Category: video games

Omega Pedals Review

So, I got my two Omega pedals (and twin rocker) two weeks ago.  And holy shit, wow. Amazing.

Having played drums for half my life now (15 years), they were easy to set up.  I had no issues figuring it out, like some reviews of Omega pedal have pointed out.  Since I’ve played Pearl pedals since I was old enough to afford them, it came naturally to me to set them up.

They do take some getting used to, which others have noted.  I probably could have done with just one, but why not get double bass, right?  You really need to hold the pedal down, which is what I’d call a downside, until you get used to it.  The way the pedal’s set up, if you let it bounce back even a little bit, it’ll register another hit, which you don’t want.

Another downfall is that the pedal(s) don’t clamp onto the drumkit as well as the stock plastic pedal does.  Which, if like me, if you have to move the drumkit from where it’s stored, to in front of the TV, becomes somewhat of a task.  You get used to, but it’s not as simple as “pick up and go” like it is with the stock pedal.

The pedal itself performs exactly as you’d expect a real drum pedal to.  It’s a Pearl pedal after all, they’re amazing.  Once you get used to the pedals, you certainly play better. With the stock pedal, songs like Aqualung were difficult for me, the repeatitive motion of constant bass pedaling, gets tiring. Especially when you’re fighting the reverse motion of the spring in the stock pedal.

My best percentage on …And Justice for All:
Stock pedal: 97% – 23 notes missed
Omega pedals: 99% – 1 note missed (boy was I bullshit, too.)

At first, you may have some difficulty with getting used to the pedal (should you buy it), but keep at it.  I notice that with the Omega pedal I can play for many more hours than I could with the stock pedal.

As I said, I’ve been drumming for 15 years now, and would say I have great drumming stamina.  However, the stock pedal that comes with the wireless XBox drums causes strain after an hour or so for me. My inner thigh would start aching.   I’ve yet to experience that with  the Omega pedals.  Even after playing for 4+ hours at a time.  My ankle hurts a bit, because I’m out of practice, but not my leg.

Overall, would I say the Omega pedal is worth it? Totally.  It may seem pricey, but factoring in the cost of that Pearl pedal, Omega Pedals really are a good deal. If you were to strip the electronics from it, you’d get a  good old Pearl P120 pedal, which sells for the exact same price as the Omega pedal.

I’m glad I got mine.  If you’re serious about Rock Band drumming, and want to bring your A game, you should spend the cash to get one (or two) of these Omega pedals. They’re amazing, and well worth the money.

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RockBand Drumkit Complete

I finally got all the stuff I wanted to incorporate into the Drumkit for Rock Band 2.   It’s pretty bad-ass, if I do say so myself.

Total cost is roughly $435 for everything, but totally worth it.   So much fun.   Check out the gallery below.

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  • RockBand 2 Drumkit: $80
  • Omega Twin Rocker: $25
  • Omega Pedals x 2: $130
  • Roc ‘N’ Soc Drum Throne: $165

RockBand 2 Mad Catz Cymbals Review

Update 12/16/2008: UPS just dropped a package from Mad Catz.   They didn’t fix my broken cymbal, they sent me an entirely new package, cymbal, mounting hardware and all.

No note included saying what was wrong, or anything, just a new cymbal.   It looks like it’s been handled, which probably means that someone tested it out to make sure it worked right, before they sent it to me (or that it’s a refurbished.)

I tried it out, and all seems well.   Kudos to Mad Catz for the excellent customer service.   Their site says 4 to 6 weeks, and it only took 12 days from drop off, to return.   I’m psyched.

Update: After playing for an hour or so this afternoon, it’s evident that one of my cymbals is defective.   It’s sometimes registering two hits, instead of one.   I called Mad Catz, and the guy I got was super friendly, extremely understanding, and set me up with an RMA.   He said the website suggested 4-6 weeks, but realistically, it’s more like 2 to 3.   I’ll update again when I get the new cymbal to see if it’s working properly.   I’m glad I didn’t just try returning it to Amazon to get another, they appear to be completely sold out everywhere I’ve checked today.   Glad I pre-ordered mine 3 months ago.

My Cymbals finally arrived last night, and I was psyched to get them.   Ever since they were announced, I’ve been excited about them.   The way I assumed they worked, was actually different than how they do work.   More on that later.

First, some images, to show how freaking cool they look:

The whole kitHi-Hat CymbalRide Cymbal

The cymbals certainly give the drums the look of a real drumkit (okay, at least a real electronic drumkit,) but how do they play?

They take some getting used to, that’s for sure.   I just got them last night, so I’m still in the adjusting phase. But right from the get go, my wife said “You look like you’re having more fun.”   Which I totally was.   It felt like I was playing more realistically than I had without the cymbals.

When I first bought the cymbals, I assumed that they would just act as extenders of their respective colors.   So when you’d hit the blue, it made whatever sound the blue one should at that specific point in time. As Rock Banders know, the drums pretty much all double as cymbals or drums, depending on the part of the song.   I was pleasantly surprised that the new cymbal pads are dedicated as cymbals.   So, if you hit the “ride” cymbal, it makes the ride cymbal no matter what.   Same for the hi-hat, and crash cymbals.

It may throw your brain off, when you hit the cymbal when it’s a tom-tom in the game, and you hear the wrong sound, but it won’t break your streak, or count against your overall score.   As long as you hit the right color, the sound that the game makes doesn’t matter.

My favorite thing about the other game, you know, that one I returned already, was that there were dedicated cymbal pads with their drumkit.   The Rock Band 2 drumkit, with the add-on cymbal pack (a measly $29.99) is 100% totally, absolutely better than GHWT’s, hands down.

The game is more fun when playing drums, with the cymbals.   It’s more realistic, and more creative.   I especially dig that during the “Overdrive fills”, you can be a lot more musical with the drums, with dedicated toms/cymbals.   If you’re a die hard drummer for a Rock Band band, you absolutely need to spend the $29.99 to get these cymbals, pronto.

Guitar Hero World Tour – Last Impression

I’ve decided, due to Amazon’s gracious return policy, to return the game, and get my money back.   While the documentation I’ve done as to the quality of the hardware is pretty in-depth, that’s not the reason I’m returning the game.

As you may know, from my earlier posts, my first drumkit was defective.   The second one did the same, so I contacted RedOctane to get the Midi to USB cable to use the tuning software they have, in hopes that maybe the second drumkit is a bit better.   After 9 days of waiting, it came today at work.   So I hooked it up when I got home, did the tuning, and played through about a dozen songs on drums. While it fixed the main bug (the snare wouldn’t respond when hit at the same time as the hi hat), it did not fix the same problem with the ride/crash cymbal, or any of the toms.   More or less rendering the drum part of the game useless.

That, in conjunction with the problems with the game itself, pushed me over the edge.   The game is almost $200, it’s not cheap. For it to be that imperfect, twice, out of the box, says something.

So, I packed it up, and will be dropping it back at UPS again tomorrow morning.   A shame, really.   Don’t get me wrong, I love Rock Band.   I love any game that I get to play a plastic guitar, or drums, or plastic anything.   I’m not a Rock Band fanboy, by any means, and that game has nothing to do with my decision to return Guitar Hero World Tour.   I’m returning the game because I don’t like it, and I don’t feel like it lives up to the hype that it’s getting online.

I’d be willing to bet that any website you read a positive review of the game on, is probably getting some form of a kickback for selling copies of the game. Whether it be affiliate links, or a direct payment from the makers, who knows.   But if you play the game, and pay attention, you’ll see how poorly it’s made.

The thing I noticed tonight, the most, is that the characters in the game aren’t really playing the instruments the way they’re supposed to.   I don’t know if I noticed that because I’ve been playing instruments for more than half my life, or if I’ve seen too many videos before MTV stopped playing them.   It’s evident that Guitar Hero World Tour is not made by musicians.   It’s like when you’re watching a music video, and you think to yourself “I think the guitar player’s faking it”, or “the drummer’s off beat.”   It’s the same thing with the game, but all the time. The only time I noticed the drummer was “right”, was at the very beginning of every song, when he clicked the sticks together four times, to count into the song.   It’s the little things, like that, that bugged me about the game.

I would have been happy to keep the game, and play it a lot, striving to finish the achievements for Xbox Live, like I do with most every game I play, but I just couldn’t.   I don’t want to rehash all the things I didn’t like about the game. You can read those below, in the other posts.

Guitar Hero used to be it.   My, how the mighty have fallen.

Guitar Hero World Tour – My Final Say

I’m sick, so I stayed home from work today.   After taking a nap, and feeling slightly better, I decided to try to finish the “single” tour, playing guitar, in Guitar Hero World Tour.

I was 81% done last time I turned the game off.   When I started today, I was somehow 79% done, go figure.

I had two sets left to go, each 6 songs.   I went through the first, on Expert, as I had been playing, without any issues.

The second set, I failed out of the Motorhead song, but passed it the second time. I failed out of B.Y.O.B. a whole bunch of times, so I dropped down to Hard, to get by that.   Same thing for Mr. Crowley (talk about a hard solo).

I got through Trapped Under Ice from Metallica, on Expert, without failing, which surprised me.

So, I finish the game, and play the “encore” (flying through the sky being pulled on a stage by giant eagles? Seriously, lay off the drugs Activision), which was fun. Pull Me Under, from Dream Theater. One of my favorite songs, from my absolute favorite band.     I was happy.

I got through it, backed out of the game, and saw that it registered 96% done.   Huh? I just watched the credits, how is that possible?   So, I went back through and did the “make your own gig” 6 song set list. Maybe I had to do that, to get to 100%.

Finished. No change.   I can only assume I didn’t get 100% because I didn’t finish the last set on Expert.   According to the Xbox achievements I won, I “completed the guitar tour on hard”, which is bogus.   I completed every song on Expert, except 2.

The way the game’s set up, there’s no way to know which songs I finished on which difficulty. (Unlike the more superior plastic-instrumented game, where you can clearly see which level of difficulty you played the song on.)   So I have no idea which songs I’d need to go back and play, should I want to do it in the future, for that award.

The bottom line: this game feels more like a chore, than a fun interactive game.   Activision tried, and came up short of the mark.   Those other game makers, at the better company set a pretty high bar, and Activision missed it, by a lot.   I’m still baffled why GHWT is getting such good reviews on Amazon.   The game play is cartoony, the “guitar heros” (Hendrix, Sting, Travis Barker, and Ozzy) aren’t even real guitar heros (except for maybe Hendrix), the songs are mostly unknown (except for those songs that people recognize because they were already in a plasticy-instrumented game earlier this year), and the setlists are stupid.

Let’s gripe about the setlists, shall we?   You see a setlist in the “gig view”, with more than 3 songs, and click on it, to start playing it.   You get the option to “play this whole gig”, but can only see the first three songs in the gig. So, if you want to see the whole thing, you have to back out to the “gig view” again, and view them.   Bad UI.

There are no “random” setlists.   There are no “mystery” setlists. And there’s only one “create your own” setlist.

I looked through the available achievements for Xbox Live.   One of them is to get $1,000,000 in career earnings.   Talk about stupid.   The most I earned from a song, playing on Expert guitar, was $1,250.   And that was solo. I’m sure the earnings would have been less had I had to split them with a whole band.   At that rate, I’d have to play 800 songs to get to a million.   And the game only has 85 tracks.   So, to get to a million, I’d have to 5 star every song, 10 times.   The songs just aren’t that good. I have no desire to play the majority of them again. (Although Hot For Teacher, Beat It, and La Bamba were all fun to play.)

Guitar Hero II was awesome. Guitar Hero III was awesome, albeit a bit too challenging.   Guitar Hero Aerosmith was a complete joke.   Guitar Hero World Tour is subpar for the industry.   If you want to stay in the game, Activision, you’ve got to step it up.   Whoever you fired between Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero Aerosmith was the key to you guys making good games.

I’d write my bit here about how much I liked/disliked the drum tour.   But since I’m on my second defective drumkit, I can’t.   I filed a second RMA almost a week ago, and haven’t heard back yet.   Activision must be backed up with tens of thousands of other people with broken stuff.   Sad, really.   Regardless, I have no desire to go back and play any of this game again, even if they do replace the defective drums for me, at no cost.   I’ll be packing the game up, and probably dumping it on eBay, like hundreds of other people, from what I’ve seen.

Save your $180, or buy the other, better game instead.   Those guys know how to do it right.   Activision, you’re embarassing yourself, and enraging “fans” of your games.   Stop it.   Or you won’t sell very many copies of whatever crapfest you put out next, and call a game.

RockBand Bandmate Arrived!

I was pleased when the FedEx man dropped off an unexpected package yesterday.   After all, I may not remember everything I’ve bought, but I certainly like getting packages.

I looked at the return address: ZCorp. Which I know, from my wife’s employment at Harmonix, is the company who prints the Bandmates, which I’d ordered more than 4 weeks ago.

I had already seen some of them in person, because they sent samples of tons of them to Harmonix, which Christine brought home. (There’s two samples in my cube at work, if anyone wants to see one in person, before buying.)

I am happy to report that the quality on the “real” bandmate is much superior to the samples we’d had.   The real one is amazing.   I took some really close up, high resolution shots, which can be seen here.

If you’re skeptical to drop $70 to get one of these things, here’s my word of advice:

Get your character exactly how you want in the game, and wait 2 weeks for it to update to the website.   Then order one.   These are the coolest collectible items you’ll own in a long time. (Unless you steal the original R2D2 from Lucas, in which cause, kudos.)

Guitar Hero World Tour – RMA Debacle

For those that read the first impression post,   here’s an update:

The game itself has gotten slightly more fun.   Not any less confusing, but at least somewhat challenging.   I’ve yet to even come close to failing a song on Expert guitar, but there’ve been some tricky parts. (On a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever used “there’ve” before. Fun times.)

Now, the drums:

Their support finally got back to me, and said they’d send me a MIDI to USB cable, so I could use their “tuning software”, which would fix my issue.

I didn’t want to wait 3-6 weeks for it, because (if you know me, you know) I’m totally impatient.   So, I picked up one myself at Radio Shack, and tried it out.


Back to Radio Shack to return. (Thanks Mom.)

I finally get the “support” guy to give me the okay to file an RMA, and he sends me the URL.   I fill it out Thursday, October 30th, at 7:42AM EST.

I get a response, today (November 2nd) at 11:09AM, telling me that yes, I can send my drums in. Please ensure I pay postage both ways, and wait for 2-3 weeks while they “test” my drums.

I respond with a “Are you f’ing kidding me?” (albeit a little more verbose than that.) to their suggestion I pay for shipping both ways.

I get home from my mom’s, where I was re-hooking up her electronic gear after having it removed to install new carpet in her house, and check out the Guitar Hero forums.   Hundreds of people pissed off about this as well. Many who simply returned the defective hardware to the store.   I even found one guy that tried 8 different versions of the hardware, then eventually got his money back from Best Buy.   Unreal.

So, I did what anyone would do, I went to Amazon’s site, and checked out their return policy.   Technically, I ordered it more than 30 days ago, but they only shipped in last week, so I’m safe.

I filled out a few short fields on a form, and in seconds I had a pre-paid printed label to return my defective item to them, a new copy being shipped to me, and a complete RMA completed.   It took me about 6 minutes total, 15 if you count packing up the broken game back into its box. (Glad I hadn’t tossed that yet.)

So, attempt two should be here sometime this week.   If that, also, is broken, I’ll be sending it back for a full refund. I’m not going to spend time shipping things back and forth, and hoping to get one that isn’t broken.   I’ll just go buy a copy of the game, and use any one of the other plastic instrument controllers I have. (6 plastic guitars, 3 plastic drumsets, 2 plastic microphones, FYI.)

Check back for an update when I get the second copy of the game later this week.   If it’s broken, there’s going to be hell to pay.   Ever heard of QA RedOctane? It’s the process where you test stuff you have made in China, before shipping it.   Maybe give it a whirl for your next game, eh?