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Malik (5/9/05)  

Sick...very sick...

Malik (5/10/05)  

Well, I don't know how coherent I'll be today. I missed out on posting yesterday due to what will make me ramble today...germs. So, I'm sick, so let's see how this even goes. 

Anyway, this weekend I took time to get some neon-accent tubes installed in The S (my car). We hit up Car Toys to get this work done. I had been warned previously, to expect the Car Toys people to be both arrogant and bitchy. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how things actually went. First off, before even buying anything from them, the salesman who helped us was more than ready to check out the car to see what would work best for us. Quite different from most other places I've been that include salespersons who try to sell first and ask questions later. 

The second thing that surprised me was that the salesman was more interested in getting our parts installed correctly than to push the Car Toys products. I mean the guy was more than ready to install whatever we brought in than to push their lights on us. That's a definite bonus. 

The third thing that surprised me was how quick everything was done. When we went to Circuit City to get the subs the previous week, we were told to expect about 2 hours for install and we waited 5.5 hours. Well, at Car Toys we were told to expect 2.5 hours and were driving away with the lights installed only 1.5 hours later. 

I also got some LAN party action at my friend Bastich's LAN party this weekend. It was the first time I played any multiplayer Rise of Nations, and I have to say that this is one of the best LAN party games I've played. I had no idea how awesome this game could actually be until we had a nice 6 (players...4 being newbs) on 2 (computers) game going. 

Anyway, my attention span is slipping, which means two things...Dayquil is doing it's duty, and I'm too sick to be posting anything that would make sense. 


Malik (5/11/05)  

Well, I'm still feeling like crap, but I'm no longer out of it...I don't know if that's good or not, for me that is. 

Well, with how I was talking of my new love for Rise of Nations, there's some related news today. It seems that Big Huge Games and Microsoft are once again releasing a game in this same line. According to Gamespot, Rise of Legends is in the works. Instead of focusing on actual history, or a close facsimile, RoL will focus on two type of civilizations. One type will focus on the magical and supernatural, while the other will focus on sci-fi style technology. It should be an interesting twist for those who have grown tired of almost every RTS focusing on the same crap (real history). Not much has been revealed on this game yet, but I'm betting E3 will shed some light on things. There are some images of the game on IGN that leaves me a bit confused. On one hand, the quality looks nice, but on the other hand some of the units look silly and stupid. Of course there are a lot of other games that have used silly looking vehicles and such that have turned out quite well, so I'll just leave this tought hanging until more is revealed (like videos). 

Speaking of pre-E3 news, tomorrow is the night that MTV will be airing the first real revealing of the XBox 360 (what a damned retarded name...sorry, I still think it's about the lamest console name that could exist beyond the code-names for previous Nintendo consoles...Dolphin, hahaha). Anyway, if you have cable, this will probably be worth a look since the XBox 360 will be the first console of the next generation to hit the streets by a good few months. 

On that note, it looks like the Revolution (from Nintendo) will be hitting stores sometime in the middle of next year, and with the rumors of PS3 coming sometime a little sooner, Nintendo is once again coming to the next generation party unfashionably late. I guess this may be the generation that will shake things up since Microsoft will have an early lead, and Nintendo is still being less than insightful with their strategies. At least they always have the handheld market...oh wait...DS has had no good games released since it's launch and the PSP has been dominating the quality games market. 

Anyway, I've played some more Phantom Brave. Sadly, I'm not feeling the desire to play this game that I felt this time last year with Disgaea and La Pucelle Tactics. Instead of feeling motivated to keep playing, I only feel like I should play because I have nothing else to play. I think the main problem is that I've done all of this before, but now I don't even have a good plot to keep me going. 

The worst part is that one of my least favorite parts of prior NIS (the developer behind these games) development is still here. Basically, as you play, you will unlock new types of characters to make. However, these characters will start at level 1. You can pay extra to make them more powerful, at level one, but they are still only at level one. This means that you will have to replay some old maps quite a few times in order to make the new characters useful enough to fight in the new battles. In fact, that's all I did last night. I played through about 8 battles...all of them were old battles so I could get my new fighter within a few levels of my main fighting force. 

Also, to make things worse, most of your abilities are tied into your currently equipped item (each character can wield a single it a sword, a book, or a flower pot). This means that your witch (think mage) will only be as useful as the book or staff she wields. So, if you decide to buy a new book to replace that old staff, unless you do some confusing and hard to explain stuff, you will lose most of the abilities and spells you had just a minute before. Also, this means that if an enemy steals one of your items (and they like to do this...and then the enemy will try to throw it out of the current combat field...that's cheap), you will be left with not only a character with no equipment bonuses to his/her stats (there goes your speed, defense, intelligence, attack power, HP increase, etc), but no abilities. Yeah, this is as annoyingly stupid and lame as it sounds. 

At least I have nothing else to play right now, so it's not like I have a lot of choices. Either I play PB, or I sit and watch the wonderful programming that cable offers (over 100 channels and maybe one good show on at a time). So, until I have some cash, which keeps going into supping The S, it looks like PB will keep getting my attention...I wish I knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing... 


Malik (5/12/05)  

What the hell is wrong with game developers? I mean first we get faced with the constant rain of game imitators (like how everyone had to make a shit ton of WWII FPS titles after a couple of creative ones did quite well) and then we get faced with bad game ideas that just spit upon that which should be revered as classical and untouchable material. 

Yeah, I'm talking about Taxi Driver, the game (here's a link at Gamespot). First off, this movie is a classic film. It is not some lame blockbuster crap that came from the un-imaginative minds of the 1990's and later. It's not some movie that leaves a lot of room for a game. It's not a movie that is lame enough to merit being tarnished more with a lame game. Most of all, it is not even a movie that most gamers in today's generations would have even seen. Let's face it, old films tend to go under the radar of today's youth (and I'm not just trying to sound like some old geezer...I'm part of this ignorant generation...hell, I would've never seen such classics as Casablanca if it weren't for both a sense of boredom and a sense of needing a good date movie one boring night back in my freshman year of college). 

Not only are we soon going to see Taxi Driver mutilated beyond recognition into (my guess here...) some lame shooter that makes us think that the game is not just spitting on Taxi Driver (the movie) but also GTA (the game series) We are soon going to have Jaws remade into gaming crap. It doesn't end there. We also have had Godfather being corrupted in such a way that Francis Ford Coppola is pissed (as seen at Gamespot). Is the game developer world just so pissed off at good movies that they are determined to try to ruin their images for all time? Why would anyone want to take a risk with something of such quality? Maybe next we could see someone taking Schindler's List and turning it into a FPS...yeah, that would be equally stupid. 

The worst part of this trend is that these game sell well. The main reason is that most of today's gamers have not seen the movies, but these movies are such a deep part of our modern culture that gamers feel they have to buy them. Plus, for most gamers, all that's known of movies like The Godfather is that it is violent, so the game must be action packed. 

I can tell you all right now that I'm not touching a single one of these games made off of movie licenses that I hold dearly in my geek heart. First off, I can tell you that these games should not exist. These movies that they are "based" on are not ones that could be translated properly into an interactive experience. Secondly, games made from movies almost always suck. It's not a's a truth. Street Fighter: The Movie (it even works when a game is based on a movie is based on a great game), Men In Black, Bad Boys, Matrix, most Star Wars games (I know, a few are good...but when you crank out a half dozen a year, something will squeak by as a fluke)...try to think of a game based on a movie and you'll most likely stumble upon pure shit. 

Anyway, I played more Phantom Brave last night. I really don't know why I keep playing. It's painful. The plot is not there. There is seriously no reason to keep playing this game. If I had any other game to take my attention right now, I would play it in an instant...but I don't have anything else, right now. I'm almost tempted to buy Forza so I can have something interesting to play. I really would like to finish PB. However, it's luckily not as bad as most other games I've said this about. It's not like Xenosaga 2, which was just painful to play. PB is not's just not interesting. It's like I could get as much fulfillment out of watching syndicated re-runs on TV as I could playing the game. 

Anyway, speaking of TV, tonight Microsoft is whoring itself on MTV. I'll watch since I want to see if it wasn't all a know...that look of the XBox 360 that was leaked in the last couple of weeks. Man, this is going to possibly the most ridiculous looking console ever. I mean even the original XBox, that behemoth of a system, won't look as silly anymore in comparison to this thing. At least it's not what the console looks like that matters. I just hope that the controller is not as f$#@ed up as it looks from last week's leaked images. 


Malik (5/13/05)  

So, if you check out Gamespot's main news page, you can find a ton of minor information on the XBox 360 (looks like the name wasn't just hype or a's sadly true...maybe the XBox 3 can be called the "XBox McTwist" or some other lame "extreme" sounding name...) spread out on many individual news items. I mean it's just easier if they put every confirmed or rumored launch game onto a single news article, but I guess that would be too concise for Gamespot. Anyway, to me it all looks like your standard issue of standard launch and just-past-launch titles. You have some FPS, some action, some sports, some extreme sports...blah, blah, blah. 

So, I watched that MTV thingy on the XBox2 (I prefer to just call it this...hell, a few people on that show called it this and it's what most people will refer to it as for a good long time) and I have to say I was both disappointed and amused. I mean I didn't expect much from this. After all, Microsoft is obviously trying to go with an "extreme" and "trendy" appearance to boost sales and to try to keep more active in the next generation. This means they will skip on the important details and go for a more "we teh roxor...we B teh 1337!!11!!" appearance, so information is not job one for them right now. 

I was amused to see that Perfect Dark Zero is being put in the launch poster-child position this time around. I may be alone here, but when the original PD came out for the N64, I was amazed by how they could take Golden Eye, do almost nothing new with it, strip out some of the best features, and release it many years later and call it an amazing title. So, you'll have to forgive me if I'm less than ecstatic about PDZ. I wasn't even blown away by the game play footage they showed of it. It didn't look like anything beyond the same old shit, recycled, and put in a new package. Yippee! The only part of this game that has me interested is the supposed 50+ people who can be active in a single game. That would be cool...if it remains true up through it's release. 

I also found it funny the parts that Microsoft is trying to push. You mean we can change the face-plate!!!11!!!!11 I know that's so important to me. I always love to shell out extra money on appearance of a system, especially if it's trying to bank on the trendiness of the I-Pod (just look at the XBox's I-Pod Shuffle, only bigger). I'm sorry, but this is going to be another box that I'll simply cram in between a few other systems and play. I won't care what it looks like...only what the TV looks like when it's on, if you catch my meaning. I don't mod the external parts of my systems (with one exception; the flip-top lid on my first PS2, so I could play imports) for a reason; they all sit on a shelf crammed together. If it really mattered what it looked like, I would probably only have one system since they all clash with each other, visually, as it is. 

The parts I really wanted to know about for sure started with the abilities of the system. I don't mean the hardware specs, since it takes so long for the hardware of a system to be fully utilized as it is. I mean, first off, is it backwards-compatible? While some analysts (as seen at Gamespot) may say that backwards-compatibility is just some lame way to entice more people to buy a system out of loyalty, I disagree. As someone who has seen their systems die in each generation (my PSX died and had to be replaced a total of 4 times, my GCN had to be sent off for repairs on the first month I owned it, my PS2 I'm using now is number 2 after the DREs claimed my first one, and my XBox has some DRE-style problems), I want to be able to continue to play my old games after the old systems become impossible to find. So, backwards-compatibility is very freakin' important to me. I don't think I'm alone on this. I think anyone interested in the next generation and has ever had a DRE will agree with me on this. 

The second part that matters, but would never be discussed anyway, is this; will the system last longer than a week beyond it's warranty? I know that would never be discussed, since no manufacturer wants to admit that their consoles are made by blind and brain-damaged monkeys to save on labor, but it still matters to me. I'm just trying to show you all what my priorities are. 

The third part, at least on the XBox's successor that really matters to me is another simple one that they half answered; is there a hard drive? The online menu on the test system they showed on MTV showed a downloadable content option. At least, despite how the MTV deal didn't show it, Microsoft has announced a 20 gig removable HDD. For me this is an important feature since, while many games didn't use it, I love the custom soundtrack feature seen in games like Burnout 2&3, GTA series, etc. I am an audiophile (lover of music), and have a well refined sense of musical taste, and am sick of the trendy-spoon-fed music on most games. Plus, no matter how long you play a game, eventually the music will get on your nerves (Burnout 3 has an awesome soundtrack, but after around 50 hours, even a good soundtrack needs to be removed for some custom music). More importantly, is the fact that after dropping $350+ on a new system (I live in a tax happy state and city), I don't want to have to waste $30+ more on a memory card that will probably not be available at launch (like with how there were only a fraction as many PS2 memory cards at launch as there were PS2 consoles). 

The fourth part, and while it's fourth it is still a major priority to me, is the controls. It's nice to see that the XBox 360 will be the first battery operated console that can't fit in the palm of your hand, but wireless only means so much right now. I mean wireless will make my living room look neater when there are fewer cords running around the place (and with 15+ consoles, I do suffer some problems from too many cords)...I just hope the battery life is really good. Well, that and I hope the price for extra controls doesn't reflect the price for wireless controls...shit, I've spent far too much money on the most fragile part of a system (the controller...especially ones with analogue sticks) to need to also have wireless reflected in the price tag. 

No, when I say controls matter, I meant I wanted to actually see the full controller. I've seen the front of this thing a few times, and have noticed the movement of the start and back buttons, and a strange absence of the black and white buttons, and the addition of the lame "glowing circle of doom" button, but I want to see all sides and angles. I have heard about the black and white buttons now being on the shoulders, but I really need to see this...I mean this could mean a lot of things. The Z on the GCN control is on the shoulder, and the L2 and R2 are on the shoulder of the PS2 controller, but they both look and feel different. So, let's see how it's applied on the XBox 2. 

One other question I have is if this thing can be turned horizontal? I mean it probably can, but this matters to me. I may be one of the few people who can say this, but I have far more space for small horizontal things than for vertical things. 

Anyway, I at least got a good laugh from Microsoft trying so damned hard to be trendy and cool. I mean in terms of unintentional humor, this rates pretty high. I mean when else could we see Microsoft associated with such important social issues as Pimp My Ride, Frodo, and Sway. Man, if I didn't have a massive headache last night, I probably would've been on the floor laughing. It's great to see that Microsoft is trying so hard, but they should try to keep some dignity while they're at it. 

That lame special hasn't really changed my opinion on anything, but I still feel like it was worth it for the humor (that's all I really expected from this...well, I also expected to see a damned controller). I have been intending to get the next XBox for a while...on one hand, I'm a collector of game systems, but on the other hand it actually has some nice games in the works (like a couple RPGs from Mistwalker). 

One last thought...supposedly we will be able to turn the XBox 2 on and off via the wireless controllers.  I, with my lazy side, find this really neat since I can now plop down on the couch, turn on the TV and my surround sound and the XBox 2 all without having to get up.  On the other hand, I think we can all see how playing the system may turn out.  I mean, in multiplayer games, we all know someone who is habitually bad at games and throw tantrums when they lose, right?  Well, I think we can all see how this will turn out.  Also, when in the heat of a highly action packed sequence in a game, we've all hit the wrong buttons by mistake before, and we've all had bad controllers in the past (like ones in which certain buttons activate on their own), so how will this turn out when one's playing a game and the system turns itself off?  Just a thought.

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