Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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Summer yeah. Got me an Xbox360. Beat GTAIV and Phoenix Wright 3. Starting Metal Gear Solid 2 and Halo 3. Lots of games to play.

Two days ago, I found the answers to a mystery that has been on my mind for a while. I have this dent in my skull, you see. It's not really visible, but you can definately feel it. Anyways, I asked my mom where it came from. She said that when I was born, she had a C-section, and the scalpel actually went into my head. That's right, a sharp blade punctured my baby head. Now all I have left of that incident is this dent in my skull. So who knows what kind of damage was caused that day, or maybe something good happened. Who knows?

Weeks left until Less Than Jake/Goldfinger/Big D concert. Also, Flogging Molly, the Flobots, Dropkick Murphy's, and the Briggs are coming to town as well. Who knew that this summer would be a good one for concerts?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Music Review: Less Than Jake - GNV FLA

This is a review that I wrote for another website of Less Than Jake's new album "GNV FLA". It looks like it might be a while before the other site posts it, but if they don't publish, I'm not letting it go to waste, so here it is.

Less Than Jake is not a band for everyone. Opinions vary from person to person, and there’s no doubt a strong fan base and a strong hate base. Let me start off by saying that I’m a mix of both. I love the entire album of “Hello Rockview”, I consider it my favorite album. But all the rest of their stuff is not so great.

They’ve joined major labels in the past, and the result is crap like “ In with the Out Crowd”. More pop and less ska is a losing formula for this band. But now they’ve started their own label (Sleep It Off Records) and they’re putting the control back in their own hands. And that’s a very good thing.

Since their last album, GNV FLA is a refreshing look at Less Than Jake. I think the band realized that the people want the ska, and this album takes Less Than Jake back to the traditional ska-punk sound. Catchy horns and solid riffs throughout this album gives you more tunes to skank to at a LTJ show. Less Than Jake returns to a winning formula with this album: upbeat songs + lots of ska + some punk = a solid album.

Now, you may be wondering if this album is the latest tourist campaign from a town in Florida. The album is named after Gainesville, Florida, and a good portion of the songs on the album are also about this city. “Does the Lion City Still Roar?” is probably the first song you’ve heard off this album, yet it’s weird that they used this as a single because it’s definitely not one of the best songs on the album. “Abandon Ship” and “Conviction Notice” are two songs that would have maybe been a better pick, because they are a lot more upbeat. That being said, there are quite a lot of upbeat songs on this album, which is always a good thing.

The only really bad song on this album is “The Life Of The Party Has Left The Building”. It’s not really a song, more like a minute’s worth of distorted music and probably could have been left off the album. It’s like they said, “Hey, we have 13 songs, but we want 14, quickly make a song and throw it in there!” Other than that, most of the songs are pretty decent, and have some great sing-a-long parts and stuff like that. The problem with this album is that not too much stands out, and this album probably won’t be considered the next ska masterpiece. But after I’ve listened to it a couple more times, I’ll probably enjoy it more (that’s how I got to like Streetlight Manifesto).

When I started listening to this album, all I was hoping for was another “Hello Rockview”. GNV FLA isn’t quite that, but it’s definitely a giant step into the right direction. To sum is all up, my friend Cameron says it best, “This is definitely the kind of sound LTJ should be going for, but nothing really stands out here.”

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Quick Review - Penny Arcade Game

OK, here's my quick review of the first episode of Penny Arcade's new game, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. First off, let me say that I have only played this game for about half an hour. That's all I really needed/wanted to play. Needless to say, I did not enjoy this game. At all. And here's why.

Firstly, there are a lot of shortcuts taken in the game. Cutscenes are just static images moving across the screen. There's very little effort put into these, and they seem cheap. Secondly, no voice-overs (except for the extremely unfunny British guy that slowly introduces you to the game). For witty dialogue, you have to read the tiny text coming from the not-moving images of people's faces. Then once you get to the graphics, they suck. Some of the worst 3D imaging work ever seems to have been done in this game. It's pixelated, and not stylized at all. It looks like crap most of the time. Seriously, a little effort would have been good.

Then the combat system is so boring and stupid. Turn based combat is pretty much never good to me (with the exception of the Pokemon games). Click a button and it's all done for you. It was not immersive nor interesting enough to make me enjoy the combat system.

Now, I like to play the Sam and Max games, and since they're both episodic games, I can't help but compare the two. Sam and Max is everything the Penny Arcade game isn't: funny, fun, looks good, has a decent story line, and controls well. While I will keep playing the new Sam and Max games, I will not be playing any of the new Penny Arcade episodes (unless it drastically changes).

Super-Penny Arcade fans will like this, as will turn-based combat fans. Unfortunately, I really didn't enjoy this game, or the short amount of time I played it. The gameplay was boring, the graphics lazy, and the music forgettable. In the end, most of the game seemed like a chore, and I didn't think it was worth my time to play the rest of it.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Woah Summer

So this summer has been pretty relaxed so far. All I've really been doing is playing a ton of GTA IV. It's pretty fun, but I really want to get it online. The problem is that I have the router upstairs and the Xbox 360 is in the basement. I want a wired connection because wifi speeds are unpredictable and can be slow, plus the wireless adapter is like $100.

So what I'm working on is getting a LAN cable to go through the walls and the floor. That way I can have a wired connection. So right now I'm working to figure out how to get the wires through, and it might take a while. But I really want it done really soon so I can have some multiplayer GTA going.

I'm waiting for July to come around, because there's a couple of good concerts coming then. So until then, I'm just going to relax and cross some games off my to-play list.