What a Racket!

So I have been in the market for a larger hard drive for my Xbox 360, really the only gaming I do these days, even at that it’s spent playing FIFA. First person shooters have lost luster with the time I spent on Urban Terror. That is not to say there are not good FPS games out there, but something that is revolutionary and new, sorry don’t think so. My son and I stop by GameStop yesterday and I notice they have refurbished 120GB hard drives, so I inquiry about them. Hearing nothing negative I decide to spend $99 as opposed to the retail price of $149.99 for the same product new. Of course there is a kicker. The refurbished hard drive did not come with a transfer kit that includes a USB type cable to transfer your data. The other kicker, no retail stores locally carry the transfer kit. You can always spend $49.99 and let the Geek Squad do it at Best Buy. Talk about a racket!

So I am not sure what I will be doing. I know for a fact I won’t pay someone to do it for me. I thought about buying a new 120GB hard drive, using the software and transfer cable and then returning the hardware to the store. The last option is to buy one off any number of Internet stores. But $20 to get me a cable for something I will only use once. Not sure I like this idea either.

One would figure there would be a way to transfer saved game data to a temporary drive, like a flash drive and manually move it from one hard drive to another. The more I read, the less likely this sounds. But here is a nugget from the transfer kit manual, “Dispose of the cable in accordance with the Disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment guidelines in your Xbox 360 Warranty manual (Volume 2).” So let me get this straight, I am supposed to throw away this cable AFTER I transfer my data. MS also doesn’t consider this an Xbox “accessory.” Whatever!

Hopefully a friend of mine who purchased an ‘Elite’ ordered their free cable/software from MS and transferred their data over from an older, smaller hard drive. If not, I am back to square one on what direction to go. This seems rather ridiculous to go through, especially these days with technology being what it is and the fact that the 360 is USB 2.0 compliant. I guess this is MS being the proprietary little bitch. Not as if this is anything new. I won’t get started in all the other accessory (WiFi, anyone?) that is overpriced for what it does. What about the fact the 360 only came with 1 USB port on the back of the unit? Guess I was supposed to shell out $50 to get their USB hub, so I could add media content on my one 500GB hard drive.

Okay, enough bitching from me. All of this is to be expected because it IS Microsoft we are talking about here. The same company who still can’t fix my damn Xbox 360 from the “red ring of death” from occurring. I give it under 6 months and I will be filling out the paperwork and shipping my Xbox off to Texas again to be fixed. Maybe I should send it COD to Bill Gates and tell him to fix his shit before selling it to the public. Then if that were the case their operating systems would have never gotten off the ground and we would all be hailing Steve Jobs and Apple.

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Point Blank Review: Battlefield 1943

Since my “retirement” from software development I have never return to that community or any other online computer gaming. I have lost all desire because software developers are very uncreative these days. It seems that everything that could be designed has been and the first place a developer looks for a “return to glory” is in the past. Look at the lineup from id Software, Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein. Many other titles from other developers are developed in the same vein.

I believe the last good game I played was from Dice, titled Battlefield 1942. Although in my opinion BF1942 was not as fun as Codename: Eagle, but ’42 was a well done game. Being out of gaming, I was rather excited to see Battlefield 1942 (yes that is a typo) available for the Xbox 360. What I didn’t notice at the time, until I spoke to my buddy in Los Angeles, that this was was actually called Battlefield 1943. It was a new and updated version of 1942 some years later.

I was torn, so much for having faith in Dice as they have now regressed and moved backwards in order to redevelop their last good hit. I am no fan of the console controller, they are just terrible for FPS games, especially a fast paced online BF1943 or any other game. So my aiming leaves a lot to be desired, it is not as accurate as the popular keyboard/trackball (or mouse) combination that is so common in the gaming community.

After realizing 1943 was a remake of 1942, some of the thrill was gone. Yet the game is visually stunning, given the technology running in the Xbox 360. It does seem that is what sells games these days and not game play.

As for the game play, there is really nothing much to report. Some of the movement over the terrain and up hills is smoother than I recall. I found myself not getting stuck on objects when operating a tank, for example. One new addition that adds to the game is the ability to blown up portions of buildings and structures. You can run over fence, through buildings and it seems to really add bit of pizazz to the game.

Flying was easier in the PC version. Both sticks are required as is the trigger button for your throttle. The left stick is used to help make a coordinated turn by using the rudder. Personally I don’t think it works all that well and you find your aircraft slowing way down to make a tight turn. But the planes are a bit more balanced in this version versus the PC version.

I have only put in a few hours but I am enjoying my experience. I think the air raid feature sucks, but Dice did the same type of thing with their crappy follow up, Battlefield 2 with the artillery strike. I could not pass up the opportunity or the price to check it out.

Unfortunately one of the things Dice or any other developer cannot get rid of with programming are the asshat players. Just like the previous community I was involved in there are many who just ruin the fun and enjoyment. I am sure this is will be my deciding factor when I loose interest in the game. Way to go players!

I recommend it though for the Xbox 360, it is worth the small price tag.

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MicrofuXored Again!

It was bitter sweet coming home last night, knowing I my XBox360 had arrived via UPS from being repaired a second time. This on top of having to return three consoles when I bought the damn thing because they did not work. So I get home, and read the paperwork that I pulled from the box telling me this is a brand new console with new identification number, but not to worry all the warranty and paperwork would be done without my intervention.

I connected the hard drive, the wireless network card (which is a POS!) and the video and power cables. I start the machine and get three flashing red lights. Needless to say this nearly sent me over the edge. I shut down the console and restarted, twice and after setting a few options my LIVE! profile comes up and I am good to go…or so I thought.

I load up FIFA 2008 and things are going well until I select a game and it loads. Upon starting the actual game, I notice the sound is not as it is supposed to be. The volume is low and the commentators voices are intermittent, as well as the game sounds. I knocked it off to the game, so I shut down and loaded up The Orange Box.

Initially when the game loads, the sounds work in the menu. I started TF2 and all be damned if the game plays fine, but the sound is just like FIFA was. I can already hear the barrage of questions when I call XBox support, including, “Well maybe it is your TV or sound system.” Eh, sorry champ, it’s not my TV, nor any component of my audio/video system. It is a bad XBox. AGAIN!

Seriously, I cannot be the only consumer having this sort of luck with a bad MS product, can I? Okay, Vista aside, since we know they release beta operating systems. But this is getting ridiculous, I will phone them tomorrow and demand (because the consumer is ALWAYS right) a new XBox. I don’t want this supposed new one they sent me fix, I want a new one.

Oh yeah and for my trouble, I received another 1 month free LIVE card. LOL. You jackholes!

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Round 2: XBox 360

Okay it has taken the better part of 2 weeks before I decided to make that time consuming call to XBox Support. As I have stated in the past, this is the WORST console on the market! I would definitely NOT recommend anyone bother purchasing one. Then again the Wii is poo too, but that is another story.

So I went online looking for tips on how to “fix” the “red ring of death.” First let’s start with poor design in the console itself, if indeed it is actually a solder on a connector that malfunctions. I was not going to waste all that much time looking into the problem. The “solution” wrap your 360 in towels for 15 minutes. This “solution” would heat up the necessary solder and your 360 would work. Or would it?

After 15 minutes in towels, I let it cool down and then started it. Viola! It worked…well sort of. I got in about three games of footie before the console locked up on me again. Upon restarting it would lock up. It took about 3 restarts before I was able to get the red ring of death. At that point I disconnected the POS and set it aside.

Today, I finally called customer “support” figuring to get the runaround, which I did to a point. After providing my name, address and serial number, I was asked a series of questions. The only one I got wrong (LOL) was when asked, “Do you plug your XBox into a surge protector or a wall socket?” My answer, obviously, a surge protector. Well needless to say, the kid on the other end of the phone said that the console must be plugged into a wall socket. Yeah, sure whatever jackass keep giving me you $9/hour answers.

I am sorry but plugging the console into a wall socket or a surge protector has NO adverse affect on something internally in your malfunctioning product. If so, then please, please provide me information supporting your FAQ claim, because I beg to differ. But you are Microsoft and are always right, with the best product around. LOL.

So let’s see if customer support can get things done this time around in a timely fashion. Waiting 8 weeks as I did previously was a joke. Let’s TRY and not loose my order again. Oh and that one month XBox Live card, just keep it, what a slap in the face for my time and your below average product.

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Bending Reality

Been what, 10 days since my last ranting about some asshat gamer KNOWING what would bring more gamers to Urban Terror. *sigh* Okay, so I digress I know I am always on about this. But lets move past that for now and onto another topic that spotlighted the Urban Terror Community last week.

Games for Windows had a small blurb on the Free Play page that listed Urban Terror as a game that gamers should take a second look at. Why? FREE! That is a word all gamers enjoy seeing. Especially after 9 years of development, the game rivals any retail game out there in terms of game play.

If we were to actually put more time and effort into working on the game, I know for a fact some of the remaining issues would be worked out and it would be even more polished. This would also help to bring new gamers into the community, along with some “new” features we brainstormed that would seriously take the game to the next level.

With that said, let’s segway into Quakecon 2008, Dallas, Texas starting July 31. I have reserved a room at the hotel in which the event is being held at. The wife wants to go, as she has never attended and a contingency of her [former?] clan will be setting up and playing Urban Terror for 3 days straight.

Right now, we are on the fence as to our attendance. I am not sure I want to deal with the headache of getting myself, the wife and our son on an airplane for 3 hours to DFW. Does not sound like fun, especially when my wife hates to fly and my son has never been, so he might get a kick out of it. But that only leads to another problem. The need to watch him for 3 days while the event is going on.

Just sounds like too many variables I don’t want to work out, outside costing a few thousand dollars in air fare, hotel, transportation and meals. Hell, we might as well take a REAL vacation and go somewhere to relax instead of sitting in a large sweatbox with sweaty, smell kids. Does not sound like fun.

Still waiting on the Xbox to return from service AGAIN! No word, no nothing from MS or the contractor in Mesquite, Texas where I sent it to get fixed. Oh I can’t wait to get my 1-month free LIVE! card. JUST FIX THE DAMN MACHINE YOU JACKHOLES! That is all I ask!

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