4/25/12 -- Well I neglected my page for a while. Hopefully I can keep up on it this time, while business is relatively slow at work. Here's hoping.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Promised Goldeneye Review And Prolly Nothin Else

     Alllrighty then... Lemme get comfortable here, turn on some tunes... feed the starving beasts...grab a Dew, and let's get this thing started. So. The Review. Well, I must say, it'll be interesting, and I'll try to treat it as an independent game as much as possible, but the fact is, it's a remake of one of the most popular old school games of all time. No one can deny that Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64 is a classic and was a fantastic game for its time and frankly, I'd sometimes rather go back and play old 007 than some of our next gen games. One thing that Goldeneye 64 has that many games do not have is extreme replay value. Once you finish the easy difficulty, then there's Agent with added difficulty and added objectives and then 00 Agent with even more difficulty and objectives. The remake has this too, though I don't know about the replay value. The storyline for 64 was pretty engaging, even though there were no voice actors for that game. The music was also a large component for 64. Everyone remembers the iconical James Bond theme from 64. So the Wii remake has its work cut out for it.  So, down to brass tacks.
     First, I will do some comparisons, visually that is. And now the image dump I spend some time getting together and splicing together using my "mad" mspaint skillz.  If you can't see it, "mad" is dripping with sarcasm. All these images following should be pretty obvious which is from the 64 and which is from the Wii. And if it's not obvious to you, get out now.

First up, is the box art. (Note: All images can be expanded with a click)

     Well, the 64 art work features what us boys loved at that time and what many boys and men love nowadays. Guns, explosions, action, and sexy women. This art promises action, adventure, and screams "SPY STUFF!" The Wii version's box art is much more simplistic; the shiny gold contrasting with the grey and black background makes for a sleek image and being inside the barrel of the pistol makes us feel like we're gonna shoot up some bad guys. A lot.  Make your judgments here.   Next Slide.

Next, let's compare the Bonds.

      Now here's where we start talking graphics. Obviously, the Wii has superior graphics capabilities to the 64. Things don't look so blocky and shading on everything looks much nicer in today's day and age. But that's too be expected. Also take note, The Wii's Bond is played (and voice acted) by Daniel Craig, and the 64 is modeled after Pierce Brosnan. Imo, both Brosnan and Craig do Bond pretty well, but if you read my earlier post about Goldeneye, you'll know I favor Sean Connery. Alas, he's no longer Bond and I've accepted that.  Next.

Well, let's continue with character comparison with Natalya Simonova:

     As you can see, they tried to sexy up Natalya a bit. And I think they did fairly well. She's clearly not wearing a bra in the Wii's version. There's only so much sexy you can have with the pixels of the 64's day. And this comparison does more to show the difference in graphics, not only in character models, but scenery as well. 

More graphics comparison...

     Now, everyone should recognize this series of pictures. This is obviously the very first level players will experience in both games. Note the similarities and differences. Textures are much richer in the Wii version and they also darkened the mood a bit compared to the 64's bright daylight scenario. The first few levels are modeled very closely to the 64's level layouts, but then they start bringing us out of that mold, and really change up not only scenery but even storyline to a certain extent. Basic plot is the same, but players will note many changes and similarities.

And the last one:

     This image is here to simply showcase another change. The health system was revamped completely. No longer do players have a certain amount of hits they can take before they are killed. Its been changed now to resemble many next gen fps's in that as the player takes damage, their screen turns a progressively darker red until they either die, or take cover to recover from their wounds. I find no issue with either health bar system, its just a different way to make players think about their next move. This also shows yet another graphics display.
     Ok, now that the pics are mostly out there, time for the rest of it. I found Goldeneye to be a relatively good game. They took the same great game and storyline and updated not only the graphics and gameplay, but other features as well. No more can you equip Bond with as many weapons as there are on the map, cycling through dozens of weapons. Now you can carry three. It also updates technology in game to match some of todays gadgets. Bond is now equipped with a smartphone he can use to hack into turrets and computers and door locks, etc. See pic. (mwahaa, I has another one!)

     They've also implemented a new melee system. No longer do you have to switch to your hand as a weapon. Simply approach the enemy, give the nunchuck a little waggle or whatever and you can either silently or very obviously take out your enemy in one fell swoop. The trick is getting in close to do it. More often than not, players will have Bond sneaking through levels, avoiding cameras and sneaking up and stealth killing guards. But, for the players that don't like this route, there aren't any levels that I remember that forced you to not get caught sneaking around. You always have the option for a full-on frontal assault, one man versus the entire army. And thank God, there was only one level where you had to protect someone, namely Natalya. And yes, its where she's trying to deactivate the Goldeneye satellite, to make matters worse, if you don't kill everyone in the allotted time in that stage, the satellite fries you all anyway. That was frustrating, even on the easy difficulty. 
      With the next gen upgrade, players are no longer forced to read the dialogue between characters. (How dare they make us read?!? The nerve!) Now, everyone is completely voiced by real live voice actors and Bond is played by Daniel Craig and not some impersonator. Speaking of more additions, they also included a grenade locator I guess is the appropriate word. When an enemy throws a grenade at you, a little icon comes up to let you know where it is. Useful, if unrealistic. But who needs/wants realism? Also, cover can be destroyed. If you are behind a wooden crate, bullets will reduce it to splinters. If you're behind a metal panel, bullets dent in then break through eventually, making it difficult for players to camp in a single spot with an entire army gunning for them. I didn't come across any glitches that I remember, like being partly in a wall, or character's weapons sticking through cover or doors, or if I shot a characters weapon, they would react, but not take much if any damage. Music was also changed. It's now some sleek spy-esque music that is pretty low and stays in the background. I don't actively recall a single bit of music from that soundtrack and that disturbs me. I'm a music person, and in games, the soundtrack can be just as engaging as the gameplay itself. So there's a negative point. I didn't delve into the multiplayer aspect too much, so I can't give an accurate rating in that respect. But on a lighter note, not everything was just blasting away at everything. Yes, you could go guns blazing if you wanted, but if you paid attention, there were alternative ways to get around. Air ducts that you could crawl through to take out a baddy, or fire extinguishers or other explosive canisters you could shoot to take out multiple enemies. In addition, boss fights we're strictly "blast 'em till they're dead".  Most "bosses" had some shooting, then a hand-to-hand combat scenario that sort of reminded me of God of War or Prince of Persia where you had to press certain buttons to defeat your enemy. And it wasn't just one or two presses. Some of them were half a dozen hits or more. Pretty engaging.
     But overall, to wrap this up, this was a decent game for me.  Anyone who was a diehard fan of the 64 version will notice differences and may or may not be happy with them. When I put my rating out there, this is just my opinion. I'll break it down and then give an overall rating. Ok? K, here we go:
  • Graphics: 8/10 - Not bad, but not great. I'm anxious for the 360 and ps3's HD remake to come out and put these graphics to shame, but they're good coming from the Wii.
  • Music: 4/10 - Did not care for it at all. Nothing memorable, its all just background noise, but at least it sounded like something from a spy movie/game.
  • Gameplay: 9/10 - Controls were easy to adapt to, nothing overly weird using the nunchuck or wii-mote. No glitches that I found, but I'm sure they're around. Weapon switching was easy to use also, and you didn't have to cycle through dozens to find the gun you want.
  • Storyline: 8/10 - Pretty engaging at times, and when fighting some bosses I couldn't help but let fly certain words when I blocked an attack and countered with one of my own in a hand-to-hand moment. And nothing too unrealistic in the spy gadgets department. No lasers coming out of a watch, etc. 
  • Overall: 7.5/10 - Not a bad game. Graphics looked very nice coming from the Wii. Gameplay was nice and not too repetitive. Enemies were quick to pick up when something was fishy or if they heard you walking around if you weren't crouched. Levels all featured multiple ways to get through while still keeping you on course through the level; it was pretty hard to get lost in most levels. Overall, I'm glad I played it. Though I haven't had the urge to replay it once yet, so that's a little disappointing. 
Well, now that that's finished, let's move on to the segment you all know and love:

The SotD!!
     In keeping with the Goldeneye theme, I gotta play this one. This is the theme I always think of when I remember Goldeneye 64. I always smile when I hear it. So, enjoy and revel in the good ole days. 

*~* Also, don't forget to let me know how the review was. This was my first one and if you liked the way I presented it, I can do more in the future! Thanks! *~*

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Restaurant Etiquette and SotD

     Ok, so here's another little rant of mine, and I promise to keep it rather short. Have you ever gone to restaurant, more specifically a sit-down place and gone, "What time do you close?"  "10 o'clock."  "Oh good, we still have 15 minutes left."  Seriously? Don't do this. Amongst other things, here is a short rant of how to behave in a public eating establishment.
     Pro Tip: If you have a bad attitude coming in, you are already determined to not have a good experience. Don't sit there and argue with your significant other/children/parents/person on the phone for the world to hear. It embarrasses the people sitting around you for accidentally eavesdropping on everything, it makes you look foolish, and it makes you the laughingstock of the kitchen. You think the servers don't tell the cooks about you arguing with hubby about why the babysitter was naked that day? 
     Pro Tip #2: Tip. No that wasn't a typo. Don't be a jerk. Do you realize how much servers make? Minimum wage is $2.70/hr for tipped employees in Michigan. The Federal minimum wage is $2.13. So that means in any given state, you could be giving the shaft to someone who's only making $2.13 to take care of you, your friend, your screaming kid, and your ancient great great grandmother who can't eat any seasoning, salt, gluten, fat, sugar, or dairy products. So, to be a nice person, tip % starts at the LEAST 15%. Most ppl start at between 18-20% and work their way up or down based on the quality of service. Oh, and before you think I'm an enraged server, I'm not, nor have I ever been a server. I can't stand working with the people who are so needy and whiny and I can't have this, or this, can you do this instead? Or I don't want this and this on my _______, can I get ______ instead?  No. The answer is no. And that's why I don't serve. Also, if you feel like your food was very exceptional, don't be afraid to throw the cooks a few bucks or even just a compliment. Its as easy as telling your server, my food was delicious please give this to the cooks or please tell the cooks I loved it. Most cooks appreciate knowing their hard work didn't just get shoved down your throat without being tasted.  
    Pro Tip #3: As stated in the intro, do NOT come into a restaurant with anything less than a half an hour left. Especially if you have a group of 4 or more, don't even come in with an hour left. Why? Look at it like this: If we are scheduled to close, we are looking to get out of work AT close. We realize its unrealistic, but that's the goal anyway. By 8, we are already trying to clean up for the night. By 9 we don't expect any more orders but two or three isn't going to set back our close any. And by 9:45 we are almost done, we have the grill cleaned off, the fryers filtered and scrubbed, cutting boards cleaned and back in place, steam wells broken down and iced, and most everything is wrapped and put away. 
                                            Then you walk in. 
     Guess who just single-handedly pissed off 2 cooks, a dishwasher, a manager, a server, and a bartender (at the least)?  You did. All because you want what? A burger and fries? Cheese sticks? Seriously? Go to either A.) A bar that is open late, because most of them serve burgers and fries and cheesticks and other sandwiches and whatnot; or B.) Fast food. McDonald's, Burger King, I Don't Care. Most fast food joints are open at 10 o'clock nowadays and you're going to get the same service and quality of food from us that late at night as you are there. Not that I'm knocking fast food's quality, I eat there all the time, I'm just saying you're pretty much gonna get the same food, and are paying twice as much for it.  
                                Here, lemme break it down for you.
      If you and so and so come in with 15 min left, you're gonna sit down and order your drinks, they come back, its now 9:50. If, with any luck, you know what you want, you order, it gets back to us by oh, 9:53. Average cook time is between 7 and 10 min, higher or lower depending on difficulty of item or if you want specifics added and/or taken off of it. In any case, its after 10 when you GET your food (closing time). Then you dick around and eat for 15 min, while everyone back of house is frantically cleaning up everything you've dirtied up. Your server is trying their hardest not to just tell you to leave already when they bring you the check, and then you decide, "Oh, I want a dessert." Did you notice that the server didn't ASK if you wanted one? Its because they don't care what you want at this point. They want to get home. Be with THEIR family/friends/animal/video game console/whatever. But anyway, now its 10:25 and the cooks see that dessert ring in, and they are all but ready to walk out to you, knife in hand, and escort you out of the establishment. 10:28 and your dessert arrives, looking more like an explosion of ice cream and chocolate with strawberry blood than the chocolate lava cake you saw in the picture. You FINALLY leave at 10:30 to the sounds of the doors locking shut behind you and lights clicking off.  Server looks at your tip. 10%? Really? on a $30 meal, you leave 3 bucks? You've now become the lowest of the low. And the next time you walk in to that restaurant, servers will fight to NOT serve you. Happy now? 

    So, I didn't keep it short. But I enjoyed it. If you read this far, I hope it enlightened you a little bit, and if not, then keep bein the jerk that you're determined to be; I can't change you if you don't want to be changed. But, onto a much better topic...

Song of the Day!!!
     I'll make this short and sweet since the rest of the post wasn't and because I have to leave for work in 3 minutes. Today's song comes from Metallica and is called Master of Puppets. Anyone who knows Metallica should know this song, and anyone who's played the Rock Band titles should know this song, and anyone who's played Guitar Hero Metallica should know this song. So, to make a long story short, there should be thousands of ppl who know this and this won't be anything new, but it came on my playlist twice in a row by two different artists, so I figured it was a sign. And as an added bonus, I'll put up both versions. Enjoy!

    First, is from Metallica, and is just song and lyrics, not official video.

Next, is from David Garrett and is a live show from Berlin.