Casual Friday: MTV's Virtual Music Scene

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, here are a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond.

Music Appreciation
It's tough living the life of a fake rock star. You think life is all plastic guitars and 100-note streak achievement points? "You got another thing coming," man. My fingers bled this week as Rock Band rolled out its first complete album, Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance. The 10-song metal anthem costs $14.99 (or $1.99 a track) from the in-game store.

Judas Priest, 1982: When metal was king.
And more are on the way: The Cars and The Pixies will each release an album over the next two months, and the classic Who set, Who's Next?, is coming--eventually. Me? I'm more excited about being introduced to new artists.

Hitting the Virtual Clubs (continued)

And those tunes are everywhere on the Virtual Lower East Side. Videos fill club walls. During the day, I catch videos by Liam Lynch, Oingo Boingo, and Sahara Hot Nights. At night, bands will perform on virtual club stages (or get pasted up on said video walls).

Kick back and watch a video at the club. Like that tune? Just click a link and it opens a link to iTunes.
Walking down the street, a soundtrack spins in the background. As new tracks cue up, I get artist info. Y'know, like at the beginning of a music video. Hear a song you like? Click the link and it takes you to iTunes. Smart.

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Casual Friday: Gran Turismo Edition

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, here are a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond.

A Need for Speed

Everybody's got a racing freak inside, ready to jam the peddle. Some guys here in the PC World office pimp their rides. Me? I have to settle for watching Speed Racer and playing a couple games. Yeah, I'm a rebel.

The Free Race

Let's just call Trackmania what it really is: an adult version of Hot Wheels.
TrackMania Nations Forever  (PC)
Never heard of TrackMania? Think of it as a computerized version of Hot Wheels with ridiculous twisty, turny tracks that players can build and race over. The huge draw, besides its gratis status, are the number of people that build their own custom racecourses that you can download and join. In fact, there's a huge international online community playing it, so just download TrackMania Nations Forever now. Thank me later.

The Hardest (and Easiest) Games

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Casual Friday: BD-Live Goes Live

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, I've found a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond.

A BD-Live Test Drive

A few weeks back, the PlayStation 3 received a Blu-ray firmware shot in the arm with BD-Live support. That means users can now enjoy all sorts of multimedia perks, such as multiplayer games, social networking, online store access, and extra video content. The first disc to show off the new features, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, came out this week. So what's my initial impression?

Unreal Contest

Speaking of mods, if you know how to code your way out of an ASCII box, I might know a way for you to snag a million bucks. Intel and Epic Games (makers of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament III) have kicked off a new "Make Something Unreal" contest. In short, it encourages wannabe game makers to use the Unreal editor to create new mods (game modifications), levels, character models, weapons--you name it--to work with UT. Prizes and engine licenses will be awarded to the best submissions.

At least this time, the guy on the speeder bike remembered to wear his helmet.
As a former judge, I always look forward to seeing what the community can dream up. Why, people created everything from puzzle games and racing sims to full face-lifts for Unreal Tournament 2004. Curious to check 'em out? All you need is a copy of UT 2004 (which, fortunately, you can buy dirt cheap).

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Casual Friday: Freaky Free Games (and Music)

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, I've found a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond.

Rush: The Game

After hearing that Aerosmith is getting its own Guitar Hero game this summer, I found myself thinking, "Gee, I wish there was some 8-bit styled freeware to celebrate the life and times of crazy-talented drummers hailing from Toronto who've been bashing the skins since the 1970s." Taking to the Internet, I found Neil Peart--Mission: The Camera Eye. Someone needs to get out of my head! That's right, kids, someone made a game dedicated to all things Rush. Now, while I could wax poetic about how rocking this 2.66MB download is, I'll let the game's creator do the talking, because, quite frankly, this is too awesomely weird to ignore:

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Casual Friday: Putting the 'Video' in Video Games

In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, I've found a few great new ways to kill what little free time you think you have this weekend and beyond. Well, what are you waiting for?

You Oughta Be in Pictures

It's easy to draw comparisons between movies and games, but video game makers really aspired to be like big-time movie studios not too long ago. A little over 10 years back, entire soundstages loaded with actors, sets, and camera crews filmed full-motion video (FMV) for games. Why even bring that up? Well, this week marks the release of Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath on the PC. I'll get to that game soon enough. During its run of 13-plus years, the C&C series has become known for cheesy full-motion video acting--and the real-time strategy part, of course. Now, the newest game is out, and FMV is back, recorded in HD. That means you can see semifamous actors squirm in the high-def spotlight wondering why they agreed to read from the script.

TV Tuners

Okay, I know that we covered Hulu.com a few weeks back, but I feel obligated to bring it up again for a simple reason: Just the other night, after the second "series finale" of Jericho, an online petition started circulating to save the smart post-fallout show again. Not sure what the big deal was about? Check out this direct link to every single Jericho episode.

While we're on the subject of new show-watching developments this week, I should note that the foul-mouthed South Park kids are all online, all free. Every episode, countless clips, character generators, and lots of hidden features lurk around the South Park Studios Web site. Oh, and when I say "free," I'm talking free of censorship as well. All the cussing you can handle is online, waiting for you in streamed episodes. How can they afford such madness? As on Hulu, all of the episodes are ad-supported.

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Casual Friday: A Freebie a Day

Artwork: Chip Taylor
In our ongoing efforts to celebrate slack, I've found a few great new ways to kill what little free time you have this weekend and beyond. Let's get to it!

Freebie Alert

What if I told you about a Web site where you can download free programs that you'd otherwise have to buy? (Did I mention that it's legal?)

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Casual Friday: Playing Games With Your Music

Artwork: Chip Taylor
New column alert: Every Friday in this space I'll be celebrating slack with the newest games, gadgets, movies, and more. So check in here regularly for a breakdown of some stuff to do with what little free time you have this weekend and beyond.

It's certainly been one helluva red-letter week for anyone who wanted to shirk work. Online video service Hulu went live, Super Smash Brothers hit the streets, and the people rejoiced.

Name That Tune

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