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Malik (9/15/08)

Note to self: I need to stop doing this to myself. I keep getting excited for Seahawks games and I keep feeling too much of a gut punch after the fact. I need to go into these games with a lower set of expectations.

True, to be optimistic, not everything was bad. Jones is a damned good running back and can pick up the slack, and then some, from Morris being out. We also have a good tight end, for the first time since Jeremy Stephens broke down, and we have some good play makers on the fly. We also have a great defense...when they're on the offense.

As for the bad, we have no receivers, we have a defense that sucks on the defensive, and we have a lack of offense while we watch our receivers sit out in pain. Hell, Wallace is injured (that started my day on a bad foot), and we saw another temporary receiver go down early in the game. I don't even want to put names in my mind to these receivers because they are made of glass (like the shard in my finger that causes me pain as I type this...that's my random off subject complaint) and will not survive a half of a game.

I think the part that got the most of my rage yesterday was seeing the refs pull some pretty bullshit of calls. One of our pass interference calls was right (I hate to say that, but the first was spot on)...but the one that came about five minutes later and set up another scoring drive for San Francisco was nothing short of bull shit. If the receiver is out of bounds and we intercept, then that is that. It's no call. The same goes when one of the 'Hawks caught a ball and was pushed out of bounds during his catch. That should have been a reception, but the refs decided that it shouldn't count since we're the target of their stupidity for the day. F#@$, that lack of a call came with a ref, literally, five feet from the scene of the crime.

The worst part is that the Seahawks were damned close to winning. Overtime was the time of defeat. We had no starters in most positions, no second QB (only Fry on third string duties), and we still did good. We were a broken team that scored 30 points against a relatively healthy team. Damn...that makes it so much worse. We're also a 0-2 team. The bye week cannot come soon enough. After the Rams next week, we should be seeing some awesome receptions again as Branch and Engram come back. Maybe we'll know, by then, the status of Wallace since no one wanted to mention it yesterday...only thing mentioned was he was out with a calf injury.

At least even a broken team can beat the Rams, so next week will not be quite a painful...unless more injuries come to us before that game ends.

As for the other obvious part of the weekend...I played a good few hours of Rock Band 2 yesterday. Since I'm in a bad mood, due to the Seahawks game, I'll just focus on a few bad points today.

First off, I misunderstood the nature of the changes. I heard how you would have sets that contain DLC (and not just in random or create-a-set). Well, it's not in BWT but in challenge mode (unless it comes to BWT sometime after you've unlocked the bus). Challenge mode is similar to BWT in that you unlock new sets that all have a variety of songs. The difference in modes is that challenge doesn't have the fans, so it doesn't feel quite the same. You don't have the different cities and venues, just an ever expanding set of sets.

Secondly, my drums are now pretty f#@$ed. My yellow pad, like many yellow pads I've seen and know of, is obliterated. It still works, but it looks like my decision to buy the new drums will be rushed upon me. I hope they are not as fragile as the RB drums...or a Seahawk receiver.

My other complaint is that the create a player options still are limited on body styles. You have the same height options, but you get a few new faces. I could have used a little more variety than ranging from lanky dude, fat dude, little dwarf (like D&D dwarf), or small freakish child.

Other than those issues, however, I am enjoying the game. If the dynamic (DLC and RB1 song containing) sets were on BWT, then all would be right with the least the part of the world that doesn't contain the NFL.


Malik (9/16/08)

Today I will stop my bitching. I've had too much negativity with the Seahawks and all that to be a useful geek to these posts, but I think it's time to go over some of the good with RB2.

For one thing, the challenge mode is pretty fun. I've gone through a good half dozen challenges and am enjoying them. On the downside, you don't get fans for them (despite how they feel like sets in BWT). However, you do get the dynamic sets that change according to your DLC. This means you'll see sets like the Live At Leeds Album challenge (all three live tracks from The Who), a set of about ten RB1 warm up (easy) tracks, a whole compilation of The Who songs, and other sets of that nature.

Also, challenge mode is a quick way to unlock all songs. If you play a couple challenges, you'll unlock the decade mini-marathons. Each contains between 2 (for the 60's) and 4 (for all other decades) songs that you play like a normal set in BWT. If you beat these challenges, you'll unlock new decade challenges and all songs from the decade you beat. So, in a matter of about eight total challenges, you'll get all songs unlocked in the game. However, the songs you face are not going to be the easiest ones in the game by any means. 60's has Pinball Wizard (hard as hell compared to most other The Who tracks), and 00's has Chop Suey (which will hurt any expert guitar player).

On another side of the game is the battle of the bands mode. This includes small challenges for online comparison (leaderboard bragging rights). They can be anything from scoring the highest on a given song to trying something a bit different (going for total stars, which is awesome for solo players, or going for the highest note streak on a given instrument). Best of all, if any of your friends have beaten one of these, their name will be up, as well as their score, on the screen as you play so you can feel motivated while playing to beat their best. These also update and change with time (a couple of weeks), so you always have something new. Plus, since many include DLC, you are given several challenges at a time which makes things far more enjoyable if you are not sold on All That Remains (which was a challenge with their three songs in this mode).

Last of all, you have the good old BWT with many of the same features as RB1 had. However, you have some new random events to alter a set. Sometimes you can get more money and/or fans by not getting overdrive phrases (a critic bashed you in a previous article by saying you relied on it too much), getting more money, getting no money but more fans and a cool visual effect (making a video for an art school's project), or even having a setlist change (someone was feeling sick in the band so the last song can be replaced to be easier, but you'll get fewer fans and money). Some of these are just random modifiers like in RB1, but some become new sets (music video shoots).

There's also some changes with new cities (Dublin, Austin, etc.) and venues can become larger than the previous one screen of sets. These include the battle of the band challenges so you can play them as you naturally progress through BWT instead of leaping into something above your abilities.

You also have staff to hire (but for some reason you can only have one hired staff member at a time). Some will earn you more fans or money, but some will also cost you the other (a stylist is expensive, so he takes a cut, but your fans will dig the improved look of the band). You also can unlock some larger venues in certain locations if you hire a promoter for that region.

Now, here's my one big complaint of all of this. BWT allows access to battle of the band challenges as you progress. However, the one thing I don't like is that challenge mode stuff cannot be found in BWT (at least as far as I've seen). Maybe I'm wrong about this since I haven't used a challenge mode obsessed band in BWT or vice versa (two bands and each focuses, for now, on something different). However, if I'm right in this observation, it means you have two different good careers to play through instead of one awesomely perfect career. I'd go for the giant perfect experience over two damned good experiences any day. Especially since challenge gives the good fun of DLC sets, but BWT is where you get the fans that make you feel special and improve you vanity if you're obsessed with leaderboards.

I hope I'm wrong in these being separated, since I've yet to take Ghost Cowboys (my solo band which focuses on challenge mode) into the big wide world...and Boramir's Acupuncture (my group band with BWT on it's mind) has yet to do any challenge mode...I guess time will tell...and hopefully surprised happiness follows.


Malik (9/17/08)

Today I have a final bit of an overview of Rock Band 2.

In the spirit of seeing the Beach Boys last night, I'll go over some missing things that don't destroy the game. However, they are definitely missed. How does that make sense? Well, the Beach Boys were awesome, but you only really have two of the Beach Boys and a bunch of new guys who are not quite the real deal, but still can fill out the sound nicely.

First of all, if you've been trying to find it, there's no Jukebox mode in RB2. This mode was supposed to allow you to play some music while the video was of your band rocking to the songs you pick. Unlike the game, there's no note charts and no reactions of you failing as you don't input anything. In fact, it's like using the stage mode code (which removes the note charts) and the no fail option (which allows you to not fail out, obviously), with the vocalist as the only played character, with the crowd noise completely removed. In other words, you still can half ass the Jukebox mode...just with a required constant flow of the A button to advance from one song to the next. Not quite the same thing, and if you were looking forward to Jukebox mode (a good party music source), you're pretty much out of luck.

Another missing element was band photos. We were once promised a mode where we could pose our band members in whatever positions you want and then be able to take a picture. A lot like how you see your band posing during some loading screens...but under your control. From there, you could create a real life shirt (if you're so inclined) of your band. It's geeky in concept, but isn't that what we, as gamers, are all about?

While this element is missing, rumors imply that a major online component will be coming in the near future. I don't mean online game play, but instead online community stuff (web site and so forth). This may be the opening to bring a patch with this picture mode. While this is not a deal breaker for me, it would be fun to see it still come around in the near future.

Lastly, I saw a lot of implications that the dynamic sets of challenge mode would be in BWT. In fact, I don't think this was explicitly promised, but the wording from Harmonix didn't exactly remove any potential for confusion. Plus, with how challenge mode is so damned similar to BWT, wut without fans, I still don't see why the two were not combined, or why the challenge mode content couldn't be used to gain fans (especially since it's in a band's menu and not under a separate main menu option). Challenge mode, if it didn't lack fans and a world map, would simply be an extension of BWT. I would still love to see these two modes become closer associated in a future update.

The worst part of these modes being separate is that each band has to do the work, twice, of clearing boring sets. You will always have to start with low down things (like Eye of the Tiger) in each mode and you cannot simply jump further along in either mode. It feels, to me, like driving somewhere and arriving at a destination only to remember you had forgotten something at your place of origin...then turning around and repeating the same damned trip but with something else added to your vehicle. In other words, it's a waste of time...but not.

In the end, RB2 is a major step up from RB1. It's like Harmonix kept saying; the first game innovated while the second perfected the formula. It still think that the formula is not 100% perfect (see previous paragraphs), but it's pretty damned close about now.

On another note, the Seahawks finally did something I've been waiting for for the last week and a half; went for Koren Robinson. He was with the Seahawks for the start of his career and was pretty damned good on the field (fast as hell). Yes, he had some problems off the field (booze) and some issues with making a catch (which is the same problem with any Seahawk receiver in the last few years). While I don't know if his hands have become more reliable, I do know that a second chance is deserved by Robinson for his off the field issue. I'm happy to see him coming back to the blue and green of the 'Hawks. Assuming he doesn't become amputated below the knee or explode below the knee like all other Seahawk receivers, now is the time for Koren to come back and become the true star he always had the talent to become.

It's hard to be optimistic about the Seahawks right now, especially for this realist, but I think I'm feeling a slight smile cross my face as I think of next Sunday...and maybe even the rest of the season.


Malik (9/18/08)

Last night I finally finished what I consider the housekeeping segment of RB2. That is to say that I now have all the songs unlocked. Like I've mentioned previously, the quickest way, without a cheat code, to get all songs accessible is to simply beat the decade challenges after your first challenge on challenge mode. Wow...could I put challenge another time in a single sentence? I doubt it.

So, after 21 songs (3 for first challenge, then 4 per decade, but only 2 on the 60's challenge), you have everything unlocked. This method has shown me a few things. For one, the hardest decade challenge on guitar has to be the 70's thanks to Rambling Man, which has a massive solo of the Green Grass style (but far simpler...just long as hell). I also got to see that my fear of Battery is sound (don't worry, it's not part of the 80's challenge).

I also can now see how much I would love these challenge mode sets to be in BWT. Nothing like a good theme set for band play...but sadly it doesn't mean nearly as much to myself if I can't gain fans. Challenge mode only gives money. Still, it's good if you want to use your backup characters (the people you want to fill out your band when you don't have three friends along side you) and get them money to alter their appearances.

Now, my solo band is finally hitting the world tour side of things. I wanted all these songs unlocked for my usual band night on Saturday. As for getting them for my own fun during world tour; not as important.

At least now, Ghost Cowboys (my solo band) is finally on the road to glory and getting what they need; the love and adoration of mindless fans.


Malik (9/19/08)

I just finished writing a nice post. How I do it is to write it out in my email account and send it to myself. Then when I get home, I can update my daily post without having to waste much time beyond editing. Well, I should also add I'm using Internet Explorer and Gmail in this tandem. So, saying that, let me also say one more thing;


I used Gmail and selected to save, instead of send, since it's too early to add my final part on this post (what my thoughts are on the DLC announcement for RB/RB2 for next Tuesday). So, I get a message from Gmail saying to log in (which is weird since I had just logged in to my email 15 minutes earlier). I log in and quickly hit Ctrl+a, Ctrl+c. In other words, if anything goes goofy, I'll have my nearly done post in the PC's memory to paste (Ctrl+v) into something else. Gmail comes back and all looks saved. Then I double check by opening my email thread with the draft and I find...NOTHING!

At this point I paste my post and hit save again. Unfortunately, Gmail now has Ctrl as the quick save button for email drafts. This means that copying and pasting sometimes get f#@$ed up. Well, low and behold, my message pastes. I immediately select to copy one more time before hitting save (redundant since Ctrl saves) and then exit to my inbox. Once again, no saved draft. This time I go to notepad to save my post...and find that in that annoying process of Ctrl being save and Gmail f#@$ing around, my post is gone. What did I say in it? Hell if I know. I was on a roll and was typing entirely off of emotion and weird thoughts of how RB2 can easily hate me (four song random set have me get gold stars on three DLC/RB1 songs I've never golded before and then the game gives me Ride the Lightning and I fail). Also, there was something about what new songs really are no good for expert solo guitar (Eye of the Tiger, De-Luxe, and the new Paramour song). There was a bit about me professing that I hold Paramour as a guilty pleasure, but that song is a bad choice. There was also something about my thoughts on achievements for RB2 (and other games in general).

I think I then shifted gears to talk about how Sunday's Seahawk game will either put my mind at ease, or drive me into a deep sports depression. Something was also included about how Koren Robinson has been missed by the 'Hawks fan, but I hope he doesn't see his knee explode before the game is done.

What else? F#@$ if I know. I know only one thing; F#@$ you Gmail! F$@# you.

So, a final blurb...the DLC announcement for this week for RB/RB2 is Moving Pictures and a bunch of random individual tracks. Everything is $2 (160MP) each and the album is $11 (880MP).

For one thing, it is good to see us getting another album so quickly. Plus, while not exactly a fan, Rush songs are fun to play the charts of on GH or RB games (YYZ is especially fun). Still, it does bring up, once again, how the vocals will be handled in a vocal-free song. I hope this doesn't exclude it from band play when a vocalist is present (just remove the vocalist from that single song in a possible setlist).

The single tracks don't strike me as super awesome or anything, but there's a good variety. Plus, even though I'm not a huge fan, Hot Hot Heat was damned cool to see in real life, so I'll give them a chance. Plus, 13 songs in a week, after having another big amount last week, is a good sign that the 500+ tracks by year end not being a load of crap.


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