I didn't have time
to post on Friday (dentist appointments are too timely to give me
posting time), so I didn't have a chance to bring up the new DLC for
I am skipping a
link and all of that, but it's a pack of songs (for the usual pack
price) or three individual songs for $2/160MP each. These songs are
from Angels and Airwaves, Fallout Boy, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
While they are definitely not my type of music, I will give them all
a shot on youtube videos before deciding for sure to skip them.
While many people
will try to be music elitists with this pack and call it modern
crap, I can't do that. Yes, this is not my style of choice, but at
the same time I will recognize two things. First of all, this is
different music than we've seen for a month or so. We have been
seeing metal, classic rock, old school 90's (Zero is awesome), and
other genres (I'm not even going to try to classify Mother Hips
since they seem to fit in a couple of sub-genres). So, to add some
modern mislabeled "emo", I cannot complain. Yes, I would like
something else for myself, but there are fans of this type of music,
so it's not my place to say that Harmonix is wrong by adding
anything...even if it's not the right songs for this Rock Band
Also on the note
of Rock Band DLC, the
Wii and PS2 versions will see some extra love. On July 15, a
track pack will be sold on a separate disk that can be used on these
two consoles to give access to twenty new tracks with no artist
being represented more than once on the disk. All tracks are
masters, and it covers a pretty nice genre selection. The final
price is about $30 for this disk.
The sad part is
that there isn't much choice and you have to hit so many genres if
you want this. It would be cool if Harmonix could just offer smaller
packs of like songs (maybe a Boston disk for $15, etc.). Maybe even
have a monthly disk assortment, like a digital magazine, that could
be picked up from a store or ordered online? However, showing any
love to this level is a good thing for the people who don't have any
choice but to go with the bastardized versions of Rock Band.
My question is how
will this be utilized. Will you have only access to these songs when
the disk is in and not to the base game songs, or will it allow both
sets of play lists but you'll still need to swap disks? How much is
this going to feel like extra content instead of a different game?
Will you have to reboot the console to hit up the songs on this disk
versus those on the core game?
I just wish, for
my gaming brethren, that Harmonix would also look at a way to
include BWT on the PS2 and Wii. Yes, without a customized character,
you have nothing to spend your earned cash on, but at the same time
there's something special about just taking the world by storm on
BWT. It gives something more tangible to play for (to close out all
venues) than just playing a single song in your band and trying to
beat them all.
On a different
note, I'm still playing GTA4. I am loving almost every minute of it.
The solo game is sweet, and the plot just keeps getting better with
each new mission. Niko is, without a doubt, the first GTA
protagonist I could find sympathy for. When something bad happens to
family or friends because of his actions, you can see Niko feels for
them...not just for himself. He's looking out for his cousin and his
friends, even if it makes him have to show signs of regret and
remorse. That is a great story telling element.
I'm also really
finding a lot of love for the online part of the game. I have not
used my XBox Live Gold for it's real purpose for well over a
year...until GTA4 became a regular nightly online thing. The online
alone is almost worth the price of the game.
My only new
complaint is the damned cell phone. I like the concept and how it's
supposed to be used, but I don't like how quickly Niko uses it to
call a mission giver after the mission is finished. The follow up
call is great, but couldn't Niko wait until any hostiles in the area
are gone. For example, I did a mission last night, and it ended with
the police having me at a two star rating. Instead of waiting to
make a call, Niko stopped running, pulled out his cell, called his
contact, and then dropped dead from a police officer's bullet taking
him out. That is just not cool.
At least dying
only takes some money and leaves you with all your guns, so it's not
the game breaker than it was in earlier GTA games. Still, I'd rather
not have Niko die just because he's a cell addict.
On a side note,
the online dating is awesome. Not just for what it allows you to do
in the game, but for what it opens. For example, one online date,
when wooed enough, will take out any two star or lower problem for
you instantly by pulling in a favor with the DA. That's pretty
sweet. Add in a nurse who will help you heal over the phone, getting
a 50% discount on clothes shopping for the rest of the day, and what
other friends will do (free car rides, mobile weapon shop with
discounted prices, etc.) and this is so much better than what they
would do for you in GTA:SA.
Anyway, time is
short, so I'll wrap things up for today right here.
I think it's funny
Rockstar is on the other end of the law. This time they (as in
their parent company, Take Two) are suing someone. While I'm not
normally one for frivolous lawsuits, I think this has some merit to
Yes, it's minor.
Yes, it's pretty stupid. However, considering the Chicago Transit
Authority pulled GTA4 ads for a really pointless reason, I think
it's only fair for the other shoe to drop. Afterall, these ads were
not pulled because of what GTA4 is or what it will do, but rather
because of what GTA:SA had (Hot Coffee, etc). That's like trying to
block ads for the Halloween movie produced by Rob Zombie because of
something done in the old Halloween movies. It's trying to take a
proactive step against something that it under more scrutiny and
under a different direction than the offender. Hell...it's like
preventing a person from getting a bank job because their father or
grandfather was once under investigation for bank robbery. It's a
different entity and you cannot attack something just because of
Under those same
principals, Hillary Clinton should not be allowed to campaign
because Bill was impeached. It's the same line of thinking; attack
something new for what its past relationships had involved, rather
than for its own actions or merits.
Anyway, I'm still
taking my time with GTA4. I cannot find the mindset to rush through
this game. I also can't find the time since I have too much on my
plate right now. However, even with all the time in the world, I
still would hate to rush this game in any way. In fact, that is the
sole reason I can promise that I will never aim for all the
achievements...in particular, the one for beating the entire story
in less than 30 hours. That's just not my idea of how to enjoy a
game. It's also why I never gave in to the whole Gamer Score/Gamer
Points thing on the 360. You are rewarded for not having fun more
times than not.
While some games
are only out to give achievements for beating the game, too many
focus on repetition or rushing through a good game. For example, I
didn't want to beat Tomb Raider Legends with all possible
achievements since it would require replaying too many levels and
that would have ruined my feeling of enjoyment I got from the game.
At the same time,
certain achievements just don't sound like any fun to me. I don't
give a shit about ranked online matches for a game that has always
been primarily offline to me. I play GTA games for the single player
experience, so getting ranks and killing Rockstar employees online
is not my idea of a worthwhile investment. Instead, the achievements
for progressing the plot are the only ones that really
matter...those and for finishing fun side quests like collecting all
ten custom orders Brucie gives you over email (damned fun).
Anyway, I still
have one main island locked and this is fine with me. I'll probably
be on GTA4 for the next few weeks, and then after the single player
is done...maybe I'll have to play again for some different choices
to be made (like deciding who lives and who dies). Then there is
always the co-op and free play online modes to keep me going...all
while waiting for The Cars to come to Rock Band. It really is a good
time to be a gamer.
First of all for
today, I just wasn't impressed when I checked the expert guitar
videos for the new DLC for Rock Band. These songs just didn't do
anything for me. Yes, I think I could stomach the Fallout Boy DLC
more than Dead on Arrival, and the other two songs are not
necessarily bad. However, they just are not my type of music...at
The only song of
the three that has me intrigued is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song. That's
only because the note chart looks a little different. This includes
a fast strum part like found in parts of Creep...but with three note
chords. Very unusual, and looks like it could be a little fun to
I just hope The
Cars album is next weeks DLC since it would give me an incentive to
buy some more DLC in a hurry.
Now, some thoughts
about GTA4...with spoilers about the mission Three Leaf Clover.
Last night, after
clearing all other available missions before it, I started Packie's
missions. These involve a series of crimes to make some quick money.
The most noticeable of these is Three Leaf Clover, since it's the
mission that is found in all GTA games since Vice City; the big time
robbery. In Vice City, it was a bank, in San Andreas it was a
casino, and it's a bank again in GTA4.
The mission itself
can be a lot of fun. You do a bit of driving to get your friends
(starting with three, but soon becomes two partners) to the bank.
Once inside, you grab the money and then the real action begins. You
will have a five start wanted level and an army of cops coming after
you. To complicate matters, you need to escape with two partners and
no car for the first part of the mission. This means you will have a
nice blend of run and gun action with some standard strategized
cover and shoot action.
Eventually, you do
get a car and then you just need to escape from the hell you've
created for yourself. Once you're at this point, you only have three
stars (how did you lose two of those?) and a long drive with plenty
of time to lose the heat, as long as you don't get stopped too badly
by roadblocks on the bridges. In other words, once you're off the
freeway, you're good to treat this like any other three star wanted
While this mission
offers some awesome fun, a few things struck me as I played. First
off, long missions, and this one is long, offer a lot of room for
bullshit to strike you down. This can be from deviating from your
course and then finding your mini-map going retarded (like how it
wanted me to pull a non-stop series of U-turns on the freeway for
one of my failures...), or from just inexplicable things (like being
shot, stepping into your car, in slow motion, and dying at the wheel
without another shot being fired at you...that just confused the
shit out of me).
At least this is
better than some past GTA games since your partners have pretty
smart AI. Right? Wrong! While your partners can be pretty sharp in a
major firefight, they will also become retarded when the action
My first failure
on this mission came when Packie (maybe it was Derek) ran up to
burning cop car. There was no reason for this since the car was out
of the way of where we were going, and there were no cops left
around it. However, Packie wanted to see what fire looked like...up
close. Next thing I know, he's screaming. Luckily he doesn't die
from this fire...unfortunately, while he's running around, I am
trying to take out a cop in the path...and Packie runs into me,
sharing his fiery goodness. Next thing I know, my shot is ruined as
Niko is screaming in pain. I come out of the fire state with only
enough health left to take one more pistol shot. That is what does
me in about ten seconds later...a single pistol wound to my charred
In the end, this
mission took me about five attempts. Was it hard? Not really. If you
use some tactics (cover is good and well times grenades are
awesome), come in with full weapons and armor (at least full rounds
for a SMG and an assault rifle...you'll want this help), and think
out situations, you'll be fine. However, difficulty and stupidity
are not always on the same page. When Packie is lighting you on
fire, mini-maps go crazy, and magic bullets cause you to die three
seconds later (luckily that was the only time I've seen this
happen), you can easily lose your patience...and then you die from
your own stupidity.
I think if the
fire incident never happened, I would have knocked out this mission
in one take. Then I would have been good to call this an awesome
mission. Sadly, that fiery Packie only led to me feeling relief to
lay this mission to rest.
At least I now
have access to all islands, all girlfriends, and I now have a nice
amount of cash (Three Leaf Clover gives a quarter million dollars!).
One thing I'm
starting to realize as I progress through GTA4 is that the plot
starts to get thin in a hurry. For a large part of the game, you
have a main objective of looking out for your cousin Roman. However,
after you reach a certain point, I'm having trouble seeing why Niko
is doing what he is doing.
For example, right
now Niko is working for a few different people in my game. They are
the only missions available, and none of them tie in to Roman or
seeking revenge against a person in Niko's past (that whole "I'm
looking for somebody" line in the commercials). Two of the people
are part of a family of Irish Americans who I met due to working for
people not tied in with the plot. The other is a man who I met
through one of the other two's brother.
I'm for there
being missions not tied in to the actual main plot, but I have
trouble finding the plot compelling once I'm only able to work for
people unrelated to my real goals. It's like trying to read a story
that takes such a sudden twist that it's not even the same story
anymore. It's almost like watching From Dusk Till Dawn. At first
that movie was about a family being taken hostage by some criminals,
but then it's a vampire flick in which the hostages and their
criminal overlords are now buddies.
I'm still playing
and trying to have fun, but when this was the first GTA I ever
played with a truly compelling plot, it just lowers my whole level
of esteem for the game and for Rockstar.
Guitar Hero, the
franchise, will be making
"a significant leap forward in innovation" in the fourth quarter
of 2008. Yup...sounds about right. Afterall, GH is now old
technology in a world that has Rock Band (four players and
instruments versus two with GH).
I foresee, in the
fourth quarter, the big innovation will actually be the addition of
more instruments. At which point, the name "Guitar" Hero will no
longer seem completely appropriate. To balance this fact, the game
will still primarily focus on guitar, but I see the addition of
drums and vocal...and maybe a keyboard. However, the only real
innovation is going to be borrowing off of Neversoft's ideas, like
Activision is already doing with it's ownership of the GH name.
When the only real
"innovation" from Neversoft has been the DS version of GH (On Tour)
coming next month, they don't exactly show a large ability to
innovate. In fact, as an expert guitar player on RB and on any sane
GH (not GH3), I have serious reservations about only seeing four
fret buttons on the DS version. Afterall, the big thing that
separates hard and expert from the lower levels is that you have
five buttons, and thus you need to slide you hand and stretch your
fingers. I personally don't even see why a fifth button could not
have been added to balance out this issue.
Speaking of rock
in games, and I'll change the subject to good games now, the
DLC for Rock Band this upcoming week is some more Clash (Train
in Vain), Blondie (Hanging on the Telephone), and Sonic Youth (Kool
Thing). All of these are master tracks that will be running the
usual 160MP ($2) per song. It doesn't look like there will be a
bargain pack price on this stuff, even though they could all fit
into a very loosely defined group.
I'm glad to see
that The Clash is getting more songs, since they are one of the few
punk bands that can keep a very different sound with each song (like
with Social D...now where is my Mike Ness action at, Harmonix?).
It's also nice to see more Blondie coming our way, even if we did
just get some a few weeks ago (more variety or less from an artist
in a small time frame would be good).
As for Sonic
Youth...I guess some people like them. I know I sure as hell don't.
Especially, I can't stand Kool Thing (does the "k" make it extra
cool? Maybe it would have been "kewl" if it came out in today's
1337-speak world). I didn't like this song on GH3, and I actually
have dreaded the idea of it coming to Rock Band. I guess that
dreaded feeling is now here. Ok...enough of my personal preference.
It's new music, it's a new artist to RB, and therefore I still give
it my (reluctant) nod of approval.
This pack does
make up, in terms of style differences, for last weeks "scene" pack.
So, in my eyes, it's all good. Plus, since it's not a pack, I can
skip Sonic Youth and not feel like I'm not getting the best price
deal possible. Hopefully the following week will be The Cars...but I
see that not happening for an additional week since Harmonix would
probably not want to hit up two weeks of the 80's in a row. At least
they have been doing a great job on getting variety between weeks in
era and genre.
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