Thursday, August 30, 2012

Game Review (Rock Band Blitz - 360)

People have been shouting at Harmonix to make a new Rock Band game since they released Rock Band 3 in 2010... while this isn't a sequel, it's an interesting spin-off that will turn anybody into a junkie after just a few songs.

The idea of Rock Band Blitz is relatively simple: You're a one man band, and it's up to you to get multipliers for the guitar, bass, drum, vocal, and, occasionally, key tracks to get the highest possible score using only two buttons to hit notes for each. Also at your disposal are items that you can use to help aid you in your quest for that number one leader board spot.

That's the simplest way to describe the game... but if you haven't seen it, then the description means nothing. The game is just mesmerizing -- the way the track goes along a city street. How the colors glow. Unfortunately, you'll find yourself so immersed in the game as you play, you'll seldom even notice the neat backdrop Harmonix laid out for you. What makes the experience even better are the menus. They're really simplistic, but look great, and are easy to go through... what else could you really want? It fits this arcade-style Rock Band game well.

The soundtrack in this game, as you'd expect, is quite varied. You have fun.'s overplayed "We Are Young", Elton John's "I'm Still Standing", "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies, "Give it Away" by Red Hot Chili peppers, along with 21 other tracks (You can also play ALL Rock Band songs you have saved to your hard drive). When I first saw the set list, I felt it was a lot of hit and miss. The inclusions of P!nk and Kelly Clarkson put me down, but the truth is, those two songs; along with a good portion of the others, are actually a lot of fun to play. Even if you don't like some of the songs in Blitz, the game is $15 with the ability to export the game to Rock Band 3 for free. Well, how about that?

Harmonix has proved with Rock Band Blitz that music games aren't dead. Blitz is easily in my top handful of XBLA games, and I see myself playing this for months and months. If the addicting game play wasn't enough, Harmonix's Rock Band World app on Facebook has every stat you'd want to know about how you're doing in Blitz. What your rank is on specific songs, your score, how many gold stars you have, your total Blitz cred... it's deep. If you have any interest in music whatsoever, you have no reason to not download this game.


+: Simple, yet complicated, addicting game; All Rock Band songs on your HDD will work; Rock Band World; Great value.

-: Unable to play offline/when Harmonix ever shuts the servers down, this game will be virtually unusable; No true, LIVE multiplayer; It's not possible to say, "Just one more song..."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Game Review (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - 360)

After eight long years, Valve has finally decided to release a new Counter-Strike... this time, it's Global Offensive, and it's on PSN, XBLA, and, of course, Steam. GO brings back eight old-school maps (with slight tweaks and new textures), and also adds eight new maps that are only playable in their new games modes: demolition and arms race.

To be honest, there isn't much in Global Offensive that wasn't in Source, other than a newer look, new guns, and new maps ... it plays about the same way, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you've played Counter-Strike, you know the deal -- it's the Counter Terrorists versus the Terrorists across all modes. In "Classic Bomb" mode, the Counter Terrorists must kill all of the Terrorists or defuse the bomb before the bomb site is blown up. In "Classic Hostage" mode, the Counter Terrorists have to extract the hostages to the safe zone. Both modes are great, but I have a minor gripe: It bothers me that there are only two measly Hostage maps. Office and Italy are both good maps, but I could have used more.

The new Demolition mode is pretty great. It's sort of hit and miss, but mostly hit. Basically, for every round you get a kill, your gun switches. That's cool and everything, but the line-up of guns never changes. I'm not sure why, but that's a minor annoyance I have. One more thing that irks me is that the Demolition maps can only be played in -- you guessed it -- Demolition. Why you can't play them in the standard Classic Bomb mode is beyond me. The maps are definitely smaller in Demolition, but I would have liked to play most of them in some other modes. Regardless of being unable to do that, the new maps are all great from what I can tell, so I'm not sure why I'm complaining.

[Arms Race I'll review whenever I play it.]

Graphics: 4/5 Since it's an XBLA game, and for a game that takes just under 2GB to put on your HDD, this game is pretty impressive to me. Some textures are a bit bland on certain sections of the maps, but from my experiences, the game's been running smoothly. I can't complain for it not being a disc.

Sound: 3.5/5 Very average ... it sounds like Source to me, with almost no changes at all. I'm pretty certain they even use a lot of the same voice overs from bots in this game, too. It's not terrible, but Call of Duty and especially Battlefield 3 sound better. Then again, that shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.

Control: 4.25/5 NO AIM ASSIST. It's really great, in my opinion. If you can't aim, you'll get absolutely destroyed from a distance. Sure, you can hip-fire up close, but that's rarely that effective. A nifty button that's been added for this version of the game is the ability to press RB and do a 180 to turn around if you're getting shot in the back. The game as a whole feels old and clunky, but there's charm in that to me... in some sick, twisted way.

Fun: 4.5/5 And of course the most important thing, the fun. It's been too long since we've had a Counter-Strike game on the Xbox, and it's a sight for sore eyes with all of the other modern shooters on the market. Global Offensive will be a great game for months to come, assuming the core of Counter-Strike fans stay online.

Overall, I can see Global Offensive being one of the top purchases on the XBLA. If you enjoyed any other version of Counter-Strike, this is just that. Be warned that it's nothing like Call of Duty or Battlefield or many other shooters, but more like SOCOM, which I welcome to the Xbox 360. The inability to be in party chat while playing is sometimes irritating, but sometimes you actually get on a team full of GUYS and not CHILDREN that help you out. Hopefully the trial will sift through the real Counter-Strike players and the Call of Duty only players, and the cry babies will be gone from the game forever. CS:GO has its fair share of flaws, but for fifteen measly dollars, I don't see why you wouldn't get this game. We can only hope now that Valve updates this game for the 360 as they will for the PC.


+: Great alternative to other military shooters, classic Counter-Strike gameplay, ability to play as a BOT when you're dead, a lot like Source but expanded upon, it's on XBLA.

-: No in-game party chat allowed, server problems early on, can't play any map in any mode (nothing new), some other question marks, including: how long will this last on XBLA...?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Game Review (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Drop: August)

How I've DREADED August since realizing there would be zero multiplayer maps... two Spec Ops missions and a new 'Chaos' mode are all we get this month. So what's the verdict? Well skip to the bottom of the page if you're that damn impatient. Jesus. Anyway, here we go, starting with the achievements.

Beat "Special Delivery" on Veteran - 15G
Beat "Special Delivery" on any difficulty - 15G
Use one of each care package in "Special Delivery" - 15G
Use only one self-revive in "Special Delivery - 25G
Beat "Light 'Em Up" on Veteran - 15G
Beat "Light 'Em Up" on any difficulty - 15G
Stab five stunned enemies in a row on "Light 'Em Up" 45G

First up, Special Delivery. In this mission, one player takes control of an osprey gunner while the other proceeds on foot attempting to get intel, and rescue a hostage. The interesting thing about this mission is that the player on the ground can call in a care package that the osprey gunner drops. This wasn't a terribly difficult mission even on veteran, but it was definitely a lengthy one. As the player on the ground, you really have to be careful when advancing. Your best bet is to take a few steps forward, and then back, in an attempt to trigger the enemy spawns. 3.5/5

Next, Light 'Em Up. This mission takes place at Makarov's castle dealie. The first part has one player in a helicopter blinding enemies and shooting them up, while another has to take out others on the ground while picking up intel. After getting four pieces, you join your partner on the helicopter and fly to another part of the level, where you have to rescue a hostage. This took quite a bit of time initially, but your best bet -- even on veteran -- is to do it as quickly as possible. I mean, get all four pieces of intel within 90 seconds. Don't bother lollygagging, because the enemies respawn. This is more frustrating and time consuming than Special Delivery, but it's more fun overall... everybody likes a challenge, right? 3.75/5

As for Chaos mode, I have to be honest. I have no interest. I played Survival a decent bit when the game first came out (mainly to get the achievements, but also because the idea appealed to me more than Zombies), but haven't touched it since, MOSTLY because I want to be able to play with 3 other people, not just one. Lame. From what I've gathered, people have told me it's essentially Survival mode made 'arcade style', and limited to only a few MW3 disc maps. Alright ... this sounds like it'd be great to the 27 people in the world that are fans of Survival mode, but who else really cares? I know I shouldn't rate something I haven't even played, but I'll rate Chaos mode the same way I'd rate Survival mode ... about a 3.25/5. It's fun, but it gets old quickly, especially since you can only play with yourself or one other person. 3.25/5

Overall, a terribly disappointing month for any ELITE Premium owner. The Spec Ops missions are pretty fun, but once you play them once, that's over with. Because of that, there's no replay value outside of Chaos mode, which I don't think all too many people play. August is easily the worst month ELITE's had to offer so far. It's stupid that Infinity Ward doesn't even pay attention to what the players want. A month without a single multiplayer map is insanely ridiculous. I can hope for some more 'free' content like we got with Terminal, but I won't hold my breath. At least the final month, September, looks promising...


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Drink Review (Mountain Dew: Dark Berry)

A limited release, Mountain Dew: Dark Berry was released to coincide with the movie "The Dark Knight Rises". Though I have no interest in Batman or anything related to him, and haven't since I was six-years-old, I got a 20oz bottle of this because I like Mountain Dew time-to-time.

To me, this almost just tastes like Voltage. Maybe with a little bit of berry on there, but there's nothing about this that stands out to me... It just tastes 'okay.' I was expecting a super grape-y flavor, but I didn't get much of any of that. Maybe some sour, like the Pitch Black Mountain Dew. It's not bad, but I won't miss it once it's gone, considering we already have Voltage year round.