As the resident games journalist here at All Good Things I was closely watching today's reveal of Microsoft's successor to the Xbox 360, now called the Xbox One. Normally, here (as is obvious from our name) we like to focus on the positives but I feel we need to raise awareness of an issue that's been building for quite some time within the games industry: publishers complaining that they are losing money on used game sales.
What exactly is it that makes the games industry feel entitled to complain about the first sale doctrine, which has been an important part of copyright and the economy since the beginning of time. From cars to comic books, all industries have understood the rights of the purchaser to buy from them, sell what they buy, or choose to buy their product from a third party at their own discretion.
Not game makers though…at least not anymore. In this day where games can sell 3.4 million new copies in a month but still be considered a financial disappointment, they instead focus upon how much more money they're losing because they can't just force people to only give their money directly to them.
Enter the Xbox One. Now I like my Xbox just fine. I'm not a fanboy for any console manufacturer right now; SEGA is my first and only love. However, Microsoft hopes to court publisher support by doing exactly what I mentioned above. The new Xbox One will require paying an added fee directly to Microsoft on every used or borrowed game. As a gamer, I cannot support that. I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that I am building equity on my purchases, which can later be used to buy more games, new or used.
How many great games have been released this year alone? If you can afford to drop sixty dollars every few weeks then good for you but many of us cannot and don't feel we should have to pay an extra ten, fifteen, twenty dollars on top of what we can pay as we would for anything else or conversely lose $10-20 on games we would like to sell if the market for used games drops proportionately.
In the past five years we have forked over while publishers slash out content to sell piecemeal as DLC; we've had to deal with online passes (which the Xbox One also integrates on a hardware level) and worse. Don't stand for this because the more you let them take from you, the more they will try to take. You have other options like the Wii U or the upcoming Playstation 4, neither of which currently have plans to do anything like this.
UPDATE: Apparently, XBOX is playing damage control disavowing that any of these used game fee strategies will be put into place and saying only that the new system has the ability to implement such a pricing strategy at a future date. Uh-huh. http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/05/21/xbox-one-fee-for-buying-used-games-full-retail-price/
However, this story is not one of love; rather, it tells the tragedy of the American Dream gone wrong. In “The Great Gatsby,” this thought-provoking message is mixed in with heavy partying, especially considering the story takes place during the roaring 20s. All of the characters are a dangerous combination of rich and bored. The most outstanding aspect of the film’s production, other than DiCaprio's performance, is its anachronistic use of music. One moment you're listening to George Gershwin, the next it’s contemporary rifts from Jay-Z. Interestingly enough, this actually works for the movie. It represents the spectacular social divide between the 1% and 99% we see today.
The lack of subtlety can be grating but it's obvious that director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge) intended for the material to be loud. It's over-the-top, extravagant parties, filled with glittering chandeliers and armies of servants, signifies the careless elite partying as if it were the end of the world (which it almost was; the Great Depression was right around the corner). All of this is enhanced (or worsened, depending on your stance) by the dramatic CGI effects. Admittedly, it was quite aggravating at first. But ultimately it seemed befitting to the film - representative of the Roaring Twenties and also refreshing after the 1974's dull, melancholy version.
Leonardo DeCaprio is at the top of his game here. He was practically born to play Jay Gatsby, an irresistible gentleman in the sun who hides a secret in the dark and longs for a woman who may never be his. His mix of desperation, hope, outlandishness and love comes through incredibly, making you both love and hate him--exactly what I like about the character of Jay Gatsby. I wasn't too impressed with the rest of the cast, with the exception of Joel Edgerton, who plays Tom Buchanan. Tobey Maguire was decent, nothing stellar. I was a bit disappointed with Carrey Mulligan's performance though, as she failed to convey the duality of her character effectively.
"The Great Gatsby" is a wonderful story, and I enjoyed seeing the book brought to life in a way that stayed true to the text.I was impressed with how they managed to portray the characters complexly, and the multi-dimensional story itself. If you're not into lavish, over the top filming, then this probably isn't for you. If you can withstand quick pan zooming and the ravenous party scenes, then go check it out -- at least at a matinee.
What did you think of the film old sport?
Byline: Tabria Majors
It's here! Daft Punk's highly anticipated new thirteen track album "Random Access Memories" has finally arrived. But the question I'm sure you're all asking is: “is it worth my time?" Well, luckily we here at All Good Things make it our business to help you answer just that. We have listened to the new CD in its entirety and now, for your convenience, we have prepared a track by track breakdown of the whole album so you can hopefully better decide whether "Random Access Memories" is for you.
1. Give Life Back To Music
Setting the tone of the album early on is this nu-disco track that, while not pushing any boundaries, is pleasant enough and has some energy behind it.
2. Game of Love
Slowing things down a little, this entry is one for the ladies, or at least when the ladies are around if you follow. It's smooth and has some wistful lyrics
3. Giogrio By Moroder
Opening with a little anecdote about George's past and how important the synthesizer has been to his music making process, this one uses both modern and 70's style synthesizer sounds to move between acid jazz territory & back again.
Continuing with the jazzy sound of of the previous track, this one is much more loungy with piano & of course again synth bending along with a simple analogue drum beat & Daft Punk's signature styled vocals over top.
5. Instant Crush [BETTER]
One of the catchier & more accessible tracks on all of "Random Access Memories". It mixes wanky electric guitar thrown in for good measure and a hook that can easily get stuck in your head if you're not careful.
6. Lose Yourself To Dance
Taking a break from the vocoder, this track has some falsetto vocals with okay some vocoder on backup but the rest of the samples are also mostly analogue. Although almost exclusively dance tracks, if there's one track on this album I'd have pegged as its club single, this would be it.
This could best be described as spacey and what the inside of Daft Punk's stomach must sound like. It starts off as dissonant but builds and layers into harmonies and melodies. It's not instantly accessible like "Instant Crush" but enjoyable upon multiple listening.
8. Get Lucky [BEST]
And we're back to nu-disco. It's pleasant and also a contender for this album's big club single but there's not much more that can be said about it beyond that.
Now this track is different, it begins with sweeping orchestral music before moving into a funky jam with slide guitar of all things. I've heard people mix urban and country sounds before and it works again here.
If you're expecting this one to be really lo-fi, think again. This does use some of that but mostly its sound is built around acoustic guitar, violin, flutes and a subtly tribal drum beat for an ambient, instrumental experience which I always enjoy.
11. Fragments of Time
Again this has an almost country sound to it but now its mixed with adult contemporary. If you were looking for a tune to introduce your mom or dad to Daft Punk with, this would be the one.
12. Doin' It Right (feat Panda Bear) [BESTEST]
This I like. It's low fi, has phat bass & blends that with a sense of new wave. It sounds like a mash-up more than anything and I am a sucker for a good mash-up.
13. Contact [BETTER]
After so many four-four drum loops in this album, "Random Access Memories" closes with a refreshing & envigorating break beat through a traditional drum set with a wall of noise that builds to a crescendo before drifting off.
As you can see from the notes in brackets, if I to pick out personal favorites they would be "Instant Crush" & "Contact" but most of all "Doin' It Right.” Overall, "Random Access Memories" is a laid back collection of nu-disco with a bit of an electronic and jazzy edge and a lot of vocorder. If you're a fan of any of these sounds or genres, then this album would definitely be worth your time and it is available now through all your traditional music outlets, as a whole or by piecemeal if you prefer.
Kid Cudi's third studio album takes listeners on a dark, psychedelic journey through the artist's psyche. Cudi is known for pushing the envelope with his music and aims to reinvent himself after each release. He took complete control of this album by essentially writing and producing the entire project, which is a feat unbeknownst to most rap/hip-hop artists.
While Indicud hasn't won Cudi any new fans amongst critics, it certainly has warranted him respect. The focal point of this album is whether Cudi can create an entire musical project by himself. Hence, you have extended instrumentals and tracks where he may take the backseat in lyrics and focus on production. This is most apparent when he collaborates with rhymeslayer Kendrick Lamar on "Solo Dolo Part II". While Lamar brings consistent lyrical fire ("Eternity, no such thing as time will tell / Infirmary, burn like magnetic combustion / Bad credit with me, and paramedics are hustling"), Cudi produces rather uninspiring lyrics ("Searching all day in the streets for DMT / Don't sip it, though -- it couldn't answer / Drip, drip all day -- bumping' MGMT, homie"). Granted, it is difficult to hang with the likes of a superior wordsmith, such as Lamar, but Cudi could have given us a bit more substance.
"Young Lady" is cut from the same cloth as "Erase Me," but achieves the "rock 'n' rap" feel Cudi is known for. To those who cannot stand the wailing (me), it will infuriate. This distribution is followed fairly evenly throughout the rest of the record: "Red Eye" is a melodic gem, "Solo Dolo Part II" is a love/hate affair, and the hook on "Girls" should have never happened--actually the entire song could have been cut. Too $hort is damn near 50--definitely too old for all that; however, there are solid features from Lamar, A$AP Rocky, the RZA, and King Chip which makes for a strong guest list that oftentimes masks Cudi's deficiencies.
Though Indicud isn't the best we've received from Kid Cudi, it definitely shows that he's trying to cultivate and hone is sound. We have to reward him for his boldness because there are since great moments on the album. Though this wasn't a personal favorite, I can appreciate the fact that Cudi was trying to create an original, fresh, and unique album without the creative constraints of a label.