This week a news story from the LA Times started making the rounds stating that executives at Sony would be interested in thinking about maybe contemplating the possibility of the concept of Beatles songs being used in Guitar Hero. Here's the big quote:
Martin N. "Marty" Bandier, the top executive at the music publishing company that owns the John Lennon- Paul McCartney copyrights, said he liked the idea of a dedicated Beatles edition of Guitar Hero, Activision Inc.'s hugely popular video-game franchise.
"It's something we have talked about and something I'd like to pursue," said Bandier, who last year took over as chairman and chief executive at Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Now hopefully he was just using "guitar hero" as a general term for the current hot genre of music/rhythm games that includes Guitar Hero and Rock Band, because quite frankly, the only way to do The Beatles' songs justice would be doing it with Rock Band. Not that I would complain if their songs were used in Guitar Hero mind you, but it would be a much better experience with Rock Band's more in-depth set-up. I wanna go all Ringo with my fake (yet still noisy as hell) drums.
And I was going to use this post to explain the whole "who owns the
rights to Beatles songs?" thing since it seems awfully confusing.
Luckily, Snopes did a really good job explaining everything, so I'll
just direct you to their article. Yes, Michael Jackson owns some of the rights to some of the Beatles' catalog. Sort of.
I've played through the first three episodes of Lost: Via Domus for the Xbox 360. Here are some quick impressions of what I've seen so far. Story The Lost creators came out recently and said that the game's story is not considered canon, which took a bit of the wind out of the sails for the game. On top of that, I can't really say that I'm all that interested in the main character's backstory so far. Perhaps it'll get more engaging as the game progresses.
Presentation For me, presentation can go a long way. 24: The Game was a mediocre game boosted by its presentation which mimicked the TV show. The same goes for Lost.
Each level plays like one episode of the show, complete with
"Previously on Lost" recaps at the beginning of each new level,
cliffhangers at the end with the title card then suddenly flashed on
the screen, etc.
Gameplay So far I've done a lot of running around and exploring, and solved a couple of puzzles involving electrical circuits. Mainly I've been interacting with other characters, learning backstory, and taking pictures with my character's camera (which I finally found in the plane's wreckage). The picture taking element of the game is reminiscent of Dead Rising, which is fine. So far I feel like the game is holding your hand a little too much at times, and yet at other times you won't have a clue as to what you're supposed to be doing. There's a balance in there somewhere.
Graphics Solid, but not spectacular. The characters mostly resemble their real life counterparts, although Hurley looks a little inhuman for some reason. Little details with the characters made me laugh heartily though. For example, Locke will tilt his head at the end of sentences or smile inappropriately much like how he does in the series, and the programmers perfectly captured Matthew Fox's bizarre little head waggle he does sometimes when he's talking.
The environments are well done as well. Being on the beach in the midst of the plane wreckage was a fun experience.
Sound I don't have my surround sound set up at the moment, but
I can tell that it would be rather awesome if I did. When you're in
the woods, sometimes you'll hear the sudden rush of random voices
surrounding you, or the sound of the smoke monster stalking you. I
can't wait to get my sound system back up and running to really
experience the game's audio.
When I was working on the game's first big puzzle, the music got so intense that I was tempted to turn it off completely. It felt as though if I didn't complete the puzzle by the time the music hit its crescendo, the game would have ended (it didn't). This isn't a knock on the music... it was just so intense, out of nowhere, and it was putting way too much pressure on me to perform. Plus, in the background you could hear Michael screaming "Walt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" over and over again, which only served to ramp up the tension even further.
Voice Work This is probably the single most disappointing
aspect of the game. If you look at some of the other big licensed
movie/TV games from the past few years, Lost is the absolute worst in this department. The Sopranos game got many of its big names to provide voices, From Russia With Love got Sean freakin' Connery to return to his 007 role, The Godfather got Robert Duvall and James Caan to do voice work, and EVERYONE provided voices for the 24 game. Here, only six of the cast members provide their own voices (Ben, Mikhail, Sun, Desmond, Claire and Tom).
The alternate voices provided are adequate, although Locke sounds like
a wise old Native American man. Michael's voice is the closest to
being accurate. Jack sounds close, Kate sounds somewhat generic, and Hurley
only really sounds close when he says "dude".
(Speaking of Hurley, an interview with Jorge Garcia in August of 2007 about the video game revealed an interesting bit of info. When asked if he'd done any work for the game, his response was: "No, I haven’t done anything for the game yet. I haven’t been contacted about doing voice or anything." Were cast members even asked to work on the game?)
Achievements Not a lot of thought went into most of these.
Most of them are gained by simply playing the game. Jumpstart the next
part of the story and you get an achievement. Whee. On the other
hand, at least they're easy to get. You don't have to collect
1,000,000 coconuts or anything to get 15 achievement points.
Final Thoughts I'm really enjoying the experience so far. And you kinda need to approach Lost: Via Domus as an experience rather than a hardcore video game. As a game, most will probably find it somewhat lacking. But as an interactive companion to the television show, it's a blast.
You might have noticed that the posts 'round these parts have become less meaty lately. Well there's good reason for that. There's a ton of stuff going on right now and well, it's sucking the lifeforce out of me. The only way to recover is to blog less, it seems.
Seriously, there's a ton of new developments going on. Remember when I said I'd never move again? Well, I've moved out of my apartment, and now have until the end of March to get all 17 tons of my stuff out of there and into storage. Oh, and I have a house to help get ready for sale in today's stupendously awesome housing market.
So here's a quick rundown of events that I've had no time to blog about lately...
Across the Universe -> A movie with huge potential that unfortunately tried way too damn hard and ended up annoying the shit out of me to the point where I walked away from it about an hour in. Moulin Rouge-esque. Blecch-esque.
HD DVD is Dead -> I hate being an early adopter.
33rd Birthday -> Surprise Playstation 3 gift. Awesome Blu Ray/upconverting DVD machine. But gaming? Ugh.
Huge Garage sale -> Very successful. How do you deal with people who don't speak the language though?
B-52s Concert -> Less said the better.
That's all for now. I'll continue to post videos and little tidbits here and there. Trust me, you'll enjoy them.
IGN.com has a great article today with Paul DeGooyer, Senior Vice President of MTV Games, about Rock Band's runaway success in the downloadable content arena. In just two months, over two and a half million downloads of additional Rock Band content have been sold.
I know I've contributed to that number myself, as I've probably downloaded at least 40 new songs for the game since I got it for Christmas.
So where does Rock Band DLC go from here? There are already a couple hundred songs in the pipeline for 2008, meaning that there will be no shortage of content for gamers. In the next few months, you'll see more focus come to the weekly downloads. "The thinking at the initial launch was to supply a deeper dive into three key artists already on the disc -- Queens of the Stone Age, The Police, and Metallica," DeGooyer explained. "But then also supply songs that provide tremendous gameplay experience that we couldn't quite get on the disc. That's kind of what we're clearing out now. I think you'll see, if not concentrations of genres, perhaps expansion into other sub-genres of rock. And perhaps a bit more of an apparent organizing principle to what is being released."
Full album downloads are still on the horizon, bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are being "considered", and the potential for MP3 files of the songs being included in future downloads is an idea being tossed around.
I must apologize to my community. Friday night, I rocked so hard that I caused 3,000 people to lose power.
Around 6pm on Friday night I was killing time by rocking out with Guitar Hero II on the Xbox 360. When I hit the final note of Stop by Jane's Addiction, everything went dark.
My living room is rather crowded and I was standing right in the middle of it when the lights went out. It was already dark outside and my windows face the woods, so there was absolutely no light anywhere. I basically had to inch my way over to my coffee table where my iPhone was, and I used it to light my path until I could locate a flashlight.
Apparently my rocking was so intense that a fire broke out in an underground transformer down the street, causing the massive outage. Two major shopping centers and a local mall were completely without electricity. Several major traffic intersections were completely jammed as traffic signals were out.
A few hours later, power was mostly restored to the area. My promise to you, good people, is that in the future I will tone down the rocking.
11-15-07: Launch Xbox 360 dies after nearly two years of moderate use. 11-18-07: Requested shipping container from Microsoft for repair/replacement of console. 11-27-07: Shipping container arrived. 11-29-07: Broken Xbox 360 packed and shipped off via UPS. 12-10-07: Replacement Xbox 360 arrived via UPS.
Inside the box was a new Xbox 360 with a manufactured date of 11-10-07. It's just a baby, awww! The console does not have an HDMI port, however. So what did I get exactly, since all current consoles on the market have HDMI ports and yet this unit that's not even a month old doesn't? Are they making units solely for replacements now?
Also in the box was a card for one free month of Xbox Live service, and a game disc in a paper sleeve. Looks like they sent me a free copy of MotoGP '06 for my troubles. Score, kinda!
So while yes it is highly annoying that the product failed (although the blow was lessened somewhat by the fact that I just went out and bought a new one anyway), I have to give Microsoft credit for coming through pretty quickly with a no-nonsense replacement. No questions asked, no hassle... just a new Xbox in the mail.
It's been a couple weeks now since my Xbox 360 bit the dust. I contacted customer support and have been awaiting the arrival of the "coffin" to send my unit back to them for a replacement ever since. Once they receive the defective unit, the process can take at least 4-6 weeks. And I'm wagering that with the holidays it'll take even longer.
So I just went out and bought a new one.
Look, I can't go upwards of two months without my football, racing and Guitar Hero fixes. Plus there are too many A-list titles out there right now that I have to try. I have Bioshock, The Darkness, The Simpsons Game, Halo 3, and others just sitting at home begging to be played. Plus my Xbox keeps blogging about how sad it is, and I can't let that continue. It is the holiday season, after all.
When my broken unit is returned to me, I'll just sell it or trade it in with a few games that I no longer play. Since the new system I bought came with two free games, after trading in or selling my old one it'll be like I spent only $20 or $30 to have a "temporary" 360 for a couple months. Sounds like a deal to me.
Delivered November 22, 2005. Died November 15, 2007.
Yep, I was hit with the dreaded Red Ring of Death yesterday. I'd downloaded the multiplayer demo for America's Army and decided to try it out. One minute into the game, the system froze. Now keep in mind that for nearly two years I'd never had one single problem with the system.
So I rebooted and tried the game again. And again, after about a minute the system froze up. But this time it wouldn't reboot. All I got were the three flashing red lights on the front of the console signifying a hardware failure. I waited a while, tried again, and managed to get back up and running. But after letting The Simpsons Game play for a minute everything froze yet again. After that, all I got were the three red lights.
So I guess it's time to place a call to "Amber" in Microsoft's customer support call center in India and see if I can convince them to honor the warranty and ship me a new one.
I really wanted to play games this weekend. There are so many great titles out there right now.