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  • XBOX Slimmer and 100% RROD-Proof!

    Posted on June 17th, 2010 Simon No comments

    Exactly as Shawn posted earlier in the week, Microsoft has confirmed the existence of the XBOX Slim, featuring a smaller casing, optimized internals, and a ton of extra features, the least of which is  a surprising ‘fix’ to the infamous Red-Ring-Of-Death problem.  From the spec sheets:

    Old 360 vs New 360

    (image via Joystiq)

    There are quite a few bonuses in the Slim.  Aesthetically, it takes up less space on your desk or tv stand so it is easier to hide.  If you prefer to show off your nerd factor, it’s nice on the eyes too – only available in glossy black with chrome accenting. There are 2 additional USB ports, which is nice because those are always in short supply during Rock Band parties.  A 250 GB standard internal hard drive, 1080p HD, 802.11-N internal wi-fi, and lower power consumption all are welcomed new features.  Additional new features are a Kinect port and let’s not forget about TOSLINK.

    A minor concern of mine is that there is no memory unit slot, however, it’s possible that the recent USB-hard drive enhancements to the console have eliminated the need for a MU.   Moving your profile from XBOX to XBOX is far easier with the MU in my experience.  I suspect that they have done this to try to eliminate Gamerscore cheating and hacking, as the MUs are notoriously known for.

    Finally they have eliminated the Red-Ring-Of-Death completely from the console! Actually they have only removed the red LEDs from the rings, which is in itself probably one of the greatest fixes of all time. Can’t exactly call it the RROD any more can we?

    The Slim is available any minute now at Amazon.

  • E3: Rock Band 3 Booth Walkthru

    Posted on June 15th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Thanks to @MrPope and @HMXHenry from Harmonix for tossing up a walkthru of the Rock Band 3 booth from E3, before anyone else gets to see it.  S0, we kindly will take their Vimeo feed, and embed it here for your viewing pleasure.

    Without further ado…

    E3 2010 Booth Walkthru from Harmonix on Vimeo.

  • E3: Harmonix Reveals Dance Central, Gaming Becomes Too Expensive

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Towards the end of the new Xbox 360 Kinect unveiling today at E3, the MTV Games logo popped up on the big screen, and a purple bubbly HARMONIX logo followed. No, it was not for Rock Band 3, but instead the first new game out of Harmonix in several years, Dance Central.

    It’s very easy to describe the game. It is Dance Dance Revolution without a dance pad. But wait, there’s more. Since it uses the camera of Kinect to identify your dance moves, it also challenges you with full body dancing. No longer are we limited to the positions of our feet. Arms, hips, head, you name it, is all involved in this.

    SOURCE: www.1up.comThe game concept is not revolutionary. Once again, Konami is missing the boat on its own invention and Harmonix is jumping all over it.

    Now, like many others, I’m a Harmonix fanboy. I’m also a DDR closet addict. This game may initially look like a must have for me right? Wrong.

    It simply comes down to money. Gaming has become a very expensive hobby. For 99% of us gamers (unpaid bloggers too), it’s just that, a hobby.

    Rock Band 3 Pro GuitarKinect will be available this November for $150, and I’d expect Dance Central to be the standard $60. $210 to get this new experience is unbelievably steep. Fortunately, I have a decent paying job, and could likely squeeze the cash to get this.

    Now, let’s look at the biggest crux for me. Rock Band 3 is slated to be released one week earlier. This is a guaranteed pre-order for me. There is going to be a bundle which includes the game and new keys peripheral for $130. There will also be an Xbox 360 MIDI box for pro drummers to directly connect for $40. I will no doubt be pre-ordering all of those for $170.

    Are you starting to see the problem? To add to the Rock Band costs, there will be two new guitar controllers. One for $150 and the other is TBA (but I will make a bold prediction and say it will be $300). The good of that is, I’m not much of a Rock Band guitarist. The bad of it is, I do play the real 6 string guitar on occasion. This makes these new guitar controllers (likely the $300 model) very appealing to me.

    After I have dumped $470 into Rock Band 3 gear (and wife wife throws me out of the house), I’m not going to be able to consider Kinect or Dance Central for a long time. It’s all about cost-benefit analysis for my financial friends (That’s you @RockBandAide).

    To keep this tirade going, as a former real world DJ (back in my yout’) and a lover of hip-hop, I have yet to pick up DJ Hero. Primarily, because I have been holding out hope that Harmonix would make support for turntables in the Rock Band games. I’d still like to pick up DJ Hero and now DJ Hero 2 has been announced coming….of course, this Fall.

    So, please tell all my family and friends that I need some Amazon gift cards before October. I will return the favor by moving in with you when I get thrown out of my house.

  • E3: Kinect

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Let’s see some of this Kinect stuff now. Move your hand around to navigate the Dashboard.  Also, use your voice to turn on basically anything. Looks cool for the “future living room”.

    Look, Laura Massey (from Major Nelsons Podcast) is demoing Video Connect. I really didn’t pay attention to the sound. 😉

    Kinectimals.  My kids are going to absolutely love this.  This will be great and obsessive for them, possibly.  But, we have to keep in mind that the Wii motion control games never get played in my house.

    Let’s not forget Wii Sports 3, um I mean, Kinect Sports. Graphics look like what I’d expect from a Wii HD. I would bet the 5.1 sound will be real nice too.

  • Rock Band 3 Partial Setlist Confirmed

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Simon 1 comment

    We’ll have lots of E3 and Rock Band 3 news to get you through this week.   For starters, here is a partial confirmed setlist for Rock Band 3.

    • Metric – “Combat Baby”
    • Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”
    • Them Crooked Vultures – “Dead End Friends”
    • The Vines – “Get Free”
    • The White Stripes – “The Hardest Button to Button”
    • Phoenix – “Lasso”
    • Ida Maria – “Oh My God”
    • Juanes – “Me Enamora”
    • Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing”
    • Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush”
    • Smash Mouth – “Walkin’ on the Sun”
    • Spacehog – “In the Meantime”
    • Dio – “Rainbow in the Dark”
    • Huey Lewis and the News – “The Power of Love”
    • Joan Jett – “I Love Rock and Roll”
    • Night Ranger – “Sister Christian”
    • Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”
    • The Cure – “Just Like Heaven”
    • Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”
    • Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
    • Jimi Hendrix – “Crosstown Traffic”
    • The Doors – “Break On Through”

    It’s quite a wide assortment of hits from various decades and genres – even a latin pop song from columbian star Juanes.  Music from as recent as November 2009 and as far back as Summer 1966.   This confirms about 1/4th of the 83 songs that will be available on the disc.

    It has a lot of songs that you would expect from a new Rock Band game, some old favourites return and some very questionable inclusions.  Dave Grohl returns with his band Them Crooked Vultures, which makes him the first musician to appear in every Rock Band game.  Returning artists include Jane’s Addiction, The White Stripes, Stone Temple Pilots, Ozzy, Queen, Night Ranger and Jimi Hendrix.  New artists include indie artists like Metric, Rilo Kiley, Phoenix and Ida Maria, as well as favorites from The Vines, Spacehog, Dio, Huey Lewis, Whitesnake, The Cure and The Doors.

    Harmonix has also confirmed that all previous DLC will be forward compatible, for the core instruments only.   If you are a drummer playing in Pro mode, you should also find that the appropriate notes have been mapped to the cymbals for your DLC music as well – apparently this has always been included in the charting, and they are now able to incorporate it into Rock Band 3, which is an awesome bonus for us drummers.   Keyboards and Vocal harmonies will not be automatically updated in the game, which is unfortunate if you were planning on playing the keyboard solo for “Tom Sawyer” or the intro to “Don’t Stop Believin'” on the new keyboard controller.  That opens the door to re-issuing some popular DLC with keyboard and harmony support, although Harmonix wants to avoid charging customers twice for the same song.   Going forward, once Rock Band 3 is released, future DLC will not be able to be played in any of the previous titles (Rock Band 1 and 2, Lego:RB).

    Another long awaited feature is the setlist filtering system, which will allow players to display their massive songlists with greater ease, save individual setlists and even share those setlists with friends via the game or on Rockband.com.   Filters (like decade, location, difficulty, score, genre, etc) can be combined with each other (so you can quickly see all your 80’s metal) and songs that you do not wish to play can be hidden from the view.  Finally a built-in song recommendation system will offer suggestions based on your playing preferences, but whether these suggestions are from your own collection or from the music store remains to be seen.

    More news is available via Rockband.com.

    * Metric – “Combat Baby”
    * Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”
    * Them Crooked Vultures – “Dead End Friends”
    * The Vines – “Get Free”
    * The White Stripes – “The Hardest Button to Button”
    * Phoenix – “Lasso”
    * Ida Maria – “Oh My God”
    * Juanes – “Me Enamora”
    * Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing”
    * Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush”
    * Smash Mouth – “Walkin’ on the Sun”
    * Spacehog – “In the Meantime”
    * Dio – “Rainbow in the Dark”
    * Huey Lewis and the News – “The Power of Love”
    * Joan Jett – “I Love Rock and Roll”
    * Night Ranger – “Sister Christian”
    * Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”
    * The Cure – “Just Like Heaven”
    * Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”
    * Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
    * Jimi Hendrix – “Crosstown Traffic”
    * The Doors – “Break On Through”
  • E3: Gears of War 3

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    I will start by saying, I’m not a Gears of War guy. But, here is a screen shot of GAW3 game play at E3. Let’s us know what your initial reactions to it is. Click the image for a giant screen shot.

  • E3: Call of Duty Black Ops, kicks it off

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Call Of Duty Black OpsTo kick off the Microsoft Press Briefing at E3 2010, we got to see game play of Call of Duty: Black Ops.  It’s about helicoptors!  Ooooooo. Click the image at the right for a giant screen shot.

  • E3: Xbox gets Slim, Kinects with us & Rock Band goes Pro

    Posted on June 14th, 2010 Shawn 1 comment

    E3 2010There is likely to be some of the most amazing gaming news in history made this week. Let’s kick off with some of what we already know.

    • Xbox 360’s code named “Project Natale” was unveiled Sunday night, and renamed Kinect. This is the camera-based controls, which allow game play and other cool Xbox uses without any controller in your hand. I’m expecting this to be a huge family hit, but not a big deal with hard core gamers. This should hit the Wii crowd below the belt. It was unveiled, and definitely is focusing on kids, especially with the Webkinz like, plush stuffed animals (Kinectimals) that unlock in-game content.
    • All signs point to an Xbox 360 Slim being fully unveiled this week. Many already at E3 early, have confirmed the unconfirmed Xbox 360 Slim. That’s great news to anyone with a red ringed (or E74’d) Xbox 360 that’s well out of warranty. Maybe Microsoft got the hardware engineering right this time, and we will see an end to the more than 60% console fail rate.
    • Harmonix people are in L.A., and stating that the Rock Band booth is amazing. They will be showing the world all that is Rock Band 3. See Rock Band Keysour other posts for nitty-gritty details, but expect professional new controllers (i.e. real 6-string guitars, full size electronic drum sets, real piano/keyboards) with major advancements to the software.
    • In more Harmonix news, there are solid rumors floating around that the game developer has created a dance game, dubbed Dance Central, for the new Microsoft Kinect.  If you are like me, Harmonix could release a pile of poop and I’d still buy it. [thanks @RockBandAide for the tip]

    There should also be many other announcements, which we will post about through the week. Stay tuned for Shawn and Simon’s coverage (from afar).

  • Rock Band 3 – First Trailer

    Posted on June 11th, 2010 Simon 1 comment

    Harmonix has revealed a small landslide of Rock Band 3 details.   Here is the first official trailer featuring music from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Them Crooked Vultures and The Cure.  Tracklist, Instruments, Gameplay and more details coming up!

  • Green Day: Rock Band – First Impression

    Posted on June 9th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Ok, every game blogger has written a review for Green Day: Rock Band already. So, why should I? Well, I’m pretty sure I will have a different spin on it, plus I will definitely focus on some different aspects of the game.

    Opening Cinematic

    Let’s start at the very beginning, the start up video when you pop in the disc. Lot’s of red and black imagery with bizarre looking characters, grenade explosions, and a make-out scene. My first take ,”boy that was short.” And then, “this is going to scare the sh** out of my kids”. I’m underwhelmed by that opening. It’s not very vibrant, it’s short, and not very welcoming…of course it is reflecting the dark lyrics of Green Days songs, so I suppose it’s fitting.  Though, it does not hold a candle to The Beatles: Rock Band opening cinematic.

    Rock Band Stage Kit

    I have very bad news here.  Just like with The Beatles: Rock Band, the light/fog capabilities on the Xbox 360 Rock Band Stage Kit do not work with Green Day: Rock Band. This (to me) is a HUGE disappointment. Especially since Harmonix was trying to recreate the live Green Day experience in this game. Why would they not include the lighting effects of this device?

    Drumming

    Drummers out there, you will struggle on many Green Day songs…and other songs will be a breeze. Needless to say most of you will play through this once and come back again to perfect it. It follows the traditional Rock Band 4-lane drumming, so it’s still the very familiar and comfortable format…though you will have some lightening fast hi-hats and fills.

    Vocals

    The 3 part harmonies are wonderful. Keep in mind, I love singing Green Day during drunken karaoke outings…so this is fitting territory to me. Even the 6 songs previously released for Rock Band DLC, have been updated with 3-part harmonies. It’s done well, and very fun to sing with others in the same room.

    If you want to lower Billie Joe’s vocals to hear your own, you have to pause the game and select “Lower Vocals” from a menu, just like The Beatles: Rock Band. That’s unfortunate, where Rock Band 2 would allow the vocalist to lower/raise vocals during game play.

    Set List

    I’m super biased. American Idiot, Bullet In A Bible, and 21st Century Breakdown are three of my most listened to CD’s over the past five years. Oddly enough, after Insomniac came out in 1995, I stopped buying Green Day albums until Idiot came out.  The on disc set list, for me, is the best Rock Band on disc set list to date. Now, you know my bias…I will move on.

    Pre/Post Song Visualizations

    There are three venues. With each venue, there appears to only have one or two pre-song and post-song visualizations. The visualizations get old fast, watching Tre stand on his drum throne. I’m wishing those visuals were more varied.

    Online

    Playing Xbox Live last night, I saw about 15 people on my friends list playing. I played with some, and searched for players as well.  Match making was fine.  There were times when no one was available for match making…I’m hoping it’s just because the game is new and not many were online yet. I did have a couple players disconnect mid song, and the old typical issues still exist. If a player gets disconnected, you slowly fail out of the song…versus my suggestions to drop that player and continue on.

    Extras

    I have seen some of the photos that are unlockable. The photos are cool, but the text to go with them sucks.  The text just says “Photo unlocked by achieving 3 or 5 stars in XXXXX song”.  Instead of The Beatles: Rock Band where unlocked photos would have contextual info about the photos origin. I haven’t unlocked any videos yet, but am looking forward to them. I haven’t played any challenges yet, but I know there are full album challenges which I can’t wait to try out and hope the song transition visualizations are more varied.

    Overall

    I love the set list, I love the graphics, I love the harmonies. I love the speed and menuing. It’s a lot like TB:RB with Green Day in place. The export capabilities and hints of more DLC continue to add future life. For $50-$60 (depending where/when you buy), it basically is the cost of DLC with added capabilities. If you love Rock Band and like/love Green Day, it’s a must have.

    I am disappointed with a few things, most notably the lack of Stage Kit support.  I will get over it, as I enjoy the music above all else.

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