Friday, June 20, 2003

Final Enter the Matrix Review
I have now completed the game twice, once as Niobe and once as Ghost. I stand by what I wrote earlier - Enter the Matrix could be a much better game. I need to add one more complaint - it's too short. I just started playing the game on Sunday and I've already beat it twice, and I've only spent a few hours a day on it.

Okay, enough of the negative. Here's what I liked about Enter the Matrix:

Part of the story: Enter the Matrix begins just after the "Last Flight of the Osiris" off the Animatrix DVD, includes a bit of footage footage from Reloaded, and you get to play some stuff that the movie glossed over. For example, in Reloaded, Niobe and Ghost are responsible for blowing up the power plant, but the movie didn't show much about that. You get to play that whole scenario in the game.

Ghost and Trinity: Ah, the pangs of unrequited love. I wonder if Ghost's secret affection for Trinity will be of any significance in Revolutions, or if it's just something they threw in for the game alone. Regardless, sparring Trinity was fun, even if it still only required punching the Y and B buttons as fast as possible.

Focus: Reminiscent of bullet time from Max Payne, in this game you can slow time down and pull off cool Matrix moves like running on walls, leaping off walls and kicking guys in the head, leaping great distances and so on. Groovy.

Okay, one last complaint. Enter the Matrix is more like an interactive movie than a full-blown video game, which is it's downfall. As a result, I think the game makers sacrificed real game play for coolness. Definitely not cool.

Bottom line: Big time Matrix fans will probably think Enter the Matrix is adequate, if only because it fills in some gaps in the story between the first and second films. But those looking to play the game for gaming's sake will be disappointed. Buy it if you need to collect all things Matrix, otherwise rent it. You'll beat it in a weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Heh



From day by day by Chris Muir.
Metallica's new one
Up until a few years ago, I owned every Metallica album. The last one I had purchased was S & M, which was awful. I sold it at a garage sale and wrote the band off as having sold out. I confirmed my suspicions just the other night. VH1 was counting down the 100 best songs over the last 25 years, and "Enter Sandman" was somewhere in the 80's. One of the guys they interviewed about the song (not one of the band members, some producer or something - sorry, didn't catch his name) said "Enter Sandman" signaled Metallica's acceptance of MTV and their desire to be on the radio, and I thought, "yeah, he means that's when they sold out".

One of the things I find surprising about NRO is they will occasionally offer an article about something I wouldn't have thought a conservative site would care about. For example, they recently praised AC/DC, and today they're praising Metallica's new album. Every other review I've seen of St. Anger has been, well, not exactly positive, including this and this and this and this. Now, there's a big difference between Kevin Cherry's review on NRO and these others. Cherry notes a significant number of the songs explore the effects substance abuse, control and being raised in a bad environment, so his review focuses more on the message than the music itself. These other reviews are primarily concerned with one question: does it rock?

I'm afraid that's the ultimate question for me as well. Ultimately it doesn't matter to me what the message is. I tend not to analyze lyrics too much, which explains why I can enjoy bands that I otherwise wouldn't care for, like R.E.M. (liberal), Rage Against the Machine (Communist), Tool (angry and bizarre), Alice In Chains (drugged-out negativity) and White Zombie (nonsensical silliness). For a lot of songs I like, if the lyrics were simply read aloud I'd probably think they were awful. But I can forgive quite a bit when they're set to a good beat. That probably explains why I've never been able to appreciate poetry much and how unsophisticated I am in general, but so be it.

Point being, there may be some interesting, good lessons to learn from the message in Metallica's new album. However, what I've read says the music suffers, so I'm not buying.
I may have just condemned my computer to hell
It just occurred to me that "We report, you decide" may be copyrighted or trademarked or whatever by Fox News, in which case my previous post got my PC targeted for termination by Orrin Hatch. Swell. I suppose anyone who views that post will have downloaded protected material, which means their computers will be destroyed as well. It's a good thing nobody reads this blog.
Much revealed on Letterman last night
I caught the first few minutes of David Letterman last night. During his monologue he asked the audience for applause from those who had read Living History and it was like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. You know, dead silence except for the chirping of crickets. On the other hand, Letterman received a good round of applause when he mentioned President Bush recently raised $3 million at a fund raiser. Now what does that say? We report, you decide.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The Great Compromiser
I propose a new tax law: you cannot receive a tax refund that's larger than what you paid in. For instance, if your employer withheld $1000 and somehow, with all your credits and deductions, you qualify for a $2000 refund, you should only get back the $1000 you originally paid. Likewise, if you don't pay any taxes whatsoever but have two kids, you shouldn't receive a check for $2000, event if the child tax credit is $1000 per child. That would be just. To do otherwise would be to implement a welfare program.

Yet it looks like that's what President Bush wants to do - the Great Compromiser.

At least Rush Limbaugh is starting to criticize Bush for his leftward-shift. I criticized Rush some time ago for not attacking Bush for this sort of behavior, and he's coming around. Rush's theory is Bush is making the Democrats' issues his own, which would make the Republican party more appealing to more people, increase their chances of gaining more seats in Congress and wield more power.

I've heard Rush talk about one drawback of this approach, namely that once that power is acquired it must be retained, which leads to more of the same sort of behavior. I haven't had a chance to listen to him much, so Rush may have already said what I'm about to say, but I say this would also have two other affects. First of all, this would force the Democratic party to move even further to the left in order to differentiate itself. Secondly, since the Republicans have deferred to the Democrats' agenda, this will lead the Republicans further to the left and the whole country along with it. That would be a Bad Thing, unless this would (somehow) open the door for the Libertarians to take control. The sensible Libertarians, I mean. Not the anti-war-to-the-point-of-suicide Libertarians.

Why, oh why, does Bush act so principled on foreign affairs and then cave on domestic issues? Or perhaps he's not really caving. Perhaps he's not as principled as I thought.
I want my GTV!
Al Gore wants to start a liberal cable network. I hope it's successful just so they can shut up about it. And if not, perhaps Gore can start a variety show. I caught the rerun of his SNL appearance last weekend, and I have to admit it was funny. The scene with he and "Joe Lieberman" in the hot tub was hysterical.
Mean thetruth.com commericials
There's a commercial by thetruth.com where a couple of guys in an ice cream truck drive slowly by a bunch of children, playing the typical ice cream truck music. The kids, naturally, begin running after the truck in hopes of getting some dessert, but instead one of the guys gives a speech on the evils of Big Tobacco. What about the evils of teasing children?

There's another commercial by the same people where an apparent homeless man reads a statement about how some tobacco company planned a marketing campaign targeting homeless and gay people. Every time I see that one I wonder if the good people at thetruth.com helped him find a place to live or if they left him where they found him with $50 extra bucks in his pocket that he used to buy a bunch of Camels.
NRO v. Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan is pleased that Canada is recognizing gay marriages, while the folks over in the Corner at NRO are fretting over it, convinced it's not settled yet, and pondering amending the Constitution to prevent the same sort of thing in the U.S. (I tried linking to individual posts in the Corner, but it always loads up the entire thing - drat! See "Frum on gay marriage", "No surprise from Canada", "Monogamy differences" and others.)

I'm siding with Andrew on this one, and frankly I'm surprised there's not at least a few at NRO who value protecting individual rights more than protecting a glorified vision of what a marriage is supposed to look like. Andrew nails it with this:

The reason they intersect is that they both affirm the same principle: that the government should treat its citizens as citizens, not as part of some ethnic or sexual group. The government should not treat blacks any differently than whites; and it should strain to treat gays exactly the same way as it treats straights. No special rights for anyone. Just equality under the civil law. Same principle again with regards to affirmative action. What, one wonders, has become of classical liberalism that this principle should still be so widely ignored or misunderstood?
Nicely put.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I know he wasn't thinking of me
Bill O'Reilley recently threw a fit over what people post about him on the Internet, and he's taking significant heat for it. You can visit Technocrati to get a list of sites linking to the original O'Reilley temper tantrum (thanks to Glenn Reynolds for pointing this out).

Now, I know no one reads my blog, but still, it feels good to be part of this vast, Internet-based conspiracy against him, even with the small role I play.

I want to know what O'Reilley's implying by saying, "But big corporations are big targets. If they misbehave, they can be sued for big bucks. These small time hit and run operators on the net, however, can traffic in perversity and falsehoods all day long with impunity. It's almost impossible to rein them in." And, in particular: "The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming."

Is he calling for the regulation of the Internet? Or that you're not allowed to post anything to a website unless it's in some corporation's name? I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - O'Reilley is no conservative.
The NBA is doomed, I tell you! Doomed!
I caught the last half of game six between the Spurs and the Nets the other night and I had a good time watching it. But it seems hardly anyone else was watching, as television ratings for the finals were the lowest ever. Now, I'm not an NBA fan by any stretch - I didn't even know who was in the finals until a few days before the last game - but I'll tell you what made game six worth watching: Jason Kidd's long no-look pass to Richard Jefferson for the layup. How'd he do that?

Monday, June 16, 2003

Enter the Matrix
Speaking of the Matrix, I received Enter the Matrix to play on my XBox for Father's Day. If you'd rather not learn any details about the game, then I suggest you skip this post, 'cause I'm going to cover what happens.

To be fair, I haven't finished it yet (hey, I just got it yesterday), but I think I'm pretty far along. So far I've been disappointed. To me, this game is a lot like Splinter Cell: 3rd-person perspective, linear plot, your character gets guidance from a colleague over a wireless device, sniper mode, special moves and so on. My complaints:

Controls: There's a reason why most games like this use one controller stick to move the character and the other to direct the character's view - it works well. For some reason, though, Enter the Matrix has the left stick control movement and view. Too cumbersome and slow. The right stick is basically a glorified button. You move it in any direction and it switches you to a 1st-person sniper view, but the left stick controls the view. Move the right stick again and you switch back to the regular 3rd-person view. Dumb.

Hack and slash: I hear it will get better later in the game, but so far the game has required little problem solving. I've only been stumped in some scenarios, but only for a short time, by my lack of skill at fighting or shooting. The solution always involved working with the silly controls better.

Hand-to-hand: At least it's necessary aim somewhat when shooting, but it appears all you have to do to win at melee is to hit the Y and B buttons as fast as you can. Challenging.

Vampires?: I mean, really, vampires? What the...?

Shaky animation: There's a couple of animated movies in the game where it's a bit shaky. For example, there's a scene where Niobe is in an airport talking on her cellphone, and her hand keeps twitching like she's a Meth addict. What's up with that?

Gratuitous lesbian scene: Not that I'm against watching girls make out, but that was lame. That scene was a copy of the scene from Reloaded: girl threatens to shoot Persephone, the first kiss is not passionate enough, yada yada. I suppose there's a bunch of teenage boys that believe that's the highlight of the entire game, but I thought it was cheap.

Too many movies: There have been a few action sequences in these short films that look like they would have been fun to play instead of watch.

Checkpoint to save: I hate checkpoints. Let me save my progress game anywhere, anytime.

Splinter Cell is a much better game. Yes, it also has the checkpoint to save problem, but at least the controls are better and requires some thinking on the player's part. It's not all kill, kill, kill all the time.

I expected more from Enter the Matrix, but like I said, I haven't finished it yet. You'll be the first to know if I end up changing my mind.
I am Neo
Naturally, though I would have been just as happy if I had been categorized as Agent Smith or Morpheus.

You are Neo
You are Neo, from "The Matrix." You
display a perfect fusion of heroism and
compassion.

What Matrix Persona Are You?
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