Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Variety of Random Topics

Okay, I kind of put off posting for a while, so now I've just got a wide variety of things that I sort of had a lot to say about, but by this point I've forgotten most of it, so once everything gets added together, it will probably be pretty decently long.

Let's see, I think I want to start with...Chuck. And Jordana Brewster. Well, I guess mainly Jordana Brewster. So, the dear Ms. Brewster is playing Chuck's long mysterious ex-girlfriend. Now, we've been dying to meet Jill Roberts since, oh, um, 5 minutes into the first episode or so. We've wanted to meet her, primarily so that Chuck can finally get over her, but also we just want to meet her. Okay, then when we found out that she was to be played by Jordana Brewster, then we really wanted to meet her. We will also stop using the royal "we" at this point, because we all know just how annoying it is, don't we?

Anyways, last week she finally appeared. Now, I had mixed feelings, but I wasn't about to hold that against her. Most of my problems arose from the fact that Jill apparently got a Ph.D. in Biochemistry after ditching Chuck and, well, putting glasses on Jordana Brewster...isn't quite enough to make her look even remotely intelligent.

I mean, it's not like she looks incapable of being intelligent, but she just doesn't feel right in that role. I first met her in The Faculty, where she's playing the bitchy prom queen-type girl. I think she also had a major role in The Fast and the Furious. She's not meant to be playing smart. Olivia Wilde can sort of pull it off in House because, well, I've never really thought doctors were all that smart anyways, so I don't hold them to very high standards (it's part of being a chemical engineer, you become an asshole and lose respect for stuff that seems easy compared to the problems you had to solve). But, a Ph.D. in biochemistry, that's a little different.

But, aside from, I was unsure about how I felt about the way they were treating her character. Not surprisingly, Chuck pretty much forgets about Sarah as soon as he sees Jill (remember, he's not over her). And of course Sarah gets jealous and all that's fine. But, I just wasn't sure what they were actually doing with her character. I mean, she's still kind of into Chuck, then finds out that he's still a nobody and loses some but not all interest in him.

Then, and he's where I really got more than kind of frustrated, he informs her that he's actually a spy. I mean, seriously? She's the first person from his real life that gets to find out he's a spy? That's just...not right. She doesn't even earn it. He's basically just letting her know to impress her (right after talking about how cool it felt to have a girl be interested in him who doesn't know he's a spy...which hasn't happened since, like, midway through season 1 with Rachel I'm bringing up two different O.C. alums in the same post...freaky).

So, I came out of it feeling like if they actually wanted to keep her around and have us like her, then they would let her figure out that Chuck is a spy (since she's all super smart and stuff). And her figuring it out would give her the benefit of the doubt (in other words, if she was awesome enough to figure out Chuck's secret on her own, then we, as the audience, not as royalty, would pretty much be willing to forgive her for breaking his heart, all those years ago). But, they took that option away from her, so she doesn't really have a good way to earn our trust and respect, so she's probably going to be gone quick.

Then we had this week's episode, where they were kind enough to inform us that, yes, she is an evil bitch and we're not supposed to like her, even if she is being played by Ms. Jordana Brewster. Of course, the way they decided to do this was completely irrational and makes no sense at all, but that's okay. We're used to it in this show (and Heroes managed to botch up at least as much stuff last week in their flashback episode, so the standards had been lowered pretty significantly, but I'm not talking about Heroes right now as I sit, very tentatively optimistic for the upcoming episodes, I'm talking about Chuck). They decided that she's a spy for the bad guys.

Yeah, I know. Really freaking stupid decision. They end the episode by informing us that she's a government agent, who's actually a spy for Fulcrum (the bad guys). Obviously, this makes no sense. It doesn't make sense because if she worked for the government (which they informed us she did) then they would have informed her that bad guys were making a move on her boss and, furthermore, they would have alerted Casey and Sarah to work with Jill. But, no one told anyone that she's a government agent.

Even more ridiculous: Chuck didn't flash on her! Oh my God, people, are you that incompetent?!? I swear, it's like you wrote last week's episode, filmed it and completed it and then while working on the very next episode, decided this would be a cool idea. You completely ignored everything that had just happened. I mean, when Heroes screws up, at least they're continuous with the previous week's episode. You're not even close.

What's worse is that last week's episode could have worked just as well with everyone knowing that Jill was a government agent. I bet it would have been better even. Casey and Sarah would be working with Jill to protect/interrogate her boss and they would be trying to keep Chuck secret since he's the Intersect and all. Of course, Chuck would be chomping at the bit to see her and say hi and be all "Hey, I'm the Intersect. Have sex with me." And, yeah, it would work fine (but, then I guess the twist in this episode wouldn't be a surprise, but that's alright since the way it is now, it's a twist where the audience just goes WTF?).

So, yeah, I'm kind of sad that I'm frustrated with Chuck right now. But, really, it's not Chuck, it's me. Clearly, I'm not cool enough to be watching it if things like this bother me. But, I'll keep trying, because I do love it so much.

Let's see, next on the list is, um, Valkyria Chronicles. Sometimes, it makes me sad that I play video games so slow. I've already put a good 15-ish official game time hours into that game, which probably translates into 20-25 real hours. And I think I'm just about halfway through it at this point. But, no, I was too slow to start having impressions that won't just sound like me jumping on the "Valkyria Chronicles is so ridiculously amazing everyone should play it. No, really you should even though you don't own a PS3 or like strategy RPGs, it's just that good" bandwagon. But, well, there's a reason this bandwagon formed and it's not because people like to love PS3 exclusive games (in fact, I think people seem to prefer to either hate or ignore such games).

That bandwagon formed because this game is freaking brilliant. Let's pretend for a moment that it isn't one of the most beautiful games I've ever played. Let's just judge it based upon the gameplay. Okay then, it's the best thing the console RPG genre has ever produced, pretty much hands down. I've been addicted to Fire Emblem. I've been addicted to Disgaea. I've been addicted to Advance Wars and I've played a fair amount of Final Fantasy Tactics. All of them are very good and tons of fun. Gameplay-wise, though, not even close, except maybe Advance Wars, and that's just because it's so ridiculously complicated. Valkyria Chronicles' gameplay is almost simple compared to those other games with far fewer unit types and modifiers. But, the way you interact with it, is so much better. Sega didn't start with Chess and make it more complicated. They started with, maybe Star Ocean and Gears of War, and added a little bit of Chess to it. And it feels so right.

I never want to have to move characters around on a grid again (that is a blatant lie, by the way, I'll be playing more Disgaea in a couple months, I'm sure). That's how cool it felt to actually take control of my characters.

On an only vaguely related note, I think there's a question that some of the reviewers need to ask themselves. This would primarily be the reviewers complaining that there's lots of cut scenes. While playing the game, there's a point where you get the option to spend 50000 gold to access some extra cut scenes of your characters on vacation. Around this time, I had about 80000 gold, so this was a significant portion of my money (which goes towards funding better weapons and armor and stuff). Now, if you see that option and you immediately spend the money before even realizing that this vacation will involve going to the beach and seeing the female characters in needlessly skimpy bikinis, you are the type of person this game was made for. If you think, for even a moment, about the fact that you're going to fall behind in the research category and not be as powerful and get effectively nothing in return, then please, don't review this game. We don't care about your opinion of the cutscenes.

Also, only very vaguely related, I was just hoping that if anybody else populated their entire army solely with cute young girls (yes, there are a couple Japanese schoolgirls, but they're typically more like scouts than heavy lancers, to my ever-so-slight disappointment), they'd let me know, just so I don't feel like the only weird loser doing that. For that matter, people whose Rock Band bands are entirely populated by girls would make me feel better too. Although, for the record, I don't make those characters wear as little clothing as possible. I spend the time to find cool costumes for them that look good without removing significant amounts of clothing. I think that, at worst, that only makes me slightly sexist and possibly vaguely feminist since I'm not objectifying these female characters (who, let's be honest, actually are just objects...err, rather, digital objects but you get the idea) and am instead choosing to interact with the game through those avatars instead of my own gender and I have no idea where I'm going with this at all. Moving on...

Valkyria Chronicles is really awesome. Oh, and did I mention the art style? Gorgeous, really. It achieves its goals admirably. It doesn't feel real, but it feels powerful. Some of the best parts at the beginning show these idyllic, peaceful countrysides in this watercolor/penciled-style suddenly getting destroyed by the bad guys. Those are times when it really, really works.

Lastly, I just have a quick thing to say. So, apparently on MTV there's some stupid game show where people play Rock Band in front of an audience and get judged and if they do well then they win prizes. I'd heard it mentioned here and there, always with lots of negative connotations, but I just watched it and it was so amazing. Like, I was falling off the couch laughing at the bands and the performances were totally fun to watch as well. They do this cool thing where it's like watching people playing Rock Band, except instead of the computer generated performers and audience, it's the actually performers and audience (but you can still see the note charts and stuff like that).

Anyways, I highly recommend it. The host is kind of lame (it's kind of obvious he thinks he got stuck with a crappy gig), but everything else about it is so funny. The best part is when they go behind the scenes and interview the competitors and these people are so cool and funny. I mean, they totally love Rock Band and they're excited to be playing in front of an audience, but they're totally aware this is just for fun. And they're having fun. There were two great quotes from the episode I saw. The first one was a response to why they got into Rock Band. I'm paraphrasing but the band leader explains that they got into it because they totally sucked at real instruments, at which point the drummer pipes in and says "That shit is HARD, man!". Trust me, it was funny. The other quote started with the cliched "Rock Band is not a's an experience". But, then after a couple moments of thinking about what he just said, the guy continues, "but if it was a game, it would be, like, the GREATEST GAME EVER!". Yeah, that's a memorable quote.

Let's see, real quick I can mention that I've tried Guitar Hero: World Tour and it pretty much sucks compared to Rock Band (okay, that's a slight, changed my mind, no exaggeration at all). The primary problem is that they made the conscious decision to make it a multiplayer game that doesn't play like a multiplayer game. You're not a band when you're playing as a group in this game, you're just a group of people all playing the same song at the same time on different instruments. I mean, I think it even gives everyone separate scores (or at least it feels like it does since they eliminated anything like cooperation from the gameplay). The secondary problem is that they decided to make the rule be that if someone fails out, then everyone fails out (even though everyone else can't really do anything to prevent the person who failed out from failing out). This is frustrating, in case you're curious.

Otherwise, it's all just slightly different design choices that are neither right nor wrong, just different (so, since I'm way too used to Rock Band, they all feel wrong, but I know they're not necessarily wrong). Neither game has come up with just the right way to do vocals, but I think Rock Band is a little closer. On drums, it's nice to activate star power whenever I want, but I miss the drum fills as well. On bass, supposedly the note-less strums grow on you once you get used to the idea a little bit. Hmm, well, I failed at being real quick, but it was still kinda quick.

Well, the only other thing I can think of that might be worth mentioning (read as: really is not worth mentioning, but I'm going to anyway) is that I saw the most recent Hellsing Ultimate DVD and it was just okay. A lot of people rag on the original anime for completely abandoning the story in the manga about halfway through. So, the Hellsing Ultimate DVDs are pretty much just for those fans, since they promise to stick with the manga all the way through. I'm now two DVDs past the halfway mark in the original, and well, I'm still up in the air. Neither one finishes is all that great.

The original anime tried to go out in a rather different direction with bigger and scarier and weirder demons appearing. This doesn't really fit with the theme in the manga, but it's not inherently bad. This one, which I assume is following the manga that I haven't read, is just repeating the same theme over and over again. That would be the theme that Alucard is way more sinister and evil and demonic than any of the evil things he gets called in to fight. After the fourth disc of that, I'm kind of starting to understand why the anime wanted to do something different. There's only so many times we can watch the bad guys doing horrible things only to crumple into snivelling creatures at Alucard and the horrors he's capable of. So, we'll have to see. This one was kind of a transition one, so it's possible that the next disc could do some interesting stuff because he'll fighting Nazi vampires that he thought he eliminated, so these are bad guys who actually faced him before and are relishing the thought of facing him again, not because they think they can win, but because they relish the amount of horror and evil this confrontation will bring into the world. Like I said, this could be interesting.

I also like that we get to see more of the crazy priest dude who works for the Catholics. I like him too.

Alright, that is all.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama Thoughts

Before I say anything, I want to link to this endorsement for Barack Obama. This former editor of The National Review summarizes my feelings for Obama in a very real way.

I've never really been a politically involved person. It's just not something I care about. I've never voted (and I'm keeping the record going today, although this time I can honestly say that it's not entirely my fault...I'm in Chicago on business and didn't think to register for an absentee ballot). I believe that if you don't know what you're voting for, then you shouldn't be voting. And, every year, I tell myself I'll research the various candidates and propositions and make my own conclusions and vote. And, every year, none of that happens. Then, I'm forced to ask myself: "Am I qualified to vote? Do I want me making decisions that will affect the policies that govern me?" The answer is always no. And I don't feel bad about it. I don't complain about the decisions my government makes, because I don't deserve to.

At the same time, I do still have opinions, but I acknowledge that my opinions are meaningless. And, well, until now, my opinions had always leaned Republican. If I had voted four years ago, I would have voted for Bush. I'm not afraid to admit that I would fully regret that vote not long after, but that's who I would have voted for. On the other hand, part of the reason I didn't vote that year was that I couldn't really bring myself to do that. I couldn't vote for someone who I knew wasn't qualified to be the President of the United States. But, well, I still liked him more than Kerry.

And the reason I've always leaned Republican is quite simple. I'm a conservative. I'm all for hands off government. I don't really care about the environment (I'm a chemical engineer, for goodness sake). I'm religious, admittedly, a rather liberal Roman Catholic, but still religious. I'm a good consumer, in part actually because I believe it's important to be a good consumer.

As a young person with a decent paying job and effectively no real dependents or costs, I have very few needs from the government and I am not someone who benefits from any government programs, so why should I support them? Well, because it's the right thing to do (or, rather the left thing to do, but that's just me making stupid puns).

But, ever since I first heard about Barack Obama, I knew he was the person I wanted to be the next President. Truhfully, before I ever heard him say a single word, or heard any part of his campaign, I knew. To me, he represents something much, much more important than the Democratic Party. I don't care about his promises of change or his promises of reaching across aisles or anything like that. I don't care because they're not going to happen and I don't expect them to. Change doesn't happen. Aisles aren't reached across.

But things will get better all the same. They'll get better because we're going to have a leader that people love. I've never known an America that had that kind of leader. As far back as I can remember, we have been suspicious and cynical of the man who leads our country. I know it's part of being American, that distrust of the people we choose to lead us, but it's hard to live with that. It's hard to always feel like we're choosing between the lesser of two evils. And, for at least a little while, we're not going to have to feel that way.

We're going to have a president we love. We're going to have a president we think we might be able to trust. A president who wants the best for us. For this country. For the world.

And it feels good. It feels wonderful, really. I honestly want to get down on my knees and weep for joy. Weep, as my whole being is finally filled with hope. Weep in relief for my country. Weep as I contemplate just what it means to believe in my leader. Really, I just want to weep in thanks.

In thanks for the fact that Obama exists. That he came into the national consciousness at the time we needed him most. That he will be our Messiah. That he is actually capable of taking on these roles that we need from him. In thanks that I believe in him so blindly that I actually think, for even a moment, that he can fulfill those roles.

It feels so good.

That is all.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recent Video Game Demo Reviews

Yeah, that's right. I'm so freaking slow at playing through video games that I'm going to just review the demoes I've been playing. To put just how slow I am in perspective, I bought Disgaea 3 on the day it came it in late-August. Yeah, I think I'm about 40% of the way through it. And I've put in a good 40-ish hours into it, so it's not like I haven't been playing it. However, I had promised myself I'd put it aside once Dead Space came out. On October 14th. So, I'll admit I've only put about 7 hours into that, but my defense on that one is that I can only play it in chunks of 60-90 minutes. I don't really like being scared shitless for really extended periods of time. It's got to be bad for something or other.

In any case, I'm almost a third of the way through that. And it's supposed to take most people 12-15 hours. So, I'm just a little bit behind. I'm not going to double that, but I'm definitely not going to beat it before the 20 hour mark, either. However, I'm kind of boycotting Dead Space at the moment because it pissed me off. Yes, this is a sidetrack, but I don't care, this post is about video games and everyone knows that gamers have ADD...and besides gamers in general, I think it's pretty clear that I personally have ADD when writing these posts, too. I promise I'll get to my subject before the end of the post (and to wander off that same subject at least one more time before the end of the post as well).

So, I'm stuck on this room in the middle of Chapter 5. Now, in Chapter 4 there's this annoying section that a lot of people have mentioned in reviews as being annoying and making them want to stop. So, I got through that one. It was annoying, but after maybe 3 or 4 tries, I got through it. I'll admit that this section doesn't fit in the game, and requires a skill set not required by the rest of the game (the skill set being aiming at things that are moving towards you, but on a parallel axis, as opposed to things moving directly at you), but it's not that far from the rest of the game, except that it's not presented as horror. Sorry, the context for that part is that you have to man the ship's asteriod defenses and it's annoying.

Anyways, the part that is sort of making me boycott the game is found later on. I'm being chased by this large monster that is semi-invincible. Now, at this point, that's pretty normal. And, I'll be the first to admit that it fits in the game much better than the asteriod thing, but there's a small but key point where the game totally breaks itself. It locks me in a room with this bad guy and then starts filling the room with more bad guys as well. See, when that happens, suddenly the game changes from survival horror into a shooter. But, it's not a shooter, at least not exactly. For example, you can't run and shoot (but you can walk and shoot). When you're locked in a small room that's full of bad guys, running is kind of key (since they can certainly run, walking is of only limited use). Next, since this is survival horror, ammo is kept relatively tight. I'll admit that I could buy more ammo and make that not a concern, since I'm filthy rich, but that's not the way I play.

Yes, I just said that I purposely play the game in such a way as to make it harder for me. Except, it's not so much to make it harder for me as it is to force me to play like it's survival horror. The first advantage to that decision is that it stays scary because every encounter continues to matter and it also forces me to conserve ammo for when I really need it because during the fight my ammo supply is limited.

Anyways, so ammo is kept relatively low, partly through my own action. This works, though, because after killing a bad guy, he typically drops ammo (it's really nice of them, to be honest). Admittedly, the bad guys are rarely kind enough to drop ammo for the gun I actually use (my starting weapon for goodness sake), but at least they drop ammo. However, picking up ammo requires you to walk up to it and press X. Under normal post-battle situations, that's no problem. But, in a room full of bad guys, you need the character to pick up ammo automatically, like in a shooter. Also, you need to be able to heal yourself automatically, like in a shooter (Dead Space has no healing item hot-key, so to actually use your healing items, you have to find a safe spot or stop moving and risk taking damage).

Now, up to this point, it all seems annoying but reasonable. I mean, you just have to enter the room at full life and play like it like shooter, even if it's not meant to be a shooter. And, so, I know that eventually I'll beat it because I don't completely suck at shooters; I just mostly suck at shooters. The final problem that I really run into, though, is that stupid invincible dude. This would be only stupid if it wasn't for him. See, the invincible dude has the power to decide that you've managed to get too far away from him and just jump into the ceiling ventilation shafts and drop down right behind you. That means that, effectively, there is alwasy an invincible bad guy, literally right on your tail and even if you shake him, he can just appear right there again. So, yeah, that sucks. And it's making me not want to play, even though I know if I just iterate the room enough times, I'll beat it. It would help if I knew what activated the doors unlocking, because it seems like killing the bad guys just activates more of them to come, which is undesirable.

Anyways, that's how Dead Space is treating me. I also bought Little Big Planet, but I haven't really had time to play with it much. So, now I'm ready to start talking about the demoes I've gone through recently.

First off, I played through the Eternal Sonata and Bioshock demoes. And, well, I can see why everyone likes Bioshock. It's good. I know, that's not news, but for us Playstation kids, we still had to try it and see for ourselves. That's pretty much a must buy, but I'm kind of amazed that they want to charge 60 dollars for it. I mean, you can find it for less than 30 on the Xbox, so how can they justify 60 on the PS3. I mean, they didn't exactly add content to it (no, really, they didn't, ignore them talking about challenge rooms and trophy support, since the challenges are downloadable, you will probably be able to get them for the Xbox after a little while, and I'm sure the trophies are the same as the achievements on the Xbox, so that's not exactly impressive). Seriously, just drop it down to 40 and be done with it. Until then, I'm just going to have to put off buying it.

Now, Eternal Sonata has the same problem as Bioshock in that you can find it on the Xbox for less than 30 and they want PS3 users to pay 60 for it. Once again, I'm sorry, but that's not going to fly. I will say that I like the graphics on it a lot. They have a very fun, very cute cell-shaded feel to them. Also, the environments are just gorgeous, if totally linear, but it's a JRPG, that's what you have to expect. I kind of wish the demo gave a better feel for the music system stuff that's in the game. Also, the demo was hard. Those bad guys are not easy and trying to time all your blocks is a royal pain, especially when you have very little warning (and punishment means losing a lot more than half your life sometimes). But, yeah, I'll buy it when the price comes down. It should be a fun little 30 hours or so.

So, initially the Valkyria Chronicles demo was only available if you bought Qore or whatever. Now, I might be a stupid Sony fanboy, but I'm not paying money for access to demoes and betas. Sorry, not going to happen. The fact that I have every intention of trying to import a copy of FFVII: Advent Children on Blu-ray so that I can play the demo for FFXIII is completely irrelevent, by the way. Pride is only worth so much. Anyways, I was totally unwilling to pay for the opportunity to download the demo for Valkyria Chronicles because I already knew that I absolutely had to buy that game as soon as it came out. I mean, why pay when my purchase is already assured? Again, ignore the FFVII:Advent Children thing. Things are different when they involve Final Fantasy. Sort of.

Now, the reason my purchase was assured is very simple. The art style. Yeah, that's right. If you've seen any videos of it, you'll understand why. It is gorgeous. Mind bogglingly so. Like, to the point that I think this game is one of the better arguments for the existence of next generation gaming. I'm not being hyperbolic, by the way. There is no way this could have been done on the last generation systems. Cell-shading, while cool, was not at this level yet. I mean, Tales of Symphonia was awesome and cool, but it's graphics can't even come close to holding a candle to what this game showcases. An interview with the game's art director talked about how this is meant to be an emotional story focusing on war and loss and he really wanted the game to be able to visually translate those emotions. I really believe it will. I can't imagine why people would want games to keep trying to look realistic when they can have games look like this instead. This is better than real.

Amazingly, though, I think this game is also going to be one of the deepest and most challenging strategy RPGs I'll have ever played. So, not only is the art style incredible, but the gameplay is looking to be equally impressive. I almost can't imagine how good this game really could be. Just playing through the demo, the level of strategy offered was stunning. The movement and cover system completely trounces the simplistic geometric boards of most strategy RPGs. Playing through it, I really felt the advantages to controlling certain ground and slow, supported advances on a fortified enemy position. I mean, how awesome is that? This game comes out in just a few days, and once I have it, it will be given a lot of priority.

Next, up is Alone in the Dark: Inferno. Now, I really, truly gave this game a fair chance. More than fair, really. I mean, I've read a lot of negative reviews of this game, but I've also read some really passionate positive reviews begging people to take those negative reviews with a grain of salt (arguing that it's become cool to hate this game, even though it's not actually bad). Well, it's actually bad. The demo couldn't hide all the problems with this game. In fact, I think it actually waved them proudly at me.

Now, to be fair, this is the demo and they made the decision to skip some of the tutorials. Like, how to fight and kill stuff, but that's okay. They also skipped tutorials on inventory interaction and management. So, when I say that the inventory is a pain and I couldn't figure out to effectively store things in it, I'll concede that maybe in the real game, they explain this to you. But, seriously, it takes effort to make inventory management hard to understand. Real, concerted effort. For example, you have space in your inventory for 3 large containers (which I imagine you can combine with cloth and alcohol to turn into Molotov cocktails, or fill with healing sprays for health...and I'm sure there's other stuff you can do, too). Now, sometimes it seemed like you could stack multiple of the same type of large container in the same slot, but I couldn't really figure out how many and it didn't seem to work with all types of large containers (I never was sure if I could stack multiple healing sprays on top of each other or not). And for some reason I could only stack 5 pieces of yeah, inventory was weird. That's an impressive failure right there.

Next, fighting. Now, shooting was decently intuitive. You could switch to first person perspective and shoot stuff. No problem there. But, if you wanted to conserve ammo, you could pick stuff up and beat guys with it. But, the controls for beating guys was, just, a mistake. So, while holding your melee weapon, you would pull the right stick back/to the right to prepare for a swing and push it forward/to the left for a swing. Yes, this means you give up camera control when you go into melee. No, that is never a good thing, but I will admit that I never had a problem with the camera during the two fights I had in the demo, so while I'll say that that's bothersome, I won't say that it's a failure.

I will say that the complete counter-intuitiveness of that control strategy is a failure though. Melee battles are like a chore as you bring the right stick back and forth trying to connect your swings. I just can't see any reason to map that as two movements instead of one (preferably a button press, even more preferably, the same button press you'd use to fire a gun, since they are both ATTACKS and so they should be treated as equivalent options, just dependent upon what is actually equipped).

Lastly, disposing of bad guys. Now, apparently, this game is really proud of its fire. I didn't think it was particularly special and I thought trying to put fires out was downright annoying and time consuming and I would definitely not look forward to the eventual chase through a burning something or other while you run away trying to put out the fires in front of you so that you can continue moving forward). But, anyways, you get attacked by zombies. Shooting or hitting them will knock them out, but 5-8 seconds later, they get back up with full health. That's annoying. So, I think to stop them from getting up, you have to burn them. The demo never actually told me how to deal with the zombies, but that worked.

So, I think/hope it's somehow possible to just light them on fire, but I didn't know how to do that. This meant that I would have to drag their knocked out bodies to the nearest fire and drop them in it. Luckily, they can't wake up while you're dragging them. Unluckily, you can only pull their bodies, you can't push them. Now, when you pull something, that means you go first, right? Yes, yes you do. So, now, how might someone pull a body into a fire? Any takers? I'll give you a hint: YOU DON'T BECAUSE IT'S STUPID!!! I would literally have to pull until I was right up against the fire, then turn 90 degrees so that both of us are next to the fire, and then, because technically the zombie is my currently equipped melee weapon, I pull the right stick back and forth trying to get him into the fire by swinging him.

This might come as a surprise, but, that was a royal pain in the ass and completely stupid and ridiculous to boot. The last part of the demo was a car chase scene with massive cracks in the ground chasing us. I never figured out how to beat it since the path seemed to always end inside a shopping mall, which wasn't very useful to me. After maybe ten tries, I realized that I hadn't had any fun while playing the stupid game and that I was more than ready to go do something else. So, I stopped.

Lastly, I played the Mirror's Edge demo. And all I can say is: Wow. Just, wow. This is what Assassin's Creed wishes it felt like when you play it. For that matter, this is what life wishes it felt like to live it. The demo vidoes and stuff like that do not do this game justice at all. There is no way to understand people's excitement over this game until you try it. Until you feel you character barrelling forward, always forward. The game translates the effort it takes to navigate a high speed chase through roof tops excellently, while at the same time doing so in an almost intuitive manner (the controls are not intuitive, at all, but since you basically only press a couple different buttons, it works). This game is like a digital adrenaline rush. And it is highly improvisational as well. I've watched two other people play through the demo and almost none of the sections were done the same way. Everyone had their own signature style of forward motion. I loved it. This game is something way more special than I had thought it would be.

Alright, I think I got through that without too many significant random asides. I'm duly proud of me for that. And now I need to go watch a random Sci-Fi channel made-for-TV movie starring Brea Grant (yes, I kind of have a crush on her right now).

That is all.