With the sun out,
things are looking pretty good for me. However, winning a
Band DLC track makes it better. Usually I have some bad luck
with winning stuff, so any free thing, even a $2 track, is a
definite bonus. The one down side of this is that I've downloaded
everything I like on Rock Band...but at least it's there in case I
find something I somehow neglected to get...which is unlikely.
This weekend some
friends and I had a good old fashioned LAN party. While this usually
means a lot of hassle with buying new games that I will never touch
again, one of my friends had a better idea. Since Half-Life 2 is
almost always on any PC that belongs to someone we know, my friend
had the idea of a free LAN party. Free as in just being HL2 mods.
It's amazing how
far you can go with a price of $0...assuming you have HL2 or are
willing to spend the $20 to get it. In fact, it can get you at least
eight hours of good times, and probably more.
In particular, I'm
amazed by the quality of Age of Chivalry and Dystopia mods. AoC is a
great mod that feels like a new game. You have a class select
feature (like in Battlefield or any other modern online FPS with a
war theme) and pick from a range of medieval style jobs. You have
knights, bowmen, and everything in between. While it may sound like
a weird game (FPS with few ranged attacks), it works beautifully
with missions like capture/defend a castle, variations on capture
the flag, and...well...it's mainly capture/defend missions involving
siege weapons like rams and catapults.
Dystopia also has
that nice "this is a mod and not a new game?!" feel to it. It's, in
a lot of ways, how Shadowrun should have been. You have futuristic
weapons and customizations (with skills and special abilities from
implants) as well as some elements of hacking into
cyberspace/networks along the lines of how the old Genesis Shadowrun
had. You have the same general game terms/style/goals as AoC (mainly
capture/defend missions), but with the twist of how much you can
alter your class to your own taste. You can be a heavy guy (big
weapons, but no way to hack), a medium guy (with most abilities and
some nice, but smaller, weapons), or a small guy (with weak weapons
but more abilities, like advanced hacking, and a stealth cloaking
Quite frankly, I
think either of these mods could have been games on their own. AoC
would probably have to be more of a bargain game ($10-$20), but
Dystopia could have easily sold for a good amount of money. With
just a little more content (maps, or a single player mode), the game
could easily have been a $50 full price game. In fact, I would have
enjoyed a full game of Dystopia just to have a nice instruction
sheet at my hands to better know what I was doing. It's not that the
mod is confusing, but it's just too damned big to pick up and play
without finding yourself a bit lost in all you have presented before
I didn't feel
motivated to download any of the new Rock Band tracks...yet. I did
check the charts for expert guitar online and found some surprises
that will be fun, if I ever feel motivated to do the download thing.
First off, I
didn't know who Hautewerk was and I still don't really know. The
only thing I can say is from a Rock Band POV, the songs look boring
as hell. I can also say from an audiophile POV, I am not a fan. I
wouldn't say I dislike the band, but I'd rather say they don't
exactly put out memorable music. The songs were slow, quiet, and
just lacking an overall energy. If I get around to downloading, the
three Hautewerk songs will be the three that I definitely pass.
As for Styx, their
songs sound fun and look fun. There's not much in the way of
challenge, but there's some fun looking chord progressions. I'd
imagine the Styx songs would be great warm-ups for beginners to the
expert world on guitar. Beyond that, if you're a Styx fan, then get
these...and if not, then you'd probably be better off without them.
The REO Speedwagon
songs fall into a similar categorizing as Styx. Simple enough and
with a good beat, but probably not for people who don't know or like
REO. However, it all changed on these tracks when you hit the guitar
solos. There are some really ugly and unexpected hammer-on highways
that don't even make full sense to my eyes. If not for the solos,
these would be some pretty easy songs...but with the solos, these
are definite challenges not for the faint of heart.
Anyway, my time
lately has still be away from gaming. I did get some Demon's Souls
time two nights ago, and was able to beat the damned Flame Lurker or
2-2. This is a boss that I definitely don't want to face again.
While most bosses in Demon's Souls just require good planning and a
solid strategy, the Flame Lurker requires some damned quick reflexes
and a touch of luck. If this boss decides that you must die, then it
will do anything possible to see it happen. The only luck I found
was when it would go evasive for a few seconds (long enough to gulp
down some healing items). As for strategy, the only one I found to
be solid in any way is to avoid melee and aim for magic being your
attack of choice. At melee range, unless you try to cheese the guy
(hide behind an object to try to get him stuck and then use a reach
weapon through the object), you will take some major hits in a
I just wish the
game had one change so I'd be better able to play. That one change
being a way to turn off multiplayer. I don't use help by summoning
friendly players, so it would be good if I could also stop being
invaded by player killers. Since lag is a factor in the invasions,
it's annoying to feel compelled to quit if I'm invaded just to avoid
a lag filled fight that leads to many missed hits and an eventual "WTF?!"
death for one player of the other. I guess, however, that's the true
cost of playing an imported game...lag coming from most players
being in Asia.
I spent last night
with some Demon's Souls and some frustration. After making sure to
not die since my original death at the beginning of the game, I was
finally slain by the boss of 2-3 (the Dragon God boss). I think it
was mostly because I was looking for an easy solution that played it
safe in a moment that required some guts and a sense of urgency.
When I should have just gone for a mad dash to victory, I tried to
play it safe and got destroyed in the process. At least I now know
what I must do.
On a different
(but not so different) note, I've been hearing a lot about a lot of
the upcoming games for the PS3 and 360 and a theme seems to be
emerging. It's another year of the same round of ideas. In
particular, the "you can be good or evil" theme is coming back in a
lot of games. This is an idea that used to get me excited. When
KOTOR first came along, it revolutionized the good/evil system by
adding some major plot changes and some additional abilities
depending on if your wanted to be good/Jedi or evil/Sith. This was
more than five years ago.
In the time since
good and evil game play was first brought into the big time (not
counting the really forced good-not-evil of earlier Ultima games),
it has not been advanced. In fact, this concept of a dichotomy has
stagnated. You still have a lot of games with this option, but now,
more than ever, the changes in the good and evil path always lead to
the same final destination and only offers a few simplistic tweaks.
Mainly these tweaks are on what powers you use as a player. If
you're good, you have powers with blue or green auras and if you're
evil you have basically the same stuff but with some red or purple
A great example of
this is the upcoming Infamous. In the game, from all released info
so far, you either have blue (good) or red (evil) lightning powers.
Not all the details of this game are out, and E3 may reveal a lot
more, but it sounds like that's about where the line is drawn. This
is where the line is always drawn.
Gone are the days
of KOTOR in which you (spoilers for KOTOR) could actually kill off
some party members due to how they got in your way. Even then you
still had the same levels to play and final boss battles. You just
changed who would be around with your party to see your victory over
the Sith master.
The only game I
can think of that seems to have even tried to build on good and evil
ideas is Demon's Souls...and that's a small and limited change.
Demon's Souls allows you to alter the alignment of a zone/world in
addition to your own personal alignment. If you make a world good
(white), the enemies become weaker and you have a few new places to
check out or items to obtain upon reaching a pure good world
alignment/tendency. If you make a world evil (black), the enemies
are stronger, but they drop more items and experience/money (souls)
and some new enemies emerge with unique (or limited in number) items
to make your player more powerful. It's a risk/reward system that
adds a tiny bit to the, now classic, alignment system.
However, this is
about as far as the now aging system has gone. I used to become
excited about the idea of playing how I wanted. A world didn't need
to be set in stone since I could change how I played through it. In
the end, these changes in play style don't really exist. Good/Evil
game play is a dead idea, due to a lack of innovation, but it's
still being used as a selling point for a game. In fact, it's worse
than a dead creative path for developers...it's a required crutch.
You cannot get away from it, but it's now coming down to maybe a
slightly different power set and an explanation for being able to
kill innocent NPCs. It's a lame and half-assed explanation for why
the developers are pushing for higher ratings (M is almost a
requirement with the killing innocent people in a game) and more
I'm still waiting
for what was promised after the introduction of KOTOR. I want a new
way to play the game based on how I want to play. The worst set back
in this idea seemed to be with Fable 2. No matter how good or evil
your were, it only changed your appearance. Nothing more. You even
got the exact same three choices at the end of the game on how you
wanted to change the world with your victory over evil (or your
victory over the evil that wasn't you). You could play through the
game two very opposite ways, in theory...but with the same powers,
abilities, dungeons, and final outcome.
Worst of all is
how so many games will let your change from one extreme to the other
without any real penalty. If you're pure evil in KOTOR2 or Fable 2
(two games I know this personally from, but I also know Fallout 3
and several others I've yet to play are this way as well), or pure
good, it takes only an hour or two of playing to become the opposite
extreme alignment. In fact, it sometimes takes less time to erase
your sins/purity than it takes to first reach that extreme you first
aimed for. It took around ten hours to become pure evil/Sith on
KOTOR2, and it took only an hour after that to be 100% Jedi with the
same character when I played through the game. If there is to be no
consequences to one's actions, then this system is obviously broken
and needs to be either enhanced/innovated upon or just be done away
with. At the very least, the alignment meters in game should be
eliminated if this system cannot be improved and not just used as
one giant requirement for all supposedly open-ended games.
After too many
months of knowing it was coming, next week will see
Nothing's Shocking from Jane's Addiction for Rock Band. Best of
all, with the discount price for the whole album, it's $16 for ten
songs ($2 each). This finally puts the last announced album to rest
and leaves room for Harmonix to tease us all for another seven to
eight months with another list that seems to take too damned long to
The one down side
is that I really have lost a lot of interest in Rock Band as of
late. I think a big part is that my usual weekend Rock Band night
with my friends has become a night when other things are going on.
In particular, most Sounders FC (Seattle's MLS team) home games tend
to fall on Saturdays around when RB would normally go down and two
of our regulars are season ticket holders.
Not even if
Lego Rock Band was able to transfer it's songs to RB2 would I
feel all that changed in my loss of RB motivation. Of course, Lego
RB, on it's own, is a very unusual idea. I use "unusual" in the same
way that your might use the word "special" to describe a person who
is...ummm...slow. In fact, I would be happy to not mention the game
at all if it weren't for some awesome songs that I want to be in the
DLC library of RB (like Final Countdown, Kung-Fu Fighting, and Song
Most of all, I
think more details are needed for Lego RB. In particular, will music
be transferable to RB1/2...or will RB2 music transfer to Lego RB?
Also, I wonder about how Harmonix said there would be no Rock Band
games in 2009, and then we get a pseudo-RB title with Beatles: Rock
Band. Now we also have Lego Rock Band, which sure sounds like a RB
title to me. I hope this isn't the start of the Neversoft
"milk-it-until-it-dies" approach in the works.
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