ScattershotsShawn Drotar

Posted on September 11th, 2009 in Gaming, Xbox 360, PC Gaming, Playstation 3, News, Opinion, Wii, PSP by Shawn Drotar

Musings for a Friday afternoon…

  • Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. No surprise here: The Beatles Rock Band is good. Really good, especially when compared to Guitar Hero’s tepid Metallica and Aerosmith offerings; those are Dodge Gremlins to The Beatles‘ Aston Martin V12 Vantage - it’s not even close. The title’s a clear labor of love that oozes through every pixel. I’m no Beatlemaniac, but after unlocking one vintage photo after another and hearing more rare studio clips, I’m well on my way. A lot of games get the “is this art” question posed about them - I assure you; this is the first one I’ve seen that unquestionably is. Simply put? Go get it - it’s… fab.
  • Meanwhile, Activision’s Guitar Hero 5 is gathering some negative publicity after YouTube videos of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain (a playable character in-game) singing songs by Public Enemy, Bon Jovi and others surfaced. The videos are odd-looking to say the least, but no more so than say, having Johnny Cash do the same - also an option in the game. In truth, Guitar Hero 5 is a step forward for the series, which releases titles far too often for real innovation to take place, but this kerfuffle stands to derail some of its goodwill. Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, is threatening lawsuits and indicating that she never wanted Cobain’s likeness to be in the game, while Activision says they have a signed contract from Love herself that says otherwise. As for Cobain’s former bandmates with Nirvana, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the two said that while they have no control over the situation, they were “dismayed and disappointed”, noting, “While we were aware of Kurt’s image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn’t know players have the ability to unlock the character. This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision to do the right thing in “re-locking” Kurt’s character so that this won’t continue in the future. It’s hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists’ music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better.” The truth, however, may simply lie in a zinger from Joystiq: “Maybe Love did sign off on it, but just doesn’t remember. There, we said it. We were all thinking it anyway.”
  • The Wall Street Journal published an internal memo from Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello to EA employees, lamenting Madden NFL 10’s sales numbers, which he considered disappointing. I’m not comfortable with the lack of journalistic ethos surrounding the publication of internal documents that don’t have public import, but since the genie’s out of the bottle, it’s worth noting that this year’s version of Madden is the best in years - it’d be a shame if EA Sports chose to dumb the product down thinking that would generate sales. Videogame sales are down everywhere, of course, and there are a few simple reasons for it. First, they’re really expensive. Duh. Second, there’s a lot of good titles out there, and people can’t afford to buy them all. Third, sports games, by nature, don’t change too much from year to year and when people are pinching pennies, many decode they can live with their old game for a little while longer. EA’s going to have to find a way to deal with all those factors, and I suspect that the most effective way to do so will be to cut certain platforms out of certain releases.
  • On Friday, the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, please consider sharing in today’s national day of service and remembrance - the result of bipartisan legislation, derived in concert with 9/11 victims’ families and survivors, passed in early 2008. The best way to help your country is to do your part to make it better.

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