Guitars, Pirates, and a Tiff Known as WWII

Well I finally did pick up the X360 version of Guitar Hero II last Friday and I have to say it is nice to play the game again, but the song selection sucks. I'm not going to pretend to be a big fan of classic rock or metal so the fact that I don't know much of the music in the game is not a big surprise. I bought it because it's a fantastic game regardless of the song selection and because GH II does include some songs by bands that I do like, namely The Police, Nirvana, The Stray Cats, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Guns n Roses, and a few others. Unfortunately, the professional rockaroke bands they hire to cover the songs for the game makes me wish they hadn't. This is age-old news to those of you who did not wait for the X360 version and, instead, rushed out and bought the PS2 version last November, but the renditions of "Heart Shaped Box" and "Them Bones" likely have Kurt and Layne turning in their graves. That said, the version of Pearl Jam's "Life Wasted" is pretty spot-on in my opinion. Actually, it might even be better than the real Pearl Jam version since -- surprise, surprise -- you can actually make out the lyrics. I'm currently getting absolutely schooled by just about everyone on my Friends list on the Leaderboards so I've got some gaming to do.

Professionally, I recently wrapped up the guidebook for Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End and no, I will not tell you how the movie is going to end. I'm actually not going to say anything about the game (other than being able to capture screenshots in 1080i is a beautiful thing) but I am going to comment on a new trend we're seeing in the strat guide biz. Whether it's because of the unprecedented success of the PS2 or the really high price of the PS3, I don't know, but companies are pushing "last-gen" games on the PS2 just as much as they are the this-gen PS3 versions. I know of several games that are getting full strategy guide treatment for their shiny new X360 and PS3 versions, as well as their dated PS2 offerings which in most instances are completely different games. This is placing an unprecedented strain on author and equipment resources as in many instances, there is simply not enough time to have one author do the work for both versions. With regards to POTC3 (which my editor affectionately pronounced "Potsie") I covered the X360/PS3 version of the game while another author covered the last-gen version of the game.

The book came out fantastic and is really two-books-in-one, but I'm glad I'm not the person in charge of allocating enough authors, editors, and debug systems to duplicate and sometimes triplicate the workforce for each guidebook. The transition from the Xbox/PS2/Gamecube generation to the X360/PS3/Wii has all the makings of a very slow tidal shift and doesn't appear to resemble the surge that existed in past generations. If you've been looking to break into the videogame business, this is probably a good time to make youself available, so long as you don't mind working on last-gen software. Same goes for strategy guide writing; this is an excellent opportunity for a competent writer who doesn't mind working on the "lesser" version of new games to show what they can do in a somewhat lower-pressure situation. Just don't ask me for a reference -- I repaid that karmic debt years ago.

In other news, I know most of you think the world needs another WWII videogame like we need another season of American Idle, but you might want to check out Midway's Hour of Victory. It's being developed with the Unreal 3 Engine (that means it looks great) and according to a developer interview I saw, they're purposely aiming for an over-the-top "Indiana Jones" style of gameplay instead of the gritty, dramatic "Saving Private Ryan" approach the more popular games in this sub-genre attempt. Apparently you can hot-swap between three different characters in the game and drive tanks. Check out the trailer here. It's coming out in June for the X360.

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