Archive for April, 2008

GTAIV – First Look

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Received my pre-order copy of GTA IV at work yesterday, and it proceeded to burn a hole through my pocket until I finally had a chance to get home and check it out. I will admit that it has the look and feel of a GTA title, but this sequel is a whole new experience.

For starters, the controls are much more complex. The fighting engine alone offers multiple methods of attack (not new) but also offers powerful counters and combo’s. The old days of just punching until the other guy drops have been replaced with actual fights that cannot be slept through. If fighting isn’t your style however, you can always just draw a weapon and take their head off.

The vehicle controls are another story. I’m not sure what they were thinking, or if I have just been spoiled by the plethora of sandbox type titles since the last GTA release, but most vehicles in the game seem to have painfully realistic physics. In the old game, cars went a certain speed, and if you approached an intersection, jamming on the brakes or yanking the e-brake would get you around a turn somewhat painlessly. Now if you approach a turn at full throttle and lock up the brakes, you’re sliding through the intersection most likely into a large inanimate object. How about ABS as a downloadable mod, Rockstar?

The landscape is vast, as a very large portion of NYC has been reproduced in digital glory. One thing that bugged me however, is that if you’re driving through that landscape and are in an area not surrounded by buildings where you can actually see it – the game starts chugging. It’s ever so slight, but definitely noticeable. Also, the graphics really aren’t that good IMHO. While they’re on par with a GTA title, they’re on par with a GTA3 that got the airbrush treatment prior to release – and that’s about it.

Running the game in full 1080i over my Sharp Aquos, the picture just seemed grainy at times. The roads are blurry, and the way objects pop in to the landscape is about as smooth as a train derailment. Once you’re actually immersed in gameplay it’s not really noticeable, but it IS one of those subtle details that will drive fans of the genre like me crazy.

Like I mentioned earlier, the physics models are completely improved – and the damage effects from dents to fire to explosion are all very well executed. I’ve found the cars have an initial level of damage which is absolutely forgiving considering the new level of control allowed. Thankfully after about an hour or two of playing I got a handle of the cars well enough that I only wreck at every other intersection… One part of the game stands out, as I had a head on collision with a soccer mom and my car’s engine blew. I couldn’t start it. The minivan’s engine bay had burst into flame, so I decided to get out of the blast radius. It took longer than I had expected, but the crescendo arrived in the form of another inexperienced Liberty City driver who rear-ended the minivan and set off a devastating explosion that destroyed all 3 cars.

I didn’t get away entirely unscathed either, as I pulled away in a stolen taxi, I noticed flames on my passenger side front tire – perhaps from gasoline spilled during the crash. After about 3 blocks that tire blew and I was off to get another ride.

All in all – it looks like another knockout from Rockstar, and while their attention to detail shines in some areas – in others it seems they were asleep at the wheel. I believe the graphics have suffered but if the gameplay is solid, I’ll accept the sacrifice.  Last but not least, the cinematics seem quite a bit more drawn out – like I’m watching a show on FX and not playing a game.  For those who go for that total immersion factor it will be highly entertaining – for me they just brought the action of the game to a screeching halt.  Hopefully there will be some downloadable updates in the near future to address the few gripes I have, but until then – see you in Liberty City.

One last thing, to assholes like Jack Thompson. You’ve obviously been asleep for the past 3o years and missed the revolution in entertainment that is video games. The generation that grew up with Pong, Space Invaders, Super Mario Brothers, and Sonic the Hedgehog are sadly not stuck in the past. We are growing up, we now likely smoke, drink, and some of us even partake in sweet, sweet green leaf. Most nights, we watch television shows with tits, ass, and plenty of foul language that would make a priest faint.

Sure, I get some enjoyment by fiddling with the classic games of my childhood, just like you old farts might pick up an old book that you haven’t gotten around to burning yet – and read a few chapters to remember your Hitler youth… But as my age has increased, so has the level and quality of entertainment required to keep my mind happily occupied in the off hours. I’m a little old for Viva Pinata and Crash Bandicoot.

So go ahead, keep up your quest to prohibit the little ones from being harmed by playing the evil video games. I agree, it does desensitize a young mind to violence. While you’re at it, get Katie Couric off the nightly news. I’d rather see Dan Rather in a thong than have to watch that wannabe Tim Burton character report on the status of rape and murder in our nation every night. God forbid the little ones realize she’s female, our species will truly be doomed.

I’ll give you my video games when you take them from my cold, dead hands.

Too many impatient…too many slow…

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

A couple days back I’m taking a walk around my office complex, when this jackass in a suit exits one of the buildings in my path. He then proceeds to march out to the parking lot, and with mere inches to spare – walks right in front of me. Nope, no waiting – he has a SUIT. So I did what I always do when some putz pulls this sort of crap with me, I kept walking at the exact same speed, about an inch behind him. Yes, I’m an ass.

I’m coming home from a date on Saturday, when this jackass in a Ford Explorer rides right up on my ass as I go from the 50mph zone to the 30mph zone in Pine Island. It’s 30mph, I’ve gotten pulled over there, I’m going to do 30. I didn’t slam on the brakes, I just took my foot off the gas until I got to 30mph. So this toolbag is right on my ass, I decide to ignore it and flip my rearview up towards the ceiling (which apparently blinds the fuck out of a ford explorer). This jackass hits the highbeams for a second, then cuts them, then shortcuts through the parking lot of the Jolly Onion Inn to get around the light which had just turned red the second I crested the intersection.

Yesterday at the gym, I’m walking from one set of machines to another, and this frail little blond pulls the same crap that suit guy did on me. This time I’m walking perpendicular to her, and she speeds up her gate just enough to nearly cause collision. Now in these cases, I really don’t ever stop, mainly because bulldozing through some total moron who just HAS to be out front is one of the great joys of my day. She realizes at that last moment that I’m not going to stop (I haven’t sped up at all, was just walking) and walks even FASTER. Most of the time, if people are walking normally – I will simply slow down or stop and let them by.

At the supermarket yesterday picking up some ingredients for dinner, I’m behind this woman who insists on letting her 5 year old push the cart. She’s accomplished this by standing beside the cart, which isn’t nearly as wide as she is. I’m in no rush, I’ll just wait for a slot to open so I can walk past this roving road block. Then some teenage twit nearly takes out a display of vitamin water to blow past both of us on the side with barely enough room to fit the woman’s handbag. Best part is, no ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon me,’ he just keeps on flying down towards the front of the store.

Then as I’m leaving the store, it’s raining outside so everyone is shuffling along rather quickly so they don’t (EEK!) get wet. I get over to the truck with a bag of groceries in my right hand, manage to get the door unlocked and open when yet another wonder of modern genetics and quite possibly the future frat mattresses of America flings the door open on the suv beside me and nearly knocks me over to get in out of the rain. I look at her of course, all of a sudden she notices the 250lb guy with the armful of groceries and gives me the “sorry” look. Sure. “I get it, you’re melting,” I say as she finally gets into the SUV.

I just don’t get the point of everyone being in such a rush. Wherever you’re going will still be there when you arrive, and the 1-2 minute difference that is made by being a flaming tool really won’t amount to much.

</rant>

Hitman RULED

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Awhile back I was introduced to the Hitman series of games. The basic plot had the player taking the role of agent 47, a genetically engineered assassin. The missions were along the lines of a splinter-cell type game where you’re haded a list of objectives which usually involve assassinating a bad guy in the end without getting caught.

A few months back it was immortalized on the big screen with Timothy Olyphant cast as agent 47. Wasn’t entirely sure I’d like it, I skipped it in the theaters (I skip most theater showings), but finally got it via Netflix.

I’ll admit, I was thoroughly impressed – it held to the general mood and feel of the game while taking a slightly unpredictable angle. In this case, agent 47 has a hit put out on himself and must stay alive while protecting the absolutely stunning Nika (played by Olga Kurylenko) – a supposed witness to his latest assassination.

The kills are absolutely ingenious, and stay true to the many options in the game when it comes to dispatching a bad guy, it’s blood and guts, non stop action, and a solid plot. This is what an action movie SHOULD be. Flix it, and if you’ve got a system that supports any of the games, by all means try them out.

Nosey people can eat me.

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Was throwing some junk into the dumpster outside my office today, this guy walks past and keeps looking at my truck… like 4 or 5 times as he’s walking to his office.  Finally I just shout “I WORK HERE.”  Seriously, don’t people have anything better to do.

Last time some woman was driving through and just staring at me as I unloaded a bunch of boxes and crap, so I smiled and waved.  Its one thing if i was tossing a couch, but a bunch of boxes and shit?  Please.  Mind your own business.

They might be right…

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Increased piracy hurt Microsoft’s quarter

Piracy has become the buzzword, if not the grand scapegoat to blame when sales falter for a given product.  Music, software, movies, etc…  you name it.  If it didn’t sell well, or if sales have dropped – it is due to piracy – if you ask the folks in charge of selling it.

That said – I think Microsoft is right in this instance, that piracy most likely has damaged their quarter.  I also believe that should Microsoft go through with the June 30th EOL for Windows XP – that it will only get worse.  The reason?  Windows Vista.  Now Microsoft has gone out of its way to force that pig of an operating system down the throats of all PC manufacturers as well as the general public who are forced to struggle through the attractive, yet garishly slow and clunky interfaces of Vista.

The result?  If they can’t buy XP, they’ll pirate XP – either themselves or through a neighborhood computer geek.  I think the real data Microsoft should examine, is if their profits dropped inversely to the number of new XP systems querying their Windows Update website.

It is no secret that Vista is a colossal failure, forced out onto the market well before its time and without most of the promised features available.  It is the WindowsME of 2008.  Of course, after ME eventually we got 2000 and XP, the two greatest operating systems ever created by Microsoft.

Here’s to hoping that Vista ’10 helps wash away the foul taste that is Vista ’08.

Mac Vs PC

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Nothing important to say right now…

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

So here’s a picture of my truck. 🙂

Ready, set, knee-jerk

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Folks, for as long as I’ve been breathing I’ve been a firm believer in the idea that Greenpeace is full of shit.

Their latest extortion campaign is focused on the mighty Unilever corporation, parent company of none other than my favorite ice cream ever created by the friendliest communists ever… Ben & Jerry.

Now while I’m sure some folks would see the rain forest as a paradise, personally I find it about as welcoming as the tundra of ANWR.  Leave it to Greenpeace to polish a turd in the name of environmental awareness.  Oh wait, I’m spending $4 a gallon on gasoline because these pricks thought tundra was paradise too.

Apparently the amount of palm oil required by Unilever to produce its Dove line of skin-care products is so detrimental to the Indonesian rain forest that it is single handedly contributing to the eventual extinction of the orangutan, forest destruction, and of course the red letter phrase of the 21st century… GLOBAL WARMING.

Now Global Warming is complete and utter bullshit. Is the climate changing? Absolutely. Anyone who expects the climate of a planet hurtling through space at 67,000 mph while orbiting a raging nuclear inferno to NOT change is a blithering IDIOT. I find that any study, story, cause, etc that relies on the mention of Global Warming to be greatly weakened if not completely discounted by the simple mention of it.

Greenpeace would be wise to drop Al Gore’s turkey and MOVE ON with things. I believe they just might have valid points as far as deforestation and effects on orangutan’s. I can’t see Indonesia having the same protections on their forests as we do here in the good ‘ol US of A, nor do I believe they have much interest in protecting the cute little orangutans.

That said – they did mention Global Warming… and quite frankly I like it warm outside, so I think I’ll buy some Dove soap and polish off a pint of Cherry Garcia afterwards.

How about you write some music worth stealing…

Monday, April 21st, 2008

…and then open your trap.

Yes, I get it – bit torrent is stealing.

I get it – it’s illegal.

I also get that when your band can’t book a club with more than 50 people, half of which are on respirators – you actually depend on the piddly revenue from your record sales to pay for that new strawberry shortcake tattoo on your ass.

The fact this guy has actually mentioned just how much effort they’re putting in to try and stop the piracy of Biohazard tracks, I can’t help but scratch my balls. Seriously folks, how many decades has the US Government wasted tax dollars on the so called War On Drugs. We’re talking billions if not trillions of dollars wasted to stop a never ending flood of contraband into the hands of Americans.

Last I checked, it’s one hell of a lot easier to get an MP3 than an ounce of weed, and by the way… bit torrent is FREE.

If anything, his little rant is nothing more than a publicity stunt. He should talk to Lars about how their little plan worked out in the long run. Asshat.

Can you dig it?

Monday, April 21st, 2008

No I can’t.

Attempted to watch the 1979 classic “The Warriors” last night.  All I could think as I watched the bare chested boys from Coney Island with their little red vests flailing in the wind… is “That’s where EMO comes from.”

I tried, I really tried.  Given the hype the game had, I figured hey – maybe this movie is a lost gem.

Thank God for Netflix.  I haven’t seen a load of horseshit that big since Mr.Ed turned carnivore at the county fair.  On the upside, now I know where the career of David Patrick Kelly began – and why he hasn’t done anything beyond picking most locks with a credit card and getting blowed up by Brandon Lee in The Crow.

I haven’t seen so much ambiguous garbage in my life.  They should have put this thing on Broadway and called it West Side Story 3 – Jetting the Shark.  I’m sure there’s some artistic merit here that I just don’t get, but what can I say…  A turd is a turd and that film my dear friends…  is one steaming whopper of a turd.