Rock Band DLC Tuesdays: The Grab Bag
February 24, 2009, 10:21 pm
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White Zombie – More Human Than Human

Since I did TLAD mini review I forgot to put up my thoughts on the one DLC I got last week. More Human Than Human is pretty much as its rating states. Kind of a bore on guitar and vox well once you get the pitch you can mumble your way through it. However drummers rejoice, this is an amazing song for you, being tough but with variety instead of a pushing speed and crazy athletics. Check out the expert drum chart to see what I mean.

Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness

CHORD CITY. I kind of think Sweetness is a little underrated in its guitar rating granted I’m a guy who’s total shit at three note chords and alt strumming so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Drum is surprisingly good for a lower tier song and bass is decidedly boring. Vox has some interesting portions especially the “oohs” in the middle there but really shouldn’t be too difficult once you learn the song.

Jimmy Eat World – Futures

Another neat little song on drums, a lot of variety and enough challenging bits to keep it from being boring. Guitar is kind of like Sweetness on NyQuil, lots of chord progression but a little slower and has some nice single note sections to bring down the chart to sanity. Vox is also very similar to Sweetness, fun to sing when you get into it but not exceedingly difficult.

Jimmy Eat World – Lucky Denver Mint

Considering the weaknesses of my guitar play in Sweetness this chart is absolutely brutal for me. Expert players will find a lot to enjoy from this chart. It’s a fast chord progession based track with a lot of variety, especially in the chorus where you have a alot “index-pinky” shifting. Drums again is not hard but interesting and vocals shares an even easier fate than the last two songs. As with the previous songs, bass is dull.

Neko Case – People Got A Lot of Nerve

I’m always happy to see lesser known or “indie” acts I enjoy make it into rock band and was surprised to see Neko Case show off one of the tracks from her upcoming album on RB2. On guitar it’s a good song for beginners, offering some finger work without absolutely killing them. Drums is also surprisingly interesting with some decent bass pedal work. Can’t really judge on vocals, didn’t try, but I’d probably fall in love with any girl who even attempted this song on vox.


The Cult of the Game: Street Fighter III
February 23, 2009, 1:14 am
Filed under: The Cult of the Game

If you grew up as a teenager during the early 90’s you know just how big a deal Street Fighter II was. It revolutionized a new genre of gaming; single handily revived the arcade market and helped elevate the SNES as the top 16 bit system. The original Street Fighter II: The World Warrior sold six million copies on the SNES. It is estimated that the gross profits from Street Fighter II coin op machines out paced the box office sales of Jurassic Park.

From Street Fighter II came Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, introducing the four boss characters and the “player vs. player” ability. Street Fighter 2: Turbo would up the speed and give characters new moves and palettes. This continued, Capcom releasing incremental updates on its existing cash cow creating ire among the fanbase. The common joke in game magazine was, does Capcom even know how to count to three?
By 1994 Capcom had released five iterations of its Street Fighter II franchise and while Super Turbo is arguably the best in the series many gamers simply didn’t care at this point.

Ever after Super Turbo Capcom would continue to tinker around with the fighting game format. The Alpha series, which takes place between Street Fighter and Street Fighter II, shows off anime style graphics with combo oriented gameplay. The Street Fighter EX series had Capcom force the series kicking and screaming into the 3D world with less than stellar results. Having had huge success with both X Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes Capcom crossed Marvel with their own Street Fighter characters in X Men vs. Street Fighter

It seemed odd for Capcom to take so long to get to Street Fighter III. By 1997 though it the years of waiting have finally come into fruition as then dubbed Three: A New Generation was unleashed to arcades around the world. Street Fighter III was originally given much buzz but for some reason failed to catch on as well as its predecessor did.

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12 Amazing Expansion Packs
February 20, 2009, 12:28 am
Filed under: Player Inventory | Tags:

GTAIV: The Lost and Damned

Expansion packs have been common ever since developers realized they can add some content, slap a twenty dollar price tag on it and watch the cash roll in. Suffice it to say gamers love their expansions as they gobble them up en masse for a few new maps and maybe a new wrinkle in the game mechanics.

Some companies (hello BLIZZARD) however feel that an expansion pack should build upon the original, not just add to it. I gushed about it earlier this week but The Lost and Damned is a modern expansion pack done right, offering a new and very different game experience than the original GTAIV while tweaking and improving some flaws of the game, in this case, motorcycle handling. All the efforts in TLAD have made the experience similar but satisfying in the long run.

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Really Freaking Early Impressions on Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
February 17, 2009, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Random

Usually the early months of the year are the video game dead zone. Most people are working on a pent up amount of games from the holiday season and new releases are usually few and far bewteen. There have been notable exceptions, most notable 2005 when Resident Evil 4, Spliter Cell: Chaos Theory and God of War were released within months of each other. 2009 is looking to be like that and then some if the lines for Street Fighter IV at a local EB are a good indication. With last months Fallout 3 DLC and March promising Resident Evil 5 and Madworld it seems this early going for this year is shaping up to be a doozie. Along with all of this however is the highly touted much anticipated DLC “Episode” for last year’s smash hit Grand Theft Auto IV. Titled “The Lost and Damned”, it brings up a parallel story line to that of GTAIV’s featuring minor character Johnny as the protagonist for new series of missions, new story lines and new chances for all out mayhem.

When the rumors were swirling for the two exclusive episodes for the Xbox 360 that Microsoft paid millions for to get a leg up on the PS3 things were as lofty as entirely new sections of the city to all new cities, like our old friend Nico visiting Vice City and San Andreas. While TLAD takes place in the Liberty City we know and loved Rockstar does a lot to mine out new places and new faces in the existing back drop of Liberty City.

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The Cult of the Game: Planescape Torment
February 15, 2009, 11:38 pm
Filed under: The Cult of the Game | Tags: , ,

When Baldur’s Gate hit the PC gaming market it was both a renaissance and a revival. During this time the PC gaming market was in a boom period, as online gaming started to become more feasible thanks to free servers, high speed internet and heavy adoption of the TCP/IP protocol. Thanks to 3D accelerator cards PC games, already usually having a leg up on their console cousins, now looked vastly superior.

Despite this boom though it was odd at how stagnant the PC game market was. While there were definitely exceptions the majrority of PC game releases belong to either the Real Time Strategy or First Person Shooter genres. It made a lot of sense for these two formats to thrive on the PC at the time (and still do today.) For both the Mouse and Keyboard control scheme is optimal for them. They’re great games to play online thanks to their “pick up and play”ability, they were also, relatively new genres with a lot of creativity to be mined from. While the PC was constantly being bombarded by FPS’s gamers at the time didn’t care, because usually for better or for worse, it was 8 different takes on the genre.

However this stagnant problem with limited genres started to show it fatigue by the late 90’s, where another group of a new dominat genres began to take over the PC market and carve their niche. Oddly enough these all stemmed from the classic PC staple from the 80’s, the RPG. Blizzard fired the first salvo in 1997 with the addictive action RPG Diablo. In 1999 Sony would create the prototype for all MMORPGs with Everquest (Ultima Online may have came first, but few MMORPGS model their design after it. In 1998 then unknown Bioware went truly back to the roots, to D&D stat based classing top down RPG-ing in Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur’s Gate was your classic PC rpg slicked up with the brand new Infinity Engine to give it a great isometric view. At its heart action occurred in semi real time action, large parties and a back bone of D&D mechanics games like Ultima and Wizardy had cribbed for years. Despite its deep stat system Baldur’s Gate had enough action and a great story to make it a bonafide hit and pushed Bioware into the stratosphere are one of the premiere developers in the gaming industry.

Obviously when a game becomes a massive success as Baldur’s gate was you’d have to expect more me-too efoorts. Baldur’s gate spawned two direct semi spin offs as they too were based on existing worlds in Dungeons and Dragons. The later spinoff was Icewind Dale a very action oriented take on the RPG but one that didn’t fly off the shelves was Planescape: Torment from Black Isle Studios.

Based in the strange oddity of the D&D world of Planescape, Planescape: Torment is a massive sprawling RPG that stars the Nameless One, a man who is forced to live eternal life for the sins he had done. However whenever the Nameless One dies he is resurrected into a new form that has lost all memory of past transgressions, as such the Nameless One is in a constant loop of regret that as he progresses through the game tires to figure out how to end it.
Planescape: Torment is notable for being vastly different from Baldur’s Gate inspite of similar design and game engines. Whearas Baldur’s Gate is your classic journey to save the world Planescape: Torment is ultimately a more personal journey. The game is designed to explore the notions of torment and regret and has less of an emphasis on combat and a greater emphasis on story telling. Truth be told there are really only 4 sequences of combat one must complete in order to finish the game.

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10 Licensed Games that Don’t Suck
February 12, 2009, 12:36 am
Filed under: Player Inventory | Tags: ,

Goldeneye 007

Looking at the upcoming release schedule for 2009 we’re seeing a lot of promising licensed games. Batman: Arkham Asylum, X Men Origins: Wolverine, Ghostbusters and oddly a Chronicles of Riddick Sequel. Licensed games often carry a combination of entertainment baggage and slapped together production schedules to match movie release dates and you usually have a recipe for disaster. However once in a while a company gets it right, getting the feel of the source material while still making a solid game that defies the usually logic that a licensed game has to suck.

It’d be pretty much impossible to have this article without mentioning probably the king of all licensed games Goldeneye 007. Strangely able to hold up to today’s modern FPS games Goldeneye has the style, awesome level design and pacing that to this day hasn’t been emulated by other shooters. It’s action packed, yet methodical and the customizable multiplayer with the absolutely great level design just gives this game legs.

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Rock Band DLC Tuesdays: THE RETURN
February 10, 2009, 10:59 pm
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So Rock Band DLC Tuesdays are back! NO I didn’t stop because the article is wildly unpopular because this blog is wildly unpopular! No it’s because about 3 weeks ago my Xbox finally went KAPUT. RROD’d my friends and I was none to happy. However I have to hand it to Microsoft, I got my system back in 2 weeks and it’s a brand new one with another warranty, so I’m covered for ANOTHER 3 years of RROD madness!

The bad: I had both Prince of Persia and Fable 2 on tap to complete prior to the releases of Lost and the Damned and Resident Evil 5. Ooops! I’m pushing Fable now as a “summer project” and am working my way through PoP collecting fucking light seeds all the time (seriously Ubisoft, WORSE IDEA EVER. NO I DON’T LIKE GOING THROUGH LEVELS AGAIN AFTER I’VE COMPLETED THEM.) I heard PoP is short AND I have a long weekend up coming up, so I’m trying to get through it as fast as I can.

Sorry there my friends, ok, lets get onto some DLC I missed over the last few weeks. Admittedly the Rock Band DLC was one of the good things about losing my Xbox 360 because well, nothing really big (for me) came out during that time. Admittedly I know a lot of people out there are championing both the Thin Lizzy and Steve Miller Band packs and good for you, these are two classic rock bands that are very talented. However I’ve never been a fan sadly. I might pick up Boys are Back In Town some day though.

Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way

I’m not really a huge Kravitz but this is just such an infectious song and I just had to download it. This song is farily pedestrian when it comes to the drums and rhythm section and vocals wise, yeah it’s Lenny mugging the mic. However this is one of the best guitar songs to get if you ask me. It’s not the MOST difficult but it gives you a bit of practice at thing you’ll see a lot of in harder songs. If you’re trying to master expert guitar definitely pick up this song and use it as a warm up.

Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I like this song because it’s a definite “crowd pleaser” in the vein of My Sharona and Tempted. Drums is shockingly tricky, with some good bass pedal work and a few unexpected. Guitar wise it’s a little bit of a snoozer, that is until you hit that hellacious solo. Seriously once the solo come’s it’s HOPO city for you! Vocals isn’t too bad and as usual if you have a good female vocalist in your crew it’s always great to hear them try and tackle this song.

The Fratellis – Flathead

Slight rant; why the Fratellis? There are so many good “indie” british bands yet to be tapped (hello, Arctic Monkeys? Franz Ferdinand?) seems weird to go for a bunch of guys whose highlight was an iPod ad. That said, we did see a LOCKSLEY pack after all. Now while I wish we got Chelsea Dagger Flathead is quite a good song that strangely works very well for Rock Band. Bass is suprisngly a good challenge for once in a song and Guitar avoids being just a series of chords with a few differences tossed in once in a while to keep you on your toes. The “ba da da da da da daaaaaa” section is also fun for group sing alongs. A highly recommended download, it’s tough without being too challenging and the song has great energy to it.