Well I haven't been doing many reviews as of late, mostly cause things have been a bit busy. As for books, I have been reading Godel Escher Bach for the last 2 months. It just takes a while to get through it, but I am looking forward to putting up a post about it. I also recently picked up a blu ray player in the Sharp Aquos BDHP21U. I will probably review that as well once I have used it more. So far, I have not been impressed. The menu system is no intuitive and the boot time on it is horrendous.
Rock Band 2
Wow. What an improvement. The basic mechanics of the game has not changed. What has improved is single player mode, calibration, and online band mode. First off the calibration mode is much improved in that now you calibrate the video separate from the audio. It really makes it easier to find your timing while playing when both the video and audio are in sync. The single player mode is essentially band mode. You can go on tours or invite your friends in to help. Also introduced is challenges which are reminiscent of the first Rock Band's single player mode. Complete a challenge to open up more challenges and new songs. And best of all, the online band tour mode which should have been in the first one comes together so well in this release. I got the chance to play with Skidge who is in Germany and everything ran super smooth from my side and it sounded like it ran well on his side as well.
This is the game they should have made in the first place, even when the first one was fun. Get it.
Again, wow. GTA IV is another spectacular installment in the GTA series. The story telling is absolutely fantastic and by the end it really bothered me that the situations I was in, put Nico in such bad situations. The game play is well done. Player control is easily done and combat is very strategic if you want it. The cover system of combat is very well done and just makes it fun. None of the plot missions were painfully difficult. The side missions and support characters are full of flavor and fun. This is however *not* for kids. In fact, I couldn't even do Taxi missions while my daughter is around due to the swearing.
One point that made me a bit upset was in the last mission you are forced to follow the bad guy who is in a boat while you have a dirt bike. I didn't follow the shore, but cut cross country. I was still able to follow the boat, but failed to initiate a game trigger. I did hit the necessary ramp and would hang in midair from a rpg before the game would lock up. I did this over ten times before realizing you could actually follow the shore.
Either way... get the game.
Look it is time for the annual release of a franchise that owns all the licenses to professional sports programs. This was was heading straight for mediocrity in my book. I have played 5 of the Madden games in the last 9 years and in most cases there has been little improvement (which 2kSports was doing some incredible advancements in the few years before the EA lockout). However the dynamic difficulty setup they implemented really has made it very fun. I haven't tried it in multiplayer but in single season of career mode, it really made the games close and challenging. I give this my seal of approval.
Footnote to NFL
Highlights containing the Lions don't really count.