Take a Magical Mystery Tour with The Beatles: Rock Band

by Louise Elliott

CHATTANOOGA (The Loop/UTC) — The Beatles have reunited and you’re their newest member in The Beatles: Rock Band.

This game is rated T for Teen for Mild Lyrics and Tobacco References.

This latest in the line of Rock Band video games offers players a uniquely rewarding experience by allowing them to be part of the musical journey as a member of the legendary quartet.

Just like other versions of Rock Band, players can perform on drums, guitar, bass, or vocals to a number of full length songs.   The Beatles version however has been revamped to reflect the bands’ musical journey and their establishment as cultural icons.

Songs can be performed with up to three vocalists, whose goal is to master the famous Beatles three-part harmonies.

The play format is also slightly different.  Players can begin their journey as The Beatles did at The Cavern Club, the Liverpool locale where the band was discovered.  The journey then continues to other famous stops along The Beatles’ 10-year career.  Players can perform concerts on The Ed Sullivan Show, Budokan (where The Beatles made their Japanese debut), and even rock out at Shea Stadium.

The game disc includes 45 Beatles songs.  Among some of the best game play moments are “Come Together”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, which is performed at The Ed Sullivan Theater, and “Revolution”, from the Abbey Road album.  More songs are available through download.

The allowance of The Beatles’ music in video game form may have been a surprise to some, as the owners of the groups’ catalog have been famously reluctant in releasing songs for commercial use.  According to Switch.com, the game was developed with creative input from Apple Corps (the Beatles’ label), along with that of surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

  • Released 9/9/09 by developer Electronic Arts
  • The Beatles: Rock Band stand alone version (game disc only) MSRP $59.99
  • Published by MTV games

Beatles fans and gamers alike have been anticipating the release of the game for months.

“I love The Beatles,” said Michael Eubanks, a Memphis senior.  “Their music is awesome.”  Eubanks said he has not yet played the game but is excited to get his hands on it.  He said he thinks “Come Together” would be a fun song to play.  “I just love song,” he said.

Amanda Cook, a sophomore from Nashville said she really wants to play the game too, but thinks it’s too pricey.  “I play Rock Band when I get the chance, it’s just really expensive,” said Cook.  “Beatles songs are well known and normally really good, so I think it would be fun,” she said.

Some students have already played the game, but share the sentiment that the game is overpriced.

“I was happy with it, but it’s expensive to buy the guitar and the game,” said Ben Knuettel, a Chattanooga junior.  “It’s cool because it’s all Beatles songs, but I wish there were more songs on it,” Knuettel said.

Overall, the game offers many strong points and memorable highlights.  The graphics are far more impressive than those of other Rock Band franchise offerings.  The story-telling theme is also a plus as it makes the player feel more a part of the game than other similarly modeled versions have.  Playing this is game is becoming one of “The Fab Four”, as you witness their transformation both musically, visually, and culturally.

The only downfall of this version is that it occasionally exposes the overt simplicity of many of The Beatles best songs.  The drum and guitar parts are sometimes extremely repetitive and would be a bore if it weren’t for the attention grabbing graphics displayed during play mode.  Often times, particularly during the earlier catalog, consecutive songs have the exact same drum beat or guitar rhythm.  This can take away from the challenge that makes music video so appealing to player.

Despite, or perhaps thanks to, its sometimes overly simplistic feel, The Beatles:Rock Band is the perfect party game.

I give this game 8 out of 10 Choo-choo whistles.

Write to Louise Elliott at linda-elliott@utc.edu

Related Story: Beatlemania Returns

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Microsoft Zune HD vs. Apple iPod Touch

By: Brooke Fontana

zune-hd-vs-ipod-touchChattanooga(UTC/The Loop) -Portable media players have become a necessity in most peoples lives, but with the infinite amount of options to chose from it leaves most consumers in the dark about which player is right for them. Apple and Microsoft are in deep competition to win customers over with their advanced portable media players. Here are some ideas to help you chose which technologically advanced device fits your needs, and budget.

Specs for the Zune HD: Microsoft has made a leap in the technology field with their newest version of the Zune portable media player that combines powerful hardware components such as 16:9 organic light-emitting diode (OLED) Multi-Touch 3.3 inch screen, and NVIDIA Tegra HD processer, and HD Radio capabilities. It is one of the first portable audio devices to incorporate an HD radio tuner.

According to Microsoft the Zune HD’s battery life stands at 33 hours of music playback and 8.5 hours of video (with Wi-Fi deactivated). If these numbers are correct, then this is a major improvement of previous generations of Zune that were known to have poor battery life. The Zune HD also has new software advancements such as the Quickplay menu, Web browser, and music and video playbacks that are very appealing. Quickplay is a new signature menu for Zune, which makes it easier for users to find content they love, such as podcasts, music, videos, pictures and much more. Other features include Wi-Fi capabilities, and email. Zune HD is available from major retailers with a black 16GB version for around $219.99 and a platinum 32GB version for $289.99. The Zune is PC compatible.

Specs for the Apple iPod Touch: Apple is always upgrading their technology and with the iPod touch this still stands true. The iPod touch lets you enjoy everything you adore about an iPod plus more. You can watch your movies and TV shows on a 3.5- inch display.  The Touch’s battery life according to Apple is 30 hours of music playback, and 6 hours of video playback (when fully charged). The Touch is also environmentally friendly.

  • Arsenic-free display glass
  • BFR-free
  • Mercury-free LED-backlit display
  • PVC-free
  • Highly recyclable stainless steel enclosure

It comes in 8 GB, 34 GB and 64GB with prices starting at $199.00 and going up to $399.99 for the 64GB. The iPod Touch is Apple and PC compatible. Some other features of the Touch include Wi-Fi capabilities, Nike + iPod support built in, endless amounts of downloadable applications, and Safari Web Browser.

Customer Comments

If you expected a ton of apps on the Zune marketplace then you will be disappointed,” Gadgetzrock (Amazon Customer).

Another customer stated,”No one in their right mind would give up the thousands of apps available for the iPod Touch”, G. Vernon (Amazon Customer).

“I’ve been waiting for the Zune for two months and could not be more pleased now that I have the device. It’s a cool, sleek device that’s come a long way. The music and audio are very, very good. It’s quite a concession to the quality of the Zune if a main remaining difference with the IPod is the Apps” ,iuherd (Cnet Reviewer)

Summary

Zune HD


  • Web Browser
  • PC compatible
  • Limited  number of applications available
  • Wi-Fi compatable
  • 16 GB and 32 GB versions
  • 33 hour(music) and 7 hour(video) battery life
  • Radio Tuner
  • 3.3 inch screen

Apple iPod Touch

(insert iPod PHOTO)

  • Safari Web Browser
  • 3.5 inch display
  • Large amounts of applications avaliable
  • Mac and PC compatable
  • Wi-Fi compatable
  • 30 hour(music) and 6 hour(video) battery life
  • 8GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions
  • Eco friendly

So Which is Better?

If online sales on Amazon.com are any indication of which portable media player is “better” than the iPod wins. Apple’s 32GB iPod Touch was the second top seller in Amazon’s electronics category as of September 17th, while the 32GB Zune HD ranked only seventh on the list. The 16GB Zune HD was 16th on the list.  If cost is your biggest concern both have different price options but the iPod is slightly cheaper.

sources:

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Fight the Swine Flu from Your Computer

By: Christine Sumner

London (THE LOOP/AP) – The swine flu has provoked fear and cautious behaviors around the world, but now it has inspired a video game.

Dutch researchers have invented a new video game that allows the player to fight the spread of a new pandemic.

The game, “The Great Flu” was designed by Albert Osterhaus, head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Center, in hopes to raise awareness about pandemics. It can be played only online for free at www.thegreatflu.com.

The players begin the game as head of “World Pandemic Control” and are challenged to pick a strain of flu. From there, it is the player’s task to control the virus from spreading worldwide. To prevent a pandemic, the player must make decisions such as, stockpiling antivirals and vaccines, setting up surveillance systems, and closing transportation or schools. Players are only given a limited amount of funds and are cautioned that their “actions to control the virus cost money, so keep an eye on it.”

Within the game, newspapers follow the virus and give a fictitious world view on your process. Players also get updates from government agencies informing players on the range of political support from different regions.

Since April countries around the world have tried different methods to slow the swine flu and pharmaceutical companies hurry to produce a vaccination for the public.

Osterhaus said the video game’s take on controlling a pandemic by choosing different measures yet still watch it spread, gives people the sense of how hard it is to make decisions in the public health world.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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Game Review: Living On The Edge – “Mirror’s Edge”

By Levi Braswell

Intro

Faith overlooks the city.

Faith overlooks the city.

CHATTANOOGA (UTC)–Mirror’s Edge is a videogame that is available for the PS3, X-Box 360 & PC. It’s focused on a free runner named Faith set in a futuristic world where all communication is monitored, basically like living under the eye of big brother. Faith’s job is to deliver illegal messages. When I first saw the preview for this game I was blown away. It looked so innovative and seemed to feature so much depth. The gameplay was unique, a first person 3-dimensional platformer. I had never seen anything like it. Although once I got the game, which I anticipated so much, it failed to live up to my expectations.

 

Graphics

Mirror’s Edge is definitely visual eye-candy. Unlike many first person games it’s very bright and colorful. The immersion is also shown and you can in a sense feel what Faith feels. It moves with no lag and you can even see the shadows of Faith as you move through the environment.  Although after playing for a few hours you start to notice the environments seem to grow uninspired and rushed. Not to mention a bit of simulation sickness from the perspective of the game. There doesn’t look to be a lot of creativity in design when it comes to the interiors. Much of the game is focused around outside rooftops. Jumping from building to building is fun but starts to look all the same after a while.

Many of the interior sections of the game are just all colored with one color which takes out a lot of realism and makes it seem more cartoony. Speaking of cartoony one of the most annoying things about the graphics for me is the cut scenes they use to move the story along. They show them through 2-D comic

An in-game screenshot.

An in-game screenshot.

book-like exchanges with only audio which is horrible. With the amazing way the actual gameplay looks, the cutscenes just seem like they were something slapped together put in after they finished making all the levels. Like the developers thought “Oh we forgot a story, quick put something together”

 

Gameplay

The gameplay is where I initially thought the game would shine the most. Like I stated earlier it’s essential a first person 3-D platformer.  When you first start the game you run through a tutorial and basically learn literally more than you need to. Your movement is controlled with just a few set of buttons. Movement is identical to a first person shooter, you move forward, backwards, and can strafe left to right. Your direction is controlled by the mouse. Advance moves are also taught such as sliding, landing rolls, jumping, etc, which is usually performed just by adding an extra button.

There is a combat system involved in the game, but there isn’t much of a chance to take advantage of it. Faith can perform melee attacks and disarms. It’s smarter to run than fight in many instances. Faith is a small frail woman and the developers made sure you could notice this. She is easily taken out with just a few punches to the face or a few gun shots, the gun shots I can understand, but not the punches. If you have never played this game before you will be starting over a LOT. It’s very easy to miss jumps or even get to points where you aren’t sure where to go so you take risks and jump. This game is one of the most frustrating games I’ve played in that aspect. To make matters worse, missing a jump can send you usually all the way back to the beginning of the level after you have spent hours on it. You definitely have to have patience and persistent to stick with this game.

Music & Sound

The music and sound fits great with the game. The title track for the game is amazing. The in-game sounds really immerses you into the game. When you get up to fast speed running you can hear Faith panting. The game definitely gets your adrenaline going as you hear the slams and shatters when bust through doors and windows. The most memorable sound for me is when you miss a jump and fall down into the city streets. You hear the wind rushing pass Faith as she falls and when she hits your hear the thud of her bones hitting the concrete. Definitely something I can’t forget after hearing it so many times.

Conclusion

Overall I would say this game is something interesting to check out if you’re looking for something different. The videogame market is flooded with first person shooters at the moment and I feel this game is a breath of fresh air compared to all the violent games out at the moment. Like I stated earlier you have to be persistent with this game. I wouldn’t say this is something a casual gamer should pick up because they would probably get too frustrated with it to continue playing it. It isn’t a long game, but it does try to make up for it by adding some replay value with a time trials mode which allows you to compete with players around the world for the best time on different levels. If you’re fan of free running this is a must buy or if you just want something a little different definitely check it out. Also if you’re interested in more information about the game such as screen shots and videos check them out here.

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Gaming Update: Square-Enix Delays Cause Financial Losses

By Chaz Holley

 

Square-Enix may need to make haste.

Square-Enix may need to make haste.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC)–Square-Enix the publisher of the Final Fantasy video game series has had  a turbulent month in the stock market so far this month after announcements of various delays caused stock in the company to dip. Delays in release of the the financial reports, which Square-Enix says were postponed due to accounting errors, caused stocks for the company to fall.

 

When the financial report did come in project earnings were considerably lower than previous estimates, particularly in the toy and offline game categories, which caused additional stock losses. Game delays are considered one of many things that may have required the recalculating of sales estimates.

Dragon Quest IX which was originally slated for in late March has been moved back to mid-summer to correct bugs within the game. The new Nintendo DS game installment of the popular Dragon Quest franchise had been highly anticipated for several months.

 

Final Fantasy XIII has been pushed back to a 2010 release.

Final Fantasy XIII has been pushed back to a 2010 release.

Along with the Dragon Quest IX delay announcement was that the delay of the major release Final Fantasy XIII. The game is now expected to be sold in the United States by early 2010. This puts the North America and European sales of Final Fantasy XIII outside of the recent expected sales report.

 

All these delays come during the company’s bid for British software developer Eidos. Eidos stock soared on the London stock exchange this week after the buyout bid came in. Eidos, the creator of of such games as the Tomb Raider series, took the 84million pound offer.

Square-Enix is releasing Dragon Quest V for the Nintendo DS and Star Ocean: The Last Hopefor XBOX360 this month. Square-Enix has also recently signed exclusive distribution rights with publisher Ubisoft as well as deals for specific Japanese release of Activision Blizzards James Bond game slated for March release in Japan.

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Review: Falling for “Fallout 3″

By Chaz Holley

CHATTANOOGA (UTC)–You stop as you step outside the underground shelter and a bright light appears on your screen. It dims and the screen focuses and there it is- the wasteland. This is one of the opening moments for Fallout 3 for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Fallout is a mainly firearm based rpg set in the post-apocalyptic Americana wasteland of Washington DC. Betheseda Softworks, which designed the game, brings us something that could be characterized as the science fiction answer to Oblivion, a fantasy role playing game which the company originally released in 2006.

The character creation sequence which the game starts with certainly foreshadows the attention to detail of the game. The muscle structure of the characters face can be meticulously crafted and his hair tinted. From the story presentation of being a young child to the morbid humor of the standardized exam Fallout 3 is look at the dark future of a nuclear holocaust.

The Cleavers in the Capitol Wasteland

A  key element in this game is the setting and world atmosphere. Fallout is set in an alternate history where the 1950’s campy optimism and the Cold War continued well into 2000. After the nuclear holocaust, these remnants of the fallen culture survive.

The in-game radio channel plays music of the 1930s through 50s. Big band and swooning love songs of the era give a surreal feeling as they play during desperate fire fights with terrible creatures.  Destroyed ruins like “the super-duper mart” and old billboards for tv shows often involving space monkeys. Of course the entire interface is emblazoned with the happy go lucky face of Vault Boy, who shows different status enhancements as well as what limbs are critically injured.

Shooting not for the squeamish

Fallout has an Mature rating by the ESRB with good reason. Fallout relies mainly of the use of firearms, though melee weapons are included, and the shooting gets quite bloody.  Using the games’ special targeting system you can stop time for a second and target specific body sections to debilitate or damage or the opponent.  Sometimes these shots will even blow parts clean off in a slow motion as they fly through the air. The special targeting system however can only be used in intervals so classic run and gun shooting is also necessary.

Those who have experience with FPS games may be initially annoyed by the normal targeting system. Falloutis a rpg shooter, which means the accuracy of your weapons is slightly determined by random factors. This is supposed to to simulate weapon degradation as well as the kick back of many fire arms. This can be annoying when bullets aimed at an opponent will miss despite being in the cross hairs.

The Wastes

The wastes of Washington D.C. are the real meat of the game. One can easily just get lost in the wastes. “Exploring is probably the best part,” said Geoff Coleman a UTC Sophomore. “I just wanted to go look around.” The wastes have many strange places from shopping districts infested with killers straight out of Mad Max to quiet suburbs, in ruins of course, filled with cannibals. A short walk can bring the player towards utter peril and adventure in nearly any direction. So much is this true that it is easy to get lost just wandering for hours in the wastes seeing what there is to find. Places of particular note are marked on the map and can be easily traveled to with a few clicks, making it easy to start up the exploration again.

The capital wasteland isn’t all nice folk just trying to get by, as mentioned already. Muted beasts hunt the land from giant flies to two-headed cows (no joke, though two-headed cows are kinda funny). Military robots and humans driven mad by radiation, or the wastes, attack anything they see. Then there is the Goliath-like super mutants who seem to have appeared out of now where determined to ruin everything they can. For a game with the scope of Fallout 3 there is fairly decent enemy variety. Foes will often use cover forcing the player to time his assaults carefully against the enemy gunfire. Add in the bullet time and cinematic camera of the V.A.T.S. targeting system and its the formula for a cinematic gunfight with horrendous beasts.

Most of the actions the player take in Fallout 3affect your “karma” rating, an indication of how your character will be perceived by the characters it interacts with. Robbing or killing random people will lower the players karma while doing virtuous acts like saving border towns will raise it. Or  can of course play towards a neutral profiteer style. One of the first dilemma the player is faced with is whether to save or blow up a town. “I like being able to choose the different karma paths,” said Sarrah Puckett. “I bombed the entire city and it was hilarious.”

Overall

Quick Summary:

Good Points

  • Lots of Playtime
  • Different game play paths for main and side stories
  • Post-apocalyptic  setting beautifully executed

Bad points

  • Sometimes long intervals of walking before action
  • Generally unvaried color scheme
  • Easy to make huge mistakes

Overall Fallout 3 is a great game garnering a 93 out of 100 from Metacritic.com. The expansive landscape and story give the game a great playtime but also mean that traveling and plot progression can take long amounts of time to achieve. The multiple paths of morality a player can take in the wastes allow for many adventures. This coupled with the fact that so much of the world is able to be interacted with means a miss click can turn a town against you in an instant. Also while the setting of Fallout is a beautiful masterpiece, the fact that everything is burned, charred, and barren means that everything looks nearly the same as the next place. Fallout 3 still ends up being a great game on an epic scale, be sure to check this one out.

Final Verdict: Be sure to try out this game.

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Seeing Stars in Ready 2 Rumble Revolution

By Chaz Holley

LOS ANGELES, California (UTC/AP)—Punching out celebrities is a fantasy for many and upcoming WII title “Ready 2 Rumble Revolution” may bring that a little bit closer without a lawsuit and a restraining order. Parodies of such famous celebrities as Simon Cowell, Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, and James Brown will step into the ring for the newest installment of Atari and AKI’s boxing franchise.

“We went with a decent mix of mostly modern, mainstream people that I think much of the younger generation will recognize and know,” said producer for the game Todd Slepian. “But then we also went to the other end and grabbed characters that we think some of the older people will recognize as well,”

Unlike earlier games in the series, which offered parodies of famous boxers, the WII release will have 18 celebrity parodies. Slepian said the franchise wanted to expand to a larger audience while keeping with the feel of the brand. “All of these characters are funny and over the top,” said Slepian. “We thought it lent itself to the ‘Ready 2 Rumble’ brand. All of the old character parodies were received pretty well, so we figured we’d take it to the next level.”

Other character parodies planned for the game include John Travolta, Antonio Banderas, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Beckham, David Hasselhoff, and Shaun White. Players can also make customizable boxer characters to duke it out with the parodies. “Ready 2 Rumble Revolution” is currently planned to release in mid-March.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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