Tuesday, October 30, 2007

E For All Parts 2-4

Parts 2, 3 and 4 of my E For All Article are up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

E For All Part 1

I wrote an E For All article for Flippersmack, you can check it out here. I believe it will be about 4 parts or so. Hopefully I'll be able to write articles for other conventions in the future.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fogo De Chao

Recently I dined at Fogo De Chao, a Brazilian all you can eat BBQ-place. There are quite a few around in Southern California but according to Yelp, Fogo is supposed to be the best. It should also come as no surprise that it's the most expensive.

After dining there I emailed a total of 9 people in my party and asked some questions about their opinion of the place.

Here are the questions I asked:

  1. Did you like it or dislike it over all? (This is a binary question; pretend this is Rotten Tomatoes and you can only choose thumbs up or thumbs down)
  2. Would you go back?
  3. Any other comments?
As of this post here are the results:

For question #1 the tally is: 4-4-1, so there are definitely mixed opinions.

For question #2 the tally is: 5-3-1, with a clear majority not willing to go back.

There was a lot of agreement in that the desserts were good though...so I guess the night wasn't a total bust. And hey people had my sparkling personality and Terry wearing a dress shirt instead of a basketball jersey to entertain them the entire evening.

Most of the responses were brief but there were some choice comments I'd like to share:

Warren Wrote:

"The beef was some of the most delicious stuff I have ever eaten. The sides were also very good and the dessert was tasty."

Ainsley wrote:

"The meat was salty. However, I've read that adding salt to the surface of meat pulls out a layer of protein, allowing you to make that crusty outer later that is the best part of the beef. However, the way that they serve it (just the outer pieces) makes it even more salty, since you don't have the unseasoned center meat to balance it out. The choice pieces were quite good, and I was willing to wait for them to come around (sirloin = lose).

I thought the salad bar was awesome. It went a long way to mellowing out the saltness of the meat. The sides that came to the table had a similar effect for me. Plantains!

I thought the service was good, but that is to be expected from a $60+ meal.

All that said, it's unlikely that I would go back. I just don't feel very good after eating that much meat, and for that price I think I would be much happier ordering a 12 oz $40 dollar steak plus sides at a nice steakhouse. The quality of the meat will be even better and I won't be left feeling slightly sick after. I pretty much feel that way about every all-you-can-eat place now though."

Wei wrote:

"What I found memorable was the cheese bread and desert. I am not going back just to eat those two. The wine was okay, nothing so special I can't get from Trader Joe's. For the price paid and factoring in atmosphere and presentation, it was not impressive. Now considering logistics, the location was inconvenient and the parking accommodations were mediocre at best. I would not suggest to go there, there are other Brazilian places in our area, why drive out there?"

Finally Masa gets the food snob / Haterade (TM) reward for the most negative review:

"1) Disliked it. 10000% of your daily allowance of sodium for the loss. They never give you the raw part of the meat, and try to give you the shitty scraps nobody wants. That's the kind of treatment you should expect at a $8 a plate place, not when you're spending over $60 on a meal.

2) Never. If someone else offered to pay I would just suggest another restaurant, like Gyukaku next door.

3) Yeah it was an experience to say the least, and I'm still glad I went (and was able to do so with good company). I seriously wonder about people who keep on coming back to this place, though. "

Here's my response:

"1) I thought it was ok. Not particularly worth my $$$ since I don't eat beef...in other words THUMBS DOWN.

2) I would NOT go back unless someone else paid for me.

3) This place really is a beating if you're a vegetarian or don't eat beef. I find it extremely sad that the side dishes were better than the meat. I'm reminded of the Phantom Console and how the controller was the high point of the system!"

All in all, it was an interesting experience and I'm still glad I was finally able to go. Next time I'm in the area though I'd rather check out The Stinking Rose. That name is jankalicious!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Halo 3: Finish the Hype!

Well, I finished the fight; I beat the Halo 3 single player campaign over the weekend. It's about what you would expect. The Halo games have never really been known for their single player experience and I feel that's accurate. This time around there's 4-player on and off-line co-op. That's a good addition. In terms of an overall plot arc, I guess Bungie delivered even if the plot as a whole was jumbled and hackneyed. But hey, Master Chief and the Arbiter have a TEAM UP just like Charles Bronson and the Stupid Chief (TM) in Death Wish 3! What more can one truly ask for in a sci-fi FPS?

Ok so Halo is really about the multiplayer experience. I can dig that. Halo 3 definitely delivers in this regard. This time around there are whole new game modes, weapons and vehicles. That's to be expected though, as Halo 2 did the same thing.

The crown jewel in Halo 3 is the addition of a mode similar to YouTube. Basically, every game you play is automatically recorded for playback later. You can watch these saved clips later and edit them. The editing tools are quite good for a console. Even better, you can upload your videos and share them among the community. I've already downloaded some of my Internet friends' videos and they're great for learning or laughing at. Good times indeed. (Of course the machinima possibilities are endless as well.)

There's also a new mode called "Forge". It's essentially a real time map editor. You load up maps and can spawn items or other things and dick around with them. (Each item deducts from the total "funds" of a given stage; when you run out of funds you have to destroy items to get more.) You can save these custom maps you create and share them. It's definitely unique for a console FPS and I'm curious to see how much the community utilizes this.

It's clear that Bungie spent a lot of development time figuring out ways to promote the Halo community, and that's definitely a smart thing. I can't think of any other franchise that appeals to such a large and diverse fanbase besides Halo. Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Dragon Quest, they all don't even come close. I think Madden is probably the only thing that can beat Halo and even then I think Halo has more hardcore fans. There has to be someone out there buying all the ridiculous merchandise right? I mean not everyone is buying Gamer Fuel for the taste right?

Now that I've got all the praise out of the way, I can get to the problem with Halo 3: it's not that original. It really feels like Halo 2.5. The graphics are great in places (like the lighting) but I feel games like Gears of War and Bioshock look better as a whole. (Though Halo obviously has to support multiplayer and with more players than Gears of War.) The whole Halo YouTube feature is great but it really doesn't add to the core gameplay. Halo 2 added duel wielding which was a good twist on Halo 1. Halo 3 doesn't really add anything on the same level. The game is still great, but I feel like Bioshock is easily twice the game Halo is just because it's more original despite being a spiritual successor to the System Shock series. I'm reminded of Diablo 2, which is easily Blizzard's weakest game because it didn't really feel like a true sequel to Diablo. Halo 3 is still good, but not great. I truly feel that Bungie focused on the community aspects simply because they couldn't come up with any more innovations like melee attacks and dual wielding for the core gameplay.

Perhaps I expected too much from Bungie? They really are only known for Halo at this point. It's clear the hype machine was in hyper ultra over drive mode too for this game. I'm reminded of all the hype around Neon Genesis Evangelion and how the anime completely failed to live up to the hype. Maybe this is just how things are; nothing ever truly lives up to its hype?

Or maybe I'm just a gaming snob now and I dislike Halo 3 because the franchise is so popular?