Big Doings

Lots of big happenings lately. I picked up Spore (both the full game and the DS version) last week on vacation, I bought Rock Band 2 on Sunday, and iPhone OS 2.1 released on Friday. Oh, and I reformatted my Mac Pro.

I'm not entirely sure I'm prepared to discuss Spore or RB2 yet. Spore is surprisingly uneven. I enjoyed the "Creature" stage quite a bit, but that's only one of the five stages. The cell version was basically a flOw knockoff, although it did have a very limited creature editor. The Tribal and Civilization stages were both shallow and frankly annoying. The Space stage ... well it's really cool but it's also very repetitive. The combat is clunky and poorly done - the key bit seems to get the AI ships in your fleet because they are vastly more effective than the weapons I have so far. I haven't made up my mind about the Space stage but I'm surprised that I have as many issues with it as I have so far.

As for Rock Band 2, it seems trickier than the first game. The horizontal lines are further spaced out than they are on RB1 and I've seen notes come in between the lines now, even on DLC tracks that I've played on RB1 before. As a consequence I think the timing is tighter than it used to be. I had to drop back to medium difficulty to make it through intro-difficulty songs. I think I like the new layout more but I've only played an hour or so and that was pretty much entirely taken up with going "Whoah! This shouldn't be that difficult!"

2.1 for the iPhone so far seems brilliant - maybe even what 2.0 should have been. Icon placement is now permanent, I installed an app upgrade over the phone without iTunes getting all upset later, and backups are much faster. I can tell the cellular radio is doing something different because when it's plugged into my kitchen speakers I can hear the radio noise. It uses the radio much more often with 2.1 than it did on 2.x. Which raises the question what the battery life is like, but I'm not sure about that.