So, in a week or two, my schedule is going to change. However, one thing which I hadn't thought of is that they wouldn't have a replacement for my shift already. It seems that until they can find one, they want me to work three days a week on second shift as well as my third shift weekend schedule.
I get worn out just thinking about that.
On to more reasonable news. Joe and I saw Ghost in the Shell 2 last night. In many respects it followed the event pattern of the first movie. I won't spoil anything, but I bet if you did a time line of what happened in the two movies, many of the entries at similar times would sound much alike. However, the second movie is still quite different from the first. For one thing, it focuses on Batou, since Major Kusanagi is.. elsewhere (no spoilers). For another, the narrative seemed to have something more of a dream like quality, where the first movie was more linear and easier to understand. Lastly, pretty much all of the environments were CG. The level of the CG was stupendous. In a sense, it was almost like shooting back at Square, saying "this is how to do CG". Joe felt that the animation and the CG didn't mesh well enough. While I agree that they were distinct pieces sharing the screen, I thought that the effort that had been made to blend the two together was impressive. Overall I was satisfied.
I have two races left to finish Burnout 3, but I have a suspicion that where I am now will be the final resting point of my progress. Taken as a whole, the game was relatively fun and reasonably challenging, as long as you ignored the 5% of the races that held about 90% of the difficulty.
The race I'm stuck on now is a Grand Prix featuring F1 cars. While I admit a lack of real world F1 knowledge, I still think the amount of drifting the game requires would make an F1 fan laugh, since I don't picture F1 cars drifting much at all. From what I have seen of F1 cars, they seem to be able to grip at extreme speeds. At any rate, the real flaw with the GP is that F1 cars weigh about the same as a feather. This game is all about weaving through traffic and brawling with your opponents and occasionally leaving paint on the rails as you skid around corners at high speeds. Seeing as the designers chose to simulate the F1's lack of weight, just about any brush with the side of the course or another car will knock a good 80 mph out of you. And since these high speed grip-style cars still tend to drift a bit, you have almost no chance of ever making up a falling behind, since you'll be bouncing off stuff and running in to sucker punch cars and whatnot.
I've read a few reviews of the game from the "name brand" review sites, and I find it humorous how many of them seem to have gotten a carbon copy script and have altered it slightly to suit their needs. All of the reviews make the untenable claim that this is a racing game that everyone can enjoy. After playing a Preview lap for the 200th time and still running in to a sucker punch car, I would find an extreme amount of enjoyment slowly flaying the developers before sinking them, a centimeter every 20 minutes or so, in to boiling oil. However, I doubt that Maggie could even get that far, and probably would have given up, since the designers chose so many non-fun ways to add to the challenge of the game. If only the reviewers would qualify the statement a little more, I might be able to agree with them. But even if they were honest, they would still have to admit that not everyone would get a charge out of vehicular demolition, nor the Road Rage events, nor the racing. I guess it goes without saying that there is no such thing as a game that everyone will agree 100% of the time is a good game. So............... why are the reviewers seemingly making such a statement? I also have to laugh at the fact that this game has gotten a 9.5 out of 10 or 5 out of 5 and so on with so many sites. Here's my review:
Graphics = 8
Very crisp, but the sun flares and certain objects can obscure the road a bit too much. That was probably an intentional choice, too, which is sad. The camera angles (a little too tight behind the car, or your chin skimming over the road in first person) are also laughable, detracting from the graphics score a bit.
Gameplay = 8 / -7 (total: 1)
Ignoring the 5% most difficult races, the challenge ramps nicely and racing well, as well as a somewhat agressive attitude, are rewarded handsomely. In fact, I was able to achieve a gold medal on the first try in many of the races, but I had to drive skillfully to do so, so it's not to say the challenge was a slouch. However, the highest 5% difficulty races accounted for 90% of the difficulty, and each race required three or four hours or crashing and restarting before a gold was achieved. In the mean time, I developed a great hatred for whichever nameless jackass(es) decided to throw in sucker punch cars and cars that blocked what would be otherwise reasonable racing lines, as well as whoever decided that there should be multiple patterns of blocking cars, such that going through certain intersections required no more than gambling the car wouldn't be there this time. I always thought running percentages was a great driving skill, and I'm glad to see developers taking a similar stance. Perhaps I should invite them to my in-car craps or poker nights, while I'm going 150 mph through the cities and over the highways.
Replayability = ???
I guess this game probably is sort of replayable. There are higher scores to achieve and better times to complete a race. However, I'm not going to be able to test this aspect of the game for a while, since I'm still relatively angry about the multitude of poor design choices that were made with this otherwise fair to good racing/demolition game.
Overall = 7
I think that a rating of 7 out of 10 is a fair number to assign this game. Of course, I'm considering this while attempting to maintain a reasonable, fair-minded attitude. If I were pissed, I could easily give this game a 5 or 4 rating. It does have good graphics, and most of the substance is thick and meaty. It just happens to have maggots at the core.