Monday, March 15, 2004

Spring Break Episode I - Xbox modding

Hello and welcome to my next edition of my Blog! Today I am on spring break, which is nice because Dad’s going to bring home UT2004, and I will have nothing to do, which is not necessary a bad thing. I hope Bob gets off school this week. He goes to the UofW so that will be awesome if he did. The topic today is why the heck are some videocards so expensive and others are not so expensive? $150 to $350 is reasonable in my opinion. Tigerdirect sells a XFX Geforce 5200 FX 256 MB videocard for 100 dollars. That’s extremely reasonable, and I haven’t had mine die on me yet. This videocard will let you play Unreal Tournament 2003 / Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1600x1200 with 4x anti analyzing. You’re going to get eye catching graphics anyways with no pixilation. Well, if your videocard can support that resolution anyways, you know that the pixels are so small that they won’t show any distortion. Now you take a Geforce 5600 XT 128 MB videocard, and that’ll cost you as much as a Geforce 5200 FX at 256 MB. I thought that any 256 MB card will produce better graphics over any 128 MB videocard. I mean at least when you look at Geforce 4 technologies. Nvidia has this technology called Nview multi-display. This is Nvidia’s answer to Microsoft’s Direct X 9.0, so Nvidia’s technology improve and do more than Direct X 9.0 or am I completely wrong? I can’t be completely off because I know I can run UT2003 at 1600x1200 with my Radeon 9800. It interests me why this type of videocard manufactured by PNY Technologies costs 2000 bucks. This class is called the Quadro FX series. PNY makes the Quadro 500 128 MB GPU and it costs 300 bucks. That is more then any Geforce FX videocard. Quadro FX 1000, 2000 and 3000 are also available. This is the EXTREMELY highend of videocards. And they probably cost 400 dollars more at places like Best Buy and Circuit City. When the Geforce FX 6000 series come out, I beating they will out class the Quadro 500 and 1000 in terms of graphics. Same thing with Radeons. ATI isn’t far behind Nvidia in technolgy. On reason why all three console manufactures (Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) are turning to ATI to make integrated graphic cards for their next generation consoles. They’ll look better on screen and cost a lot less. I think that 512 MB of DRR video ram is over kill right now. Maybe in 5 years I won’t think so, but Nvidia will soon after that come out with 1024 MB of DRR video RAM. And my BRAIN will just MELT in AWE! 512 MB will let you play DOOM 3 and Half-life 2, very graphically demanding games, at 1600/1200 res with 4x anti-analyzing. That will definitely out class anything Sony or Microsoft are coming out with next year. For the price of a Playstation 3 ($350 US) you can own a high performance videocard that will make anything look better on PC. That’s amazing. What’s also amazing is that consoles still make money off their games and not their graphics. And you know what? I switched from my Dreamcast out performing my computer to my computer out performing my Xbox so I don’t know. Of course, Bill Gates owns all the PCs in the world and, a console.

Guess what….I was watching The Screen Savers, and there is finally a way to have PC software run on Xbox only if your Xbox is modded properly. Xbox is has a cut down version of Windows 2000 on it so it’s possible to MOD it and put in a 40 gigabyte hard drive to run PC games. But you know what…Microsoft is the least experienced. Although Halo, Dungeon Siege, Project Gotham and Flight Simulator 2004 are very good, Microsoft hasn’t got what Sony has and that is 3rd party support. Also hackers have found a way to even put games on hard drives so that the games have no loading times. Of course, every mod chip lets you play “backups” of your games. Mod chips for Xbox range from 30 dollars to 100 dollars. I want to get my Xbox soldiered, but I don’t know who to ask, how much it’ll cost, or which website sells them. I am thinking that I should wait for PS3 to come out so that mod chips will come out for it, and I’ll be able to legally back up my PS2 games and PS3 games and play them. I have 33 PS2 games, just ask Bob. And how about the new 40 GIGABYTE PS2 hard drive released by Sony this month? I just had to minion it today. You literally can’t fill that space up with game saves. After FFXI is loaded (6GB) you can save approximately 113333.3 300 KB game saves. Compress them with your Gameshark at 50%, than you talking about 226666.6 150 KB game saves. That’s insane. You just can’t save that many games. I was dumb founded when I found out I can backup your memory card data on it. Final Fantasy XI is preloaded on it, and that takes up six Gigabytes of the 40. You can also back up WAV files on it, but no games support music unlike all Xbox games. I’m going to ask bob if he can give up his network adapter for a free memory card so I can buy the hard drive and use it on mine. I have 1 memory card that’s 85% full, and that’s with all my game saves. I want a PS2 hard drive so I don’t have to override a game save in my life. Wouldn’t that be just awesome! I even have the 100 bucks for the harddrive on hand. I hate it how Sony bundled FFXI with it. I would never use it. Sony says the game’s free, but I think Sony is lying. This is why I think so, they preload FFXI on it so they can charge you 14 bucks a month to play it. I remember a time period when Sega allowed you to play Phantasy Star Online, plus Unreal Tournament and Quake III Arena for free on the Dreamcast from 2000 + using your own ISP. I booted PSO v1 on my Dreamcast in August 2003 and I got a server down message. I hear the servers are still up with UT and Quake 3 so you can still find servers on the Dreamcast. Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year will allow Dreamcast gamers play on the same servers as PCs. One reason could be that Dreamcast runs Windows operating system too. In fact there is a logo on my Dreamcast at home that says Microsoft Windows CE. When PSO was re-released on Gamecube and Xbox, Sega now charges for Gamecube and the Xbox version is apart of Xbox Live. At least the Gamecube version allows you to play over a modem. I bought the Gamecube modem 2 years ago because I thought the PSO online subscription was free like it was for Dreamcast. Unfortunately not any more. If Xbox allowed free Internet access, I think that would make a big difference in Xbox sales. Perhaps when Xbox 2 comes out, Microsoft may just make Internet access on Xbox free. It would make a lot of sense to do so.

I ended up spending 40 bucks on Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for Gamecube at Wal-Mart this morning. MGS: TS has been developed by Silicon Knights (developer of Eternal Darkness and Legacy of Kain) and Konami. I found out it has the MGS 1 and MGS 2 packaged together into one game. It looks like it’s graphically superior to Resident Evil and Metroid Prime. Solid Snake has all the moves he uses in MGS2 at the beginning of MGS 1. IGN.com rated this game a 9.7 out of 10 or 97% perfect. I haven’t played MGS 1 or 2 yet. UT2004 got a 9.6 out of 10 rating at IGN.com. It was a 5 page review too. I am not usually into tactical games, but I recently got into first person shooters for the 3rd time. A new enhancement in The Twin Snakes is you can play this game in first person 100% of the time if you want too. A review will be up within a week at this link: http://www.geocities..._metalgearsolid.html

And lastly, my 8X DVD RW came in today. I'm going to install it once I can figer out how to get the current drive out of my Dell. I'm goign to have a ball Backing Up DVDs. I have everything, a ESD wrist band and screw drivers, and I learned to keep my pc plugged into the wall as I install the drive. I hate to bang around iit though. That could prove disasterious!

Signing off and tune in 4 days from now for my next blog entry!

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