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Malik (9/19/05)  

Hideo Kojima is going to be leaving the Metal Gear Solid franchise after number 4 is completed. Interesting. I'm not too sure of if this will be a good thing (I have to say that MGS was a lot better than MGS2, just because of the whole no playing as Snake thing, and MGS3...which just seemed wrong and bad from the first radar on a video game with this style of camera? Sure...), or a bad thing. On one hand, it may help to bring back some of the feel of the original MGS game. This would be awesome on it's own. However, the alternative could be revealing that Kojima is actually the glue that binds this world of Snake together. Either way, the prospect of online-based MGS games has me less than excited. 

Anyway, to continue, with a clearer mind, on some of the things that were frustrating me last week; Burnout 4. I know I said some bad things, and for a reason. The load times are still present every time you restart a level...and you will...the AI is so unbalanced. Some races, the AI will just go into cruise control and seem so damned stupid that you will never have to fight or battle through the current track. Other times, you will have an AI that will obliterate you in the first five seconds of a race. This is not the rubber band AI of the first three Burnouts. This is a new level of rubber-banding. 

However, to make the load times more of an issue, this is the first Burnout in which I've seen a glaring bug in the programming. While most people seem to have never seen it, I have seen the hell of falling through the world. If too many enemies surround you, there's a good (or bad) chance that they will tap you in a way that causes your car to fall through the ground. After a few seconds, during which you get a massive boost bonus from the massive air time you are getting, you will respawn...a ways back from where you went down. The race will not be able to finish after this moment. I am good...I mean damned good...and I couldn't even catch the 5th place computer after this happened, with about 3 minutes of racing left. I'm not sure where I re-spawned, but I know it took almost a minute to get back to the place where I made my free-fall of doom. 

Combine the AI and falling problems and you are left with a constant need to reload a level (also, the fact that getting gold is no longer good enough and you'll need to re-race tracks to get perfect scores makes more reloading). This is definitely something that should have, and could have, been improved over the earlier Burnout games. 

I also bitched a bit about the Revolution controller. Well, I should clarify one important question I have that has not been addressed. I like to play for extended time periods. Well, what happens when my wrist gets worn out before I'm wanting to quit? I'll start to play sloppy. That doesn't happen too easily with normal controls (it's pretty difficult to get fatigued pressing buttons), but I know this is a problem with spatial mice (you'll get fatigued before you are ready to stop), which use the same technology. 

Also, I tend to get shaky in my hands when I play games (I am a caffeine addict, and that tends to make a person's hands less than stable). If the mouse...I mean the Revolution controller is so sensitive as to only require small flicks of the wrist, what will this do to a gamer like me? I can tell you right now, while I love video games, nothing can tempt me to stay away from my beloved coffee. Nothing. 

Anyway, beyond the simple problems that are inherent with spatial mice (which, beyond how bad the spatial recognition programs are, are the main reasons that my old IT department didn't keep using them), I can see the potential good. I would lie if I didn't say I've heard some good ideas from some of my friends. Bastich and Meat Shield were telling me of an awesome concept they could see of how a Jedi based Star Wars game could play out, and it would be pretty sweet. I can also see that the odds of the Revolution having this strong of creatively designed games from third party sources is not the type of odds I'd put any money on. In fact, this will be the real challenge of making the controller good and fun. Nintendo will make some fun games (there's no way they would fail at making a few fun games, especially since they made the technology that will run them). After all, Nintendo is the company that has shown us how fun the DS can be (with Kirby, Advance Wars, and if it's your thing, Nintendogs). However, third party support of the DS has been lame (I'll give a special exception to Bomberman) and half-assed since no one seems to understand why the simple technology of dual screens and touch screens could be found in gaming. 

That same complex will happen with the Revolution. It's not a question of if it will happen. It will. That wouldn't be too bad, expect Nintendo only releases so many games a year. That means the Revolution will, I'm guessing, at the end of it's 4 year lifespan, have about 2 dozen great Nintendo made games, and maybe a half dozen third party games. It's how it was with the N64 and GCN (and those had standard technology behind them), and it's how the DS is looking so far. Between Nintendo having a hard to get along with philosophy and unusual technology, game developers just don't work well into their grand schemes. 

If Nintendo can show the third party world of a good way to handle the technology, that would be amazing. If they could show that the controller is more than a gimmick (like how the third party groups see the DS technology, which is why third party DS games have been so bad with their forced attempts at using the touch abilities), this could be a turning point for Nintendo. If Nintendo could also entice developers to make more than "kiddy" titles and puzzle games, this could be breath-taking. However, I don't see that happening. I won't say it's impossible, but I will say that I've seen Nintendo do this with 3 systems in the last decade (make it a fourth if you reach back a little more for the Virtual Boy). 

Also, to clarify; I did say what some would find blasphemous. I said the DS has few good titles and no third party support. I also implied that it's a waste of money. Why? Because I dare someone to name 5 good games for it that would hold their interest for over a week. Also, Pictochat doesn't count, since it's not a game (despite how it can be entertaining in a crowded area). Also, no naming of games that are free on the Internet (like Zoo Keeper...which isn't good to begin with). In fact, to make it more of a challenge, I dare that same thing, but with no naming of Japanese or European games (I'll explain), and no naming of games that were released with only minor differences over 5 years ago (no Mario 64 DS). I say no imports since I honestly want to know, about now, of a justification for my purchase of a DS. It's been almost a year and I don't really feel like I got my money's worth. Maybe Mario Kart and Animal Crossing can change my mind...but those are only future dreams for now, but the dust on my DS is a present reality. 

Don't worry, in a few months I may be saying the same thing about the PSP (which is an awesome system, like the DS is, with too few quality titles)...I'm not just hating on the big N. 


Malik (9/20/05)  

Luckily things are a little slower today. It's not that I don't want news any more after the long summer's more that after the Nintendo controller deal, I think I need a few minutes (or a day) to just collect my thoughts on things. Between having a game that I need to find time to write a review for (Burnout Revenge, that is), looking for a new day job (I've bitched and complained too much about my normal job), and the controller, it just feels like sensory overload. 

There is one piece of minor news today that I'd like to share, however. The founder of G4, Charles Hirschhorn, is stepping down as CEO in order to be "passing the baton". I honestly think this may be about the best possible solution for this channel. While G4 was always way too kiddy (they made Nintendo almost look like a sleazy underhanded company in comparison...and that's saying something since Nintendo has such a wholesome image), and that could be accepted, their buyout of TechTV left some gaps in that genre of TV. Maybe by bringing in some new blood, some programming can be brought to G4 that would steer the network away from just making mind-numbing fluff programs...maybe they could even make some programs that have content beyond either being kiddy fluff and immature fluff. It's time to see some shows that represent the TechTV of old (like when Screen Savers was not just the video game show ATOS). 

Anyway, I'm planning to start working on a review for Burnout Revenge. I've played the game for about a week now, and I think it's safe to say that I can see the game for more than just the hype of a new Burnout game. I'm sick of these reviews that talk of how it's the greatest racing game ever when it suffers from a few too many problems. I don't recall Burnout 3 having the fall through the world glitch, detection issues, and (the worst offender of all in this style of game) wide tracks that abruptly end, on sharp turns, into narrow tracks in which all the eliminated sections ended in a wall. This game just requires, with the track issues, a little too much memory and a little too little adrenaline based (as in, the stuff where you drive on instinct, not memory) racing. 

It's not like it's all bad...but it's definitely not perfect. The race modes are fun, the crash more is more interesting without the multipliers (although there are some new crash mode issues), and the car selection is pretty good with having cars that actually have differences to their handling and abilities...and which all look different. Most of all, it is a fun game, and that's what really matters at the end. It's just not near perfect. 

Anyway, I have games to play, reviews to write, jobs to apply for... 


Malik (9/21/05)  

With the news and confusion/fan-boy-inspired-hype surrounding the Revolution controller, it seems like it would be good to have confirmation of if the use of a spatial mouse could be used for something beyond giving a PowerPoint presentation to a crowded board room. Well, confirmation, I guess, is here. 

ACID, an Australian group that works on developing technologies has designed a TV remote that works off of the same principles as both a spatial mouse and the Revolution controller. The basic concept for this remote is to simplify what has been complained about being one of the most complex aspects of modern life; the growing and expanding remotes for everything from TVs to DVD players to surround sound systems. 

If this remote actually happens to catch on with the general TV watching world, which could be hard until the development price drops below $75 per unit (makes you wonder how much Nintendo will charge for their Revolution controller), it could confirm that this technology serves a real purpose. The basic concept behind this device is to help you perform common activities while using your remote. I don't know why you couldn't put your drink down or not talk on the phone while watching TV, but this will help you handle these "extra" activities while still keeping your ass firmly planted to the couch and your eyes glued to the screen. 

At least this, as well as the Revolution controller, will give us that cool sci-fi feeling of shows like Earth: Final Conflict. In that show, people would operate a vehicle, for instance, just with a wave of their hands to handle everything from navigation to communication to movement. So, I guess even if this technology fails, which is a definite possibility since I've yet to see a spatial mouse that doesn't enrage the user, we will always have that cool sci-fi what the Virtual Boy gave us. Wait. That's a bad example...or is it? 

I still have one unvoiced (by me) question about this style of technology. Many things, especially the Revolution controller, require a sensor to be placed on the top or the TV being used. Well, how precise does it have to be. Can we place it about 2 feet above the TV (my entertainment center may have an issue with anything going directly on the TV)? What about a wall mounted flat-panel display? You sure won't be able to place any sensors on something like that. I guess this is why I remain such a skeptic...I see far too many questions and limitations. I'll probably change my tune to the classic "too bad no one made any games for the Revolution" line after the system comes out. However, until I can spend some quality time with some actual games, I still see too many limitations and problems with this technology. 

Well, I have been writing a review of Burnout Revenge for the last couple of days. My goal is to get it posted before tomorrow. However, that will all depend on how much time I have to dedicate to my final editing process. Also, it depends on if by playing Burnout after posting this daily post I get addicted and can't stop playing, or if I get frustrated and quit immediately. Burnout Revenge has this effect on can love the game and play for hours, or you will love the game but have to quit quickly to prevent yourself from hating the game. 


Malik (9/22/05)  

I usually avoid getting off subject on these posts. I may not always speak video games, but I always talk of the geek. Well, today I will make a special exception. Why? Well, in part, I can do whatever the hell I feel like doing. However, the main part comes down to the state of things in my area of the world. I don't mean Seattle...this time I'm speaking about the United States. 

With all of the recent chaos that has been caused by Katrina, and the soon to be disastrous effect of Rita (which is do to soon hit anywhere from Northern Mexico to New Orleans), things are not good. When you add to that the troubling response by the American government, you can't help but feel strong senses. 

These senses can be almost anything. Many feel sadness, loss, despair, confusion, and other usually negative emotions. It doesn't have to end there, but it usually doesn't go much further than these emotions with a big helping of anger and frustration. Well, I tried to remain more optimistic. 

I knew people who were effected by the hurricane. One of my friends who I work besides every day is from New Orleans. His family lives there. Some of the people he knows are still missing and unaccounted for. Yet, I still decided to look for the best. It could have been worse. Things always can be worse, and so I try to keep my anger based in fantasy (hence, I bitch about games). Many died, but many more survived. There is great loss, but the effort to rebuild is already obvious. While things get bad, the wonderful part of human nature is that people help out, strangers unite to do what they can (just look at the amazing money, man power, and other forms of relief that have poured in). 

In fact, that is where I'm getting in this post. I have family that is in the National Guard Reserves. To be precise, I have a brother who is. He has just been called to active duty to help with the repair and rescue mission that is the gulf region of the US. He will soon be packing his supplies, getting his issued gear, and heading out of his home area of the US to help people he has never met. This is a great thing. 

However, he is a student right now. He lives in an apartment complex (The Lenora) that is ran by his school (The Art Institute of Seattle). I used to hold this school to some esteem. I have known a good dozen students at the AIS, and the school had impressed me greatly. The key word is "had". I cannot say I'm impressed with the actions that I have just learned of in the last day that the AIS is taking. 

Since my brother is going to be on active duty for a solid month, the Art Institute of Seattle is kicking him out of his home. While he is helping people he has never known (and most of these total strangers will never even know his name or face) in a great example of what does make America great.  Bitch and moan all I may want to about the US...we still know how to pull together selflessly as a community.  Is this what we should see being done to people helping to restore homes to the victims of Katrina?  Should those who help to build a safer area for new homes and the return of old homes be made homeless themselves?  Is this even moral? 

I have to say, in all honestly and bluntness, that this is one of the more f#%@ed up things I have heard of in regards to the current recovery effort. I have to say that the actions of the Art Institute of Seattle and their apartment complex, The Lenora, are nothing short of immoral and disgusting from my perspective. While thousands and thousands of individuals around the nation are sacrificing their homes to give shelter to those with no home to turn to, the AIS is doing nothing short of showing true selfishness in forcing a good student to leave his home.  Not only does my brother have the important task of getting ready for active duty, he now has to find a way to settle all of the affairs included in being evicted from his home. 

While some can say that this isn't too important, since it happens all the time, I have to point out something.  First off, I only mention that this happens to my brother since it's the only way I would have ever heard of this.  I knew, not because of media coverage, but rather because I know someone involved.  Plus, even if this wasn't family, it would still be just as much as an outrage.  To help solve the problems of the disaster, people are helping in the recovery.  However, if new problems are placed upon these helpers, is progress really being made?  While the problem may shrink, it is still being moved around, instead of being eliminated.  While some homes get restored, other homes should not disappear. 

Also, as for "it happens all the time"...does that mean it's any less wrong? 

Last of all, while many people would say this is just common business practices (and a school may not be taken as one, it is still a business)...well, so is the way that Wal-Mart practices business.  It doesn't mean that it's right for women to have only an approximately 33% chance of being promoted to a managerial position versus men at Wal-Mart.  It doesn't mean that offering lower wages than the competitors that they helped to shut down is morally right for Wal-Mart to do.  That is precisely why people complain about their tactics and boycott their stores, and it's why problems being heaped upon both victims and recovery personal involved with Katrina should be brought to light. 

As for why I bring this type of thing up...I know some people may wonder this.  Well, first off, this is not something being actively mentioned or covered in the media (which is why I won't even touch how this was completely mishandled by the government).  However, this type of thing is probably happening all over.  Well, if it isn't being covered or being brought to light, then I think it's safe to say that it should be.  Also, while I single out AIS, I only do it for one reason; The reason I just said.  It's not actively being mentioned in larger circles, so I only know that the AIS doing this.  I may enjoy bitching at things, but only the things that I KNOW exist.  So, I think anyone who knows of this type of event should express their displeasure, and let it be known that this crap shouldn't be tolerated. 

I don't usually like to get political or social or whatever, but I had to this time...

To the Art Institute of Seattle and The Lenora, and to any other business or institutions that may doing a similar activity...that is just f#@%ed up. How can you people who make these decisions sleep at night? 

...and to those involved in the clean up effort after Katrina (and those who are trying so hard to ensure that things are handled better after Rita strikes), you have all my respect, and wishes for health and safety in your work. 

By the way, if you would like to share your opinions with the Art Institute about this type of behavior, the contact information for the school can be found here.  Included, if you're not wanting to do much clicking, is the president's email address of  If you know of others doing this type of activity, you should try to share that knowledge and let it be known.


Malik (9/23/05)  

Well, I guess the competitive edge is heating up in the Microsoft versus Sony battle. It's probably no coincidence that one of the more anticipated games for the PS2 for this season, Dragon Warrior 8, along with a FF12 demo, are coming out the same day as the 360. I believe that Sony probably had a nice hand in helping Square Enix decide what a good launch date would be...and what date would be better than the 360 launch date? 

Actually, just about any date. With the 360, we are not dealing with the same initial audience as those who will be dying to hold a Dragon Warrior game. If there's any better explanation than this, I would know...There are no console style RPGs coming to the 360 for quite some time. Well, at the very least, the launch titles for the 360 only include one RPG, Oblivion. Well, it's a safe assumption to say that many people who would long to play a PC style RPG like Oblivion would not give up on the 360 just because DW8 is coming that same day. It's like Activision timing the release of a new Tony Hawk game to coincide with a Madden release date. They both are sports titles, but the similarities end there. A fan of one game will not obviously forget about the other just because two unrelated games of the same general genre are now coinciding on their launch dates. 

I guess that may be where the FF12 demo comes into play. Well, at least that's how Sony would probably like to think about it. Even if you don't want DW8 instead of a 360, maybe a FF12 demo will change your mind. No. It just doesn't work this way. While demos and trailers have helped some products in the past, they don't help to change minds of one product versus another. They only help to boost the sale of less than amazing titles. Tobal no. 1 sold quite well in the US because it had the FF7 demo included, and Wing Commander did better than it should have in theaters because it was the first movie to show the Episode 1 trailer. However, these didn't make people not buy a certain only helped to influence people to give in to crap when there was nothing else available. 

Beyond that, with how DW8 is an anticipated RPG for a solid number of people, the demo inclusion won't do shit for sales. Maybe if some PS2 game that was direct competition with a 360 game came out on the same day, it would be a different matter. However, since DW8 is not directly competing with any 360 titles, all this will do is cause a small number of people to do what I'll be doing...I reserved the 360 long ago, and it has me tapped out for the month of, I'll just have to wait a week or so before I pick up DW8. 

Also, when 360 pre-orders are reaching maximum levels, it's safe to say that this won't pull any more than a couple people from the 360. If a machine that has to be pre-ordered at least a month in advance (that's my guess...the allotted 360 will disappear for the remaining game stores by this time next month...if not much sooner) is going against a game that could be pre-ordered a week in advance (another guess...but based on some personal pre-order experience)...well, let's face it. The system is selling out, and no single game, that is not in direct competition, is going to make a person change their minds about a $400+ purchase. 

Anyway, to shift subjects...I have that long overdue Burnout Revenge review. It took longer than I wanted, but that was due to me not thinking a few things through. Mainly it was me not realizing that my video capture would not be cool with a HD source, and I haven't done a review for an XBox game since before I upgraded to a HD-TV. I found a way around, despite some major headaches, and the review is now good to go. 

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