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  • How’s Your Rock Band Obsession Treating You?

    Posted on April 20th, 2009 Shawn No comments
    Rock Band 2

    Rock Band 2

    If you are reading this article, chances are you’re in the same boat as me. You play Rock Band (the game) to an obsessive level. Maybe not too obsessive in your mind, but it’s alarming to just about everyone around you.

    What level do you play on?
    What instrument(s) do you play well or like to play?
    How many hours a week do you play?
    How often do you load up your points (Xbox, PS3, or Wii) for DLC?
    How much DLC do you own?
    What non-standard controllers do you own?

    I just got through loading up my Xbox Live account with points from the Xbox Live game store. Another $20 spent to add an additional 1600 Xbox Live points onto my account. A week ago, I did the same thing. This week it’s for REO Speedwagon and Styx (coming to Rock Band DLC on Tuesday). REO/Styx will get me to drop 800 points. Last week it was for Guns N’ RosesChinese Democracy
    album. GNR set me back 1600 points. Going back to May 2008, I’ve been dropping points on DLC on a regular basis. It’s not something I do every week, though when I take time off, I catch up fast. A month ago, I picked up No Doubt‘s Singles, Pearl Jam‘s Ten, and a few other singles taking 3880 points. Wow, that was an expensive day.

    Let’s talk about gear. I I said that I own four different plastic guitars, would you think that’s a bit overkill? If you said “yes”, then I will refrain from saying anything more. Now, onto microphones. If I said I own two wired and two wireless, plus one mic stand… Oh, and drums. I’ve the the Rock Band 1 kit, the Guitar Hero World Tour kit, and the mack daddy, a custom built full size electronic kit containing all professional grade Roland and Yamaha equipment. Maybe a tad overboard.

    Hours a week. Surprisingly (too me at least), I don’t think I play that much on average. Compared to others that play, I barely scratch the surface. I try to get in about 4 hours a week, but usually get less than that.

    I guess I’m a bit obsessed, and bet some readers are too. I look forward to Friday mornings when next weeks DLC is announced, and can’t wait to get setup Tuesday nights to play online.

    That’s it for now. Feel free to share your obsession. Admitting your obsession is the first step to recovery.

  • NWIRB: REO, Styx, and Hautewerk…oh my!

    Posted on April 17th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    Rock Band DLC UpdateNEXT WEEK IN ROCK BAND! Next weeks Rock Band DLC has been announced. And darn it, looks like I will be buying yet again. REO and Styx, instant purchases for me.

    Default DLC Week of 4/21 – Styx, REO Speedwagon and Hautewerk

    Hey gang,
    Take a gander at the DLC coming out on the week of 4/21! To tie in with one of the current Rock Band sponsored tours, there’s a sweet 7 track pack of REO Speedwagon and Styx songs to whet your classic rock whistle. Not enough? Top it off with a Hautewerk 3 pack for dessert! Here’s the track listing:

    REO Speedwagon – Riding the Storm Out
    REO Speedwagon – Roll with the Changes
    REO Speedwagon – Take It on the Run
    Styx – Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
    Styx – Renegade
    Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
    Styx / REO Speedwagon – Can’t Stop Rockin’
    Hautewerk – Alone in My Head
    Hautewerk – I Know Where You Came From
    Hautewerk – Stop Start Again

    All tracks are master recordings.

    Release Dates
    Tuesday, April 21, 2009 (Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360®)
    Thursday, April 23, 2009 (PlayStation®Store)

    ** Dates for Rock Band game tracks are tentative and subject to change **

    $1.99 (160 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360) per track
    $10.99 (880 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360) “REO Speedwagon / Styx Tour ’09 Pack”
    $5.49 (440 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360) “Hautewerk Pack 01”

  • Get Xbox Live Points and Support the Blog

    Posted on April 13th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    Great news, you can now buy Xbox Live points from Amazon and immediately get a code to enter into Xbox Live Marketplace. No more waiting for the card to show up at your house.

    If you need some MS Xbox Live Points, buy ’em through our links and help support your favorite blog. Buy the cards (to be snail mailed to you) or buy the new Online Game Code for immediate delivery of Xbox Live points. Make sure you choose the one that say [Online Game Code], or you will buy the snail mail version…right now, everything is at standard prices, so get the game code, for sure.

    I will be getting some new Rock Band 2 DLC with my code this week.

  • Chinese Democracy next week on Rock Band!

    Posted on April 10th, 2009 Shawn 1 comment

    Rock Band DLC UpdateAlright Axl Rose fans (yes, that includes me), his latest album, Chinese Democracy, is coming to Rock Band DLC next week. All three major consoles are getting it (Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii).

    I’m sure you know by now that Chinese Democracy is the first album from Guns N’ Roses in more than a decade. It’s also the first album with only one original member, Axl. So, it’s more like the Axl Rose solo project…but the genius known as W. Axl Rose realized that he will capitalize a lot more on the GNR brand name…kind of reminds me of Activision and their ongoing releases of Guitar Hero games (but that’s a rant for another post.)

    I picked up Chinese Democracy the day it was available on CD from Best Buy. To be honest, it’s a good album. It’s no Appetite For Destruction (and nothing ever will be). It’s similar to Use Your Illusions, but with all the new musicians, it has a new sound.

    Anyway, I will definitely be out 1600 MS Points next week picking up this DLC. How about you?

    NOTE: I will be updating my Slacker Radio station later with the new GNR tunes. Check back.

    Straight From HMXSean’s Desk:

    Default DLC 4/14 GNR Chinese Democracy

    Hey everybody,

    It is my pleasure to announce an album next week for all three consoles – Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy.

    Next week’s Rock Band Music Store lineup will feature 13 songs from Chinese Democracy. With “Shackler’s Revenge” from Chinese Democracy already featured on the Rock Band 2 soundtrack, the DLC album includes the following tracks:

    GNR Chinese DemocracyTracks:
    Chinese Democracy
    Street of Dreams
    If the World
    There Was a Time
    Catcher in the Rye
    Riad N’ the Bedouins
    This I Love

    (All tracks are original master recordings)

    The tracks will be available for purchase as an album or individual tracks for Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3 system. The tracks will be available for purchase as individual tracks only for Wii.

    Release Date:
    Tuesday, April 14, 2009
    (Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360 and in-game Rock Band 2 Music Store for Wii)

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    ** Dates for Rock Band game tracks are tentative and subject to change **

    $1.99 or 160 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360 per track
    $2.00 or 200 Wii Points for Wii per track
    $19.99 (1600 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360) for album

    Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the Xbox 360
    In-game Rock Band 2 Music Store for Wii

  • Rock Band DLC Slacker Station: Toby Keith and more

    Posted on April 7th, 2009 Shawn No comments
    Rock Band DLC
    Station Image
    Rock Band DLC
    New Slang – The Shins
    Warriors of Time – Black Tide
    Waking the Demon – Bullet for My Valentine
    Lots of Toby Keith

    This station contains artists from the ever growing collection of Rock Band downloadable content (DLC). As of 4/9/2009 every available song on Slacker is “hearted” in the station. I have banned all unrelated artists and songs. You will find very few non Rock Band DLC tracks in this station. As of today, 408 songs from the DLC collection have been hearted. (No SpongeBob)
    Enjoy, Rock On!

  • Hello BlackBerry Bold on AT&T, Goodbye Storm on Verizon

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Shawn 4 comments

    Welcome to part one of a multi-part romance novel (not exactly) of a man, and quest for the ultimate device and network.

    Part 1 – Last Days on Verizon Wireless
    Part 2 – First Days on AT&T
    Part 3 – BlackBerry Bold 9000 versus Storm 9530

    I’ve had a mobile device for almost 6 months. You know what that means. It’s time for something different. Although you may believe that is the reason I’m switching devices, it’s not exactly true.

    I’ve been with Verizon for about 6 years, having left Cingular (now AT&T) due to a billing issue. Verizon has been good to me. They have good (though not incredible) coverage, they have a good web site for managing accounts, and had 3G high-speed data before anyone else.

    Issues with Verizon are: their monthly plans are pricey (which isn’t a major deal if your employer pays or you can expense it), their devices are generally late to market (BlackBerry Storm excluded), and they have this crazy policy of not allowing Wi-Fi on their devices.

    The lack of Wi-Fi is what drove me away. As mentioned in earlier posts, I have terrible no Verizon coverage at home. At barely 1x, I can’t get data, all voice calls drop, and my battery always dies searching for a signal.
    Last year I scoured the Verizon world for the BlackBerry Storm. I waited in line for hours on its launch date at my local Verizon store, and got one. I was retiring my Palm Treo 700p for the Storm. My new employer is an all BlackBerry shop, so I figured, why not get the latest device?

    The Storm has been a mixed bag for me.  Big and beautiful screen. Great sound quality and phone use. Decent UI. Click/touch screen makes it tough for typing anything. No Wi-Fi makes it basically useless at home, just like all other Verizon phones. All that aside, I would have kept the Storm if it weren’t for my employer who said “We will not allow Storms on corporate email”, because they are afraid of the amount of help desk calls they’d get with this new device.

    If Verizon had another 3G BlackBerry or something with Wi-Fi, I would have stayed. As of now, they do not. Even the upcoming BlackBerry 9630 for Verizon, will not have Wi-Fi. So, welcome (back) AT&T, and welcome the current mack-daddy of BlackBerry’s, the Bold 9000. 3G, simultaneous voice and data, GPS, bluetooth, and the deal sealer….Wi-Fi. I feel spoiled just talking about the specs in this bad boy. Yes, it has a full QWERTY keyboard (thank god). No, it does not have touchscreen (this is going to take some getting used too).

    While I was typing this post, I was activating the Bold. My number has been ported (or at least partially) from Verizon Wireless. The AT&T rep was not able to make a test call to me, but I was able to dial-out. I also received a random call on the Bold from someone looking for their lost cell phone.

    You may wonder what is in store for the Storm (which is due for a wonderful operating system update this month).  The Storm is going over to my wife, replacing her Motorola ROKR, or KRZR, or some other all CAPS bizarre acronym. She’s known for dropping and breaking phones, so I don’t expect the Storm to live well into the retirement golden years. But, it’s better than sitting in my desk drawer with my two other Treo’s and older LG phones, right?

    Check back, as My Gadget Obsession starts a new chapter with the BlackBerry Bold 9000.

  • Why I Love Rock Band 2, but Dislike Guitar Hero World Tour

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Shawn 4 comments

    I’m a regular player of Rock Band 2 (RB2), mostly drums and vocals. I play tours, challenges, battle of the bands, with friends online, etc. I buy lots of downloadable songs and look forward to what’s coming in the weeks ahead. When I play the game, I try to play in moderation, but find myself immersed for hours without breaking.

    One would think that a nearly identical game, like Guitar Hero World Tour (GHWT), would have the same (or very similar) effect on me. It does not, and I’m trying to figure out why.

    Drums: 6 versus 5. RB2 has 5, GHWT has 6. You’d think, as a drummer, more is better. But, possibly, my brain has been trained from 11 months of playing with only 5, that the 6th pad is a real detriment. I have to completely relearn the drums for GHWT. I think the 6th pad plays a lot into it, plus I think the charting is very different than RB2.

    Vocals: I have said in the past that the vocal in RB2 are too easy, and the vocal in GHWT are less forgiving…which I like.  Too many people are considered “expert” singers in RB2, when they should be singing at lower levels.  I truly like how difficult the expert level for vocals is on GHWT. Of course, if you don’t know the songs (or don’t have a desire to learn the songs), it doesn’t really matter.

    Charting: For drum charting, when I realized that Sweet Home Alabama, a fairly simple song, was missing some hi-hat beats (also the same in GH: Metallica’s Sad But True), I was a bit disgusted.

    Songs: RB2 has so many more songs, thanks to RB1 imports and all the DLC. I was expecting the GHWT set list to be incredible, but now that I’m playing through it (at about 40% complete), it’s not really grabbing me. Possibly because the repeated songs from RB1 and 2 I have played so much (The Middle, Eye of the Tiger, Mountain Song), I don’t want to play any more. Possibly because songs I expected are from original artists, not from bands that more recently made the famous (Antisocial, Kick Out the Jams).

    Friends: I have a lot of friends that play RB2 online, and only a few on GHWT. That’s probably because I selectively find RB2 players. If I could find more GHWT players, maybe it would be a better experience.

    Game Modes: RB2 has a slew of game modes, where GHWT has prefabricated setlists that increment you towards the end of the game. RB2 is not encouraging you to “finish” the game, they encourage you to come back for more; battle your friends; download new stuff and watch new challenges appear. That might be a big part of it. I must have done the RB2 Don’t Stop Believing vocal battle 15 times last week getting myself in the top 50 of all Xbox Live.

    Graphics: I believe that GHWT has the better graphics of the two games. The instruments, players, and backgrounds are more crisp. Having real rock stars in the game makes it very cool, but to be honest, when you are playing the game, you have little to look at the cool surroundings or characters. There are cut scenes in GHWT, but not in RB2. If you hit the drums when their are no drums playing in a song, the graphic drums for GHWT on-screen animate. That’s cool to see the graphics respond to what you hit. I don’t see that effect in RB2. Both games have some synchronization issues where drums you are playing do not always match up in game (which is poor).

    Let me sum up my thoughts. I don’t know for sure why I can play RB2 for several hours, only to want more. With GHWT, I pick and choose prefabricated set lists and log off after a set or two. I can say that poorly charted drum songs are a killer for me. If I feel like I’m playing a video game, versus actually playing the drums…I’d rather play Grand Theft Auto IV. For some reason, GHWT feels more like a game and less like a real music experience. RB2 feels like a real music experience, and I know that I’m actually practicing songs as if I were playing them on a real drum kit.

    I hardly ever play guitar on these games, so I won’t comment on that.

    I know most of our readers are RB2 players, though I’d love to hear from a GHWT aficionado and figure what I’m missing.

  • Lips…Even Cheaper Now!

    Posted on April 6th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    Wow! Lips keeps dropping its pants price. I just picked it up last week at Amazon for $52.99, and now it’s up there for $39.97. I also learned today that there is no longer a 30-day price protection guarantee…DOH!

    So, here’s a quick review from the four days I’ve had the game:
    * The two microphones that come with it are worth the money. Decent build quality (though I did expect them to feel a bit more solid).
    * Motion controlled makes it real fun for kids. During songs, a picture will tell you how to move the microphone (forcing you to dance a little), which the kids love.
    * The graphics in the game is nice, good eye candy. Menus are nice. Having the actual artist videos in game is very cool.
    * The main part of the game, singing, is what I’d expect. A lot like all other karaoke games (i.e. Rock Band, Guitar Hero World Tour, SingStar, etc). The words are displayed on screen with a bar letting you know what pitch to sing. Works well.
    * Dual singers is very cool. You can let hte game play as a jukebox, and join in any time by shaking a microphone. The box say up-to 6 people can play at once.
    * The Xbox controller has a purpose too. If you don’t feel like singing, pick up an Xbox controller and press buttons. It will make percussion sounds in the game, just for fun.
    * The set list, to me, is pretty weak. Only 40 songs on disc, and I would say 50% of them are throw away. The set list quality is just my opinion though, though 40 songs to me is not enough for a full title.
    * There is plenty of DLC coming out weekly. It’s the standard 160 MS points (or $2) per song. That adds up quickly, especially when I spend everything I earn on Rock Band DLC.
    * You can import songs from any media souce, including an iPod, Zune, or BlackBerry, via USB to your Xbox 360. Lips will allow you to play your songs and sing along. you won’t see lyrics or original music videos, but you will be judged on pitch and get points in the game. That’s pretty cool, but would be awesome for Xbox Live to connect to the internet and get lyrics support.
    * The HUGE selling point for me is something that is “coming soon”. That’s the compatibility of the game with Rock Band 2 (and Guitar Hero: Metallica). I’d like my Rock Band game to be completely wireless, and these microphones will make that happen for me. I can’t wait for that patch.

    I couldn’t justify the game at the list price of $70, but I did pull the trigger at $53. At less than $40, it’s a great party game and entertaining for families. Once the ability to use the microphones with Rock Band 2 comes in, that will make it worth every penny.

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