September 27, 2006

The Fate of M.A.

Tonight I found out that my manager at my former job has been forcibly reassigned, to Wisconsin no less.

In the last year I was there, our Program Manager was basically forced into retirement (as opposed to being downsized). He was my old manager's last allie, none of the other managers liked him much, if at all. So when the time came, he was offered up for this move because he was "just filling a seat."

Oddly enough, he managed to take great pains in his last days at the PECO project. Of all the little things he left undone, untouched or fucked up, chief among them is the fact that he sold all of the spare parts to other programs. From what I hear, they're still coming to grips with this now that he's gone.

Of all the people I've ever known and despised, he definitely deserves this.

September 12, 2006

Call of Cthulhu

A couple of months ago I purchased a first-person-shooter called Call of Cthulhu - Dark Corners of the Earth. In this you play an investigator in the Lovecraft universe.

Despite all the potential for lots of fun, the excellent graphics and a good storyline, the game turns out to be frustrating to the point of being unplayable.

Your guy starts out at a cult investigation, at the end of which he finds and opens a portal used by the Great Race, who glide through in all their cone-shaped splendor and take over your investigator...or so he discovers 5 years later when he wakes up in a mental asylum.

Then he takes his next case, which brings us to Innsmouth. For anyone familiar with the mythos, you know this is where the Deep Ones are integrating themselves with the human race. It's creepy and at some points disturbing. At one point you meet a human father who has a daughter that he wants to cure before she starts turning into a Deep One hybrid, but of course she already has that hybrid look you've by now come to recognize in all the other townsfolk, but is otherwise a well behaved and normal girl. You don't find eerie weirdness like this most of the time.

There are a couple of major problems with this game, one of which is that up to this point, your investigator has never found a weapon. There's ammo lying around here and there, but no weapons at all. This is a real problem in the level called Attack of the Fishmen, where you have to escape their murderous rage. They can beat you up pretty good, plus several of them have shotguns. There are no weapons up to and including this level (I checked online), it's a matter of fleeing through doors or windows and through various buildings. What really puts the nail in this game's coffin is that you can only save at certain points in the game.

I tried it several times and kept dying pathetically, so I finally went online in search of a cheat code. There are none. The only thing I could find was a very detailed walk through, telling me exactly what to do and where to go. Normally this is all a good gamer needs to get past a troublesome spot, but not so here. There are so many doors that must be locked or blocked behind you, plus you've got to make all the right moves at each point, all the while being chased by one or more fishmen (sometimes they're running down the hall right behind you). Any single misstep and you die, only to begin the level all over again (which includes watching a cinematic that, while short, becomes very annoying the 10th time around). Up until now Elder Signs (the save points) have been plentiful, but on this level there is no break, there is one Elder Sign all the way at the end.

For all the times I've played this level, most of the times I die in the first couple of rooms. I got to the end of the run twice, only to die at the hands of a shotgun-wielding halfbreed. There's some dude right behind me, and I've got to find and climb a ladder somewhere. I've never even found the ladder, I get shot and die.

So as good as this game is (even though you don't have a weapon yet), and despite all the potential goodness of actually having a weapon and unloading on mythos creatures, I've got to warn everyone off from this game. Don't waste your money unless they come out with a major patch to fix this, or maybe the game developers will get a clue before they release another one.

September 10, 2006

That Dark Day

The anniversary is almost upon us. Unfortunately, the media is now saturated with all sorts of specials (as in rememberances and TV movies). Since Thursday I've been severely cranky, irritable, cold and even a bit combative. That was a terrible day, I don't need every television to remind me just how terrible it was.

September 04, 2006

Godsmack / Rob Zombie / Shinedown

Last night I saw these three groups in concert, it was a great show.

Shinedown opened. They surprised me, not just because they do a few songs that I really like (I had no idea all three were from the same band), but because the lead singer likes to talk between songs. Sometimes he goes on for minutes at end, but it's interesting.

Rob Zombie is who I really came to see. He was good, played a bunch of his hits and had quite a spectacle going on onstage (lights, fire, video). One of his new songs, American Witch I think, had an animated movie about a nude witch who's hypnotizing all these zombies and werewolves, so she can take on this 50' mummy lord. Most of his songs features zombies, the undead, or horror movies in some form. For More Human Than Human he showed clips from those old Japanese giant-man-fighting-giant-monster films (Jet Jaguar?), plus had a giant robot ala the back cover of Hellbilly Deluxe terrorizing the stage. Another song featured clips from anime tentacle films (you know, such great cinimatic classics as Legend of the Overfiend). Yet another song had videos of nothing more remarkable than nude women jumping and running around, so all was right in the world again.

But Godsmack really took the cake. In retrospect, it's obvious to see that Shinedown are still cutting their teeth, Rob Zombie may be a bit worn and past his peak, while Godsmack is at their prime. They rocked the house over and over again, even when things slowed down a bit. And the lead singer is uber talented, he can sing (obviously), play guitar (no real surprise), play the harmonica (unexpected, but not unprecedented), and at one point he got on a second drum set and duelled/soloed with the main drummer!