The Rock & Roll Librarian

April 3, 2008

Making good when you done bad… a Guitar Hero III story

Filed under: Gaming — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:24 pm
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As great as the Guitar Hero III game is, it received some negatively publicity for the Wii version.

And deservedly so.

In a previous post I gave the game a glowing review.  The controls were pretty good, I loved the addition of a pseudo-plot and the song selection was solid.  The sound was always a bit off to me but, I figured that was because of my hearing loss.

Then I learned that it wasn’t just my wonky ears, Activision actually released the Wii version in mono sound.  Yeah, it is kind of a cheap thing to do for any video game nowadays but not putting in minimal (and outdated) sound quality for a virtual rock and roll music game!?  

Bad Activision, bad!

After enough publicity was generated, Activision started a replacement program for any Wii-GHIII owners who were feeling the sting, which I took part in.  About a month ago, they sent a self addressed envelope with a very simple questionnaire and asked me to return my ‘faulty’ CD.  Normally, I’d expect this type of mail-in thing to take 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Within 10 days I had a brand new and improved version of Guitar Hero III and, man, the sound was infinitely better.  As a consumer I was pleased with the response time but still a little annoyed with Red Octane for trying to pull a fast one with its fanbase.

Two days later, a package arrived in the mail from Activision.  I opened it and the enclosed letter read:

Dear value Activision/Red Octane Customer,

“You recently received a Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock Wii replacement disc.  To show our appreciation for your patience during the re-mastering and manufacturing phase of GHIII, enclosed is a complementary Guitar Hero Faceplate.”

Wow, really?  My local gaming store hasn’t had a Wii faceplate in stock for a good two months.  Now I don’t have to bother looking each time I go in!

Good move, Red Octane.  You could’ve just given the remastered disc and left fans semi-satisfied that the company owned up to its mistake but, instead, you decided to try and win back a little support from the base by throwing in an extra gift.  Sure the faceplate probably cost mere cents to make, but it costs consumers $15.

And as a result; will I remember the “The Other Red O Incident” as I’ve come to call it?  Yes, but I’ll also remember the ending as well.  Freebies and an extra $15 in my pocket.

October 31, 2007

Guitar Hero III- A Review

Filed under: Game Review,Gaming,music,Uncategorized — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:57 pm
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When I originally heard that the third installation of the wildly successful game Guitar Hero was coming out, there really wasn’t a question of whether or not I was going to buy the game.  The question was for which system I would buy it. 

Yes, I did originally buy Guitar Hero for the PS2 and sure, it would be nice to have only one controller but my recent displeasure over  their cheaper-yet-no-backwards-compatability PS3  scheme has really put me off Sony for the moment.

I decided to purchase the Wii version.  Although I was initially a little tiffed about having to buy another controller that quickly dissipated once I started playing.

Guitar Hero III-Wii has raised the bar for the music-gaming genre and really made something special.  The songlist is simply awesome, from Poison to Aerosmith to, believe it or not, Metallica… I guess they saw there is money to be made in this venture. 

The Wii’s controller (shown above) is unique when compared to the Xbox and PS versions and not just in appearance (a white Les Paul model).  A lot of thought went in to how to best use the features of the Wiimote along with the guitar design and hence, the Wii controller is actually placed into the guitar.  What this combination of guitar/controller does is add an extra element of sound and feel.  Missing a note will cause the speaker in the Wiimote to sound off.  The rumble pack will also react when you release the guitar’s Star Power.

Although a friend of mine did mention he felt he had to pull the guitar back further on the Wii guitar than the PS2 (for star power), I’ve found that a simple shake will register as well.  But I have found that backpicking is a little trickier as it doesn’t seem to be as responsive.

Overall, the game play is pretty solid.  There have been a couple times when I’ve reached a sequence of notes that felt unnatural or the rhythm did not really fit the song but not everything can be a masterpiece.  They also stepped up the difficulty.  Assuming that most of their buyers are already loyal fans means that learning curve has been scaled back a bit, so newbies may find songs to be a little trickier than the seasoned player.

There is even a storyline, albeit a simple one.  Basic animation sequences show your band starting out in a backyard shindig, eventually getting signed and ending with your evolution into Rock God status.

All in all, Guitar Hero III-Legends of Rock, is a solid purchase for fans of the music-gaming genre.  Playing this newest version of this franchise doesn’t just feel like new songs, it feels like a new experience.

October 19, 2007

Why the cheaper PS3 is still a ripoff

Filed under: Gaming,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:39 pm
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Earlier this week, Sony announced it was going to sell a slimmed down and cheaper version of the PS3,just before the holiday rush.  The new version of the PS3 will contain a 40GB hard drive and less USB ports. 

And as enticing as this may sound for some gamers and parents to buy over the holiday, I would advise against it.

The problem is not the smaller hard drive.  I mean, let’s be honest, if you really need more than 40 GB on a gaming system you should probably evaluate your gaming habits.

The major problem with this ready-for-the-holidays version is the fact that the smaller version will not be backwards compatible.  In other words, say good-bye to your PS2 or have it ready to be hooked-up if you want to play any of the old games.  Definitely leave it unpacked as you may find yourself wanting to play some of the classic games.

In today’s gaming market, reverse compatibility has always felt like an agreement between developers and buyers.  The developers can  push out improved versions at their leisure but not at the cost of having to completely switch out and rebuild a gamers’ library.  Reverse compatibility only requires an emulator or synthesizer be built/downloaded into the console, it is not a particularly expensive or cumbersome program.

Think about this; the Nintendo Wii is still the cheapest of consoles and, at $150 less than the smaller PS3 version.  The Wii does not contain a hard drive to speak of and still has the ability to be compatible with its predecessors.

Something tells me that if the PS3-40 fails to takeoff, its inability to play PS2 games will be seen as a major reason.  Gamers like the ability to go backwards, play the original versions of games, but as much gamers love the advancement of gaming, they really despise complete obsoleteness. 

And something else tells me that if the PS3-Lite (as some reviewers are calling it) takeoff doesn’t happen, it might also be time to throw in the towel on your beloved system at any hard drive size.

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