Guitar Hero Live Review

Post by Patrick

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For those of you who don’t know, I was in charge of posting video game related posts in the now defunct Entertainment section of the blog. Since Mark merged that section with the rest of the blog, I’ll now be writing about video games in the B-Sides section while posting reviews of major game releases here on the main page. Last week Mark was able to hook me up with his contact at X-Cite who will now be sending me games to review on the blog every now and then, first up is Guitar Hero Live.

Guitar Hero became a massive phenomenon when it was first introduced back in 2005. Six games were released, 12 if you include the specialized versions of the series like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero Smash Hits. All those games were released within the span of seven years between 2005 to 2011. That’s nearly two games a year, which is a crazy number for such a short period of time. So when Activision announced Guitar Hero Live, it wasn’t a surprise that most people felt skeptical about it.

My only real experience with Guitar Hero prior to this was Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock at a friends house. And all I remember of that game was playing Muse’s Knights of Cydonia over and over again, trying to get a perfect score. It was a lot of fun and I could see why people obsessed over it and why Activision milked it for all its worth.

Guitar Hero Live is meant to be a fresh new take on the whole franchise. A reinvention. There are two main aspects to the game. Guitar Hero Live and Guitar Hero TV. Guitar Hero Live is the single player “campaign” mode where you play as a guitarist for different bands that Activision created for this mode. Each band plays a specific genre of rock, so the folk-indie band for example plays songs from real bands like The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men.

Like the name suggests, you’ll be playing live shows with these bands. Activision filmed a lot of footage to flesh out this part of the game. If you’re doing well in the song crowds will cheer, bop their heads to the song and your bandmates will be rocking out. If you start screwing up, crowds will start booing and yelling things at you while your band mates look on at you in disappointment or just insult you in some way.

I enjoyed this mode, it’s fun, it’s silly. The presentation is great, it feels fantastic when you’re playing a really challenging part of a song and the crowd erupts in joyful glee when you nail it. I just wish there were more songs and that it lasted longer. I’m also confused to why Rihanna and Skrillex would be in this guitar focused game, but they are.

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After you’re done with Guitar Hero Live, you’ll be spending a chunk of your time in Guitar Hero TV. Guitar Hero TV is an online only mode and is equivalent to old school MTV. You’ll find two channels that play music videos non-stop throughout the day. Each channel has their own set of programs. So there’s a program that just plays heavy metal songs while another just plays indie hits. These channels play music videos all day and you can jump in and play whenever you feel like it. Since this mode is online you’ll be competing simultaneously with other players who are playing that same song. At the end of each song you gain experience points and coins. Every time you level up you unlock various things like special abilities and player card designs. You’ll be able to spend coins in various ways, for example you can spend coins to increase specific stats like how often your special ability recharges. You can also spend coins to buy more play tokens (which I’ll discuss in a little bit).

Guitar Hero TV also includes the song catalogue which includes over 100 tracks. To play any of these songs you need to use a play token. The biggest point of focus in this mode are the play tokens. Every time you play a song, you use a play token. They’re limited. There are three ways to get play tokens. Every time you level up, the game gives you a bunch of tokens. If you save up enough coins you can buy them. Or you can use real money and buy tokens. The game also offers 24 hour unlimited play for the entire song catalogue for $6. One word to describe play tokens would be “controversial”. Some people hate it, some people get it. I’m in the latter. The reasoning behind Activisions micro-transactions in Guitar Hero Live is that they want to avoid what they did in the last generation. They don’t want to keep releasing Guitar Hero games or release a ton of paid DLC like Rock Band. Instead they want to build Guitar Hero Live as a platform. New songs that will be added to the game will be added for free. This direction doesn’t seem so bad compared to Rock Band where each song costs $2. We’ll see how it works out in the long-term but so far I’m optimistic.

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Putting all that aside, the game is fun. If you weren’t a fan before, I doubt this will change your opinion of it. But if you did enjoy the previous games, this game feels like a step up and a step in the right direction. I had a blast playing on my own and I also had fun playing the game in a group (Mark really sucks at it btw). If you attach a mic to the console, lyrics will pop up on screen and the game will keep score on vocals. You don’t actually have to own a proper mic either. A Playstation Camera or headphones/earphones (like the iPhone ones) with mics work. There’s also an official Guitar Hero Live iPhone app you can download on your phone that will connect to the game and turn your phone into a mic. You can also get a second guitar to add a second player and compete against one another. The game also does well for people who don’t normally play video games. I had guests over on the weekend and one of my guests doesn’t normally play any video games, but they were hooked on Guitar Hero the moment they grabbed the guitar.

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My biggest concern isn’t with the actual game but with the plastic guitar. The guitar itself looks good and it feels good to hold. But after playing the game over the weekend, one of the buttons was already giving me problems. Thankfully it was an easy fix. I had to open up the fret board (11 screws) and I found that there was some dirt on the inside of the button. Once I put it back together, the guitar was working like new.

Overall the game is a ton of fun and it’s something I’ll be playing for quite some time, especially when I have guests over. Hopefully they’ll add some Queens of the Stone Age or Foo Fighters, because this game could definitely use more of that. There’s a bit of an imbalance when it comes to the song selection in the game, there are too many recent hits and not enough grunge and alternative songs.

You can find Guitar Hero Live at X-Cite for KD31.9 which is a pretty great deal since it’s being sold for $99 in the U.S. My review copy of Guitar Hero Live was also provided by X-Cite.

Score:

Post by Patrick


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Buying Digital Cards in Kuwait

Post by Patrick

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Buying digital games is becoming a more realistic option with this recent generation of consoles. This is mainly due to the fact that the consoles all have big enough storage, support external hard drives and because our internet speeds are pretty decent so buying a physical copy of a game isn’t necessary anymore. This is positive, especially in Kuwait where games are expensive and since not every game is sometimes even available. On top of that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft discount a bunch of games for their consoles throughout the year. The problem for us in this region is that our gaming consoles only accept credit cards from the region you have your location set, which will always either be the U.S. or the U.K. So it’s good to know what websites offer digital codes that could be sent directly to your email.

Keep in mind that the only websites that support KNET are local. So if you’re planning on purchasing a digital code from Amazon, be prepared to use your credit card. So what’s the advantage of buying a digital code off Amazon? Well if you’re buying the $10 PSN card, it costs $9.99 which is equivalent to about KD3. $10 PSN cards in Kuwait go for KD3.750 to KD4 depending on the site you choose. If you have a credit card then there aren’t many disadvantages to getting a digital code from Amazon, the only one I can think of is that if you’re an owner of a Nintendo console, you’re out of luck since Amazon doesn’t sell digital codes for the Nintendo consoles.

For those who want to use Knet, we’re not short on options when it comes to local websites. Currently the websites that offer digital codes (to my knowledge) are Blink, X-Cite and GamesQ8. Digumz sells cards, but it’s unclear if they email the digital codes or not. The website that seems to have the best deals when it comes to PSN and Nintendo cards is X-Cite, but their Microsoft cards are more expensive than the others. GamesQ8 is generally pricier than the other websites and will only send you the digital codes through email only during their working hours.

It’s also important to note that if you’re looking for iTunes cards, both Blink and GamesQ8 currently sell digital codes.

Posted by Patrick


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Mohammed Taher, Brave Wave and the Generation Series

Post by Patrick

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I previously interviewed Mohammed Taher, the Kuwaiti creative director and founder of the Brave Wave record label. Since then he’s been busy helping in the releases of various projects like Keiji Yamagishi’s (Ninja Gaiden’s composer) first solo album, Shovel Knight’s soundtrack and an album by duo composers Saori Kobayashi (Panzer Dragoon) and Yumiko Takahashi (Suikoden) under the name of AKANE.

It doesn’t seem like he or Brave Wave take any breaks because they recently started a new label called the Generation Series. Under the Generation Series name they’ll be releasing definitive, remastered soundtracks of classic games. The first game they’re working on is Street Fighter II. The Verge recently interviewed him and sound engineer Marco Guardia about the challenges they faced working on such a huge project.

The project is interesting for various reasons. First of all, convenience. Video game soundtracks are hard to come by and when you do find them they usually cost more than they should because of rarity. The reason I personally think the Generation Series is interesting is the idea of preservation. Other forms of media (like film) have people restoring and preserving them. Preservation is a new concept when it comes to gaming, especially video game music, so I really appreciate Brave Wave taking the initiative.

It’s great to see Kuwait being represented by someone like Mohammed Taher, so be sure to visit Brave Wave’s releases page to support them.


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Halo 5: Guardians Out in Kuwait

Post by Patrick

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Markaz Al-Kuwait has started selling the collectors edition of Halo 5: Guardians seven days before the world wide release date and for KD150. Amazon in comparison is selling the collectors edition for $250 which is around KD75, so it’s obviously a lot more expensive here.

No word on if the regular version of Halo 5 is out yet, chances are shops will try to sell as many as these collector editions before making the regular, more affordable version available!

UPDATE: As Yousef points out in the comments, the Collectors Edition doesn’t even include a CD of the game, but a code to download it. So even if you buy this version of the game you won’t be able to play it until the release date.


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Zain vs WiMD Download Speed

Post by Mark

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The Star Wars Battlefront Beta just got released a few hours ago and both me and my brother started downloading it on our PS4’s at the same time. I have a 10Mbps WiMD connection in Salmiya while he has a Zain 4G LTE internet connection in Salwa. We started downloading around 9:30PM. By 11:30PM I had more than 5 hours left to complete the download while my brother with his Zain connection had 51 minutes left.

This isn’t a very scientific test obviously but it’s an interesting comparison nevertheless. With Zain’s new 1TB for KD20 a month deal, it might not be a bad choice at all.


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Metal Gear Solid V is Out in Kuwait

Post by Mark

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For the gamers here, Metal Gear Solid V is out in Kuwait ahead of the official launch date by 5 days. I picked up my NTSC copy from Kuwait Toys Center in Rihab Complex a few moments ago for KD20. Thats the cheapest price I’m aware of for the PS4 NTSC version as of this post in Kuwait. I think the shop is going to be open all day because of the rush for this game. When I was there at around 2:45PM there were three other people in the shop with me all there to get the same game. Not sure how many more copies he has but if you want one you could call them up and have them set aside one for you. [Link]


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The Kuwaiti Breakfast Game

Post by Mark

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Reyoog is a locally created breakfast game for the iPhone where the aim is to try and fulfill as many breakfast orders as you can in 3 minutes. The game is in Arabic without an option for English since the dialect is all in Kuwaiti. The game isn’t free, it costs 99 cents which might or might not be worth it for you. If you’re interested in downloading the game just look for “Reyoog” in the app store or click this [Link]


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Badilha Video Games App

Post by Mark

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Although visually not pleasing, the idea behind the Badilha app is a great one. Badilha is an app that allows you to buy and sell used video games in Kuwait. Currently your best option is usually heading to Rihab Complex when you want to do that or using my blogs classified section. But, having an app revolving around this idea is much more convenient. If you’re interested, the app is available for both [iOS] and [Android]


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Vintage Gaming Store

Post by Mark

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I found a cool vintage gaming store hidden in one of the many alleyways in Rihab Complex. There were a couple of other stores selling vintage consoles and games but this one had the largest collection by far.

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The store had a ton of stuff including the NES, SNES, N64, MSX (Sakhr), Dreamcasts, 3DO’s, Gameboys, Ataris, Master Drive, Saturns, Game Gears, and a whole lot more. The store also had old games and accessories to go along with the consoles.

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It’s difficult to explain how to find the shop but I’ll try my best to at least point you in the direction. If you take the escalator to the top floor of Rihab Complex, the store would be in one of the dark alleyways in front of you. It’s shop #4 and their phone number is 22626811.


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Tribal Rivals

Post by Mark

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Tribal Rivals is a new game by Lumba, a partly Kuwaiti owned studio based out of San Francisco. I posted about their previous game called Desert Tycoon back in 2012 and their new game is less of a sim and more of a Command and Conquer style combat strategy game.

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Tribal Rivals is set in early 20th century Arabia and is an epic story of revenge, leadership, and perseverance. The aim of the game is to lead your village, train your troops, start or join a tribe and wage battles against enemies and other players.

Like Desert Tycoon the illustrations are gorgeous and the game is free to download for both the iPhone and iPad. Get it [Here]


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