Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

GTA 4 unknown contact bug fix

A friend of mine ran into a serious problem where they could no longer progress in the missions of Grand Theft Auto 4. When they went to the yellow way point arrows nothing happened and the mission would not trigger. It seems to happen after “The Puerto Rican Connection” mission when you receive a call from an unknown person. I did a few searches on the web and found several other people having the same problem. Many had to start the game over, but the good news is there is a fix.

In order to trigger the missions again you need to call one of your contacts. It’s probably best to call Roman and book something with him. This should trigger the stories progress. I’ve also read that a manual save can work too, but I know for sure a call too Roman will work. I have not actually experienced the bug myself, but this work for my friend. The bug also seems to effect both PS3 and 360 versions of the game. GTA 4 is still a fantastic game, and hopefully not too many people experience this bug and if they do I hope this helps and hopefully Rockstar will have a fix for it soon.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

I have been following the progress of this game for quite some time. For those who haven’t, Capcom has been painstakingly re-drawing every single Super Street Fighter II Turbo sprite in beautiful HD goodness while maintaining the original look and feel. When I look at the screenshots for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix I often find myself wiping drool from the corner of my lip.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

The game will be released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 arcade platforms. A big issue with the 360 version was the file restriction on live arcade games. Today it’s official; there will be no file size issues on the 360 version. You can also read Capcom’s official blog update on the progress of the game so far. Now the only real issue facing the 360 is a good arcade stick. I may by this game based solely on whichever console has the best fighter stick at the time of release.

Xbox 360, Microsoft punches its users in the face again!

Okay, here we go again with more great news from Microsoft. For anyone following my blog for the past week or so, or Xbox Live’s Major Nelson’s blog, then you know that due to the very long outage over Christmas (or intermittent outage as Microsoft claims) Microsoft will not be refunding us, but instead giving us a game of their choice.

I won’t go on about the details, you can read that in my previous posts titled “Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?” and “Xbox free arcade title announced“. Now today it has been announced on Major Nelson’s site that we have a whole five days to download this title. How is this compensation for an outage? I think they should have given us nothing; it probably would have generated less negative feedback than this. As one poster mentioned in a previous entry here, what about the people with the red ring of death? Or the ones that are away this week? Or… the ones who just don’t know. There is little to no advertising of this free game. Wow, some compensation. This is just to appease the angry hoards and I don’t think its working.

Undertow, the temporarily free and previously released game is also the Arcade game of the week. This has also upset some users who look forward each week to Wednesday’s new Arcade game. People are also still asking about what to do if they already have Undertow. Major Nelson posted in the comments section that people can call Xbox support, but obviously lots of people haven’t read that and will thus miss out. Couple this with the fact that many users are still having trouble connecting to live and that this very game is giving errors to some people when they attempt to download it and you have a sad state of affairs. Now if only the PS3 could get in gear and get some good games out.

Read more comments on Major Nelson’s post.

Xbox free arcade title announced

Wow, only two days after my post “Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?” and the free arcade game I spoke of has been announced. Turns out it is a half decent title called Undertow, and it will be available next week. Here’s the official announcement.

While I don’t want to seem ungrateful, I think this is a pretty lame deal. This offer is obviously calculated to have the least impact on Microsoft. I am still amazed that people are defending Microsoft and saying that the people who complain are ungrateful. Since when does a customer have to be grateful for goods and services they have purchased? Since when do customers have to be grateful that their service works? If my new car breaks down for a week and the company that makes it takes a week to fix it and gives me a free tank of gas and a free tank of gas to everyone who has ever test driven the car, why would I be grateful? I still had a week without a car, and why are these other people getting free gas?

Which brings me to the second point, why are Silver members getting the same treatment? They pay nothing for the service that went down, and they don’t even play games online. Their gaming experience is still pretty much 100%. Gold players that usually go online can’t even play! Okay, maybe they should have some kind of compensation since some might have bought live games with extremely strict DRM rules and had a new Xbox 360, which would require them to be online to play the games they paid for. Don’t even get me started on the DRM.

Some people don’t even like Arcade games, most of them in my mind are boring compared to the full blown store games. Now why was this choice made? What people out there that are praising Microsoft probably don’t realize is that this was not done out of the good of Microsoft’s heart. Don’t be naive, Microsoft is a corporation and the last one they are looking out for is you. They want to look good with the least capital loss. The Xbox 360 is already a financial failure so far. I actually do understand this though, as an investor myself I expect a company to balance that fine line between the public relations and the bottom line.

My hunch is that this game was picked for a number of reasons, namely cost. Forums are littered with people saying they already bought this game. Microsoft has said these users can call support and they will sort things out. So basically my time is not important, I have all the time in the world to sit on a support line. How many will know this or even bother? I’m sure this was calculated, since this is a pretty big title and a lot of people probably already own it. The best offer would have been a refund for the horrid month of live service, or free gamer points. This would have upset a lot less people, but it would have cost them a hell of a lot more. With this title, arrangements were probably already made. It never would have sold to everyone using live, whereas points would have been equivalent to every gamer getting a free game.

Anyway, I think the thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is the Microsoft fanboys. No doubt this game is better than a punch in the face, and even better than nothing, but stop acting like Microsoft cares so much about you. The corporation cares about their bottom line and salvaging their image, that’s it, and that’s all I would expect from any corporation.

I personally think Microsoft is walking a dangerous line with the constant outages, crazy DRM schemes, and constantly breaking hardware. As I post this, a friend of mine is getting ready to pack his 360 in a coffin and send it back to Microsoft due to the infamous red ring of death. As I have mentioned in the past, with a growing number of upcoming block buster titles, I think the PS3 is starting to look more and more like a serious contender, and I’m also no fan of Sony. The red ring of death is becoming a symbol of what the 360 is. It’s too bad, because there are a lot of fantastic games for this system.

Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?

Anyone who is an avid Xbox live player probably knows that it’s been a bumpy ride for the past few weeks. It all started just before Christmas and slowly got worse throughout the holidays. The problem is supposedly now solved and was related to the large number of new users, but myself and several friends are still having trouble staying connected to games like Call of Duty 4. Xbox Live’s Major Nelson had updates during the holidays, but Microsoft in general has been quiet about the issue. Xbox Live gold members have been promised a free arcade game as compensation, but there are no clues as to what this might be. I think the compensation needed to be given shortly after the problem was resolved, but here we are weeks later and still no word.

Anyway, the real point here is not whether we get any compensation. I think not being able to connect at the one time of the year when you have lots of free time cannot really be fixed after the fact. That said, this begs the question of what we get when we pay the yearly subscription fee. Yes, I know it’s not that much, and it’s funny how many staunch supporters Microsoft has over this issue. I have never understood why people become so rabidly loyal to any company. As a customer I think I have the right to complain, and of course the company has the right to ignore me and so does anyone else.

Now in North America we find that two new fairly big demos are not available, The Club and Turok (Yes I know I can create other country accounts and get them, but that’s not the point). I think these are exclusives for game magazines like Eternal Sonata was, so basically if you want them when the rest of the world gets them you have to pay for them. Now if this is over a rating issue like it is in some countries then I can understand. That’s out of Microsoft’s hands, but if this is an exclusivity deal then I’m not okay with it. Let non-paying members buy the disks or wait, don’t make your Gold users wait!

What’s my point? Okay, I admit it; I won’t be cancelling my Live Subscription any time soon because I enjoy playing online with several friends, and Microsoft probably knows this about its users. Remember, pretty much every other gaming service is free. When you play live, the users are still hosting the matches and providing the bandwidth, all you are really getting is the right to connect to other players, that and a pretty good match making service, at least when it’s working. This is why when the host of a game leaves everyone gets the boot. So again, is this service really just for matchmaking and the privilege to share bandwidth?

I am not outraged like some people and I can easily afford the price, but I do think it’s time for Microsoft to seriously take a look at its Gold offerings and server stability. I also think that maybe paying customers should be able to get Demo’s without paying or waiting for them, but hey, that’s just me, I’m sure there’s Xbox Zealots out there that will disagree. I also think that Microsoft is choosing a bad time to rock the boat. Live has been a pretty great service in the past, but it’s also had no real competition, and now the service quality seems to be pretty rocky. There are also a boat load of highly anticipated PS3 games around the corner and the tides could turn very fast. Sure there are the fanboys of both consoles, but then there’s a lot of people like me who are fickle and don’t care about brand loyalty. We will switch at the drop of a dime if we think the deal is sweater elsewhere. So far it’s not, but that is likely to change very soon.

The case for PS3 getting stronger

When the PS3 first came out it was a bit of a joke; insanely expensive and very few games. Even today there are very few good exclusives. Everything worth playing on it is usually available on other platforms. That is probably all about to change, but aside from the PS3 finally getting some great titles and more exclusives in 2008, there are many other reasons I am considering a PS3.

The Xbox 360 has a great online experience and the dashboard is nicely done, but when you play in Microsoft’s world you play only in their world. You are locked down and held by the hand at every step of the way. The 360 can sort of play movies if you jump through hoops. It was only last week that they added Divx support, but with no ability to read NTFS external drives, it’s still a no go for some of us. The nice thing about the PS3 is you can install another OS! You can surf the web in HD through the PS3 browser or the OS, something I truly wish I could do with the Wii browser.

Right now I have a big old clunky PC sitting on the floor to play movies and music. It’s basically my media center and I would love to get rid of it. It’s big, it’s ugly, and it’s slow. Sleek media center PC’s are available, but they are rather expensive, and do both more and less than I really need. This is when I started thinking about the PS3. I can have Linux on there, play movies, listen to music, surf the web in Linux or the built in PS3 browser, and check email. I may even be able to get my beloved Wii Remote working on the Linux install. Now you can use a mouse in some games like Unreal Tournament and even mods. It just seems like the PS3 is becoming a lot more flexible than the 360.

That said, Sony has made many blunders in this round of the console wars, but I am a game junky and a geek, and it’s looking more and more like the PS3 could be the answer to get my fix of more games, and more custom online capabilities. At the very least it will be fun to play around with it.