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Two Groundbreaking Titles Reviewed Years After Their Release
Published on March 17, 2009 By iTZKooPA In PC Gaming

In an effort to once again catch up my reviewing to my gameplay, I need to push out a collectiong of these quick reviews.  Most of these titles are being glossed over - rather than my normal, more in-depth reviews - for any number of reasons.  Be it time constraints, the title's age, their quality and mostly, because I want to do a 2008 Year In Review piece before the end of the first quarter!  First up on my list comes a trio of titles not even released in 2008, but ones I finished sometime during the past year.

Today I present you with a pair of quick reviews for essentially the same reason, you have probably heard plenty about these titles before.  In the case of Half-Life 2, I simply never got around playing the title after originally ignoring it.  For Rock Band, I didn't find the time to review it in a timely manner.  Both scenarios should not happen again, and as evidence of this, I have been a bit of a reviewing machine lately, covering F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, House of the Dead: Overkill and a pair of yet to be posted reviews for new (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2) and old (Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones) titles.

Rock Band (November 2007 - PlayStation 3/Xbox 360)

Rock Band's gameplay interface.

If you don't know what Rock Band is by now then you have been living under a large, hard object for quite some time.  Rock Band was developed by Harmonix (original creators of Guitar Hero), with support from MTV and distributed by Electronic Arts.  The team at Harmonix followed their breakout franchise by incrementing the main component - pretending to be a part of a band - to the extreme.  Instead of a lone guitarist strumming away to the tracks scrolling across the screen, Harmonix brought in the vocal, bass and drum aspects of songs to the fold.

The game itself is fantastic but there was some shoddy production on EA's part of instrument manufacture.  Countless drum pedals and guitar strums broke or failed to work correctly after light usage.  On top of those glaring defects in manufacturing, striking the drum was a very loud - and distracting - effort.  Annoyances aside, the core mechanics of the title are a resounding success, although I have gotten over playing the title solo.  Despite my personal shelving of the glorious rhythm game, it still makes its appearance when I have gatherings.  The title's quickly created sequel, Rock Band 2 (Wii/PS2/PS3/360), takes it the whole thing to the next level.  Both are worth the costly investments.



See, crappy plastic.

*NOTE: I find it incredibly annoying that titles like Rock Band, Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour (Rock Band's direct competitor) get away with charging so much for downloadable songs.  Rock Band (and its sequel) has surpassed 500 downloadable tracks since its release, garnering loads of disposable income from its players.  I can't help but blame the recording industry for holding back these games from truly blossoming.  One feature I would absolutely love is a mechanic that enables gamers to pull the songs they legally own into the title, and populate them with the same notes that have been developed.  We already own the song, but I would happily pay the developers for their hard work, just not the re-license fee.

Half-Life 2 (November 2004 - PC)

ln-depth story on its way.

Like Rock Band, Half-Life 2 does not need an introduction.  Before I started covering the gaming market as a journalist I refused to buy HL2 due to some hang-ups I had with the early Steam system.  When those were finally cleared up ahead of The Orange Box's (PS3/360/PC) release, I couldn't resist the purchase.  After finally experiencing everything HL2 had to offer, I can't believe what I was missing.  What a boob I was for getting hung up on principles.

Half-Life 2 was released in the same time frame of Doom 3, and boy does it blow that FPS out of the water.  Everything about it relegates id-Tech 4 - the engine behind Doom 3, Quake 4 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars - to a previous generation, with the exception of lighting.  The engine at the core of the title allowed Valve to craft diverse levels, multiple ways to dispatch your enemies (via inventive level design and the implementation of ragdoll physics), and an impressive use of vehicles all tied into a plot heavy title with fantastic production values. 

Vehicle combat against a chopper.

Half-Life 2 is a game that stands the test of time, holding up well to titles released years after it.  If you haven't played this game (hopefully you have a better reason than me) go grab it as soon as possible.  Although I pushed through Team Fortress 2 and Portal on the initial release of TOB, I will be going back to finish of off Episode 1 and Episode 2 after I complete my other lunch hour project, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.


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