Cheryll Del Rosario: The last time I seriously struck a pose while dancing I was probably 8-years-old and wearing a tutu during a ballet recital. I was doing pretty well keeping that streak running until DanceMasters came along. Instead of utilizing the Kinect to teach you legitimate choreography, you can decently play DanceMasters by just hitting key poses during the routines. It’s essentially Vogueing in slow-mo, but instead of feeling fabulous you’re left confused, wondering if the developers just removed the arrows from another Dance Dance Revolution/Para Para Paradise game.
Above: The epitome of modern, hip dance moves
Musically you’re treated to typical Eurobeat found in games like DDR or, worse, horribly uninspired interpretations of Hip Hop, R&B or Pop with songs you’ve never heard of. There are no visual cues to tell you what moves are coming next, the choreography all feels vaguely similar regardless of what genre of music you’re playing, and while it allows two people to play together simultaneously we found that the chance of whacking someone was exceptionally high due to how close you had to stand next to each other. My heart goes out to those that confused DanceMasters for its wildly superior competitor Dance Central for that is the only way I can imagine how it ended up in the homes of most of the people that bought it.
Mikel Reparaz: The downside of getting to review games professionally is that, if you end up hating a game, you can’t just call it quits and declare it awful. You have to stick it out through every lame firefight, every poorly constructed platforming sequence and every idiotic cutscene, all the way to the miserable conclusion. That’s how I remember Quantum Theory: a nightmarishly endless slog that I couldn’t escape. Not because it was particularly long or challenging, but because its unforgiving checkpoints, hideously unfair boss battles and cheap instant deaths kept me from finishing it as quickly as I so desperately wanted to.
Above: The texture application technique known as Gears of Warflbarlblfl
QT was widely derided for being a cruddy Gears of War clone, but if that were its chief problem, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as bad. Sure, grunting hero-slab Syd had no personality, his enemies were thuddingly repetitive idiots, and most of the cool-looking firearms were about as useful and impactful as your average wet sock. But it wasn’t until the game started to have ideas of its own – like giant floating worm-platforms that required carefully timed leaps of faith in order to grab on – that it went from mediocre to wretched. Not even the self-rearranging levels or the ability to hurl my sword-wielding sidekick at enemies could make the experience bearable.
Final Fantasy XIV
Tyler Nagata: I thought I was ready for Final Fantasy XIV. I’d heard that it wouldn’t be the easiest MMO to get into - this, coming from a longtime FFXI fan, who had his own love/hate relationship with the last Final Fantasy MMO. But I didn’t care. The game looked gorgeous and I was ready to give it a go. What I wasn’t prepared for was a chat system so dated that it felt like it was pulled from an old dial-up bulletin board system, menus that made no sense, “tutorial” quests that tossed you into the fire with no explanation at all, and then there was the lag.
Above: The tarot card says that all signs point to "suck"
It’s hard to get that immersive MMO experience when you have to wait for NPCs and other players’ avatars to load every time you enter a crowded area. Like a Frankenstein monster made up of all the worst parts from every MMO I’ve ever played, FFXIV was frustrating, and left me feeling lost in a world that never seemed to load properly.
Above: Excitement abounds
In the end, I decided to install World of Warcraft: Cataclysm to feed my loot lust. FFXIV is still installed on my computer, but until Square makes an MMO that works, I’ll be patiently waiting for my chance to ride a Chocobo mount and learn Meteo, or whatever it is that FFXIV players are doing these days.
Rock Band 3
Chris Antista: I think the industry has gotten the message by now, but if I may reiterate the sentiment of my poor, poor live-in girlfriend, who’s tired of kicking through a living room cluttered like closing time at day care: I don’t need any more plastic instruments! So… did you know Rock Band 3 has a brand new keyboard instrument?! It’s true! Sure, it’s approximately $80 in addition to the cost of the game… BUT, for an additional $40, I can buy a MIDI adapter and make real music?
Above: Pretty much…
Never mind that this is more than the cost of an actual low-end keyboard with more than twenty-five keys: I DON’T WANT TO DO THAT. Couple that with several dozen Mad Catz accessories, like 100+ button instruments, electric drums, and real guitars, what justification does Rock Band 3 have for existing other than pimping absurdly priced controllers that purport to turn you into a For Realz Rocker?
Above: Extra fingers and Buyer’s Remorse sold separately
Honestly, how much are you expecting for people to pay just to play? I tried my hand at playing music, it didn’t take, and I’ve accepted that. Besides, the ship has sailed on guitar games acting as a gateway to real musicianship, and the only people who still care about a new Rock Band game are - you ready? - gamers. I love the Rock Band series, but for regular RBN shoppers, the physical disc editions are only as strong as their setlists, which must now justify the existence of a new instrument I never wanted in the first place.
Above: Just sayin!
With all due respect to Sir Elton John, I was more than a little let down by the ivory-centric track choices and repeated songs from bands I desperately wanted to play in Rock Band, but hey, that’s disappointment I’m used to dealing with. However, I’d rather die (or play Power Gig) than ever hear Smash Mouth’s “Walking on the Sun” or Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” emanating from my entertainment center, and the person responsible for adding space-hippie horseshit like Yes deserves to have their dick bashed in with their favorite bong.