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I mostly post here concerning games and my reviews, which I try to upload thoroughly and/or as frequently as I feel. If you comment on one of my blog posts, I'll return the favor and comment on yours. Hope you like the reviews and the blogs!
When I first got Rock Band for my 360 from my local Blockbuster, I couldn't wait to play it. With drums, a guitar, and a microphone, I dove into what I quickly believed to be the best music game I ever played and one of my all-time favorite games ever. I kept downloading DLC songs from bands like the Offspring and 30 Seconds to Mars, and I loved every second of it. Sadly, I wasn't able to play online with my friends, so I mostly secluded myself in my basement strumming, drumming, and singing by myself. Once my friends came over, we were able to have an amazing time as a band, but I was mostly stuck as a solo artist instead of a full musical act.
Rock Band 2 fixed it all. I could finally play alongside my friends online. I kept playing throughout the last few years, downloading songs from some of my favorite bands like Alice in Chains, Deftones, and Gorillaz. I even bought some extra guitars so my friends and I could have gaming parties as a full group. I thought it would never end, but Rock Band 3 was announced. Keyboard support, improved interface, and Pro Mode shocked me. These were visions that I, as a music fan, could not ignore. I wanted to play Rock Band 3, and badly.
I bought Rock Band 3 and began playing it. I created my character, made a band name, formed a group, and got to rocking. I played "One-Armed Scissor." I played "Rainbow in the Dark." I stuck by the career goals and road challenges. I played the keyboard. I even brought it to a few parties at my dorm and everyone enjoyed it. I played the game for hour upon hour.
But then something happened.
For the first time in my entire gaming career, I was bored of Rock Band. I didn't want to play the keyboard. I didn't like the Rock Band 3 setlist. I found the challenges to be derivative and predictable. The Pro Mode wasn't fun.
I took a long look at the game. It was Rock Band, something I grew to truly love as a game series. But for the first time, I didn't want to play it. I was bored. I looked at my collection of instruments. Four guitars, (two broken) a set of drums, a microphone graced my possession. I felt concerned; I didn't want to own them anymore.
Rock Band 3 did a despicable thing: it actually turned me off to the series.
I aim to get rid of my functional Rock Band stuff, including Rock Band 3. I know it may sound weird coming from a guy who was so excited for Rock Band 3, but this realization has changed me. I want to play a real guitar and actually use that Mastodon Blood Mountain guitar tab book that my dad got me for Christmas. I actually want to be a real musician, and not be held back by five buttons.
Maybe someday I'll buy the games again; they're cheaper now. I'm not getting the Pro Mode guitar, though. I'm not shelling out $150 for a guitar controller, regardless of how much they say it's a "real guitar."
My review of Rock Band 3 is still in the works. I'll finish the analysis and review before I sell my Rock Band gear. It's only fair. I'm still going to keep one guitar controller in case I feel like playing a music game again after I get rid of the Rock Band gear.
Right now though, I bid farewell to Rock Band. I think it's time to graduate.
Scott Pilgrim faces his biggest challenge yet! Enter AK, the cynical and jaded video game reviewer!
Just kidding, Scott. Your game is great. Here's my review.
Aside from that, there hasn't been too much going on. Due to some issues with my school's internet connection, I have yet to download the demo of Sonic 4, which has been getting a pretty mixed reception. Fortunately, the connection was restored to its true glory, so I'll get around to that soon. I'll download the Sonic 4 demo for sure, but at 1200 Microsoft Points, it's steep. I'll probably either wait till it's discounted on Xbox Live, or wait for a retail release of all of the episodes.
Also, there are so many games I need to play! Vanquish, despite being another Platinum Games title that I instantly started tracking (since the demo was soooo awesome), might have to wait. School is still going, and the holidays are almost upon us, which means holiday gifts are almost upon us.
Good thing Halloween comes first. I still have Condemned and Condemned 2: Bloodshot on the review list, so having some scares will help. Sorry RE5; you just don't cut it.
I did get an interesting idea, though. With me being a communications major in college, I'm currently taking a rhetoric course. My instructor assigned as a final project a 7-page single-spaced paper over a chosen topic. As a hint, she said that one argument that has arisen is the use of video games as rhetoric. Yeah, I'm already brainstorming. Being that rhetoric is such a broad and formless term, I'm looking through my game library for some examples of rhetoric in games. There's the military-based expectations of war in games like Modern Warfare 2, or the artistic ambiguity of games like Shadow of the Colossus or LIMBO. It's up in the air, but I'm eager to explore this topic further. Cool.
Well, take care everyone!
Early today, Nintendo announced the date, price, and capabilities of its groundbreaking new handheld, the 3DS.
The date is around Spring 2011 for US customers.
The price is approximately $299.
I'm sure that this is bringing around a lot of controversy in the gaming world. Not even the Game Boy Advance cost that much by launch, and that shattered expectations with powerful new hardware.
Will it be worth the hefty price tag? Well, here are some promising features that Nintendo has integrated into its newest machine.
3D without glasses: We all know this already, but it's a feature that I can't wait to check out for real. Though the only ones who've been able to see the 3D effects in action are game and game journalism professionals, the 3D effects are predicted to truly put 3D on the map (or at least where Avatar left it). Reggie of Nintendo even promoted the thing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon with wowed results (though making Jimmy Fallon happy is about as simple as giving him the leftovers of Conan O'Brien's career). Still, the 3D effects have a ways to go in the modern market, considering that movies seem to plaster the 3D idea onto every movie possible, usually in boring and unneeded results. Though if you consider the better 3D movies, the subtle visual effects do add spice to the film. If Avatar made the public believe in 3D again, the 3DS has the potential to revolutionize visual media as we know it. Exciting.
Wi-Fi, Tag Mode, Improved Wireless Communications: Nintendo still hasn't given us details on whether friend codes are out the door, they do seem to be embracing smoother and readier wireless gaming. Super Street Fighter IV 3D is said to have new features for multiplayer and even the ability to find opponents using the inventive Tag Mode. Nintendo also aims to integrate Mii functionality and promote the Tag Mode with multiple titles. Hopefully older DS cartridges will still use Wi-fi, because I sure do love playing some Jump Ultimate Stars online.
Game Boy Virtual Console: It's about time, Nintendo. The Wii Virtual Console was a hit, though slowly waned support in the present day, but Nintendo remains loyal to retro gamers with a Game Boy and Game Boy Color Virtual Console available on 3DS. Finally, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, Zelda: Link's Awakening, and Metroid II have the potential to make a triumphant return. If Nintendo can get some third-party support, we could very well see Final Fantasy or Donkey Kong Land on 3DS as well. It's an exciting (and remarkably demanded) feature that will most likely be as enlightening as the Wii Virtual Console was in 2006.
DSiWare Isn't Dead: I never bought a DSi or a DSiXL, but I still was excited about games like Dark Void Zero and the upcoming Shantae revival. With 3DS and its improved storage capabilities, DSiWare will finally be within my interest. Even those who've purchased a DSi or DSiXL can transfer their games to the 3D handheld. The improved storage, 2GB and SD card support, is a much needed idea, trumping the meager flash storage on the Wii.
These factors are adding up to an ambitious and engaging release which has the potential to bring 3D into a new light. The only real issue is the price, which isn't as affordable as past Nintendo handhelds have been. Nintendo still has yet to release a launch lineup, and especially with Snake Eater 3D pushed back, Nintendo has a lot to prove considering how big this project of theirs is.
Look for AK's most anticipated 3DS games countdown very soon!
Hey, everyone! I have been able to play more games lately, so I thought I'd take a peek at an older piece of DLC that I downloaded so long ago. Here's AK's verdict on the Resident Evil 5 downloadable episode, Desperate Escape!
In the meantime, I've been expanding my music library a little bit. I was able to pick up both Disturbed, Anberlin, and Linkin Park's newest albums. Here's my quick impressions of these three albums.
Disturbed's Asylum: It's a decent enough work and has some killer tracks like "Asylum", "Warrior", and "Another Way to Die", but I can't help but feel like Disturbed is running out of ideas. The well-performed tracks do have a tendency to blend together, a problem that I noticed in their Indestructible album as well. It's heavy and ferociously well-produced, but it's easy to see that Disturbed is starting to buckle under their own weight.
Anberlin's Dark is the Way, Light is a Place: I was actually quite impressed with this album. The band that gave us "Feel Good Drag" made waves with their New Surrender album, but their newest is a powerful mix of alternative rock and pop, showing that these Florida favorites can adapt to the mainstream market without feeling derivative or shallow. The excellent "Impossible", the escalating "Closer", and the remarkably intense "To The Wolves" are much more consistent that the scatterbrained New Surrender tracks. It's a vast improvement.
Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns: Minutes to Midnight was a bad Linkin Park album, but the rap/rock legends have redeemed themselves with A Thousand Suns. Mixing ambient soundscapes with unique hooks, Linkin Park has officially grown up, casting aside much of the angst that they built up (but haven't entirely cast off, evidence in "Burning In the Skies"). The variety helps. Songs like "Waiting for the End" and "Wretches and Kings" show an evolution of their defining sound. Forget Minutes to Midnight, and pick this one up.
I aim to write a few longer reviews for these albums once I listen to them more thoroughly, and I will also pick up the new Soundgarden retrospective album, Telephantasm. No, I'm not buying Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock with it. I prefer the 2CD/1DVD package.
Take care everyone!
Hey, everyone! Here's a new review of an obscure little game called Buzz! Quiz World for the PS3. You may have heard of it, but is it any good? Check it out here!
In the meantime, I've checked out a couple of slick demos on Xbox Live.
First is Vanquish, which is essentially Gears of War on adrenaline. Vanquish is a special project from Platinum Games, a studio that has a serious knack for making amazing games. Their last two biggest projects, MadWorld for Wii and Bayonetta for 360 and PS3, were amazing, and Vanquish could be their third masterpiece.
It's a shooter, a shooter incredibly similar to Gears of War what with "second-person" aiming and cover-based combat, but Vanquish speeds the whole thing up considerably. Players can use the bumper buttons to "slide" from cover to cover, but this isn't like a quick Mega Man slide. It's more like a race car...with a jet engine. Seriously: this game is fast, the fastest cover-based shooter I've ever played. I love the combat and the rush of dashing across a battlefield. Even the quick-time events are good. I'm unquestionably excited for Vanquish. If you haven't picked up the demo yet, do it now. You'll be hooked.
Second is the new Guitar Hero game, which is actually pretty good. I played the four songs on the demo on Hard and found the challenge to be good. The big nuance in Warriors of Rock is the transformation mode, where a character can become a more powerful instrumentalist and earn new abilities. The demo introduced a skill to earn more stars through high multipliers. Surprisingly, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock actually plays well and is pretty addictive. These may seem like gimmicks, but there's something about Warriors of Rock's changes that give it a good identity. Can it compete with the new instruments and Pro Mode of Rock Band 3? We'll see.
I also picked up the Plants Vs. Zombies demo, which I will investigate soon.
I still plan to compare the two setlists of the two big music games of the year, so look out for that. In the meantime, I'm playing Condemned: Criminal Origins and the Scott Pilgrim game, while my closest friends are playing Halo: Reach, a game which I have yet to get. Sad, isn't it?
Well, take care everyone!
Upon seeing the screenshots and trailers for the new Devil May Cry installment, tentatively titled DmC, I really didn't know what to say. This so-called Dante looked nothing like his past forms. I really couldn't believe that the red-jacket-wearing, white-haired demon hunter had become what looked like an Ozzfest concert goer who just got in a fist fight with a security bouncer. It was mind-blowing. Curiously, I checked the news and discovered that this new Devil May Cry game was developed by the Heavenly Sword visionaries, and was considered a "reboot," more than a full-fledged "sequel" or "prequel."
This brings up what I've recently discovered to be a common word in this day and age of games: the "reboot."
First, let's define this ephemeral term. What constitutes a reboot?
Well, a reboot, much like the term used in computer language, is starting over. When you reboot your computer, you're starting your session over, more or less to refresh and reestablish the system. Your work is saved, but the process is usually different when you decide to continue. Still, the main reason to reboot a computer is to re-stabilize the system. Rebooting a computer is much simpler than rebooting a game series, but they still share common elements.
Here are three qualities that I believe a good reboot must have:
1. Must preserve the essence of the original series
2. Must introduce enough new elements
3. Must affect a currently irrelevant series
As for preserving the essence of the original series, that depends on the storyline. Dante is younger, but still has the devil-may-care (no pun intended) attitude seen since Devil May 3. The story is still in the dark, so this element of the reboot can't be determined thus far into the development cycle. So for now, I'll give DmC the benefit of the doubt and let this aspect slide.
Another major aspect of a successful reboot is doing something truly different. While many may consider Metroid: Other M or Kirby's Epic Yarn a reboot, they aren't. There's a true difference between a reboot and a re-imagining. Re-imagining normally changes the game completely, while not focusing on preserving older elements. Metroid Prime on the other hand would be easier to see as a reboot, since the whole thing felt fresh, but still preserved the essence of the gameplay such as secret weapon expansions and an emphasis on exploration, hallmarks of the Metroid formula.
That's one reason that I believe DmC isn't a true reboot: from what we've seen at least, it's the same as it's always been. It's high-intensity action, chaining combos, and ultra-violence mixed into the same Devil May Cry formula we've known for so long. The only thing that's been really different thus far is Dante himself. There aren't enough new elements in the gameplay (seen thus far) to constitute the title of "reboot." If anything, it's a re-imagining.
One of the most successful reboots in my recent memory is Ninja Gaiden, a game that took a legendary (and legendarily difficult) game and brought it into the third dimension. Ninja Gaiden never had a legacy beyond its NES beginnings, so seeing a famed series of retro gaming return on a much more powerful console, the original Xbox, was staggering. It took a very long time for the series to get back on its feet and become center stage on the system. That's one thing that a reboot is: newly relevant. You can't truly reboot a game series too early.
That's the biggest reason why I believe that DmC is an unneeded reboot. Devil May Cry is still one of the most successful action game series on modern consoles, and it still is regarded as a furious and tightly-knit collection of gaming concepts. Devil May Cry 4, though a bit on the simplistic side, was still fun and successful. That's why DmC doesn't hold much water when considered a reboot. The last Devil May Cry game is still relevant in gamers' minds, so why start over when you have all of this still going on?
A more recent example of a reboot would be Donkey Kong Country Returns, a game that aims to preserve the fun of Donkey Kong Country, introduces enough new elements to gameplay (such as co-op), and most importantly, revives a series from irrelevancy.
In summary, the Devil May Cry series is getting a reboot, but is it really? The qualifications for a reboot aren't in their truest state with DmC. While it's too early to make firm judgments on the game's final state, DmC is not a game that I can consider a reboot. The lack of new ideas (aside from the storyline) and the relevancy of the series are the biggest issues seen thus far. Don't get me wrong; I'm very excited to play DmC, but I just fail to see the constitutionality of calling this new game a true reboot.
Hey everyone! AK is back, with a...film review? Yes, I went to see the Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World movie, and have composed a review of it. Hope you enjoy it!
Bryan Lee O'Malley's cult-hit Scott Pilgrim, oddly enough, has been going on for six years now, with the sixth and final book being released just this year. It really didn't burst onto the scene, however, until the announcement of a feature film (and its respective game adaptation). Now, Edgar Wright's adaptation of the famed comic series hits the big screen. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is an over-the-top, visually stunning piece of alternative romantic comedy that leaves a lasting impression regardless whether you've read the graphic novels or not. What that impression means, on the other hand, is still very up in the air. This is a movie that walks the line between fan service and accessibility, resulting in an action-packed adventure that's fun to watch, but difficult to consider the definitive Scott Pilgrim experience.
Scott Pilgrim is a single, 23-year-old bass player in a garage band with his friend Stephen and ex-girlfriend Kim. Scott's world shakes up when he starts dating 17-year-old Knives Chau, an energetic, but immature girl who truly makes Scott question his place in the relationship. Things really start getting heavy after Scott encounters Ramona Flowers, a rollerblading American delivery girl who infatuates Scott from the moment he sees her. After getting to know Ramona, Scott discovers Ramona's deep secret: her seven evil exes. It's up to Scott to fend off these seven enemies and profess his love to Ramona. Of course, things are never that easy. Scott has to battle his own past relationships while fighting for Ramona's hand, many of which intertwine with Ramona's love life as well. And what about Knives? As you can probably guess, Scott's "precious little life" is bound to get hectic.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World has a pristine art design, one that successfully recreates the action and visual awe of comics without making it difficult to follow. Bursting onomatopoeia and quickly-scrolling backgrounds are extremely common in Scott's world. The fight choreography is equally over-the-top, putting a new, more tongue-in-cheek spin on bullet-time. Even in the more subtle moments, the comic book essence is clear. From start to finish, Scott Pilgrim assaults you with action, and while it gets pretty wild (maybe too wild), it still makes the film a visually stunning experience, one that sets the bar for its alternative genre.
If you've read the six graphic novels, then the beginning of the film will be pleasantly familiar. Scott dates Knives, encounters Ramona and starts dating her, and begins his battle with the seven evil exes. For the first two-thirds of the movie, everything goes according to plan. If you've read the books, you'll know what's going on, and for the most part it's done well. The entire movie runs at a good clip, delivering key plot points and memorable quotes, while eliminating tedious ones. It's near the end that things really start to deteriorate. I understand that taking six rather-lengthy graphic novels and turning them into a 112-minute movie is difficult; I understood that going into the theater. Like I said, key plot points are kept. The last third, however, goes in a different direction entirely, and it feels very rushed. Quotes are given to other characters, occurrences are out of order, and the whole thing feels too different by the tail end. Resolution of the whole seven evil exes arc was messy and incomplete.
In fact, the ending is probably the real reason that I didn't like this film as much as I wanted to. Without spoiling anything (though if you've read the books, you know what's up), I must say that the ending is good, but it's the buildup that feels premature. The final confrontation takes a focus away from one of the most critical and important characters: Ramona. While the graphic novels really fleshed out Scott and Ramona's imperfections as humans, but their ability to overcome them as lovers, Ramona's place in the film did not suit her character. In a weird twist, Knives actually felt like a bigger character than Ramona was which makes Scott's journey torn. If the filmmakers spent more time developing Ramona as a character, the way that the comic creator Bryan Lee O'Malley did, the film could be a sturdier translation of the superb series. Sadly, though, the film's inconsistencies and attempts to pack so much into a single film result in a "shooting oneself in the foot," dilemma.
As far as acting goes, this is a new, though oddly familiar role for Michael Cera. Since Superbad and Juno, Cera has grown into the "lovable loser" that many people have grown to expect. It wasn't until Youth in Revolt that Cera was able to branch out into being a full rebel, something that many didn't expect from the soft-spoken star. Cera's role as Scott Pilgrim is a stunning balance between his Juno and Youth in Revolt days. Scott's character is a lovable loser for sure, but his resolve and strength in battle parallels that. The contrast between his sessions with the band (a relaxed, constantly picked-on Scott) and his nobility in the fray (a brave and powerful Scott) both feel tight and focused. This is Michael Cera where he should be: being a dork, but dork with guts.
The rest of the casting is respectably well done. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, despite my initial reactions, does a good job as the mysterious Ramona Flowers (though her character still feels under implemented in the film). Her initial appearance is as cynical and secretive as expected. It just would've been better if she had more screen time. Ellen Wong as Knives Chau works too. Wong captures that "fangirl" atmosphere that O'Malley created in the comics and really lets it out anytime she's on screen. The rest of the cast is very well performed. Even the evil exes, each of which has a unique personality, work well, especially the earlier and more significant of them. It's a quirky atmosphere that the cast gives their all to support. To complement the wonderful cast, the soundtrack is an energetic mix of indie and garage punk, with bands like Broken Social Scene, Metric, and even Beck (who plays the music for Scott's band's performances on the soundtrack). It's a superb collection of uniquely composed tracks that set a powerful mood for the humorous, though memorable storyline.
+ Incredible graphic design is striking
+ Soundtrack is thoroughly comprehensive
+ Excellent casting
+ Captures the charm, humor, and romantic energy of the series
- Too many changes from the original story
- Not enough emphasis on Scott and Ramona's relationship
- Tries to pack too much into too short a film
Despite the issues that I have with Ramona's place in the storyline and the odd changes from the original storyline, I couldn't help but smile and enjoy watching Scott Pilgrim's trials and tribulations in his quest for love. Its excellent casting, stunning graphic design, and indie soundtrack complement the already touching story of Scott and Ramona, with plenty of action-packed battles and laughably awkward moments. Fans of the comics should see it for sure, but they should be prepared to contend with the incongruities from its source material. If you haven't read the books, Scott Pilgrim still has plenty of energy and cleverness to be worth watching. Though I still await a full adaptation of Scott's quest for Ramona's heart, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World remains one of the most uniquely designed films released this year. It has its issues, but it's too easy and too much fun to get lost in Scott's quest to ignore. Check it out today.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.
Check back soon for a review of the Scott Pilgrim game! Take care everyone!
AK is back with a review of a game near and dear to his heart! Check out this review of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES!
In case you all didn't notice by the jumping Ramona, I've become a bit of a Scott Pilgrim fan. I curiously purchased the first two graphic novels, only to discover how simply awesome the series is. I currently have all six in the series, and once I finish them, I will see the film. My best friend apparently is an even more avid fan, as he thinks that he'd be a better Scott Pilgrim than Michael Cera. I will be the judge of that!
Aww, Ramona is soooo adorable!
I even tried out the demo of Scott Pilgrim VS The World: The Game...only to have my butt kicked royally. The lack of online co-op is disappointing, as I want to play it with my best friend who lives far away, but I'll probably buy the full game once I invite all of my gaming buddies over for another all-night gaming marathon. Fun.
I also tried out Monday Night Combat. Meh.
I aim to do a soundtrack comparison between Rock Band 3 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock soon. In the meantime, there's school.
Oh, and did you know that there are mozzarella stick flavored Pringles? There are, and...they actually taste like mozzarella sticks! That shouldn't happen! Delicious, though.
Take care everyone, and support Scott Pilgrim!
It's finally happened. Harmonix has released the full song list for the highly anticipated Rock Band 3, and I couldn't be more excited. So in honor of this monumental occasion (MONUMENTAL!), here's my top five most-anticipated tracks on the main setlist. This doesn't include Deftones' "My Own Summer (Shove It), considering that's a pre-order bonus, but…yeah. Here we go!
5. "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson
You hear that crunching guitar riff? Well, thank Brian Warner, better known as Marilyn Manson. Though he's best known for covering tracks like Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus", Marilyn Manson's dark look into fame became one of his signature original tracks. "The Beautiful People" has a thunderous drum line, and the heavy guitars throughout echo with his gasp/scream vocals. It's long since been an anticipated inclusion to the music game genre, ever since Harmonix announced some newcomers, and finally everyone can get all gothed out with Marilyn Manson and his own trip into darkness.
Fun fact: Marilyn Manson was once engaged to True Blood star Evan Rachel Wood.
4. "Been Caught Stealing" by Jane's Addiction
Jane's Addiction's ode to kleptomania makes its music game debut in Rock Band 3, with some quirky vocals and plenty of Dave Navarro's obscure guitar riffs. It seems to have enough accessible guitars for newcomers to learn, while also having a cool groove to it, not unlike the other Jane's Addiction songs released in Rock Band 2 and as DLC. A fun song to listen to, but even more fun to play, the oddly upbeat song is bound to get the band going. Kudos.
Fun fact: Lead singer Perry Farrell started the famed rock festival Lollapalooza.
3. "Rainbow in the Dark" by Dio
Rock Band 3 is the first in the series to introduce keyboards to the mix, so it's difficult to find a better song to tickle the ivories than the keyboard-laden metal anthem "Rainbow in the Dark." (Sorry, Europe, your "Final Countdown" didn't make the cut OR the RB3 setlist! For shame!) The late, great Ronnie James Dio's masterful voice is bound to make singing segments a challenge and the intense and atmospheric keyboard sections are sure to get many up-and-coming keyboardists (or keytarists) in the fray. Although it was one of the first announced songs for the setlist, it's hard to get better than Dio. Rest in peace, sir.
Fun fact: Ronnie James Dio invented the "metal horns" gesture, claiming that it was used by his grandmother to oust away demons.
2. "Before I Forget" by Slipknot
The song that earned the Iowa metalheads their first Grammy Award returns after appearing in Guitar Hero III, finally with full band support. Slipknot has always been about intense percussion, so prepare to beat the hell out of your Rock Band drums when running riot through "Before I Forget". Corey Taylor's scream/sing vocals have made Slipknot a household name among the maggots, and "Before I Forget" looks to have that solid balance between the guitars and the late Paul Grey's basslines. If you're looking for a hard-hitting metal song to rock out to, "Before I Forget" is another superb addition to the tracklist.
Fun fact: Slipknot percussionist and founding member Shawn "Clown" Crahan plays drums for the band Dirty Little Rabbits, and has also remixed Coheed and Cambria's "Welcome Home."
1. "One-Armed Scissor" by At the Drive-in
I bet a lot of you who've played Guitar Hero: World Tour are shocked and appalled by this, considering that this punk masterpiece was on the World Tour setlist. Still, Harmonix has a knack for nailing the song tracks for things like this. I can't wait to (hopefully) alternate vocal tracks between Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Jim Ward, and as expected, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar riffs will make learning the guitar really addictive. Considering that I've played this song repeatedly on Guitar Hero: World Tour and Guitar Hero 5, I was hoping that Rock Band 3 would have this track, preferably taking advantage of the new controllers and multiple vocal tracks. Seriously, were you expecting any other song at #1?
Fun fact: It's one of AK's favorite bands ever!
I couldn't help but do this list! Rock Band 3 is going to be amazing.
First off, thanks to everyone who viewed my first video review and/or commented! It means so much that you guys want me to get better at that, and I'm already working on another! Anyone remember Lost Kingdoms for the Gamecube? You know, the one with the cards? Well, I found it for $5 at Gamestop and have been playing it rather frequently.
Don't worry about the written reviews, though, my friends. I'm still writing them. Lost Kingdoms is my focus, so look for something Lost Kingdoms-related soon.
Sooo, who's excited for Bioshock Infinite? I am! I thought that the original Bioshock was one of the best games of its kind, focusing on a great story and immersive environment. Bioshock 2, despite its awesome multiplayer, didn't satisfy the way that the original did. Bioshock Infinite looks to be what Bioshock 2 should've been: a new idea with a new world. Seriously, sky cities? That's cool. Too bad we'll have to wait a few years to finally enter the world of Columbia.
I also plan to pre-order Rock Band 3 with the keyboard peripheral from Gamestop, mostly because I want to be able to play the Deftones song "My Own Summer (Shove It)" on Rock Band 3. I'm still awaiting a full setlist from Harmonix, though...
Perhaps I'll do a Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock/Rock Band 3 preview comparison. Exciting!
Take care, everyone!
A landmark occasion!
Though I've been hard at work with games, I recently was able to try out my video camera and get some game footage. I wanted to do something with the footage, so I decided to...
...wait for it...
...make a video review! My first ever!
After putting this verdict off for a while, I decided to check out Guitar Hero: Van Halen for my 360. I recorded some gameplay, entered my video-editing program, and got to work. It was much more work than I thought, but I enjoyed it. Hopefully more will come, as getting footage can take time and hard drive space.
So without further ado, here's AK's review of Guitar Hero: Van Halen and AK's first video review ever!
I plan to dive into Condemned soon, after I find time to set Pokemon SoulSilver aside (I'm hooked again!). Take care everyone, and enjoy the video review!
It's taken a long while, but I've made it out of LIMBO with a brand new review. Man, what a ride. Here it is!
It's been pretty wild around here. Summer is sadly winding down, but I was able to head to Gamestop and pick up the original Condemned: Criminal Origins for cheap, only $4. I picked up the sequel a while back, but I wanted to play the original before I got too far into the sequel.
I also picked up the entire When They Cry collection on DVD. It's a crazy anime that is normally known as Higurashi by anime fans. Plenty of blood, lots of suspense; it's quickly becoming a big favorite of mine.
As for my gaming focus, I still need to finish Super Mario Galaxy 2. It's massive, with plenty of things to do. It's challenging too, so I've got a lot on my plate.
Take care, everyone!
E3 2010 has come and gone, delivering announcement after announcement from game developers across the board. It's safe to say that this E3 was one for the ages…but something was missing. Yeah, E3 2010 was not perfect, as some hidden gems were, oddly enough, not present. Behind the hype surrounding new hardware and blockbuster titles, a few games weren't at E3 2010. Here's a list of some titles that weren't present at this year's E3, but were sorely missed.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII
SquareEnix has always had a knack for secrecy, but with a worldwide group of followers of the Final Fantasy name, you'd think that we'd get something about Versus XIII. The shocking announcement of Final Fantasy XIII being multi-platform stunned E3 goers in the past, and while Versus hasn't had a multi-platform announcement, any information about the real-time RPG title has been mysterious to say the least. Perhaps more light will be shed on this game once the Tokyo Game Show, but considering how development on big-name SquareEnix title is, patience will surely be a virtue on this one.
Miyamoto's magnificent real-time strategy game Pikmin showed how creativity and charm can collide and make one beautiful and well-played experience. The improved sequel was a Gamecube gem, but we haven't heard much at all about Captain Olimar's third adventure since Miyamoto's hint at last year's E3. It's apparently in development for the Wii, and gamers have assumed that it'll use the Wii controls in the same way that the Wii remake of the original Pikmin did, but that's all. Gamers have desired a third Pikmin installment for a long while now, and hopefully Nintendo's greatest visionary will give us a few hints in the coming months.
Insomniac's PS3 brainchild has grown into two successful first-person shooters (along with a PSP shooter), but a mysterious billboard seemed to begin the path to the third Chimera assault. Resistance 3 didn't make a showing at Sony's press conference or at E3 2010 at all, but PS3 gamers remain addicted to one of the system's most successful series. With a gameplay and multiplayer overhaul seen in Resistance 2, Resistance 3 is bound to break new ground for the series. We will, however, have to wait to see how epic this battle is going to be.
Max Payne 3
A gritty and bullet-time crazy action series, Max Payne has gone deep underground, with the folks at Remedy working hard on Alan Wake instead of the third game. Rockstar Vancouver aims to take the wheel to close out this trilogy, but no E3 coverage on Max Payne 3? Sounds nuts. After a push from 2010 to 2011 for the release date, secrets are aplenty in Max Payne's third action installment. 360, PS3, and PC owners will have to wait a while before going crazy with the bullet-time and solving the mysteries that exist in Max's world.
The Last Guardian
ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were PS2 games with soul. They never relied on complexity, but it was their beauty, their expansive worlds and how the player explored them that truly defined Team ICO's vision. Team ICO have kept their third major title under wraps, showing only a teaser trailer to the masses. A giant beast and a small child have become centerpieces for the game's hauntingly inviting world. After watching this trailer over and over, I found more questions than answers. Where is this world? What connection does the beast have with the child? Who is The Last Guardian? It's intriguing to see how Team ICO will use the PS3 hardware, especially in designing the wispy and beautiful world they've already shown in the trailer. E3 2010 isn't where we'll find out more about The Last Guardian, but hopefully the Tokyo Game Show will shed some much needed light on this long-awaited title.
This'll be my last E3 2010 blog, so after this, it's back to business. Playing and reviewing games are back at the forefront, so look for reviews of Peggle for PSN, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and maybe a Metroid Zero Mission review too. Yeah, GBA may be retro now, but it still rocks. Take care, everyone!
Under all of the hype surrounding new hardware like the 3DS, Kinect, and Move, along with a slew of other games like Epic Mickey, Gears of War 3, and Portal 2, quite a few other games seemed to get less attention than I had originally expected. So, I thought I'd go through some games that look fantastic, but you might have missed during the press conference information explosion. My friend Pierst179 also posted his impressions on the less hyped of E3 2010, so check out his thoughts as well.
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 3 was epic. It really shattered expectations of what a Western RPG could do. An expansive world and addictively customizable gameplay elements defined a brand new Fallout adventure. While I personally find it to be a bit early for a new Fallout installment, Fallout: New Vegas looks to capture the isolated and deserted environment that the Capital Wasteland delivered. The Western desert may seem empty, but from the shown footage, there appears to be inventively designed locations. The game is said to be just as large as the original Fallout 3, with even more choices to make and weapons to use. The "Bladed Gauntlet" looks to be the weapon of choice for melee experts, as is the Anti-Material Rifle for snipers. New weapons, quests, and even allies have been shown, and it all looks incredible. While it doesn't look as groundbreaking as Fallout 3 did, New Vegas recaptures the gameplay and astounding environment that the original possessed. An October 19 release date sounds good, right Bethesda?
The Wii got a taste of online FPS action with The Conduit, but already the folks at High Voltage are whipping up an excitingly improved sequel. The return of the excellent Wii pointer controls and engaging multiplayer was to be expected, along with a more refined single player. The impressive graphics, one of the original's biggest praises, are still accounted for. It's fantastic that High Voltage is progressing, and Conduit 2 looks to be their biggest project yet. The Wii's rather low FPS library is bound to get a shock to the system as this sequel is finalized, and with a Fall 2010 release window, Wii owners with adrenaline rushes should be able to put their skills to the test sooner than later.
de Blob 2: The Underground
One of the Wii's most refined and fun platformers, de Blob, didn't get a ton of attention. It's a shame, because it was a great mix of platforming and open-world design. Now set for release on all three major consoles along with the DS, de Blob 2: The Underground gives Blob a sidekick, some 2D side-scrolling stages, and (thankfully) no more swinging the Wii Remote to jump! de Blob 2: The Underground's footage shows off a beautifully vibrant world, similar to the original, but with plenty of new environments, missions, and even co-op play. That wacky humor is also making a solid return. With high-definition power on the 360 and PS3, and refined controls for the Wii, all three versions look interesting enough, making there no reason to miss out on the sequel to one of this generation's most overlooked gems.
Looking for a reason to put down Peace Walker? Try the quirky, rhythm-based gameplay of Patapon 3. Aiming to trump the original two Patapon titles (both of which were fantastic), Patapon 3 packs in online play, new units, and a tutorial to get newcomers into the game quickly and painlessly. Not too much is known about the PSP exclusive, but the quick-fix gaming crew is bound to love the short, sweet, and satisfying Patapon gameplay.
The blue blur is back on Wii and DS in the vibrant Sonic Colors. While Sonic's recent career on consoles may be questionable, Sonic Colors can't help but spread optimism for fans and platformer lovers alike. The introduction of skills from the Wisp aliens combined with the bright levels (think Sonic Unleashed without nighttime lycanthropy) seen in the footage show promise; we know that Sonic has had a sketchy 3D resume. We all do. But whether we like it or not (in this case, I like it), Sonic's upcoming Wii and DS games, Sonic Colors, are shooting for a late 2010 release.
The Sly Collection
Following in the footsteps of the HD release, God of War Collection, Sly Cooper's adventures are getting the high-definition remix they deserve with the Sly Collection for PS3. Sucker Punch's original PS2 hits are back with updated graphics and even 3D support. As someone who, unbelievably, has not played the original Sly Cooper games, I'm excited to see these games in HD. My platformer nostalgia just had another spike.
It's pretty hard to believe that it's been only a year since the original Scribblenauts floored E3 2009 goers. Even harder to believe is that it disappointed upon release. I gave the game an 8.0, but the controls issues were mostly the cause of the demerits I gave it. Well, 5th Cell listened to millions of gamers, fixing the controls and delivering adjective-based item materialization in the DS sequel, Super Scribblenauts. D-Pad navigation is here, as are the ability to make surfer werewolves, flying whales, and so much more. Prepare for another imaginative game from 5th Cell this year.
The DS return of Ammy couldn't be more anticipated. Now in adorable chibi form, the goddess of Okami is back with unique stylus controls and brand-new challenges to use, in addition to a new sidekick in the child of the original Okami's Susano. As a fan of the Wii version of Okami (it's one of my all-time favorite Wii titles), I can't wait to bring Ammy's newest adventure with me. A Fall 2010 release date is the icing on this tantalizingly stunning cake.
Tune in to my next blog to see what was disappointingly missing from E3 2010. You can probably guess what sadly absent title I missed the most.
Hey, everyone! I have a brand new review of Modnation Racers for the PS3! Check it out here!
With the big three press conferences officially over, I thought I'd give an E3 blog a shot. As I did with last year, here are my impressions of the three conferences with each one getting a "Personal Favorite" award for the best software or hardware from them.
Microsoft kicked off the press conference with a number of prominent titles. Some light was shed on the new Call of Duty game, and good 'ol Hideo Kojima made an appearance to show off the latest Metal Gear game, which had plenty of crazy sword-swinging action. Both looked great.
Next up were Gears of War 3, Fable III, and Halo: Reach. The incredible scenes of a mutated Berserker busting from the ground or the Spartan team rushing through a Covenant attack were fantastic. It was here that I felt that Microsoft really were successful. The bombastic and creative game moments drew me in, showing a solid future for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush.
Natal, now dubbed Kinect, was Microsoft's major focus at their E3 2010 press conference. The visual and audio recognition hardware proved that there is some promise in Kinect. After a slew of wacky tech demos and games being shown, it became apparent that Microsoft plans to invest a ton of time and effort into showing off Kinect. Sports, racing, minigames, they all were expected. Kinect hasn't shown a blockbuster, must-have Kinect title yet. While a new Kinect Forza Motorsport game is appreciated, Microsoft definitely needs some killer app to satisfy both gamers and those migrating from other consoles.
Microsoft floored everyone at E3 2009, when Natal was first debuted. It showed a future without controllers, one that I was hesitant to follow. E3 2010 didn't change a thing. Kinect is a promising experiment, but unless Microsoft can nail a true exclusive, hardware-advantaged experience, Kinect will fail. It's too early to determine Kinect's future, but Microsoft didn't do anything shocking this year. It was a safe and sadly uneventful conference…that is, until the end.
Microsoft's trump card was the Xbox 360 redesign, one that aims to gather more fans with a new cosmetic design, a big hard drive, and finally, a built-in Wi-fi component. I've desperately been hoping for Microsoft to add in built-in Wi-fi, something that Sony and Nintendo did with their respective consoles. It may not seem like much, but it really did save the conference for Microsoft…well, that and Gears 3.
Personal Favorite: Gears of War 3
Gears of War was as innovative as it was gory, and that's saying something. It focused on a unique cover system, visceral action, and some of the bloodiest executions ever seen in gaming. It was a game with guts…and guts to spill. Gears of War 2, however, suffered from the sequel condition, where too few enhancements were presented to really change things. After seeing that gameplay of the third game in the Gears of War series on that screen at the Microsoft conference, consider me a believer. New enemies, massive encounters, all closed out by a Berserker leaping into view; Gears of War, like many other hyped "thirds in a trilogy" looks to put all of its cards on the table for one final assault on the Locust Horde, and with a release date set, this was one game from the conference that I absolutely could not turn away from.
Nintendo kicked things off with a shocker: a new Zelda game, playable on the show floor, with Wii MotionPlus controls. I didn't expect them to show Skyward Sword first, and while the great art design and interesting mechanics were solid additions, the control issues from the "technical interference" soured the result, at least to me. With a 2011 release date, Nintendo has quite a bit of time to refine the game. My concern afterward was what Nintendo planned to use as a holiday smash.
The introduction of presentation and gameplay of the long-awaited Epic Mickey was a major step forward for Nintendo's press conference. Goldeneye, Mario Sports Mix, Wii Party, and most Metroid: Other M footage were cool, but Nintendo also had a number of surprises ready to go as well. Kirby's Epic Yarn has a stunning art design, and looks to revitalize the 2D platformer genre on Wii the way that Wario Land: Shake It! and A Boy and His Blob did. Another great revival was courtesy of Retro Studios (the Metroid Prime crew), a development house that took on the task of making Donkey Kong Country Returns, a throwback to the famed SNES platformer.
But probably the biggest surprise came after the unveiling of the Nintendo 3DS. Anyone looking for a great launch title for Nintendo's newest handheld should look no further than Project Sora, now dubbed Kid Icarus Uprising. What seemed to be a mix of on-rails shooting and on-foot action, Kid Icarus Uprising looks to stun the player with 3D graphics and epic encounters. Pit's officially back.
Nintendo's last two years at E3 weren't their best. With only a few exclusives to show, Nintendo looked to be tripping over their own feet in the game market. E3 2010 felt like an apology gift, focusing on the big-names and cool exclusives that gamers were looking for. Zelda, 3DS, and the many surprises all led up to one of Nintendo's best E3 conferences in years.
Personal Favorite: Kirby's Epic Yarn
Okay, I love Zelda. I really do, but the shown gameplay footage felt incomplete. Skyward Sword is an ambitious project for sure, but after seeing the stunningly unique aesthetic and clever design in the Kirby's Epic Yarn footage, my 2D platformer nostalgia went into overdrive. This is the Kirby game that we've been waiting for since Kirby 64. The unique uses for Kirby's main item are shown so cleverly (similar to the paper effects in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door), and the shown levels oozed charm. It was pretty difficult for me to nail a single Nintendo title as my personal favorite from the press conference, but Kirby's Epic Yarn pulled ahead of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Epic Mickey, and even Kid Icarus: Uprising, thanks in part to its unquestionably animated design and unique gameplay.
Sony has come a long way with the PS3 and while there weren't a ton of surprises, Sony held its ground amongst a sea of announcements from other companies. The 3D concept stood tall. It was apparent that Sony was serious about 3D, especially after showing off the already spectacular-looking Killzone 3. With 3D equipping Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5, it could become an industry standard, but I was disappointed that there weren't many other killer apps for Sony's 3D setup.
Sony's second focus was Move, their own motion-controller with full 1:1 movement. The different games and demos shown didn't have a ton of innovation, but games like Sorcery and the PS3 version of Tiger Woods PGA showed promise. Sorcery in particular looked very simple from a design standpoint, but in my opinion, it was the best and most functional implementation of the Move hardware yet.
Finally, Sony stressed the Playstation Network, which they enhanced with the Playstation Plus, a paid subscription service for gamers looking for an extra piece of the Playstation pie. Demos and exclusive content was promised, but I probably won't be paying $50 a month until I get some more details on the setup.
Sony's conference was far from horrible, but there were very few surprises. I did enjoy the intrigue behind LittleBigPlanet 2 and the return of Twisted Metal, but Sony stood its ground instead of taking serious steps. The new PSP "Marcus" campaign looked weird, though Kevin Butler's gaming-related motivational speech was remarkably encouraging. Still, Sony didn't wow me. It was entirely functional and had a few cool moments, but didn't really break any expectations.
Personal Favorite: Twisted Metal (PS3)
I was truly torn between my picks for Sony's biggest game or hardware, but thanks to a surprise appearance by Sweet Tooth and a solid demo, Twisted Metal's aggression and expansive multiplayer was the biggest hit for me. Twisted Metal has always been about tearing other vehicular targets a new one and the new online functionalities and team play could make this the definitive demolition derby title for the Playstation 3. I remember playing Twisted Metal as a kid, and with that in mind, I really think that this PS3 installment could bring the series out of obscurity and back onto the forefront of Sony's software lineup.
I'll no doubt be talking about E3 for awhile in my next few blogs, so keep checking back. Thanks!
Hey, everyone! It's great to be back online after some Modnation Racers-related action. I probably won't have the review finalized until later this week, so don't worry.
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I understand that Super Mario Galaxy 2 has been on the minds for many people here on Gamespot. That's been running through my head for a while now; it was convenient that a garage sale appeared on my calendar on Saturday. I was able to sell enough trinkets and such to earn about $65. If my math is correct, that's more than enough to get Super Mario Galaxy 2. I'll get it today.
For now, let's talk the big pre-E3 news.
The Rhythm Game Revolution 2: Revenge of the Plastic Guitars
It seems that the rivals of rock are back for another round. With Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and Rock Band 3 both on the way this year, we're bound to see some new ways to play along with our favorite music. Guitar Hero is aiming for a guitar-focused, story-driven formula this year, with Rock Band taking a brand-new "Pro" turn for those who want to learn to actually play the guitar. This is an odd balance; both games have their weaknesses (at least from what's been revealed so far). Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock's reliance on a story (of all things) and the traditional gameplay of full-band rhythm games feel a bit too safe. On the other hand, Rock Band 3 aims to reinvent the genre with realistic instruments and a Pro Mode for those who want to learn how to play a real instrument, but all of that could be incredibly pricey for the consumer. Though I'm leaning towards Rock Band 3 this time around, I think that both divisions have their issues that could be resolved before their full release. For now, I'll be rocking out with Deftones in Rock Band 2.
Though it's been only a few months since Nintendo's 3DS announcement, everyone's been talking about what Nintendo aims to do with the new handheld. 3D, analog sticks, it's all been thrown into the mix. However, many of these ideas have yet to be truly announced. Nintendo has a habit of secrecy. With Nintendo's press conference this coming week, answers are bound to rise. Hopefully, the games will be plentiful, even if they are simple tech demos. Exciting!
I'm not even gonna talk about this. You know I'm excited about this.
Look for a Modnation Racers review soon, along with plenty of E3-related insight too! Take care everyone!
Hey, everyone! AK has a new review of what is already becoming one of my favorite games of the year! Here's my review of Alan Wake for the Xbox 360!
Considering Valve's track record, Portal was bound to be a hit. No one knew how big, though, as the inventive puzzle gameplay, absurdly catchy ending theme, and haunting villainess voice burst onto the internet in droves. Typical enough that it demanded a sequel. We've learned a lot more about the rumored Portal 2 after plenty of hidden messages and teasers, but Valve was about to show off Portal 2 in all of its cooperative and cryptic glory at E3 2010.
But expectedly, things change.
Portal 2's official E3 showing was cut, but in a bold new way.
Aperture Science teamed up with Valve for a "surprise," which is scheduled for E3 2010.
I, like many people, loved Portal. It was a creative experiment in 2007, but now in 2010, calling Portal an "experiment" is like saying that Mario likes the occasional mushroom. I thought that the return of GLaDOS would be like the second coming of a game character princess…that is, if the princess didn't need saving and turned out to be a crazy computer voice that taunted and tried to kill you throughout the entire game. Portal's inventive gameplay was a milestone, but the humor was what kept gamers coming back, just to hear the soothing mechanical voice of GLaDOS. Its release even found itself as a free download for Steam users with Macs.
And while Portal 2's arrival at E3 2010 isn't counted out completely, the delivery of a "surprise" is bound to make gamers do a double-take.
What could the surprise be? Left 4 Dead 3? Nah…
Counter-Strike returns? No…
What could it be?
Oh please, let it be true.
We'll have to see what the Valve visionaries have on the way, but whatever it could be…we'll be waiting.
Hey everyone! Talk about a wild ride. By that I mean Just Cause 2. Here's AK's verdict on it.
I decided to revisit an old music game yesterday. You may remember Guitar Hero 5. I really don't understand why I decided to play it again. Maybe I just felt like seeing scrolling circles instead of Rock Band's scrolling bars. Meh.
Speaking of Rock Band, I downloaded the Green Day: Rock Band demo. Two songs, neither of them too interesting. But I just had to see that keyboard icon. What is Harmonix planning? A keyboard? Keytar? Suspense! I really want to hear more about this Rock Band 3 game, considering that it's supposedly on its way soon. Setlist please, Harmonix.
Oh, Super Mario Galaxy 2. It looks fantastic, but I need to earn a bit more money before I can invest in that game. I'm not renting it. I refuse to "rent" games like Super Mario Galaxy, or any other game that I can pretty much guarantee that I'll like.
Hot on the heels of Mario is...Sonic. Seriously, what is he doing now? Apparently, it's talking with aliens. The first thing I thought of when I heard that Sonic Colors is on its way is..."Oh boy. Sonic's collecting space Pokemon." It sounds ridiculous, but then again, so did the Werehog. We'll see how this pans out, but I'm not holding my breath, especially with Sonic 4 on the way (but delayed). Sonic's awesome, but...seriously?
Well, take care everyone!