Sunday, September 23, 2007

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Beta

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Pre-Played

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Call of Duty 4 Multiplayer Beta (Xbox 360)

Thanks to, I was able to get into the exclusive Multiplayer beta test for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. As a fan of the previous Call of Duty games on Xbox 360, I was thrilled to get a token to the Beta test. My thrills did not stop with the code, after the 1GB download from Xbox Live, I was ready to strap on my flack jacket and head into war to fight for my country, which ranged from the US Marine Corp to British S.A.S to Russians to Middle Eastern Soliders.

Gaining experience points is the basis of Call of Duty 4. You get points for completing different objects like killing and opponent or shooting down a helicopter. The more experience points you earn the more you level up, earning you more weapons, features, game modes, perks, and even the ability to customize your soldier/class. I for one have created the Jack Bauer class.

The beta included 3 maps: Overgrown, Vacant, and Crash. Overgrown is takes place in a Russian forest. A lot of this map is open fields, but if you are a sniper there are plenty of good hiding spots, including a barn and some abandoned buildings.

Vacant is another map that takes place in Russia. I happen to always do well in this map so it is my favorite of the Xbox 360 Beta. In this map, you spend most of the time sneaking around an abandoned single story office, but the is an old train yard with empty train cars to hide and attack from.

The last of the maps is Crash, which reminded me of “Black Hawk Down”. This map has everything from roofs to abandoned buildings to a downed helicopter and some open space. This map is a lot of fun to with the different places to hide and attack from.

After experiencing the beta, I know the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is going to be the 2007 Game of the Year. Some might think that it is a bold statement, especially with the much anticipated Halo 3 hitting stores this Tuesday, but after playing in both betas, Call of Duty is going to be the better game. Personally, I can not wait for this November to see the full version of this game.

Red Octane's Guitar Hero 2 (Xbox 360)

Rock on, Guitar Hero 2 from Red Octane has finally hit the Xbox 360 and it does not disappoint. For almost two years, only Sony Playstation 2 owners could enjoy the thrill of being on stage in a rock band but now the Xbox 360 world can enjoy the same rush. The great thing about Red Octane’s Xbox 360 version is that it is not just a port of the Playstation 2 version. There is a lot of added features and content for just Xbox 360 users. There are additional songs, downloadable content, and online leaderboards.

For those not familiar with the gaming phenomena the Red Octane has created with the Guitar Hero series, here is how it works. You strap on the Gibson X-plorer guitar, which has a five color fret buttons on the neck, a strumming bar, and whammy bar. The game play is simple in concept and hard to master on the hard difficulty levels. I started on easy and loved every minute of my rise to stardom. On easy, the game only involves 3 of 5 the five color frets, making it very easy to get accustomed to being a Guitar Hero. As you play the game, you will notice that the notes appear as they do on the X-plorer guitar and as the notes pass onscreen you tap the same color buttons on the fret board and strum the guitar. You score points for each correct note and by stringing notes together you create combos and combos lead to multipliers. You also can gain star power by hitting all the correct notes of certain sections of the song and when you fill your star power meter and activate star power, you become the focus of the stage and earn double the points and don’t forget to use your whammy bar for added points.

The rock meter tracks how you are doing in a very simple way, green you are rocking, yellow you could be better, and red, well red means you suck. Too much time in the red and you fail the song.

Career mode is where you will spend hours upon hours rocking out in small high schools gyms till you hit the big time. Career mode is also where you will unlock the massive soundtrack of the game. Oh yeah and as you progress in career mode you will unlock outfits and guitars to enhance your stage persona. But, don’t fret (ha ha guitar pun), if you get stuck on a song, there is a practice mode that allows you to practice whole or part of songs at a speed you are comfortable learning at.

The last part of Red Octane’s Guitar Hero 2 that should be mentioned is the multiplayer mode. There are two types of play, one where you share a song and cooperative. In the first mode you and your partner trade of sections of a song. In cooperative mode, which is much more fun, one player takes lead guitar and the other is base or rhythm guitar.

The only negatives I have about this Red Octane’s rockin’ Guitar Hero 2 is the lack of online play and cost of the downloadable content through the Xbox Marketplace. But I attribute the high cost due to Microsoft and not Red Octane.

So you wanna be a rock superstar? And live large A big house. Five cars, then Red Octane’s Guitar Hero 2 is the game for you. Visit the RedOctane Store for all of your Guitar Hero needs. Buy direct. Buy now.

Below is the track listing in stages and download content thanks to Wikipedia

† - denotes rhythm guitar as alternate instrument for song in co-op mode (all other songs feature bass guitar)

bold denotes song performed by the original artist (all other songs are covers)

italics denotes Xbox 360 exclusive tracks


1. Opening Licks

• "Surrender" – Cheap Trick
"Possum Kingdom" – Toadies
• "Heart-Shaped Box" – Nirvana
"Salvation" – Rancid
• "Strutter" – Kiss †
• "Shout at the Devil" – Mötley Crüe (Encore)

2. Amp-Warmers

• "Mother" – Danzig †
"Life Wasted" – Pearl Jam
• "Cherry Pie" – Warrant
• "Woman" – Wolfmother
• "You Really Got Me" – Van Halen
• "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" – Spinal Tap † (Encore)

3. String-Snappers

• "Carry on Wayward Son" – Kansas
• "Search and Destroy" – Iggy Pop and the Stooges
• "Message in a Bottle" – The Police
"Billion Dollar Babies" – Alice Cooper
• "Them Bones" – Alice in Chains
• "War Pigs" – Black Sabbath (Encore)

4. Thrash and Burn

• "Monkey Wrench" – Foo Fighters
"Hush" – Deep Purple
• "Girlfriend" – Matthew Sweet †
• "Who Was in My Room Last Night?" – The Butthole Surfers †
• "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" – The Rolling Stones †
• "Sweet Child o' Mine" – Guns N' Roses (Encore)

5. Return of the Shred

"Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" – Rick Derringer
• "Tattooed Love Boys" – The Pretenders
"John the Fisherman" – Primus
• "Jessica" – The Allman Brothers Band †
• "Bad Reputation" – Thin Lizzy
• "Last Child" – Aerosmith † (Encore)

6. Relentless Riffs

• "Crazy on You" – Heart
• "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" – Stone Temple Pilots
"Dead!" – My Chemical Romance †
• "Killing in the Name" – Rage Against the Machine
• "Freya" – The Sword
"Stop" – Jane's Addiction (Encore)

7. Furious Fretwork

• "Madhouse" – Anthrax
"The Trooper" – Iron Maiden
• "Rock This Town" – Stray Cats
• "Laid to Rest" – Lamb of God †
• "Psychobilly Freakout" – Reverend Horton Heat
• "YYZ" – Rush (Encore)

8. Face-Melters

• "Beast and the Harlot" – Avenged Sevenfold
• "Carry Me Home" – The Living End
• "Institutionalized" – Suicidal Tendencies †
• "Misirlou" – Dick Dale
• "Hangar 18" – Megadeth
• "Free Bird" – Lynyrd Skynyrd † (Encore)

Downloadable Content

Guitar Hero Track Pack 1 (30.87 MB, 500 MSP) – Released April 11, 2007

o "Bark at the Moon" – Ozzy Osbourne
o "Hey You" – The Exies
o "Ace of Spades" – Motörhead

Guitar Hero Track Pack 2 (30.64 MB, 500 MSP) – Released April 11, 2007

o "Killer Queen" – Queen
o "Take It Off" – The Donnas
o "Frankenstein" – The Edgar Winter Group

Guitar Hero Track Pack 3 (32.71 MB, 500 MSP) – Released April 11, 2007

o "Higher Ground" – Red Hot Chili Peppers[4]
o "Infected" – Bad Religion
o "Stellar" – Incubus

Guitar Hero Track Pack 4 (44.15 MB, 500 MSP) – Released July 11, 2007

o "I Wanna Be Sedated" – The Ramones
o "Smoke on the Water" – Deep Purple
o "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" – Judas Priest

My Chemical Romance Pack (33.53 MB, 500 MSP) – Released August 14, 2007

o "Famous Last Words" – My Chemical Romance
o "Teenagers" – My Chemical Romance
o "This Is How I Disappear" – My Chemical Romance

Bonus Songs

All bonus songs are performed by the original artist

• "Raw Dog" – The Last Vegas (Winner of the "Be a Guitar Hero" Contest)
• "Arterial Black" – Drist †
• "Collide" – Anarchy Club
• "Drink Up" – Ounce of Self
• "Elephant Bones" – That Handsome Devil
• "Fall of Pangea" – Valient Thorr
• "FTK" – Vagiant
• "Gemini" – Brian Kahanek †
• "Laughtrack" – The Acro-brats †
• "Less Talk More Rokk" – Freezepop †
• "Jordan" – Buckethead
• "Kicked to the Curb" – Noble Rot
• "Mr. Fix It" – The Amazing Crowns
• "The New Black" – Every Time I Die
• "One for the Road" – The Breaking Wheel
• "Parasite" – The Neighborhoods
• "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" – Bang Camaro
• "Radium Eyes" – Count Zero
• "Red Lottery" – Megasus
• "Six" – All That Remains
• "Soy Bomb" – Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives †
• "The Light That Blinds" – Shadows Fall
• "Thunderhorse" – Dethklok
• "Trogdor" – Strong Bad †
• "X-Stream" – Voivod
• "Yes We Can" – Made in Mexico

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bully (PS2)

Bully - Pre-Played

Well, I am sitting or more so laying at home beginning my third week of being laid up after knee surgery and was hoping to review Spiderman 3 for Xbox 360 when the dreaded Red Rings of Death. Needless to say I am completely bummed out. The Xbox 360 was my entertainment life. It was my gaming machine of choice and my HD-DVD player. Well the bright side to this is two fold, one I can now upgrade to the Elite with HDMI support thanks to Best Buy’s great service plan, and second it gave the opportunity to play my Sony PS 2 so more and I am glad I did. The game I have been played for the past week is Bully. Bully is created by Rockstar, the company that gave us the revolutionary Grand Theft Auto series. This game certainly does not disappoint. I am only 25% done with the game and I have being playing it at least 3 or 4 hours a day. I find it virtually impossible to put done the controller. (Which, by the way, is my recently acquired Logitech wireless. If you do not own one and still play your Sony PS 2. BUY IT. It is an incredible controller)

Back to the game, Bully has you start off as Jimmy, a troubled youth who has been kicked every school, which brings him to Bullworth Academy. As the new kid at Bullworth, Jimmy is already not very well liked. So in order to make it at his new school, Jimmy has to start earning other’s respect or have others live in fear of him. Jimmy does this by pulling pranks, beating up anyone he likes from the nerds to jocks to the greasers. Jimmy also gets to find love in the game by impressing some of the girls and wooing them with gifts, but don’t pick on the girls or the prefects will bust you and they are eager to do it. Be careful around the prefects they are just itching to catch you doing anything wrong, whether you are committing violence, cutting class, or violating the Bullworth dress code.

Speaking of cutting class, since the game is open ended, you might decide to constantly cut class, but you would do yourself some good if you attend classes every now and then. Classes consist of 5 minigames; Chemistry, Gym, Shop, English, and Art. Passing each of these classes provide you with upgrades, for which this game has lots of. Chemistry upgrades you to allowing you create bully weapons like stink bombs and firecrackers with you chemistry set. Gym class allows you to learn more bully moves for the fights you pick or have started with you. Shop allows you to build bikes for your use. English strengths your verbal skills, allowing you to talk your way out of trouble. Lastly, Art class leads to photography and that is important because one of your side missions is to be a yearbook photographer and take a photo of every student. After completing your classes, you will no longer be busted for cutting class, allowing you to focus on what seems to be an endless series of missions, which will keep you entertained and occupied for hours upon hours.

If you still own a PS2 and need to relive your school days or get even with the types that did you wrong back in the day, Bully is the game for you and should be part of your video game curriculum. Remember to always, try before you buy.

The Bigs (Wii)

The Bigs - Pre-Played

As a life long baseball fan (GO PHILLIES), who has been playing baseball games since Nintendo Baseball, I was extremely excited when I heard that Nintendo Wii was going to have its first true baseball game. I had downloaded the demo of The Bigs on Xbox 360 and truly enjoyed it. The bigger than life home runs, the 120 mph fastballs, to the sound of bones breaking when you bean someone, this game was the first non realistic sports title I had played since NBA JAM and NHL OPEN ICE and the folks at 2k7 really did a great job on their second baseball title of season. But, that was the Xbox 360 demo version; the Nintendo Wii version falls short in my estimation. I knew the graphics would not compare to that of the Xbox 360, but I did not buy a Wii for its graphics.

What I was excited about was the ability to play virtual baseball in my living room and by virtual baseball; I mean swinging my bat (Wii remote) and throwing pitches (Wii remote) just like if I were on the diamond once again. Where this game falls short and becomes a disappointment is the sluggish controls and sometimes unresponsiveness of the Wii remote. The pitching is extremely hard to control, you need twist you had one way and throw forward for one pitch and then turn it the other way for another and despite sitting through the on disk tutorial TWICE, I could not get the pitching down. I chalked this up to just being a part of the learning curve. Well, I said to myself, Tamer, you were never really a pitcher, your strengths were always at the plate, so I stepped up to the plate as the best team in the National League, when not decimated by injuries, the Phillies and had the side struck out, only getting a piece of the ball 3 times. Again, I chalked this up to the learning curve. Next inning, I lead off with the 2006 NL MVP, Ryan Howard and 1-2-3 strikeout, not so unrealistic, but again the side was struck out and I thought to myself, this can not be just me. Well as frustrating as hitting and pitching is, fielding is much worse. I could not make a catch to save my life and forget about throwing to the right base.

In the end, I was very disappointed in The Bigs for Nintendo Wii. What was supposed to be a fun cartoonish larger than life baseball simulation, left this former little leaguer and current coach dejected and frustrated. Hopefully next year’s version will be easier to control and more responsive. But for right now leave the Bigs for Nintendo Wii on the bench.

Should you want to give 2k7 The Bigs for Nintendo Wii a shot, remember to always, try before you buy.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Xbox 360)

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Pre-Played

I just finished this game and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I have had on Xbox 360. As a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean Movie Franchise this game fits in very well with the brand. If you have yet to see At World’s End and want to be surprised DO NOT play this game, the game follows the movie very closely and let’s you play at most of the vital scenes as well as some creative storylines not found in the films.

The game is visually stunning and the sound shook my living room. The characters look almost exactly as they do on the big screen. As for the game play, it is relativity easy, but that is what makes the game so enjoyable. It can be played by children and adults. As for its reply value, I feel this game can be played over and over again. There are many hidden elements to the game that are not easily found and I for one will play this game again just to find the hidden items.

I highly recommend this game for anyone who is looking for good family fun or a break from the first person shooters and grand theft auto type games currently flooding the video game market.

In the end you will remember this day as the day we all caught Captain Jack Sparrow and he is alive and well in our video game collections.

Remember to always, try before you buy.

Nex-Gen? “Fuzion Frenzy 1″ is MORE fun

Fuzion Frenzy 2 - Pre-Played

I have been waiting for this game for months. I loved Fuzion Frenzy on XBox and couldn’t wait to see the nex-gen version. I bought this game on its release date and wish I would have waited for a used copy. First and foremost, why did they remove “Fuzion Frenzy” from the game? That was the best part of the game, risking your points and stealing your opponents. Second, the announcer is extremely annoying and his quips are repetitive to the point of hurting the game. Also, how hard is it to announce the winning players name. Player 1 wins the tournament, this is nex-gen and the game can’t announce the character. If you loved Fuzion Frenzy 1, you might be disappointed in this “upgrade.” I sure was.

Normally I would write more, but I wouldn’t want to waste any more of your time on this game. In closing, I hope they do FF 3 and redeem themselves and bring back FUZION FRENZY!!!

My Review/RANT about 1-800-4MY-XBOX Customer Service

First let me start off my saying, I love the XBOX 360. I have been a proud owner since April 2006. I love the graphics, the games, XBOX Live, the HD DVD add on and everything else XBOX comes with.

But, that is where my love ends. Recently I experienced my second incident of the flashing three red lights indicating a hardware failure. Thanks to my Best Buy warranty, the exchanges have been hassle free. I called Best Buy and told them of my problem and they said just bring it on up. I was also informed that for $80 more, I could upgrade to an Elite. I though wow, not a bad deal. So before I went up to Best Buy to exchange me defective hardware, AGAIN,

So I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX and asked if I exchanged my defective 360 with an Elite would my data transfer from my 20 GB to the Elite’s 120 GB hard drive and would I be able to still play my downloaded content and Xbox Live Arcade games. I said, I knew that content and games were gamertag and console specific. He told me that the data migration cable would allow me to play all my downloadable content and games under all my gamertags and if not, I would have to fax my slips from Best Buy and my account would be reviewed. After review, I would have to create a new silver membership and points I spent would be refunded to re-download the games to the new console to replace my previous 360, which experienced a hardware failure. I was content with the representative’s help and waited till I recovered enough from surgery to exchange my failed machine for a new one.

On July 4, 2007, I finally was able to exchange my 360 and because my manufacturer’s warranty ran out on June 16, 2007. So, I had to fulfill my Best Buy warranty to exchange my failed machine and then purchase a new Best Buy to protect my newest Mircosoft 360 investment and based on previous experience of having two failed machines, it was a good idea. Then the very next day, Peter Moore announced that “You’ve spoken, and we’ve heard you. Good service and a good customer experience are areas of the business that we care deeply about. And frankly, we’ve not been doing a good enough job,” and extended the warranty to three years.

It is Mr. Moore’s underlined comments that I would like to address. On, July 4, 2007, I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX to get the data migration cable and again wanted to confirm that I would be able to play my previously downloaded content. I spoke with three different Costumer Service Representatives that day. The first and second representatives did not understand my concerns and actually hung up on me as I was trying to explain my situation. I promptly called back and finally found a representative who understood what I was speaking about and said this is a common issue and just wait till I got my data migration cable and if I could not play my downloadable content under all my profiles, I would have to create a new silver gamertag and fax my Best Buy slips and my account would be reviewed and points refunded, so I could re-download my previously purchased content. This is the same solution offered to me prior to exchanging my failed hardware.

I received my data migration cable well before the 8-10 business days I was told and for that I am very grateful. I then migrated the data from the 20 GB to the 120 GB hard drive and as I thought the downloadable content was not available on all my profiles, as on my previous machine before the hardware failure. So as I was instructed by two Customer Service Representatives, I once again called 1-800-4MY-XBOX.

I first spoke with Anthony, who told me that because I “upgraded”, there was nothing Microsoft could do. I pleaded with Anthony, that I was told I could by another representative and he put me on hold to speak to a supervisor and he was told there was nothing anyone could do. I then asked Anthony if I could speak to a supervisor and he connected me with Supervisor Annette.

Annette repeated Anthony’s statement that because I “upgraded” voluntarily, there was nothing to be done. I then pleaded with Annette that this was the last thing from voluntarily and that I had experienced my second hardware failure since April 2006. Annette was unyielding and started to raise her voice at me. I then explained the complete situation from losing my XBOX and HD-DVD player when I needed it most, during my surgery recovery to speaking with two representatives, both who stated it would not be a problem. I begged Annette to please help and even quote Mr. Moore’s comments and Annette again raised her voice at me and stated that we only refund 360 to 360, not upgrades. I said that this is a 360 and she said “NO!, it is an Elite.” I then asked for clarification that an Elite was not a 360. Annette again said “NO!” I again explained that this was not me upgrading to a new machine for the fun of it, but because I love the Microsoft product and decided to spend and extra $80 because I believed in the company and just experience bad luck with two previous purchased of a 360. Annette then hung up on my as well with no warning.

Of course I called back and asked to be connected to a supervisor because the previous one hung up on me. Representative Thomas Smith refused to connect me to a supervisor. I told him that I was just on the phone with one and she hung up on me. He stated that unless I explained my situation to him, I was not allowed to speak to a supervisor. I proceeded to explain the story yet again and Thomas tried to help putting me on hold to speak with his supervisor. He came back with the same answer as before. I then asked to speak to his supervisor.

I was next connected to Supervisor John B. I again repeated my situation to John and he seem to becoming understanding, but John like everyone else I spoke today was claiming that because I went from a premium to an Elite, there was nothing that could be done. I again pleaded that I was a loyal Microsoft customer and that this was because my previous 360 experienced a hardware failure. John then put me on hold and came back with no help to the consumer.

I again quoted Mr. Moore’s comments and John was understanding, but unable to help. John stated that consumer concerns are handled on a case by case basis. I then asked for Microsoft’s address so I could write this letter. John again put me on hold and finally came back and gave me the address.

I again pleaded and begged with John to help me, but he again stated there was nothing that could be done. After he gave me the address, I asked for his supervisor and was informed that there he has no supervisor. I then asked who he was speaking to when he put me on hold and he said he was checking his Microsoft Tools and again that situations are evaluated on a case by case basis. So, I said if you have no supervisor, you are the one who can make this decision and that, if he truly believed my situation he could help me out. He said, he would forward my situation to Microsoft.

I made one last plea to John to please help me, since he is the supervisor and apparently the decision maker at this Customer Service Center, that he could help me if he wanted. I told him that by helping me, he would be fulfilling Mr. Moore’s pledge of providing “Good service and a good customer experience are areas of the business that we care deeply about. And frankly, we’ve not been doing a good enough job,”

Finally, after 73 min on the phone with John, he stated that I should fax my Best Buy exchange slips to 1-877-557-8408 and that they would review my situation and possibly make an exception in this situation. John closed by asking for my telephone number and said we would call me if they agreed to make an exception and wanted my to create a new gamertag to allocate points.

Well, I finally called back on July 16, to see if they received my fax of my receipts to prove that I had to exchange my defective 360’s multiple times and was given the same corporate line as before. Microsoft will not refund points do to an upgrade. I was on the phone for 2 hours with the incompetents at 1-800-4MY-XBOX tiring to get the help I deserve and a level a customer satisfaction that was handed down by the president of the Xbox division. Apparently, going through 2 360’s in just over a year isn’t enough of a hassle enough to a customer, now the heartless workers of the Customer Service Center must make us the consumer jump through hoops in order to get the level of customer service Peter Moore demands for his customers and still get absolutely no where. I told last night’s supervisor that I was tired of the corporate line and that I demand this case be looked at personally and not just through emails to other departments. I told the supervisor, that if he truly felt that I had a valid complaint he would provide my case with the personal attention it requires to be handled properly. I also stated that I did not want to work with any other people, I want this case handle by one person and one person only to ensure some level of consistency. Finally at the end of the 2 hour phone call, he told me that he talked to his supervisor and they would “try” to handle this situation.

With my horrendous experiences with 1-800-4MY-XBOX, I have serious doubt this situation will be resolve in which the manner Peter Moore has stated, instead I will just be another inconvenienced and dissatisfied customer of the Xbox 360 product and its support team who is supposed to continue to throw his hard earned money in the trash.

In the end, I am learning why so many millions of people have such a true distain for Microsoft and why my shares in the company have done virtually nothing since I bought them in 2002.

Below is listing of all my purchased Downloadable Content with my reviews.

The Matrix Theme - Waste of Money
2k7 Phillies Theme
- Waste of Money
Contra - Brings back great memories
Feeding Frenzy - Fun port of Web game
Paperboy - Brings back great memories
Root Beer Tapper
- Brings back great memories
Uno - Awesome Mulitpaper Arcade Game
Kameo UNO Theme Deck - fun add on
Uno 35th Anniversary Deck - fun add on
Zuma - great port of Web game
Lumnies Live! - Great Time killer. Very addictive
Lumines Live! VS CPU PACK
Lumines Live! Puzzle/Mission PACK

Ultimate MK3
- Brings back great memories
Texas Hold’em - Awesome Mulitpaper Arcade Game
Pac-Man - Brings back great memories
Bankshot Billiards 2 - Fun original game