It's a little old
now, but the
DLC for Rock Band was announced on Friday...in a way. It was not
announced in the usual way via Harmonix's forums, but I think this
is due to today being a holiday for some people. Anyway, the songs
sound like a good mix of some stuff that should keep the game a
little more entertaining in light of the trouble (as I see it)
that's brewing for March.
The songs are
going to be individual tracks of El Scorcho from Weezer, Sex Type
Thing from STP, and Why Do You Love Me from Garbage. While I have no
qualms with these tracks, I do have some minor issues with the bands
and another thing.
First off, we keep
getting bands that are in the core game for the DLC. Enough of this
already. As I said last week, we have some representation of many
bands already, but there are thousands of potentially fun bands that
just get no love. Since 2008 began, we've only had a few bands enter
the Rock Band fray without prior experience of being in the game.
We've had the B-52s, The Monkees, the Black Crowes, Oasis, and
Skynard. It's time to see some ignored bands...and I don't mean any
of the crap coming in the March Thrash Pack.
My other minor
issue is how can El Scorcho be on the game (due to the first line of
the lyrics) when my name (Malik) is not "classy" enough for the
game. If we're going to get anything like El Scorcho, then at least
allow some common names (like Malik, Dick, Jesus, and others that
are found in the modern world) to be considered "classy". Blah...I'm
just tired of having to use "Malek" instead of "Malik" to show up on
the leader boards when Malek is the one of these two that is more
likely to not be found as "classy".
On other music
game news, one of my
worst fears has been revealed to be true. I always thought that
a Guitar Hero game with Aerosmith alone would be a horrible idea.
Aerosmith, while they have a couple of songs I do enjoy from time to
time, is simply The Rolling Stones lite. So, seeing that GH:
Aerosmith is coming along and will be here in June is a horrible
nightmare coming true. At least, on the bright side (speaking as a
Rock Band fan who felt like GH was ruined by Neversoft), this will
only further put a nail in GH's coffin. I think the ultimate test of
how bad this experience will be for GH fans (why have you not become
a RB fan?) is if Pink is included on the set list.
I may sound really
down on GH, but it's actually that I'm not a fan of how Neversoft
perverted the game. They took Harmonix's brilliant concept and added
false challenge (like playing notes that don't exist in expert on
GH3 and forcing three button chords where they shouldn't be only to
ramp up the challenge), made a giant window for hitting notes, and
turned the hammer-on system into a weird game of hitting notes as
soon as possible...even before they appear on the screen at times.
Also, having seen
the only current example of a GH spin off game (GH Encore), I don't
see good things coming, but I do see some people throwing their
money away on a sub-standard game. I know I paid $50 for Encore only
to get a game worth around $30 (if even that much). It's sad to know
some people will waste another $60 for this new Aerosmith themed
game when it will probably not be worth that. At least with
Neversoft and Activision pimping the GH name for so many games in a
year (another is supposed to come up by the end of June and I bet a
real GH4 comes out in November), it will only hasten the demise of
this name as it turns into another stale example of crap, like
Neversoft is known best for in Tony Hawk.
If you have the
PS3 or 360 version of GH3, at least there is something good about
this. Ending today, you can get Aerosmith's Dream On for free.
That's the only good at all that I can see in this perversion of
another once mighty game franchise.
Anyway, I've been
killing my own time with a nice blend of Lost Odyssey (now on the
second disk) and Rock Band (medium drum tour finished). At least
these are two games that will not let me down.
I am off from work
today, which is working to my advantage. On one hand, my face
is coming back to life as the anesthetics wear off from a dentist
appointment (that was, long story short, actually to my advantage).
On the other hand, I was home to play the new DLC as soon as it was
ready. So, keeping in mind that I'm an expert guitar player
and a medium (but moving on) drummer, these are the difficulties for
my reviews of the new songs.
El Scorcho (Weezer):
This song is really easy. Ok...it's the easiest guitar song in
the game and is damned easy on drums as well. I don't know if
it's quite as easy as Live Forever (Oasis), but it does rank up
there in the lack-of-challenge rating. Then again, El Scorcho
is a slow paced song. It's indy styled rock and this just
lends itself to slower paces more naturally than most commercial
Anyway, the drums
are very simple and slow, as are the guitar. In fact, the
guitar only includes something like six three note chords and a very
quick part of two note chords. The majority of the song is
single note plucking like you'd find in the first parts of Creep,
Black Hole Sun, or I Think I'm Paranoid. Because of it's
simplicity and how the song actually sounds, I have to say that I
can only recommend this song to fans of Weezer. However, if
you're a Weezer fan and like the Pinkerton album, then you will
definitely need this track.
Why Do You Love
This is a lot different than I Think I'm Paranoid. The song is
faster (especially for the strings and vocals), it's heavier, and
it's a song that begs to be played louder.
The Guitar line is
a little weird at first, but it's pretty fun. It's primarily
some two note chords with a little single note (of the lower note in
the chord) leading into each chord section (think of the style of
Blitzkrieg Bop on expert...but slower...and with typically two
single notes leading to a chord section instead of one). The
primary opening riff is fun to play and is a good practice (for
those who need it) for Gimme Three Steps. There isn't much
else to say about the guitar part except that it's varied enough to
keep you from getting bored. Also, since this song has a good
strong guitar presence, this song is pretty fun to rock out to.
As for the
drums...oh...so much fun! I have not liked a song on medium
drums this much for quite a while. There is plenty of changing
rhythms, changing of the bass location, and a really fast and
interesting part about 2/3 into the song. This is a perfect
song for people who like more of the variety in drum lines and less
of the same old crap you find repeated through Green Grass and its
Overall, I have to
give the nod to this song. If you're a fan of the modern
Garbage sound (not the stuff from the self titled album or Version
2.0) or if you like the modern female singing rock sound (think
Paramore), then this is a perfect song for you. Also, if
you're not some elitist about music (and you know who you are), this
is worth a listen and maybe checking out on youtube.
Sex Type Thing (STP):
Do I really need to say anything? If you know this song and
like it, then you know you need to get it. If you grew up in
the rock and grunge filled 1990's then this song is already in your
mind. If you like Core and any of the old STP sound (before
Sour Girl), then you know you are getting this song.
Anyway, the guitar
line is fast and fun. It's also a little unusual in feel (like
any other STP on Rock Band) and look when you first start to sight
read the song on your first attempt. Until the notes click in
your mind, it will be a song I'd classify as "easy to beat, but hard
to do good on". Once the basic pattern makes sense, then it
just becomes a fast and fun song that you will be able to tear apart
without a second thought.
The drums are a
little less fun. Maybe on hard they might be better, but on
medium they feel a lot like that endless stretch of medium drums for
the last half of Green Grass. In other words, you have a lot
of "bass+Y>Y+R" going on for long stretches. Considering the
challenge increase on other STP songs from medium to hard, I'm
afraid to see if it gets better, but I think this is probably a
pretty basic of drum lines no matter how much you ramp up the
challenge. Then again, this song is meant to showcase the
guitar and vocals, not the drums. So, it's still a fun song to
play if you are a fan of STP, but it's not the best drum
line...still not as bad as Green Grass by any stretch of the
Overall, I have to
give a major recommendation for Sex Type Thing. Seriously,
this is a song that is meant for Rock Band. This is also a
song designed to be played loud and with a full band, if you get
what I mean.
If you're a Weezer fan, then you would be good with getting all
three songs. If you're a drummer, then get Garbage at the very
least. If you're a guitar player who likes some challenge, but
not anything near the final tier of solo expert, then get STP and
Garbage. If you're a vocal type person, then you could do far
worse than picking up all three. If you're one of those people
who demands that everything be hard as shit (and you also tend to
say GH3 is a better game because of the challenge), then move
on...both move on away from these songs and get back to your damned
butchered Neversoft crap.
stand what Neversoft is doing to the GH name and their false added
difficulty (fake notes and excessive three note chords).
the death of HD-DVD being official, I must say that this is
exactly why I stayed out of this whole thing. I'm normally a rather
quick adopter of new technology, however when you have a battle
between two formats and only one will become the standard, it's
important to stay out of the whole mess.
I do hate that blu-ray
is the winner since it puts power into Sony's very incapable hands.
This means that the standard of choice will now be controlled by a
company that is known for higher licensing fees and a less active
approach to maintaining consumer happiness. Afterall, this is the
same company that will put any crap on the market and attempt to
force it down our throats. A great example is the PSP.
Not only is the
PSP a joke of a game platform, it's also built around idiot
technology. That is to say that it uses a media format that is not
friendly towards consumers. I don't mean the pathetic UMD format,
which was doomed to fail as anything more than a media for placing
PSP games on. I mean the Memory Stick Duo. Even when the PSP was
launched, it was obvious that the SD card format was the right way
to go in the nearly universal market that has become so SD centered.
Wii, still cameras, video cameras, MP3 players, computers...these
all had adopted the SD card long before the PSP even went to market.
Instead, Sony forced their memory cards down the throats of gamers
in a lame attempt to force extra life out of an over priced and
obsolete media format.
I find it funny
that Toshiba has thrown in the towel with HD-DVD but will not cease
production until April. This is damned funny since it means more
HD-DVD players will enter the market despite it being known to most
consumers as a dead technology. Sadly, there are some people who are
less than educated on technology who will still buy these players as
their prices continue to hit the bargain bin. These are the people
who will be most strongly hit by the death of this format.
At least it means
that if you're a collector of ancient and no longer supported
technology (I know you people exist since I'm the same with game
consoles), then you will have an easier time scoring this dead model
of technology for your collection.
I'm now on the
third disk of Lost Odyssey. I guess this should put me just past the
half way point in the game, and I think after ~25 hours I now can
form some good strong opinions on the game.
First of all, LO
is without a doubt my favorite JRPG to come along since Xenogears.
If you add in mods and Western RPGs to the equation, it's my
favorite RPG since Oblivion with OOO, MMM, and a few other mods to
make the game interesting. It might even be a little higher up on my
list of favorites than Oblivion modded, since I may have been more
in love with my new (at the time) PC and what a 8800 GTS with an
over clocked dual core could do.
The story is
amazing in my eyes. As a fan of storytelling that goes beyond the
classic RPG concepts of almost no character development, or the
modern RPG ways that usually include massive amounts of emo or moody
characters that have no reason for being so damned moody or emo, LO
offers something different; true character development and true
explanations of why people are the way they are. You may start off
playing as what seems like a typical gloomy and emo protagonist, but
it soon becomes clear that he is that way for a damned good reason
and his personality starts to grow into a full fledged 3D character
as this occurs.
The best part of
the storytelling, in my opinion, is that the game attempts to give
everything some life. None of the characters, so far, have been
ignored for interactions and development. This gives everything more
of a feel like literature than a typical RPG. That is to say that
you have reasons for the quest beyond getting fat loot and trying to
kill a big bad monster.
Also, the game
play offers what I see as the right level of innovation. Considering
how all RPGs seem to go for something innovative now, it's nice to
see small steps that pay off in the end instead of giant steps that
leave you wondering why the developer would dare to defile the genre
with such stupidity. In other words, there's no sphere grid (why
does everyone have to always end up equal in so many modern RPGs)
from FFX, no junction or draw system to bore you as you try to
obtain magic from FFVIII, no forced real time button mashing like
with Eternal Sonata, no unusual attempt to force MMORPG mechanics on
the party like with FFXII, and no licensing system because your
party is too damned retarded to realize a helmet goes on the head
like in FFXII.
Instead you have
the skill systems and the mortals versus the immortals. The mortals
gain skills and new abilities like in old school RPGs. In other
words, you gain enough levels and you gain some new abilities. The
immortals have to learn their skills from equipment (like if a
bracelet makes you immune to poison when you wear it, then the
immortals can permanently learn this ability from the equipment) and
from the mortals. You are given a limited number of skill slots to
equip these learned skills, so you have to plan out how to really
design each immortal. You also have to plan which immortals to give
slot seeds (which increase each immortals number of skills slots by
being consumed). Do you want a fighter with a lot of combat powers
or a mage with a lot of magical skills...and do you share evenly
among these two classic types of characters?
You also have the
mortals who need to be resurrected if they fall in battle, while the
immortals will get back up on their own after three rounds of being
in the red. When you also have the ability to form a party of five
from any available party members and you have five total mortals and
four immortals to work with, you have some room to strategize. Best
of all, since each character levels in unique ways (no eventually
equaling of all party members like FFX has with the sphere grid),
this means you will have to think about how to shape the party for
your own style of playing.
In other words, LO
is old school through and through with its game play style, but it
takes these old ideas and pushes them in a few unique
collaborations. The skill system has been seen in both FFV/FFIX
(immortals) and FFIV (mortals), but we have not seen it together in
one game before. You also get the Suikoden experience system
(enemies give less XP as you gain levels, and a level is always
worth a flat XP cost; in LO it's 100 XP for any level) to make sure
you're never over or under leveled. Grinding only really pays off
for gaining skills and money.
Anyway, I feel
like LO is offering us something that Square Enix has denied us for
too long; a true game in the same feeling of the classic Final
Fantasy games. This is what FFX should have been...but with a better
plot than anything Square Enix ever produced...besides Xeogears.
I still have a
good (my guess here) 20 or so hours left to the game. Considering
how much the game has improved with each passing hour (which is to
say the game develops as the plot develops), I think things will
only look better from here on out. I think it won't be long until
Oblivion with mods is sad in comparison to my eyes.
With how there has
always been this continental divide in gaming, I was hoping that
current generation systems would help to knock this down some. What
I mean by the "continental divide" is how some regions have always
been locked out of the fun or have seen their potential reduced. The
largest example being Europe.
When the PS3
launched, Europe was the one major gaming region (sorry Australia,
but you just don't have the sales to make game companies look at you
all that seriously...) locked out from the nearly simultaneous
launch schedule. When the SNES was in it's prime, Europe was the
region that didn't see Chrono Trigger. When Microsoft launched it's
video download/rental service (which I still think is a lame idea),
Europe was locked out, once again.
However, there are
a few times when Europe gets the leg up on North America. These
moments are few and far between, but a great example is how Europe
saw a Dreamcast release of Shenmue 2 when the US never saw the game
until the XBox version. Now there's another instance of Europe
getting the advantage and it makes me quite sad from a nostalgic
point of view...
In Europe, the
Commodore 64 is coming to the Wii's Virtual Console. This is the
computer that claimed more of my 1980's gaming time than any other
system or computer. The Commodore was the ideal gaming format for
myself as a kid since it offered and required joystick play for most
games and it had multiple programming formats that could harnessed
for cheap and quick gaming...assuming you were up for putting in a
thousand lines of "machine language".
Commodore 64 was
also the primary home for some of the best early PC gaming titles.
Boulder Dash offerings were at their best on the C-64. Lode
Runner saw it's best early incarnation on the C-64. Then there was
the amazing and addictive Jumpman series...which also happens to
have been made by Epyx (the company that will be finding it's way
most assuredly of all C-64 games). In the end, there were too many
good games to name and too many offerings that really would be
worthy of a Wii North American port.
It is rare for the
US to be ignored by a major company for too many things. I mean with
the Wii VC consoles, the US has even seen the almost forgotten
Neo-Geo. However, for some reason, the C-64 just cannot be brought
to the US and this is a shame. While I think $5 for an ancient C-64
game is a joke, I would still pay that amount to have a VC port,
that is playable, of Jumpman, Boulder Dash, Boulder Dash
Construction Kit, Racing Destruction Kit (think RC Pro Am on the NES,
but so much more awesome and with a track designer), Lode Runner,
the C-64 version of Spy Hunter, Temple of Apshai, the old Disney
based adventure games (Alice in Wonderland, Swiss Family Robinson,
etc.), and so many others that I cannot recall the names of.
I hope that
Nintendo adds the US to the regions getting C-64 VC games...but I
can also see what would happen if they did. With only a few games
coming to the VC each week, there would be a few gamers who would be
excited about the old nostalgic games of their youth...and thousands
whining about not being able to play a "fun" new VC release because
some "crap" was released instead. It's a sad thing, but American
gamers (and I am one, but an open minded one) tend to feel a level
of self centered-ness in many things, including gaming.
This attitude is
why each week the Harmonix/Rock Band message boards erupt with
comments on how the new RB DLC for the week is crap. It's also why
Wii related message boards are flooded each week with complaints of
the new VC releases. It's simply how Americans tend to act. I wish
it was different, but too few of the North American gamers are open
to trying something different. This includes long forgotten gems.
Even if one of these ignored games was on par with anything now (in
terms of fun...obviously not for technical merits), it would be
ignored and bashed...sigh...and I would love me some Jumpman.
On a final note
Rock Band DLC announcements are now coming each Friday. This
week will see the Nine Inch Nails pack that was announced on OXM to
be set for March. So, it looks like Tuesday will see masters of
March of the Pigs", "The Collector", and "The Perfect Drug".
At least this
means the future (March) is no longer certain. This gives me
something to get excited about since March was looking pretty weak
to me and now it's a complete crap shoot again.
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