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Sunday, December 28, 2014

What can I expect from Star Wars as a gamer?

Sorry about the last post. Weird stuff going on... Anyways, I thought I'd talk a bit about my favorite series of all time, Star Wars. Being a gamer and a huge Star Wars fan don't gel together well often. "What, are you kidding?" most of you will say. "Knights of the Old Republic was a MASTERPIECE." Lets go ahead and say why that doesn't count. Yes, Knights of the Old Republic (Kotor) IS a masterpiece. Its a well thought out game with a narrative that basically screams "this is why the extended universe kids ass at times" and its garnered its own devout fan base and rightfully so. Bioware is a company I hold dear to my heart as being both well rounded, conscious of their fans but also delivering a solid and sometimes movie worthy narrative in their video games. Why doesn't it count? It was a one time deal. See after that, not much else. Kotor 2 came out and... it wasn't good. Sure, it wasn't terrible. But it was buggy to high hell and there's so much cut content it'd be like if I took the B, L or T out of a BLT. B, L and T make up 33% of the actual sandwich and it wouldn't be the same without one. Fans have gone through the content and released mods putting that content back into the game. And this isn't like on the level of side mission, rather important parts or otherwise things that only made the game better. So, Kotor was lighting striking once. Great game that unfortunately didn't gain momentum.
Sure, there are other games that are decent with Star Wars attached to them but they never really did anything for me. The Jedi Knight series I hear is good, but ultimately I've only played one game of it and I thought it wasn't bad. Of course, there was the mess that was Star Wars Kinect but that's a cheap shot. Personally I don't hate Force Unleashed because I really like the actor who played the main character. "But what about Battlefront!" Ah yes, Battlefront. Good game that boils down to little more than a Team Fortress shooter. Sorry, but it is. The most you can get is the campaign and that does little more than send you around to different battles. Sure, the battles are epic but there's not much variety. When it comes down to it, space battles are the only thing I feel really gets me going for those games. The lightsaber combat is just as clunky as it was in the Knight series but somehow with even less of the depth. So sue me. I'm not really looking forward to the new Battlefront game, most of all because EA.
Oh, EA. Punching bag of the industry. I'm not going to get into this too much. EA can certainly do a good job at being a good company but when it really comes down to it, their track record speaks for itself. I still play The Old Republic from time to time, which is EA's wet dream basically. Star Wars plus MMO. I've probably quit the game at least twice now for a bunch of reasons but they're usually the same. What's to stop them from making Battlefront into a FPS MMO? I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say, no. Its going to be more like Battlefield and Titan Fall. Just pay and you've got the game. Of course there will be DLC, which I'm fine with to be honest. I think EA is handling DLC better now and in fact, handling it better than Steam in their own ways. With Steam I have to jump through a few hoops to see if I've got the DLC and then get puzzled if I don't have it. Then I need to go on some forums to see that the DLC I didn't get with my Season Pass doesn't include that, which sucks a whole lot. Origin has their DLC in a nice secluded window and you can see what's downloaded, what can be downloaded and what has to be purchased all with a simple click of the button. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer Steam if only the fact that Steam has at least a thousand games for sale as well as programs while Origin probably has just barely hit the triple digits in their library of games.
The hope I had for Star Wars games was punched in the face when Lucas Arts was dissolved and 1313 died along with it, kicked on the ground when I heard EA would handle all Star Wars games and thrown into a grave when I found out that there was going to be a Darth Maul game that was going to be dark and focused on stealth. I just feel like I'm never going to get another Star Wars game I can be proud of. Bioware is sure to be at the helm of any further Star Wars games so I have a sliver of hope. Oh well. I just hope the movies are good.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lionhead! READ THIS

Hello all. Hope you had an excellent holiday before we all inevitably have to go back to work. Sorry for reminding you.
Steam sale! So awesome. I love these things. I get to pick up a lot of games I would have otherwise overlooked. One of the games I picked up was Fable Anniversary. A game that was panned across the board on its 360 exclusive release which was then ported over to PC when they realized it was a stupid idea to keep people from giving them money. The ironic thing about this being that when it first came out, Fable pretty much flopped. Peter Molyneux, for all the crap I give him a lot of it deserved, was pretty much the sole reason this game both succeeded and failed. Giving grandiose lies about how advanced the game was at the time, which if all of what he said was true then the game would still be advanced to this day, which ultimately got people interested in it. Eventually we all played it and it was not the experience we were hoping for. It was generic, with a bit of humor, but all in all it wasn't terrible. About a 7 for me. Somehow, and thank god, the game got a sequel... and then another game. Weirdly enough, the games were endearing. Garnering its own following by a select few that even got it a terrible Kinect game which cannot nor should not be forgotten.
So I got a game that was an HD remake of a game panned and the remake ITSELF was panned by critics and some fans alike. I am a Fable fan, and I can't tell you why because its impossible. Since I was not of age to buy the first game, I had to get it later knowing full well the scrutiny and I liked it. Liked the second game too and... I loved the third. Don't get me wrong, the series has its glaring problems. I'm not going to list them because anyone who's played the games will immediately see them. The games have been polishing themselves as time went on... save for the Kinect game. Every game afterward came with some new improvement that changed the last. Fable's arrows and crossbows were slow, so in came guns. Guns were pretty much just flintlock and rifle, so they became better. Instead of buying new weapons that quickly became useless, you bought the next best one or found a better one and got rid of the other one. Eventually that got old hat too so they added the ability to have a weapon that got better as you used it. Story was a bit thin and bland first game so it stretched a bit in the second game and became even greater in the third game.
If you want to become a game designer, I really suggest you look at Fable as a series. There's a lot of bumps in the road for a somewhat decent series. Eventually what it comes down to is progression in both good and bad ways. As the games went on, even the morality choices (which people have a problem with in this day and age for some sensible but most stupid reasons) got less Black and White (wink wink), making for a more sensible game. Of course, they are black and white for their own reasons. Steal from your treasury which will basically allow your citizens to live from an impending attack, obviously that's bad.
But really, why am I talking about this? The answer is simple: Why can't I buy Fable 3 on Steam? Pretend I said that loudly because I'm sort of mad. No seriously, I am. My favorite game in the series is no longer there because of that stupid Windows Live. Can't use my 360 anymore because its broken and I'm not going to sink money into a basically dead console or buy a new one either. I want to give them money for something I like. Its weird when I can't give money to people. Windows Live, you are the bane of my existence. I either can't play a game because you are doing something so idiotic it either makes it impossible to play or my patience can't handle you, you annoy me constantly and even after your death you take things away from me that I like. The only use I found for you was in Dark Souls, making it so I could send hateful messages to people who invaded me.
"But, by your logic, shouldn't Fable Anniversary be the best of the series? Since it came after 3 and therefore has learned from its mistakes?" No, its not. Its an HD remake of an inherently broken game which didn't really fix any problems. Can't get to the extra content cause you didn't kill your sister and take the evil path? What the hell, why would I still want that? It makes no sense. Combat is clunky, magic is... well its decent. Pretty good actually. Enemies are cheap and stupid. Had a guy literally juggle me into an inescapable combo of me getting totally fucked. I only got out of it because of a spell I had the foresight to buy.
What am I trying to say? Its after midnight, after Christmas and I'm being weird. I just want Fable 3 I guess. I would pay 20 bucks for the game, not including the DLC. Weird of me? Eh. People have their favorite games. Some bad, some good. This game isn't even my favorite, I just love it a lot. So, put it back up, I will give you money for it and we all walk away happy, right? Also is there a Fable 4 soon? I'd definitely buy that. Call me up, I've got a few tips for you.

Have you got any weird games that you love secretly or otherwise? Why not tell me about them. Or you can rant and rave about how this post makes no sense.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This War of Mine PC Review - 8.5/10

Merry (almost) Christmas! You know what I need? Some depressing games! Wait no... that's not what I need. Its kind of weird. I never heard much about this game. I saw a preview for it and I knew I wanted to play it. Luckily I had some left over cash after Christmas shopping and it was pretty cheap.

The Good:
The ascetics of this game are really superb. Background noises of artillery fire, bullets being shot. A drab and dreary look to all of the graphics. Really brings home that this is in the middle of a war. Instead of being 'White-Man McProtagonist Bullet Sponge', you're a random person. Actually you're not even a person. Sort of like the godlike creature that controls The Sims where you tell people where to go and what to do. Makes for a better sense of 'outside looking in', where people aren't constantly babbling on about the horrors of war, more or less talking about their shared experiences. A few times I walked into a building to scavenge and a character had a personal story about the place. "I used to come here with my parents when I was a kid," or "I heard that when the bombing started the children were still in class." No character really has a 'woe is me' mood, more just trying to drive home these are normal people simply trying to survive.
Each character has their own thing that makes them better at something than others. I had a guy who was good at cooking, a guy who could run fast and a woman who was a decent barterer. It wasn't that they were stuck in these roles, more that I had a better idea of who to send to scavenge if I wasn't sure if there were enemies and who to send to barter.

The Bad:
Combat is really bare bones. The one time I really got into it was when I sneaked into a place where there were enemies and I got caught. I got taken out pretty quickly as they had guns and I had only my fists. Basically, all you can do is click to hit someone. Click, click, click. As weird as it is, I wish there were some elements of stealth combat. At least being able to take out people if you are unseen. It would add a different layer to the game.
All characters have the same stats. Like there are static characters and their stats won't change if you have a new game. This doesn't seem really sensible to me. Some characters will arguably have better skills while some have 'Loves Children' which probably does absolutely nothing.
There's not a lot of choices to be made. More or less its just what are you going to do during the day or night. There should be a lot more choices in my opinion. Say, since my home keeps getting raided maybe there should be a new crafting choice that allows you to rebuild and fortify your home. Or perhaps, since you've already searched your home you could move your group to another. Or maybe when you've searched the entire area you can go to a new location with new places. I know its to force me into making more horrible decisions as a commentary on war, but its kind of messed up when I have to go ahead and murder the old man and wife just to get at their precious food supplies. I wish there was a way to get replenishable food, say a garden or a nursery for animals.

If anyone knows anything about my reviews is when I have a lot to complain about the minute details about a game, it usually means I like the game itself. Its a good game, don't get me wrong, but it could have been better.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cheap Tablets are Never Good

Everyone secretly wants an iPad. No matter what people say, they would gladly take and use a free iPad, if given one. Unfortunately for most people, an iPad's price is not reasonable enough. Corporations know this and have taken advantage of this market, thanks to Google's open-source operating system, Android.

A co-worker at work asked me to take a look at her Coby Kyros MID1125 tablet because it won't turn on for her. She told me about how she bought this tablet about two years ago and it worked for about a week then suddenly stopped. She said she contacted Coby to get a replacement, but Coby told her that she'd have to pay $15 and ship it herself to get a replacement. She never went through with it because it wasn't worth it to her. But since meeting me, she felt like maybe I could fix it for her. I agreed and took it home tonight.

I'm going to let you guys in on a secret of mine, but when people come to me with issues with their electronics, I usually first Google (Bing) the device's name, model number and/or name, and the issue I'm experiencing. Unfortunately...there's not a lot of information on this particular tablet model and many more Coby tablets like it. No manuals, and not much other information such as rooting, but lots of people with similar stories like my co-workers'. It's really aggravating, to be honest.

I found a lot of other people who are seeing the same issues with their Coby tablets and them just not turning on. There's a reset button on a lot of these tablets that's supposed to fix issues like this, but it does no good for me or many others seeing these issues. Knowing about Android devices and button combinations, I tried a few button combos as well as long-pressing buttons for 5+ minutes with zero luck. I'm guessing the issue must be hardware-related and my friend said I could open it, so I opened it.

Boy oh boy...by looking at the price tag on these things (not cheap cheap, but cheap for tablets), I wasn't expecting a top of the line processor or other hardware, but mannnnn, this is some straight up garbage! Wires are taped all over the place, with stationary tape, no less, old, sticky glue stuck all over the place and my hands, a battery that's soldered onto the board...just crap on top of crap on top of crap...

Feeling sorry for my friend, I decided that I'd personally see if Coby would make an exception and give her a replacement for free. I was going to raise hell even for a 2 year old device because I think their business standards are pretty crummy. I Bing'd "Coby" and came up with, what appears to be their official website, www.cobyusa.com only to find this:
There's absolutely nothing else on the page except this logo. No links, nothing. And after inspecting the webpage, there's no other designs or links, even hidden in the page. So I did some extra digging.

I came on this news website that had some shocking details for me about the company: http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/coby-electronics-warranties-now-worthless
I suppose that it's not entirely shocking or surprising, but it was pretty disappointing. A company as disgusting as this was allowed to just go away under bankruptcy and leave all of these disappointed customers with broken devices and no hope of any reimbursement or replacement. Another company buys the brand name but doesn't have any obligation to take over the concerns and complaints of the prior company.

Coby isn't the only company out there like this. There are many more companies out there making cheap tablets and poor design and quality isn't the only concern, unfortunately.

Over the past holiday after Thanksgiving came Black Friday and Cyber Monday which are supposed to offer great deals on various products. Many of these products were cheap tablets from makers like Coby and it seemed like each of these stores had their own cheap brand.

News media outlets got wind of the news and spread it like wildfire during the two deal-days. One of the other concerns besides these being poor quality devices is that they also pose security risks. Not to sound discriminatory, but a lot of these cheap tablets are made in China and Chinese electronic devices aren't known to be made well or to be trustworthy in not containing some sort of malicious software like adware that either spams you with advertisements and/or attempts to steal your identity. It's the price you pay for a cheap device. The company feels like they need to make their money back and then some.

The next time I see my co-worker, I'd like to recommend to her, and to anyone else considering these cheap devices: do not purchase these. Save up for a more decent one or choose to safely buy a used device from Craigslist. And if you do buy a cheap device, use it cautiously and don't rely too heavily on it. Use it just for gaming and light web browsing. Do not ever use it to log on to your bank account, to make any purchases of any kind, and I wouldn't even recommend you to log into any e-mail accounts or even social media websites like Facebook.

The cheap tablets were a nice idea to help customers who want an iPad but can't afford the price tag, but the execution is extremely flawed and ends up hurting these people who just wanted a little premium entertainment.

Monday, November 24, 2014

[Review] Far Cry 4 (PS4) (Single Player campaign only)

(I will not be discussing multiplayer and the map editor in this review. This review only discusses the single player campaign of the game.)

A little background before I begin this review, I have played Far Cry 1 and 2 on Xbox 360 and Far Cry 3 on Xbox 360 and PC. I want to get that out there so you guys can understand a little bit more about how I will go about reviewing this. I will be reviewing it based a lot on how it steps up the game on its previous installments more so than how it plays as a game in general.

Also, before I begin, I would love to thank Sony for allowing use PlayStation 4 users to be able to upload gameplay videos and pictures very easily without additional, expensive software/hardware! This is, the first?, console game review that I'll be able to do including pictures and videos from the actual game thanks to software within the PS4 that allows gamers to do so.

Lately, it's sad but game developers and publishers release one solid game and then release a bunch of sequels to that game that should really be released as $30 DLCs, not full length games that they charge users $60 for. When Ubisoft began to unleash trailers and teasers for the newest installment in their Far Cry series, I assumed this would be just another one of those cheap releases to get some extra cash out of gamers hungry for new action. I was wrong and right. Allow me to explain.

In the beginning of the game, I felt like this game was just an expensive DLC for Far Cry 3. There didn't seem to be too many new additions nor anything else except a new map and a few new ways to play in the FC universe. But me, enjoying FC3, continued playing to see what else was in store. My initial perception was absolutely wrong.

Graphics wise, the game does not meet expectations many of us had expected of the title. Being the first title in the Far Cry series on a next gen system, we'd assume it would take advantage of this new hardware; however, sadly, it doesn't seem to be much better than Far Cry 3. Take a look for yourself below.


Now, of course, do keep in mind that there will be a difference depending on the screen that you are viewing this picture on versus how it appears within the game. Also, keep in mind that I am using the PS4 version and that the Xbox One and PC versions may have differences too.

I took this picture in the way that it is to show you how human NPCs (non-playable character), the scenery, and shadows all play together. Unfortunately, it appears that the screenshot did not capture what I had seen on the screen in terms of shadows. As I had seen on the television, the gun had a shadow over half of it and light over the other half to show how detailed the shadows would be. But it seems that the PlayStation 4 was not able to capture this in a screenshot for me. The same is true of the videos I will show you as well. Playing them on the PlayStation 4 as a video versus actually playing the game shows that the quality has been degraded most likely to keep the file size small and allow for as long of a time as it can. I have not found a way to change the quality as I wouldn't mind to take up some space just for the best quality for reviews so please forgive me.

Far Cry 3 did set the record for me, personally, in terms of water texture. In many games, it seems so difficult for developers to capture the true beauty of water. Even in superb games like the Grand Theft Auto series, it seems that they can get everything to look amazing except when it comes to water. Far Cry 3 was the only game to convince me the most that there was actual water in front of me. Far Cry 4 does an even better job at creating lovely water effects.

The quality of the sound with the water also has been done exceptionally well. I noticed the sounds of footprints as I walked from forest into a swampy areas into water. The sounds are extremely accurate when you pay attention to the detail. The squish sounds different with each step taken. One true difference from many other games I've witnessed. The gun physics play nicely as well as did in FC3.

Driving behind the wheel of vehicles feels much better than in FC3. Here are some screenshots and a video detailing two of the vehicles, a truck and dune buggy, and fighting with some of the local scumbags of the Royal Army.








The game's mechanics have been improved when it comes to combat. Players are given many new options to use in addition to the many others that Far Cry has been known for and what Far Cry 3 had introduced to gamers two years ago.

I'd be wrong to not highlight that this game finally allows players to deal damage to enemies from behind the wheel. In the video below, you can see a bit of the action as I fight off some enemies while driving and flying. It was one of the things that I wanted most of FC3 because it just seemed so odd to have never been introduced into the game in the first place.

In the first video, we see the newly introduced vehicle, the helicopter and how it's used.

The helicopter was in all of the previous Far Cry games; however, players were never given the option to fly one until this game showed up. The helicopter seen in Far Cry 3 is seen in this one; however, a smaller helicopter, piloted by one person, seems to be the only available one to players looking to fly across Kyrat. Perhaps we'll see new ones in DLCs? ;)

In addition to using a helicopter, I also demonstrate how a player can fight ground units and also die from the helicopter.



I guess you could call them vehicles, but they're back from Far Cry 3. The parachute and wingsuit make appearances in this game as well.



What I love most about these is that they are available to the player from the start of the game. My, how it was annoying to wait so long to be able to "fly" through the map. Ubisoft finally got it and made it available to players from the start of the game...for a fee, of course. In the game's digital currency. It's not a DLC either, thank God.

Far Cry 4 has your standard vehicles too, of course, as I had mentioned earlier but with two twists. I showed you guys the combat from a helicopter earlier, but now here's a video demonstrating the combat from car to car.


As you guys already saw, the game also uses a new system that allows for "auto-pilot" which is, you guessed right, allowing the player to move from one point on the map to another without having to actually drive themselves. This is good for many reasons. One such is that the map is sometimes so huge that it can literally take you hours to go from one end to another especially if you need to get a vehicle from one point to another. There is fast travel, but it doesn't work if you need to take a vehicle with you. Another reason is that it makes vehicular combat much more easier because now you don't have to be focused on the road. Instead, you can focus your entire attention on the person you're trying to kill! While unrealistic, I have found the auto-pilot function to be quite helpful.

As can be seen in the video, the downside is that auto-pilot, while safe, is slower than what you're used to driving if you drive yourself. It is safer because you can go around corners knowing you won't fly off the road and that it will get you somewhere, but it's not so great for catching up to people, trying to get away from something, or trying to get somewhere in a hurry.

I honestly don't know what to classify this under, but the game has elephants that you can ride (after upgrading one of your skills).


The poor guy was killed shortly after this video was taken :/ Although, fear not! I avenged his death :)

In addition to the combat between humans, there is also combat between humans and animals and animals and animals.

A good game will allow players the opportunity to not only engage in the world before them but to also sometimes take a minute to sit back and watch things unfold on their own. This is why Grand Theft Auto and Watch_Dogs are so entertaining for some players. They enjoy the thrill of exploring a world and seeing what's going on around them. Far Cry 4 has that for gamers.

It's not uncommon to be strolling through the trees and to suddenly hear gunfire in a particular direction. If you have enabled surround sound, your ears will be blown away and you'll know exactly where to go to catch the action that's unfolding on the other side of the map. Often times, you may be called upon to help the rebels fight off guards or some sort of animal or even the cries of a civilian who's being attacked by a wild animal. Helping these people will yield you some points towards the Karma system within the game which I'll dig into in a minute. But first, I wanted to highlight some of the action between humans and animals.

As was the case in Far Cry 3, players are encouraged to hunt prey. However, in FC3, it was more so for the thrill, prize, and to craft usable items for the character. In Far Cry 4, players now hunt for more such as getting bait to hunt other animals. Any animal that is killed and skinned (I believe Demon Fish and other fish are excluded from this) leaves behind skin as well as bait for the player to use.



Unfortunately, if you want to hunt non-carnivorous animals like pigs, it doesn't look like there's any sort of bait to lure them in. Instead, you just have to rely on your old fashioned ways to catch them. I am really puzzled by what I captured in this next video.



In the video below, I have a little bit of fun and use a Light Machine Gun to hunt two of the toughest animals in the game. In the video, you can also see how the world affects the player in attacking him at will and without much notice.



Honestly, there is so much to do in this game and I haven't even covered half of what's going on! I've barely done any of the story but I've taken over much of the map and still have a long way to go. I covered the most important parts that I found most interesting, but there is a lot more that I have yet to do and a lot more that may be more interesting to you.

I'd like to leave you guys with one last video that I'm proud of myself for and that's of me taking down Varshakot without being detected. Along with regular outposts, FC4 introduced players to fortresses which are a bit more complicated to conquer. The game recommends that players only attempt the fortress if they've gone through the campaign, but I wasn't ready for that so I went ahead and tried my luck and did it. I guess it may be helpful to some who are having difficulties not completing it.


Overall, I love the game. I would definitely recommend it to others. In the 13+ hours of playing the game, I've come to see it as more than what I originally thought of it. It's got a lot of new features and new things that make it a much different game than Far Cry 3. I have a difficult time justifying the $60 price because it honestly does feel a bit like a more complicated DLC for Far Cry 3. I suppose that's because this is the same engine with some new additions. The game is good, definitely a favorite for me and one that I'll invest lots of time into.

I apologize for not being able to discuss multiplayer. I don't have any friends that own a PS4 and Far Cry 4 yet so it's kinda difficult to do. I also was unable to discuss the other multiplayer parts and the map editor because I've been focusing all of my time on the single player. The map editor was fun and was something that is a nice edition for console players much like the one included for my Far Cry 1 & 2 disc for the Xbox 360.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanks, Bing

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit hungry with some friends and none of us really wanted to pay for some food cause we're broke (the holiday season coming up, yatta yatta) so we all decided pizza sounded good. I remembered that I could redeem my Bing Rewards points and get some coupons for money at Domino's Pizza and that's exactly what we did.

I had a little over 2,000 points available to be used and since I'm a gold member, I only used 1,900 points which equaled to $20. At the end of everything that we got, I only ended up paying a little more than $2 for tax. We were able to get one large 3 topping pizza, one order of bread sticks, two dipping sauces, and a 2 liter drink. And today, I still had enough left over for 2 $5 gift cards at Burger King!

To be like me and see how this program works, head on over to http://www.bing.com/ and click in the upper right hand corner for Bing Rewards. There, you can sign up for a Facebook and/or Microsoft/Outlook/Hotmail/etc. account to get started. In the beginning, getting points becomes quick and fast, but after some time, you accumulate points mostly by just getting online everyday and searching whatever is trending to keep your points and gold membership up. Every 2 searches, you acquire 1 point. Some special searches will yield you 1 point too. Bing also does special giveaways where doing an action like sharing them on Facebook or Twitter will get you 25-200 points.

There are other cool redeemable gifts there as well which can range from other gift cards at popular places like GameStop, Amazon, Sephora, and even the Microsoft Store. You can also enter giveaways for things like Xbox Ones or Nokia smartphones or even use your points to donate to charities.

I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get free stuff every now and then. I mostly use mine for Xbox points or gift cards when I'm a little broke. It works well and is great because you sometimes forget they're there! But take advantage of the system while it's still here because who knows how much longer they'll keep doing this. As I've always said before, remember that this isn't something that will make you rich, just something to add to whatever you have. It may be useful for one of those days you're buying something and don't want to use your money.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dragon Age: Inquisition PC Review - 9.7/10

"What?! Not a perfect score? This is a travesty!" "Well obviously they didn't give the game a perfect score! They don't want to be fanboy/girling!"
These are things people may say about my review and they are... somewhat justified. I'd like to say first off I've only played a few hours of the game. I did not get a review copy so I had to get it at release. To ensure I receive as much traffic and views for this review, I am only able to do so many hours. Also, I have to sleep before work, so stop whining. In any case, I believe the first few hours of a game really defines whether you will like it or not. Suffice it to say, yes I do like this game. What stops it from being perfect? Read below to find out yourself.

The Good:
The game is beautiful of course, though I didn't see much of it. My PC is about average with about 8 gigs of RAM and a video card that is somewhat outdated. What I have seen I can say without a doubt there was a lot of work put into the visuals. Not only in the sense they look pretty but also have a nice finish to them. Unfortunately, on my PC anything with a sort of sheen or glimmer or reflection comes out looking like oil. This isn't a terrible thing until you consider most of the armor and yes even faces. Not only faces but the hairs of every character I've come across makes it look as though they'd taken an oil bath prior to any conversation with me. This strangely doesn't apply to the cut scenes in which all characters look as they should. Another weird thing is colors. Casandra in my game has purple hair but in cut scenes its the normal black. Minor issues that don't really detract from the game. Its one of those games that makes me want to go out and get a new video card.
Combat is excellent. I chose two classes, Rouge and Mage, and both feel completely different while still being easily accessible. Mage does his far away thing while a Rouge can be sneaky melee while at the same time be ranged as well. The fact that you can chose between what to specialize in with certain classes is a definite plus for me, as I can be an archer or a dagger wielder should I choose and can switch at nearly any time. Combat is quick, decisive and easy to navigate while at the same time holding a surprising amount of depth.
The environments are really expansive. I also like the added ability to jump about, which may not seem like much but in terms of getting about it definitely makes things easier. One of the major things that frustrated me in the previous games were those small walls or even fences/gates. Minor nuisances out of combat but in it could mean death as a cheap enemy snipes your team while you struggle to run around.
I know it seems simple, but there's a button that allows you to search for items. Sounds weird, but it is a useful addition that I like. Pressing the V button sends out a ping that tells you items are near. Time was you had to search about. Now, I can easily know whether to look or move on.

The Bad:
The game is buggy. Sure. Just about every game that comes out is somewhat buggy but when it becomes annoying is when it messes with my quests. I tried to talk to a quest giver and POOF, just vanished. I walked around for a bit and they reappeared. Not long after, I took a quest, finished it and went back to the giver. However, I couldn't gain the reward. I decided it was time to go to bed so I saved it and suddenly she decided to acknowledge me. Quests and combat are the bread and butter of RPGs. If you don't have them, then you don't have an RPG in the traditional sense. If these two mechanics are broken, then you might as well not play the game at all. That being said, this problem can always be patched in the future.
If I have one advice for you PC players, its to not use the internet during this. Sounds weird, but trust me. When I first tried to play, it took about ten seconds to log into the network. Alright. Something wrong happened and I had to quit out. When I came back, that log in took a minute and then crashed the game. Isolated incident? I would have thought so too, until it happened three more times. Took a minute, game crashed. When I turned off the internet, suddenly it worked fine. I've been told EA's servers are not the greatest. I think the SimCity debacle can show us all that. Again, this can be patched, but its a scar or a stain on this game for the time being.

The Meh:
Minor nip pick here but its a good one. I was a preorderor (pre-order-er?) so I got all the fancy bits and bobs for my added Deluxe edition. So... pray tell, why is it that when I pick up a cool set of armor and staff, I find a better staff within a few minutes. 2 minutes if I had to be exact. And no, I wasn't in the overworld or didn't just defeat the boss of all bosses. I got into the town before the part in the story where the Inquisition is finally formed at the Chantry. Instead of being a good little player and continuing the story, I started to look around. Then I found just a staff around the cells which had a higher damage. Later, about an hour later, I found a piece of armor to trump my newest fanciest dragon armor. I'm kind of tired of buying optional DLC armor that's not as good as other armor a few seconds later. I know there shouldn't be that much of an advantage over other players but at least give me the incentive to actually want to buy more DLC weapons and armor, maybe?
In Dragon Age: Origins, race and where you came from meant something... unless you were a mage, then off to the same place with you. There was a difference between being a city elf and a dalish, a human noble and... whatever the other option was I didn't really care to find out. In this game you're just... you. I wanted to be a city elf mage (so I could make the Chantry as annoyed as possible, of course) but not only was I forced into being a dalish but I couldn't even get rid of the tattoo on my face. Basically all that separates the dalish from the city elves in terms of visual look is basically a Mike Tyson-esque face tattoo... which I'm not too fond of. Your character always starts out in the same place. No more introductory quest to get you up to speed on who, what and where you are and how you fit into this. Its minor because the game is good and I can tell it wants to tell a cohesive story, so I can let it slide.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is a melding of the two previous games. Unfortunately a few details got left off in some of the previous games. Minor things that I wish were back such as being a diverse character in the world. It is an excellent game, one I will continue playing and it is definitely worth the price of admission. It is a love letter to the RPG genre in a whole and definitely both a match for the great games Bioware has made and a testament to their story telling prowess. I look forward to picking apart this game to find out every secret and ending I can.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fantasy Life 3DS Review - 8.5/10

Everyone once in a while I pick up a game and it changes what I think of to be as my worst game ever. A while ago, the newest contender for that title was on this very same system. Its strange when I can have the opposite feeling. A game I never heard of despite it being at full price and I just so happen to be lucky enough to pick it up while browsing the shelves at Best Buy.

The Good:
This game is an RPG. I love RPGs. This game has a crafting system. I'm not too fond of crafting systems, yet this gets me. First off, there are 12 classes in total. What may surprise you is that only four of these classes are for combat, which means 8 are for crafting only. You have a Paladin (sword/shield), Mercenary (greatsword), Hunter (bow) and of course the wizard (magic). What's really novel about this is the fact you never have to kill a monster... kind of. See if you just want to be a crafter, ya you can do that. Of course, some ingredients and other things only come from monsters but these things can be easily bought in one of the shops. I remember a lot of times my mom asking me, "Why are all your video games violent?" Its sort of weird to see a game that can let me play without ever having to take a life. Sure, you can become a hunter or a trader in Skyrim, but ultimately that proves fruitless considering that you will eventually need to go and kill more things and sell their stuff. Can you also make money as a fisherman? A carpenter? A cook or even a tailor in Skyrim? My point is, this game has what so many other RPGs lack: possibility. Of course I'm not going to be just this one thing, I'm going to try everything. But its nice to see that I can try to be something out of the norm. Is it on the same depth as Skyrim? Obviously not. But still, you have to admit you can't remember the last time where killing in an RPG wasn't the main mechanic. Its like Recettear if the main game was more focused on the shop, but you could also go kill monsters if you wanted to. Basically, its nice to see that the nonviolent route is a possible route.
I don't know why but I like this game's art style. Its nothing to write home about but it serves its purpose. Making it look different from other games so it stands out and has a fair amount of options so I'm not just having to choose between only a few options for a character.
Classes all feel different. Of course they have their own gear and everything, but what's really cool is mixing. Unlike most games, you can be every class at once... kind of. The game 'unlocks' certain skills. So now my Alchemist that I started out with now can mine, tailor and chop wood, while I have my choice of what weapons I want to use. I can switch out any weapon at a time by this point which is really nice. Even my favorite game, Dragon's Dogma, didn't even let me do that. On top of it, if I ever want to use a certain skill from another class I can and there's not really any penalty. Of course, each class is better at certain things because each gets a boost when you are that class, so I don't have to feel bad leveling up my intelligence to a high level while being a paladin because that skill adds to my potion making or dexterity for daggers because that also goes into tailoring. So I'm not beating myself over the fact that I chose to raise a certain skill because they all add to one skill or another.

The Meh:
The combat is... serviceable. Its nothing super amazing or even great, it just works. Its like eating a rice cracker when you're hungry. Not anything special, but it fills the place.
I'm not super loving how crafting works. Each time you want to craft something, you play a little minigame... and that's fine, its just not my thing. Its simple and distracting so its not bad and at least I can see and know I've done bad if I fail at this simplistic minigame rather than hoping that it just comes out good.
The story is... passable. I'm not that far through it but I can see when two annoying characters are going to stick around or if the story is going to make any impact. Bravely Default was sort of the same way. I kept clicking through the dialogue just to get back to the game. I really don't care what these magical stones are that fell out of the sky or who keeps talking during these white out screens, just let me get back to crafting.

Perfect? No. Great? Close. Good? Definitely. An interesting game I don't hate myself for picking up which is a good thing. Maybe not at its current price, but if you see it you should definitely give it a go. I'm pleasantly surprised and currently playing it right now. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll become a cook now, or maybe a fisherman.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Here!



I was about as happy as Sid from Toy Story to see that beautiful white package from UPS yesterday.

Indeed, like Sid's "Big One" rocket, the "Big One" iPhone 6+ arrived and I have been extremely enthused with it.

In purchasing an iPhone 6 Plus, I also made a change from Sprint to T-Mobile. I visited a few cities yesterday and the quality of the T-Mobile network truly showed throughout the entire day. The LTE speeds are phenomenal and I lost LTE for a minute but only to find that T-Mobile's "4G" network was available which was just as sufficient for tasks such as YouTube videos with little to no buffering. Unlike the Sprint network which was extremely spotty throughout much of Southern California and embarrassingly slow speeds on 3G, T-Mobile is a breath of fresh air.

Not only the superior data speeds and coverage, but I also noticed a huge difference in my voice call's quality.

Due to the iPhone 6+ as well as new technology provided through T-Mobile, there is a huge difference between it and my iPhone 5 on Sprint in terms of voice quality. The other person on the end of the phone was crystal clear. Although the quality is not as clear as being directly beside someone in person, the call is much more clear. Being on a fast WiFi network also contributed to this great quality; however, while out and about on T-Mobile's network, I also saw [heard] great quality calls there as well.

I waited close to 8 weeks for this device to come to me. Was it worth it? Most definitely.

This is, perhaps, the shortest review I've ever written, not very detailed either, but I just wanted to stop by very quickly and give props to this device and T-Mobile's network. I wanted people to know that the wait is, indeed, worth it especially if switching from a network like Sprint to T-Mobile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

6 Weeks and Counting...

On September 19, 2014, the, perhaps, biggest launch of the year occurred with the Apple iPhone 6 and its larger variant, the 6 Plus. Apple knew that it would be in high demand for two main reasons. One, it introduced a larger screened iPhone that could directly compete with Android fans who've been enjoying larger screens for many years. And two, it is the next true release in the iPhone line whereas the 5S that came out last year was a game-changer for the iPhone in having a Touch-ID sensor as well as a 64-bit processor, but it was still not a true step up from the iPhone 5 that came the year before.

On this day, I went to one of our local malls and while I waited for the mechanics to change my oil, I popped into the nearby T-Mobile store to sign up and hopefully receive my iPhone 6 Plus that I'd been craving for a while.

Much earlier in the day, I had noticed long lines outside of lots of T-Mobile stores as well as other carriers for people waiting to get their hands on one of the few iPhones in stock. It was much later in the day and I assumed that the lines would have died down, but that wasn't the case. The line was filled with at least 15 people before me and I was turned away at first because one of the associates assumed I wanted the iPhone 6 Plus today or never. But I was willing to wait a reasonable time so that I could get a new phone and leave Sprint for a better network.

I signed up, ran my credit, was approved, and told that my wait would take 8 weeks from that date. During that time, I kept checking to see if the time had been cut. On T-Mobile's website on both the iPhone pricing and in their forums by some of their admins, I had been told that the wait was now cut down to 6 weeks for those like me who were waiting for the iPhone 6 Plus 64 GB space grey edition. 6 weeks from my purchase date would have been October 31, 2014 and I, indeed, did wait patiently. I am not able to check my status online as I don't currently have a T-Mobile account, so I was forced to call and ask representatives. On these occasions, they, too, informed me that my phone should be shipped by October 31, 2014. I waited but received nothing on October 31. No e-mail, no phone, nothing. So I called on November 1, 2014 late in the evening to inquire about my order. I was put on hold for 20 minutes and I suspect because many others were also calling about their orders. When I finally got in touch with a representative, she informed me that my order was still in backorder and that she had no other information on my order at the time but anticipated that things should change within 48 hours. I waited the additional 48 hours and called again.

This time, a man answered and asked how he could help. I, again, asked about my order and he informed me that there was no new information and that my phone was still on backorder. He also made a comment, "Gee, I see that you've been calling quite a bit about this order." I simply giggled but deep down I couldn't help but think, "Uh yeah, I ordered this device 6 weeks ago and have seen NOTHING but promises of new dates again and again."

After my phone call, I looked up some forums of others who were waiting for their phones. I even noticed that people had ordered the same exact phone that I did, directly from T-Mobile like I had, on the day AFTER I ordered mine and they already have shipping dates. My order is still in backorder with no shipping date or anything, yet T-Mobile has time to ship other people's devices who ordered AFTER me?? Is that not ridiculous?

So, I sit and continue waiting for this device. I also keep "bugging" T-Mobile with these phone calls because I'm not wanting to receive my new phone and then I've got to pay for another month with Sprint because I didn't cancel in time or I canceled too early and now I have no phone.

So T-Mobile and Apple: what's the true status of my order? Is it coming or not?

Update November 6, 2014:
I called T-Mobile tonight and the representative was much different than one I had previously spoken with.

While the previous rep seemed to be bothered that I called so frequently, this rep was apologetic on behalf of T-Mobile. He informed me that T-Mobile's estimated wait time was 6 weeks and proceeded to count the weeks. Once he had seen that my wait was over 6 weeks, he was shocked and even exclaimed, "Wow." and proceeded to apologize multiple times. I told him that it's fine, it's only a phone, but he disagreed and stated that he was disappointed in his company making a promise they were unable to keep. To show how much he felt for my situation, he offered to pay for my shipping costs and also credited my account with $20 just for being patient.

My thanks go out to the representatives who act in this manner and treat customers with so much respect. Admittedly, I had been thinking of sticking with Sprint for another two years or canceling my order and trying my luck with an Apple Store. Either route would have resulted in loss revenue to T-Mobile and the company owes a lot to people like this who make me, as a customer, feel especially welcomed and considerate of my feelings instead of being defensive for the company.

Update November 8, 2014:
I awoke this morning to find that my credit card had been charged and a T-Mobile e-mail in my inbox telling me that my iPhone 6+ has been shipped.

Actually, I found a little trick for anyone who's waiting...if you check your statements and find that your card has been charged, you might be able to go to UPS' website and check the status of our order. Try this:

1. Go to http://www.ups.com/ Once there, type in some random number in the box for tracking and click "track". I did 12345











2. You will now bring up this screen.











3. Click on the bottom part for "Track by Reference"










4. In the part where it says, "Shipment Reference", type in your T-Mobile number and it may show the status of your order. However, while you receive your "shipping number" before it has been officially given to you, it will probably just tell you something like "A UPS shipping label has been created. Once the shipment arrives at our facility, the tracking status--including the scheduled delivery date--will be updated."

I found this out yesterday before T-Mobile e-mailed me this morning with the shipping number. I used the number they had given me and it too says the same thing as above. However, the e-mail itself says I should receive my phone by Monday, November 10, 2014. I'm wondering if that representative upped me to over-night shipping as well because I was told it usually takes 7-10 days once I get the email.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z - PS Vita Review 8/10

There's always been a soft spot in my heart for DBZ. It was the first anime I ever saw that was really violent. Being a guy, that of course spoke to me. There's something just inherently bad ass about the entire series and the game is no exception. With a few bumps in the road of course.

The Good:
I really like the cell shaded style. Not only is it good for the system's performance, but it also gives a nice look to it. Sure, all the games have their own cartoonish look but its a look that both fits visually and graphically.
This is probably the biggest roster of fighters I've seen in a Dragon Ball game to date. I can't count all of them, but I'm not extremely far in the game and the numbers of characters I keep getting keeps rising. You unlock characters by completing certain missions with a certain grade. While this is frustrating at times, it adds to the replayability. The mission I thought was impossible is now easier with the more powerful characters I've obtained.
The game also adds its own customization elements. A few times I was really getting my ass kicked on a fight and I found out that you can actually equip certain things to characters. It makes the game a bit more manageable when I can amp up my character to be more powerful in a fight rather than having to go in pure skill along. You get these cards for completing missions and can purchase more using in game money. This makes replaying previous missions far beyond the SS and Z rankings actually useful. Its a smart idea and I'm glad its there.
Just about every mission correlates to either the main DBZ tv show or the movies in some way. If you've watched the anime, you may notice certain things that were in the tv show itself or even a fight reacts differently if you take out an enemy sooner. For instance, I was fighting a few people which included Android 16 and Gohan. If you kill 16 before Gohan, Gohan will get a power boost. This is a really cool idea and a nice nod to the show itself. Of course... there is a downside to this which I'll talk about below.

The Bad:
Sometimes the difficulty ramps up to insane degrees. Mostly mid fight as a lot of bosses do the cheap tactic of healing themselves completely via contrived cutscene and gains a power boost after my team has been thoroughly wrecked prior to boss' boost. These boosts are unable to be subverted. I'm currently fighting Cell which is a three part fight. You fight his annoying little clones, then him and then once he's down to half health, he'll heal himself and be at least three times more powerful. Sometimes in order to unlock a new character, you need to get the boss into their super powered state and kill them. This is only made more frustrating by the lack of clear direction with objectives prior to the fight. A few fights need to be waited out until the clock runs out, while others force you to battle the super powered up boss. If memory serves me correct, Gohan defeats Cell when he goes Super Sayain 2. Yet, no matter how hard I try I can't unlock the character for that special boost up. In short, this is annoying.
Usually in a fighting game, the clock is both your friend and your enemy. Here, its a fickle lover who is more likely to slap you than reward you. A few fights (like the Super Sayain 3 Goku v. Buu fight) only end when the timer runs out. However, there's always going to be a timer so if you thought about taking your time and whittling down the enemy's health, you're straight out of luck. Recklessness is sometimes your only option, which will get you killed.
Death isn't the end... mostly. You can revive a few times during a fight. The problem is that this amount of times is limited. Alright, understandable. You and those you bring in the fight also share this revive. The most I've seen is 4 revives. Apart from that, you can revive your fallen allies or be revived by your fallen allies... which is the bad part. Most allies are dumb. Not sure if its the AI or a special character, but most times my allies will leave me and our other allies to force a respawn, lowering our spawn count which could have been avoided. Most fights is me just flying around, hoping the enemy doesn't spam its attacks so I can revive my fallen allies. Another problem is the tactics. You can chose from four different tactics: Go all out, Focus on Defense, Link moves and Let Me Handle It. The first three work fine, but the last doesn't. I just wanted my allies to sit back during a difficult fight but they just went for broke. Rushing a boss' attack that kills them easily.

Honestly, not a bad game. In fact, I enjoy it. Though the difficulty ramps up far too often for my taste, and this is coming from someone who has beaten Dark Souls 2. There are ways to subvert the difficulty which makes sense and is nice, but ultimately some fights go from being awesome to being that annoying blockage keeping you from the rest of the game.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vita and 3DS. Which one do I prefer?

Hm... Its been a while since I've written anything... I recently bought some games but those were old hat and already reviewed by people. Generally speaking, I will only do reviews for games that came out at most a week ago or if they're indie at most a month.
Recently I got my hands on a Vita. I was one of those, "Get it when I have enough money," but since I'm being paid minimum wage, have bills to pay, have other consoles I want to buy and every single game I review on this site comes from my own pocket I don't really have any incentive to buy something super costly.
I know this is somewhat of an old topic but I think it needs revisiting or at the very least I haven't written anything in a while and... ya, that's it.

I've had my 3DS for quite some time and I can honestly say I'm kind of satisfied with it. Ultimately what it comes down to for me is the games and... yep, they got em. I think I remember writing an article about this a year or so ago, criticizing Vita's lack of titles while the 3DS had a multitude of them as well as a back log of every single DS game. Shovelware is called that for a reason (you bury it with a shovel cause it aint that good or you just uncovered some cracked gem with your shovel). Its sometimes awful but you still have to admit there are games out there. I've been a Nintendo boy for my entire life. My very first console was the SNES and my very first handheld was the GameBoy Pocket, which I still have to this day and works. However, the varnish has faded revealing some... less than decent qualities about my handy game system. For one thing, the shoulder buttons no longer function. Yes, after a few years of having something, things start to fall off, wiggle out of place or just don't seem to function as they used to. This became horribly apparent when I played Rune Factory 4 in which the shoulder buttons are a necessity in the first few seconds of the game despite me not needing them later. I found out this was a common problem which is not a good sign. My choices were to send it in and pay 80 bucks (and since the new 3DS is coming soon.... eehhhhhh, nah) or clean out the inside as best I could. Side note, it seems Nintendo wants me to blow on their products. Cartridges and now I have to blow out any dust and lint from the DS. Of course, this didn't last long. The problem fix has now become obsolete. No matter how hard I try to brush inside or blow out whatever's blocking the button pads it just doesn't work. And now it just sits there.

I got the most use of my 3DS when my computer was broken. I used it mostly for Netflix and Hulu. It was serviceable, though it was never really a computer. Vita is the closest I've seen to a computer, or at the very least a smartphone. Actually, its better than my smartphone. Though... my phone is a piece of unreliable crap so its not much of a contest. I've never seen a gaming console (handheld or otherwise) that could multitask. Basically just me being able to play a game then a thought comes into my head about a game I want to buy so I put the game on hold and go to the marketplace to buy it and then go right back to where I was. I think the best thing about the Vita for me is the back log. I never owned a PlayStation console until I got a PSP, so I missed out on the games everyone said were the hallmarks of their childhood. If only for the value of seeing how right or wrong they are, I do like the ability to go and purchase almost every single older game out there. Still looking for I-Ninja... The 3DS has this as well, but its backlog is... lacking. Its so sparse and baffles me how few games are on there. First game I ever played was Super Metroid which is still a classic, yet I can't play it on my 3DS for some reason, only on the Wii U... which doesn't make sense really. With the Vita, I can play PSOne, PS2, PS3 and even cross play PS4 games. In fact, I've been so happy with the system so far I bought a bunch of games this weekend just to have fun.

Ultimately what it comes down to is neither is superior or inferior. That's kind of a cop out but I think if you grew up with Nintendo and wanted to see the other side of gaming, the Vita is for you. If you grew up with Sony, you should check out the 3DS. Granted both systems aren't terrible. I have my reserves for both of them, but ultimately it comes down to me not being able to say which is better. Had the 3DS for longer so obviously there will be problems. I keep cleaning lint away from the Vita's shoulder buttons so it seems to be something that may occur in the future to this very soon. I would say however the Vita is giving me more fun, if only for the massive amount of AAA titles and especially the decade of gaming I missed from not having a PlayStation. Right now my 3DS is the dependable old dog. Some things are showing and its not getting any better but it seems like its always been there. The Vita is like the new puppy I have just showing me everything it can do with a lot of enthusiasm before its age begins to show.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Received an E-mail about a Plane Ticket You Never Purchased? Or a Package from FedEx You Never Ordered?

Lots of friends and family of mine have recently come to me about e-mails they receive regarding plane tickets or FedEx orders they've supposedly placed. I too receive them, mostly from "Delta" in large quantities. I have honestly never read them because I always know when they are fake. How would I know this?

Simple, I don't buy plane tickets often. I also receive so many of them that I've grown accustomed to just knowing when one is fake. When I purchase a plane ticket, I am expecting it to come to me and I will know if it's a fake or not because I check immediately after making the purchase.

What do you do if you receive one of these fake e-mails? Nothing except delete them. Don't even open them if you know they are a fake. Nothing will probably happen if you do open it, but there's no sense in wasting your time if you know beyond a doubt that it is a fake.

How can you escape these scams? Well, you can't really escape them. You can click the spam button all day on them but they come from so many sources that they always find a way back into your box.

There is a way for people who do make plane purchases often so they can know which are fakes and which aren't. It's not pretty, but it works much better than whatever method you currently have.

If you make lots of plane ticket purchases, create more than one e-mail and be strict about it. If your name is Joey and your primary e-mail address is joey77@e-mail.com, get a secondary e-mail address to be used for plane purchases and only plane purchases. Do not ever use it for anything else. You can name it something like joey77deltaairline@e-mail.com or something similar to that. I recommend also using different e-mails for different airlines so you can be extra cautious if you do travel using multiple airlines.

Why is this? Well here's what usually happens.

Your number one most used e-mail address is sent all over the place to different people and companies. You e-mail your friend Bob, you use it to log into Facebook, you've created a PornHub account with it, etc. and somewhere along the line, one of these people or companies have intentionally or unintentionally "sold" your e-mail to one of these spammers who sends these scams to your e-mail. Some of these companies actually intentionally sell your e-mail to make a profit on the side while others, like your friend Bob, may have just had his e-mail hacked and the hacker is now using your e-mail to contact you after seeing that you're a contact of Bob.

If you designate one e-mail source for each company, it's less likely that you'll receive spam. In this process, you may also begin to see who is selling your e-mail. If you have one e-mail set only for Facebook and never ever contact anyone, including sending e-mails from one of your e-mails to another, you may begin to see spam e-mails sent to you which would indicate that Facebook may very well be unintentionally or intentionally selling your e-mail name.

This method isn't foolproof though. Your e-mail can still be picked up because something on your computer is reading which e-mail addresses you log into with and some spammers simply guess and send e-mails to random e-mail addresses like common ones such as a@e-mail.com. So don't be fooled into thinking that this will prevent any and all scams, but it will limit them and it will help you in figuring out which ones are fake and which ones are not.

This method also works for those fake scams you receive about some "FedEx order" or other various scams that appear to come from legitimate companies and organizations.

Again, this method is tedious, but it's a better way to combat these fake e-mails so you don't become a victim of their scams.

If the e-mail says something about you being charged for a plane ticket, check your bank account statement. If a purchase has been made that corresponds with the e-mail, it may very well not be fake and you should contact the company directly (not using any contact information given in the e-mail) as well as your bank and report this unusual activity. Do not ever respond to the e-mails and do not ever use any of the contact information provided in the e-mail to contact the company. Instead, Google the company's name and when you get the real company's website, use that real website's "Contact Us" link (usually at the bottom of the page) to contact the company about this activity.

I hope this information was helpful for you. These e-mails are a hassle and cause many people stress. Let me know if I can improve on these in any way or if you have any other ideas whether it be how to combat these attacks or maybe you have a similar approach. Let me also know if this has worked well for you or hasn't worked out so well. I appreciate the genuine constructive criticism from my readers like you. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor PC Review - 9.5/10

This is one of those games where I play it at the launch date for so long I forget to sleep and curse the fact that I have to go to work in a few hours. Its one of the few games that engage me for much longer than after the initial first five hours I've played it and still continues to chuck something in my direction just as soon as my interest begins to wane or even before it.

The Good:
The environments are actually pretty good. Granted, you won't see too much variety in landscape till around about the second act, but what you get off the bat is very nice. Makeshift campsites, ruined and crumbling buildings, all for you to scale on at your leisure. The story reflects in the scenery and does a decent enough of a job to speak for itself.
The enemies and combat are definitely where this game shines brightest. The game devs kept talking about the game's central mechanic which was the Nemesis system. Basically, every single enemy you meet will differ from everyone else's experience. What really brings this home is the fact that if you get killed by an orc, they will rise in the ranks, become more powerful and will have their own unique way of speaking to you as well as how they deal with you in combat and how you need to deal with them based upon their unique strengths and weaknesses. This is the core mechanic of the game and it is amazing. In my playthrough, an orc with a horribly messed up face (like he'd been stung by bees) killed me as some random minon. This guy was my bane. Either he killed me or I killed him and about two times he came back because I didn't chop off his head and presumed he was dead. He was annoying and my fights with him were always great. This is something I hope more games get to use because it makes a pretty good game like this turn fantastic. One enemy in particular I remember too well is this random captain I was going to recruit. When I faced him, instead of him saying anything, he just was almost completely silent... save for slightly laughing and breathing like he was going to enjoy what he did next. So I killed him... cause I aint gonna have a guy like THAT in my ranks. Very rarely you'll meet an almost unkillable enemy due to this system. I had trouble with a war chief because he was using a shield I couldn't break and it was insanely difficult to get behind him to get a killing blow and he couldn't be hit by arrows. Normally I would have quit the game and looked at a walkthrough, but instead I just used my brain to think of a cheap, but effective strategy. This is an excellent idea because I never felt like I had to take myself out of the game to fully enjoy it. I used my own wit and intelligence to defeat an almost unkillable enemy... and it was awesome.
The other mechanic introduced is a sort of mind control. Second act rolls around and you get the ability to bend orcs to your will. This ties further into the game's story as you're trying to create and entire army to battle Sauron's forces. Your job is to either kill or mind control all five war chiefs. I decided to build my own army in their ranks. I picked orcs that either looked  really cool or had some cool abilities and sicked them on the lesser enemies and finally helping me kill the war chiefs. The quests to make your allies stronger are pretty cool. Sometimes they'll be recruiting soldiers into their ranks, other times they'll be going on beast hunts and sometimes, if I tell them, they'll go out and kill other captains. Captain kills are probably the coolest thing ever. If your captain is stronger than your target, you'll find yourself in a scenario where your captain has already captured them and is going to execute them. Sometimes its a duel if they're close in strength. If they're not close in strength, your captain will send an ambush to whittle down the enemy before showing themselves. Do you know how awesome that is?

The Bad:
This is not a traditional RPG. You won't be collecting loot from enemies (kind of), you won't be able to sell said loot to buy better loot, you don't have any other armors to choose from save a cosmetic one for preordering the game. It doesn't break the game, just makes me question what an RPG is. My brother actually asked this very question and when I explained it to him, he immediately lost interest. Not saying this game needs it, just saying I would have liked it.

The Meh:
I really don't like the way Talion looks. Its just... weird. Long hair, thick triangular jaw paired with a certain lack of a neck and one sleeve is missing from the beginning of the game. Its not a big thing, just don't like the look. The Dark Ranger costume isn't much better looking either. Still gotta have that triangle jaw with tiny eyes. Again, this is a very minor nitpick.
I can understand why most people would say the story is boring or bad. I get it. Its not bad so much as just treading ground in between the bits where we get to behead orcs. It serves its purpose, gives proper motivation to characters and is kind of interesting...? I mean, I've never been a huge Lord of the Rings fan so most of the references and tie backs are back to the original trilogy. Speaking of 'original trilogy', I'm more of a Star Wars guy, so if this game was set in the Star Wars universe (oh god that sounds like the greatest game ever; EA get working on that!) I would have 'got' more of the stuff. So, Lotr fans will probably have a field day with this game.

I reaaaally like this game and I reaaaally want to see this system implemented again. Perhaps not as another Lotr game (because I really don't see how that could work again) but maybe in another franchise. Without the Nemesis system? I'd give this game about an 8.5, making it not amazing but decent enough to where I feel like my time wasn't wasted playing it and my money went somewhere decent. I would really like to see Monolith (the game's developers) get their hands into more games and maybe even more existing series. They talked a lot about being truthful and fair to the stuff that came before they made the game, which is admirable and a good way to tackle nerd culture... stuff. Buy it cause its awesome. Keep it cause its awesome. Play it again... cause its awesome.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Sims 4 PC Review - 8.5/10

I'd like to get this out of the way first off: I've been a Sims fan for as long as I can remember. My first Sims game was Bustin' Out for Xbox and I loved every moment. Since then, I've been picking up virtually every single game and had almost no problem with the games as a whole, Urbz in the City not included. The weirdly addictive thing about the Sims is how easily it can wrap you up in the game without having to do much work, which is probably why I love it so much.

The Good:
Graphics, as always, look very nice.
I was really surprised with the Create a Sim feature. Usually when a developer tries to sell you on a specific game mechanic which is 'the reason to buy the game', naturally, you would be a bit hesitant and skeptical. Though it isn't as ground breaking as we were lead to believe, it is definitely the best Create a Sim in the entire series and dare I say it, the most in depth character creation I've seen and I say that having played Skyrim. Every Sims game, I was forced to simply pick someone who looked kinda like me or "Eh, screw it. I just want to play." While it isn't my face, it certainly is super close, which made the experience of simply creating a character a decent distraction.
Back to customization, building a house is even easier. While I will talk about it below a bit more, the new system definitely outshines all the other Sims games before it in terms of ease-of-use.
A small little thing I liked was that the game 'rewarded' me for having played other Sims games. Notably, The Sims 3. I got a few free items for in game use. While they aren't super amazing, its a nice little nod and a thank you for playing previous titles. I don't know if any other titles can receive this, but I imagine its only Sims 3 as I don't thing Origin has any other Sims games on there save Medieval.

The Bad:
If there's one thing I have to give a major finger wag to, its a lot of things. First off, who decided to make it so I couldn't turn off the tutorial? Don't get me wrong, the tutorial works, but it doesn't touch on the stuff that I wanted to know like how to move furniture while holding it. Keep in mind, I've played The Sims for the better half of a decade of my life and I can't figure out how to position furniture, which is pretty much fifty percent of what the game is about. The controls are just... I have no idea, I can't even find them. The second thing I have a problem with is the orientation of tabs. Previous games had the tabs in easy to reach and access places that made sense for the platform it was on. On my console versions of The Sims 2, I could easily tell what my Sim's moods were. What needed to be addressed first was easy to recognize via some easily, always visible, bars that emptied as time progressed and sometimes became red or yellow to indicate problems. This time, however, the tab is all the way in the right hand side away from the Sim's face. This is difficult from the stand point I have to check to see who the person is who needs something as well as what they need. From a design standpoint, it just plain sucks. I hope someone comes up with a mod to fix this because its kind of a hassle.
Sims are now bipolar... well, more so than before. What was also used as a selling point for the game was that Sims have emotions as well as even more in depth moodlets. Basically, if I do a certain action, instead of a very binary response from the game, my actions have consequences or bi-products based on whether I succeeded, failed and even more things to put in the equation. The problem is this also affects certain wishes my sim has. See, each sim has their own wish based upon certain factors like what they currently have available in their house, what they want in the house as well as factoring in what their personalities are like. That has been the same for just about every Sims game I can remember. The problem here is, if you have a certain wish you're trying to fulfill and your sim suddenly changes moods, one of your wishes will just go away. This is especially frustrating when you're currently trying to fulfill said goal and they decide to shift moods before the prerequisites have been met. While the idea that you now have smarter sims, it doesn't make the game any more fun. I'd rather work with the game's mechanics rather than have to subvert them simply to have fun.
One of the things The Sims does well is accessibility. Basically, if my parent's lives depended upon it, they could somewhat master certain basic concepts and be able to play a small game given enough time. As a person who's been playing this game series for the better half of my entire life span, even I'm having trouble. Sims 3 introduced tabs for looking at certain things. These tabs were to the left and attached to your sim's portrait so you could easily identify and switch between things easily. Lets say I wanted to switch from viewing what my sim was feeling to the various relationships they'd come across and then to their own personal inventory. It was easy. Its not here. Maybe its just because I'm somewhat fresh off of Sims 3, but this is really a step backwards in terms of ease-of-use. A veteran shouldn't be penalized or have to learn new rules simply for the sake of a newbie. That's all I'm saying.

The Meh:
Apparently some jobs have been taken away that were staples in the previous series. I don't really have a problem with this as things get added and taken away. Plus, The Sims is rife with DLC packs so I wouldn't be surprised if a few of those jobs made comebacks. I never really used jobs anyways because I just use a money cheat. A side note is that a few items are gone from the game. Most notably: cars (if they're in there, I can't find them), jacuzzis (The Sims 3 had the same problem but it got fixed later) and swimming pools. With only the last being things that weren't always in every single Sims game. The pool feature is more of a weird one but I'm sure there had to have been some reason why they weren't included. In any case, meh.
Another problem I've been hearing people talk about is the fact that every time you go to a new location, the game loads. I had a problem with this initially but after saving and exiting, I actually don't think its a bad thing. Sure its not great, but compared to Sims 3 and when you try to save and exit, I'd rather spend 20 seconds in a load screen every time I want to go somewhere in the game rather than spend three minutes waiting for the game to save and close itself. Ya, it was that bad. Though, I'll need to hold my breath because once I start buying the DLCs, the load time may change so I can't say much else.

I know it seems like I had a lot of negative things to say but the fact remains that those who truly love something a lot are the first ones to point out it's flaws. Sure, the game is flawed, but its fun. I'll still be playing it for that very reason.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Hiatus

I apologize for the lack of posts here recently. BlackHood has been keeping up with his posts, which is good for those of you who are interested in them, but I have not.

Life has been getting pretty busy and I haven't been able to give this blog the proper attention that it deserves. I am not leaving nor will I be closing/ending this blog forever, but I will be seen less in the next few months. I hope by next year that I will have more time but that depends on some things in my personal life.

You will see posts from me here and there like you have, but nothing like writing every single day or week.

I hope to cover some of the news when the iPhone 6 is announced and released as well as maybe even releasing a video if and when I upgrade to it, but we shall see when that time comes.

A friend of mine and myself will be working together on a separate project which will require more of my time than I have been able to give. If all goes according to plan, we anticipate that we will have much more free time in a few weeks to months. That means more time for this blog and possibly even upgrading to an actual website and hiring new writers and reporters. But, as I said, we shall see in due time.

In the meantime, I would like to thank each and every one of you who has supported us by reading our entries and sharing with friends. The exposure and popularity has been exciting for us and we look forward to continuing in the path that we have made with you guys. Your support for us is tremendously appreciated.

This hiatus seems necessary in some ways so that I can pursue what I ultimately want which, I believe, will be best for WIFLI in the future.

Stay tuned, and thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Super Time Force Ultra PC Review - 8/10

So I will admit that I am not the target audience for this game. I am not a person who enjoys puzzles nor timed games in the slightest. I was always that person who never played a game for a specific, weird and somewhat trivial reason. I don't play any of the retro Sonic games because I would never want to go to one of the water levels. When it comes to puzzle games, I'm the first person to go onto a gaming site just to get the solution rather than use my brain to figure things out. While I do enjoy the Professor Layton games, there's always one of those puzzles where I waste all of my coins on a simple thing that I slap myself for not realizing it sooner. In other words, I'm not a patient man. When I heard about this game, the premise wasn't bad. I liked it but then just groaned heavily at the thought of a timed game, and sixty seconds at that to clear an entire level. Though I must say this game isn't terrible. Worth the fourteen bucks?

The Good:
I say this a lot but I love minimalistic graphics. Pixelated, cell shaded. It helps my computer run smoothly and the game's visuals will age well later on. If you've played Risk of Rain, think of that but with a lot more color and closer up.
I'm kind of sorry I skipped through all the dialogue at the beginning because this game is actually pretty funny. Some games are so bland they rival the flavor of stale bread while others just can't contain how little the story matters through a barrage of jokes. Lets just say I'd rather have the second to the first and this game is somewhere in between. Its a ridiculous premise right off the bat and it doesn't care.
Some games have never really mastered firing in all directions, which makes them more of a pain than they should be. Not this game. You can fire in eight different directions which comes in handy with one of the characters who can shoot through objects. This makes the game flow more freely and gives you the ability to get past a pesky enemy who the other heroes can't as easily.
Like in Bro Force, you have a few characters to chose from and unlock them throughout the game, each with their own specialty and strengths. You start off with three: a chain gun hero who's charge attack can fire in three directions like the Spreader Gun from Contra, a woman who's gun can shoot through walls when charged up, and a guy who can bash people with his shield and who's charge attack creates a force field for a time. Each character plays differently in their own way but are all easy to handle.
The time aspect is annoying but what I do like is the approach to it. There is a sixty second timer for you to get through the level with a few time lengthen pick ups on the way. Dying is not much of a problem since once you do, you can rewind time back like in Prince of Persia. Only this time, you leave behind an after effect for the last hero. Should you save that hero from death, you get an extra hit before you die. Not only that, but you also get all the shots the hero fired which comes in handy a lot. I had some trouble with a boss and died a bunch of times because time ran out. The after effect really came in handy for me to at least get a bit more time to keep going since all the past characters were firing and doing damage to the boss. So instead of a boss I couldn't beat, therefore forcing me to go back to the beginning, I stacked up a bunch of heroes and found my own way.

The Meh:
I cannot stress how much I dislike timed activities. Its part of the reason I never used the safari in the Pokemon games because I could never catch what I wanted before time ran out. Nevertheless, this isn't a bad mechanic. Its in a way that I don't like it but I can't exactly fault it either. What it comes down to is a mechanic that can be mastered, like fighting in Dark Souls or even getting better at a FPS. I can't exactly fault it because I know that people can use it to their advantage and find alternative routes. What would have made it bad is if the mechanic for it or the mechanic itself was somewhat broken or unappealing. Basically, it works so I can't fault it for that.

So, all in all, not a bad game. Was it worth the 14 bucks? Maybe. Personally, its not a game I feel I need to play again if only for the somewhat frustrating parts, but in the end I'm not going to Steam's website trying to get a refund (yes I have tried that for another game before and it didn't work). Its one of those titles that I may download again considering the low amount of space it takes up on my computer. If this sounds like your kind of game, then have fun. There's a special deal on Steam right now where its 10% off till September 1st.

Monday, August 18, 2014

[Tutorial] Picking the Right Password

Unfortunately, picking a password isn't as easy or secure as it was a decade ago. Back in the late 90's, it was okay to have a password that was 1234. Nowadays, kids can get their hands on software that can crack passwords within 24 hours with no issues. Companies in charge of accounts that deal with passwords aren't taking any chances either and are requiring passwords with certain rules and a change in password every so often.

Many of us are left stuck when we are forced to change our password. It becomes a drag on our time because now we have to remember something that we never wanted to change in the first place. Services like Yahoo! require password changes regularly because their servers are constantly being attacked. With that, they make it near impossible to keep a password for a while because they won't allow you to use old passwords.

So now you need to think of a new password, but you're not sure where to start. In this blog, I wanted to give you guys some tips on how to make some great passwords that are not only difficult to crack but also easy to remember.

First, I think it's important that you guys understand how password cracking is usually done. The most common method can take hours or days to do. Basically, it is a program that will go through every possible password that can be done. The idea of creating a good password is one that cannot be easily decoded by this device. To understand how to make a good password, you should know how a lot of these programs begin. Picking a password that contains all sorts of characters will force the machine to take even longer and perhaps even damage it as a bonus ;)

The machines usually start by choosing the letter A or the number 1. If the attempt to use that password failed, then they choose B then C then D until they get to Z. At this point, they may try numbers, or a combination of letters starting with AA, AB, etc. then AAB, AAC, etc.

Knowing this, it should make you cautious of using a password that begins with the combination ABC or 123 even if it ends in something else because this is what the program likely starts with.

To have a great password that is near unbreakable, you should have lots of seemingly random numbers, capital and lower case letters, as well as special characters like the ones above your numbers at the top of the keyboard (!@#$%^&*()).

Choosing something like this doesn't mean that the program will not find your password, it just means that it can take a very long time. The more weird and unusual characters you have, the longer it takes for the program to solve the password combination. If it takes more than 2 weeks, which some passwords can take that long to crack, a hacker may just say forget it and move on to another person to crack.

When I say seemingly random, I mean numbers that are not directly beside one another or aren't usually combined. Also, try not to pick numbers that repeat such as 666 or 777 even if they are at the back such as "ndh777". What can seem random to a computer may be something like your birthday. If your birthday is July 27, 1975, you could use the combination 07271975. To a computer, they wouldn't know where that code came from and it seems so random that they would have a difficult time finding it.

However, if a hacker finds out your birthday, they could feed it to the program and the program would begin by searching for numbers with your birthday included. To prevent it from figuring it out too soon, add some extra numbers and letters before and after your birthday.

One of the best combinations you can do is add numbers and letters that are personal to you and things that are not likely on a government or official file such as your favorite number or maybe a serial number to a favorite device of yours or maybe even the birth date, wedding, etc. of a friend. This would throw off the computer because this number has no direct relation to you. The only real downside to this is that it'd be a bit harder to remember if you ever forget. But if you memorize it, which you will if you constantly have to input it, you shouldn't have to worry about this.

For an example, let's make up somebody and give them a password. Their name is John Doe, they live on 74537 Main St. USA, their birthday is July 27, 2072, their social security number is 048276253, their wedding anniversary is December 31, 2094, and their favorite number is 38. We have so many numbers to choose from here to create our password. Let's try some combinations that you can see how they come from it and can be easy to remember if this is information about you.
j3072720728D: This password looks so odd and off the wall that anyone who sees it probably won't remember. This is also another good reason for using a password with so many numbers. People can remember names and words even if they make no sense because they sound it out. But how do you remember 3,072,720,728 especially when it doesn't have any commas? And, it also contains two letters which really throws people off! But if you are this John Doe, and you see this, you can remember it because it's easy to see which numbers are which.

I put a lower case j in the front because his first name is John. Thinking about it now, you could make it even more secure by adding the j at the end to really throw someone off. But this way is fine too. The first 3 comes from the 38 in his favorite number. The second number is altogether 07272072. This is his birthday exactly as it is written. 07-July; 27-day; 2072-year. The last number 8 comes from his favorite number 38. And the capital D at the end is for his last name Doe.

Do you see how easy it can be to remember a password like that for yourself? Put in your details and create a password like that and you'll be set! Don't be afraid to use other numbers too like your address, social, etc. However, be cautious when adding things like your social. Social Security Numbers have a certain look to them that can be picked up on.

Let's say a hacker was able to crack your impenetrable password and now can see exactly what you wrote. By knowing how other socials look, he/she can be able to identify that this too is a SSN and learn even more information about you! Instead, try to scramble the numbers, add fake numbers to the sequence, or only use a piece of the numbers like just the first and last numbers or whatever is mostly commonly used in it.

Once you've created a password, it's a good idea to write it down somewhere. The first few times of inputting it may be difficult and you might need to look back at it for reference. Keep it somewhere safe that only you know where it is. Also, if you do happen to write it down, just leave the number and don't write anything else on it such as "Password=73892732". If someone finds your note and all it says is "732984732", they might not be able to determine what the number is used for.

When it comes to online accounts, they become more tricky to pick. A hacker usually cannot use this same method above to determine your password as accounts will only allow X number of attempts before locking your account. The hacker will only have 3-5 chances before striking out.

So you may now be wondering how they can crack an account. Usually it's because you use the same password for multiples places (your Facebook password is the same as your Yahoo! Mail password), the hacker has hacked into a server (for Facebook or Yahoo!) and it lists everyone's e-mail and password to unlock the account, or they picked up on it through information you sent over the internet.

One of the worst places is at a public hotspot like Starbucks. My cousin showed me a program he obtained somewhere that allows him to pick up anything sent out by computers at these places and find out what websites they are visiting and any passwords and e-mails they are using to log in. Knowing this, you should limit the amount of time you spend online at these places, consider using your phone's WiFi hotspot feature instead, or not visit and log into websites like your bank account with Chase.

If the hacker has hacked into the actual server at Facebook, Yahoo!, etc., the company will usually inform you of this breach or you'll hear about it on the news. They will likely force you to change your password. There is no real way to protect yourself from these attacks except just finding a newer, better password to change to.

Try not using the same passwords for every account you have. I know it becomes difficult when you have 5 e-mail accounts, 1 Facebook, 1 MySpace, 1 Hulu, 1 Netflix, etc. but you'll be glad you did when your account is compromised. If someone figures out your Facebook password, they can now get into your e-mail if the passwords are the same. Once this is done, there will be no way for you to regain control of your Facebook account. Try having as many different passwords as you can.

Also, be extremely cautious of who you lend your password to. Keep a record of who you've given it to. In case of a fall out with this person, it would be a good idea to change your password that they know so they can't use it maliciously. It's even better to not share your password at all with anyone to limit the people who have access to your account.

By following the steps above, I hope you've been able to find the right password combination that works for you. Don't be discouraged when you are required to make a new password. Just follow the steps above again to pick a new password.

So far, my success has been great. I have had a few accounts compromised, but not as many as others. My password techniques seem to be helpful in eliminating the ease for someone to cause harm to me by figuring out an easy password. Just remember that this system, or any other, for that matter, are not infallible. You will still be prone to attacks. Picking the right password just makes it more difficult for someone to crack.
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