Malik (9/13/04)  

Today, as I read some news articles, I realized something. I was, at times, coming down a bit hard on myself for how long it took me to put together a review for a game. However, I now am feeling quite a bit better seeing MSNBC, with their supposedly up-to-date news correspondence, post a review of Doom 3. Couldn't they wait a bit longer? I mean I have a good excuse for being slow, at least; I am, after all, one person running a site, editing articles, researching news, writing a weekly column, a daily post, an occasion review, and occasion news items. I mean I am doing the work of several people while holding down a "real" job to bring in the money to keep me from having to eat out of a dumpster and from having to live in a nifty big screen TV box in an ally. Anyway, I'm just bitching, but it's true. 

On that note, I will say something else. I am thinking that my review of Star Ocean: 'Till The End of Time will have to wait for a bit. With the over-abundance of new titles coming, and with my time being spent in a weird mixture of SO3, CoH, work, other geek activities, and trying to hold together my sanity, I've lost track of time. Namely, I lost track of what tomorrow is; the day that Fable is released, or at least shipped. So, before I can get enough play time in on SO3, I'm going to have to put that one on the back burner (playing only an hour or so a week) while I go overboard on Fable. On the plus side, I've given most of my impressions on SO3 already (check last week's archived posts), so the only thing really lacking, right now, is the final score and my impressions of how the game gets after the supposedly intolerable beginning; to me, even if the game becomes hella sweet after 15 hours, like most people are saying, I'm still not going to be too happy since I had to waste 15 or so hours going through gaming hell to get to it...that's not my definition of a good game. A good game would not require such a tedious 15 hours to start the game (in fact, at the most, a good game should only drag long enough to set the background story and introduce the protagonist). However, I'll get a Fable review up rather soon, since I'm going to devote my life to that (in theory) wonderful method to throw out my real life. 

This weekend I didn't get much done in the way of my usual geek pursuits. I tried to get in some SO3 and CoH, but sadly I failed horribly. I did get in a couple of SO3 hours...very unimpressive hours. In fact, I'd have to say that I didn't play much because of the hell I went through fighting the battle system (not fighting in the battle system...I mean trying and failing to get the battle system to work correctly). If you've seen the comic about SO3, then you should know what I mean. I fought one boss fight, and for some sick and twisted reason, this was the easiest fight of the game so far. While normal enemies kick my ass, I was able to take down this boss in under 15 seconds, taking no damage, and didn't even have to see one of my stupid AI controlled character take a single hit. If a boss is this simple to beat and it's underlings (the normal enemies) are strong enough to constantly lay my mage-type to rest, then all I can say is that there is something horribly wrong with this game. 

Speaking of horribly wrong things coming out of good a series; Sony will be unveiling it's next Wild Arms game (Wild Arms: The 4th Detonator) at the upcoming TGS. Why do I say "horribly wrong" when it comes to one of my longest standing enjoyable series? Because Sony is promising a bunch of innovations to completely change how Wild Arms is played...sigh...why mess with something that obviously has a good fan base as it stands (if a series can crack out a 4th game, then it's definitely doing something right as it is)? They messed with WA3, and made Arms common and lame, and this almost ruined to series to my pseudo-fanboy eyes...why try even harder to ruin a good thing. Deep down, there is no reason for innovation in RPGs. While, if a game is always true to it's predecessors and not "innovative", it will be called crap but still purchased in mass. However, when a game is messed with and called a technical achievement, usually the sales also drop along the way (best case, FF8 compared to previous and successive FF titles). 

Anyway, I should try to contain myself some...after all, I don't aim to contain my Bitchings in my daily posts this week. In other words, expect a real Malik's Bitchings this Friday...and expect my Wild Arms rant to be elaborated. 

As for today, however, I will leave you all to get in as much SO3 time as possible today (I want to get to the supposedly fun part of the game before I throw the damned disks out my window), since tomorrow, my geek soul shall be pwned by Fable. 


Malik (9/14/04)  

Well, I am now about 13 and a half hours into Star Ocean 3.  Supposedly one of three things is supposed to be true about SO3.  Either the game gets better after 3 hours (BULLSHIT!), it gets good after 15 hours (which seems doubtful at 13.5 hours), or it's supposed to get good after the 1st disk ends.  No matter what, I've poured a good amount of time into this sweltering pile of crap, and I have to say that my money is missed...and I only paid $10 after trading in a bunch of games I didn't want or even knew I still had for this title.  I could've used those $10 in a far better way...even if I decided to blow them on lottery tickets.  However, my use of time has paid off in one important's the 14th of September and SO3 allowed me to pass the time to this most wonderful of word for you;


Yup, it's that time already.  If it wasn't for having SO3 to bitch about for the last week, I would've never passed my time so quickly.  True, SO3 makes minutes feel like hours, but bitching about a crappy game never gets old.  So, while I wanted to post a review of SO3 by now (I am beyond my required 10 hours period), some people claim the game gets really good after the first disk, so I hold off for now...and for a while, since I'm now planning to devote my time to the game I've waited for for well over a year.  Speaking of which, I am off to see if the hype holds true (which I'm thinking it will).


Malik (9/14/04)  

After playing a bit of Fable...I must say...BEST GAME FOR XBOX EVER!


Malik (9/15/04)  

After pouring away the better part of yesterday evening into Fable, I cannot believe, still, how awe inspiring this game is. I think, with how crappy Star Ocean 3 is, there is no feeling better in the geek world than to be laying Fable right now. This game cannot be described in mere words, but I think it might help to explain why I'm so addicted by telling you all a little bit about what I've done so far. 

As background, I'll start with the plot. When you first start playing, you are a mere child of a peasant in a small village. It is your sister's birthday, and you have, once again, forgotten to get her a gift. So, your father makes a deal with you; if you perform good deeds, he will give you 1 GP per good deed. So, you set out to find some money for the gift and to find a suitable gift to give. There are a few different people who need some assistance, in the form of anything from a poor child being bullied, to his sister that lost her teddy-bear, to a woman wanting proof that her husband is cheating on her. However, you don't have to go with just the obvious solutions, like telling the woman about how her husband is currently with his could cover up for the husband and accept his nice bribe of a GP (which makes it all balanced in the end, in terms of earning some cash). 

Once you finally give your sister her gift, you village is suddenly assaulted by a band of bandits. As you hide, your home is completely destroyed and countless villagers are slain...seemingly in search of you. When the smoke clears, and you emerge from hiding, then you encounter Maze, the head of the heroes guild. He, without much explanation, teleports you to the guild and leaves you in the care of the guild master. From this point on, you are a student in the art of being a hero (or villain...your call on that one, hehe). 

With time, you are taught the arts of melee combat, archery, and spell casting (complete with starting with a nice lightning spell straight out of the Emperor's arsenal in Star Wars). Then you are tested, constantly, on your various talents and given the details of what the hero guild exists for...solving missions presented by those who are willing to cough up the gold. At the same time, you will be earning prestige or fame for your deeds, and this will allow you to accomplish even more missions and gain the respect of the world...or the fear of the world, hehe. 

Basically, this sums up the majority of the back story...which I'll probably use in my review, which should come along sometime quite soon. However, the game is much deeper as you learn how to manipulate people and events to meet your (either good or evil) intentions. This includes winning the love of people, the fear of people, becoming rich, famous, a beacon of hope, or just a murderous fiend. You can also buy property in the various villages, get married, grow older, change your looks, or whatever you want. Plus, as you level, you can decide what to work on, what skills to learn, and watch as some open new career options (like unlocking some nice thief skills). However, you must always keep an eye out for the reactions to your actions (like, if you break down a door, you can expect the local law to have words, and give a fine, and possibly try to take you down). 

On of my favorites so far, was when I won the love of a woman in my home village (which was rebuilt by the time I was an adult). I would flirt with her, talk, show off my battle trophies (nothing wows the women like waving around the head of a giant wasp I slayed to save some innocent victims from it's sting), give her gifts of all sizes (chocolates, gems, roses; you name it)...all in front of her husband. As I would flirt, he would yell and scream at me. I never did anything illegal or retaliated (well, nothing he could one saw me rob their home, hehe), so he couldn't do anything in terms of getting the law after me. Then, his wife was asking me to give her a wedding ring. I'm still not sure how long I'll string her rings are expensive, and women like houses to live in, which are even more expensive. For now, I'm just a poor hero trying to make my way in the world...maybe one day. 

On of the best things is the status screen of Fable. A lot like GTA games, Fable has a complete status screen that hints at all you can it tells the number of decapitations you've given, the number of times you've vomited from hitting the hooch too hard, the number of people in love with you (9...counting some dude who got a little too excited when I waved around the wasp head), how many times you've divorced, widowed, had's so overwhelming, yet comfortable. 

Also, the clothes and hair style you have even affect the game. If you wear armor in town, you can expect less people to care for you than if you wear a nice set of noble-style clothing. However, the armor makes you look scarier (there are stats for these things!), it's all a trade-off. You can spend your days fishing, digging for lost treasures, flirting, looting, playing bar games (like blackjack), participating in a Fable version of Fight Club (only at night, however), murdering, completing quests, hiring fighters to help out, can even make a boast before a quest to up the reward; like you could say "I'll do the quest naked" to gain more cash as a reward (but you'll have to pay up if you fail). You can do anything. It's like if you had all the freedom of a Zelda title, a GTA:VC world, and The Sims all put together into an ultimately Zelda style game. 

Anyway, Fable is supposedly only 20 to 30 hours long, but I'm thinking I could get far more than that. The main quest is supposed to take between 10 and 20 hours to do, but the side quests (like my constant competitions with my hero school roommate) add at least another 10, and the fun of the freedom of it all adds even more. Hell, just gaining the prestige and changing my alignment to learn new actions (if you get too evil, you will learn to flip off people, or you need the extra prestige to learn to flirt correctly...I mean a loser can't mack on the women) and looting empty houses will easily take a few dozen hours before I need to worry about doing a quest. There are even side jobs that don't count as quests to helping someone find a certain location safely, or finding the fate of a woman's long lost sea-faring husband. 

Despite all of this, I'm still working on a nice Bitchings column for Friday (obviously with more than a mention of Fable...not bitching about Fable, but bitching about other games in comparison to'll see in due time), and I even spent some time trying to help out a fellow web writer about the long lost and forgotten Nintendo World Championships (back in 1990)...I just hope I was any help considering how long ago that was...damn...almost 15 years ago. How do I do it all? Way too much caffeine for my own good. Anyway, it's high time that I bought a house...time to do some missions and then...then...I can get the women folk, hehe. 


Malik (9/16/04)  

Another day, another chunk of time vanished into the world of Albion (Fable-land). After getting my post up last night, I sat down with Fable and didn't really get back up until about 11 (started at 4). I would've preferred to play a bit more, but considering my day job, what can I do? If it was possible, and I was not pwned by my day-job, I would just call in sick for the next couple of weeks and disappear into the world of Fable...sigh...what a great dream that would be. 

So, yesterday I went through with buying a couple of houses so I could go ahead and get married...a couple of times. On one hand, my first Fable-wife came with almost no dowry, which is sad. It didn't even cover the cost of a wedding ring. However, on the other hand, she keeps giving me the most random of items; a card so I can grow a full-beard at the barbers (you need a card to show the barber what you want, so if you don't explore much and don't look many houses, your looks will remain pretty static) and a chest-piece of bright leather armor (which is less scary than my prior dark leather armor, so it has it's advantages). She even followed me, when I wasn't looking, down to the local pub to cheer me on as I played a card game (as I played, I could hear her saying how proud she is of me). The second wife is about the opposite. She will not give me anything, and is somewhat cold towards me (despite giving her so many gifts and attention), but she came with a hefty 2000GP dowry (which covered the ring and then some). At least everyone in her town loves me (well, all the women and about 1/3 of the men...I could do without the second part), so I could always trade in the bitter and mean model for a more loving one who will give me shit. 

I also leveled up my strength a bit more, along with my agility. So, now I can walk into battle wielding a gigantic great axe like is was a knife. Which is a definite step up from my ghetto iron long sword. Plus, now with that agility upgrade, I can walk around town and remain fairly un-noticed as I walk past a merchants table and casually help myself to the display items. It's not that I'm playing evil or fact, if this was another geek pastime, namely D&D, I would be more of a chaotic neutral if anything. However, I cannot help helping myself to free goodies when I can. Until I learned to joy of card games, money was too hard to come by to skip any free (even if they are illegal to acquire) items...and once I learned the card games, it's still too tempting to take anything and everything that is in front of me. 

Also, with my increased stealthy skills, I was able to see exactly how far I could go with murder. I walked around my hometown, and I saw a couple of people chatting. I waited for them to break apart, then followed one, in stealth mode, until she was at the door to her house. Then I pulled out my mighty axe and lopped her head off. I then learned that if you kill everyone in a house, then it will become available to buy (and then to rent out or live in). I went about making every house, barn, tavern, shop, or whatever available for sale before any guards even caught on to me. At which point, I fought the guards in a bitter death struggle as the high level guards kept spawning. At least I had some fame from this event, so I left town. After leaving town, on the outskirts, I saw a woman walking with her husband, so I started to mack on her. The husband shouted something about, "That's my wife!", looked at me, and ran in terror. That felt good. Of course, like I said, I'm not playing I had saved before doing any of that shit and therefore this is all like a Fable-style dream. 

However, probably the coolest, yet most annoying thing I've encountered yet deals with that fear element. In one mission, I'm charged with finding a lost child and bringing him home. This ends up involving a difficult cave filled with a huge supply of gobbes (think: goblins). After I find the kid, I have no choice but to fight over him (or to do something quite evil that I won't name here...I'm not THAT evil, is all I'll say), so I have to wear some really nice armor...nice, as in my most defensive. Which also happens to me my scariest armor. So, after I save this kid, and he sees me going crazy in battle, wearing spooky armor, he is scared to death of me. So, as I lead him out of the caves, we are, of course, attacked. So, instead of relying on me to save him, the kid is so scared that he would rather run to the monsters than be near me. Next thing I know, I have a dead kid and a failed mission on my hands...but it is funny hearing the kid scream in terror as I force him to follow me out of the caves. 

Another cool thing I am enjoying, has to deal with failing a mission. The game will reload after you fail a mission. This would be sad and bitchy as hell, except for one important feature; you keep all of the character stuff you've gained (or lost) on the mission; such as experience, money, items, etc. So, even if you fail, you can still use the experience to boost your character and make a better attempt at the whole mission. This is definitely a lot better than just getting a game over screen and gaining nothing from the time spent in the mission. 

Anyway, I'm still rambling about Fable, and I cannot get over how addictive it is (anyone who says it sucks because it's short or whatever are teh gay...using the lame 1337-speak that these damned asses like to use). So, I will do what I must and play more of my addiction. 


Malik (9/17/04)  

Once again, I cannot say how glad I am that Friday is upon us...on one hand, as usual, I have a new issue of Malik's Bitchings for all of you. I figured it would be best to get that out and over with before getting to the meat of things. Secondly, with it being Friday, it means it's time for me to geek out, without fear of sleep dep getting my bitch arse fired. 

This weekend is going to consist of a good deal of Fable time for me. I'm still finding new things all the time...the latest being that I should either look at my character's stat page or take off his helmet from time to time. Why should I do that? Because in a matter of only an hour of playing, I jumped from about 27 years old to a whopping 46. I had no idea, until I thought things through, and then confirmed it on a few message boards, that your character gains a little age (something like 0.7 years) with each level you take in a given skill or area. This mean, when I kept gaining massive experience from learning the joys of the shield spell (which lets you take a hit and it will drain your MP, not your HP and combat multiplier) combined with massive use of my magic, and then applied it to a large selection of new and upgraded spells, that I was aging like mad. Now, I'm at a final age, so far, of about 53. My dude's face is wrinkled, my hair is gray, and I'm still flirting it up like a lustful mid-life crises sufferer. At least there is an age cap in Fable, so I won't die of old age...sadly, the cap is around 65, so I'm going to still get a bit older before I can settle down with my un-aging wives (hell, my former roommate from hero school, who started a little older than me, is now half my age!?). 

Anyway, I've rambled about Fable enough for the week, so I'll change things up with this news announcement; Sony is releasing a smaller version of the PS2 in the near future. This new "PStwo" also comes with a sad price, if the rumors are true...a delay in the release of GTA:SA. Boooo! 

Lastly, I'll change things a bit more with a different sort of geek subject. I just finished reading His Dark Materials...a wonderful trilogy of books by Phillip Pullman. This has to be one of the most amazing book series I've ever read. It's like a different take on the idea of multiple overlapping universes, and a concept of whether or not God is present in the world. Two of the books in the trilogy have received numerous awards for children's' literature, which leaves me, after reading all of them, wondering who in the world would let their kids read this. It's like saying just because animation is considered a children's' form of entertainment that South Park is a kids' show. The books are about as grizzly and serious as any I've seen, but because the two main protagonists are about 12 or so years old, the literature critics of the world have dubbed it a kids' book. All I can say is as long as you're open minded and able to tackle some serious and deep issues, these books are beyond belief. I just finished the final one a moment ago, and I cannot stop thinking about the ending. Also, for those who've read these books and liked them, there is a movie in the works (set for a 2005 release...maybe). I personally have no hope for this movie, especially as a live action movie...seeing polar bears wearing plate mail on screen will probably look too silly, and there is not enough CG talent in the world to handle the daemons. Anyway, this trilogy is weighing heavily on my mind, so I will just leave before I ramble up another few paragraphs...maybe Fable will be able to take my mind off of this.