Vegard Skjefstad

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As you know I’m a rather avid fan of Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto brand. It all started with the original Grand Theft Auto – naturally – with it’s classical top-down view of the action. Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and Grand Theft Auto II wasn’t really all that fun, I have to admit that. But GTA III totally redefined everything. It created a new genre of games, and a brand that many have tried to copy, but no one has really succeeded in doing so.

When Stine and I split up back in 2004 I bought an Xbox to keep my mind from thinking too much about the whole ordeal. How well the Xbox worked as a mind killer is perhaps something that can be discussed, but one thing is for sure – it brought with it hours and hours of entertainment. The Xbox is a great console, there are only two things wrong with it:

  • It’s impossible to find a good wheel for it. Since I don’t have a driver’s license I have to do most of my road rage on the virtual roads I prefer to use a wheel instead of the clumsy controller.
  • It takes forever before games in the GTA series are released on the Xbox, PlayStation2 has always been Rockstar’s primary console. On top of this, GTA: Liberty City Stories and GTA: Vice City Stories are only (or will be) available on PlayStation consoles.

These two issues have sometimes made me wonder if I made the right console choice. Still, what’s done is done and at least three of the GTA games are available on the Xbox, too. In addition, GTA IV will be released simultaneously on both the Xbox and the Playstation. Unfortunately, I’ll have to buy an Xbox 360 to enjoy it.

Where am I heading with all this? Nowhere. You know that. When I start rambling there’s nothing stopping me! I’m an unstoppable rambling machine, and I’m out of control!

Anyway.

A few weeks ago I decided to order the Grand Theft Auto Double Pack, containing both GTA III and GTA: Vice City. It proved to be a bit hard to find a copy, but I finally managed to dig one up through a Norwegian online games store. The delivery time was a couple of weeks, probably because they had to get it from somewhere else. Finally, yesterday, I got the game in my mailbox.

Or so I thought. They’d actually managed to send me a copy of GTA: San Andreas for the PlayStation2 console. The invoice even said that the package should contain the Double Pack.

Thankfully I managed to get hold of a friendly guy at their customer service department. They’re located in Oslo, too, so I’ll just stop by their office tomorrow and pick of a copy of what I really ordered.

Congratulate yourself if you actually read through all this. If you just skipped to the last paragraph, then shame on you! I spent almost half an hour I could have used in San Andreas to write this!

Site Speed

You might have noticed that the site has started to become a little slow lately. This is because my host, Segment Publishing is going through the same process that every small company goes through when they reach a certain size and they don’t scale at the same speed as they grow. Lately they’ve had a sudden influx of new costumers, which has resulted in things slowing down, particularly during peak hours.

This has resulted in the loading time of my site to often exceed twenty seconds, something which is not good at all. To deal with the problem, they are now moving their services onto separate clusters of dedicated servers. Hopefully, this will make everything go back to normal, so I can once again recommend Segment Publishing to others.

I’m about to get The Girlfriend hooked on Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The scary thing is that it looks like she’ll do much better than I do. I’ve also been on the lookout for a good wheel for the Xbox, problem is that it’s no proper force feedback available on the Xbox. If I’d know that, I would probably have bought a PlayStation 2 instead. Oh, well…

Xbox 360 First Impressions

While the others were eating sheep’s heads at Ola‘s place last night, I played a few rounds of Project Gotham Racing 3 on his brand new Xbox 360. Wireless controllers sure are nice and the graphics are better than the old Xbox, the whole experience feels more stream lined and it was good fun – but not $850 worth of fun. At least not yet. As time goes by, there is a good chance that the games will get even better as the developers learn to exploit the box for what it’s worth. Just see how Burnout 3 Takedown and Burnout Revenge looks on the original Xbox and imagine what the Xbox 360 games will look like in a year or so.

But I very much doubt that I will buy a 360 in a while, at least not before someone is able to supply a good mod chip for it. Also, from what I understand, you’ll need a good HDTV to really see what the 360 is capable of, and I’m really not prepared to buy both a 360 and a new television.

Crashes

This weekend wasn’t the most eventful one. When I stopped working around four or something in the afternoon on Sunday, I felt into the void. The what-the-hell-should-I-do-now-void I usually fall into when I’ve been working a lot. I should probably have gone for a run, but I didn’t want to. Maybe try to redesign the site (again). But I had no creativity. Play poker with Hallvard, Gunnar and Ola. Didn’t feel like it.

That’s when my trusty old Xbox came to the rescue. I’ve always been a great fan of the Need for Speed series from Electronic Arts, so I went out and bought a copy of the latest Need for Speed game, Most Wanted. Buying games is god damn expensive, but it’s not like I buy a lot of games and this was an entertainment crisis. What could be more entertaining than a car chase on a Sunday evening? Nothing I can think of, really.

NFS Most Wanted is certainly a great game. It’s a mixture of NFS Underground and NFS Hot Pursuit and it’s so damn easy, maybe a little too easy, but still a lot of fun. I played for a couple of hours on Sunday, and blew another hour in front of the TV today.

Until my Xbox locked up. Yeah, it simply just stopped working, the picture froze and my loudspeakers starting making a terrible noise. This is the first time I’ve experienced a crash on my box, but it proves that Microsoft is just as good at making gaming consoles that they are making operating systems.

Thanks to modern technology, my Nokia phone (which also crashes every now and then), you can witness the mystery of the crashing Xbox.

Download “That One Time When My Xbox Crashed” an intriguing documentary about technology’s effect on human life. You’ll need a video player capable of playing 3GP files to play it. QuickTime is an alternative.

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