Well, due to the ineptitude of AT&T in providing adequate SMS or data service at Coachella this year, most of my tweets during the festival didn’t get out. All in all, I enjoyed the music and the festival. At least, when I could actually be in the venue.
Here’s a rough timeline of what would have been sent out (some of them actually did manage to squirm out):
2:15PM – Left house at 12:30 and still stuck in immovable traffic. Had to pee on the side of a main road, public be damned.
3:30PM – Stuck in a immovable line to get wristbands for event entry. People are cutting in the front because there’s no security.
4:30PM – Officially pissed that I missed one of the bands I wanted to see the most, Yeasayer. Regretting coming to this thing.
4:45PM – Line is finally moving. Apparently the ticket scanning system went down for a couple hours. Heads better roll for this bullshit.
5:15PM – Feel a bit less cranky after eating some surprisingly good Thai BBQ. I can hear Tom Morello playing a song I don’t know.
6:00PM – She & Him is surprisingly entertaining. The songs are a lot more uptempo and fun than I was expecting. Delightful festival warmup.
6:05PM – Have to admit, zooey deschanel is lookin pretty adorable on stage http://twitpic.com/1g4wq9
7:45PM – Even a mediocre live band like Passion Pit can be great fun with the right crowd. Dancing/singing with the chorus of Little Secrets was a great moment.
8:15PM – I know everyone swears by Grizzly Bear, but I’m finding his set boring. It’s one of those “you have to know the material” situations. I didn’t.
8:25PM – Stopped by La Roux. She sounds okay, nothing extraordinary. Not going to wade through that crowd for “In For The Kill”.
8: 45PM – I only know the Echo and the Bunnymen hits. They’re not playing them, so I’m getting out of here.
9:15PM – The sound for LCD Soundsystem is amazing.
9:30PM – James Murphy is incredibly awkward on stage. He could have command of the crowd, but he’s rambling like a insecure nerd onstage.
10:15PM – LCD Soundsystem had a couple chances to be an epic set, but never quite got there. Going to walk by Vampire Weekend.
10:20PM – Heard Cousins being played and promptly turned around to get a beer.
10:30PM – Pretty ridiculous that the main stage is playing a recorded Vampire Weekend song while the actual band is on the other stage.
11:15PM – Jay-Z makes his entrance by rising from under the stage floor to the intro of “We Run This Town”. As the bass kicks in, he authoritatively commands the audience to bounce. We obey.
11:45PM – The soundsystem here is unreal. Hiphop bass has never sounded so clear. Best mainstream rap show I have seen so far.
12:25AM – Big Pimpin’ starts. The crowd starts to go nuts before Jigga stops it, telling us that we aren’t ready yet. He then continues on with another song. Fucking awesome.
12:35AM – No Dr. Dre or Alicia Keyes appearance, but we get Beyonce as the surprise guest.
12:45AM – Damn, I didn’t plan on staying for all of Jay-Z, but I couldn’t resist.
12:50AM – I have to make a decision to see the end of The Whitest Boy Alive or deadmau5 – I go with Whitest Boy, but really wanted to do both. Damn you, scheduling!
12:55AM – Erlend Oye looks like a dweebier young Bill Gates, if that’s even possible. Still, this set is really good. I gotta see them when they tour next.
3:30AM – Fuck traffic and crowds and lines and godawful parking infrastructure.
3:15PM – Well that wasn’t as bad getting in this time. Took a back route and lot. Missed my boy Frank Turner, but a noon start time is untenable.
3:30PM – Day two starts with bluegrass from old crow medicine show. Haven’t seen a guy string his own guitar in awhile. http://twitpic.com/1gmxkt
5:40PM – Man does the girl from Gossip have pipes, this is an awesomely fun set. Crowd loves them.
6:20PM – Holy shit, the entire LCD Soundsystem band is on stage, along with more people I don’t recognize. It’s madness in here.
6:35PM – Stayed for the last couple songs of The Raveonettes set. I like them, but the end of their set was a far cry from the energy level of Gossip’s.
6:45PM – Well, The XX is good music for listening to while you’re eating dinner.
7:15PM – Seem to have found a great spot for Hot Chip with a raucous group of South Americans who sing and do chants. This is going to be awesome.
7:45PM – Steel drums are back, baby! I was wondering where they had gone, but I’m positive I’ve seen at least 3 bands use them so far.
8:20PM – Using Aterciopelados’ set to recover. They’re actually not bad rockers. Too bad I don’t understand Spanish.
9:35PM – Some kid tries to move past me in a crowd. He says he’s trying to get away from his mom who’s in the crowd behind him for fear she’ll ground him from video games for 2 weeks. wat.
9:45PM – Spent the last 50 minutes in the dance tent with Kaskade and David Guetta. Sensory overload. Bass made my entire body shake. Wish I had drugs.
9:55PM – Major Lazer is fucking amazing!! There’s two Chinese dragons onstage with a black chick in a wedding gown. This is a real party.
10:15PM – Get news that Danny Devito ran shirtless across the stage during Faith No More. That sounds fun.
10:30PM – Muse is way less intense than that dance tent was. They still rock though.
11:20PM – Man, The Dead Weather really vacillate between awesome and boring. Love the blues stuff, hate the slow shit.
12:00AM – F. Dee and mac from it’s always sunny in Philadelphia bumped into my friend wearing a paddys pub shirt at the beer tent and I wasn’t there!
12:15AM – Eating pizza while on a bench with a view of Tiesto on the main stage. I think I’d need to plan my day around Tiesto to properly enjoy his set.
12:18AM – Is it just me or does Tiesto look like Christian Slater? Also, lasers.
12:20AM – Someone brought the wrong visuals for Tiesto, the screen just addressed “Austin”.
12:22AM – There we go, Coachella lets make some noise!
12:50AM – Having to decide between the end of 2ManyDJ’s or Devo, I go with Devo in the hopes of getting “Whip It”. Got old dudes stripping into tshirts and boxers instead.
4:00AM – Fuck traffic and crowds and lines and godawful parking infrastructure.
2:45PM – Really surprised to have made it inside the venue in time to catch the end of Local Natives. They were pretty good.
3:45PM – No idea what to have expected for Mayer Hawthorne, but this is kinda cool. Fairly young white dude singing soul. People are dancing, including shirtless pothead in front of me with a gut and no pectorals.
4:10PM – My friend explains to me the lols of Mayer introducing his “break up song” with “Coachella I’m sorry to do this to you but…” Hilarious.
4:15PM – Walk by Deerhunter, didn’t look like a meat jackpot Deerhunter set so continued to De La Soul.
4:20PM – De La Soul is pretty boring. Nothing else to do but sit on the grass and chill. Too lazy to walk to Florence and the Machine for a couple minutes.
4:50PM – Surprised to hear Sunny Day Real Estate play Seven so early in their set. Not complaining, this song rules.
5:20PM – Decided to check out Yo La Tengo. Love the pop songs and synchronized light dancing, really dislike the masturbatory jam sessions. Cool how all 3 band members play everything.
6:15PM – Really dig the soundscape that Jonsi/Sigur Ros create. The songs seem a bit more uptempo than Sigur Ros. Plus he’s got a really cool festive outfit and headdress.
6:50PM – Made it into a nice spot by the soundboard for Miike Snow. The band comes out in masks and amidst smoke.
7:15PM – The album is good, but the live show is amazing. This stuff needs to be turned up LOUD!
7:30PM – Would definitely see Miike Snow again.
7:45PM – There’s a ridiculous amount of people for Phoenix, not going to bother getting close for this.
8:00PM – Just realized I only really like 1901 and If I Ever Feel Better from Phoenix anyway. Glad I got to hear those at the end.
8:15PM – Holy laser light show at Little Boots! She’s pretty fun too.
9:05PM – Caught the last few minutes of Orbital’s DJ set. Heard an amazing mix of Halcyon with Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi. Lamp shades baby!
9:30PM – As much as I love Radiohead, I’m pretty sick of The Eraser. Some of the songs just don’t translate well to large venues.
9:30PM – That being said, adding someone like Flea really makes the bass come alive for songs like Harrowdown Hill.
12:30AM – Forewent gorillaz to beat the coachella traffic. Surprisingly it worked! Already at the daily pint in Santa Monica playing shuffleboard.
Click through for a photo gallery. (Caveat: They’re iPhone camera pics.)
American McGee is best known for his work on DOOM, Quake, and Alice. The latter, which I found to be a deliciously twisted romp through the wonderland of Lewis Carroll. McGee’s past games have earned him an automatic “I gotta check out what he’s doing next” pass. His latest project is entitled American McGee’s Grimm and is a 24-part episodic game available exclusively on Gametap. New episodes are released every Thursday and will be available free to play for a 24-hour period, much like a television show. Grimm is based on the idea of “f’d up fairy tales,” with each episode centering on the corruption of a particular fairy tale, like Little Red Riding Hood or Beauty and the Beast. Gameplay is very simple and casual friendly. It plays kind of like Katamari Damacy in that you are guiding a character in a world with the objective of covering the most surface area possible. There is some light platforming as well.
What I Liked:
- Art direction/Presentation – The Unreal Engine 3 isn’t pushed to its full potention in this game, but the blocky, simplistic character models do exude some personality. The changes between the “original” fairy tale world and the “Grimm-ified” fairy tale world (once you get your stinky paws on it) are quite apparent and is the biggest accomplishment of the game.
- Simple, relaxing gameplay – This game is almost built for casual gamers as you can use one hand to play it! Either the mouse or the WASD keys will work in controlling Grimm. The only other action he can do is jump and butt stomp, which is done by jumping twice.
- Short length – The first episode is divided into six “sections” that each take between 3-5 minutes to complete. After cut scenes, you can finish the entire episode in under 40 minutes, possibly less. This is good for those who can’t afford long periods to game
- Potty humor – If you stand still for a couple of seconds, Grimm starts peeing. ‘Nuff said.
What I didn’t like:
- Shallow gameplay – If it weren’t for the short play sections, you would get tired of the game very fast. The game is fairly linear and doesn’t involve much more than rudimentary platforming skills. Most of the time you are just running around an area trying to cover it in filth.
- “Meh” story – I’m not too familiar with the tale of “A Boy Learns What Fear Is.” It might have been better if Gametap led off the series with a more recognizable tale, such as “Little Red Riding Hood.”
- Simplistic graphics – You wouldn’t have guessed the game uses the Unreal 3.0 engine by just looking at it. While the great art-direction and atmosphere make up for it slightly, there’s no avoiding the fact that the game world looks dated.
What I Didn’t Care For:
- Leaderboards – I barely had enough motivation to finish the episode, much less replay it for time.
The first episode of American McGee’s Grimm is a mixed bag. While it’s basic premise and goal are intriguing and show signs of promise, the execution of the first episode falls a little flat. I’m curious to see whether later episodes have a noticeable improvement in story quality and deeper gameplay, but it’s definitely not at the top of my to do list.
If you’re looking for a relaxing and short gameplay experience on your PC, you could do a lot worse than episode 1 of Grimm. Since the first episode is downloadable for free here, you really have nothing to lose. For those of us with a backlogged games stack, though, there’s nothing here that will make you want to put it at the top of the queue.
Verdict: Passable, Try The Demo First
With the number of quality music and games releases increasing as we inch towards the fourth quarter, we here at My Day Will Come will be starting a new weekly feature entitled “My Day Has Come,” where we’ll spotlight the most noteworthy releases of the week.
This week sees a couple of great downloadable games along with the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
Madden NFL 09 (PS2/PS3/Xbox/Xbox 360/DS/PSP/Wii) – 8/12/08 – The latest edition of EA’s golden goose promises to be the best edition in years. A really cool feature of the 360/PS3 versions is the ability to save a highlight from a game and immediately upload it to the web youtube-style. Get the Wii version if you’re planning on playing a lot of local multiplayer, otherwise go 360/PS3 if you want a deeper single player or online experience.
Strong Bad’s Game For Cool Attractive People (Wii/PC) – 8/11/08 – Strong Bad and the Homestar Runner cast star in their first point and click adventure game. It’s the first episode of five monthly releases. Definitely check this one out if you’re a Homestar and/or adventure game fan. Read our review from yesterday for more detail.
Bionic Commando Rearmed (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) – 8/13/08 (360) and 8/14/08 (PS3/PC) – I loved the original Bionic Commando on the NES back in the early 90′s. Capcom reimagines Bionic Command for modern game platforms. The game is a 2d platformer/shooter combo with the unique twist in that you can’t jump. You can only use your bionic grapple arm to navigate. An early review from IGN’s Hilary Goldstein calls it “the best downloadable game to date on XBLA and PSN.” Strong words from the dude who gave Braid an 8.8 rating.
I gotta admit, Homestar Runner was a huge part of my college days. Every Monday my friends and I would eagerly wait for the latest animated Strong Bad email to be posted so we could watch and quote it for the rest of the week. Though I stopped following the site in recent years, I was still very excited when Telltale Games announced an episodic adventure game based on the Homestar Runner characters and world. After a two month delay, the first episode was finally released yesterday on Wii Ware and for the PC.
What I liked:
- Presentation – It’s obvious the creators of Homestar Runner were heavily involved in the creation of this game, as the writing and voice acting are straight out of the website. It plays like an interactive Strong Bad email and that’s what fans of the site want. The menu of the game is even structured the same way as the site.
- Controls – Point and click adventure games are perfect for the Wii. I played the game lounged on the couch with the Wiimote in one hand like a TV remote. It was surprisingly relaxing and natural.
- Graphics – Though the game isn’t in high definition on the Wii, the “2.5d” graphics are well suited for the console. The simplistic, cartoony style of the web-cartoon is held intact while also offering the smooth interactive animation that 3d modelling brings to the table.
- No dying – It’s never fun to have to continually save and reload in order to try out new solutions. Fortunately this game does not go there.
- Quick Jumping – Being able to warp to any location on the map was a huge time saver and helped out with the need to backtrack several places.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Obtuse puzzles – I got stuck in the game several times as it wasn’t quite apparent what my next goal was. Some of the tasks in the game aren’t very free-flowing and natural. Fortunately there’s a walkthrough conveniently placed on Telltale’s site so you can easily get “unstuck,” although it did feel like cheating.
- Tedious gameplay – Adventure games are by nature tedious, as oftentimes you need to resort to trial and error in order to progress. Though SBCGFAP is not an egregious offender, there is room for improvement. I hated how Strong Bad walks so slowly. I wished I could have held down a button to make him run faster. EDIT: Thanks to the many people who notified me that you can make Strong Bad run by double clicking/pressing.
- Dependency on prior knowledge – The humor and charm of SBCGFAP is almost entirely dependent on knowing the characters and references to the web cartoon. I didn’t understand the Whale Drive-Thru reference, but smiled knowingly at the tire in Strong Badia.
Things I didn’t care for:
- Mini Games – There’s a Snake Boxer 5 mini game that you can play in-game on Strong Bad’s Atari system knockoff as well as a Teen Girl Squad comic creation game. I didn’t really care for either, as I’m more of a main story kind of guy, but they’re there for you if you like that sort of thing.
- Photo Booth – You can pose Strong Bad in different costumes and take screenshots to send to your friends on the Wii Message board. A fun novelty, but not too compelling.
- “Achievements” – You will receive medals and commendations for collecting certain objects in the game. Without a tangible reward for doing so, I just didn’t feel compelled to go on scavenger hunts.
Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People is a fairly average adventure game on its own. The characters and world are what makes it stand apart from others. If you’re a big fan of the series, definitely buy this game as you will most certainly enjoy it. The writing for this game is equivalent to an above average Strong Bad email. It won’t blow you away, but won’t have you cringing, either. For those unfamiliar with the Homestar Runner world, watch a few of the cartoons (preferably from the early years) and see if you would enjoy it. The characters have great personality and lend themselves well to be the stars of an adventure game.
I played the Wii version of the game and it took me about 2 and a half hours to complete. At a $10 price point, you’re looking at about the same cost of entertainment as a movie ticket. If you don’t like adventure games or the Homestar Runner characters, you’re better off spending your money elsewhere. PC owners pay only $8.95 for the first episode ($34.95 for a season pass of 5 episodes). There’s also a demo you can download here for the PC if you want to try it first.
Verdict: For Fans Only
Millions of Playstation 3 owners can rejoice finally as the Holy Grail of firmware updates hits this Wednesday, July 2nd. Firmware 2.40 brings in-game XrossMediaBar (XMB) access along with infrastructure for the achievement trophy system. If you have eight minutes to kill, watch the video above for a walkthrough of the XMB features, otherwise here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of what you can actually do with the new XMB access in game:
- View your friends list and send/receive text messages
- Play your own music stored on the hard drive while playing a game that supports it (The list of games supported is unconfirmed right now)
- Connect/fiddle with your bluetooth device settings – this is most likely going to mean hooking up your bluetooth headset for voice communication in game
- Check the progress of your queued downloads from the Playstation Store
While this goes a long way in bringing the online feature set of the PS3 to parity with the Xbox 360, it’s still missing a few key features. Namely:
- Private voice chat
- Voice message capability
- Invite friends to a game
Arguably, these features are the most important for an easy online gaming experience. I always use private voice chat whenever I’m playing with a buddy because you can talk with them through game loading screens and such – something that you can’t do if you simply use the in game voice communications. Text messaging on a console is just a pain and being able to send invites directly from a friends list is a no-brainer. Still, one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I guess, as being able to see and communicate with your online friends in any form is better than the status quo.
Sony is also introducing the Trophies system with this update, which looks essentially like a carbon copy of the Achievements system on Xbox Live. Only a few first-party titles will support this at first:
- BUZZ! Quiz TV
- MotorStorm Pacific Rift
- NBA 09 – PS3
- PixelJunk Eden
- Resistance 2
- SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation
The main differentiating factor of the trophies system seems to be that instead of a composite “Gamescore,” you’ll be gaining endless “levels,” much like a MMORPG. There will also be three tiers of trophy “difficulties,” bronze, silver, and gold. Platinum trophies also exist, but you can only receive one for collecting all the other trophies in a game. It’s nice to see such a system in place, achievements have been a runaway hit in providing gamers with new goals to achieve and show off to their friends. Ideally, you would receive retroactive trophies for games you’ve already completed. Time will tell if that will actually happen.
Realistically, I see all future games for the PS3 supporting trophies as it’s low-hanging fruit for developers to bring further feature parity to cross-platform releases.
Sony hasn’t shown whether or not you can show off your PSN trophy profile on the web like you can with your Xbox Gamercard. Hopefully they’ll build in that community functionality as almost half the charm of achievements is being able to show off your e-penis to your friends and world when you’re not at your console.
Firmware 2.40 is a huge step for Sony in making us take the PS3 seriously when it comes to online gaming. However, it’s still missing some key features and hasn’t differentiated itself as being superior than the Xbox Live system in any way yet.
Here’s a video of Eric Lempel from Sony walking through the trophies system:
If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy 7 and own a PSP you owe it to yourself to play Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 ASAP. Just stop reading and head over to your favorite retailer and pick up a copy – you won’t be disappointed. If you’ve never played a Final Fantasy game before, or are on the fence about starting with this one, then read on.
Crisis Core is the prequel to what is considered one of the greatest role-playing games of all time, Final Fantasy 7. However, unlike other titles in the series, Crisis Core does not have a turn based combat system. Rather, you control one character (Zack Fair) in an almost real-time action title. Combat almost reminded me of my time with God of War: Chains of Olympus as there is a button to roll/dodge and one to defend. Quite often I would play encounters like I did with GoW, dodging and blocking judiciously. Make no mistake, though, the game contains elements that are undeniably Final Fantasy.
You’ll be able to use staple spells such as Cure, Firaga, and Esuna by equipping various materia. Final Fantasy’s signature summon spells also make a return. Thankfully, you can skip through the longish animations for the summon attacks once you’ve seen them. Zack can also use restorative items and equip materia that give him special melee attacks or boost his statistics. You can also customize your materia further by combining them via a process called “materia fusion.” I mostly ignored this option as it was very confusing as to what kind of materia you would end up with after combining two. Most of the time it felt as if I was not getting anything of value for my troubles. The option is there, though, if you like to customize every facet of your character.
Crisis Core’s “gimmick” is the Digital Mind Wave (DMW) system that governs when Zack gains an experience level as well as special attacks and bonuses while in combat. The DMW is essentially a constantly spinning slot-machine that doles out bonuses as certain number and portrait combinations line up. It may seem random and chaotic, but the underlying game calculations ensure that Zack will level up at a relatively steady pace throughout the narrative. The short term bonuses such as “invincible” or “no MP cost” make combat a bit more interesting, albeit slightly easy. There are no negative outcomes from the DMW, so you never feel cheated by it.
I finished the game with about 18 hours of time logged. If you rush through and only complete the main storyline segments, I imagine you could finish in about 12-15. However, that’s not all there is to the game. Crisis Core includes about 300 “missions” that you can access at any save point in the game. These missions are perfectly designed for portable gaming as they usually only take 3-5 minutes to complete. All of them have the ultimate goal of killing a monster, but some may require you to traverse more territory or kill more monsters along the way. Missions are a great way of progressing Zack as in addition to the experience you gain, you also receive at least one piece of treasure that will help you out in the main game. A word of warning: the missions may feel a little repetitive if you plow through a bunch in a row. They’re designed to be played in miniature chunks of time, such as when you’re waiting in line for something.
The pre-rendered cutscenes in the game are positively breathtaking. You’ll be amazed at the level of detail and presentation of the cinematics. The game’s plot starts off kind of slowly, as there’s a lot of cheesy dialog and cartoonish posturing by the characters. However, it picks up midway through and doesn’t let up until you finish the game. And let me tell you, the ending sequence of Crisis Core is absolutely epic. It’s done very well and definitely tugged at my heartstrings. I would go as far to say that it is one of the best game endings of all time.
If you’ve never played a Final Fantasy title before, Crisis Core would be a great way to jump in. The combat is very intuitive and fast-paced, but still introduces many concepts and abilities integral to the Final Fantasy experience. You’re not going to be able to get the inside jokes and character cameos that you would have if you had played Final Fantasy 7, but the game does not require you have that knowledge. Be prepared to do a lot of text reading and cutscene watching though.
And hey – any game that breaks the fourth wall and mentions an internet meme gets bonus points in my book.