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Malik (5/27/08)

Today, The Cars is up on XBox Live for Rock Band's weekly DLC. We are finally into having whole albums as a monthly tradition.

This should be an album that will be one of my few "automatic downloads". That is to say that I don't need to check out these songs, in youtube clips, to know that I need to rock out to these songs.

According to Wikipedia, these songs all fall into the pretty easy range (3-4 tier on band with only the vocals going constantly higher than that on individual instruments). I have no problem with that. While I do like a good challenge, as opposed to an annoying challenge of hammer-on hell, I like good songs to rock out to more than songs to make me sweat. The Cars definitely fits the bill of being good fun.

Sadly, I may not get these songs on my XBox 360. Why? Because I need a new 360. It's sad to say, but my launch unit is almost ready to go off into the sunset. While it will load up (no RROD) fine, the drive refuses to spin 19 times out of 20. This means that I usually spend about 30 minutes of swearing and shifting the console (vertical then horizontal and back again) and messing with cables while toggling the power before I get the console to run without telling me the disk is unplayable. It may finally be time to put out the money for a new console. At least the HDD is fine, so I can look at the cheaper options. Sadly, it means I have to be logged in to Live to use any of my DLC when I pick up my new console. At least the old one can still be used as a Media Center Extender in another room...for whatever that's worth.

It's not all bad news for me. I did get a new (new?) vintage guitar this weekend. According to the internet, it looks like it never existed. It is probably a cheap Japanese knock-off axe from the mid to late 1960's. Then again, it could be from a small serious manufacturer. It's a "G Holiday" electric. Beyond some dirt on the knobs and switches, it's a solid guitar and it feels really good.

The downside is that it's a high pitch little bitch when plugged in, but that can be dealt with using something like the Digitech Whammy pedal (which I picked up yesterday).. While the electronics are scratchy, it still does work (when it's set up, you can't mess with the switches unless you want to take a few minutes to get it sounding good again).

Best of all, it looks damned sexy. Between having some good action (this axe is built for speed...thrash and punk should be good on it) and a vintage sunburst pattern that is nearly flawless, there is nothing sweeter than holding this thing and just looking like you're ready to rock out for anything that crosses your path. It's just sad that the electronics will be hard to faithfully fix since I can't find this make anywhere on the net (so I don't know what works best for it).

Anyway, it's now time to see if I can load up Rock Band or if I need to hit a store and get a new console...sigh...

Added:  All of the above was posted before I was home for the day.  After getting home, not only did my 360 work (YES!!!), but I got the whole The Cars album.

First of all, the guitar is not hard on any of these songs, but you still will get a nice workout.  After one try per song, I actually got only 4 stars on two songs due to amazingly quick and surprising hammer-on phrases.  I also did get gold stars on Moving in Stereo (such a fun song to play and fun to listen to).

Overall, I can't name a single song on this album that is not worth the cost.  This is not just a great party album, it's also ideal for anyone who's working on building their expert guitar techniques (a lot of quick strumming, hand position changes, hammer-ons, and other fast techniques).  Also, on an extra note, Don't Cha Stop is the first song to actual cause my left (fretting) wrist to burn.


Malik (5/28/08)

Malik=sick.  Just saying since my thoughts are less intact when I am ill.

Gamestop has listed the price for GH: World Tour at $190. I find this...umm..less than likely to be the full real world price. Activision has not yet announced a formal price, but this is only what Gamestop is listing it as.

I find this number a bit hard to be called reliable due to only one thing; wireless. With everything being wireless, this will naturally jack up the production costs. If you look at the price of some wired things that have wireless analogues (360 controller, GH3 guitar versus the GH2 guitar, and so on), the price difference is usually at least $10 apart. So, for all instruments to be wireless, I would expect a higher price.

Then again, Activision could be trying to take over the rhythm genre and the best way may be to take a hit in the finances. So, losing a little money now may be a good way to save money and make money in the long run.

Speaking of wireless on GH:WT, I have one long standing question; why do the drums have to be wireless? Doesn't this just mean that more money is wasted on batteries (or battery packs)? It's not like a wireless drum kit gives one more freedom. Afterall, if you plan to move around with the drums (the only true usage for such wireless technology), then maybe you should be playing the guitar or bass parts...or even singing.

It may make the drums easier to set up by being wireless, but this amount of time that's saved is going to be so small and unimportant when compared to the time required to change batteries when the instrument needs more juice. It's like making a car than can go twice as long between oil changes but then requiring a complete tune-up every month. Probably a bad example, but it's the best my brain can do right now. The amount of time saved on one side will not outweigh the extra time consumed in the other part.

Anyway, I see only one thing really keeping Activision in the game, so to speak. If they want to take on Harmonix, they will need one thing that GH games have never been good about; frequent and varied DLC. If GH:WT keeps the usual trend (three songs or less each month), then Rock Band will escape without a single scratch. The other thing I would need from GH:WT, to be considered in my home, is compatibility with all the Rock Band instruments (I don't have space or money for another full instrument pack...especially the space issue fits for drums) and note charts that don't put on false challenges (phantom notes, excessive three note chords, etc).


Malik (5/29/08)

Finally a deserving game gets a sequel. Yes, Beyond Good and Evil is going to be returning sometime in the future...most likely 2008.

As I once said during my obsessions with the original BG&E game, this game needs to be continued in a franchise. The original offered so much detail and depth, while giving a world completely unique to it's own ideas and atmosphere. It was like having "yet another Zelda clone", but with a world that made it worth playing.

In fact, the only part of the original game that didn't make me hungry for more was the final boss fight (incredibly annoying and frustrating). Everything else was way too much fun and consuming to not be revered as one of the best games of the decade. In fact, this would easily qualify BG&E as, in this geek's humble opinion, the single best overlooked game in existence. Even Okami (which was not given enough attention by gamers, despite being critically acclaimed...just like BG&E) cannot hold a candle to this property.

Now if only Okami could get a full fledged sequel, I would be able to consider that the sequel/cash cow friendly game environment is finally shifting in the right direction.

Tomorrow will (or should) be the announcement for next week's DLC for Rock Band. I'd like to place my bet today as it being a heavy pack. The songs will be somewhat heavy, and it might even be the metal pack that has been rumored since February. Either that, or it will be something very modern (like the Scene Pack), but with far edgier of songs.

Now, I return to being sick.


Malik (5/30/08)

I was partially correct yesterday.  There will be some modern and heavy DLC tracks for Rock Band.  This is the Disturbed pack that was promised for free for people who pre-ordered the new Disturbed CD.  Each song is free if you pre-ordered the new CD through the correct channels.  On the other hand, it's 80MP per song, or 240MP for the pack.  This is something interesting since it's the first time a pack has been a $1 per song track pack.

On the other hand, and this is unusual, there is a second pack.  If Disturbed is not your thing, then you can get, for $2 each (440MP/$5.50 for the 3 song pack), some master tracks from Jimmy Buffett.  These songs were all freshly recorded for Rock Band (in order to get masters and not just some cover versions).  They include Margaritaville , which should easily be a hit song to play in casual parties.

While the price of $2 per song is a bit high for something that like this, it's nice to see Harmonix doing something new.  That new thing would be releasing two completely different packs in a week.  I hope this remains a constant type of thing.  While these packs may not appeal to some gamers, a good amount of people may find one or the other pack to be some good fun.


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