Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mars and Earth: Reviews

This post is 90% vitriol. It has nothing to do with space, and everything to do with me having watched the first episode Veronica Mars and played Superpower 2.

Superpower 2

After my initial hatred because the bastards didn't include a CD key in my copy, I went and found a CD key. I'll never be able to play it on-line, but since I don't play anything on-line, small loss.

Superpower 2 accurately gives the feeling of working through a bureaucracy. After two installs and several failed security checks, the actual entering of the correct code BROKE THE GAME and I had to restart my computer, after which it worked "fine".

When you insert the CD, it automatically starts the game. It doesn't ask you, it just starts. The first step is a 10-30 second security check. Seriously. After which there is five seconds of black screen followed by two 3-5 second jingles. It then takes approximately 4 seconds to load and skip the opening movie. Then there is 10-15 seconds of loading. Then you get to the main menu.

Starting a game causes FIVE PROGRAMS to start, no joke. I don't know exactly how long this takes, because it leaves you with the wrong one selected, so at least 3-5 seconds of clicking on each to figure out which is the 'real' program and which are just 'support' programs. After selecting the game specifics, there is ANOTHER 10-30 second security check - just in case you switched the real game CD for a fake one between game start and now - followed by ANOTHER 10-15 second loading time.

Load time before you can start to play? Minimum: 1 minute.

This realistic emulation of a government bureaucracy doesn't end there. For example, when you want to start a treaty, you have to select which countries to include. You cannot click on the map, no. You have to select them from a list. A list of over 200 countries.

Moreover, you can't double-click to select them. You have to click on them, then click on the button which adds them, at which point it immediately deselects everything, instead of selecting the next item on the list as most sane lists do. For an added treat, you can't select more than one country at a time.

Worst of all, the list is ALWAYS ALL THE COUNTRIES! When you specify a restriction, it doesn't remove those countries from the list, it simply GRAYS THEM OUT.

All of the lists are equally terrible.

I'm pretty sure it was programmed in Linux, given the architecture. That's not fundamentally bad, but this game is the epitome of the mockings of the non-Linux crowd.

The actual gameplay seems pretty good, although it's all pattern alteration - that is to say, twiddling numbers and tweaking deployments. It turns out that I am the king of macroeconomics! Worship me, who can turn year-2001 Turkey into a top-thirty nation in two years! Bow before the economic might of Botswana, although that took ten!

So, despite the hideous badness in the GUI, it's a pretty fun game. I'm going to try invading Canada from South Africa tonight. :)

Veronica Mars, Episode One

I got this on a lark, because I had heard it might be "the next Buffy". I'm going to have to assume it gets really good later. I'll never know, because when something has a first episode this bad, I don't watch the second short of coercion or someone paying me.

If you haven't seen it, maybe you should. As a drinking game. It's entertainingly bad. The whole episode is nothing but "poor me..." segments, most of which are flashbacks. Take a shot whenever something terrible happens to somebody. Take another shot when it's a flashback. Ready-made for your alchohol poisoning convenience. And I watched it. Poor me!

Those segments should have been spread out over ten episodes, none of which were consecutive. One of them makes you pity and like a given character. Two of them and you start to think, "this is not a very happy show." Three of them and you say, "Okay, they're really laying it on thick." EIGHT of them, and you start to laugh any time anything bad happens. Notice the sudden switch from talking about the show to talking about the people who wrote the show? Congrats, you've laid it on so thick, you broke immersion. Worst thing you can do.

On the other hand, the main character was pretty cute with short hair, although, again, she died it blonde to prove she was, like the obvious blonde stereotype, a genius.

The funny part is, the parts that were funny were very good. They should have gone with more of that, and less of the flashbacks.

Tonight, I'm going to watch some Firefly.

Oh, added bonus:


Right, to the SUV who nearly ran me over: don't just look left when turning right on red. Also look to the right, or at least straight ahead. Funny thing, almost all the bad driving I've seen has either been from SUVs or really crappy old cars.

If you're the kind of person who buys a "sports" "utility" "vehicle", do us all favor and be a different kind of person.

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