June 2009 Archives

A night for Moonwalkere

id Software logo

Last night seemed a fitting time to pick up one of my favorite old games, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker.

The gameplay itself is nothing special (typical isometric beat-em-up), but the graphics, sounds, and (unintentional?) innuendo is hilarious. Play this with a group of friends and you'll all be busting up through the entire thing.

Zenimax Media buys id Software

id Software logo

Zenimax Media, parent company of Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls, Oblivion, Fallout), has bought id Software. I'm not really sure if I should be excited or afraid, but Bethesda makes some pretty awesome games so hopefully id will be able to borrow some of their writers and make a come back with a kick-ass game with an involved story.

Still waiting on Wolfenstein, Rage, and Doom 4!



Most games start you off pretty wimpy, letting you upgrade or grow into new powers as you move along. In the final levels, you're playing a really fun character full of possibilities. But then it ends.

Prototype begins where these games end. You start the story cranked to 10, playing a massively powerful creature who can down a small army without much thought. Then the upgrades come and you turn the knob up to 15, becoming even more of a badass. And just when you think you've got all it can give you, in comes more upgrades. Prototype is what happens when you take GTA's city, mix in Assassin's Creed's gameplay, and add the visceral destruction of Rampage.

Unusual for a zombie story, it doesn't try to be horror or survival. You aren't or cleaning up after the infection or trying to prevent it from starting. You play an amnesia-stricken infected in search of the truth -- who he is, what he is, and what happened to New York City. You're put smack dab in the middle of a mostly pristine city and get to watch as the entire thing becomes more and more infected as you progress through the game.

Nearly every mission has you doing something new, keeping the gameplay surprisingly fresh all the way until the end. Sometimes you help the infected, sometimes you help the military. Usually you're fighting one or even both at the same time. When not on a mission you're able to roam the city, causing mayhem to your heart's content.

My only wish is that free roam was a bit more challenging—in GTA, the toughness of enemies slowly builds up until you can't take it anymore. Lacking this build-up, Prototype only has two levels of toughness: first the enemies become aware of you, then they call in a strike team. A pack of helicopters, strike teams are initially pretty hard but become very easy once you learn how to fight them. Eventually they devolve to the point where you call them on purpose, thinking "hey, free helicopter!".

Free roam aside, I'd recommend this game to anyone for the ever-changing and sometimes very challenging story. After spending a couple days trying to beat the ridiculously hard final boss, I finally finished the game this morning.

BSG Season 4 Soundtrack details

BSG Season 4 Cover

Bear McCreary has announced track listings and cover art for the dual-disc BSG Season 4 Soundtrack. The first disc includes the haunting "Gaeta’s Lament" sung by none other than Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeta) himself, two tracks from my favorite episodes of the season "The Oath" and "Blood on the scales", and the second disc is the incredible entire score of the two-hour finale "Daybreak".

I can't wait!

One Epic Battlestar Concert

Bear McCreary

The first of the previously mentioned Battlestar concerts occurred this last weekend in downtown LA. Truly an amazing show, I don't think I've ever been as musically satisfied as I was in those three hours. I met a friend and his family there and we all had a blast!

BrEndAn's Band opened the night with four songs, including the rocking "Ain't We Famous" which can be heard on the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles soundtrack, and "When Will the Work Be Done" which can be heard on the Battlestar finale "Daybreak".

A night of firsts! We were the first to see performances of "Gaeta’s Lament", "Dreilide Thrace Sonata No. 1", and "Prelude to War". "Gaeta's Lament" is the song that Gaeta sings near the end of season 4. It will be the first track of the season 4 soundtrack. "Dreilide Thrace Sonata No. 1" is a piano piece we hear from Starbuck's father in the show, but never get to hear the full thing. Finally, "Prelude to War" is a incredible action piece from season 2 that Bear thought was too complex to perform in concert, but massaged it into something that would work. The violins were infused with metal, a very noticeable difference from the song on the soundtrack—but not a bad one.

The night ended with a surprise appearance, with Katee Sackhoff making a very stealthy cameo on the piano to lead us into the finale, "All Along the Watchtower". Just like she did in the show.

The opening act:

And finally the set list:

Videos thanks to Films in Focus. You can find a lot more information and pictures on Bear's blog.

Check out this cool pic!

Me, ShakaUVM and Bear

That's me on the right, Bear in front of me, friend from Quake "ShakaUVM" in the back, and his family on the left.

Left 4 Dead…2?

Seriously—what the fuck?

Despite promises to make enough new content to make Left 4 Dead worth the $50 we paid for it, 8 months later it is still without content, buggy as hell, full of map exploits, and with terrible matchmaking. Poor game design has made being on a losing team incredibly frustrating, making it so the only reward you get for winning is half or more of the other team ruins your game, either by quitting or by childishly killing themselves to ruin your infected round— every single time.

Valve stopped caring about Left 4 Dead a while ago, and now we know why—Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out with all the content that was promised for the first one. I don't think I'll be giving them any money for this one.

Composers, everywhere!

I went to a signing event yesterday, with 15 or so big name composers. I talked with a lot of cool people: Michael Giacchino (Lost, Star Trek movie, Up), Stu Phillips (Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider), Ron Jones (Superman, Star Trek: TNG, Family Guy), and John Murphy (28 Days Later), that I can think of. Probably one or two I can't remember right now (I've been awake for a long time). I'm ashamed to admit if there wasn't info displayed for them, I would not have known who most of these guys were.

The whole reason I came, though, was to meet Bear McCreary—composer of the modern Battlestar Galatica. It was a real treat to meet him, and as a surprise his beautiful wife to be Raya Yarbrough (who can be heard on some BSG tracks) was there too.

While I was there I picked up an advance copy of the Caprica soundtrack and got it signed. I'm really enjoying this album—it feels like BSG, yet at the same time something completely different. Like the show, BSG's music was very character-driven. Nearly everyone had their own theme, and what you'd hear on scene would either be a variant of a theme or action music. Caprica's music feels much more scene-driven. You can feel drama and emotion in them, often times picturing a scene to go along with it. It is more suspenseful, more sorrowful, more adventurous.

It was also much softer than others. The TT Dynamic Range Meter averaged around 12, with some tracks going as high as 19—compare this to the new Green Day album which manages a measly 6. ReplayGain actually wanted to raise the volume—something I haven't seen in a long while! This is really cool to listen to on good headphones :)

Now, on to the concerts.

Terminator: TSCC and Caprica signed by Bear McCreary