Jukebox: Best Songs from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s Flash FM

It doesn’t take much to comprehend why Vice City is universally lauded as one of the GTA franchise’s best: Nothing comes close to its impressive 80’s playlist that adds so much authenticity to the game’s setting.

 

Among Vice City’s many radio stations, Flash FM deserves special mention for its powerhouse selection of 80’s pop and pop-rock hits. Guaranteed to bring on the nostalgia, this list will take you back to the golden era of “Morning in America”.

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Yes – Owner of a Lonely Heart
“Owner of a lonely heart, much better than an owner of a broken heart~”

A Grammy-nominated, pop-rock number by the British band YES, Owner of a Lonely Heart offers gentle lyrical delivery with punchy percussion that makes for easy listening. For all the lonely singles out there seeking a motivational boost, this song encourages you to be brave in your pursuit for the perfect romance. “Give your free will a chance”, as YES succinctly puts it.

Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
“People always told me be careful what you do, don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts~”

Iconic would the word to describe Billie Jean. Capturing the very essence of pop music’s golden era, Michael Jackson’s 1983 number continues to be one of the best-selling singles worldwide. I have a feeling any further attempts to describe this legendary song would do it a great disservice, so a listen is highly recommended:

Bryan Adams – Run to You
“Cause when the feeling’s right, I’m gonna run all night, i’m gonna run to you~”

A personal favorite of mine, Bryan Adams’ Run to You exudes immense passion with his trademark husky vocals and beautiful guitar accompaniments. While the lyrics point to the persona cheating on his girlfriend, it actually depicts Adam’s utmost love for playing music such that it becomes a mistress in his relationship. Not sure about the cheating, but the ardor oozing from this song we can definitely agree with!

Laura Branigan – Self Control
“A safe night, I’m living in a forest of my dream~”

There’s something about the instrumental jingling in this song that makes it a perfect complement to a long, relaxing night drive. A cover of the original song by Italian singer Raf, Branigan’s version strikes a delicate balance between electrifying rock riffs and synthesizer effects, creating a perfect pop-rock blend for listeners’ enjoyment. That’s some self-control there indeed.

Halls and Oates – Out of Touch
“You’re out of touch, I’m out of time, but I’m out of my head when you’re not around~”

Nothing screams 80’s pop as much as the iconic synthesizer sound, and Halls and Oates’ love piece delivers without fail. With soothing vocals and a catchy chorus to boot, Out of Touch is sure to stick around in your head for a while after you’re done – and for good reason.

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Jukebox: Best Songs from Fallout 3 and New Vegas

Known for using famous American swing tunes dating back to the 1930s, the latest installments in the Fallout series prove a great introduction to the cheerful atmosphere of a bygone era in US music history.

 

In addition to being used as a form of dramatic irony to emphasize the bleak nature of life in the post-nuclear wasteland, these swing songs are perfect for a leisurely listen and could very much brighten your day:

Kay Kyser – Jingle Jangle Jingle
“Though I may have done some fooling this is why I never fell~”

A song celebrating the carefree aspects of singlehood, this joyous number by Kay Kyser is both catchy and crisp in its delivery, and will definitely have you, I quote, “riding merrily along”.

Jack Shaindlin – Let’s Go Sunning
“Life’s worth living, If nature’s giving~”

Revel in the joy of the outdoors with Shaindlin’s song as she sings about enjoying life on a beautiful day. A feel-good song that calms the soul, Let’s Go Sunning reminds listeners that life’s high points make the entire journey worthwhile.

Bob Crosby and the Bobcats – Way Back Home
“The love the liveliest, the life the loveliest, way back home~”

A more mellow, soulful track that expresses the homesickness of a man far away from home, Crosby croons about the little things – from nature to the pretty girls – that make home truly the sweetest place. Through Crosby’s song comes a reminder to appreciate the small things in life.

Dean Martin – Ain’t That A Kick in the Head
“How lucky can one guy be? I kissed her and she kissed me~”

Oozing pure class and jazzy finesse. Martin’s Ain’t That A Kick in the Head depicts the elation of experiencing requited love. Going through the flurry of happy thoughts in a man’s mind when his interest is reciprocated, many who have been/are in love can definitely relate with the smoothly-delivered lyrics.

Such is the allure of the song that it was used in a winning dance routine for one episode of the popular US talent show Dancing with the Stars. A timeless classic, that’s for sure.

Cole Porter – Anything Goes
“Good authors too, who once knew better words, now only use four-letter words, writing prose… Anything goes~”

Anything Goes is about how life continuously changes, with social norms never remaining the same over time. The song touches on changing dress codes, the acceptance of previously “mad” behavior and other societal shifts that people still contend with today, but does it in a catchy, lighthearted manner that’s pleasant to the ears.

E3 Conference: EA receives lukewarm response, teases next Mass Effect

Industry behemoth Electronic Arts reveals more of the same with little depth, draws some excitement with new Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge and Star Wars Battlefront titles.

 

Speak with any gamer and you’ll find that EA Games garners a mixed reaction among the community. The biggest company in the industry, EA has many IPs under its belt and several deserving accolades for outstanding titles. However, the company also possesses a fair share of disappointments and flops, with accusations of EA “butchering” or “milking” franchises not unheard of.

Such mixed sentiment was evident in the audience’s reception to yesterday’s conference, where more CGI trailers were shown than actual gameplay footage. Aside from the usual slew of sports games, a few titles did garner interest from conference-goers. Among them, Mass Effect: Andromeda. 

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One of the accolade-winning cornerstones of EA and also one of the best universes I’ve ever experienced, BioWare’s story-rich science fiction franchise was teased at the start of the show.

While Andromeda’s development is in its early-mid stages, the CGI-trailer frames the main character as a maverick lawbringer with the accompanying country song: “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash. As being a lone maverick is a tough business in a harsh and dangerous galaxy, BioWare hints at the return of a multi-racial team of aliens and humans with an extremely brief cameo of a Krogan trailing the hero as he rushes down the hill against unknown adversaries. (refer to the image above)

Like Commander Shepard before, the protagonist sports N7 armor and will probably be an elite human soldier working for Earth’s Systems Alliance Navy. As a captain of his/her own ship, players would be able to visit a diverse range of environments and solar systems, as exemplified by the faceless protagonist’s browsing through the ship’s navigational interface during the opening moments of the video.

Unfortunately, EA did not have any BioWare representatives on-stage to elaborate more on their latest project despite having stirred anticipation among the masses.

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The return of a “Mako”-like ground transport hints at a stronger exploration focus reminiscent of the very first Mass Effect title, which remains my favorite.

With a no-show from the BioWare developers – who are probably busy working on this title – at EA’s conference this year, it is likely that more information will be revealed in next year’s conference. As BioWare is known for creating extremely-polished RPG experiences, patience will thus be key as its studios need time to work their magic.

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While a detailed demonstration was also lacking with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, the second story in the innovative, parkour-esque franchise seems darker and grittier, looking more mature compared to the dreamy appearance of the first.

The protagonist, Faith, is also sporting a more mature (and pretty attractive) look with smoky eye make-up and a stylish bob haircut, perhaps a cue towards her growth as a character in accordance to Catalyst’s more serious circumstance.

The trailer reveals that Faith’s personal history will be a significant part of the plot, alongside a major uprising against the totalitarian regime that governs The City – with Faith probably being the central “catalyst” of the movement. While the first game focused mainly on the parkour/free-running aspect, the trailer of the second installment looks more confrontational in that combat is frequently displayed – probably a nod to an improved combat system and a more action-oriented game direction.

A series known for having a distinctively slick visual style and good storytelling, I look forward to what Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has to offer when it releases on 23 February 2016.

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The only blockbuster title with gameplay footage demonstrated to the audience, Star Wars: Battlefront received cheers upon the conclusion of its gameplay trailer.

Building on the successful Battlefield formula, Battlefront appears pretty impressive with the epic sense of scale presented in-game, with infantry skirmishes in the trenches happening as towering walkers piloted by enemy players approach. All this, while the iconic TIE-fighter and X-Wing aircraft engage in dogfights in the chilly skies of planet Hoth.

Interesting combat equipment is prevalent in the game, as we witness rebel soldiers deploy a shielding device that renders them invulnerable from an Empire orbital strike. Furthermore, players will get the opportunity to enter the fray as major characters from the films, such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, with overpowered force abilities and lightsaber combat to boot.

For those who have been observing this multiplayer title closely, Star Wars: Battlefront arrives 17th November this year.

Having talked about these hard-hitting projects by EA, one non-blockbuster game that caught my attention during the conference was the puzzle-platformer Unravel.  From the outset, it has a beautiful design and is likely to be driven by a meaningful story.

Although the developer seemed quite nervous on stage and the audience’s reaction not as lively as that of Battlefront, Unravel is looking to be quite a piece of interactive art worth following in the meantime.

In case you missed it, catch the EA conference below:

E3 Conference: Bethesda wows with DOOM Remake, Fallout 4 Details

Bethesda kicks off its inaugural conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo with major testosterone, follows up with first-class tickets aboard the Fallout hype train.

 

At 10 o’clock yesterday morning (GMT+8), the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) began with a no holds barred display of gibs and ultra-violence, with Bethesda fanning the fires of gamer excitement with the official, in-depth unveiling of its DOOM project.

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A beast of a game that pays homage to the very first First Person Shooter game for the PC – and also my first ever PC game: DOOM, this upcoming incarnation of the franchise seems to discard the survival-horror path taken by its immediate predecessor DOOM 3.

Instead, id Software has chosen to reinstate the no-nonsense, buckshot-spewing, demon-slaying, faceless marine protagonist (aka DOOM guy aka the truly merciless anti-anti-Christ) from the first two installments. This is furthered with the rehashing of iconic audio elements from the 1993 game for use in the upcoming title – players of the former will definitely recognize the door opening sound and the bass riff that plays at the beginning of the trailer above. Oh, and how can one forget the purr of the chainsaw.

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The average person needs thrice the number of family jewels to take on the Cyberdemon, DOOM Guy doesn’t.

Featuring top-notch graphics and visceral combat on top of its nostalgic appeal, DOOM is looking to become a blockbuster action-packed shooter for Spring 2016, the date of its release.

One defining feature of the id Software sharing segment was the announcement of a DOOM: SnapMap system – a streamlined design platform that allows the average player to generate new content  (missions or maps) using DOOM’s very own assets, regardless of their background in modding or game design. Whether this pro-community move will prove revolutionary or end up as a white elephant, we will have to wait and see.

Until then, things are looking peachy for this legendary franchise.

Fallout 4

For Fallout 4, Bethesda has revealed much more about the highly-anticipated game. Clearly the trump card of the developers, the game’s presentation section was selected as the closing act for its conference, with fans cheering loudly when developer Todd Howard took the stage.

The conference confirms the assessment that the voiced protagonist will be someone who has seen the pre-war daysAlso, players of Fallout 4 will have at their disposal heavy customization capabilities  with the incorporation of an in-depth crafting system inspired by Bethesda’s earlier success with The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

From the ability to alter one’s facial features, down to weaponry, power armor and even one’s own settlement, Howard’s presentation drives home the point that Fallout 4 will be as player-centric an interactive journey as possible.

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It’s incredible how much attention to detail was displayed in the trailer. I’ve always wanted my tin man suit to look more ominous.

Fallout 4 is scheduled for release on 10th November 2015. Coupled with the good news is the release of a free-mium Fallout: Shelter game on iOS and Android, in which you manage the daily goings of a Fallout vault as an overseer. More details here.

Aside from the two games, fans of Dishonored would be pleased to know that Dishonored 2 is in the works with its announcement made mid-conference. More as E3 goes along.

In case you missed it, here’s the Bethesda Conference video:

Review: Shadowrun Dragonfall – Director’s Cut Edition

Part old-school roleplaying game, part turn-based strategy game, Shadowrun: Dragonfall is a well-executed blend of many good things with an excellent fantasy-cyberpunk setting thrown into the concoction.

 

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Released: 2014

It’s truly hard to describe what Harebrained Scheme’s Shadowrun: Dragonfall is all about in a few words. Set in a futuristic world where magic, dragons and ‘metahuman’ orcs, dwarves, trolls, and elves have suddenly re-emerged and exist alongside humans,  you have a setting resembling a meld between Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings with something along the lines of Neil Blomkamps’s Elysium.
Continue reading “Review: Shadowrun Dragonfall – Director’s Cut Edition”

The Approaching Steam Summer Sale of 2015

Seen as a bankrupting black hole for the hardcore purchaser, the sale actually presents an opportunity for the sensible and discerning. Let’s be the latter this time round.

It’s impossible!”
“No. It’s necessary.”
– scene from Interstellar

A few days ago, users of the popular gaming platform Steam would have probably noticed the sudden appearance of a “mysterious” 10-set trading card slot in their badges section.

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Such mystery. (These are likely to be special collectibles for the sale event, but more on that later)

Far from being mysterious, this recent addition is a clear indication: the hotly-anticipated arrival of Valve Corporation’s yearly event is closing in. Fast.

For the uninitiated, Steam is a one-stop platform through which one can purchase and maintain a library of games: games which you can download and install anytime, anywhere – as long as you have the steam client/app on the computer.

On board this platform lies the annual Steam Summer Sale – the equivalent of Black Friday for shoppers – except that the flurry of game sales spans nearly two weeks.

“TWO WEEKS? T-W-O, TWO? Dasitmane, dasit.” – Jealous Black Friday Shopaholics

Over the 11 days (or more), Steam virtually slashes all prices on the games available on its platform – easily over 90% of the games on the market today – to varying degrees. From the meager 10% discount to the substantial 75% cut, it presents a big opportunity for all looking to purchase a good game, be they newcomers or hardcore gamers.

On top of the fundamental price slashes, there exist flash sales and daily deals to augment affordability, with price cuts going up to the elusive 80%-90% level at times. This is how gamers usually lose wads of cash to the sale, by blindly purchasing anything with an insane price cut.

Below is a most realistic account of what the sale is like to gamers looking to expand their current game libraries. Hilarious, but it hits the spot:

So, how does one survive the yearly Battle of Walletsdeep?

1) Prepare a budget. The optimum arrangement would be to save a portion of your money over a few months prior to the sale. Having a dedicated sum of money put aside would render any purchase guilt-free when a major sale like this one hits.

Personally, I cap my sale expenditure at around 50-60 dollars when the coffers are a little tight. It helps maintain spending discipline and ensures that purchases are made only when the price is down to an acceptable range.

2) Draw up your wishlist. A good way to keep track of your desired purchases, the Steam store will keep you updated on the prices of items when you put them on your wishlist. Also, tallying the contents of your wishlist helps inform budget-formulation and decisions on what to prioritize or hold off till the next sale.

3) Check Reviews. Although it’s common sense, the following advice is extremely crucial and deserves reiteration: Don’t ever buy a game blindly! Don’t. Check the reviews on games which pique your interest before deciding to buy them. If reviews aren’t out yet, look out for general sentiments regarding the game on online forums or dedicated sites.

Bottom line: Don’t buy a game because it’s on offer, buy it because it’s worth playing.

4) Manage your expectations. If the desired game is a recently-released one, do not expect prices to soar above 50% (usually, they tend to be 15% or lower). However, if it’s been out for a  year or more, you can expect it to drop between 40-75% depending on the time since publication. You can factor this into your decisions prior to making a purchase.

5) Wait for daily deals. If the fundamental discount is not up to expectation, you should wait and keep a close eye on the daily deals/flash offers, which could feature your desired game at a greater discount. Fear not if you miss out on the best deals, for an encore “best deals” sale will always occur on the last day of the event.

6) Dabble a little in the trading card business. Remember the earlier-mentioned 10 “mysterious” trading cards? They are probably earned when you vote for a game to be on discount, as has been the case for the last few summer sales. Trading cards can be sold on the Steam user markets for S$0.10++ a piece, which can be used to offset some purchasing costs or buy other trading cards.

If you’re looking to boost the aesthetic of your steam profile, a full 10-card set can be crafted into a badge to commemorate this year’s sale event, which simultaneously raises your user level – granting 5 more friend slots and possibly unlocking profile customization features.

Now, the most important question of all: When is the Summer Sale? Initially thought to occur in July this year, current rumors point to the summer sale beginning before end June, with many believing it to start on June 11th – which is in fact, tomorrow.

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All’s quiet on the Western Front today.

Nevertheless, the core approach to thriving in any Steam sale remains: draw up your wishlist, do your budgeting, manage your expectations and perform the necessary research, for you never know when a sale is going to hit on Steam. Ever.

And when a sale does arrive, the only order of business left is to quite simply, enjoy your new game guilt-free. After all, that is the best feeling after any purchase, isn’t it?

Jukebox: 5 Solid Soundtrack Tunes for June 2015

Musical scores and soundtracks in films and games are aspects of the medium that contribute heavily to the experience. They shape the ambiance, the mood, and the emotions which flow from one scene to another. Yet, these gems of creative expression are commonly overlooked by the average person.

This is where the jukebox section comes in.

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Through the Jukebox entries, this treasure trove hidden within the world of music will be made open to you, with songs of cinematic quality for every mood explored and introduced. Fret not, as this site is committed to making the most obscure-sounding things accessible to the ordinary person.

Now, here’s a new reason to clean the insides of your ears regularly. Enjoy.

~

Jeremy Soule’s “Far Horizons” from The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

  • While the titular, masculine-sounding “Dragonborn” theme by Jeremy Soule is arguably the most prominent Skyrim song, “Far Horizons” is its gentler, elegant sibling which captures many hearts.
  • Calming, scenic, and wondrous, this orchestral piece often accompanies players as they traverse the vast wilderness of Skyrim and revel in the grace and beauty of its natural landscape. A perfect song for a quiet evening or a rainy day.

Trevor Morris’ “DA:I Main Theme” from Dragon Age: Inquisition.

  • If you’re in the mood for adventure and heroism, Morris’ bold use of strings and percussion creates an impetuous mood coupled with a sense of grandeur and courage as the brass instruments kick in. An epic, rousing piece fitting of the game’s setting, this song is set to blow you away.

Continue reading “Jukebox: 5 Solid Soundtrack Tunes for June 2015”