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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

E3 '08: Music Games

So I'm working really hard on this week's review, but I haven't really got enough ears-on time with it yet.  Expect it by Thursday.  Until then, I thought I'd give everyone a little update as to what is happening at the E3 convention in Los Angeles.  As many of you know, this is the huge, yearly video game convention where big titles are announced, demoed, hyped, etc.  Being a gamer, myself, and a fan of music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, I thought I'd let all of you in on the news.  Chances are, if you're an avid gamer, you already know this stuff.  But if you're living outside of nerdville, here's what's happened so far.

Xbox 360/PS3

Guitar Hero: World Tour - There wasn't a lot of hype surrounding GH:WT, the next installment in the mega-series, what with the huge Rock Band 2 tracklist revealed just a few minutes before Microsoft's Press Conference.  What we do know for sure is that World Tour will release with an exclusive R.E.M. track pack, as well as Metallica's forthcoming album as DLC.  There was a little mention of being able to import and play your own music, which if implemented correctly, could be HUGE.  Otherwise, I'm still not planning on buying this game, as I already have one fake drumset in my house, and I don't see the need to further clutter things with GH:WT's incompatible kit.

Rock Band 2 - This was the biggest music game announcement yesterday.  Rock Band 2 will ship with 85 master tracks, including a Chinese Democracy track from Guns 'n' Roses' "upcoming" album.  Does this mean that Rock Band 2 will go the route of Duke Nukem Forever and get delayed for, well, ever?  Let's hope not.  Here's the full track list:
AC/DC: "Let There Be Rock"
AFI: "Girl's Gone Grey"
Alanis Morissette: "You Oughta Know"
Alice in Chains: "Man in the Box"
Allman Brothers: "Ramblin' Man"
Avenged Sevenfold: "Almost Easy"
Bad Company: "Shooting Star"
Beastie Boys: "So Whatcha Want"
Beck: "E-Pro"
Bikini Kill: "Rebel Girl"
Billy Idol: "White Wedding Pt. I"
Blondie: "One Way or Another"
Bob Dylan: "Tangled Up in Blue"
Bon Jovi: "Livin' on a Prayer"
Cheap Trick: "Hello There"
Devo: "Uncontrollable Urge"
Dinosaur Jr.: "Feel the Pain"
Disturbed: "Down with the Sickness"
Dream Theater: "Panic Attack"
Duran Duran: "Hungry Like the Wolf"
Elvis Costello: "Pump It Up"
Fleetwood Mac: "Go Your Own Way"
Foo Fighters: "Everlong"
Guns N' Roses: "Shackler's Revenge"
Interpol: "PDA"
Jane's Addiction: "Mountain Song"
Jethro Tull: "Aqualung"
Jimmy Eat World: "The Middle"
Joan Jett: "Bad Reputation"
Journey: "Anyway You Want It"
Judas Priest: "Painkiller"
Kansas: "Carry On Wayward Son"
L7:  "Pretend We're Dead"
Lacuna Coil: "Our Truth"
Linkin Park: "One Step Closer"
Lit: "My Own Worst Enemy"
Lush: "De-Luxe"
Mastodon: "Colony of Birchmen"
Megadeth: "Peace Sells"
Metallica: "Battery"
Mighty Mighty Bosstones: "Where'd You Go"
Modest Mouse: "Float On"
Motorhead: "Ace of Spades"
Nirvana: "Drain You"
Norman Greenbaum: "Spirit in the Sky"
Panic at the Disco: "Nine in the Afternoon"
Paramore: "That's What You Get"
Pearl Jam: "Alive"
Presidents of the USA: "Lump"
Rage Against the Machine:"Testify"
Ratt: "Round & Round"
Red Hot Chili Peppers : "Give It Away"
Rise Against: "Give It All"
Rush: "The Trees"
Silversun Pickups: "Lazy Eye"
Smashing Pumpkins: "Today"
Social Distortion: "I Was Wrong"
Sonic Youth: "Teen Age Riot"
Soundgarden: "Spoonman"
Squeeze: "Cool for Cats"
Steely Dan: "Bodhitsattva"
Steve Miller Band: "Rock'n Me"
Survivor: "Eye of the Tiger"
System of a Down: "Chop Suey"
Talking Heads: "Psycho Killer"
Tenacious D: "Master Exploder"
Testament: "Souls of Black"
The Donnas: "New Kid in School"
The Go-Go's: "We Got the Beat"
The Grateful Dead: "Alabama Getaway"
The Guess Who: "American Woman"
The Muffs: "Kids in America"
The Offspring: "Come Out & Play (Keep 'em Separated)"
The Replacements: "Alex Chilton"
The Who: "Pinball Wizard"
There are some interesting tracks, to be sure.  And even though I'm a little miffed (read: completely and utterly dumbfounded) by the lack of Muse (!!!), I'm really looking forward to tearing into System of a Down, Beck, and effing Mastodon!  All downloadable content from Rock Band will be compatible with Rock Band 2, and by the end of the year, there should be 500 songs available to Xbox Live/PSN users.  That's pretty impressive.

Lips (Xbox 360 Exclusive) - Lips is a new singing game from Microsoft Game Studios that really looks and feels like one of those SingStar games that I'm not too fond of.  The big difference is that you'll be able to connect your Zune or iPod and play with the songs that you already own, giving you a potentially endless number of songs to play.  I'm not sure how this functionality will work though.  Will it lower the vocals and turn it into a karaoke machine?  Will it detect the vocals of the song and place the notes on the screen and make it into an actual game?  Will it do BOTH?  No one really knows the answers to this yet, but more will be revealed as the convention moves on, I'm sure.  For the time being, it's a pretty interesting title that I'll definitely keep my eye on.  Oh, and apparently the mics are motion sensitive (and they light up).  Neat!


Samba de Amigo - This stylized maraca-based rhythm game for the Wii is essentially a re-make of the Dreamcast classic of the same name.  That means nothing to me though, as I never played that game and am not entirely convinced that I should.  It's all about shaking maracas (or your Wii Remote in this case) to the beat, so if that's your thing, keep an eye out for it.  The only development that came about this week is the announcement that the game will support Downloadable Content (which is a first for Wii, to my knowledge).  The first track pack will include: 
"I Want Candy" - Bow Wow Wow
"Are You Going to be My Girl?" - Jet
"Mambo Mambo" Lou Bega
Umm...well, I'll let those songs do the talking for me.  If SEGA was trying to get this game on my radar, that didn't do it.

Wii Music - The big announcement for Wii was the long-awaited Wii Music from Nintendo.  In the line of Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Wii Play, Wii Music is a game designed to get grandma off the couch and into the game.  I don't know folks, this one just looks a bit ridiculous to me.  Now, I'm all for playing virtual instruments, but holding the Wii Remote like a saxophone and blowing?  I'm not that big of dork.  Not yet at least.  Consider me un-wowed.

Nintendo DS

Guitar Hero: On Tour - Decades - Quite the mouthful, but Nintendo announced today that Activision is already underway on a sequel to the just-released (and *ahem* just-reviewed) Guitar Hero: On Tour.  Not much information about this one yet, but apparently song-sharing will be available.  I think this means that if a friend has the original, you can share songs from Decades to entice him or her to buy it.  Clever.

Rhythm Heaven - This is apparently a sequel to a game released on Game Boy Advance in Japan.  But it's coming to America, and reading the description, it seems a lot like Elite Beat Agents.  If that's the case, I'm in!
That's all I've heard so far.  Any of these seem like winners to you?

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