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Thursday, February 27, 2014

[Video Review] Early Beta Tester on Titanfall

Below, I included a video posted by a fairly popular YouTube game reviewer, ReviewTechUSA, and his thoughts on EA's newest title, Titanfall. According to him, he's played a beta version of the game which has been released publicly recently for gamers to test for themselves. Not only does he go into a little bit of depth as to what the game is like to play, but he also has a message for critics of the game.

To be truthful, I must say that I agree with his opinion regarding the game and its critics. Many people are criticizing the game for reasons that are unrelated to the game itself and doing so in an ignorant way by not actually taking the time to play through the game before making assumptions.

EA was rated the worst company for two straight years and rightly so after seeing many of their products. With bad decisions with games such as Mass Effect 3 and recent Need for Speed games, we can see why EA is not doing so well with people who were once avid fans. However, that is not to say that we should immediately discredit any and all new releases that come out of EA over the next few years. Titanfall and other new games may very well be games that are great. It is possible for EA to put out good games, as we've seen in prior years, so let's not discredit every new game they announce/release before actually playing.

Personally, I'm interested to play this. I enjoyed previous mech-style games and enjoyed some Call of Duty-like games so this should be interesting to see how it plays out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Microsoft Targets Used Games

If you weren't born yesterday, chances are that you remember Microsoft trying their absolute hardest to make sure that all of their games required a constant internet connection. Obviously, this was done to reduce, rather, eliminate, the amount of used games sold on the market. Neither Microsoft nor the publisher/developer of that game, see any revenue from a used game's secondary sale price. Meaning, when you buy a used Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto V from GameStop for $54.99, neither Rockstar nor Take Two (Rockstar's parent company), received any money from your transaction.

Instead of forcing users to do something they don't want to do like download all of their games from an online market or force them to have a constant internet connection, Microsoft is combating this in a much more positive selling games on their online store, beginning with Xbox One's Ryse: Son of Rome, for $39.99! Normally, the game, brand new, will cost you $59.99 at any retail, brick and mortar store, and a used sale price, such as GameStop, will cost you around $54.99.

In my opinion, I'm not ready to go all digital or to refuse buying used games, but this is a great way to combat the used sales market. Much more pleasant as it doesn't interfere with my choice to purchase a used game if I so please.

But for those of you who are willing to go digital or enjoy Ryse, will you be willing to go for a sale like this? Would you like to see more of this healthy competition from manufacturers and publishers/developers like Microsoft? I, personally, would and am glad to hear of this news.

I enjoy used games and physical copies for a variety of reasons. One, I enjoy used titles as they are discounted and usually much easier to return to the retailer. Secondly, I enjoy physical copies as it is my copy of the game and I can do what I want with it, so long as it's legal. Third, I always have access to it even if there is a network shutdown (unless the game is online multiplayer only, etc.) and will always have a copy of it even if it is removed or Microsoft goes bankrupt.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Sentence Thoughts on Popular Upcoming Games

Destiny - A revitalization of the first person shooter genre that melds shooting elements as well as combat classes and multiplayer seamlessly.

Titan Fall - A interesting new IP with unique gameplay and unusual, if not sensible design choices.

Elder Scrolls Online - For a first time making an MMO, not bad but lacking in a few areas.

The Evil Within - Redefining the horror genre and taking it back to its dark roots.

The Division -  An impressive display of AI, combat and a unique approach to multiplayer.

inFamous: Second Son - A familiar game which sets the stage for all other inFamous titles to come in this generation.

Star Citizen - A beautiful looking game for which I must see more of.

Dark Souls II - The game mechanics and story blend seamlessly to make a whole experience that will not only amaze, astonish but also be equally as brutal.

Dragon Age: Inquisition - Bioware reminds us all why they are the king of the RPG genre by revitalizing their once faltering IP into a brand new and fan welcomed sequel that I will be playing for as long as I have the first installment.

The Witcher 3 - Few words can compare to the immense scope and excitement I have to see where this game will go with both story and gameplay.

Mighty No. 9 - A blast from the past reimagining of a classic and beloved character we all lost hope of ever seeing return and eventually had our prayers answered.

Deep Down - Looks a lot like Dark Souls, no?

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes -  Interesting but disappointing its basically a glorified demo at this point though I'm still interested.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mega Sims 3 Sale on Origin! (Plus, Fix for Error)

Until February 11, 2014, Electronic Arts (EA) is selling The Sims 3 products for a discounted price up to 50% off! Normally, you'd be required to pay $19.99 for the Sims 3 game, but during this time, it will only cost $4.99!

You will need to have EA's Origin program installed on your computer for this to work properly.

If you were like me and received an error such as, "Sorry, this promotion cannot be applied. Please remove your current promo code to continue.", don't worry as I too received this error.

A simple fix is going to your favorite web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.) and navigating to EA's Origin webpage which is essentially just like their program. Log in here and find the game you want then proceed to checkout. Once that is finished, open up the Origin program again and check your games. You should now have whatever game you just purchased in here and ready to be downloaded to your computer.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rick and Morty...Brilliant

Nostalgia has taken our culture by storm with the newest generation of adults. We just can't seem to escape our youthful joy for cartoons as can be seen by the growing amounts of adult themed cartoons. While adult cartoons have been around since 1989 arguably starting with The Simpsons, they've only just begun to spring up in large numbers in the last decade.

Warner Brothers' Cartoon Network has catered to adult cartoons since the late 90's with its late night Adult Swim lineup being geared towards nostalgia among adults who's childhood lie in the 1960's. Now, adults of this generation have their childhoods in the mid-80's to 90's and we can clearly see this in Adult Swim's recent lineup.

Clearly, we can see a resemblance with this cartoon with a certain sci-fi favorite from the 80's. An older man, more like a mad scientist and his wacky inventions with a younger sidekick being a small kid who's name rhymes with Morty. The show takes on the more realistic approach of what should have really occurred in this famous series if it were to occur in real life. Obviously in the most darkest ways possible.

While the original favorite is created with a positive feel to it, Rick and Morty is generally more dark and ends more along the lines of a South Park episode.

As a nerd and fellow cartoon enthusiast, I must give a well deserved Bravo to the guys behind this show. The episodes I have seen have been ingenious and unlike any other show to ever come about with the exception of Futurama.

The Simpsons did well for many years because of its originality and its constant need to push the culturally accepted bounds. Family Guy came along and did the same as did South Park. Each have declined in more recent years with fans crying for an end to their beloved shows because of a lack of originality. They've all become alike one another and are failing to keep fans engaged. In the midst of these, Adult Swim has managed to bring about some fairly decent shows like Boondocks which has had its share of originality but most shows have lacked continued viewership as they contain toilet humor that a 3rd grader giggles at. Point being, not really what your typical adult feels like popping open a beer (or enjoying a narcotic) to after a hard day at work.

Things have changed, and now we have a show that more adults can sit and enjoy episode after episode. Not only does it deliver just as many deserved laughs, but it keeps viewers engaged with its thrilling story plots that constantly cause viewers to rethink the episode's original destination.

I just wonder how long the show's writers can keep this up. Each episode so far has been completely original in its plot and points of humor. I have thoroughly enjoyed the jokes as they come and how the show isn't so much directed at offending people like so many other shows are done, but more so just to get an embarrassed laugh out of us.

I always look forward to each episode's airing and will continue to do so until the show declines, which I hope never happens.

This is the sort of show that I can see lots of potential for especially in special guest stars. IMDb boards for the show have suggested some cameos from stars such as Christopher Lloyd for obvious reasons which I think is absolutely brilliant.

Great job, Adult Swim. Can't wait to see what else is in store for this show and anything similar to this that may come in the future.

What are your guys' thoughts on the show? I'm a bit more biased as I've been excited for the show since its original announcement, but I believe the show deserves every amount of respect its gained.

Why I Don't Use Windows Update

Unfortunately for me, I attend a university that forces me to jump through all sorts of hoops just to get my laptop connected to the internet while at the university. (Funny thing is that now they won't even let me get on even after jumping through their hoops because the system is so buggy.) It's understandable from some standpoints such as not allowing students to exploit the system and use it for piracy, but then other things just don't make sense like forcing me to download software that reconfigures my computer's settings so much so that it affects me even when I'm not on campus and connected to their network.

One of these nasty settings forces my Windows 7 machine to automatically update using Microsoft's awful Windows Updates. Upon getting any Windows machine, I always disable auto updates. I know, I know, Microsoft swears up and down that these updates are "vital" to a computer's well being and blah blah blah...basically, I've never had much use for the updates they send my way, such as the newest set I received that proved why I stay away from them as much as possible.

Generally speaking, the updates are set up in a way that is to help your computer, but that couldn't be farther from the truth for someone like me who manages their computer in their own way.

Ever since upgrading my RAM and using my computer for heavy gaming (I was excited earlier to find out that my computer was automatically set to handle high graphics for Fallout: New Vegas!! :D), I've been making sure that it is always running at its peak performance. I keep an eye on the status of the CPU and how much power is being used. I was able to actually get my computer to use almost 1% of its power when not running any programs. In doing so, my computer used less than 25% of the total RAM which is currently at about 8 GB in total.

Long story short, after updating using Windows Update and restarting my computer, my computer now uses over 25% at startup before any programs are manually started by me. My fan has gotten louder as it's clear that the CPU is taking on an extra load from whatever bloatware Microsoft decided to send my way in these "wonderful" updates.

Needless to say, I'm really pissed that I'm forced to get these updates and that Microsoft has done this to my computer. It ran fine before and there were no problems. Why must I be forced into these useless updates and why must Microsoft require recommend that I get these useless updates that don't seem to do much good for my machine?

My university's IT department has lost lots of respect from me for this decision and Microsoft too has just confirmed, once again, why I stay away from their useless update system. For the typical noob user, yeah, I guess these updates would be beneficial; for me, as a somewhat experienced user, I see no reason why I should be required for these updates and why I cannot undo the changes that were made.

I did notice that Microsoft snuck in some software in that batch that is supposed to defend my computer against malware. While I appreciate Microsoft's concern and free update, I'm doing just fine with my own virus protection and shouldn't have been forced into receiving this update if I didn't want it.

Tell you what: you can tell me that I have to view updates as they come through, but let me choose which ones I want and which ones I don't want and don't bother me anymore with the ones I clearly don't want. Sounds like a good plan to me.

I really want these changes undone. I got to a point where I was able to run multiple tabs in Google Chrome (including Facebook, which is a huge memory hog) as well as run iTunes, Steam, and a Steam game all at once with my computer's memory still running at a decent amount. Now, all that has changed. My fan speeds up if Google Chrome is open and a game has started which is not only irritating when trying to hear the game play but also worrisome as it is causing my computer's hardware to run much harder than before.

Microsoft: fix this issue for those of us who don't need this.
My university: don't force me to update my computer when I don't want to. And be a tad more lenient towards users like me who just want to use the web for various class projects. After all, I am paying you thousands of dollars per semester for things like a decent WiFi system that students, like myself, should be able to access while on the grounds.

Is that too much to ask from either of you?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Happens to My Valve Purchases?

In a time like this when corporations are falling left and right, we often wonder what sort of security do we have in a company if it goes out of business. With car corporations that have been around since the beginning of automobiles like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Mercury, we, as customers of these vehicles, wonder what sort of options we have for service if anything is to go wrong with the vehicle. While it's always nice to rely on a third party mechanic, we'd like the assurance from the former company that parts will be available for our vehicles in the event something happens post-closure.

For many of us gamers, this is something that has probably crossed our minds with regards to many companies like Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and even Steam/Valve when it comes to our digital purchases. While a physical CD/DVD copy will almost always be there and you can copy them, it's not as simple for digitally signed games with DRM that prevents such usage. While we hope for the best for the company, Valve as well as its currently popular game client, Steam, we do wonder about our security as customers. After all, many of us are piling in, literally, thousands of dollars into the company for games that we are promised will always be long as Steam is running. It gets a little frightening when dealing with any cloud-based client such as Steam when thinking what could happen post-closure.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any sort of answer provided in Steam's FAQ which can currently be found here. Luckily, we do have options and Valve provides human customer service representatives who will assist us with questions not found within the FAQ.

I've sent over this letter to Valve in hopes of receiving some sort of reply soon to ease my worries. Many others have done the same and await Valve's official response. Below is exactly what I sent to Valve.

Access to Games Post Steam/Valve? 
I'm a little worried about the future of Steam/Valve and what would happen to my game purchases if, God forbid, Valve goes bankrupt or Steam is sold to another company. I was wondering what sort of options do I have as a customer for making sure that I will still have access to my purchases that I've made through Steam whether that be keeping them in offline mode or being able to transfer them to a new computer if needed?

Below here, I will include Valve's official response if and when they reply to me.

Update February 7, 2014:
Steam still has not responded to my question. I asked the question on Sunday, February 1, 2014 and it is Friday, February 7, 2014 and still no response from anyone on the issue.

I'm not sure if they will respond at all at this point. I posed a question a few years ago and received a reply within two days and that question was posed on a Saturday.

Has anyone found any sort of answers to this question?

Update February 12, 2014:

Steam Support responded to my question with this.

Hello ******,
Thank you for contacting Steam Support.
We apologize for the delay.
In the unlikely event of the discontinuation of the Steam network, measures are in place to ensure that all users will continue to have access to their Steam games.
If you have any further questions, please let us know - we will be happy to assist you.

And there's the answer we've been wondering.

Is it satisfying enough for you, if you were curious? I'm curious as to what measures are set in place if this event ever does occur. I assume Valve has paid a company to keep the games safe and available for download in the unlikely event they go under.

What about you? What do you think Valve's measures are? Do you trust Valve enough to make purchases with them? (I am and I still do make purchases with them)