Civilization V: Brave New World - banner

One of my biggest criticisms with the Gods & Kings expansion pack for Civilization V was that none of the features added really felt all that fresh. They were just redesigns of old features that were present in previous games. Granted, they were also the most highly-requested features by the player community, but as concepts, nothing really felt new or original.

The new expansion, Brave New World changes all of that by adding never-before-seen concepts to the game, and they add a great deal of flavor and dramatically change the way that the game unfolds.

Table of Contents

A few more of the missing concepts from Civilization IV are re-introduced with a new coat of paint in Civilization V: Brave New World: trade routes and a world resolution system. Both systems are implemented differently than in the previous game, and both are kind of hit-or-miss this time around

I have long been asking for the introduction of some kind of international trade route mechanic to be added to Civ V. Without such a feature, the vanilla game (and Gods & Kings) were missing one of the key incentives to maintain peaceful relations with your neighbors. Well now we have such a feature. In some ways, it's a step forward from Civ IV's completely non-interactive trade routes, but it's also a bit clumsy.

Civilization V: Brave new World - coastal city
Coastal cities might seem weaker due to the lack of gold on sea resources, but sea trade routes are more profitable and have longer range than ground routes, so coastal cities are still valuable.
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This review was originally published 01/21/2011 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). It has been republished here for archival purposes.

Rock Band 3

Across-the-board interface improvements and incredible new Pro Mode make this the definitive music-rhythm game!

This review is a bit belated. This is mostly due to the fact that I didn’t want to write a full analysis of the game until I had a chance to play the new PRO guitar mode, the controls for which weren’t available publicly until late December. So if you’re still on the fence about purchasing this game even though it’s been out since October, I hope this review helps.

Rock Band 3 - PRO instruments
Three new controllers for PRO Mode (top to bottom):
Fender Mustang controller (available late November 2010) has 102 buttons to simulate the lower 17 frets.
Fender Stratocaster Midi guitar (available spring 2011) is a console-agnostic, fully-functioning, 6-stringed guitar equipped with pressure sensors in the neck for finger-placement detection.
MadCatz Keytar (available at game release, but sold separately) is a two-octave midi keyboard that can be used to play keys, guitar, or bass parts of songs.

Analysts and sales numbers may be suggesting that the music-rhythm genre is dying, but Harmonix isn’t letting that stop them from trying to innovate. Rock Band 3 is a very ambitious project that adds a whole new instrument (the keyboard) and attempts to incorporate REAL INSTRUMENTS into the gameplay. I am thrilled to say that both of these new marquee features work excellently!

Rock Band 3 cover art

The game’s menus and interface have also been streamlined to include more filters for selecting songs and new menu widgets for each player that they can open and close anytime they want to change settings, drop in or out, customize their characters, and so forth. Speaking of character customization, you now have much more options for creating your characters’ faces by mixing, matching, and editing different parts of the face (similar to the customization options allowed in The Sims).

I bet you all want to know about how the new PRO Mode feature works, so I won’t waste anymore time, and I’ll dive right into this ground-breaking new feature:

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Foo Fighters - Washlight

I came across this story on Google News a little while ago:

Apparently, while performing a song from their new album Wasting Light, Dave Grohl (of my favorite contemporary band, the Foo Fighters) caught somebody picking a fight in the audience.

Grohl stopped the performance mid song to curse out the man who started the fight and have him kicked out of the arena. "You don't fight at my show, asshole," he started saying, "I don't put up with that bullshit. You people come here to have a good time, and that guy can fuck off!"

A video of Grohl's outburst is provided below:


Dave Grohl kicks out a brawling attendee at a Foo Fighters concert.

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HARMONIX

Late last year, Viacom decided to sell the game developer Harmonix. Rumors suggested that Electronic Arts or even Activision might buy them out. Fortunately for the consumers, neither of those rumored deals was made! We all saw how Activision handled its ownership of Guitar Hero, effectively running the franchise (and possibly the music-rhythm genre, itself) into the ground by release one or two games every year! And we all also know how Electronic Arts's EA Sports brand has handled Madden NFL over the past 6 years with all competition in the pro football gaming market being effectively stamped out.

No, fortunately for us gamers, Harmonix decided to set up a holding company in order to buy themselves and once again become an independent developer.

As stated in an interview between Joystiq and Harmonix founder and current Vice President Chris Rigopolous, Harmonix has also severed ties with Viacom-owned MTV.

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A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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