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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 14:06:09     -    Rock Band (360)

    GAMEPLAY

    The second hour of play proved to be more emotionally attaching than the first. Our band is getting very into the game, and as our fan base grows, it is increasingly important that we do not lose fans from a poor show. The game fosters a large amount of social interaction, not so much during play, as players are concentrating on hitting the right notes, but after play, as players brag or argue about who performed the best, etc. Also, people who happen to be in the room tend to gravitate towards watching us play. I would imagine this is because all the songs are very well known, and the game is much more entertaining to watch than someone just pressing buttons on a controller. Plus, people probably wonder why someone with such a bad voice is holding a microphone!

    Rock Band, though it does not have a huge storyline, flows well. Moving from gig to gig feels smooth, and it does not seem like just going from one level to the next. The addition of different virtual vehicles to transport the band adds to the flow of the game.

    The game can be very rewarding and upsetting at different times, which is a good sign. Overall, the physical performance aspects of the game and the good tunes make for a very interesting gameplay experience.

    DESIGN

    Though it may seem at first to be a knock off of Guitar Hero, which to some extent it is, Rock Band is very innovative and brings a lot of new elements to the table. The band players create is highly customizable. Players can dress their avatars and pick appearances, and a band logo can be made.

    Rather than complete predetermined lists of songs, like in Guitar Hero, performances consist of single songs, multiple song sets, "make your own" setlists, and mystery setlists. There is also the occasional "risk vs reward" decision, in which bands need to choose which sized venue they perform at carefully, as a poor performance at a larger venue poses a greater threat of the band losing fans. Similar to betting, players can accept an all-or-nothing style option, where a five star performace yields high reward.

    The venues in the game are very well developed, as they are inspired from real life venues and display local art styles from their respective cities. Player rewards include band managers, roadies, security personnel, and sound guys, as well as a recording deal with a record label.

    Rock Band offerer many different modes aside from Band World Tour mode. Solo Tour mode allows for single player fun, solo quickplay and band quickplay allow for players to get out a few quick songs without sacrificing their band's reputation. Another big social aspect of the game is the online play, which has more modes of its own.

    Perhaps the best design element of Rock Band is the instruments. One complaint I have is with the guitar that comes included with the game. Frankly, it doesn't compare to the guitar hero controllers. Thankfully, a Guitar Hero controller can be used as well, so I recommend just substituting out the stock guitar right away. The drums are quite difficult to play, but they are a lot of fun. The foot pedal is tricky but adds a large amount of realism. The microphone is also of fairly high quality build, and it gets the job done. Rock Band does a great job of offering alternatives to classic controller gameplay.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 13:37:36     -    Rock Band (360)

    SUMMARY

    Rock Band allows players to form virtual bands by allowing up to four players to perform using 3 different "instruments". A scaled-down guitar is used for bass and lead guitar, a scaled-down drum set for drums, and a microphone for vocals. Players must hit notes on screen at the appropriate time to create music.

    GAMEPLAY

    Having played a lot of Guitar Hero, getting started with Rock Band was no difficulty at all. The mechanics of Rock Band are very similar to Guitar Hero, DDR, and most musical games. Myself and two friends started a band in the Band World Tour mode. After customizing our characters, we began to rock the house.

    From the start, this game is very addictive, especially if you are playing with other people. In the same sense that Guitar Hero is fun for the competition, Rock Band is fun for the sense of team accomplishment. Completing a song is very much a team effort, so at the end of songs the game feels very rewarding. I also like how your band collects a fan base. This adds some realism to the band feeling and also increases the sense of accomlplishment. A bad performance will result in lost fans, which is also a good gameplay element. Players who are overconfident in their performance abilities or not trying their hardest will be punished accordingly.

    In the first hour, we unlocked a van to further our tour, which was cool. Playing the game can be an intense experience, as players can "die" if they perform particularly poorly. Other players can revive a lost player if they have their Overdrive meter full (basically Guitar Hero's Star Power) and use it. Another fun aspect of the game is solos, which if performed flawlessly yield big points. Drum solo's are particularly fun, since you can just go crazy. So far this game is a lot of fun.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 22:12:13     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    GAMEPLAY

    As I said in the last log, the game is very immersive, and I've been failing a motorcycle chase mission over and over, which is frustrating. I've also been failing a drive-by shooting mission, which is even more frustrating. But I still am enjoying the game very much. I'm glad it's challenging.

    The story hasn't really begun to develop considering I know that this game is supposed to have a huge plot. But already the story is getting complicated, so I would assume after another 50 hours of play or so I'd be involved in something incredibly more complex, but still very fun. This game is very unlike any other game I've ever played in that it is about gangs but is very brutal and real. This game is definitely for adults, Rockstar has not dumbed this down to be made easy for a more broad audience, but I approve of this, they take their games seriously.

    DESIGN

    My favorite thing about this game is it's unique and groundbreaking design. The older GTA game had a very immense and free world to play in, but San Andreas brings this to a new scale. There are loads more vehicles, I don't think I could ever find them all, and now players can swim, ride bikes, boats, planes, etc. Another great aspect of the game is its level of personalization. CJ's clothes and accessories can be changed, and your gang will change to wear your colors. Also, going to the gym builds muscles and running or eating too much can make you fat or skinny. The only thing left to be included in this game to make it more real would be using the restroom, and I'm glad you don't have to do that.

    Some parts of the game that I don't like are some of the driving physics, especially on bikes/motorcycles. It can be very hard to stay in control of these vehicles, particularly at high speeds. The fact that you get thrown off the bike in a crash adds realism but can be annoying (this happened to me on an overpass and I flew off the side and fell to my death in the middle of an important chase). The controls aren't incredibly tight, and the graphics render a little slow at times, probably because the PS2 has trouble supporting such a huge game.

    There are a bunch of different types of challenges in the game, from driving to minigames to robberies to ordering food to tagging graffiti. The immense variety of things to do at once makes this game hard to play for those who like to get every coin and kill every baddie in Mario. But in the real world, being a perfectionist is hard work, and it's the same in San Andreas.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 21:53:28     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    SUMMARY

    After living in a different city for a few years, Carl "CJ" Johnson returns home after hearing of his mothers death. He finds that his family and gang are both not doing so well without him. The player, as CJ, has to fight enemy gangs for control of the area and sort out other issues with various people around town, like the police.

    GAMEPLAY

    GTA: San Andreas is formatted similarly to the previous two GTA games. The core elements are the shooter/driving parts of the game, in GTA's trademark huge open environment. Most of the environment is interactive in some way so players have a lot of freedom.

    The characters in this game are very diverse and abundant, it's almost hard to remember everyone. They are convincing characters and the voice acting is particularly good for a video game. The plot of the game is very consuming and in-depth. The scale of the plot is huge. After an hour of play I can tell this game still has tons and tons more to reveal.

    The game is very convincing and engaging, I felt like I was actually a member of a family gang in some part of LA. There are many little elements to the game that make it very real... but without being too real. As such I felt very frustrated after losing a mission and having to re-play it. The game is full of cut-scenes to help the flow and narrative progression. These cut-scenes are also very well animated and convincing. So far this game is very fun to play, I really enjoy the freedom you have in the environment... there are many missions available at once and I can pick and choose what I want to do.

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