I took a long weekend. I had some things to do (like going to and
recovering from a concert) and some things I had to not do (anything
constructive). It basically led to a slow and relaxation filled
There is the fact that the
20GB HDD for the 360 is going away. This is all part of
Microsoft bringing the expectations for 360 owners to 60GB. After
all the DLC I've gotten for Rock Band, I can understand this change.
However, I don't understand the elimination of the 20 GB model. Yes,
20 is not a good size for anyone who likes a lot of DLC, but it's
also a really nice solution for those who want a HDD and just don't
plan to use it that much.
I mean I did survive for nearly three years on a 20 GB HDD (it will
probably end up being more than three years...but the console hasn't
been out that long yet), and it should be sold at a discount to help
bring all 360s into the realm of having HDDs. Afterall, if the HDD
is as affordable as the memory unit, then Microsoft would have a
good reason to finally drop their lame expectations on game
designers and publishers. That lame expectation would be how
developers are expected to make no HDD required games (and thus no
streamlining of data access to lower load times).
My only question in this change in HDD sizes is if the previous
rumors come out to be true; the
rumor of no transfer cable being included in separately sold
60GB HDDs. If this is the case, Microsoft will be limiting the
number of happy consumers they could win over with a new HDD.
Anyway, the only real take away message this generation of gaming is
really instilling within this geek is simple; there are too many
versions of the same damned consoles. Personally, I'm hoping that
next generation will see a reversion to the good old days of
basically every previous console generation. In other words, a
revisiting of the current Nintendo strategy; one console. I've grown
tired of constant changes in configurations and removal of hardware
from the retail sector as Microsoft and Sony keep trying for some
half-assed attempt to one up the other. I think this is a small, but
important and ignored, factor in why Nintendo is doing so well with
the Wii this generation. Most consumers don't want to worry about
their console being obsolete in one form or another before the
console is actually obsolete.
To round out things for today, there's some awesome
news from E3 from Harmonix. If the link is 100% spot on, then
the final RB2 track list is final (and in that link). A lot of
awesome songs, even if the 1950's are still
unrepresented...sigh...Chuck Berry is still awesome in my books.
Also, where's a better assortment of the 1960's? In fact, I'm also
confused by the lack of Freeze Pop...but then again it might be
included in the future...
Ok...the lack of
1950's and the limit of 1960's is probably due to a lack of usable
master tapes. However, I still wouldn't be opposed to some "As
Made Famous By" action when it comes to the true classics. I
mean Fortunate Son is awesome by CCR, but even the cover on RB is
better than no cover or master.
On top of the tracks listed, Harmonix wanted to go triple digit for
the RB2 launch but didn't have the time. So, about 20 master tracks
will be a free download in the future to make up for this time
constraint. Now this is nothing short of showing dedication as a
good game designer. While this may be a way to convince people to
take on RB over Rock Revolution or GH:WT, I think it goes beyond a
marketing ploy. I think this just shows, deep down, what I've always
felt; Harmonix is one of those rare groups that seems to make games
more out of a love for the game than a love of the money. They just
happen to score a double whammy (also getting the money) by the
brilliance of their moves.
To go one more step, on day one, the tracks from RB1 are supposedly
going to be exportable to be added to RB2. I still want to know how
this will be worked around in the DRM world, but I think the how is
not nearly as important as the what. The what in this case being
I just hope the song selection screen is really as streamlined and
fine tuned as humanly possible. Afterall, it's bad enough thinking
of sorting through the list with the current list of around 200
songs. Add in the potential of around 400-500 songs by the end of
2008 and there's a lot of room for a nightmare labyrinth of song
Some cool things
are coming from Microsoft.
At least they claim so in their E3 presentation. There are some
real things that are good to know. For example, Fable 2 is going to
come out when it was being expected;
As for what
Microsoft thinks is cool, I'm not too convinced. I watched their E3
press conference or presentation thing last night on G4 (it's good
background while I was playing guitar). I have to say I'm far from
Final Fantasy XIII
coming to the 360 is not too big of a jump in what should be
expected. The PS3 is not the console to use as your main vehicle if
you want to impress anyone outside of Japan. Therefore, knowing
Square Enix wants to sell a good amount of units in the US, Canada,
and Europe, it only makes sense to support their most anticipated
game on the most important console of this generation for "teh
As for my
thoughts...I have not given FF games one bit of attention since FFX
started the downward spin of what was once FF games. The games used
to be about fun RPG glory, but FFX started the turn towards thinking
visuals and emo characters could replace classic styled adventuring.
It was also when the idea of complex dungeons were replaced with
tiny temples and MMO-style environments. SE has a lot to do to make
me even give their games any attention, outside of any of their
remakes and ports.
Microsoft also has
new deals with NetFlix and NBC/Universal. Once again, I'm not
impressed. NetFlix could be fun, as long as it's done correctly
(like their current streaming boxes). Otherwise, I'll be fine with
Velveta (who has our home's account with the big red envelopes)
ordering regular DVDs through the mail and streaming via my PC
(which is fully integrated to my TV without any extra boxes). The
NBC/Universal stuff doesn't sit at all with me, since I've dealt
with enough of their stupidity in the form of shows that I can DVR
for free but have to pay to watch On Demand on Comcrap cable. I can
watch CSI for free (if I liked CSI) from the CBS tab, but I have to
pay $1-$2 per each episode of Heroes depending on if it's HD or
standard definition. I could not care less about NBC/Universal
trying to make another dollar on the cheap. Plus, most of their
shows are either only really good for one viewing (DVR to the
rescue) or can be found in syndication (like My Name is Earl and The
The big change to
Microsoft's offering this year is one I wish I could not take part
in. The next 360 Dashboard update is looking rather familiar. Maybe
it's because it is a blend of the Sony style of menus (found at
least on the PSP) with Media Center. In other words, it's a perfect
menu for people who are too damned stupid to navigate a simple 360
Dashboard style menu. It looks, in it's entirety, like change for
the sake of change.
Then there's also
Miis. Sorry...they're called avatars (speaking of which, new Avatar
episodes on airing this week with the finale coming in a 2 hour
movie on Saturday...now there's some bitter sweet, but good, news).
Just because the Wii can use Miis to help make the experience more
user friendly and fun for casual gamers, it seems Sony and Microsoft
both have to hope on the "cute" train. This is something I wish I
could just throw under a train and not have to deal with.
It's one thing if
they had minor uses outside of some games, like how the Miis are.
It's another thing when my friend list is now going to be some
overly expanded crap so I can see their damned avatars. I don't care
about making my profile into some simple and uncreative stick
figure. At least a gamer pic shows a little bit about who you are,
if you care about it (I don't, so I have the free monkey picture for
mine). You can buy the cheap pack of Penny-Arcade gamer pics and
show you love PA. You can get some free gamer pics from certain
games and show your fanboy-ism with them. As for these avatars; they
are paper dolls that have the same set clothing in the end. Also,
when avatars rule the 360 world, what does this mean for people who
bought gamer pics. Are they double screwed (screwed in their
stupidity for buying them and screwed when they no longer mean
I just one change
on the update for the 360. One minor change. Let me have a way to
set when I am alerted to friends coming online. I am sick of playing
a game and watching one of my friends who has severe internet issues
blinking on my screen over and over again as they repeatedly sign in
and disconnect. Is that really asking too much?
The only true
change that I am happy to see is the ability to
play games off of the 360 HDD. I figured this would be a logical
addition after the removal of 20GB HDDs and the addition of 60 GB
drives. It's only natural. Especially when you look at how much the
360 is imitating other companies this year (Miis, PSP menu system).
It's about right for the only truly important feature of the PS3 to
now be taken on by Microsoft.
this is going to allow HDDs to be used for installation of games,
but it doesn't answer the lingering question; is this opening the
door for Microsoft to encourage developers to require the HDD?
That's more important than the installation on it's own. It's one
thing to install a game that requires the DVD, but it's another to
have the ability to buy a game that cannot handle the 360 without
the HDD. If this question is answered with a resounding "yes", then
it may be a big blow for their console in the battle with Sony. If
it's a "no", then we're more or less still where we are right now,
but with a little less wear and tear on our DVD drives...and a
quicker and quieter load time for games.
Anyway, The Who
Pack is out today and it looks like a
good variety of tiers. The one main constant is that it looks
like easy to medium on guitar and bass, easy to hard on vocals (wide
variety), and a good workout on drums (all tiered 6-9 except for a
single tier 1 in Eminence Front). Plus, of course, these are awesome
songs. This is one pack I will not even look up on youtube prior to
purchasing. It shall be mine after posting this.
Also, on a final
note; to repeat what I said earlier, there is new Avatar on
Nickelodeon this week. I'm a huge fan of the show, and it's sad to
see it wrapping up, but it's good that it will get a conclusion that
many other American animated shows never got to realize. It's on
each night around 5-ish (Pacific/PST) and Saturday is a 2 hour
finale/movie at 5 PM PST.
After trying each
of the new The Who tracks on expert guitar, I have to say that the
vast majority of the songs are beyond worth the price. As for the
ones not in this category, they would fit into my view of worth the
price. In other words, these are all definite buy songs. With the
price discount of buying the 12 song pack for the price of 10
individual tracks, there is no reason to not buy the whole package.
There were also
some nice (and a couple not-so-nice) surprises. Since it's The Who,
it is only natural to expect some good charts. However, the charts
go beyond being faithful to the songs. They are damned fun to play.
There's even some definite surprises in challenge (Young Man Blues
comes to mind).
Best of all, these
are songs that feel like Harmonix gave them the entire treatment.
I've noticed a good amount of DLC tracks seem to lack much in the
way of audience participation when you hit a nice groove (read: full
rock meter). These songs all have some great sounding and
On a different
note, it looks like
the 40GB version of the PS3 is on it's way out. In it's place,
Sony is now bringing in an 80GB version for $400...but without any
First off, I think
it's rather weak to see so little love given to BC on this console.
Let's face the truth; the PS3 library is still less than amazing,
but the PS2 still has a lot of fun games to play. Hell, even the PSX
has some great games worth revisiting (I'm currently in something
like my 7th or 8th play through of Xenogears...on the BC friendly
PS2). Until Sony can offer a great line up of games to make the
purchase worthwhile, they need to at least include BC on the PS3.
This also goes
back to what I said yesterday. If the technological console makers
(Microsoft and Sony) want to break into some amazing sale numbers,
they should look at what the Wii is doing. Yes, the 360 has a large
audience, and Sony keeps claiming that the PS3 is doing great (I
still don't quite see it that way), but why not try to win over some
casual gamers to make an even larger profit?
The best way to
get these potential customers is to not offer so many choices that
would make the console look like a risky investment. "I could buy an
80GB PS3, but if it goes away in a year, would I be better waiting
for the next version?" These types of doubts can be rectified with
one solid platform release. Either that, or make one obviously
casual gamer friendly model that is never altered. As long as the
cheapest console in a console family is expensive and looks like
it's a half assed version that will not have a long life span, the
casual gamers will not want to get involved. That's the beautify of
the Wii; one version for a good low (in comparison to the
competition) price. No doubt and no uncertainty.
At the same time,
I can tell you my small want to a PS3 (I am a collector of consoles)
is now running thinner with this announcement. If I was to get a
PS3, I wouldn't care one damned bit if it's 40GB or 80GB. In my
eyes, 20GB has done me quite well on the 360, so 40GB would suit me
for all time. However, when you offer me twice the space for the
same price, but then remove my ability to play any of my vast
collection of PSX and PS2 games on the system, then the console
looks pretty damned lame to me. Especially when I know that the
previous version would have allowed this functionality. 40GB is not
worth the price of BC, unless there was previously 0GB out of the
box...and then it's still a toss up.
At least Nintendo
is offering something that will win over a lot of people;
Wii Speak and Animal Crossing: City Folk. On November 16th,
Nintendo is bringing back the one game guaranteed to outsell nearly
anything else in the works for the holiday season from any
developer. Animal Crossing is a phenomena that cannot be calculated
with logic or common sense. It's an addiction that captures both
casual and less-than-casual players. Adding in the long overdue
voice chat (even if it's of a speaker phone style) for $30 more will
only make this look better to the casual gamers and hardcore alike.
As it stands, just
from what I've read so far, the three major consoles are Wii
dominated at this years E3. While Microsoft is throwing around
recycled crap (Media Center and Miis), and Sony is causing more
pointless changes (20GB, 40GB, 80GB...who even cares anymore) and
elimination of quality (BC going away for the $400 console),
Nintendo has to only say Animal Crossing to look damned good. Add in
voice chat (even if it's long overdue) and there's only one more
thing I would ask for from my Wii...the ability to use SD cards in a
worthwhile way (like for DLC).
I can't say I'm
all that surprised. Beyond the new HDD changes to the PS3 and 360,
there is almost nothing newsworthy at E3 this year. Yes, there's a
date for Animal Crossing on the Wii, and a set date for Fable 2.
Beyond those two tiny details, the only other product to get any
real attention worth mentioning is the obvious awesomeness of Rock
Band 2 (it's track list, RB1 songs coming to RB2, the 20 free songs
for DLC in the future, and the rest of the cool stuff).
There's a reason
I'm not surprised that I can summarize anything I feel is important
(or is being made to sound important) in one paragraph. It's because
of how the ESA and E3 are on their way out. I am expressing my
opinion, not a fact. However, with many companies leaving the ESA
and with how the ESA neutered E3 a couple years ago, it's obvious
that this is no longer the big time of year to get hyped. This is
now just another show. The GDC, PAX, GenCon, CES, the Tokyo Game
Show, and so many other events, including privately orchestrated
ones are just laying E3 into a space that doesn't fill any needed
void. In fact, E3 is redundant and just feels forced.
The one sad part
of this, beyond seeing what was once beyond the ultimate in awesome
times for the game community being laid to sleep, is that news is
not available on anything worthwhile this week. All of the media
seems to still be stuck on showcasing E3, despite how it's just not
all that important anymore.
Well, to continue
a trend I've done in the past, it's Thursday. That means I will
wager a guess on some DLC thoughts for Rock Band. Personally, I
think this week will probably see something more subdued and modern
being announced (to counter balance The Who). However, I also am
guessing between now and September that we will get some more large
packs. Not necessarily this week, since The Who was in a 12 song
pack. However, large numbers of songs will probably rain down as we
see things that either weren't ready in time for the final RB2 set
list get finished as well as songs that couldn't fit into the final
list of RB2 but would still be worthwhile DLC.
More than that, I
see large sets coming out for one key reason; backwards
compatibility. This means if about 6-9 songs are released per week
for RB1, then the library of songs available for RB2 at launch will
be even larger. This would be a great thing to show off to help with
RB2 sales numbers. Imagine the game saying something like, "84 songs
on the game and a possibility of 350 songs from day one!" It just
makes a great selling point for the new game, and as competition
heats up from Activision and Konami, selling points are great things
for all companies to be looking at.
I was ready to
call it quits for E3 stuff until one of my friends sent me a link to
there is now officially a KOTOR MMO (or KOTOR Online...or
whatever you want to call it) in the works. This is the type of news
that makes me very happy...and then incredibly sad. Happy? I loved
KOTOR and KOTOR2 and would go ape shit to play another game in that
timeline. It was some of the best Star Wars and RPGs I've seen. To
put those two awesomenesses together is just icing on the cake. To
make a third game is like super icing on an awesome cake (ok, my
metaphor got away from me).
As I put in an
email to my friend...actually, here is that email since it
summarizes it all quite nicely.
I would OMG
KOTOR...except there was one main thing that drew me to that game,
and it's the one part I don't see coming with any MMO; a solid plot
that you can play out from start to finish. I don't just mean the
overall plot, but also plot that unfolds as you develop, and even
manipulate/influence, you allies. If they announced a KOTOR3 (read:
non-MMO), I would have some confused coworkers as I sat at my PC and
giggled uncontrollably for the next hour. An MMO just misses out on
too many things that mattered (at least to me) with the original two
plot (ok...KOTOR 2 had issues there, but it was close to complete
and was pretty cool if you read the hacked script for the real
ending). Star Wars, except when Lucas went insane, always was
focused around some fun plot concepts. Sometimes they were shallow,
but they were still pretty awesome. Sadly, no MMO can fully handle a
plot with all that much depth since there's no structure to it
within the confines of having different PCs at different points in
on others (the persuasion/mind-trick/intimidate abilities just will
not make a good transition to MMO and that was an awesome part of
KOTOR). Maybe the MMO will use it to make item prices change or some
lame thing like that, but it's not the same.
different classes (face it, 95% of the players will be jedi of one
type or another) to balance out the party aspect. I don't see too
many Astronavigation driods running around, but those parts of KOTOR
were fun to me.
-The fun of an
evil play through in which you try your hardest to kill off (in the
plot) as many allies as possible...and to turn to the dark side any
who will follow your corrupt lead. Or even a good play through (for
those who follow that light side idea) and trying to save your
friends who may have fallen from the path.
Ok, I'll stop
my rant now.
I'm finally happy
about something with
Neversoft's treatment of the Guitar Hero franchise. I could not
have seen myself happy with them in the past with their overly
difficult charting of songs and their strong stance on making
instruments from other games (read: Rock Band) not compatible with
GH3. I figured that Neversoft would never make me happy with the
game franchise I once loved so much.
Don't get me
wrong...even with a small change, I would still be uncertain if
GH:WT belonged in my home. Afterall, I would still need to see what
they would do to make the game worth my time and money.
However, now that
it's been stated that Harmonix's instruments are going to work with
GH:WT, I have less to worry about with Neversoft. In fact, allowing
the RB drums to work on GH:WT, even with a lack of one pad, shows
some major trust and respect from Neversoft. Afterall, they had/have
to take extra time to program GH:WT to play the drum line with one
less button/pad. So, to make this change shows one of two things.
Maybe Neversoft is
just trying to make gamers happy by not forcing the purchase of yet
another overly large drum kit with a higher than average controller
price. This scenario would be the one where Neversoft respects the
gaming audience they want.
The other scenario
is what I feel is more likely; Neversoft is scared of Harmonix. RB
has an established audience, they have a large library of DLC, and
they have a new game coming out several months before GH:WT (at
least on the 360). This would put the new GH:WT multi-instrument
franchise at risk of being ignored by gamers. To allow the gamers to
play with other controllers, then the price to play is only $60
instead of nearly $200...and this would help to influence gamers to
give GH:WT a chance.
Of course, when
you add in that
GH:WT will have the great one (aka: Jimi Hendrix) on the game
and more DLC promised to follow, there's another reason for me to
give some more of my potential love to the GH world. That's assuming
that one of two things happens; either Harmonix cannot get a license
for Hendrix and/or Neversoft stops over charting songs.
I was also pretty
spot on on part of my prediction yesterday...the
Rock Band DLC for next week will be of the more modern variety.
Also, I had a feeling that we'd see more than three songs, and I
think this trend will continue up through September. It will be
another three song pack from NIN and two songs from Shinedown. It
will also be the usual variety of $5.50 for the three pack of NIN or
$2 per song for any of the songs separately.
Anyways, the songs
are Capital G, Burn, and Last from NIN and Devour and Junkies For
Fame from Shinedown. The only really cool thing in this set of DLC
is just like when Saints of Los Angeles premiered on RB, Junkies For
Fame has never been released before in other formats.
I just have two
beefs with this...
First off, I wish
we'd get some more coverage of bands not so well saturated into Rock
Band. I'm not talking about Shinedown, but NIN. We already have four
NIN songs. Maybe some more coverage of bands that are not on DLC but
are on the base game (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), ones that have only
gotten a single DLC track (I don't care if it's a cover, give me
some more CCR), or bands that have not been seen in RB or in a
rhythm game at all (Reel Big Fish would be awesome, and maybe
some...ohhh...I don't know...Social Distortion...yes Social D is on
GH3 and coming to RB but I want some now).
The other thing I
am sick of is less about content and more with the
announcements...and prices of things in general. I don't budget gas
at $4.499. I budget at $4.50. I don't see any $59.99 games. I see
$60 games. Those are just annoying bits of life that are a worthless
excuse to do thing like how the Wii was announced as being under
$250 prior to it's release (sorry, I can't see $249.99 as less than
$250 since a penny is worth just a hair more than shit to me and
anyone over the age of five).
However, I am even
more annoyed with Harmonix constantly stating you can get a pack for
"$5.49 (440 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360)". Just raise the price
for PS3 owners by one damned cent and quit this bullshit.
I don't know why
this annoys me so much...but it might just be that I type this as I
sit at work and really want to start my weekend and see The Dark
Knight. That's probably it...
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