Search This Blog, Linked From Here, or The Web

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Don't Starve PC Review - 9/10

Too often I hear of survival games. Games that claim to have genuine survival elements but will ditch them at the first sign of convenience or necessity. There hasn't been a real survival game in... well ever if I can think of it. However, this gets as close as I can think of. Down to eating items for both health and a slowly decreasing hunger meter.

The Good:
I've made it clear that I don't like amazing graphics all the time and I mean it. It doesn't add much to the game, other than a lower frame rate. What I find really nice is when an art style of a game is reflective upon the game itself. Rather than making everything look as pretty as possible or realistic as possible, this game goes for a more cartoony look which is good considering the game's content and story. The sprites all move like I would imagine them to the funny or the realistic by cartoon standards. The animals also move atomically correct. Again it's one of those small things that I love in games.
There's a nice crafting system. Starting off, you can craft a pickax or an ax. An ax will allow you to cut down trees, however, you won't be able to cut into the boulders that sometimes litter the place. Whatever way you take, it works. You can still get to other craftings and get the ax and pickax at the same time but it really forces you to think before crafting. Kind of like Minecraft except to a more realistic degree. When you find a valuable item in the game like these striated rocks which drop gold which is extremely useful, you really want to hunker down and be around there as much as possible till you can get what you need.
Night is a unique mechanic (which everyone uses). The screen will go completely black until you craft some kind of torch or camp fire. I haven't seen what happens if you don't get in light soon enough but I don't want to find out either.
The enemies are kind of tough... and random. I still don't know why a frog attacked me, nor why his friends attacked me, then once I left they stopped and never attacked again as well as how were they so good at attacking me. Early on you won't find much to fight against. Last time I was killed because I ignored the gold and went for an egg in a nest only to have it's long legged mother attack me. Once you're dead, you'll get xp points based on how far you got. So far this only goes towards new characters but it's nice that you get something for dying all the same. Makes the game feel less like a waste of time.
You know how Dead Island was more of a weapon repair simulator than a zombie killing game? In that game it didn't work. In this game, it does. Every time I whack a tree or rock with the appropriate tool, it degrades. Making me think again about what's important versus randomly smacking around. You unfortunately can't repair them (as far as I know) but you can easily make them again.
What never appealed to me about Minecraft or Terraria was how you had to have the correct crafting table at all times with you to create the useful items in the world (Terraria especially). When a pickax is gone, I don't want to have to go back to my campsite and make another. Once you've made some tool, you can make it again at any time. True, the higher leveled ones need a special thing to create them first off. But once you do, you can craft it at any time you need to, which makes sense.
There is a fair bit of comedy in this. Not to say like side busting but kinda funny little lines here and there. It's not a comedy game but I found myself chuckling a few times which is always nice.
There's a bit of common sense here. Like I said I was killed by a bird creature for taking it's egg, which makes sense. Also, I can burn things with fire instead of just having fire. Too often games shy away from real life things and it's nice to see that being put back once and a while. Fire burns. Deal with it.
The story is about a scientist apparently. As such, you can do sciency things like building stuff to help you craft. Before I died, I had a lightning rod, weather measure-er and something to help me craft not to mention a permanent fireplace and the beginnings of a wall. I really love progression in games, no matter how small.

The Bad:
Your view is something of a bane. True it fits into the survival setting well by being limited and you can zoom in and out a bit, but at times I find it bad. Sure it's not terrible but I'd like to see everything.
There's not much of a tutorial... in fact I don't think there is. The game is pretty easy to pick up but some things I'd rather be told than learn. True it goes back into the immersion of the game but sometimes I just want fun first and immersion second.
Enemies are pretty tough. Not Dark/Demons Souls tough but tough nonetheless. It's not bad but then again I'd rather have a pleasant experience than a terrifying one. Again, a personal note as some people may find this to be a plus whereas I don't really.
You can never really stay in one place. A lot of times, the things you need don't respawn. In Minecraft terms, that's manageable. In this, it's a bit less considering I don't want to leave all my cool stuff behind just to make more cool stuff.

This is a pretty solid game and it's not a bad buy for about 14 bucks. Pick it up if it's your sort of thing. It personally isn't for me, but I found some stuff that I liked all the same.

[Review] Lego City Undercover: Nintendo 3DS

The sole reason that I wanted a Wii U was to get Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins but I still haven't gotten one. When I found out that a version was going to be released for the 3DS, I knew what my next game was going to be.

I suppose this review will be read mostly by parents so I'll try tackling what parents look for in games but I also realize that many adults, like myself, grew up on some Lego video games and had Legos ourselves (I still play with mine from time to time) so I'll cover issues that we'd be concerned with too.

I grew up playing the Star Wars Lego games more than any of the others. I had Lord of the Rings for my 3DS as a demo but it didn't excite me. For anyone who has played these games, LCU: TCB is very much like these previous games; however, it does have some significant differences.

Remember that unless I specify otherwise, I am only partly through the game. I have not beaten the story yet.

For parents, I must tell you what my first impression was as I began playing the game. I was quite surprised by how adult it seemed to be. Not that there was nudity or a tremendous amount of violence, but it just has this feel like children wouldn't get a lot of the humor. For parents that are overly against violence, I would highly suggest not buying for your children. Of course the game has violence as it is about a crime fighter cop, but I understand some parents don't want their children entertained with any violence. There is no blood, just Lego pieces fly when other Lego people are hit. The game does not allow the player to attack anyone and everyone except only the bad guys. The game does allow the player to destroy lots of pieces of the city which seems odd that a game about a crime fighting cop would allow players to cause such unnecessary mayhem. The game actually takes it one bit farther in encouraging players to do so. The game has at least one "identity" the player must take on to be a burglar and break into things. The game has an E10+ rating from the ESRB, which means that it's borderline T for Teen and E for Everyone.

To compare this game, it would be most appropriate to compare it with Crackdown, True Crime, and Grand Theft Auto. The only differences between the games are the obvious rating M for Mature for all of these titles, Legos instead, and no blood in LCU.

The game shares the same characteristics as the other mentioned games in that it allows for the player to commandeer vehicles, fight with gangs, and an open world gameplay. For those of us who grew up on Lego Island, this game shares more of the characteristics than other recent Lego games with regard to layout and 3D gameplay. The game uses a 3D camera most of the time with the player being allowed to move it in a 360 degree rotation. The main character has the option to move about the city in any way he/she sees fit. However, the game is not first person as the first Lego Island was.

The game takes advantage of the touch screen in a way of just having additional controls. There's nothing that is really exciting, perhaps breaking into some safes, but I have yet to see any other uses for it that make me really impressed. The game does take advantage of the 3DS' internal compass causing players to rotate in 360 degrees in person.

The game itself is fun and challenging. I can imagine myself being a little younger and really enjoying the game and being thoroughly challenged. As an adult, some of the stuff can get tricky but the game gets redundant once you've mastered the first few battles. What I wanted to see more of was like is in the more adult games about cops. I love that the game is open world and there are secrets to discover, but I was hoping to get called on the random to respond to an emergency or to help citizens that are randomly being harassed. While there are some of these spread throughout the map, these are treated more like secrets and do not seem to reappear later in the game.

I'm still playing through the game right now, but this is my impression so far. At this point, I imagine that the game will not be open ended meaning that once I'm done, the only other option is to restart and play again. I'll update this post when I'm finished.

Poker Night 2 PC Review - 8.9/10

*Random slurs and angry grunts*
Oh man, this game is going to give me high blood pressure. Alright, so this is an awesome game. Apart from the nice little things you get for actually playing the game, you also get a couple of funnies along the way. This game is less about... the game and more about how the other players interact with each other. If you're not a poker player or fan (like me), you'll still find something to like about this. The characters you'll play against are Brock Samson from the 'The Venture Bros' cartoon (funny as hell show), Clap-Trap from the Borderlands games, Ash from 'Army of Darkness' and Sam from 'Sam and Max'. If you guys want a review of the first game I'd be more than happy to put it up if even one person asks me.

The Good:
This game just oozes style. Apart from having some awesome iconic characters, a few in-game unlockables as well as nice interaction between the characters that fits their moods and character traits in their respective series, but also their intros are in character and the jokes are in character and funny as well. It looks like The Walking Dead game (Tell Tale, not that god awful Survival Instinct) so you're not going to find much in the 'amazing graphics' section. Though I find it better that super high graphics aren't used. Nice to see Tell Tale is more into quality of games rather than them looking pretty. Apart from the other players, they have some other minor characters. GlaDos is the dealer, Max is right behind Sam and talks every once and a while and Mad Moxxi is at the bar but doesn't talk at all.
If you're not a poker player, there's a different game you can play called Omaha. I'm not sure if this is an actual card game but it involves you getting four cards in your hand, making for some tense situations and forcing you to think before playing hands.
The game is... actually tough. The computer gets wise to your bluffs so you have to time them well and intelligently. Apart from that, simple things like common sense work well. Like the last game I played, I only had Sam left in the game and all I had to do was put twenty thousand of my seventy thousand to make him bust. I went all in stupidly and he ended up winning. The game does get a bit tough as you progress through. Having the most money doesn't always mean you will win.
An improvement from the last game is now you can see how much of a percentage you have to win against the other player's hand when you've bet all you need to. This is more of a thing for me considering I really don't know how to play poker. I found it annoying in the last game where I would lose a hand despite having a flush or an aces high and they won the same way. It adds a bit more of a learning experience in case I actually do want to play poker in the real world.
Playing the game will get you some tokens which you can use to buy new items in the unlock shop anytime you want. Sure it's pretty limited to just about fifteen things but it's nice you get to both choose what to unlock as well as when to unlock it. Apparently you can also pay for drinks using tokens for the other players. Not sure what this does or how to do it but it's an interesting thing to think about. Apart from that you can also unlock items for other games like Borderlands 2. It's a nice thing to see people rewarding for playing a game. I'd love to see more stuff like this.

The Bad:
If you don't know these characters, hate poker, don't like comedy or don't care for cell shading, you won't find anything here. If you don't play Team Fortress 2 or Borderlands 2 then you've just spent 5 bucks and not find much else.
I really wish there were more interactions between the characters. In the first game, the characters always had something to say. They'd have little conversations with each other and everything. Sure they'd loop sometimes but they were frequent. Here it's a bit more reserved. That means there's plenty of stuff in the long run to get but not much for impatient people.
There's a bit of a cutting problem. Cutting meaning GlaDos makes her rare appearance she'll sometimes cut out of the scene completely. This only happened a few times and the only thing it serves to do is cut into my gaming immersion, nothing more.

The Meh:
I was talking to my friend about this as a suggestion: why aren't there interchangeable characters? Switch out some of the characters so I can play against the Team Fortress guys or even just some of the past players from the previous game or even some other characters from the other series' of the characters like to play against the players from Borderlands instead of Clap-Trap or have Gordon Freeman or Chell be the dealer. Granted they wouldn't speak but they'd just be there for show I guess.
I really wish there could be actual 'tells' in this game. You can't have completely straight faced players all the time. A tell would make it awesome to see the facial expressions so I can get an edge or even be tricked by the computer.
The game never really seems to have ties. It'd be interesting to see and a nice sense of realism. Come to think of it, not even sure you can tie in poker.

This is more of a style game than anything. Pretty much what you're going to get out of this is an experience as well as maybe learn how to play poker and have some table conversation with friends. This is a solid game and I have no regrets buying it. Hell, it's five bucks so you get a good game for cheap. What's not to love?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hulu Plus versus Netflix

Internet television seems the way to go these days. No longer do I turn on my rabbit ears or feel a need to buy cable/satellite to watch my favorite shows. The internet supplies my television needs...for the most part. The top two choices seem to be between Netflix and Hulu. There are others like Amazon Prime, Blockbuster, and Crackle and then there's other alternatives like illegal downloading, but Netflix and Hulu are what the masses choose. Luckily for others, I have both to do a fairly decent comparison between the two.

I've been a Netflix subscriber for a few years now and have had a love-hate relationship with them. Mostly, my beef with them has to do with the fact that they do not update their shows enough for me. I love watching  shows like Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad but waiting for Netflix has been my biggest disappointment. While my friends are just starting the newest season, I'm just starting the last season and it sucks that I can't keep up.

This is where Hulu comes in. Hulu has shows updated daily and some shows are even updated the day before they arrive on tv!

We can try and make a pros and cons list or describe each in detail, but it's very difficult to pinpoint every difference between the two and many of the differences lie purely in personal opinion.

The bottom line is this: Netflix is best for movies and Hulu is best for television shows. I am subscribed to both services because one provides something that the other doesn't. Netflix has most of my favorite Adult Swim shows but Hulu has my shows I watch weekly, those being The Following and Revolution.

Not to sound negative, but while I cannot really specify what I like about each one, I can tell you what I absolutely hate about them in list form.

-shows aren't updated when they are released; typically new seasons will arrive day after newer season has aired on television
-even though Netflix is available on nearly all devices, Netflix doesn't provide enough options for all devices
-on some devices, Netflix chooses to display HD playback and sometimes I don't have a fast connection so I'll be waiting long periods of time or having to wait as the video buffers

-has commercials
-doesn't seem to be a support team, so if you run into a problem, you'll need help from a third party or Hulu's FAQ page
-even though Hulu seems to care if ads are relevant to you or not by giving you an option of "this ad is not relevant to me", clicking that button doesn't seem to make the ads go away or swap them with ads that you'd be more inclined to like
-Hulu is not available on all devices as we found out tonight when we bought a new GoogleTV box
-lots of bugs in playback on multiple devices: computer displays annoying "Press ESC to exit full screen" indefinitely sometimes; ads won't display; ads will buffer and stay on for minutes at a time without ever hurrying and going to your programming, etc.
-the commercials seem to decrease the playback and buffer of television shows. At both places where I use Hulu, I don't have fast speeds so I like to wait to allow the video time to buffer. But Hulu doesn't allow long times for buffering because the ads are brought in when you get there and aren't pre-loaded
-this one is a bit personal, but I don't like the shows that Hulu promotes just because most of them flat out suck in my opinion. I stay for those two shows I mentioned.
-some of the shows go missing without notice like Hannibal. This is due to the networks, NBC in this case, rather than Hulu, but it still affects how viewers see Hulu

It seems that I have a lot of problems with Hulu more than I do with Netflix. Out of the two, I would definitely choose Netflix. However, I choose Hulu because of its content but other than that, it is pure garbage as far as I'm concerned. Netflix's biggest disappointment to me has to be that it just doesn't have the shows I want at the time I want them. Netflix's recent deal with Cartoon Network has me very happy to be a subscriber. Most of the time that I've been with them, I've seen more titles leave than arrive and Cartoon Network's lineup finally coming is a breath of fresh air.

Still, neither is perfect. The bottom line remains that Hulu is best for television shows and Netflix is best for movies. If you want to try either, I would highly recommend trying the trial and sticking to leaving if it is not to your liking and not getting pulled in.

For me, I can never go back to traditional television. I like having the freedom to choose what I can watch, when I watch, and having pause and play buttons. It is also nice to not have to sit through old episode that I've seen before which is what happens most of the time that I watch television. Netflix and Hulu are great and affordable. If they were priced any higher, I would need to see changes like in Hulu's case, no ads and in Netflix's case, seasons being updated more frequently.

I apologize for the seeming negative post, but I'm dealing with "Do I want to eat poop, vomit, or starve?" In this case, I've chosen not to starve but to choose poop or vomit. Hulu and Netflix have some terrible flaws that you can't get around. Finding good in each area is for those who are new to the service.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Biggest Beef with the iPhone 5

I may or may not have mentioned yet, but I switched from my Samsung Galaxy S III to an iPhone 5. I can get into details later. For now, I wanted to explain my biggest disappointment with the iPhone 5.

Even when I had my iPad Mini, I knew this was a problem. Apple switched it up causing many of their loyal fans to be really disappointed. My biggest problem with the iPhone 5 has to be with the new charging system. I really do dislike it.

Apple has always been this sort of company that aspires to do things differently even if they don't make sense. However, they are a company that can do that and still stay above the competition. With their iDevice line, stretching all the way back to the early 2000's with their first generation iPod, we saw them introduce a new way to charge the iPod that had been used ever since then up until last October when they finally made a switch. The only exception to this were the iPod Shuffles that charge using a different method. But for every other iDevice: iPod, iPhone, and the iPad, it has been the standard 30 pin connector. Now, it's called the Lightning port or something that has to do with Lightning. Rather than using the standard micro USB charging connectors that most manufacturers use for their mobile devices, Apple has decided to, again, go their own route.

This is due to a few factors such as Apple simply wanting to be unique, a little bit of some greed, and, supposedly, a better mode of charging. Unfortunately, the designs and greed makes it quite difficult and frustrating.

One of the many reasons that I switched from Android to iOS was because iOS devices are much better on battery life and Android has been notorious since day one with the G1 for having terrible battery life.

But this new Lightning port has too many issues.

First off is the compatibility issue. As many loyal Apple fans have already explained, the switch to the new connector has left many upset. Many people had 30 pin connectors in their cars for listening to their iOS devices on the go, dozens of 30 pin chargers for those just-in-case moments, and all of those cool docks they used to have no longer work as before. They were prepared if anything were to happen to their primary charger. Now, with the new charging cable, it made it difficult on third party manufacturers and customers alike. Third party manufacturers now had to design new devices with new ports and scrap any and all old pieces that are now outdated. Customers now find themselves having to buy all new connectors and adapters to fit the old standard. This has been a major problem for many including myself. My parents had bought me an iPod dock/alarm clock many years ago when I had an iPod Touch 2nd Generation. It worked for me then and  I still have it to this day as my primary alarm clock for waking me up in the morning. Unfortunately, my new iPhone 5 cannot dock onto this one. If I wanted to get an alarm clock to dock my iPhone 5 with, I'd have to buy a whole new alarm clock. That is a major disappointment.

Similarly with the compatibility has to do with the new way of charging. Apple designed this new charging cable to only work on some outlets. Before, I was able to hook up my iPod Touch to just about any USB port and charge. When I got my iPad Mini, not every USB port was a charging port. The standards became much higher. Apple probably designed the cable to be this way as a way to make sure that you only charge using the best available outlets possible. I'm sure they had many complaints of people complaining that their iPhone wasn't charging quick enough on a USB port on their cheap wall charger. Either that, or this is a side-effect of another design that Apple had in mind and this is just one downside. I remember sitting in my car and trying to charge the iPad Mini on the USB phone charger that I have and it saying "Not Charging" in the top right hand corner. For me, I understand that not all USB ports are created equal. I even understand that not all USB 3.0, 2.0, etc. ports are all the same. I never really cared how quick the charge was as long as it could charge it and my battery wouldn't drain. I'm the type that has no problem leaving the device on the charger for many hours if it needs to be.

But last night really had me upset. I had been using my iPhone for much of the day and had not charged it on the charger like I normally would. By the end of my work day, my iPhone was at 60%. By the time I arrived back home, it was at 20%. I hooked it up to the wall charger and went to sleep. I went to sleep thinking that everything was fine and my iPhone would be at 100% when I awoke the next morning. Nope. The iPhone had been sitting there all night on the charger and stayed at 20%. Bizarre, huh? Well...thanks to an "ingenious" feature, the iPhone does not notify you as well as the iPad Mini can, that your device is, in fact, not charging.

The two above screenshots from my iPhone look very similar except one distinct difference...can you see it? Besides one being taken at 7:11 and the other at 7:16 and one being at 31% and the other at 33%, there is another difference...

The only way that you may notice is either:
A) You're a genius at finding small things.
B) You're an Apple tech.
C) You got lucky/found it when you noticed the difference in battery percentages.

Notice the very tiny icon in the top right hand corner? The one beside my battery percentage? That icon "notifies" you when your iPhone is or is not charging. The difference being that one shows a lightning bolt signifying a charge and the other simply showing that a charger is connected but that the iPhone is not charging...if that makes any sense.

Admittedly, the iPhone has a good charging rate if connected to the right source. It's been a few hours since taking those screenshots this morning and the iPhone has been connected to my work computer all this time. It went from 36% to 96% in a matter of 2 hours and 15 minutes. That's not bad in my opinion considering that I've been using the phone from time to time as well as the Bluetooth and WiFi being on and not connected to anything. This is also a primitive USB port on this Windows XP computer that I am currently using so that speaks volume for how quickly it can charge. The iPhone battery can take a beating and that's really good considering that Apple made it near impossible to replace the battery for us users unlike Android consumers.

While that may seem like a bad thing for Apple to make it difficult to replace the battery, it actually works in our favor. For Android devices that have removable batteries, it allows manufacturers to be lazy and install the cheapest battery they can buy because consumers buy the phone and just say, "I was going to buy an extended battery anyway." But if the manufacturer makes it impossible to do so, it forces them to install the best battery possible and Apple has done just that. The iPhone and iPad Mini batteries are, by far, the best batteries that I have seen to date in holding their charge and charging at a reasonable time.

Apple software engineers have done a fabulous job at helping iOS manage its battery and usage. Constantly through the day, I forget that my WiFi is turned on. When I had my Android phones, I would immediately turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and anything else that was not being used because the battery drained so quickly. However, in Android's defense, I did have widgets that made it easier to turn off many of these functions whereas in iOS, we do not have that luxury. We have to go into Settings, then find each one of these options and turn them off.

One of the best things that I have ever done was getting an extended battery for my iPhone. While an extended battery for my Galaxy S3 meant buying a brand new battery and replacing the old, the iPhone's is much more simpler of an idea. Rather than removing the battery compartment and switching out the old battery and creating more environmental waste with the old battery, I simply went to Best Buy and bought a case that has an extended battery attached to it. Best of all, I did not need to buy an additional case to fit my new battery, I did not need to buy any extra case for that matter, I can share my power with friends, I can turn on and off the extended battery and use it only when I need it, I can keep my original look to my iPhone whenever I want, and I can use micro USB chargers to charge my phone and extended battery pack at the same time.

I suppose that my biggest beef with iOS has mostly to do with the hardware rather than the software. However, the software does play a role. I don't like that Apple continues to be so unique when it comes to chargers. I have friends that don't have iPhones but have devices that use micro USB ports and it would be nice to borrow theirs sometimes. While I can do it with the extended battery pack, I wish that Apple simply took the time to make a micro USB compatible port for the iOS devices for convenience. And I wish that the charger would be able to charge no matter what sort of USB it is inserted into. I suppose for Apple's protection, none of these changes will be made for users like myself.

As for this iPhone experience, it's been enjoyable these last three weeks. I've been loving the iOS interface and the experience overall and even bought a few accessories like a fold-out keyboard and extended battery. I'm always on the prowl for new, unique gadgets for the iPhone so if you have any to share, please feel free to share with me!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tomb Raider (2013) PC Review - 9.8/10

Shut up! I know this game came out a while ago but I never got the chance to play it. I was debating whether or not I should do a review but while I wait for another Steam game to finish downloading it's not a bad little time waster. Actually one of the main reasons I bought this game is because I heard Square Enix (the developer) didn't make what they needed back on their game. They're such a good company I decided why not buy the game. My 50 bucks is little more than a drop in the bucket compared to what they expected but it's the principal that counts.
This isn't a reboot game but more of a prequel. We see Laura Croft not as a polygon boobed badass but now as a newbie adventurer on her first real adventure. The game is set on a mysterious island where wolves aren't your biggest problem.

The Good:
Dear lord the graphics are amazing! And this is me playing at the lowest settings I could (not sure if that's a good thing or not considering I pushed the settings down). From the forests, to old shipyards, to shantytowns to a wreck riddled coast, this game has some of the most impressive visuals out there. Laura gets pretty banged up through the game and it actually shows. From her first stab wound never fully going away on her dirty tank top, which seems to get more ripped as the game progresses, to the grime on her face and scars she's accumulated. This is the first game I've ever seen make the character visually progress realistically through the story. The wounds and muck that accumulate reminds me of a few times when we got into scrapes, sort of being like reminders rather than visuals.
The very first Tomb Raider's were very lacking in character progression... unless you count drowning Laura in her pool or locking her perverted creepy butler in the freezer... which I don't. This game, however, was the perfect opportunity to show how Laura got to be the badass she is or how it actually felt when she first killed someone, and these moments aren't taken lightly. From a story stand point, this is done very well. Laura is constantly making decisions based on a person who hasn't seen the ugly side of the world. As it progresses, too often will you see moments where she is almost conflicted and disgusted. More than once in the game will you find grotesque images and displays. Laura will react accordingly at first but nearing the end, she'll become less phased buy it. She sees a dead body on display and almost freaks out, yet later on she readily jumps into a pit filled with blood and doesn't even flinch. The gameplay perspective does it well too. People commented on how Laura would make moaning sounds and voice their distaste for it. However, as the game progresses, she becomes less vocal. Still reacting but now it's less her being green to the situation and just being a proper response. Laura isn't a chatty person and that's a good thing. She rarely chimes in to say something we already know or don't need to know, and if we're having trouble on a puzzle, she'll offer some insight. In game, every so often there will be button prompts but these are few in number. Whether to remind you that to press "A" (I used a controller this entire time) to jump on ziplines or the first time you need to know something it pops up. It doesn't constantly remind you either. It's there and it's gone. Forgot it? You can look it up in the key bindings.
The combat is really something amazing as well. There is cover from fire fights, however, Laura does this by herself. When in combat or nearing it, she usually crouches down to avoid fire. You can put her in front of cover, whether it's a chest high "insert object here" or a wall near her, she ducks just enough to stay out of fire and when you are, she is just up enough to fire. I don't know why more games don't do this. Cover is a vastly overrated concept in gaming. We need more of this and less of Gears of War style (not that I have anything against Gears of War). You have a dodge mechanic which actually works quite well. Certain enemies need to be dodged like enemies with shields in order to get a quick few shots in. Pressing the dodge twice allows you to roll away and perhaps to cover.
Too often, most games avoid leveling up and I have to ask, why? First off it's a sense of progression. As I get further and further into the game, not only I as a person have found better ways to avoid or traverse combat or the terrain, but I've also got something to show for it. Whether it's hunting animals, killing wolves/enemies, finding secrets or treasures, you'll gain experience points to put towards three different skill trees (two at the beginning). You'll get better at finding treasures, hunting or killing enemies and lasting in combat. You don't have to go through Elder Scrolls level of leveling up, but a small system works great and gives me an incentive to actually go and find treasures. I do also like how you can turn certain objects around to examine them like a real archaeologist. Some items have things to look at like a small detail you wouldn't have noticed on first glance. I've found not every item has one, showing even more realism to the game. You can find these items just but searching around or by upgrading certain skills to find them. This game really reminds me of that old saying: it's the journey, not the destination.
There is a lot of realism to the game which is somewhat of a bad thing for games but actually is a good thing for this one. I briefly touched on how Laura actually shows her scars and grime and I wonder, why don't other games do this? Apart from the obvious "It would take too much money/time" it's something most games could do with. Apart from that, the people act like real people. I know that sounds weird but how many times have you seen a carbon copy enemy in games? "I am evil because evil is fun! Muhahahah!" That gets old hat after a while. While the enemies are a bit copy and paste, the minor characters aren't. We see they're intertwined together in such a way that they aren't just actors and scripts but they act just like a real person should. I think I have the writing staff to thank for this. Good writing in games is very under appreciated.

The Bad:
The fast travel map is just... bleh. You have like 8 different places to choose from when you're at a campsite.  You can see small things like artifacts you may have missed but it's all on this small field and (as far as I know) you can't move around freely at the very least to admire it. The map does it's job but... it was kind of a major difference to the overall game.
The game is in a sort of Zelda/Metroid where you can go back and find stuff you may have missed. However, in this, it's not needed. Just for small things like Xp and scavenging materials to upgrade your weapons. I personally don't find this bad and actually to be a good thing. However, most people apparently don't because they're weirdos. The good thing is you don't have to go back so it's up to you how you feel.

The Meh:
I never really used the map, nor the online multiplayer. The map is kind of unusual considering it's there but I have no desire to use it. You already know how I feel about multiplayer but beside from that I've heard that it was a meh experience in itself.

All in all, it's a good game. Hell, I'm actually putting this as my favorite game of the year right now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 360 Review - 8.8/10

Most people may not know this but a good anime is something I treasure highly. I'm also an avid fan of the Naruto series (both of them). On every Thursday I find the new episode to Shippuden online like clockwork. However, I've been kind of pissed with the series as of late as they seem to think the fans want to see more fillers instead of seeing the series' main storyline carry out. When it really comes down to it, Naruto is an anime and the games are about ninjas fighting. With every battle concluding in some cool way or some possibility I could have never imagined, they're awesome and totally fun. I've personally never played any other the other Ultimate Ninja games and so this was my first. I won't be reviewing this as a fan of the series, just more as a gamer.

The Good:
You know, cell shading is greatly under appreciated. "Oh let's get the best graphics" or "WHERE ARE MY AWESOME GRAPHICS?!?!" seems to be the attitude of most developers (and some gamers) these days. Listen, the best graphics make the games run slow and lag constantly. Cell shading on the other hand, is a way to make the graphics look artistic as well as run smoother. That joke circulating the internet (Yes, but will it run Crysis?) is very true in some cases. When you come down to it, better graphics is not the way to go, especially in a fighting game. While it does look a bit bland at times, the choice to use cell shading is more of a boon than a bane.
Oh ya! The fights! This is perhaps the fastest, smoothest fighting game I've ever played. Fights can be easily run through a 99 count without even getting to single digits. Moves are fast, attacks are fast, so you need to be fast as well. The moves are incredibly responsive as well. The main attack is just as fast to use as one of my justu, which is just as fast as it takes to charge my chakra (In lay-men's terms: my attack is fast, my super attack is fast and the time it takes to charge said attack is just as fast). Not every character controls the same, even the past versions of some characters. Naruto's Sasuke handles much differently from anyone of the three different Sasuke's from the Shippuden series (Yes, three. We'll get to that later.)
Largest cast of characters to choose from is a bit of an understatement, but true. Boasting 88 characters, the majority of which control completely different from the last. At times I find it cheating that they have three different Sasuke's, three different Naruto's and two different Bee's (not an actual 'bee' but a character named 'Bee'). I guess technically you could say there are 80+ characters which is accurate to the box's description. They make up for this by having each character handle uniquely and according to how they would in the original anime. The small discrepancy of having one person just be slightly different from another is overshadowed by the fact that there are 80+ unique characters to choose from.
Battling in the story or in the versus mode allows you to get money. Only in story mode can you gain Legend and Hero levels. Gaining money is useful for buying new items like restoratives or ninja tools. It's nice to see the versus mode has a plus on the story mode. Apart from that, you can buy small collectibles, alternate super attacks as well as a different loot to your substitution skill (dodge/combo break skill).
There's a lot of ways to get more characters in the game. I got most of my characters from the versus mode rather than the story mode. I haven't even unlocked all the characters yet, about two thirds the way there.

The Bad:
I don't know if this is bad or not, but the main storyline is just bland. Admittedly this may be because I have watched the anime and know everything that is going to happen. The game starts off (where I presume the last one ended) with the destruction and rebuilding of the Leaf village, followed by Sasuke's betrayal of the Leaf and how Sakura and Naruto cope with their longtime friend (and love interest in Sakura's case) is now their mortal enemy. The first series touched on this, but this is where it is 100% true that he's evil. That may seem amazing to others, but for a guy who is a fan and who has seen it, I just feel like skipping through the cut scenes often. This is kind of taken away by the fact you can make small choices in the game. The Legend choice will make you fight much harder than you normally would (not a difficulty setting btw). In one case, I had the opportunity to take the Legend route and go through a crowded space of enemies to get to my target, or simply take the Hero route and go straight to the target. You'll receive faux xp points from this, going to a Legend and Hero portion of the game which defines what items you'll be able to use in combat. Legend prefers attacking items, while Hero has some recovery items and only one set (Hero or Legend) can be equipped per fight. You can buy new items as well, but there isn't much in the find on the ground department that most games have. Apart from that, you'll also be able to sort of change the story a bit. When The Fourth is fighting in the Prologue, the story is clearly laid out, however, you can see some option stuff via using certain attacks or keeping your health above "insert number here". I like how they did their best to understand this game is for fans, and by that the fans will already have seen these moments but it still is just there for the sake of progression and I can see it wouldn't have really worked either way. Glad they included it, but still.
Some certain sections of the game have you... not... fighting...? What that means is that you'll be controlling a character in a small area just walking around and I have to say this is the worst part of the game. You're mostly on a linear path due to the story mode. Taking detours is strictly prohibited when in a story portion. I've got to say, why not have an extra choice here? In the anime, Sakura is going to kill Sasuke to protect Naruto's feelings. This could have been a great way to show what would have happened if she chickened out. Or maybe have like a little cut scene where the character decides to continue on, rather than just have a little bubble pop up and say "I can't go that way" or "Maybe later". I don't know just my personal feelings. Apart from that, when you aren't on a story mission and walking around, the camera is placed far away from the player. While I see this as being intelligent so you can see, I find it a reminder that this is on rails pretty much. The size of The Hidden Leaf village is about the size of LA county (not really, but it is big). Even after it's been destroyed and rebuilt, it's a big place. Why is there so little to do here and walk around? There are people to talk to but not Skyrim level and more just "Oh hey, that is a person I can talk to because there is a thing on their head that says I can talk o them". There are 'side missions' and those are boring as well and broad. I would have loved to see something like a Bingo book (not actual bingo but a list of known characters and their powers as well as their rank in the ninja world) that you could fill up as you battle characters or be able to go on missions from the Hokage (village chief) outside the village to take down rouge ninjas or do some tiny little quests to earn money. This really just makes me want a Naruto RPG. So much potential.
There's a moment when I had to attack a bunch of enemies in a group and it didn't work out so well. The game doesn't have much of these fights from what I've seen (only met one). It didn't do it bad but I can see how it wouldn't work out. There's no real dodge mechanic other than substitution which is limited. They might not have many of these but it's notable.

The Meh:
There's an online mode but... meh. Don't really care about it. It might have some really badass and tough fights to deal with but as I've said before, I don't really care about online.
The menus are really small. I guess it's not bad considering that smaller is better and substance over quantity. That being said, there are three main things (Story, Battle and Online) to choose from at first glance and an options via button commands. Not bad but some may see it as bad.
The English voice acting is kind of... awful. Some of it is fine like the main character's voices but the side characters get really awful. It's hard to say but in the anime, Bee is a rapping black guy and sounds like one. English, he sounds like a character from a black-splotation film. I don't know if rapping just sounds better in Japanese but you're better off turning the settings to have the voice acting in Japanese rather than English.

Naruto has some pretty good games in it's line up. I've only played a few and they've all been pretty good and this one's no exception. Worth the 60 dollar price tag? Maybe. This is a game for the fans of the series and fighting games in general. It's a good game and not a bad buy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gaming News 4/16/13

New on Bethesda. First off we have leaked footage of The Elder Scrolls MMO in case you weren't chosen for the beta. I unfortunately can't post it first off because something makes it impossible to post videos on this site as well as Bethesda is doing it's best to take down all footage and I A) respect the company for making great games and don't wish to undermine them and B) I would rather avoid a legal snafoo with a company in general, save it to say one as big as Zenimax even more. The game does look notably bad from what I've seen, looking like what was in between Oblivion and Skyrim. But it is a beta so I can't judge that much.
Speaking of Skyrim, Bethesda has stated it will no longer be working on DLC for the game *gasp*. They've said they wish to focus on other projects and one can only presume three things 1) working on the MMO, 2) another Morrowind to Oblivion to Skyrim game? and 3) Fallout 4? Time will tell. I wish the best of luck to the team and heartily await their next venture. If you're disappointed, Skyrim's 1.9 patch has already released for 360 as well as PC. Which takes away the level cap, adds a legendary difficulty and allows you to get legendary skills. Apart from that, the Steam community still has free content all the time, so Skyrim is far from a dead game.
More Bethesda news?! Knife of Dunwall, Dishonored DLC released. If you've played the game, the DLC tells the story of the person who murdered the woman in the first part of the vanilla game. It is available on PS3, 360 and PC via Steam etc.

Defiance hit stores a while ago and has come under mediocre reviews. I was skeptical of the game at first, unwilling to buy it as well so you won't be seeing a review from me anytime soon.

Always online games? No we are not talking about MMOs, we are talking about consoles and always online games. This has been circling the webs for sometime and has even caught some backlash. In a tweet, one of Microsoft's employees lashed out at some fans for the idea of always online games being in favor of it (I will not name names but you know who). Said employee no longer works at Microsoft and the company will not comment on what happened or why they chose (or who chose) the decision. No word on the actual outcome of what will happen, however, fans have been speaking in outrage against the idea and plenty of companies keep coming with the conclusion it is a good idea.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Want to Make the Most of Bing Rewards?

Most people that use my phone always bug me about using Bing. I use Bing because I prefer it over Google and Yahoo! and other search engines for many reasons. But it seems that I'm in a minority.

Bing has a program that can help you get free stuff for doing next to nothing though! That's one of the advantages of them not being as big as the other guys.

Bing's program is called Bing Rewards. The title of this blog post was chosen over "How to get free Bing points" simply because this method is more so for those who want to make the most of the program or want to keep using their other search engine. If that's the case, this is the blog post for you.

In order to keep being in the program, the catch is that you have to keep using Bing to search. It doesn't have to be your default search engine or homepage, but you do have to do a minimum amount of searches to keep your rep with them strong. I have multiple Hotmail accounts and when I began using one over the other, I switched Bing Rewards accounts and they continue to remind me that not using the other will forfeit my gold status. Gold status in the program is nice because you can get more points (I believe) and get discounts on rewards in the shop. I am currently a gold member and it didn't take me long to get there following these methods.

Note that this is for those who are already enrolled in the program. Enrolling is 100% free. You simply need a Facebook account and/or a Hotmail (Outlook) account. Visit Bing's webpage to sign up.

Click this link to access the below page.

This is a pretty cool page. It is a "to-do" list and seems to be updated daily. Complete the offers on this page, usually always free things, to get more points. Usually it takes 3 searches to get 1 point; however, with this page, you can get 3 points sometimes just from clicking one link.

Another way to get more points is to check out this page.

Oh, I apologize; did I send you to the Bing homepage? ;) I most certainly did. How can you get more points just by being on this page? Easy.

For those of you who don't use Bing as your default search engine, this is a great way to rack up points daily and keep your status as a gold member. Plus, you'll be able to stay current with the latest gossip and news!

See in the lower left hand corner with all the pictures of people like Rick Warren and Stephen Hawking? These are "trending topics". This is a relatively new online term for topics discussed online. Basically, this is what is being most searched on Bing for the day. These changes at least once every day and sometimes twice or more a day. The only exception to this is something that affects the planet like a nuclear devastation where the same story can be posted for days upon days. Even then, the stories usually change. And Bing doesn't seem to care if it was an old story you viewed.

Visit Bing's page once every day. To be on the safe side, just do it every morning when you wake up or when you first use a web browser. Click every single one of these trending topics. It doesn't mater if you read them or click any links in the search query, just click the images then go back to the Bing page. Once that's done, do a few more searches for random stuff. Anything you can think of. This alone will help you keep your status and rack up points, very slowly though.

The best way to use Bing to get free stuff is to use it as your sole internet search engine. I've been using it for about 2+ years now and have gotten over 2,000 points in my time there. In the past two months alone, I've gotten over 400 points just by using it.

For me, the best reward are the Xbox points because I actually use them and get the most out of them. As you can see, I've got 900 points just sitting around waiting for me to collect. That's two 400 point cards for free! All I've been doing is exactly what I told you guys in the above post.

As Bing gets bigger, we may see drastic changes or a complete removal of this system, so take advantage of it while it lasts! The only reason why Bing has such a program is so that they can rise to the ranks of Google and Yahoo! who have been well established for years.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Survey Scam or Legit?

I received the following e-mail not too long ago and it almost caught me.

          We require secret survey agent,who can help us survey Western Union and Wal-Mart stores(stores might change) secretly without their knowledge as we have received lots of complaints regarding their services.
You will have to use the following pointers below to prepare your report:
- Assessment and advice on customer care.
- Store layout and ease of selection.
- Depth of selection.
- Customer care programme and service audits.
- Staff appearance.
- Staffs approach.
- Staff knowledge of product.
- General Service level.
- Store cleanliness.
- Cash and wrap area appearance.
- Exit polls.
- Telephone surveys, and market research projects undertaken
The funds to shop at Wal-mart stores and to complete the Western Union survey would be provided by us.We feel you are dedicated and request you to fill in the following information below and send us back.
First-Name:Middle-Name:Last-Name:Address:City:State:Zip:Country:Phone-Number:Is there a Western Union outlet nearby to your place(reply with a YES or NO):Is there a Wal-Mart store nearby to your place(reply with a YES or NO):
Payment:You pay would be paid $200 on each evaluation and you could even take this as your part time job,which just requires an hour or so to complete the evaluation.
P.S: A brief description on how to go about the process would also be sent to your address with the funds for future references.
Thank you,Roger Martin.

The thing is that this seems very safe. The sender did not ask for information that could do much to ruin your credit or anything like that and it seemed like a reasonable amount of money too not some outrageous sum like fifty billion dollars or whatever. But then it dawned on me.

Where did this person get my information to send me such an e-mail? What can happen if this person gets all of this information?

In these sort of situations, I'd tell people to beware and not send anything back to the sender. Ask yourself all sorts of questions and be weary if you do end up getting caught in something like this. What might happen is that I could e-mail him all of my information that he asked for and then he says that he needs additional information to complete the paperwork and this is where his phishing would have paid off. And if it didn't, he might sell my information like my e-mail and postal address to companies who would spam the living crap out of me.

I'm almost positive that I've seen other e-mails similar to this coming from a "Roger Martin" and not for the same thing that he's asking for in this e-mail.

I'm not ruling out scam on this one but I'm not going to say that he's legitimate either. I wanted to warn people and cause people to ask questions as you can see I was almost tricked into this. The scammers are getting smarter each and every year but we can be just as smart.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

T-Mobile or Sprint?

At least here in California, I've seen quite a few new commercials about this new "T-Mobile" experience they've got. I decided to check them out for myself by just visiting their website which seems very promising.

What is new is that T-Mobile is offering customers a new way to buy phones. From Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, customers are usually forced into buying a phone with a 2 year contract price. T-Mobile switches it up to get rid of contracts (in a sense).

When you go to a Chevrolet dealer, you don't sign up for a 2 year plan and pay a small price for your car. You eventually pay it all off as time goes on. I never realized it, but cell phone carriers are not like this.

Being on Sprint for me, I'd like to get an iPhone. However, I don't want to buy the 16 GB because it's not enough room for me. Here's their price on the iPhone 5's.

Sure, you pay $199.99 + tax for your phone and never have to pay anything more for the phone itself after that but you are locked into a contract for 2 years. If you got the most basic plan from Sprint for an iPhone, that would be the $79.99 a month plan. Over the course of two years with them, at that price, you'd spend $1919.76. That's also not figuring the extra taxes and charges that Sprint chargers customers.

Below is T-Mobile's price for the iPhone 5.

T-Mobile has a down payment of $99.99. Their cheapest plan will cost you $50 but that's with limited data. For unlimited everything, to be fair in comparison to Sprint, you'd get their $70 plan. On top of that, you'll make payments on your iPhone 5 at a cost of $20.00 for 24 months. 24 months is the same as 2 years so we can do the same comparison here too. Every month, you'll be spending about $90 for everything. For 24 months or 2 years, you'd spend about $2160. That's also not figuring the extra taxes and charges that T-Mobile charges customers.

The difference between the two plans is $240.24. In my mind, this seems worth it. Now I can have the phone that I want at a more reasonable price at checkout. Of course, I will be paying for it in the long term.

I didn't want to get caught up in this though. There are still other factors to consider when it comes to comparing two wireless carriers. We also need to factor in what exactly "unlimited" means for both plans, how large their networks truly are, how fast their networks are, as well as any other differences that may be good or bad.

When comparing prices, it's perfectly fine to compare based on what each company has written down on their website or brochure. That is the true price that they say you will pay. When it comes to defining words and how well a network is, it's best to compare using third-party sources not paid or endorsed by either competitor.

To tackle the newest struggle of unlimited, which is truly unlimited? For me on Sprint, I can vouch for their network and say that it truly is unlimited. No matter how much I download in a month's cycle, my 3G/4G is still available at the normal speed. When it comes to T-Mobile, you may want to read the bottom part of this page. Here's exactly what their page says, word for word in the bottom print below the plan details.

Limited time offer; subject to change. Taxes and fees additional. Participating locations. Domestic only. Not all features available on all devices. Unlimited talk and text features for direct U.S. communications between two people. General Terms: Credit approval, deposit and $10 SIM starter kit may be required. If you switch plans you may be bound by existing or extended contract term (including early termination provisions) and/or an up to $200 fee. Regulatory Programs Fee of up to $1.61 per line/month applies. Taxes approximately 6–28 percent of your monthly bill. Partial megabytes rounded up. Full speeds available up to monthly allotment; then, slowed to up to 2G speeds for rest of billing cycle. Roaming and on-network data allotments differ; see rate plan for details. Family Plan: Limit five lines. All lines must be activated in same T-Mobile market with same billing address and area code. Coverage not available everywhere. Network Management: Data traffic of postpaid plans with limited high-speed data allotments greater than 2 GB will be prioritized over other currently offered plans during periods of congestion. Service may be slowed, suspended, terminated or restricted for misuse, abnormal use, interference with our network or ability to provide quality service to other users, or significant roaming.

T-Mobile had announced this a few years ago and my co-worker confirmed it when he had T-Mobile.

In the past we have seen carriers do this when using the term "unlimited". In the wireless carrier language, "unlimited" does not necessarily mean "unlimited" or infinite. Many Sprint users had complained about this over various forums that Sprint had dropped them from the service for going over 5 GB in a billing cycle. T-Mobile says something similar to this on that same page in a link that you can find here.

"...if your total usage exceeds 5GB (amount is subject to change without notice; please check T-Mobile's T&Cs on for updates) during a billing cycle, we may reduce your data speed for the remainder of that billing cycle."

So is T-Mobile's plan truly unlimited? I guess that depends on which dictionary you use, theirs or yours.

The other thing to question is speed and availability. My cousin and I joked about this at Thanksgiving. I had a Samsung Galaxy S III on Sprint and she had one on Verizon with a new plan. Her new plan forced her to get a data plan that was not truly unlimited. But while we were sitting down, I had no 4G LTE and she did. We joked and said that my plan is truly unlimited, but it takes forever for me to download webpages while hers didn't take very long but she didn't have access to everything in the month so we'd basically even out at the end of the month.

This has been a problem for me and has caused me to overlook AT&T and Verizon plans as they do not offer any unlimited data plans. While they may have larger networks with faster speeds (not necessarily as Sprint's LTE service, when available, can be very fast, up to 40 Mbps according to some users in Texas) they don't give customers the availability to use it to its full potential.

The reason behind this is that they don't want clogged up networks. They have huge customer bases while Sprint and T-Mobile do not. Sprint and T-Mobile's networks can handle more because they don't have lots of customers.

In terms of actual speed, it seems to be unclear of what T-Mobile's 4G speeds are. I have looked and looked but I cannot find any sources that explain how fast their network is. Sprint has had a few people discuss theirs and I have too in doing my own tests. Sprint's 3G network is embarrassingly slow. I hardly ever use my phone to show anyone anything over YouTube and my phone's storage is piling up with songs because accessing the cloud is spotty over 3G. I would really need to know the details of T-Mobile's network speeds before being able to say whether they are better or not as good.

When it comes to network availability, T-Mobile is very vague on their website about what is available.

It seems like T-Mobile really doesn't want you to find their coverage map because you have to pass through three screens before finally arriving at the link for the map. Then the map itself is highly confusing.

You can get T-Mobile's map here.
You can get Sprint's map here.

This map is current as of today, April 6th, 2013 at 10:37 a.m.

So you see that there is green and gray on their map. Some of the map also extends into Canada and Mexico. But notice that I'm on the 3G/4G coverage map. So...T-Mobile: where does 3G cover and where does 4G cover? In T-Mobile's 2G/Voice tab, it's pretty much the same coverage area.

I'd like individual maps if possible. Sprint, on the other hand, does provide individual maps.

Sprint is honest with their map when it comes to 4G LTE. Sprint is still building their network and will admit it as can be seen here. Users report, as I said earlier, that 40 Mbps can be achieved over LTE. For me, close by, 20 Mbps is what I can reach nearby. 3G is terrible in speed but seems to be everywhere in the nation including the northern U.S. which is usually non-existent for most carriers including AT&T and Verizon.

Things actually get more confusing when zooming in with T-Mobile's map.

So it's nice that T-Mobile admits when they only have 2G coverage, but where is 3G and 4G? Is 3G "Good" or "Very Strong" and 4G is "Excellent"? Or what? I'm not exactly sure and I don't think anyone else can be either. For anyone that doesn't know, "Service Partner" refers to roaming on another network which would more likely be AT&T which is about the only other GSM carrier in the United States.

So...which is best? This blog post was started with the intention to discuss T-Mobile's new changes but then I began to think about how well it does compared to other carriers, mostly Sprint.

I have been considering getting a new phone and also leaving Sprint for some time. They've been a good company to me, but their speeds are just not my thing.

T-Mobile's new thing about how to buy a phone has really got me thinking that I'd like to switch. But I need these questions answered when it comes to their data speeds and availability.

Anyone have T-Mobile? What do you think of their service? What are your thoughts on the new changes? Is there anything else that you can see T-Mobile changing?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity Review - 8/10

Since the initial Pokemon games were released, there has been a massive market for the games and merchandises for this series. Over time, however, the Pokemon grind has become stale. Not bad mind you, but it's very much rooted itself and there's little room to divert. You choose a starter, catch some Pokemon, battle etc. Apart from the Ranger series, this is the other spin off of the main Pokemon series: the Mystery Dungeon series. There are a few gripes I have with the Dungeon series and they have to be mentioned before the review. To start it off, you are a human who has now taken on Pokemon form for some reason. You choose a partner and battle along side them. You may think this sounds exactly like the main Pokemon series, but it isn't. You are stuck being a specific Pokemon until you are finished with the game. You can get about two other Pokemon to join you in quests but that's the limit and you still have your other Pokemon partner by your side until the 'end' of the game. Wild Pokemon in dungeons will attack you and by defeating them you gain xp. After a certain point in the story, once you beat an enemy a certain amount of times, they will ask to join your team. Whatever team you have, you are locked into those initial type advantages and disadvantages. Water Pokemon will be weak to electric and grass but strong to others and so on. This is very much a strategy series. You walk around on a grid in a unusually formatted floor doing your best to elevate floors. The only difference is you are controlling yourself/the leader of the team. Your partner will attack how they choose, ignoring type advantages/disadvantages. However, most attacks don't matter. In the main series, some attacks just don't flat out work like Ghost to a Normal while some are less effective. In this that is kind of the case but it doesn't matter. A normal attack will still hit a ghost but will just be less effective. This is one of the main bad points of the series as your partner will constantly not use the smartest attack. That being said, I love the series.

The Good:
This game is really nice and cartoony looking. Most Pokemon games look similar as did the previous Dungeons, but this game is very unique, mostly due to being on the 3DS. Every Pokemon looks real and that's really nice.
Every Pokemon moves anatomically correctly. Fans might notice that Pokemon is both routed in fantasy and reality. Taking myths and folklore and turning them into Pokemon. Before this game, we've never seen how Pokemon move, but in this it is anatomically correct. Short legged Pokemon run with more of a waddle and bigger ones will often use clunky movements rather than a speedier body would. This attention to detail is extremely nice and well done. It's the small things that lead to greatness.
The 3D is actually impressive. I don't use it that much but this is how it's done right. Everything seems to be in a good distance if you were looking at it in real life and things pop or fade into the foreground. Again, the small things are the greatest.

The Bad:
The best thing about the Mystery Dungeon series is the roster. You can choose from every single started in the current generation as well as a few others. In the previous games it was by randomization and you could restart when you didn't get the one you wanted. Apart from that, your gender also locked you out from certain options. This game doesn't have that. There are four you can choose (and I mean outright choose with no guessing) to play as. Let me say that again: four. How many starters are there currently playable in previous generations? Five of three types. That means there are fifteen! In here, you get to choose the three last starters of Gen V and an Axew. Why so little choices? That's what I loved most about Dungeon: the choices.
Again to choices, there's not much here. Even simple faux choices like saying no to an obvious yes answer are completely absent. It really takes me out of the game. I'm sure there's more choices later but when you start off there's not much here.
The attacks are weird. There's a move called Pluck. A flying type move which eats the berry help by the opposer and gives the effect to the user. This movie is erratic. You have a big box in which you hold all your stuff and can give stuff to your teammates. The move takes it at random from your box. I was felled because the Pluck ate an item to revive me on death than another item that breathes fire. Come on! Nerf the ability! You also have a standard attack which uses no attack points and can never be taken away. Too bad it sucks, doing about 5 damage when everyone else is up at 20+.
In previous games, your view of the map was significantly larger. Allowing you to see just about five spaces around you. In here, you're constantly within two spaces seeing distance. Some may say it's good but enemies can come out of nowhere and sweep me like nothing.

The Meh:
This game has DLC? While that's not a bad thing I was expecting more. I thought "well they might have the other starters to be able to buy" but they don't have that either. Right now it's just maps to buy. It's weird to say Pokemon has DLC.
There's plenty of transition sequences. Going into a new area cuts to another transitional black screen for a second. Even in the small town this is prevalent. Is it an issue that is due to the 3DS and not having enough pixels or whatever on the screen at once?
The story is meh but that's how it's been with all the other game's stories as well.

I know this game ducked under the radar but that's how it's been with all the other Pokemon Dungeon games. I personally loved the other games and this is not my favorite of the bunch, but it is in no means a bad game. I'll still be playing it and enjoying the good stuff about it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April Fool's! [Google and YouTube Pranks]

Happy April Fool's Day everyone!

As many of us web-surfers know, Google loves to play its annual prank on guests with some new exciting announcements that seem way too bizarre to ever be released into public hands. Google has continued the tradition into 2013 and has been doing it with YouTube since its acquisition a few years ago.

The slogan is this...
"Who knows what _____ smells like?...Google Nose!" You should say it outloud to get the joke ;)

You can learn more about Google Nose here.

Here's just a small taste of what their product can do.

As for YouTube, they've done their own thing this year.

When logging onto YouTube today, you may notice this new logo.
YouTube is announcing that it will pick the best video on their site and give that individual $500 and an MP3 player and then the website will announce the winner in 10 years after it shuts down tonight. Here's the video.

Gotta love our friends at Google for these funny ideas.
Happy April Fool's Day everyone!

Blog Archive