Thursday, December 10, 2009

Game ratings VS Idiots (8/07/2008)

Moved from Myspace...

Stupid Fox News BS again...

I have played at least part of Mass Effect (I have an issue with finishing one game before starting another so gonna have to replay as soon as I get through Lost Odyssey). I am a 26 years old female, so far from the "average" player as they stated in the story. I have also been noticing a trend of gamers getting older and as such it seems games are maturing along with us.

The game is rated M for Mature 17+. The reasons include: blood, language, partial nudity, sexual themes, violence. It also supports family settings (aka locks), It is all right there on the box before you purchase it. There is no hidden agenda to get kids hooked on sex and violence. The ESRB rated the game as such, for the reasons stated, and as such it's pretty freakin obvious if the game is one you would want to buy your child.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Whatever happened to a parent telling their child they can't play a M rated game or see an R rated movie? Why is it up to the government and the entertainment industry to bow down and change the way things work? It is NOT the fault of the gaming industry that some parent couldn't say no to their child and bought them an M rated game. The parent had the game information available to them and could have been an educated decision. Instead, they buy the game and then get offended that there is a side shot of some alien woman's boob (which you only see if you end up with that scene based on decisions you make through many hours of game play... it is not even a "main" game sequence). Ummm... hello "PARTIAL NUDITY"? What part of the rating is so hard to understand?

I am so sick and tired of people blaming everyone else but the person responsible. If some kid plays a game and decides to go on a shooting rampage then there are other issues at hand. If it was the GAME then we would have a heck of a lot more instances of this happening considering the gaming industry is a billion dollar industry. There are millions of gamers out there who have played games such as Mass Effect, GTA (while not one I will ever play, I have no issue with adults playing it), Halo, or Half Life. Yet as soon as something happens, BAM it's the games fault. Not the fault of the person who committed the act, not the fault of the parents who bought the game, not the fault of the years of depression and the fact the person had come off their medications... no, it's only the fault of the game (or the music they listened to or the movie they watched).

The DRM mistake (9/13/2008)

Moved from Myspace...

I, like many others, had heard about Spore a long long time ago and couldn't wait to see the final product.

Now I, like many others, am greatly upset at what has come to be with the game. This is clearly shown based on the reviews on Amazon: Spore. As of this writing there are 2,217 reviews of the game... 2,017 of which are Amazon's lowest rating of one star. Could the game really be that bad? Well, it's not as clear as it seems.

You see, what most people are complaining about is not the game itself. It is actually the use of Digital Rights Management on the disc (DRM for short). The use of this product has made a huge impact among both consumers and in the media. You may still be asking what this has anything to do with the game... well, what Electronic Arts does not tell you is what they are really installing on your systems and what it means for you.

Lets start with the simplest of the problems. Spore will only allow you three installations of the game before it locks up on you. Three installations... I mean, really. Does EA not understand how this all works? It is not an issue on how many computers one wants to install it on, it is an issue of how the real world works. Hard drives crash, Windows has to be reinstalled, computers have to upgraded and/or replaced. Three installs is really not many when you look at the larger picture. There have also been reports in the past that DRMs will even register an upgraded video card as a "new computer" and thus a new installation. Now, if you require a fourth installation then you can call EA and plead your case and hope you have enough information that they will grant you that installation. However, you would need to call a non toll free number and hope you get someone who cares that your computer had a catastrophic hard drive failure and who is nice enough to grant you that fourth install.

The next problem is that the game must be activated in order to be played. No big deal, a lot of games are like that. However, Spore required the game to check in every so many days of play. So, if you play "offline" after the first activation, after so many days the game will just stop playing. Thus, you are required to have an internet connection to play what is really a one player game with extra player made content. Nowhere that I could find within the requirements found online or on the box does it state that an internet connection is required to make the game work. Now, one could say that you can find that information out if you look around... but I would say many people who may buy this game would not know that they would have to do this. They would expect the box or at least the official website to mention something about it.

The DRM also installs itself in a way where it hides itself on the drive and can not be uninstalled. It is there for good and it does not just sit there. It communicates with EA without your consent, sending them information on your playing habits and your computer whever it wishes to. This is, by definition, Malware. I personally do whatever I can NOT to end up with Malware and Spyware on my computer... so why would I want to install it on purpose? It uses up my hard drive space, my processing power, and sends who knows what sort of information back to EA.

As you can see, this DRM is something to be worried about and many people are based on the information available on the internet. So why did EA make the decision to add this on, even though they knew the consumer would not like it (The Motley Fool)? To stop piracy of course! So, is it working?


Simple as that. It didn't help. "As of Thursday afternoon, "Spore" had been illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks using BitTorrent peer-to-peer transfer 171,402 times since Sept. 1" (Forbes). The game was online to be downloaded without the DRM issues at least 4 days BEFORE it was even released in the United States. Someone please cue the fail music. The DRM, which is supposed to keep pirating of the game at bay, has failed and is only hurting the one person EA does not need to be hurting... the people who paid good money for the game.

But don't complain about it... or EA will call you big bad names like they did to spin the complaints that are piling up on Amazon. These include "petulant children", "flash mobs", and "angry pirates". Maybe it is just me, but I am thinking making fun of people who have a valid concern is not a good buisness strategy.

A bit of Video Game fun (11/26/2008)

Also moved from Myspace...

So today I was spending some time with the significant other and we were discussing video games. We went over some of the best and the worst we had ever played and the urge to make a blog about it came over me. Why not come up with a few catagories and post what I think are the best and worst within each and then ask those reading for THEIR opinions?

Now let me preface this list with a bit of information on where my thoughts are coming from. I am mostly a console gamer with a few computer games mixed in. I have a PS2 and Xbox360 for my console systems and a decent computer that I mostly use for MMOs. I am currently playing Fable 2 on the 360. Hopefully once I finish it I will remember to blog about it as it is a really interesting concept and game.

Best Boss Fight: Luca Blight in Suikoden 2... the need to have 3 parties fully geared and leveled gave it something a bit more then the boss fights I was used to before this. Plus, it was challanging fight without making me say many a bad word... except when Vicki decided it was a good time to mess up and cast her uber damage spell on my party instead of Blight. I will never forgive her.

Best RPG Series: Suikoden... no doubt about it. Even with the issues with Suikoden 4, the rest of the series makes up for it. Suikoden 2 and 3 are my personal favorites, but 1, 5, and Tactics are all great games as well. I mean, how can you go wrong with these games?

Best Graphics (Current game): Lost Odyssey is the best I have seen recently. The graphics are smooth and I have noticed very little slow down. People look like people and move well.

Best Voice Acting: Lost Odyssey again. The voices seemed to fit the characters and no one was super annoying. Plus, I really enjoyed how the characters would talk over each other as it seemed so natural and realistic.

Worst Voice Acting: Final Fantasy X-2. I mean, they actually said "teehee".

Best First Person Shooter: Mass Effect... it was a fps with a really good story line that actually kept me interested.

Best MMORPG: Everquest (original)... it was the first real MMORPG that made a big impact on the gaming world. The fact that it is still going so many years later with a pretty decent populations seems prove that it really has something.

Worst MMORPG: Star Wars Galaxies... I admit, I never personally played it, even as a huge Star Wars fan. However, some of the decisions Sony made when it came to this game pretty much destroyed it. It really had a chance to be a huge game, but it was killed off.

Best Single Line in a Game: "Badass Freakin Overlord" from Lord Zetta in Makai Kingdom... The whole game is filled with great lines.

So this is just some of my list. I hope people will be willing to not only post their thoughts on the ones I made, but also add their own catagories.

Twilight Movie Review (3/27/2009)

Moving this write up from my old Myspace account...

So, I finally got my hands on a copy of the Twilight movie. I have read all the books multiple times and feel like I have a good grasp on the story, the characters, and the mythos…

So what happened to the movie???

Did the director even READ the books before she made this thing? Did she realize that not only did she leave out extremely important scenes (such as the blood typing in biology class) and discussions, but she took great liberties in adding scenes (dinner at the Cullen’s and the attacks from James’ coven) and changing the order.

Now I have always understood that the visual medium is very different then the written medium and that changes have to be made, however, some of the changes in Twilight were unnecessary. There was no real reason to add in the scenes where James’ coven kills two people. Some may say that it helped explain that these were “bad” vampires but in reality it didn’t. The discussions about real (non vegetarian) vampires that Bella had with Edward did a good enough job in the books to get the idea across. It simply became unneeded action to "liven up" the story.

So, when it comes to the movie versus the book…. Well, it is no contest. The book was MUCH better, which usually happens.

Let’s look at the movie by itself then, as separate from the book.

It was an okay movie, not great, but not the worst I had seen. The first half while Bella is trying to figure out what is going on with Edward was a bit slow and awkward. It really seemed to drag on with way too many voiceovers. From the Port Angeles scene on it really seemed to pick up. The actors seemed to finally fit their characters and it didn’t feel as painful to watch. Over all I would give it a 6 or 7 out of 10 and only because there were a couple character and scenes that I LOVED.

Let me break it down into the best and the worst:

-Best Performance: This is a tough one as some of the performances were really up there. My favorites were Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen, Cam Gigandet as James, Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria, and Billy Burke as Charlie Swan. All of these people seemed to have a feel for the characters they were asked to play.

Gigandet had James down to a science. He was able to make the viewer feel like they were the ones being hunted and you could feel the fear he would inspire in his prey. I am truly sad that the character of James was killed in Twilight now as I would have LOVED to see Gigandet portray him again.

Burke created a very lovable and believable Charlie. You could feel his love as a father for Bella and his worries/concerns for her. He also had some of the BEST lines of the movie! There were times I was laughing out loud (in a good way) at the lines as he delivered them. “I’ve heard that before” after Edward promises to take good care of Bella before they head to prom is a great example. The line may have fizzled with any other actor saying them, but Burke had Charlie down pat and you believed this is how the character would have sounded.

It will be very interesting to see how the other actors grow and evolve with their characters and I think we will see great things from them in New Moon.

-Worst Performance: Easy, the main characters, Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella. I couldn’t help but laugh every time Edward was upset about something because Pattinson looked like he had smelled horse shit. I felt like singing “How could this happen to me?”. Kristen was just as bad, but in another sense… she never looked like she felt anything BUT confusion. She constantly had this dazed look on her face, no matter what the scene called for.

-Best Scene(s): Vampires playing baseball… need I say more? Great effects with a great set of actors. It was great to finally see that visually as it was also one of my favorite scenes in the book. I also really loved when James’ coven arrives at the clearing… you could feel the tension. It was without a doubt the best scene in the whole film and if the whole movie had been as well done, it would have been amazing.

-Worst Scene(s): Anything at the High School, but especially the scenes at Biology class. These were some of the worst offenders of Pattinson's funny faces and the most boring of conversations.

-WTH: I have agree with many people when it comes to the effect of Edward's skin in the sunlight. It really did just make him look sweaty. I expected better from ILM.

I’m really looking forward to New Moon and I hope that the new director can do a better job then Twilight’s did. I am excited to know that Taylor Lautner will be back as Jacob and that Dakota Fanning will be playing the role of Jane. I think Fanning it the perfect choice and I know she can pull off the creepy vibe that Jane gives off. I am also excited to get to know the Wolf Pack and have them become a real part of the series.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Is it already time to think about Christmas? It feels like we just had Halloween...

Oh wait, we DID just have Halloween.

Every year it seems that Christmas comes sooner and sooner. Once fall hits, we are all in a whirlwind that we call the holiday season. Figuring out who's going to have what holiday where, who can eat what, how to survive Grandpa telling the same story over and over and over, what presents to get everyone, how to afford presents for everyone, and how to get it all done before the day of just adds to the stress.

Personally, I am already in the holiday spirit. How could I not be? Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years add up to my favorite time of year. I love the decorating, the food, and the energy. Do I feel stress? Heck yes I do... but I don't let it ruin my fun. This year I have made a pledge to myself that I will set a budget and stick with it. I will stay ahead of the game and not leave things until the last moment. For example:

-I have already started shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. This allows me to spread out the cost but also helps since I am not waiting until the last minute (nothing worse then realizing you forgot something last minute!)

-I will have my shopping done by Dec 1st. Everything will be wrapped by the following week. This gives me more then enough time to mail boxes to out of town relatives and not worry if it will make it before the holiday.

-My Christmas decorations will be up by 2 days after Thanksgiving. I have 2 trees, a mantle, the dining room table, outdoor, and other random things to do.

-I will have my Christmas dinner menu chosen by Dec 1st and will start shopping for it.

-I will not over spend on presents! Instead of more material things, I will bake cookies and some sort of snack mix to supplement what I can afford. Not only will this save ME money... but the extra cookies I get to enjoy!

This is just a sample of the pledges I have made myself this year. However, the most important ones are there: I WILL have fun this holiday and spend it with my family and friends. I will NOT allow last minute problems and changes to schedule take the spirit away from me!

The holidays are not about the material things. It's about celebrating the spirit of the season. Keep that in your hearts and your minds this year and hopefully it will help you get through the stresses that come along with it.

Whatever you celebrate... happy holidays!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Expansion of Fantasyland

Video of the announcement is here: D23 Expo

Some of the main points:

- The original Fantasyland will not change. This is an expansion of the land into what is now Toontown. Toontown will be totally replaced. There is no date on Toontown's closing.

- The new Fantasyland is scheduled to open 2012.

-The new Pixie Hollows (an area to meet Tinkerbell and the other pixies) will open 2013.

-A new E-ticket ride featuring The Little Mermaid. It's working title is "Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid". It will be an enclosed ride that takes one through the scenes of the popular movie and will use the Omnimover technology for the ride cares (what is used for The Haunted Mansion).

-Expansion of the Dumbo ride. It will now feature 2 separate rides. There will also be a queue that isn't really a queue. Instead one will be playing interactive games as they wait. No real detailed information on this though.

-Separate themed areas for many of the popular princesses including Snow White, Aurora, and Belle.

-New restaurant based off of Beauty and the Beast named Be Our Guest. Also another dining location named Gaston's Tavern.

-Mickey and Minnie's houses from Toontown will be relocated. Goofy's Barnstormer will be rethemed but stay in it's current location.

A pic of the area's rendering as well as the plans can be found at the Orlando Sentinels site: Fantasyland Plans

Another bit of information found is that the Star Tours ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios is being redone. The 3D movie will now feature the rider in a PodRace instead of on a transport ship. Here's a preview: Star Tours 2. Personally, I do not like the idea of bringing this is. Does the ride need revamping? Yes, the movie is outdated. But I am against anything being updated with a Prequel feel. I personally HATE the prequels and feel like they ruined the name of Star Wars.

If any more information comes out then I will update my blog to reflect it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

"The Happening" review- with spoilers

So, I have a Netflix account (which I love, but that's another blog). The other day I got the next 2 movies on my queue which included M. Night Shymalan's "The Happening". As I was in the mood for something different I decided to watch this one first... and now I have decided to tell everyone what I thought about it.

For those who have not seen the movie, let me give you a quick run down. The movie centers around a Science teacher (played by Mark Wahlberg), his wife (played by Zooey Deschanel), and a young child (played by Ashlyn Sanchez) who are suddenly having to survive some sort of disaster. People are being over come with a toxin that is affecting their brains and makes them kill themselves. The ideas run the gambit from terrorist attack, to nuclear plants, and finally to the idea that the plants around us are actually communicating and releasing this toxin.

Mother Earth is pissed.

There's a lot of running, mostly whenever the wind blows, and trying to find shelter. There's a lot of people killing themselves in interesting ways (laying down in front of a huge lawn mower, offering oneself as a meal for some lions, ect ect). There's a lot of speculation about what could be going on and why this is all happening... you know, the usual for this genre.

In the end our heroes survive and go on to live happy lives.

So how was this movie as a whole?


Let me give you a couple reasons why:

1) The characters are easily forgettable and don't have any traits that make you care about them. They are as bland as bland can be. Most of the movie I simply found myself wondering who was going to die next, not because I had any feelings for any of them, but to simply break up the monotony.

2) The writing was horrible. The actors seemed to be doing the best they could, but it was hard with what they were given. Many times I wondered if they had just seen their lines that morning and had not had time to rehearse.

3) Near the end of the movie, our trio comes across a farm. A woman by the name of Mrs. Jones (played by Betty Buckley) lives there. She has removed herself completely from society, has no electricity, and grows her own food. Plus, she's freaky as hell. While the character was okay, the addition of her to the movie made NO sense. There wasn't a point to her being there, except to kill her off the next morning and allowing our teacher to realize that the plants are now targeting single people instead of just large groups. It unintentionally slowed the pace of the movie down.

4) The special effects were horrible. They were cheesy, obvious, and not well done. Now, some movies do make these effects obvious for the giggle of it... but these were not done like that. They were supposed to be taken seriously but it was impossible to do so when they were just so BAD. Prime examples include when a group runs a jeep into a tree and people go flying out and when a man decides to feed himself to the lions.

5) There's no lesson! The survivers go on to lead perfectly normal lives. Nothing seems to have changed (or at least we are not told of any changes made).

Now, there were a couple good scenes as well. The beginning and the end of the movie were great. They set the feel and tone of what the whole thing SHOULD have been. The beginning shows the viewers the start of the disaster as it begins to effect those in New York's Central Park. The end shows us the reappearance of it in Paris' Tuileries Gardens. Both use a single person who is slower to be affected to show us what is going on. The breeze picks up, they hear a scream behind them somewhere... then the person they are with starts saying random things. They look around and everyone just stops in their tracks and stares straight ahead...

These scenes set a mood and that is what the movie should be about. However, Shymalan loses that tone as the movie continues and it becomes just another disaster film... instead of what it could have been... a movie about the human condition and the impact we can have... and what can be the consequences.

I give this movie a Grade F. It failed on too many levels; acting, effects, writing and plot. It would have been a good concept in another director's hands.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


So, I decided to jump in and start my own blog.

I know, I'm a bit behind the times!

Now, as for what this blog is... well, it's about anything I want it to be about. It's about me and what I am going through and what I think. Anything and everything... politics, food, vacation planning, video games, movies, my diet struggles, ect ect. This is a place where I will write these thoughts down. Will everyone enjoy my posts or agree with them? Heck no and I don't expect them to. The world would be boring if everyone agreed!

So, to those who decide to visit... welcome!