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Fun stuff

The giant television has arrived! It came on Friday morning, and T and I set it up and hooked it up to the PS3 that night. In order to have something to test it with, I picked up the new Star Trek on blu-ray (yeah, that's why, it has nothing to do with wanting to own the movie, nope, none at all), and it looked really pretty. T also played some Grand Theft Auto, and wow does the hi-def make a difference -- the text is about a thousand times sharper, and the images have a much better depth of field. I don't know how he muddled through before. Now I'm looking forward to the pretty, pretty pictures of FFXIII even more...

Regular DVDs also look better, although movies (we tested with The Matrix) seem to fare better than television DVDs (Gilmore Girls -- about which more later, just started Season 5) so far, maybe because movies are in higher resolution to start with. I had been worried about standard definition cable on a SD TiVo, but that's been fine too, as has the Wii. One loser, though, is the PS2 -- FFXII looked like ass, and Lego Star Wars didn't do much better. So (thanks to R, who dropped by before dinner last night), we brought the old 27" TV upstairs and hooked the PS2 back up to it. I've long wanted a better TV up here, and having the PS2 means that we can also watch DVDs up here, which will be especially nice during the winter when the living room gets super cold. I played a couple hours of FFXII this morning, and the set-up worked out really well.

We still need to make a couple of tweaks (like finding a place to put the center speaker, which used to live on top of the downstairs TV), and we had to give up the VCR because the upstairs TV only has one video input, but overall I am really happy about this upgrade.

Also on Friday, I went to a show with the other two librarians: Point Break Live, a stage show based on the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze movie about bank-robbing surfers. Most of the characters are played by actors, but one key role is recast every night: Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves in the film, is an audience member, selected by popular vote, reading off cue cards. This is every bit as wacky and fun as it sounds. The cast was uniformly great, including our Keanu -- he was a short, geeky, chubby guy with a bowl cut, who read his lines with just the right combination of blankness and intensity, tossed his hair for dramatic effect at all the right times, and was just generally a good sport all around.

We also lucked out with a special surprise guest: Kathryn Bigelow, the producer and director of the original movie! Apparently she was in town for other reasons and asked to participate. She played the Lori Petty character as well as the director of the show (yes, really; I checked the cast list and those two roles are normally played by the same actor). She was clearly having a blast, and I thought having her there really added to the experience.

If you haven't seen the movie, well, let's say it's not great art, but it's a ton of fun (it was one of our go-to rentals in college), and the play did a good job of capturing it: The bromance between Johnny and Bohdi (the Patrick Swayze character) is played up for all it's worth; the cultural references are updated and made even funnier; goofy props abound: a kiddie pool, cloth waves, fans for the skydiving scenes; just the right amount of scenery was chewed. If you're up for some wacky theater and don't mind a drunken audience (and the risk of getting water/beer/fake blood on your clothes -- they sell cheap ponchos at the door for $1 that are well worth the price), I totally recommend it.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)

Would it be crass to ask what kind of TV you ended up with? I also followed the viewing of the FFXIII trailers with a new TV and a PS3. :P We can be video nerds together!
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
Not at all, but getting me to remember exactly which one it is, now that's the trick. ;) It's a Samsung LCD, 46", 1080p, with "Touch of Red", in the B series, but I can never remember which B-series model it is. Looking at Amazon, it might be the B630. (I just checked with T, and that is, indeed, correct.) It's not the most recent model; I think it's two generations old. But it was a really good price, and T decided that the cost savings was worth not having the latest greatest tech. (The main thing he was hesitating over was whether it was worth shelling out for an LED back-lit model. But it would have been hundreds more.)

What did you end up getting? Any thoughts yet on the PS3? So far, the only game that T has played on it is GTA4, which he was pretty happy with.
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
Hee, mine is a Sony but otherwise exactly the same: LCD, 46", 1080p. Best Buy had an online deal on Cyber Monday for a TV and a PS3 together that saved me a bit of cash.

I totally support your choice, it's never cost-effective to go bleeding edge. I liked LCD because it's about half the power usage of plasma. LED I'm sure is great, but just too expensive. The difference between the machine you got and the top of the line is much, much smaller than the difference between what you got and the things under it.

I like the PS3 muchly. I don't know if you know the games out there. I have mostly been playing nothing but Demon's Souls, which is also an RPG but about as un-FF as you can get; it's pretty much all combat. But I love the gameplay, it's really satisfying, and properly creepy and atmospheric. I also have Uncharted 2 waiting in the wings; that's sort of an Indiana Jones-style adventure, very cinematic, that made everyone's shortlist for game of the year. And I'm sure I'll pick up LittleBigPlanet at some point. Those are probably more than enough until March.

We also downloaded Flower from the Playstation Network, which is definitely worth $10 or whatever it costs. Very very beautiful, and kind of peaceful fun.
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
I haven't looked into PS3 games too much -- about the only thing out right now that I know for sure I want to play is Portal. I do like cinematic adventure games, so I might have to look at Uncharted. On the other hand, I still have Zelda: Twilight Princess barely started on the Wii, so that's probably next once I finish the FF12 replay, which is almost done.

Speaking of FF12, how is that coming?
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
Portal is outstanding, I did that on the 360. Cannot recommend more highly.

FF12 is dormant since I got the new machine. I was doing great, killing marks, moving along — I guess I was supposed to go to the Draklor Laboratories. More than halfway, maybe? Or about halfway? But it's hard to give all love to one game for too many months when there are other things out there to try. When I go back, I may drop the sidequests and mark hunting a bit and see if I can get through to the end.

FFXII with gambits is like the total opposite of Demon's Souls. In FFXII, most of the time, all I have to do is walk up to a group of mobs and my characters just wipe them out with no input from me. DS, I need to tell my character to keep her shield up by hand, and if I move the wrong way I can get killed with one or two blows and go way back to the beginning. A very different experience!
Jan. 11th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
I'd say Draklor is just about halfway, storywise. (Edit for clarity: leaving for Draklor, that is, so yeah, you're about halfway through the story I think.) It's a bit of a trek getting there, but there are also some great marks along the way.

It sounds like Demon's Souls would drive me crazy! I hate battle systems where I have to micromanage and where sudden death wipes out a whole lot of leveling. T and I used to play the Champions of Norrath games together, and that could be a real problem sometimes.

Edited at 2010-01-11 07:34 am (UTC)
Jan. 11th, 2010 04:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, I wasn't that far along the road. In the Mosphoran Highwaste, I believe. I had been killing a lot of marks up to level III as I meandered back from the area south of Rabanastre, and then I finally set out through the much-neglected Estersand.

Wiping our leveling doesn't happen in DS — that would be too much for me. The currency you get for killing monsters is souls, and back at the only safe place they can be EITHER used as money to buy things, OR used as XP to raise your stats (or a little of each). If you die in the field, all the souls you have collected (but not spent) get left where you died; if you die again without getting them back, they're gone. But, once you spend them on stat bonuses or items, those you keep regardless of death.

So it often comes down to the situation: do I want to run back to town with the money I got, or push further and risk losing it all?

It's really an RPG/hack n' slash fusion. The stats and weapons enhancement trees are pure RPG, but battles are fought in real time where you control every movement. If that control was implemented badly, it would be worthless... but it's implemented very well, so when you die, you feel like you're actually learning how to get better.

Anyway, I like it but it's not really story-driven at all. Just your basic gloom and doom and demons taking over the world. :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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