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  • Another Flubbed Rock Band Christmas?

    Posted on December 9th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    If you are a Rock Band player and regular downloader of DLC, you may remember what happened (or didn’t happen) last year around the holidays. November 2008 came and went, with no announcement of holiday DLC. The first week of December had a bunch of random singles, none of which were holiday songs.  The second week brought No Doubt’s The Singles album, and no holiday music. The third week brought the first country track pack, and no holiday songs.  Then, on December 23 we were treated to our first holiday DLC.

    The 3-pack included one Hanukkah song and two Christmas songs:

    “Hanukkah Blessings” Barenaked Ladies 2000s Rock Rockin’ the Holidays 2008b 2008-12-23 Dec. 23, 2008 Yes
    Christmas Is the Time To Say I Love You Billy Squier 1990s Classic Rock Rockin’ the Holidays 2008b 2008-12-23 Dec. 23, 2008 No
    Blue Christmas Pretenders The Pretenders 2000s Rock Rockin’ the Holidays 2008b 2008-12-23 Dec. 23, 2008 Yes

    It’s a decent pack. But here’s the problem. Hanukkah was nearly two weeks past before this pack was released, and it was only 2 days before Christmas. (For PS3 players, the pack didn’t come out until Christmas day).

    Think about holiday music on the radio. It begins the day after Thanksgiving, so people can enjoy it for the month prior to Christmas. With last years Rockin’ the Holidays pack, it came out too late, plain and simple. For me, I bought the pack (but the week of Christmas is crazy and I barely had anytime to play it). I played the songs once on Christmas, and they have been shelved ever since…now, I’m starting to play them again to enjoy them this season.

    Is Harmonix making the same mistake again this year? It’s starting to look like it. For the first week of December 2009, we got Nirvana and Night Ranger, no holiday music. For the second week of December, we got Slipknot and others, no holiday music. We are going into the third week of December, and we know that there is a three pack of Green Day coming. I’m hoping that Harmonix rounds out the week with some classic rockin’ holiday songs. I’m hopeful, but not expecting it.

  • Guitar Hero Van Halen Demo now on Xbox Live

    Posted on December 9th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    So, do we file this under the category of “who cares?” or “sweet, old Van Halen!”? I don’t know. I can say that I have owned GH:VH since it’s pre-release as a free game with the purchase of Guitar Hero 5. I love old Van Halen with David Lee Roth, and I love playing these songs in the game. There are 25 VH songs, and then 19 random songs from random bands. I don’t understand why the GH franchise must throw random songs into a single band game. I got the game because I love VH, not because I want to play Eve 6.

    As far as a the game goes, well it’s based on the same game engine as Guitar Hero Metallica. That’s a step better than Guitar Hero World Tour, and step worse than Guitar Hero 5. Overall, the game play and set list is great if you are an old Van Halen fan (i.e. DLR fan, not Sammy Hagar fan).

    The story mode is pitiful in comparison to The Beatles Rock Band. First of all, there is no Michael Anthony avatar in the game. If you aren’t aware, he is the bass player for the entire bands career, and you hear his bass notes on every single song in the game. He’s not in the game due to an internal band spat a couple years ago, he left the group. So, in his place in the game, is Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang. So, you see an avatar of a high-school looking Wolfgang the entire game (never ages, never changes), but you hear Michael Anthony playing every bass note. Pretty sh!tty, if you ask me.

    As for Sammy Hagar, it’s as if the man was never part of the band. There are no songs, descriptions, or details of the largest part of VH’s history with Sammy. It’s as if they played in the 70’s and early 80’s with DLR, then broke up until 2008 and reunited. Bizarre, and not cool. Although, I prefer DLR, I’d like to see more realism and factual history in the story.

    One odd thing I have noticed (so far), all the characters look as if it’s 2009, aged (excluding Wolfgang) with short hair. I know the trailers for the game, show the band in its cool 70’s and 80’s duds/hair. Though, I’ve played through a good portion of the game, and have yet to see them revert back to the look of their hay-day. I’m hoping the old looks get unlocked at some point.

    Also, there is yet to be any announcement of DLC. Please, please, please, if anyone at Neversoft or Activision is reading this, release DLC for this game. Every single VH song that get’s release as DLC, I will buy. BTW, I have never bought any Guitar Hero DLC before, since I generally just buy it for Rock Band. I love old VH that much, that I’d pick up DLC just for this game.

    Overall, if you love the music of VH from the 70’s and 80’s, you will like playing this game. If you like the true history of the band, you will be sorely disappointed. It does feel like the game was “phoned in”, but as a VH fan, I love it. For 25 Van Halen songs, I would say the game is worth $30-$40. I recommend, if you didn’t get in on the free pre-release promotion, waiting until the price drops to sub-$40, and pick it up.

    Now, with all the said, get yourself over to Xbox Marketplace and pick up the FREE demo.

  • RB: DLC 12/15/09 – Green Day Pack 02

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 Simon 3 comments

    Late last week, Harmonix also let slip that on 12/15 they will be releasing the second Green Day pack for Rock Band.  The songs included are:

    • Green Day – “Christian’s Inferno”
    • Green Day – “Last of the American Girls”
    • Green Day – “¡Viva La Gloria!”

    Some of you will recognize that these tracks are all from their last album, “21st Century Breakdown” which was rated very highly by Shawn.

    I really enjoyed the last three songs from Green Day 01, but I’m still wondering whatever happened to the rumors about having their own title?  Remember this little tidbit from an article on 1Up:

    When a fan asked the band if they’d considered releasing tracks for Rock Band during yesterday’s Breakfast with Green Day on KROQ, vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong offered a surprisingly candid, “Yeah. We’re doing a whole Green Day Rock Band, uh,” before being cut off by the approving howls of the surrounding crowd.

    There is more evidence – if we look back even further to May 17 when “RB Unplugged” was leaked, we have the following quote from Destructoid:

    Now, the same people who simply couldn’t help themselves from getting all grabby-grabby on the unauthorized software have dug deep into the game’s files, finding a slew hints at Green Day songs…   …the files appear to make references to the following Green Day tracks: “Welcome to Paradise,” “She’s a Rebel,” “Nice Guys Finish Last,” “Longview,” “Minority,” “Letterbomb,” “American Idiot,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Jaded,” “Whatsername,” “Walking Contradiction,” “She,” “St. Jimmy,” “Holiday,” “Hitchin’ a Ride,” and “Brain Stew.”

    It’s a shame that they have not made a formal announcement, because the band easily has enough material to warrant a release similar to the AC/DC Live disc from last year.  Would the band be satisfied with a game addon like that one?  Hard to say, especially after witnessing the glory that is The Beatles: Rock Band (or the misery that is Guitar Hero: Van Halen).  I’m certain we haven’t seen the last of this group in Rock Band.

    One final question.. if the game developers and testers have produced those Green Day songs into playable tracks, even if only for their own amusement, how jealous are you right now?

  • Huge Game Deals at Newegg

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    This is direct from Slickdeals.net.  Newegg.com is offering free shipping and deep discount on some top-shelf (and rail) games.

    Newegg Game sale w/ Free Shipping
    Xbox 360 games

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 [newegg.com] $49.99 w/ PROMO CODE: EMCMNLW22(note: does not stack with code CODMW25)

    Red Faction: Guerilla [newegg.com] $19.99

    Silent Hill: Homecoming [newegg.com] $12.99

    Bionic Commando [newegg.com] $11.99

    Tony Hawk: Proving Ground [newegg.com] $10.99

    Viking: Battle for Asgard [newegg.com] $9.99

    Timeshift [newegg.com] $7.99

    Nintendo Wii

    Madworld [newegg.com] $11.99

    Conduit [newegg.com] $11.99

    Munchables [newegg.com] $9.99

    Playstation 3
    (sorry no love for ps3 folks)

    Singstar Volume 2 (game only) [newegg.com] $9.99

    All games offer free shipping.

  • DJ Hero now under $80

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 Shawn No comments

    GuitarHeroStore has DJ Hero (PS3, Xbox 360 & Wii) for $79 after using coupon code DJHPP1 with free shipping. If you didn’t get in on the Cyber Monday deal for $85, well, you lucked out.  This is $40 off the current retail price. This deal is pretty incredible. I haven’t picked it up yet, but this is incredibly tempting.

    Also you can purchase the PS2 version for $64 shipped.

    If you already have your hands on DJ Hero, please leave us a comment below and tell us what you think about the game.

  • RB: DLC – No Doubt “Singles” on Sale

    Posted on December 7th, 2009 Simon 1 comment

    newdoubt_t5345345345This week on the XBOX Live Marketplace you can purchase the entire “No Doubt – The Singles 1992 – 2003” album for 25% off the price.  1200 points for 13 tracks, or just under 100 points per song.

    I’m slightly confused by this week’s marketplace discount.  First, if you read this and were hoping to pick up a few of your favorite songs, the bad news is of course that this sale only applies to the entire album (ironically called The Singles), there is no advertised discounted price for individual tracks.  I would have picked up a few more if they were 100 points each.   I find it interesting to note that the sale is one year to the day after the tracks were released in the Marketplace.  Coincidence?  Another curiosity to me, is that this is only the second or possibly third sale of Rock Band tracks that I’ve seen in two years of collecting DLC.   There are a thousand tracks, why not have more sales?  It seems win-win for everyone.

  • 12/8/09 RB: DLC – Slipknot and Garfunkel

    Posted on December 4th, 2009 Simon 3 comments

    Rock-Band-2-DLC-SlipknotFriday is here again and as always I am here to tell you all about the fresh new music coming to Rock Band next Tuesday.  All three artists are brand new to the game’s catalogue.

    Slipknot – “Duality”
    Slipknot – “Psychosocial”
    Slipknot – “Sulfur”
    Simon & Garfunkel – “I Am a Rock”
    Simon & Garfunkel – “The Sounds of Silence”
    Lights Resolve – “Dreaming of Love”

    Coming up first on December 8 will be a three pack from heavy metal kings Slipknot featuring two tracks from their gold selling fourth album, “Sulphur” and “Psychosocial”.  Those are joined by a third track, “Duality” from Slipknot’s third album.   I don’t know a lot about this band but their wikipedia entry indicates that they have nine active members in the band, this concerns me because I don’t think I have that many rock band guitars, drums or mics.  I won’t be able to emulate the full Slipknot experience, but I don’t have any scary looking masks either.  I wouldn’t be against playing four guitar parts on one note highway.  Then again…
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    Folk rock legends Simon and Garfunkel also make their debut with two of their legendary songs, “Sound of Silence” and “I Am A Rock”.   If you enjoy singing in Rock Band 2 and Lego: Rock Band, then pick up both of these tracks.  Simon and Garfunkel are renowned for their songwriting, and their lyrics contain the most poetic verses ever crafted, and as well, Paul and Art have amazing harmony together.  If Rock Band 3 is going to support harmonies in songs, this track will be an outstanding example.  Rock Band really needs more music like this to draw in more players and remain on top of the music gaming genre.

    Finally this Tuesday brings a premiere of an indie band called Lights Resolve.  Originating from New York, they were named Rolling Stone’s “Breakout Band of 2009”, and you can check out their song “Dreaming of Love” here.

    Next Week’s DLC Prediction:  Definitely Not Green Day Pack 02!  Possibly that Lady Gaga song from South Park?

  • 1000 Rock Band DLC, yours for a monthly fee?

    Posted on December 3rd, 2009 Simon 1 comment

    Some of you may have read the short article earlier in the month on 1up, regarding Red Octane’s management discussing the creation of a subscription-based DLC model.  Unfortunately there were no further details, aside from the following:

    “There are a lot of issues around music licensing. Customers want it; I know I want it. We’re trying to make that happen.”

    With the buzz surrounding the Rock Band Network launch and the 1000 song milestone, it has occurred to some smart people that Harmonix may have another unique opportunity to serve the community- delivering a groundbreaking new DLC sales model.  As for the licensing, perhaps something can be created similar to what is in place today for internet radio. Just picture having full and complete access to the entire catalogue,  being able to download and play as many songs as you like, whenever you feel like it!

    Would you sign up for it?  How much would you be willing to spend?  This would make a nice pre-order bonus, a free month with a purchase of Rock Band 3!

  • 10 Games to Keep You Inside

    Posted on December 3rd, 2009 Shawn 1 comment

    The NY Times (www.nytimes.com) has compiled what they think are the top ten games to keep us fat and lazy on our couches. Well, not totally lazy, since many of the games require you to get off the couch to properly participate.

    LINK TO NYTIMES SOURCE

    Three of the games are on my wish list, so this article is likely going to get me to buy them sooner rather than later.

    Stay Inside With These 10 Games

    By AZADEH ENSHA
    Published: December 2, 2009

    THIS year, the gaming industry offered up a seemingly endless array of reasons to stay indoors. From shooter games like Borderlands to new franchise releases like Halo 3: ODST, there were plenty of entertaining options to choose from across all platforms. Here are 10 selections, with manufacturers’ prices, worthy of their titles.

    ISLAND FUN Wii Sports Resort lets players team up with friends to win challenges.

    WII SPORTS RESORT
    For the Wii; all ages; $50.
    You don’t have to be a fan of or at all familiar with the original Wii Sports to love its successor, Wii Sports Resort. The follow-up offers a dozen activities to engage in on Wuhu Island, like archery, swordplay and wakeboarding. You can compete solo or against other players. And if you’re feeling charitable, Resort also lets players team up with friends to help win challenges.

    REMAKE New Super Mario Bros. Wii maintains core elements of the original.

    SUPER MARIO BROS.WII
    For the Wii; all ages; $50.
    Old-school Nintendo fans who enjoy nothing more than rescuing the princess won’t be disappointed with the updated and aptly named New Super Mario Bros.

    Wii. While maintaining the core elements of the original game, Nintendo has introduced a new multiplayer mode and additional powers including a propeller suit that shoots players up into the sky. Even Mario has been given a makeover. The beloved character can now transform into, of all things, a penguin.
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    MADDEN NFL 10
    For Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the Wii; all ages; $50-$60.
    Madden NFL 10 isn’t just another football-inspired video game. This latest installment of the successful franchise is sure to win over even more fans — and with good

    reason. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions offer a cleaner interface that lets players battle for fumbles and drag defenders toward the first down, while competing with up to 32 teams. For their part, Wii players get their choice of three settings, All Play, Intermediate and Advanced.

    And if that doesn’t provide enough of an adrenaline rush, Madden fans can also play the game arcade style. This fast-paced, five-on-five gridiron version of the game lets players freeze out an opposing player, tweak skill levels, add extra linemen and more. Available as a $15 download from the PlayStation Store and on Xbox Live for 1,200 Microsoft points.

    FORZA MOTORSPORT 3

    IN THE FAST LANE Choose from more than 100 tracks and 400 customizable vehicles in Forza Motorsport 3, for Xbox 360.


    For Xbox 360; all ages; $60.
    With more than 100 tracks (the Amalfi Coast in Italy is a standout) and 400 customizable vehicles to choose from, you don’t have to be a car enthusiast to love the stylings and graphics of the Forza series. The game’s developers did a great job of simulating real driving conditions. Of course this isn’t real life, so if you don’t round a sharp corner quite so smoothly, Forza 3 offers a new Rewind feature that lets you try (and try) again. Tack on automatic braking, traction control and other driving assists and even a novice can feel like a speedster behind the wheel.

    BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM
    For PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC; ages 13 and older; $50-$60.

    If it’s super heroes and action-adventure you’re after, Batman: Arkham Asylum will not disappoint. Based on the DC comic, players assume the role of the caped crusader and use detective mode, the bat claw and other tools at their disposal to help reclaim the asylum from the Joker and his gang of villains. As impressive as the arsenal of weapons and combination moves is the audio and visual presentation of the game itself, thanks in no small part to great voice-overs and a solid design layout.

    TREASURE HUNT Journey through a Himalayan valley in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

    UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves
    For PlayStation 3; ages 13 and older; $60.

    This third-person shooter game puts players squarely in the shoes of the fortune hunter Nathan Drake as he treks through the Himalayan valley of Shambhala and other locales in search of lost treasure. Work alone or gather up to three players to help solve puzzles and defeat thieves. Stellar camera angles, realistic environments and textures add to this game’s mass appeal.

    DJ HERO
    For PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii; ages 13 and older; $120.

    For fans of the Beatles: Rock Band or Guitar Hero series, DJ Hero is another finely tuned musical game worth adding to a collection. Players can choose their songs, but DJ Hero goes even further by letting users create custom sets and even has a party mode feature. Notable DJs, including Cut Chemist, Daft Punk and Grandmaster Flash, have contributed their skills, which is reason enough to give this game a spin.

    CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 2
    For PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC; ages 17 and older; $60.

    ANOTHER WORLD The Sims 3 has a continuous neighborhood map to help Sims live in their virtual communities.


    Arguably one of the most talked-about games of the year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is not for the faint of heart. The first-person shooter game demonstrates the full and often bloody ramifications of battle, as innocent civilians and countless others meet their fate in environments like Afghanistan, Brazil and Washington. For fans of blood and gore, look no further.

    THE SIMS 3
    For PC and Macintosh; ages 13 and older; $50.

    If you’d like to introduce someone to the virtual reality world of the Sims, this third release offers the familiar do-it-yourself features of its predecessors with new and improved customization and editing tools, along with a continuous neighborhood map to better help Sims live in and maneuver around their virtual communities.

    BRAINTEASER Help solve a mystery in Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.

    PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE DIABOLICAL BOX
    For Ninte ndo DS; ages 10 and older; $30.

    First-person shooter games tend to be crowd favorites, but there’s something to be said for a good brainteaser. Enter the successor to Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which offers over 150 puzzles that will help the archaeologist Professor Layton and his trusted assistant, Luke, solve the mystery behind the Elysian Box. It’s definitely thought-provoking, but you don’t have to s olve every puzzle to unravel the meaning behind the story.

  • RB: Unplugged DLC passes, silently

    Posted on December 2nd, 2009 Simon No comments

    Only the hardcore enthusiasts, such as ourselves, would have already made this assumption, since there have been no formal announcements of new songs.  So to the surprise of nobody, Harmonix have confirmed to Joystiq that they have ceased production on DLC tracks for the PSP’s Rock Band: Unplugged, which signifies the end of the road for the first mobile version of everyone’s favourite music gaming franchise.  DLC was coming out regularly on Tuesdays since June 2009, with an astonishing 57 DLC tracks released.   The game itself came with 46 songs, several of which were exclusive for a short time to boost interest and sales.  The available music on the PSP platform amounts to roughly 10% of the overall Rock Band catalogue, and appears to be made up of the ‘top selling’ DLC tracks throughout the past two years.

    Was the game a success?  VGChartz shows that the game has sold 120,000 units to date (contrasted with 3.5 million+ combined sales of Rock Band 2), and you can currently find the game for under half-price in most retail vendors, 6 months after its release.  Sony’s handling of the PSP hardware may have contributed to the low sales figures;  it probably didn’t help that Sony released the PSP GO so quickly after the PSP 3000, as comparably fewer people would be in the market for replacement hardware.  Why buy the PSP at the time that Unplugged was released, when you would be better off waiting a few months for the new hardware?

    rbunplugged_screen

    We all know by now that the PSP is a notorious favourite of game pirates, because the ease of modding the PSP, the low cost of memory sticks,  and the relatively small size of the game disc images.  Not unlike every other PSP game, the title was heavily downloaded weeks before its retail release while Sony continued their efforts to curb piracy.  Unplugged even featured a brand new attempt at copy protection, but it proved only a minor annoyance.  All platforms experience varying degrees of game piracy, but the PSP platform is a standout example of how too many unscrupulous hackers can kill the market demand.
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    I don’t think Unplugged was a total failure- the game is pretty fun to play, I’ll admit.  I am both a Rock Band fan, DLC enthusiast,  and a PSP owner, but I could not be convinced in the slightest to pay for more DLC.  Who among you are willing to pay twice for the same DLC?  The answer is obviously, nobody.  I’m sure that the only people who play Rock Band: Unplugged today, also play a lot of other music games, and would rather spend their DLC money on the ‘big screen’ versions.  I hope that Harmonix applies the lesson learned here to their new mobile version and takes steps to establish a longer term brand, perhaps by expanding compatibility with existing player’s DLC libraries, or maybe more free tracks.

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