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CliffHicks Blog

Kutaragi's latest insanity...

The Father of the Playstation has said "We don't care" about the competition. He followed this up by sticking his fingers in his ears and saying "Lalalalalalala can'thearyou, Ican'thearyou, notlistening, notlistening!"

Kutaragi was, of course, sent to the corner for a time-out without ice cream.

Studio 60 - What a great new show

 So I watched the first episode of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip last night, and it was fantastic. It's easily one of the best shows I've seen in a long time, and I highly recommend everyone start watching it. Sharp writing, stylish camera work, talented acting... all the things I like to see.

Saint's Row - an off-the-cuff review

This review is fairly tossed off, so you'll have to forgive me for not going into a great deal of detail, but you know, if you want a full-featured review, we have one on the site.

So, Cliff's off-the-cuff review.

Let's get one thing perfectly clear -- Saint's Row is very much in the vein of the Grand Theft Auto games. If you don't like GTA3 or any of its ilk, you needn't bother showing up for Saint's Row. Also, if you are expecting the bar to be raised from San Andreas, you may find yourself in for a bit of disappointment. That said, if you're willing to have fun playing a new GTA-like game without expecting a revolution, you'll have yourself a a fun time with Saint's Row.

The voice cast is easily one of the best in a game in a long time. That said, I almost wish there was more for them to do. The story missions, while solid, didn't take a very long time, and I feel like I want more to do. Still, when you have people like Michael Clark Duncan, Keith David, Daniel Dae Kim, Michael Rappaport and Tia Carrerra, it's hard to get the voice work wrong. Still, I would've liked to have more actual story missions in the game. There aren't enough of them, and it feels like we're only getting a couple of acts instead of a full movie.

You can't simply blow through the storyline stuff, though. You need to fill a respect bar up in order to do story missions. That's fine, I suppose, but it feels forced. And being forced into doing all the side stuff can be somewhat annoying. Thankfully, most of the side missions are at least somewhat enjoyable. There's a large variety of them, ranging from Mayhem (the absolute carnage types of missions) to Escort (where you're driving around a working girl). A lot of them are fun, but there are a few points where they can get a little ludicrous. (In the Escort Missions, I eventually just started shooting the press.)

The radio stations are mostly solid, although the DJs feel a little devoid of personality. There just isn't as much character to these stations as there are the GTA games. On the up side, however, there is a classical station, and I can't tell you how great an addition this is. If you've never done a mission to "Ride of the Valkyries" then you don't know what you're missing. The ads are pretty funny, though. It did seem, however, that the announcers would have weird pauses from time to time. And the announcer voices always felt quieter than the music by a significant amount, but maybe that's just the way our home stereo's set up.

I saw some strange graphical glitches from time to time (the freeway tended to pop in and out a bit, so I'd be driving on thin air...) and encountered a couple of bugs in the game. At one point, I was doing an escort mission and needed to stop some place mid mission. When I hit that point, the car vanished, but I was still "sitting" in it. Couldn't get out. Couldn't move on. Couldn't drive. Couldn't quit. I did, however, get to save and then restarted the whole console, and I was right back at the beginning of that mission. Still, it was kind of annoying.

Also of some small complaint, the multiplayer action really doesn't have enough vehicular activity going on. While I know system requirements keep things from getting too out of hand, I really would've liked to have seen more car craziness. I like some of what's in the multiplayer set up -- I've created a gang with a couple of my friends, and that's fun and all, but still, as one of my friends pointed out, there's just not enough car craziness happening here. We'll see how much time I spend in multiplayer.

All said and done, I'm glad I picked up Saint's Row, and I hope they make another one. It's not the best game I've played this year, but hell, I had fun playing it, and in the end, that's all that really matters.

Storyline finished in Saint's Row

So I wrapped up the storyline stuff yesterday. Now it's just time to go back and beat all the various side stuff in my spare time and work on achievements. I enjoy the game, though, so that shouldn't be too bad.

My WoW server, Elune, has been nothing but horrible as of late, so going out and questing there has seemed... less than appealing. Battlegrounds were broken, instances were broken, the auction house was broken... fields of blah. Hopefully it's all working now, but we'll see.

Saw Mike Doughty in concert last night. I highly recommend seeing him if you've got time, and if you didn't pick up "Haughty Melodic," for shame on you. Go out and get it. Dave Matthews is even on it.

Now it's time to wait a bit before I get something new to play.

Keepin' it real on the Row...

So I lost a good portion of my weekend playing Saint's Row and it's a surprisingly good GTA-styled game. It's no quantum leap beyond Rockstar's franchise (and in some ways still behind it) but it's a solid, enjoyable game, and that's all I'm looking for these days. Hearing such a strong voice cast (Daniel Dae Kim! Not speaking Korean and "Lost" on an island!) helps a bunch, but I've definitely been having fun with it.

Speaking of GTA, if you haven't seen "Crank" yet, you should. It's sort of "GTA: The Movie". It's way, way, WAY over the top and then over that over the top. It is as testosterone-driven a flick as I have seen in recent years, and while it's certainly not art, it is the first time I can recall walking out of a theater and feeling winded, as if I was exhausted by the film as the character was. I mean that as a high compliment. Of course, if you have a problem with seeing filmed violence, nudity, drug use, or, really, anything questionable, don't go see this film. If you want a ride and can handle the swings, "Crank" is a blast of a picture. More of a ride, honestly.

I'm still debating on whether or not to pick up Lego Star Wars II. It's tempting, but I may just check it out of our library here for a while. We'll see.

Oh, and yes, I was at an arts & crafts fair this weekend. Erin talked me into going on Sunday, so I figured why not...

Kucan IS Kane

Of course, this news made my morning. Without Kucan, there is no Kane. Without Kane, there is no Command & Conquer.

But now there is, and there is, so it is good.

Dead Rising nearly complete...

So I'm up to the last boss on Dead Rising and spent some time swearing yesterday. Going to attempt to continue with it tonight and see if I can wrap it up. Definitely a blast of a game...

Zombies, Assassins and Darrien Ashoka

So the last few days have been kind of hectic, but in a good way.

  • Read all of "Dzur" on Tuesday. Fantastic and easily the best book in the series. If you haven't read any of them, buy "The Book of Jhereg" by Steven Brust to get the first 3 books in the series at a good price, and you can thank me later.

  • Zombies! Picked up Dead Rising yesterday and have been enjoying the hell out of it. Killing zombies is always fun. Takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of it, but past that, nothing but zombie massacres. I expect this'll be taking up a lot of my gaming time in the foreseeable future.

  • "Dawn: Three Tiers" came out in hardcover yesterday, and I hadn't read the issues as they were coming out, as I find Dawn is a series best read in blocks. And this was phenomenal. I read it on the train in this morning. Linsner's art is, as always, gorgeous, and it's a fascinating story that follows "Lucifer's Halo" and the adventures of Darrien Ashoka. If you haven't read the Dawn books, they're not for everyone, but those of you who will enjoy them will probably get as badly hooked as I am.

New Steven Brust book tomorrow

This means I will not be locatable by any human for approximately 8-12 hours after obtaining said book. Maybe less, maybe more. Hard to say. But I will be completely off the radar. It's called "Dzur" and is the 10th book in the Vlad Taltos series. (He's got 19 planned...) And then Wednesday, I will be killing me some zombies in Dead Rising. Oh how the week stacks up...

Collection of thoughts...

Things of note:

San Diego Comic Con was entertaining to say the least. Got Frank Miller's autograph, got to meet and get an autograph from Grant Morrison (glee!), met and talked with the star of Eureka (Colin Fergueson, very nice guy), met some of the Spaced/Shaun of the Dead guys, got another Matt Wagner sketch, bought a couple of original Sheldon strips from my friend Dave Kellett who does the strip, saw my friend Keith, and just generally had a good time with my friends Erin, Dom and my roommate (and Erin's brother) Sean. There were a few down moments (like missing Brad Meltzer, or not being able to get to a Capriotti's) but on the whole it wasn't a terrible year.

Huh. We'll see what announcement comes today, but truth be told, a smaller E3 is probably a good thing. It's simply been too crowded the last few years and isn't serving the purpose it should be. If they want to make it an open event, they can do that, but expect a huge influx bigger than they can handle. If they do that, we may as well take over Las Vegas and scatter it across all the convention halls, if you ask me. But we'll see what the ESA says. It could just all be hype. Although I'll miss hanging around E3 with my crew.

Yes, I did indeed get a tattoo yesterday. No, I won't show it to you, not here. Of course, if you really want to see it, and you know me, I just might let you have a look at it. You'll need to find me first, however.

So I spent some time playing the 99 Nights demo this weekend and while I dig it, I don't know that I want to pay full price for the actual game, so I may simply wait a while until the price comes down before picking it up. I mean, I liked it, but I don't know that I $60 liked it. On the other hand, if I watch any more Dead Rising without being able to play it, I may, in fact, kill someone. This, of course, will totally not be my fault.

I have a long ****ing train ride every morning and every evening, so in an effort not to go crazy, I've started watching things on the iBook I bought from a friend of mine recently, and since Brisco came out on DVD and I've never seen it, I've been watching that, and it's making the commute a little less grueling. But it still seems frustrating as hell.

I know you've probably never heard of them, but they're one of my favorite bands. And they've got a new album out, which I'm ecstatic about. Of course, it's on its way here from Germany, as they're a German band who's only had 2 albums released here in the states (which means I've bought the other, what, 9, on import...) so I have to wait for it to pass through customs. But new Fury! Yeehaa!

I would've done much better if, y'know, I had a PSP, or if I could've gotten exact game names right. Feh. Well, I tried. Perhaps next time.

So I saw a sneak preview on Tuesday, and I'll write up a real review in the next day or two, but the short summary is this -- I liked it, but nowhere near as much as I think I should have. It was very drama with not enough action, and parts of it felt too long and other parts felt too short. 2 1/2 stars out of 4. Tonight? Clerks II!