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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

UnEpic PC Review - 7.9/10

I know I've said it a thousand times before, but... Steam is awesome. For those of you who don't know me, I get bored with games real quick. Suffice it to say I'm bored most all the time whether its due to games not coming out as often as I'd like or more than likely I blew through my last paycheck. So something that's cheap and is mass produced is something more up my alley.
UnEpic is a game made by someone who just put it up on Steam. I don't really know much about it, other than its still a work in progress. The game is slated to add new stuff like multiplayer, but for now I'll just review what I've been given. UnEpic is a game about dungeons and dragons basically. Take in mind this is a work in progress so I won't be judging it too harshly.

The Good:
For those of you who don't know what dungeons and dragons is, its often referring the actual table top D&D which is played more as a board game or a certain genre that utilizes D&D style choices. If you've played Skyrim you haven't played a D&D style game. If you've played Morrowind... you're getting closer but still not there. The reason I bring this up is because the game is heavily based on this style, down to it's narrative as the 'protagonist' was playing the game before getting into the dungeon world. D&D is a style which forces you to think realistically. Life and death can be very skewed as picking up something may be more detrimental to your survival if you had just left it there. This is clearly laid out at the beginning of the game and is one of it's major strengths. It's like if you were dropped into Skyrim but your weren't the Dragonborn, you were just another adventurer. Everything has the opportunity to kill you and you are at the mercy of your own skill and wit. Playing a game where I am badass all the time gets to be a bit tiresome, so it's refreshing to see my actions and choices have an impact on how well I do. It's not on the level of Demon/Dark Souls, but it's up there.
I really do like how the game is laid out. It's from a 2D perspective with no focus on the player. Once you enter a room, it's usually dark until you like some torches should you so please. Its hard to explain but think of it like you see the entire level on the screen and your character is just at one point or another. This works well for this game, giving it a claustrophobic feeling and almost scary considering you have no idea what is around the corner.
Enemies can and will kill you... but they are predictable. A game like Dark Souls (for me) got this wrong. Enemies were almost completely unpredictable. The bosses were, however, you would be killed before you could even begin to see any kind of pattern they had. The bosses are tough in this one, but you usually get a warning as well as a few possible ways out before and during fighting them. If a boss is too tough, then you should buy a teleportation item before hand just in case. Keeping your armor in perfect condition, as well as buying the best armor suited for you as well as weapons, will work drastically in your favor. Being comfortable with your weapons is crucial, as well as timing and using potions as well as magic when it is best.
There's a fair bit of tongue and cheek moments here and there. Since the protagonist is a D&D player, he has his own reservations about what is going on as well as his own current world input on a medieval-esque place. My one major gripe is this is what you'll be seeing about 90% of the time. Want an example? There is a mission in which you kill a guy for a trophy then have sex with a bunch of troll women. I'm sure there was a better way to say that, but there wasn't any other brutally honest way either. In the same quest, our hero utters the words, "I guess you haven't heard the saying: A hole's a hole." It's times like this when I am embarrassed to say I play games.

The Bad:
Even at the lowest difficulty, the game is tough. I usually find this to be true with most games. There is a lower difficulty for a reason. I'm not saying make it too easy for me, but there are certain moments when I can truly say "I am playing on the easiest difficulty, don't make 1-hit enemies". The easy mode is passable, however, I like to enjoy my games rather than be punished by them.
As I've said before, there is a bit too much humor. It was funny at first, but after a while I just skipped over these moments. I get why there was these many moments, I just wish they weren't so many and one after another.

The Meh:
You know who there's mana or magicka in other games? You know, a magic bar which usually regenerates? This isn't the case here. You pick up magical essences from slain enemies, depending on the type of enemy (ie. Fire drops fire essences etc). These do a variety of things but namely to power spells. I get why this was done (to make sure your character isn't too strong, at least not without little effort) but it's a step back for most people including me. Instead of something I can rely on, I have to check and see whether or not I can fire off a spell or if I should. Again, good game design that makes sense but just isn't fun. The same can be said for you inventory. Equipping weapons takes time (makes sense) but certain things like potions that take time to drink and can be interrupted by the slightest tap make for annoying boss battles. Like literally the second boss I had to fight was a fire dragon. The guy kicked my ass needless to say so I tried to drink a potion to stop my burning and heal myself, only to have him sweep across the screen and kill me in one stroke and I was unable to move.

This game isn't great but it isn't terrible. for 8 bucks it's not bad. Pick up a copy if you hate how easy Skyrim is and want something a bit more challenging. The game keeps updating for me, so there is probably plans for further updates in the future and it has been said that the price will go up when certain things are added.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sprint LTE Test June 23, 2013 Los Angeles

Sprint has been hard at work on this new LTE rollout to neighborhoods across the United States and is working very hard in the Los Angeles area.

A few months ago, even before the official announcement, I posted about Sprint's blazing fast LTE in Lakewood and Bellflower that hit speeds close to 20 Mbps which is faster than many household cable services including my own. Near my house, I have been getting an LTE notification on my iPhone 5 and was for a while on my Samsung Galaxy S III. Unfortunately, I would receive the signal but it wouldn't allow me to use any bit of the data and would load for an infinite amount of time.

Today, my internet at the house wasn't working too well so I switched over to the mobile network to find that LTE is working. I ran a test using's iPhone app and here are my results:

The result isn't perfect nor is it terrible. The speed was 8.11 Mbps in the download speed which is actually pretty good considering Sprint's slow 3G service.

Last Saturday, I traveled to Santa Cruz and on the way began losing reception but saw bits and pieces here and there with LTE service that ran pretty smoothly.

Props to Sprint for rolling out the new network. I and many other Californians can't wait to get the new network going. I appreciate the unlimited use of the network too. I have friends who have Verizon and AT&T phones and receive LTE everywhere but can't use it all so I'm very satisfied with Sprint at the moment.

What's going on in your neighborhood? Are you receiving LTE signals or has your cell provider announced a rollout of the new network?

UPDATE: Due to an enoromous and annoying amount of spam, I am blocking any and all future comments on this entry.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS Review - 9.4/10

Too often I hear about immersion in games. Whether it's that there's not enough of it or once and a while when one game just gets it right. This is one of those games that gets immersion down perfectly. I'll be doing this strickly from the stand point of a gamer. I personally never could get into either Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon games that much, despite knowing how well made they are.

The Good:
The game looks really nice. It's nice to see how portable games have taken steps to look nicer and sleeker. On a side note, this game looks really good in 3D. I didn't use it extensively, but it does look like the best 3DS game in 3D I've seen.
There's a level of immersion you won't find in certain games. The game runs on a set clock so when you go to bed and wake up in real life, your game will have progressed in time as well. Stores will only open at certain times as well as close at different times, forcing you to time what you do in game as well as out of game to get the fullest experience. Though if that's not for you, you can easily change the time to your liking.
There's a lot to do in this world. Aside from collecting (bugs, fruit that is different for other people, tools, fishes, home furnishings), you can also work towards the 'main' goal of being mayor. When you're completely finished with this, you'll have 100% approval rating with everyone. Most games tend to cut corners on this or force you to complete the goal. Animal Crossing is all about freedom in the space you have. For the first few days, I ignored my mayoral duties just so I could pick up trash and sell it to buy more tools or paying off my mortgage. You can also buy a variety of clothes that change each day. Sometimes you'll find rare clothes that are specific to Nintendo like Midna's Mask, three red shells, Metroid/Zelda/Mario stuff and so on. I really like the attention to detail and the devotion to the fans this shows.
You can pretty much choose anything. From where your house is built, to adding on to your house, to the placement of your furniture and even the town's layout.
The dialogue is refreshing and very aware of itself. In terms of finding out who you are, the game does a simple conversation to ask you who you are, what your gender is and what your town's name will be. I cannot express how refreshing it is to have almost complete control.
I really hate how conversations droll on at times so now holding the B button powers through conversations. This is especially useful when dealing with people like Ressetti and Nook. As I A) don't need to hear what they're saying because B) I've already heard it before.

The Meh:
The game does a lot of "I'm sure they understand how to do this". I unfortunately never got to customize my character's looks and even heard I could use my Mii as my character, which I never found out how to do. Maybe I'll find out later, but at this point it's too late to change. I did get my character randomized to look like me so it's not too much of a drag.

This is a game that is great for kids and adults alike. The level of detail and immersion is sometimes astounding and is well done. Pick it up if  you're a Nintendo fan or you just like Animal Crossing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to Make Windows 7 Look Like Mac OSX!

Windows 7 is a solid operating system. It's very stable, reliable, and works well. Many of us also like Macintosh and how it looks. Others of us just want to fool others when they open up our computer.

At a glance or to a novice, this could fool you into thinking that I screenshot this image from a Macintosh computer. There are a few dead-giveaways such as Internet Explorer, a few icons are not correct, and there is a missing menu bar at the top of the screen. But for the most part, would you say that I was able to get it to look very similar? Below, I'll list the programs that I used to get it to look this way.

The tutorial below can not only help you change to a Mac looking user interface but can also give you some extras you may want or just help with changing the look and feel of Windows in many different ways.

First is the Nexus bar. Here is the download link where I got mine:

Once you've extracted it and installed the program, you will have to make a few changes. Some of these changes will be in changing the appearance of the dock, what is on the dock and what isn't, the ability to add running applications and system tray icons, and setting the dock to be placed in the center of the screen. Those are the basic settings that I used plus some extra tweaks for my personal preference. The Nexus bar is really nice.

I ridded my Windows taskbar by moving it to the side, locking it, and making it so that it only pops up when I hover over it. As far as disabling or deleting it, I wouldn't advise for that. The Windows taskbar was built into Windows 7 and earlier versions for a reason and removing it could cause problems with your system. Plus, imagine if something were to go wrong with your Nexus bar. You would be stuck.

For me, I moved my bar to the top; however, that was getting in the way when I'd try to minimize, maximize, and close windows so I moved it to the side. I moved it to my right side because I hardly go over there. But truthfully, if you want to be as authentic as Mac is with right-sided icons, you should move it to your left hand side since you won't be going over that way too often.

Second is two parts. First, download this theme for Windows:

This theme in .wba file format is not executable within the normal Windows theme selector. You will need to download a second program to open it, found here:

Even if you don't end up using it to make it look like Mac, WindowBlinds seems useful for customizing Windows in any way you'd like.

Simply open the downloaded .wba file once you've downloaded and installed WindowBlinds. Currently, there are no free versions except a 30 day trial.

This theme will now give Windows' windows a makeover with their close, minimize, and maximize buttons. There will also be a new button in the top left hand corner of all of your applications. Unfortunately, the theme doesn't seem to affect iTunes much. Perhaps someone could tweak it enough and find a solution to this. This theme will also add the light blue scroll wheel on pretty much all applications besides iTunes once again. The theme will also change the look and design of Windows Explorer windows. It doesn't get them perfectly, but as close as it can.

Third is to get yourself some cursors. Visit this link:

Simply download and install the installation package and you'll be sent to your mouse settings to change them instantly.

The last and final piece is to get the right icons and wallpaper. These can be found very easily within any search engine. Just search for "Mac wallpaper" and "Mac icons". I don't post links to any of these because the harder you search, the better your results will be. Mine were some of the better ones but I could get better ones that are more authentic.

If you want to change a Windows system icon, right click anywhere on your desktop of choose "Personalize". From there you should have an option in the left hand corner for changing icons. Click here. Once you've downloaded the desired icons, navigate to the file location and select your icon choice. Do this for each and every system application you want changed.

If you want to change files, this gets more complicated but not difficult, just redundant. Right click the desired file or folder and then click "Properties". Under the "Customize" tab, you will be able to change the icon here. This method works for any folder and just about any and all applications.

There are additional steps that can be done to change the look and feel of your Windows experience such as changing the boot logo to be that of an Apple logo, the sounds of your user interface, and adding the classic Mac menu bar. There are programs out there that can give your Windows environment a Mac menu bar. I found a few in the past but none seem to work well with the UI. It's your choice if you add it or not.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing PC Review - 9/10

Ooh, seems as though I've stumbled into some luck with my gaming recently. I do so love to give games a 9 or higher.
Story behind why I bought this game? I guess I liked Torchlight but I had a few gripes with the games. Nevertheless, I do like Torchlight 1 and 2. I just always felt it was a bit too cartoony, ya know? Not bad just sometimes I want to see the dungeon crawling, loot grab 'em genre a bit more dark. And what's more darker than Van Helsing?

The Good:
The graphics aren't too bad. Though that's probably to do with it automatically adjusting it's settings to best suit my performance. Nothing to hate, it does it's job. Why did I put it in good? Well too often people say the best graphics win out... which is to say no one says that but it seems developers usually do. Performance plays out. Simple as that.
The game runs fairly smoothly. Nothing to hate again. Even when the screen is crowded with enemies, my performance barely falters.
There's a variety of enemy types which is nice. Taken from classic horror stories like werewolves or something of imagination like robotic automatons. Yes, seriously. Aside from skill leveling up and collecting loot, the main focus of a dungeon crawler save the dungeons is the enemies within. Speaking of skills...
This game has perhaps one of the more unique and refreshing skill systems I've seen. You have pretty much three skills. One for melee, one for ranged and one for these things called auras. Melee is pretty straight forward as is ranged. However, once you buy a skill, you can then level it up as you please, as well as add special things to it like my lighting strike skill can have a few more enemies stunned, go through more enemies etc. Certain extra passives to skills can only be bought if the skill is of high enough level, the highest of which I've seen is 10. This adds a nice point to it, as I may like a skill so much and even at higher levels, it still is worth using as well as unique should I choose it to be. Auras are split up into two different sections (the second of which I can't remember...). Auras function mostly as passives as well as extra skills not tied to the normal melee/ranged skill trees. Passives are used as they are name like passives. The other side is alternate spells that you can use like heal or shield. Instead of upgrading these via a tree, you can buy them from an alchemist vendor and they require no leveling up to have them already used (like I buy it, and it already has a single point to it). This is really nice considering once at higher levels, skill points usually become more scarce. So in the mean time, I can level up these little things helping me along the way.
There's an interaction with a ghost companion that follows you around that I find nice. In Torchlight, it's pretty much a lonely, dialogue-less place. Your pet won't speak to you and the most you'll hear is "Your pet has departed" and "Your pet is back from town". Katerina (probably butchered the spelling) is a ghost which the previous Helsing, this one's father, rescued and is now indebted to the family. Through the game, they have little spats with each other, Kat being head strong and cocky while Helsing is a professionalist tried and true. If Helsing was our only speaker, it'd get boring real fast, but how they play off of each other is nice. Speaking of which, your companion also has her own abilities. She levels up like you and can be given the gear you don't need for herself, as well as an extra storage compartment. She has three 'stances' we'll say. She can attack with melee, ranged or just be incorporeal and grant you a resistance buff.

The Bad:
I personally don't find it bad, but most people do: the scenery. If you know anything about Van Helsing it's that he is a monster hunter. And second to that is monsters live in dreary places absent of color. While this does go with the theme of the character, most people hate the dreary settings and the lack of color, but personally I like how they kept it drab.
At times, the screen swarms with enemies. And at times, this is a drag. Mostly because I can't really see what I need to hit, be it the small fries or the big champions which do things like sap my mana. Most times I just found myself swinging aimlessly.

The Meh:
The camera angle is too far back for my taste. It's not bad but personally I'd like to see the gear and how it looks on my character. Again, just a small gripe I have.
Fifteen bucks? Eh... I guess so. The game does cost fifteen bucks which is a step up from the ten that Torchlight costs. I guess it's worth it but you'll have to be the judge of that yourselves.
Hm... almost 9 gigs of space to download this thing. While not being the largest space taken up (20 gigs for Dragon Age) it still is a large amount of space. This cuts away from bad from the feeling I get thinking this game must have a lot of content.

In to the dungeon crawling, loot snatch 'em genre? I personally don't think you can go wrong with this then.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gunpoint PC Review - 9/10

"A clever stealth game that uses clever and smart solutions to your obstacles." There, just gave you a quote you can use for promoting the game.
This game... is really good and unique as well. I was following this for about a few months and I was immediately impressed with what I could see. The main feature of the game is the ability to rewire switches and hand pads so that you can use them against your enemies. Whether it's something violent like dropping them throw something, shocking them or something less violent like turning off the lights to either sneak around an enemy or sneak up behind them and stealthily take them out. It seems like the guy who made this game thought of just about everything.

The Good:
The graphics are nice... as nice as less than 64 bit graphics can be, but still, nothing to complain about. Since the graphical requirements are so low, just about every PC can play this game to it's fullest intent of fast paced stealth gameplay.
The conversations between other characters can be pretty funny at times. Not bawling but like a chuckle. It's nice to see a bit of thought put into dialogue. The only real options you'll find, so far as I've seen, to talk to others is in mission debriefings. You have a few choices and they don't really affect the gameplay as far as I've seen. I don't see it as a downside, I see it as an attention to what is the main point of the game. That being the gameplay itself.
Why don't people add the ability to upgrade your character more? There is an upgrade system and it's needed at times. Sometimes you'll need to purchase a new piece of equipment for a mission. Apart from that, after every mission you'll get a few points to put towards on of your main skills that is called Bullfrog. Bullfrog allows you to charge up and jump far. Bullfrog also allows you to jump on enemies and from there its your choice if you want to mercilessly beat them to death, or simply just knock them out. I had a bit of a laugh the first time I knocked out someone. I thought they'd wake up so I kept beating on them and a little box kept saying "Alright that's good" and then "Um... okay you can stop now". Upgrades are easily gotten from completing missions. Once you complete a mission, you get some money. You won't be able to buy everything immediately, rather the cooler yet not needed things take a bit more money to acquire.

The Bad:
Back to the upgrade system, there's not much here. Your skill points only go towards two things, all pertaining to the Bullfrog ability above: making it take less time to charge and how powerful said full charge will be. As far as I've come in the game (about 10 or so missions) there doesn't seem to be anymore things I can upgrade. Hopefully I'm wrong. I do so like to upgrade things.

It's really impressive what a single guy can do with time on his hands. Even for a team, this game would have still been impressive. This game was well made and I'd like to see the guy behind this do more things. It seems the game has been going well since it was released, so it's nice to see that good game design and hard work is rewarded.