noticed, I haven't mentioned Malik's Bitchings yet...well, there's
none, once again, to speak of this week. I would like to post
something, but there's absolutely nothing to seriously bitch about.
However, I have been dedicating the time I should spend on this one
the site maintenance that will go into effect on Tuesday. I think
things look pretty good with my work so far, but I'll still need to
put in a lot of time before I can be sure. It'll be a busy weekend.
Especially since I'll try to start a Xenosaga 2 review as soon as I
finish the game...which I hope is really soon...I want out...need to
sell this game back before people realize how bad it is and the
price for trade-in goes to shit.
Consider this my
Malik's Bitchings for the week. It's a little small and a
little later, but I feel like sharing.
So, I checked out Penny
Arcade today and found a link I would like to share with you
all. It's on CBS
News and is an interview with Jack Thompson. This is the
man most of us associate to baseless lawsuits against Rockstar for
the supposed mass murders that are caused by GTA. Just take a
minute and read this. Keep in mind what the question being
asked is and what the question that Mr. Thompson must be
answering. They are not the same.
For example, when
Mr. Vitka (the interviewer, who seems to be of an open mind...thank
you Mr. Vitka) asked if sex and age plays a role in the supposed
violence caused by violent games, Mr. Thompson answers a question
more along the lines of, "Does sexual themes in games tie into
violent behavior?", not if the GENDER of a person is a
factor. The age part was completely ignored. Way to be
open minded and ready to converse, Mr. Thompson. Go ahead and
check out that Q&A (the fourth question).
By the way, I'm a
scientist. I should throw that out in the open. In fact,
I am officially a researcher in the biology side of science.
Human (and microbiology...I am trying to be frank here) to be
precise. Shit, I grow human tissue in flasks for a
living. I have to understand these things to not get my ass
fired. That said, Mr. Thompson is a freakin' lawyer.
That shit about "dendrites" is completely unsound. I
had to say that. You build new neural connections with
different activities, but the neural connections made when you learn
to better control CJ on San Andreas are not the same ones that help
you to fire a freakin' gun. They are unrelated skills.
The only part Mr.
Thompson had right was about this; parents don't pay enough
attention to what their kids are up to. That is 100% true and
is, if anything, a reason to not baselessly blame the game
industry. If a kid skips school, in many places, the parents
are held accountable. I'm not saying that's 100% right to do,
but put that together with parents not watching their kids playing
these evil games...see where it's going. The law would
say the games are not to blame, just like a movie theater is not to
blame when a kids skips school and watches a movie.
is all a nice load of bullshit, and definitely worth a good
laugh. The real answer, which I'd like to put forward, is that
if a kid is f$#@ed up in the head, then it doesn't matter what they
will take part in. They are still f#$@ed up in the head.
If a kid is going to kill someone, maybe it was just the KID'S
I just look
forward to when some of the geek elite are interviewed. Those
should be some good interviews in which the questions being asked
and the questions being answered are one and the same.