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Malik (2/4/08)

I think yesterday was a perfect example of how bad a Super Bowl could be.  Yes, the final quarter was awesome to behold.  However, the first three quarters, even on the two lonely scoring drives, just felt tired and played out.

On the bright side, for me at least, the Giants won.  I'm not a Giants fan by any means, but I am definitely not a Patriots fan.  I think that comes down to one simple fact; I hate football dynasties.  I like to think of football as the one sport where dynasties don't exactly have much sway, and to see the Pats going into what should have (by looking at the stats) been yet another championship in the last ten years is painful.  Throw in how they also would hold the "legendary" record of being the only undefeated team in modern (16 game season) football only made it more painful to think of them winning.

Also, I suppose you could say I was cheering for the Giants for two other reasons.  If the Seahawks are not in the Super Bowl (which happens for about 98% of the Super Bowls), I like to put my emotions behind the underdog.  It's just more fun to see the potential upset than to see the obvious and expected in the final real game of football for around eight months.  Also, since the Giants defeated Green Bay (which I'll see as them avenging the Seahawks), they naturally get a little more love in my eyes.

I know that there is another game of football left for the season, but the Pro Bowl is anything but quality.  Afterall, we're talking about a game with nothing on the line, and with a bunch of players who are just ready to get in some vacation before the training camps open up in a couple months.  It's not like the MLB All Star game where the home field advantage is decided for the championship game/series.  No, the Pro Bowl is a sad and lame excuse for trying to give fantasy players a greater idea of who they should have picked for their teams.  Beyond that, the Pro Bowl is a thing that simply should not exist.  The NFL season should end with the Super Bowl and simply not be forced into an extra game that will offer nothing for the fans (and only a free trip to Hawaii for the players).

On a different note, the DLC for Rock Band for tomorrow has been announced.  I wish I could say I'm excited.  I really wish I could.  Instead, we do have a little bit of fun from Kiss (Calling Dr. Love).  Yes, it's always a great party experience when Kiss is involved in the Rock Band (or even Guitar Hero) mix.  Plus, since the songs this week are not covers, that will make it just that much more awesome.

However, I cannot say anything good about Faith No More coming back for a song as bad a We Care A Lot.  This has to be one of Faith No More's worst songs and about one of the dullest possible for Rock Band.  I will probably check out the expert guitar note charts before I make any final decision, but I'm thinking this song will be skipped when it comes to my spending of MP on DLC.

Lastly is Roam from the B-52s.  On one hand, this song is not what I think of when I think of the B-52s.  They have had some awesome songs that would be a blast to play any part of in Rock Band.  They have had some of the most party friendly of music in the history of rock.  However, Roam is just not one of these awesome tracks.  I think my final decision will come down to checking out the note charts tomorrow, but I'm 50/50 at best on this song for right now.

On the other hand, I do have to give some props to Harmonix for thinking of the B-52s.  I have been thinking of what bands and songs would rock for the game ever since Rock Band first came my way.  Despite thinking long and hard about so many tracks, I have to say that the B-52s were just one band that never entered my mind.  Also, you have to give props to Harmonix for including another new band to the modern Guitar based game concept.  Yes, we did have some B-52s on Donky Konga, but that's a different world of rhythm game.  To see them come into the more sophisticated realm of Harmonix's games is beyond brilliant.  I just hope that we will be able to see Love Shack or Rock Lobster sometime in the future (now those would be some of the best party style songs possible for Rock Band).


Malik (2/6/08)

I didn't really have much to say yesterday. It was a slow day on almost all accounts, so no post was really called for. At least that was the case until the evening, when I downloaded some of the new songs for Rock Band.

First off, I checked out each song on Youtube. I should say I went with one of the videos that showed expert on all instruments for each song. This led me to a couple of conclusions. The only really important one was that We Care A Lot from Faith No More was simply not needed and would not be something for me to appreciate unless I start to take the vocal parts seriously.

Since I'm still in the mindset that vocals are the least important (for me), I decided to skip any song that looks boring or uninspired for the other parts. Since I am trying to pick up my drumming skills, and since I am happy to be an expert (on almost all songs) guitar and bass player, I went with Roam and Calling Dr. Love. Also, due to my skills, any impressions are on expert guitar and medium drums. Maybe I'll get above medium drums one day, but for now the tedium of Green Grass and The High Tides for the final five minutes is keeping me from progressing on my medium drum solo tour.

Roam is simply a fun song. It's not the best, in my opinion, that the B-52s ever made. However, with the B-52s you are almost always guaranteed one important fact; you will have a fun party song that can get the players into a groove. So, I naturally had to go with Roam, even if the parts were weak. Luckily, that was not the case.

The drums have a pattern that makes me think of I Think I'm Paranoid. That is to say that you have both the slow and steady part that will keep you alive, despite you skills, and the fast and frantic part that will give you a good work out without having to fear that it will destroy your rock meter (since you can pick that back up with the slow parts). It's also a great warm up song for this reason. It's not the most complex drum part in a song, but it's definitely fun enough to be worth a download if you're a fan of good fun music from an era that is now passed.

The expert guitar is also quite similar in nature to the drums. There are some easy notes to hit, but there's also some quick chord changes that can catch you off guard. This makes Roam into a great warm up song and a great song for people trying to make some improvements on note changes. In particular, you have some fun R+B -> R -> Y -> Y+O changes that will then put you quickly into a G+Y position. In other words, you make a good deal of note changes, but nothing that will kill you off...only stuff that will give you some practice at the more complex maneuvers.

Calling Dr. Love is similar to Roam on the guitar front. You do have some fast chord changes and progressions (Y+B -> R+Y -> R+O), but nothing out of reach for the lower expert player. The only real challenge comes from the solo and the last parts before the song ends...both of which are more than happy to give you a hammer on work out. It shouldn't kill you off, but it might require some quick overdrive to get you back in the green.

The drums are quite fun on Dr. Love. They are not overly technical, but they have some good passages, and best of all...more cowbell! The song starts off with a nice green cowbell section that just brings back memories of an era when cowbell was so much more important to rock.

In reality, I can only recommend Calling Dr. Love to two types of people. If you like Kiss, then you're in a real need to go with this song since it's only the second Kiss song in Rock Band...and it's a good deal different in feel than Detroit Rock City. I also recommend this to anyone who feels like Rock Band needs more classic rock songs. Afterall, Kiss and classic rock go hand in hand. However, if you're sick of Kiss or just not a fan of classic arena rock, then you're best off forgetting this least until March when you feel the need for something new and don't want to dive into the garbage that will be the March DLC.

Like I said, from checking expert videos, I can only recommend We Care A Lot for vocal players. If you don't play on the mic, and you're not an enormous Faith No More fan, then you should just pretend We Care A Lot never existed. Maybe the drums can be called "interesting", but I can't even give that description for the strings.


Malik (2/7/08)

Another day, another lack of anything too important to say...or that's almost the case. I guess there are a few interesting tidbits of information worth sharing.

For one, despite being stuck in a tunnel-vision time in my gaming life where Rock Band is all that I care about, there are a few games that give me a need to pay special attention. One of these games would obviously be how Lost Odyssey is due for release next Tuesday (give or take on actual shipping versus street date). It does look like an awesome game and I have seen a good amount of the first few hours of the game (as in I watched someone play). I didn't follow the entire plot or anything important like that, but I did see a fun looking battle system and a game that seems to bring back what I used to think of when I thought of Final Fantasy. In other words, I see something that makes me think of pre-FFX Final Fantasy. Back before emo and crying for daddy were all the rage in Square Enix's mind.

Also, I still find time to play some Picross DS. n the bright side of that, the 5th (earlier this week) saw about five new packs of classic puzzles from the Nintendo WiFi option screen. Best of all, I think these would be the first downloads from Nintendo that include full sized 25x20 puzzles. I've only tried a few so far, but there's a lot better challenge in these packs than found in the previous month or so of free puzzle packs.

Also, for those who still care (and I can't fathom the idea of who the hell you could be) Mass Effect has a small mission based DLC coming in March. I really couldn't give a f$#@ about ME. It's a game that simply served up a more recent style of Bioware experience...which is to say that, like Jade Empire, it was short, did not deliver on the hype, and you still were given a pretty linear experience, despite the options that try to trick the player into expecting a non-linear RPG of massive proportions. However, if you care about this game still (in which case you need to find a new game already) then the first week of March will at least give you 90 more minutes (which means it will actually be about 25 minutes) of questing for $5.

I think that's money far better spent on DLC for Rock Band or to save towards a good RPG (LO is next week and should keep you going far longer than ME did).

Lastly for today, some humor. Duke Nukem Forever, which is now on it's 11th year after being announced, will come out, according to George Broussard of 3D Realms, "when it's done", and the release will not "be until the appropriate moment". It's good to know that 3D Realms is in business still after all these years since they have such an amazing vaporware business strategy. I guess the good news is that it will be released for the PC, 360, and PS3...and by the time it actually gets released, these systems will all be laying in piles of dust (except the PC, which will be a whole new thing versus the technology we now have).


Malik (2/8/08)

It's no surprise that Guitar Hero 4 is on the way. Even if it's a rumored date at this point, it still wouldn't be anything but expected to see it come out at the end of this year. Afterall, isn't that both a staple of GH and Activision; yearly releases.

The thing is, this time around I don't think I'll be picking it up. True, there could be some awesome songs on the game, but there will not be drums, vocals, or a four player party in the game case. Plus, I doubt my poorly purchased Foo Fighters pack would work on the game. I'll be happy with my 200+ songs on Rock Band until Harmonix decides to give us a Rock Band 2...which hopefully will not be for a long time and instead we get lots of new RB updates.

I don't just mean song updates. I hope to see Harmonix add, in the future, some sort of expansion pack that adds more cities, more venues in the one venue existing cities (Moscow, Tokyo, etc.), and maybe some integration of DLC songs into certain set lists. That last one can be tricky, since it would basically force DLC purchases, but it could be maneuvered in certain ways to make it balanced for people without all of the DLC.

Anyway, I've been playing a bit in one of my side bands lately. The Ghost Cowboys (which would be Velveta on the skins and Malek on the strings...stupid game saying "Malik" is not classy) got in a few shows last night. We're not on the top of the world or anything, but we are gaining a few of the hard level fans. The only problem is getting past those hard required sets...especially with single songs like Welcome Home with the drums.

I've also been trying more of the solo drum tour (mainly, but not always, on medium). I have come to two conclusions from this. The first being that the drums are a good amount of fun...even with my horrible sense of rhythm. Now that I'm getting more into the "groove", so to speak, I'm finding the drums to be more like speaking in another language instead of just trying to speak another language via a pocket translator. I hope that analogy made sense. It does to me at least, since I see the guitar and bass as almost like a hand controlled language that I am quite familiar with after this amount of GH and RB playing.

My other thought is that Green Grass and Day Late Dollar Short are two annoying songs on the skins. Correction; they are not as much annoying as they are little bitches. I like some variety and having constant rhythms of things like Y+bass -> Y+R cycling for five minutes (or however long Day Late does it...can't even get beyond 30% into that song...) is not my idea of fun. At least other songs are giving me the enjoyment I crave.

Playing on the drums has taught me a couple of things that I am enjoying. Most of all that I like Highway Star finally. On medium drums (and maybe hard wouldn't be too bad) it's a blast with some really interesting bits to keep the song fresh and fun.

Anyway, it's a busy day and it's time to get rolling...


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