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Macs, Movies, Games, Books, etc. The Rants of a Mad Man.

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Gran Turismo 5 gets a release date. Did hell freeze over?

June 22nd, 2010 by Raj

It’s been three years since Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) gave us the money-grab that was “GT5 Prologue” and over five since GT4 spun away in our PS2’s so you can forgive many people for placing Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) in the “believe-it-when-I-see-it” basket along with other great memories such as “Duke Nukem Forever” and unicorns.

With advertising abound at this years’ Le Mans one week prior to E3 it was no surprise to finally receive a solid release date (November 2nd, 2010) at the expo, for what is undoubtably one of the PS3’s most anticipated titles.

The latest instalment includes 1000 cars to drive around 20 pre-loaded tracks. Naturally it’s all coming to you in Sony’s latest push of 3D-headache-inducer and touts a laundry list of new gimmicks features such as Youtube uploads, split-screen racing, custom soundtracks, head tracking (via the Playstation Eye) and track editor. Justification for a five year hiatus? We’ll have to wait and see.

Not being a die-hard racing simulator type of guy I can’t help but think that many may have found their fix via other means. Forza 3 for the Xbox 360 has been available for quite some time now and it’s near-real sim Project Gotham has had two iterations in the current gen console wars. That said for the PS3 only households the likes of Motorstorm and Burnout just aren’t going to cut the mustard.

All said and done GT5 will be many a stocking stuffer come Christmas 2010 I have no doubt, let’s just hope it lives up to the wait. The “Top Gear” test track alone will be enough for most punters I’d say.

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Halo helmet fallout: No more special editions for me

April 24th, 2010 by Raj

Once bitten, twice shy” the saying goes, and no truer a saying when it comes to my experience with buying “Special” or “Deluxe” edition video games.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t pass up a good (or bad for that matter) bargain. I’m a constant sucker for any “2 for” that’s within five metres of a service station counter and god help me if Threadless ever have a sale but after the Halo 3 Legendary bundle I think I’m done when it comes to video game “extras” – at a premium price of course.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about the game, Halo 3, came out a few years back bundled inside the helmet of it’s main character (seen above). It came with a bunch of extra disks with documentary content (which I’ve never watched) and a giant fuck-off helmet that stands out like dogs balls amongst your game/dvd collection, that, if you’d ever expect to have sex again you’ll do the courtesy of never displaying.

It’s easy to look back now and see what it was such an idiotic “must-have” but at the time there was nothing cooler to many a geek and Halo fan-boy than owning a miniature of Master Chief’s helmet. Perhaps it was the possibility that it may be large enough to put on a small child and take photos for “teh internets” but even that was a pipe-dream that was to never come to fruition and instead we were stuck with a deluge of people sticking them on top of their cats. Case in point below:

The point is as excited and geek-drooly some people get all they do is play the game, which if they’d bought for probably two thirds of the price or even half in some cases they’d be much better off financially and wouldn’t have a pile of female-repelant scattered around their home. Hence the new Halo Reach “Legendary” Edition recently announced will most unlikely be making its way on to my shopping list, nor did the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 night vision goggles Prestige Edition, or Grand Theft Auto 4’s lockbox/theif bag/number plate Special edition.

Rant all said and done these deluxe versions are only going to get bigger and more ridiculous with thousands around the world shelling out their hard-earnds to buy them. And good luck to you all, I’m just saying the next time you get the urge to shell out for useless paraphernalia go and find where you’ve hidden your Halo 3 Master Chief helmet away, dust it off or take the nachos out of it, take a good long hard look at your warped orange reflection and ask yourself “Why?“.

If only I had this blog post three years ago how much crap I would not now own!! HAHAHAHA.

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ExtraLife 24hr charity gaming event – Live Blog [Updated]

October 19th, 2008 by Raj

Today as I have set my best gaming system of all time, I’ll be updating this post throughout the next 24 hours with a play-by-play low down on exactly what’s going on and just how well I can see still! You can follow others’ game plans and get more information in the Sarcastic Gamer ExtraLife forums.

9:00am – We’re done. 24 hours. Woot! Good work everyone. I can’t type or function any more, I’ll see you on Monday world. Good day Sir.

8:26am – 30 minutes to go peoples and I’m spending the same as my first 30 minutes, playing CoD4 on my Mac. I’m avoiding the multiplayer though and just doing a level of the campaign because if I sucked so badly with sleep yesterday there’s no way I’d be able to hold my own in my current state!

7:22am – I really, really want to play Rock Band for some reason. Everyone’s asleep though. Do you think they’ll mind?? Hmmm… maybe I’ll pop in Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA4), I’ve neglected Niko for long enough!

7:08am – 42. (Inside joke)

6:19am – 15 minute nap turned into half an hour. I needed it though, got a complete second wind. Now which console to hurt some more? I’m thinking a little of Wipeout HD again followed my some brain-dead FIFA `09 both on the PS3. Speaking of hurting; I’m surprised my thumbs aren’t bleeding by now.

5:43am – What if I just rest my eyes, just for a second. 15 minutes then I’m in for the last 3 hours.

5:25am – OK, it didn’t talk to me. I just needed coffee. Back to the Xbox. Still playing Star Wars.

5:20am – I swear the coffee table just spoke to me.

5:03am – I have never played games this long. The last time I played a computer game anywhere near this long was when I was about 11 and I hired the new “Alex the kid” game for my Sega Master System. I remember having been glued to it all day and then when I came out for dinner everything that was white looked bright red to me. I’ve never been able to look at mashed potatoes the same!

4:12am – My bed looks so nice and comfortable right now.

3:49am – On the verge of delirium. I have no idea what’s going on in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed at the moment. All I know is that if I keep pressing “X” on my controller I seem not to die

3:01am – Serious case of the yawns. Breaks are becoming little more regular as my brain slowly fades to nothing. Worried if I close my eyes I’ll go to sleep.

2:09am – How is it that a video game for Star Wars that’s only had about 10 minutes of dialog is already better than Episode One? Don’t get too excited though, Lucas has managed to keep some sense of cheese in there with an android that takes the form of anyone it likes. For the hormonal tweens & married men forget the android you have a personal intergalactic chauffeur with a breast endowment that would put Lara Croft to shame.

12:45am – Used my break to make my bed with the clean sheets from the washing I did earlier in the day. Ahhh fresh sheets for when I collapse in a pile of gamed out goo. Unfortunately looks like I’ve lost my MGS4 save game because the PS3 was replaced a few weeks back. Really can’t be bothered starting from scratch today so say hell to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed!

12:22am – I sat down nearly two hours ago to play Wipeout HD until the pizza I ordered arrived. Well the pizza’s gone but I’m still playing Wipeout! This game is damn cool, I don’t remember why I hated the old versions so much? Graphics are pretty amazing too! Still it’s time for a break, my eyes are getting tired, then on to MGS4.

10:40pm – I still don’t get why the PS3 doesn’t install things you download automatically?! It’s retarded! Grrrr, hurry up already Wipeout HD!

10:20pm – Just ordered Pizza for my dinner, 40 minutes away so I thought I’d play a few little arcade/PSN games. Little bit of Geometry Wars and what the hey, I’ll buy Wipeout HD for AUD$27.95, it’s for the kids, I swear!

10:05pm – I just completed Bioshock! Goal 1 achieved for the day, even if I am about 3 hours behind schedule. I’m thinking maybe I should dedicate the rest of the time to finishing Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) which I’ve had sitting here for months, but the call of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is soooo appealing! On Bioshock; what an absolutely amazing game! All the elements of a puzzler & FPS rolled into one with the most immersive story-line I’ve experienced in a game. For those out there that haven’t played it, go get it now! You’ll love it!

7:29pm – Just had my ass handed to me in some CoD4 multiplayer. I really suck at that game online! Back to Bioshock, but it’s getting dark and I’m getting scared. Will stop for a dinner break at the half way point (9pm).

5:30pm – You can still donate!! Instructions on doing so here.

4:50pm – Taking a Bioshock break by having a game of FIFA `09 on the PS3 with my housemate. My heart can take a little break from its palpitations ;)

3:30pm – Bioshock time. If there’s one thing I’ve set my goals on achieving today it’s finishing Bioshock. Hopefully I get it done before it gets dark because there are moments in that game that almost make me shit myself I swear!

3:08pm – Woah, look at the time and I’m still on CoD4. Time for a change up and to do another load of washing :( boooooo! Actually this might be a good opportunity for a lunch break. Jam on toast, packet of chips & a Diet Dr. Pepper. Lunch of video game champions!

1:00pm – Still playing CoD4. I love this game, it is without a doubt the best FPS on the market still and playing it on the Mac for the first time is just making it all the more enjoyable. I was going to stop but I just hit the sniper level, which is my favourite, so I’ll complete that and move on to the Xbox. Arsenal ended up winning BTW (3-1) and for my break I’ve popped on a load of washing, just for something different.

10:25am – Fresh new Starbucks. Switching to Call of Duty 4 (CoD4) on the Mac so my housemate can watch the Arsenal game on the TV. They’re losing 1-0 against Everton at the moment in case you’re wondering…

9:00am – The ExtraLife event has begun for me and my time zone. Straight into Bioshock on the Xbox 360.

8:45am – Woke up. Again. Dressed, coffee. I don’t think I’ve been up this early on a Saturday since I was 7.

8:00am – Woke up, not starting until 9:00, had planned on showering and getting all prepared. Decided sleep was more important. Went back to bed.

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ExtraLife is this weekend: The Plan

October 16th, 2008 by Raj

This Saturday is the big day for the ExtraLife charity event that I’m participating in. For those of you who missed my first post explaining the details you can catch up on it all here.

The nuts & bolts of it revolves around me playing video games for 24 hours straight and being sponsored by you guys out there which is then passed on to help children with cancer. There’s still plenty of time to get your donations in and you can do that here.

In the weeks leading up to the event I’ve been purchasing a bunch of new games to play as well as having a few in reserve that I’m yet to complete and a couple of old favourites spanning 4 different gaming platforms taking in to account times my housemate will undoubtedly require the TV to watch an English Premiere League game.

Games to be played, their platform & status:
Grand Theft Auto 4 (Xbox360) – Need to complete
Bioshock (Xbox360) – Need to complete
RockBand (Xbox360) – Fun
Fifa 09 (PS3) – Fun
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Xbox360) – Brand New
Call Of Duty 4 (Mac) – Brand New
Sam & Max Season 2 (PC) – Brand New
World of Warcraft (Mac) – Never Ends & a last resort

Food, Supplies & Breaks:
I’ve stocked up on snacks, diet coke and batteries for controllers. I’ll be ordering in Pizza, Greek and maybe Mexican.
For breaks, I’m planning at least 5-10 minutes each hour, just because I know how my eyes can get after staring at RockBand and constantly seeing the stupid notes travel down the screen when I close my eyes. I also plan a movie break at least once, perhaps seeing the new Max Payne film.

Big thanks goes out to those that have already sponsored me thus far. Sarah, George, Margie & John, and Marnie. To the rest of you get off your lazy bums and donate!

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Review: Rock Band (Australia)

October 12th, 2008 by Raj

While the rest of the world enjoys the spoils of Harmonix’s latest efforts with the recent release of Rock Band 2 Australians, whom have yet to see any version of the franchise land upon its shores, will have to be content with the announcement that coming November 7th they too can finally begin their rock journeys with the release of the first iteration, the same version that is now over a year old for everyone else.

For anyone that has played Guitar Hero, Rock Band is going to be of familiar territory. The game revolves around the usual rhythm formula of coloured “notes” flowing down the screen that need to be hit when crossing a particular point. The more notes you hit in a row the more your score multiplier increases and should you not hit enough you bomb out of the song to the boos of a disappointed virtual crowd. Where Rock Band differentiates itself is that you not only have the option of playing the guitar portions of the songs but you know have a complete “band” of instruments to play (and sing) including lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals. Think of it as Guitar Hero meets SingStar with a drum kit.

Rock Band provide two primary modes of gameplay, a “Solo Tour” mode and “Band World Tour” mode, which requires at least two players. The solo mode follows the same tried and tested formula of performing a few tracks on your desired instrument (excluding bass, which is only available in Band World Tour mode) until you’ve done enough to unlock the next venue and the new tracks that come along with it whilst growing in difficulty to play/sing. Depending on which instrument you choose to use the track list changes order due to the songs being of different difficulties for the individual mediums.

Band World Tour mode breaks the regular mould of linear track progression. Requiring at least one other person in the room rocking out with you, the World Tour mode challenges you to create a band poised to take over the world, earning fans, money, and accolades throughout your bands evolution. Starting with gigs in your hometown your band will go on to earn vans, tour buses and even private jets to play in any of the 41 venues in over 17 cities around the globe. You can even choose to play benefit gigs that earn you a larger fan base but no monetary reward all the time creating your own set-lists to accommodate your next gigs fans, introducing what Harmonix refers to as a “risk versus reward” system into the game, requiring a dedicated thought process behind your decision making somewhat similar to a real life band progressing through their musical career.

One of the decidedly major advantage the Rock Band franchise has over its competitors is its comprehensive track listing and music store. I love the loaded tracks in Rock Band, more so than any offering from Guitar Hero or even the US released Rock Band 2. Classics such as Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Stone Temple Pilots “Vaseline” are just the tip of the iceberg of this rock monolith’s 58 playable tracks, 51 of which are master recordings.
The in built music store allows further expansion buy allowing users to download new “track packs” or individual songs at a price of 160 Microsoft Points (US$1.99) per song. Currently there are over 250 tracks available for download from the Rock Band Music Store but it is unclear at this stage if all we be made available upon the Australian release, nor if their pricing will differ.

The Instruments
Guitar/Bass – The Rock Band guitar is by no means an evolutionary step in musical peripherals. In fact its quite the opposite as are all of Rock Band’s instrumental ensemble via their USB tethers. Connectivity aside the guitar unit is modeled against the famous Fender Stratocaster and, in my opinion, a far more recognizable shape of rock guitaring that most are more likely to identify with than that of Guitar Hero III’s Les Paul knock off. Unfortunately for Rock Band that’s pretty much where the praise ends. The guitar feels cumbersome, there’s little to no feedback when it’s fret buttons are depressed and the strum bar feels as though you’re pushing it through a pool of super glue. The familiar “click” when strumming on any of the previous Guitar Hero units is completely absent leaving me unsure as to whether or not I’ve actually played the note at all! It’s of general Internet consensus that the included guitar is rubbish and many are applauding Harmonix for the new upgrade with Rock Band 2 but unfortunately that’s not what Australia’s getting.

Drums – Harmonix received a lot of flack over the supplied drum kit when they first released Rock Band in the US. Complaints of the foot pedal snapping in two were more common than not and they went on record as to saying some of their initial units were admittedly faulty. Providing your foot pedal stays in one piece I can honestly say banging away on the drums is by far the most rewarding, and realistic, experience of Rock Band (for me). They’re loud, and housemates who aren’t joining in will quickly alert you to that fact, don’t think banging away on plastic pads is any less annoying than a real drum kit. You’ll also need to find a brick to put in front of them as the whole set up tends to move forward with each fervid kick of the foot pedal but boy is it a hell of a lot of fun. Be prepared to work a little on the drums too, if you’ve never drummed before teaching your mind to separate your three limbs (you generally only use one leg) to work independently is a challenge and one that’s not quickly mastered.

Microphone – I am most definitely not one for any form of karaoke. I know I can’t sing to save myself and I don’t see how forcing others listen to my hideous pitchless screams can be fun for anyone that isn’t deaf. I’d much prefer to bounce around the lounge room with a plastic guitar than sound like a fool singing! That said, in the spirit of gaming journalism I have (in solidarity) tried “singing” a tune or two. Fortunately as with pretty much every karaoke-like game available Rock Band calculates your performance on the ranging pitches your voice takes and not on you actually singing anything at all. It’s quite simple to get through a song with nothing more than a well controlled hum and whilst that may not be in the spirit of the game it was a most welcome relief for me.

For those tossing up between Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour (which is basically Rock Band with different tracks) I have to recommend Rock Band for its track list and music store, but ideally I’d want the hardware from Guitar Hero and the game from Rock Band. Even though this game is over a year old for the majority of the video game world you will find its popularity no shorter than ridiculous in Australia. What’s fantastic about Rock Band is that it has such a wide appeal including those whom want to rock their nights away pretending to be the latest Dave Grohl to that of the karaoke junkie; this game appeals to you all and what’s more you can now play together! Yay! One big happy family!

Related Links:
Rock Band Official Website
Rock Band track list
Downloadable tracks for Rock Band

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Extralife: Sponsor me to help kids with cancer!

September 27th, 2008 by Raj


Coming up on October 18th I will be participating in Sarcastic Gamer’s 24 hour gaming marathon pediatric cancer charity event – Extralife.

…gamers from around the world will come together for 24 hours to raise money and awareness for the cause of pediatric cancer. Cancer is the number one cause of non-accidental death in children.

I will be square eyed playing Xbox, PS3 and PC games for a 24 hour straight period and I’m asking all of you out there to please dig deep and sponsor me in this amazing worldwide gaming effort. Let’s all help put a smile on a child’s face.

How to sponsor me
– Go to this URL: http://waystogive.texaschildrens.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=739

– In the box labeled “Name of Gamer you are Supporting” enter “Raj Deut

– Click “Donate” & complete the PayPal form

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Looking forward to PAX 2008

August 21st, 2008 by Raj

Recently I was asked by the lovely ladies of “The Blue Skittle” magazine to offer my reasoning behind exactly why I’m looking forward to this years Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). I’ve pasted my paragraph below but be sure to check out the rest of the issue at http://theblueskittle.com

“My favourite response when people ask me about attending PAX is “I may have had to sell a kidney to afford it but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to go.” It’s when they ask to see the scar that I have to that I disappoint them and explain that I’m speaking figuratively. In all honesty though, for me, coming from Australia to attend; PAX is one of the remaining Mecca’s for game “consumers” since the retarding of E3 and I’ll be damned if I’d miss it while I’m staying in North America even if I am all the way on the East Coast living in Canada.”

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Why I don’t want a Guitar Hero 4 (kinda)

February 20th, 2008 by Raj

I *love* Guitar Hero (or as I like to call it “The Heterosexual Man’s Singstar” *). To this date there hasn’t been a game, on any platform, that I’ve returned to as many times as I have with Guitar Hero. It really doesn’t matter how much of an idiot you might look like thumping away at a tiny plastic guitar that’s more likely to have been manufactured by Fisher-Price than Fender because for those few precious moments I am The-Rock-God and you will bow to my power of awesome-ness!

So with all that praise and admiration for myself Guitar Hero why wouldn’t I want the next imminent edition of this fantastic saga? Well you see, like many things in the world, I have a little problem with the Guitar Hero franchise. Personally I feel, as a game, there’s not a lot more that you can really add on in terms of gameplay. You plug in your guitar, you watch pretty coloured balls of light float down the screen and you do your best to co-ordinate your fingers pressing the same coloured buttons on your plastic axe, that’s pretty much the description on the box word for word. No really, it is… I’m sure that’s what it said.

GH Jumping

The point is there isn’t much else to change or do; before you know it the developers try and lure you with fanciful ideas like having “battles” (ask any Guitar Hero fan boy about that and you’ll quickly find a unison feeling of hatred) and see the game incorporate tangents off a core functionality that works and is what people want. Sure, all the little additions haven’t been complete waste of time, and with the advent of “Rock Band” it wont be long before Guitar Hero will no doubt join the multi-faceted instrument world of its new competitor, but again it’s pretty much the same coloured blobs and timing.

If that’s the case then the only real desire for me purchase any new iteration of Guitar Hero is purely to gain access to a new range of new tracks that I can jump around the lounge room to, staring in my own personal sold out concert for one. In this my friends is where my problem ensues… Each Guitar Hero disc contains a range of songs, some you like more than others and some you only play once to get past them to finish the game and gain those precious Gamerscore points (you gamer-whore you!). What I’ve come to quickly learn is that there’s tracks on GHII that I really enjoy playing, Freebird for example, and occasionally I want to jam out it but the GHIII disc is in my xBox’s drive and now I’ve got to stand up and switch discs and re-load the game, blah, blah. OK, so doing it once isn’t too bad, but now I want to play 3’s & 7’s so it’s a disc switch again… and again… and again… and… well I’m sure you get my point.

It’s pretty annoying, I mean I can understand that a disc is a disc and that’s what’s stored on the thing, but when you buy tracks for GHII online which are stored on your console’s drive why can’t they be read by GHIII too? Have the guys at Red Octane changed the track’s code/format that much after their bust up with Harmonix? Come on people, a little thing called “backwards compatibility” springs to mind (even if I could care less about it on a console, that’s another story kids).

GH Dorks

This is my big solution to make the new Guitar Hero 4 worth while as a purchase for little-old-me. Give me a disc, hell I’ll even pay double and take another plastic guitar too, for a game that works just as well and as fun as the others before it with a whole bunch of new tracks and low and behold it can read (at the bare minimum) all of my paid for downloaded tracks from GHII & GHIII. Now that would be great, but to make it awesome give me the ability to pop in my previous copies of Guitar Hero and copy those tracks to my drive and play them in GHIV too! Yeah!! That idea kicks royal arse! Sure there’d need to be some security, copyright bullshit so you can’t just have your mate pop around with their old disc and leech the tracks, I get that, but figure that shit out dudes, I’m the ideas man!

So there you have it, my idea for selling a ba-jillion copies of GHIV and perhaps even providing a reason to back-sell a crap load of old stock out there. I’m sure it’ll probably never happen though, and you know what, I’m pretty sure, come the later half of the year when the new version does come out, I’ll be one of the millions of consumers out there that add that game to my shelf right next to it’s older sisters regardless of my dreams coming true or not.



* Before you start sending the flame emails let me just clarify that in by saying that it doesn’t mean homosexual people wouldn’t enjoy Guitar Hero just the same as heterosexual people. I just don’t do Singstar… regardless of how drunk I get. lol.

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