Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (6/6/05)  

Let's start this new (and probably crap-tacular) week with something I've said for a long time. At Gamespot, some snippets of an Interview between CNN and Miyamoto were looked at. The majority of what Gamespot showed goes right back to what I've said for a long time...people probably still feel the same way as they always have, and this will never change, but at least Miyamoto agrees; Games are too long. It goes back to how I've been complaining for years on how someone will say KOTOR is too short because it's only 30-40 hours, or how Fable is too short, despite how you can easily make it into a 25 hour game without too much extra searching and time waste. 

Let's face it. Just 10 years ago, a long game took about 30 hours. Then, when games like Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, which promised 120 hours (which it wasn't...but the promise and premise are what matter), started to arrive, this all changed. Over night, people started to complain if a game was less than 60 hours to completion. While I do like to get my money's worth, let's also face the fact that we're all happy to pay $20 for the latest 2 hour movie on DVD, but 30 hours of game enjoyment for $50 is asking too much (?). Also, if you're playing a 60 hour game, are you still going to have time for another game that runs 60 hours? What about last Fall when we faced dozens of these long games? Seriously, Miyamoto is on to am I. If a game is too long, you'll simply have to either pass it by, live in your parents' basement, or play it solely as you pass by other good games. In the end, it's usually not as much our gaming money that's being competed for by the publishers; it's now a matter of our time. 

Speaking of money; Gamespot has a new issue of their Rumor Control that talks about how it's being rumored that 360 games will be $60. On one hand, this is quite lame. With how many games at launch, in particular, are of nicely sub-par quality, I know I'll be quite pissed off to pay $60 to stare at the eye-candy. On the other hand, this is EB who had been involved in the formulation of this potential rumor. In which case, I trust it as much as I've ever trusted their countless Half-Life 2, Doom 3, etc. release dates. EB is just not good with things that have no been officially announced. Hopefully they keep up their track record of not knowing what the hell they are talking about...hopefully. 

Anyway, if you haven't guessed it, I'm in a crappy mood. I've been this way since Friday afternoon (right after my last post). In the mail, on Friday, I got a nice big package from Car Toys. Sadly, I only ordered two windshield wipers...which would justify a long box, but not a big box. After I opened the box, I found that the obvious had occurred; by using a box that was oversized in one dimension, and by using no packing material, my wipers had been mangled in transit. This was bad on it's own, since I've been waiting for these for a long time (the delay was due to finances, not Car Toys). So, I immediately look about returning them from the Car Toys web site, and they have a really lamely worded section on how you can either return all of their goods, or just their laser/radar detectors, at retail outlets. So, I write them for a clarification, and get a response about how I need to call their damned 1-866 number that is only open on limited hours. 

I eventually find out, but calling a local retail outlet, that I can't return their crapily packaged goods except via shipping them back to Car Toys, which means I'll be out some money on shipping. 

Anyway, beyond the fact that this has been a huge waste of time, and the fact that I'll have to be out some money on returning them, there's something I find far more upsetting. The fact that they ship delicate items, like my carbon-fiber wipers, in packages that are almost designed to be damaged in transit. Seriously, the design of this package is one that is almost doomed to be damaged. A wide, thin, and long box with no packing materials and is only about 5-10% filled with the actual ordered contents is just waiting to be damaged in transit. Anyway, since I've been trying to be a source of knowledge for how a working class stiff can make a nice car look even sweeter, I'll just say this; Car Toys retail locations (in particular; Tukwila, Washington) are great. Car Toys online...well, I think if they work a little harder, they will have absolutely no redeeming value. 

Anyway, once I get my money back, and the little bit of my dignity they will decide to let me leave with, I'm now planning to try out a new site I found for online orders of car accessories; Racerwheel. So far they seem to have a far better selection, and much better prices than Car Toys. 

Anyway, I'm off work, and have some time, so now I'll have to depart to yell at Car Toys and try to get my money back. 


Malik (6/7/05)  

Gamespot has an interesting little thing on the 360 today. It basically shows why Microsoft can stand to be a major player in the console wars...they have bank to spare. This article goes on about how Microsoft is expected, by analysts (for whatever that's worth), to sell the 360 for about $300, despite paying the producers of the console about $375 per console. I'm not surprised. Seriously, with the money Microsoft makes from their more serious of products (Windows, Office, blah, blah), like with the last generation, they can afford to sell for less than profitable prices. It's their biggest weapon in taking a share of Sony's market. 

Meanwhile, with how Sony makes a small majority of their money from computer entertainment (think PS2), Sony will have to price more accordingly to profits. This pretty much sets up Microsoft to sell for less, and thus it will give a little extra polish to the 360 when it's stood next to a PS3. 

It's not like I'm saying Microsoft will win the console war, but the next-gen will include Microsoft picking up a little speed compared to this generation. Sony will still do quite well, just off of customer loyalty and the large amount of game developers who are on board. However, it will probably help Microsoft and Sony to enter a closer (it'll still probably be a Sony generation in the next-gen) level of competition. 

As for that extra blurb about how the demand of 360's will outweigh the supply...ummm...when have we not seen this situation in recent generations. A new console, especially when launched around Christmas, is always going to be in such a position that demand destroys the available supply. Look at the DS, the PSP, the PS2, the XBox, the always plays out this way, and it will for the rest of gaming. To act like this is a surprise is like being surprised when a lot of things become hard to find around the holidays, or when shopping at that time of year becomes a nightmare. It's simple and obvious. It's the way of the commercial world. 

Anyway, I haven't been getting in much gaming lately. I would like to, but I've just been spending too much of my time dealing with the hell that most people call "Car Toys". I finally was able to find time to call them, and sit on hold for a total of around 12 minutes...all to talk to a live person for about 1 minute. This person told me that they would send me an email this morning, which they did, with return information. It just leaves me wondering why they couldn't have done that when I emailed them. Actually, I should say that they did...about 2 hours after I called and waited on hold, I got an email replying to my previous emails. 

On a side note; If you ever want to hear the most annoying hold messages, call Car Toys online phone support. I don't feel like tricking out my car as much anymore thanks to this saccharine voice telling me how I can make my car "street" with all their latest and hottest accessories. This type of hold message only makes me feel like I'm a complete poser if I shop with them. I guess it could be worse; they could have had the hold voice be generic "xtreme dude!". Man, this all just makes me feel so dirty, and the dirt won't wash away. 

Anyway, I know I need to play more Rise of Kasai. I haven't given this game the real chance it deserves. Especially with how well Mark of Kri treated me, it's the least I could do. I also need to play a little more Hot Shots Golf (PSP...and a damned good game) so I can write a review. For now, I'm just worn out. 


Malik (6/8/05)  

I've been complaining a little too much lately. I can place the blame on Car Toys, since they did set off a bad mood in me with their horrible ideas of what qualifies for a shipping package, but I'll leave that behind. I'll just admit the obvious; I've been too pissed. 

I expected this attitude to continue, so I played some Rise of Kasai last night. The game's first level was so completely horrible that I expected that it would only continue this way. I mean, in the first level, you play as one of two un-interesting characters, and you are put into stupid positions. For example, you'll get a hint telling you to act with stealth, and to scout out the next area to plan an efficient strategy to take out your enemies (the "Kasai", as they are called). Well, that's when your partner, who you must keep alive, will run forward in a blaze of stupidity, and your stealth plans must be thrown out in an attempt to make a rescue of his dumb-ass self. 

Also, I should mention that I keep trying to play this game for a reason...the same reason I try to get some good time in with all games I buy, despite how bad they initially feel. That reason is simply because the beginning of a game can betray the quality (or lack of) in the rest of the game. This is quite true for RoK, in particular. 

The second level takes off to a different start. I chose to play as Rau, the hero of Mark of Kri. My other options was to play as Tati, his sister. I decided that Kri was so fun that I should do what would ensure the most enjoyment, and play as big old Rau. So, I was told to take to the roofs of a city as Tati took the streets below. My job was to quietly take care of sentries (who will alert people to your presence) as Tati took out the ground forces with stealth. 

I cannot begin to say how awesome this game gets once you enter the second level. All of the pointless hack-n-slash of the first level is gone. You only will button mash your attack buttons if you're clumsy enough to get noticed. 

While the old stealth game play has been over done, RoK just makes it feel fresh. You have the fun of not having to hide the bodies of your defeated foes, but you still have to contend with them missing and this confusing any enemy who may normally interact with the slain fool. For example, in one place, I creped along a wall, and found a guard at the corner. I reached around the corner, slammed my blade through his throat and left him hanging against a wall as he died, and then pulled it from his lifeless corpse (since the animation of RoK is a lot like that of Samurai Jack and the Clone Wars cartoon, this looks freakin' awesome). I sent my scout (a bird that is actually a spirit guide of sorts...the game uses a lot of primitive tribal themes) ahead and saw a guard was approaching. This guy normally would chat with my most recent kill before going back the way he came...but with his friend dead, he started to freak out. His sword was pulled, and he was skittish jumping back and forth in an attempt to keep up his guard from all angles. Then, right when you jump in a direction away from me, I crept around the corner and snapped his neck, as I slowly lowered his body to the ground. 

That's what RoK should be like. If you mess up, you have the innovative MoK battle system, but if you're smooth, you'll rarely need it. Also, with far off enemies, you have the option of sniping them with your bow. However, you have the usual consideration of wasting precious arrows or trying to find a good point for a traditional melee stealth kill. 

All of this time, I could look down to the streets below and see Tati doing the same stuff I was. As I cleared the sentries, she would sneak through the city below and do her darker and more gruesome stealth kills. 

I only had time to play through the second level last night...mainly because I was dumb enough to make make enough saves, and I overwrote a good recent save with one of me just being spotted by a sentry...which led to me getting my ass kicked...over and over...with no option but to keep trying and reloading. That was a bad waste of almost an hour. 

Anyway, I think my view of RoK has shifted a little. I was previously dreading playing the game through and writing a review, but now...well, I look forward to playing more. True, the game could change to lameness again, but I'll just have to play through what's shaping up to be a great game to find out. 


Malik (6/9/05)  

It's one of those days with good and bad things...but then again, how many days don't seem to be this way? 

As for the good, and for me this is very good. Gamespot has a little blurb on the new Lunar game for the DS. Unlike all Lunar games made after 1994, this game is actually a NEW Lunar game and not just a port of an earlier game. This, in itself, should be amazing news, if the game is not just a crappy portable game like how Lufia became once it hit the portable systems. 

For those who are too young to remember, Lunar is one hell of an awesome RPG. The first two games were released in their best forms on the Sega CD, way back in the first half of the 1990's. There were a couple of ports, like on the PSX, that seemed to add content and alter the game play...which led to the great magic system of Lunar: Silver Star becoming a sad little incident of having 8 spells per person (at the most), including the mages who previously had had dozens of spells. 

Lunar games have typically blended some really simple, yet addictive RPG mechanics with an amazing plot that is heavily influenced by both character and plot development, by using anime influenced cut scenes. In fact, I hold such a special place in my heart that when the original Lunar came out for the Sega CD, in my crazy youth, I bought the game before I had a Sega CD, just to ensure that the game would be in my collection when I could finally afford a Sega CD (which I never saw as a let-down system add-on due to the two Lunar Games). 

The new Lunar: Genesis game will take place a thousand years before the first Lunar. I'm not too sure what this will mean since all of the major histories of Lunar only seem to go a dozen years before the first game. If the game is not another portable mutilation or a bad attempt at forcing two screens with no substance, this should be an awesome game. No US release info has come along yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if Working Designs is already trying to buy the license to release it here in about 5-10 their usual perfectionist and slow way. 

As for bad stuff...well, I was wrong about Rise of Kasai. This is not a game that gets better after the lame first level. No. Instead it does a balancing act of either being awesome or really freakin' lame. There's no in-between and no warning when this shift occurs. 

Last night I played the third level and had an awesome time. I think, on looking back, this was because it used a nice blend of both stealth influenced levels and the fact that my partner and I were split up the entire level. However, it all went to crap with one little event. A boss fight. 

At the start of the boss fight, against a giant dragon that is flying around a tower, on which you're at the top of, you are teamed with your partner again. I was playing as Rau, the hero of the game, as Tati stood with me. The game soon tells you that Rau's mission is to snipe the dragon with his bow. That's easy enough to do. They give you a ton of arrows on this tower, and the dragon moves into a position to make a breath attack that leaves it wide open for a rain of death from my bow. 

Meanwhile, Tati's mission is to protect Rau. I didn't know what this meant until I heard the warning horns (how enemies call for help in the game). Then the standard array of fighters started to show up. So, that's what Tati would defend me theory. In reality, she would stand perfectly still for a while, then run in a circle, then find one enemy to fight. While she fought this one foe, I only had about 9 on my ass. When an enemy soldier is slain a new one will shortly spawn. So, instead of being able to snipe the dragon, which takes some time to line up said shot, I was forced to use my spear to smack away the endless foes. Luckily Tati was doing fine...I mean all she did was stand there looking scary as the enemies ran past her to hit me. Anytime I shot my bow at the dragon, I'd take about 25% of my life in damage from swords, axes, etc. 

Yes, the AI is this bad in RoK. Not only does your partner like to blow stealth opportunities, they like to not do their job. At the very least, this game should have an option to give commands to your partner. Commands like, "get off your f$#@ing ass and defend me!" and "get the f%#@ back here and stay the f$%^ still!". Those two commands would make this game amazing. That, and a smart AI for your partner...or just making the levels to be played solo. 

Anyway, I did beat the dragon...after about 2 hours. The worst part is if the dragon lines up a shot and you don't shoot back, it will insta-kill you. You cannot survive, and your partner won't care. Blah. 

Since I did beat this boss (I was determined to quit playing if I couldn't finish it on the attempt that did beat it), I will play more. I just hope the game gets good and that there are no more lame bosses like this...ok, the boss fight was awesome, but it can't work in a game with such poor partner AI. 


Malik (6/10/05)  

So, just like VHS versus Beta, or DVD versus DIVX, the next generation of movies will once again be plagued with a lame war from two sides that just don't want to see eye-to-eye. Also, once again Sony is in the battle. 

According to Gamespot, Sony, with the Blue-ray technology, and...well, just about everyone else, with HD-DVD, could not see a compromise in standards. In basic terms, HD-DVDs will be easier for everyone concerned, and it will, most importantly, be easier to be backwards compatible with current DVD standard. Meanwhile, Blue-ray will use a media that can store about 20GB more per disk. The amount of space may sound impressive, but when you're dealing with 30GB disks on the HD-DVD standard, it'll probably be a pointless difference. After all, movies may be large, but we've found ways to get around large movies in the current generation. In other words, multi-disk methods could still be employed, if for some strange reason, 30GB is too small while 50GB is big enough. 

The main issue I have with this battle is the fact that it will be a closer fight than DVD vs. DIVX. It is not going to be nearly as obvious as to which side is worthy of support, and thus many people are bound to buy into one media when the other turns out to kill the loser. So, it'll be a battle that will consist of three types of people. 

Those who favor Blue-ray or HD-DVD will find that their chosen standard may be destroyed early in it's life...but not early enough to prevent them from losing potentially thousands of dollars in both a library of useless movies and a worthless player. The third group will be the ones who could mess things up for everyone...and I should add that I will be part of this group. These are the people who will buy neither system until a standard comes out. If enough people go this way, then the next generation could face some rather interesting prospects, like both media formats failing, both surviving in a state of half-life-half-death, or even a third standard sneaking in (if this battle goes on long enough for such technology to come through). Hell, we may even begin to face movie wars that mirror console wars, in which many standards start to survive side-by-side, and then no one will win as Sony's studios will obviously only support Blue-ray, other studios will support HD, and if more standards's gonna be ugly. 

Anyway, I really didn't get any game playing in yesterday. I was hoping to figure out which side of the fence I am leaning towards with Rise of Kasai. I really want, as a fan of Mark of Kri, to be leaning towards saying this game kicks arse. However, I also know that if the AI remains as annoying as it's been, I'll have to fall back on either quitting this game, or at least using some cheat codes (which I tried to use to beat the dragon I talked of last night, but the codes didn't take for some lame reason). 

The main problem lies in the fact that the plot for this game is really amazing. If you've ever watched Samurai Jack, it's like playing the story of one of the one-shot characters or know, the ones that appear for only one episode. The level of details in the plot are amazing in how much of a new world is given to us, but at the same time it's simple enough to feel like a classic exercise in story telling. In other words, a lot of game makers can learn a lesson from Rise of Kasai's plot...and they could also learn what not to do with AI. 

Anyway, I didn't play anything since Velveeta got us hooked up with a new laptop. Well, new is a subjective term in this case. We got a used HP Omnibook 6000 P3 800. So far, I'm happy with the thing, except that it came with a 6GB HDD...which is enough for Windows XP, Office, anti-virus, a few media players, and about 4 hours of media to play on said players. In other words, I'll have to spend some more money on this thing to get a real HDD. 

Anyway, installing all of that software was enough of a time waste without my network going to crap. For some reason, my main machine and the laptop keep taking turns of one seeing the other while the other sees not a damned thing. It wouldn't be too bad to solve if it was consistent, but it keeps flipping which PC doesn't see what. I'm betting it's probably a simple issue, but after spending 4+ hours on installing software, my brain couldn't take anymore. 

I was about to call it a day for posting...until I read an article on the PS3 HDD at Gamespot. You should check out the link for a full story. However, the gist of it is that Ken Kutaragi, president of the Sony Computer Entertainment section at Sony, is giving a few details on the PS3 HDD. The primary info is that the HDD will probably be separate from the console (you must spend more cash to buy it...on top of the fact that the PS3 will probably cost a hundred or so more than it should as a GAME CONSOLE), that the HDD will include the Linux OS to make it recognized as a computer, and that Sony is still pressing this "entertainment supercomputer" bull shit. I feel like I need to scrape the shit off my keyboard and monitor from even reading this stuff. 

Ultimately, the real point of this interview/article is a simple fact. Sony is so f$#%ing full of themselves, and so caught up in trying to be posers who don't even recognize that they make GAMES and CONSOLES TO PLAY GAMES that I think they must've done some hardcore drugs over at Sony. I mean what type of drugs do you take to get so f$#^ing full of yourselves and so f#%$ing out of touch with reality. Just read this little snippet from the article. 

I believe its wrong that, while we've been calling PlayStations "computers," Nintendo, which is in our same business, keeps telling the world their consoles are "toys." So even though we're making something that has the capability to be recognized as a supercomputer and requires paperwork when exporting or importing, the government sees it as a "toy." The PlayStation 2 has something as great as the Emotion Engine, and it can even run Linux, but it's still considered a gaming machine. I thought that the situation would become better since Microsoft appeared [in the gaming industry] from the IT field. But they won't say it either, since they want to protect their business. They see problems if the Xbox could run Windows, so they keep calling the Xbox a "game machine." It is really a pain in the neck. This time, we're positioning the PS3 as a "supercomputer." But people won't recognize it as a computer unless we call it a computer, so we're going to run an OS on it. In fact, the Cell can run multiple OSes. In order to run the OSes, we need an HDD. So in order to declare that the PS3 is a computer, I think we'll have [the PS3's HDD] preinstalled with Linux as a bonus. 

Let's set some facts straight. What the f#$% was the "emotion engine"? Microsoft and Nintendo didn't have "emotion engines" in their consoles, and they, technologically, smoked the PS2's ass. 

Secondly, we will recognize the PS3, the Revolution, and the 360 for what they are. Toys is not really a word that carries the right connotation, so let's call it a console. However, what's the definition of "toy"? Well, let's be technical, since I'm sick of this "supercomputer" bull shit. calls "toy" a few things. Of which, it includes "An object for children to play with", which is true for a game console. It includes "Something of little importance; a trifle"...let's face it, if a console is of great importance to you, you do have problems. I'm an uber-geek and know that my consoles don't carry any real weight in my life. If they did, I wouldn't be a geek, but rather I'd be "mentally unstable/unbalanced". Also, a toy is "An amusement; a pastime: thought of the business as a toy"...can we all say f#$% yeah? Every definition of "toy" that I mentioned applies to a PSX, a PS2, a PS3, and any other game system that Sony makes. 

Sorry, but I'm just sick of this bullshit. Sony is a little too full of themselves and they act like calling a PS3 by any other name will only help to boost sales and prestige. Well, a PS3 will always be a trifle of an amusement source that kids will keep playing with. If they want to stop being a "toy" maker, then they need to stop focusing on games and start focusing on office productivity software for their consoles. 

By the way, a "supercomputer" is not quite the right word for a PS3 when it's defined as something like "A mainframe computer that is among the largest, fastest, or most powerful of those available at a given time" when Sun makes shit that will easily and always smoke a PS3. So, in other words, Sony...please...and I beg of you as a long time fan of your consoles...SHUT THE F$#% UP ALREADY! Ok, I'm out. 

For Those Who Don't Have Flash Plug-Ins...

News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    The Car    Disclaimer