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Amazon’s iPhone Killer?

Yesterday Amazon revealed it latest product: The Fire phone. Amazon entering the smartphone market in a bold way.. Just another step towards building out a consumer driven ecosystem.

According to Amazon’s founder  Jeff Bezos, “Can we build a better phone for Amazon Prime members? Well, I’m excited to tell you that the answer is yes.” The new phone is described as having a 3-D, 4.7-inch high-definition display. It uses infrared lights and cameras mounted on the phone’s surface to track a user’s head movements and render images accordingly.

Amazon’s new installed app called “Firefly” uses the camera to recognize physical objects — books, games, food, household products and other items — and gives you the option to buy all that stuff instantly on Amazon. Also, it can recognize music like the Shazam app.

The Fire Phone will cost $199 with a two-year contract, available exclusively on AT&T’s network. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon’s website, and it will begin shipping on July 25.

 

My Take: From what I seen on the new phone, it looks cool. The 3-D feature looks exciting but I wonder if this could cause eye problems down the road. The only thing I am concerned with is the Firefly app. Yes, it is amazing technology but will this all of this information is where do it go? What will Amazon do with it. I might be too cynical. If the video game Watch Dogs taught me anything it is “Everything is connected” and “Data is everything”.

Did you catch ‘em all?

 

imageRemember that April Fools joke that Google played on Pokémon fan? No…well here is a recap: Introducing their updated Google Maps app they plopped 150 Pokémon around the globe. By tapping on them you “caught” that Pokémon. Catch all 150 and win the title of Pokémon Master.

Reports were coming out that the legendary Pokémon Mew was out there. These reports were true. After that, Google contacted the people who collected all 151 Pokémon. Asking for their name and address.

Well now via Reddit - Google sent out a letter and business cards with your name and title of Pokémon Master.  I competed the Pokémon Google Maps challenge, so I await my prize. I will update you when I receive it.

 

WD2

Data is Everywhere

“Hacking is everything”. That is core approach for Watch Dogs. If you remember back to when we first seen this game at E3 2012, this game was a breakout hit. This game is about the personal data that we hold dear yet share on the internet freely. If nothing more, Watch Dogs is about what can happen where information is power and power corrupts.

Story
You play as Aiden Pearce. He was a criminal hacker, trying to make some easy cash. One job took away all that. He is haunted by the death of his niece. It was not his fault but Aiden lives with the pain. He is not your typical hero. He will cross that line to keep his family safe. Yes, this is your typical revenge story. That might be the negative in this game. I was hoping for some more meat to the story. ctOS is the main villain here. That is a computer system that runs and records all. As that first teaser trailer back at E3 2012, information is power. With varying hacks Aiden uses the ctOS to his protect his family.

Gameplay
What can I say? It is a game based in a open world Chicago. All you do is hack. For Aiden and now you, hacking is a way of life. It is very simplistic in its working. Yet it does work and works well. If you are running after a criminal. There are a multiple options available to you. Breaker, steam vents, valves, and electrical boxes. Hacking is as easy as judging the distance of the enemy to the hackable object.

In some ways the gameplay will remind me of Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. You have in different sections of the Chicago a ctOS stations. By gaining access to these stations, this allows you to use hacks and profile citizens. At these highly guarded facilities, you need to find the access code and then hack the main grid. By using the security cameras perched above, you can do this without a shot fired being fired from any side. One of the fun things about this game is the freedom to play the way you want. I stand outside of the stations, access a camera, maybe mess with a guard or two, find the codes, hack the system, and leave.

Yes, the run and hack is mostly what you do. With most of the gameplay being driving to a destination and taking out a group of guards or hiding from the police. That brings me to the driving. It is like driving a high speed tank down the street. In some instances, instead of speeding away. You peel out for a second. Wasting valuable time if you are trying for catch someone. From a company that made the Driver games, you would think the driving would be better.

I don't think this is how a police chase works.

I don’t think this is how a police chase works.

As in most open world games, you also have side missions. These can range from chess to digital trips. Spider is the best! You play as a robotic spider, with one goal: Destroy. It seem that this could have been a easter egg. It reminded me of the spider slayers that are after Spider-Man. Also, this game has some glitches. Nothing serious but funny. You might have seen these on the internet. I would say these glitches give this game some personally.

Overall

Watch Dogs is a fun game. With varying hacks, missions and unlimited people to surveil, you will come back to this place. It has some flaws but if you can look past the driving and the lackluster story, this game property has great potential.

8.7/10

KirbyTD

Kirby Kirby Kirby

Today I bring you the review of Kirby Triple Deluxe. It is the thirteenth installment of the Kirby game series. Retro is really in at Nintendo. I would not say that Kirby is an old property but he could fit in somewhere. We all know Kirby…right? Well if you don’t, he is a round pink ball with eyes and a mouth. He does not talk much. All he says is “hi”.

STORY

As for the game’s story, Kirby lives in this place called Dream Town. Where he lives a very simple life of flying, fishing, and sleeping. One day as he is sleeping, a giant beanstalk vine thrust his home into the night sky. Waking up, Kirby sees what had happen and ventures up the stalk. He comes across King DeDeDe’s castle. Which has been carried up in the clouds too. Kirby sees a mysterious figure burst through the castle doors. As our hero Kirby runs to the king’s throne, the mysterious figure takes King DeDeDe further up the vine like stalk. It is up to Kirby to save the day!

 

GAMEPLAY

Kirby Robin Hood, away!!!

Kirby Robin Hood, away!!!

All Kirby games are simple to play. Besides walking, jumping, and dashing. He only has one ability: Inhale. This game focuses on that ability. In this game and other Kirby game your ability to suck up your opponents and absorb their powers is key. Not all enemies have powers but all can be used as a weapon. Most of the powers here are the same as previous games. There are four new ones: Archer, Beetle, Bell, and Circus.

Along with these new powers you have the Hypernova inhale ability due to the Hypernova fruit. This allows Kirby to inhale items that he previous could not. Which is not limited to not just enemies but large trees, rocks and gigantic eels. This power is used in innovative ways. You can inhale and walk backwards to pull something or propel a drill boat on hot lava. In these levels, you have a mini boss which will usually shoot some item at you. Kirby inhales the item and shoots it back. Simple mechanic but fun.

MOVE. THAT. TREE!!!

MOVE. THAT. TREE!!!

In this game you go from stage to stage collecting sun stones to unlock the boss at the end of the levels. As a platformer, it is at its best. The 3D effect adds another touch whereas Kirby can travel to the foreground and background wherever there is a shifting star to help him. Certain parts of the level requires you to tilt your 3DS to put out fires or help guide a lit fuze across a maze.

As I stated in my opening, I believe that Nintendo and HAL Labs was going for a retro theme. They might have missed the mark. As you play through, you will find keychains. These are the collectables in this game. The keychains are of various enemies and Kirby powers through his video game history. You can’t really do nothing with them other than to see them in your keychain collection. I mean does Kirby have a keychain? What does he do with them?

KTD Key

At times you need it most the controls are a bit loose. Each power has a set move list and combos for different power moves. To activate a certain power, I would sometimes use the 3DS D-pad. Using the analog stick was too loose. I would try one move and get another.

Kirby Triple Deluxe has two other games included. Kirby Fighters and DeDeDe Drum Dash. Kirby Fighters is the fun one. It is like a Super Smash Bros. clone. You can play one of four different colored Kirby’s and choose one power. You can duke it out which your friend or see which power reigns supreme.

All in all Kirby Triple Deluxe is a fun game. The nods from previous game are there. There is a little extra for beating the game and to replay it as well. I don’t know the idea for putting the keychains in the game. There was no clear thought on that. I would have like a little more involvement on that part.

8.5/10

All Aboard the Hype Train!

Webster dictionary defines the word “Hype” as promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind. In this realm of video games we know this well. Game companies know what we want. Hype can come in many different forms. When pre-ordering for some game you can get different levels of a pre-order that will come with bonuses. Also, you could have exclusive DLC or skins for the character for only one system. I will be the first to post the an item showing the graphical capabilities of the new Watch Dogs game or new gameplay. It can lead you to talk about it with friends.  Which itself is a great thing.  It is perfectly natural to be excited for a game and consequentially hype it up; however, is it really a good thing for us to be doing so?

You all remember the game Aliens: Colonial Marines? Five years ago, Sega announced that Gearbox was going to develop an FPS based on the Aliens franchise. Aliens: Colonial Marines had Fox’s blessing to tell a canonical story that bridged Aliens and Alien 3. It looked pretty good in demos, and for a moment it seemed as though, after being disappointed for decades, Aliens fans were finally going to get the game they deserved. Unfortunately, the result of the long wait turn out very differently. It became worst for Sega and Gearbox due to the pending lawsuit claiming the two companies falsely advertised Aliens: Colonial Marines by showing demos at trade shows like PAX and E3 which didn’t end up being accurate representations of the final product. I won’t pass a final judgement on them but the hype surrounding this game because of the screenshots and trailers that came out, it had reached a point where me and other people expected it to do anything and be everything we wanted from an Aliens game, even when that could never really happen. Even though this Aliens game was not the worst game ever, it seemed far more disastrous to us than it actually was because it became so built up in our minds.

 

CoD image

The above picture is from an IGN article showing the next-gen version of Call of Duty.  Sledgehammer Games revealed this image showing in-game character model. People are already reading into this character and dissecting where does this take place. This is a Call of Duty game, I need to see soldiers in action and explosions everywhere. I need to see the story and the premise. That is what I am going to care about.  Not a cheek. When I am living in the best moments in the game, it will not be about the pores in this guy’s face. This seems impulsive and not planned out. (The image was shown in private at a GDC 2014 function.  Asking what happen between now and then is for another blog post.) Sorry for going into a small rant but I had to.

Gaming is a symbiotic relationship, the gamers and the publishers have a responsibility to each other that must be fulfilled to keep a happy medium. Yes, publishers may say false things about a game to hype it up. That is why it is our job as gamers to see past this. Take the time to do some research first. Make sure you will be happy with your purchase before you walk into the store; because like everything else, hype is only a phase.

pacman food

Pac-Man Themed Restaurant Planning to Open

Namco Entertainment Inc, a subsidiary of the Bandai Namco Group is planning to open a “high-end, gaming-themed restaurant and entertainment center” in Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL.

The restaurant, will include eight lanes of bowling and will open in 40,000 square feet of warehouse space. The space also will include video games and four bowling lanes on each side.

According to the Schaumburg Economic Development Manager Matt Frank, the restaurant itself will offer high-level fine dining, but reflect the company brand through use of a Pac-Man motif and memorabilia.

[Source: Daily Herald]

My Take: I can’t wait for this! I shall be there with bells on! To me it sounds like a cross between Gameworks and the old Blockbuster Block Party. It looks that the bowling lanes will be on each side and the coin-op gaming and dining will be in the middle.

metal_gear_solid_5_ground_zeroes

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

Let me preface this review by saying I have never played a Metal Gear Solid game. It just never caught my attention. When Konami/Kojima announced that Metal Gear Solid V would be split into 2 games and both would be set in an open world. You have my attention now.

There is a lot of story in this small game. Which does not present it in a cut scene and puts it actually in the game. The story is great for people who knew what went on in the previous games. It gives you a timeline which helps a little. Still it could be confusing for someone. Here is the story in a nutshell: Snake (also called Big Boss) is dropping in a “black site prison” on the tip of Cuba. He has to traverse this prison to save Chico and Paz. Simple, right. I won’t spoil the ending but it left me wanting more. This should be solved in the next game The Phantom Pain.

As for the gameplay, it is fine. You can crawl, crouch, or run, like with previous Metal Gear games. The varying enemy type helps you keep on your toes. Now you can interrogate your foe with a simple push of a button. These interrogations will reveal locations of ammo, side entrances, or collectables that are scattered throughout the open-world.

I'm in.

I’m in.

One of the new features the Kojima has thrown into this franchise is “reflex” mode. It is like a bullet time for when an enemy spots you. I often would this to be a hinderance than a help. As you can play this game anyway you want. Once you are spotted, time slows and you can choose what you want to do. For me I would just shoot them but sometimes this does not work. A few times, a guard in the tower would see me just below the tower. The “reflex” feature starts and your shot hits the tower and not the guard. This feature is great and it does help you but there is something that needs to be fixed about it.

Looking at the graphics of the game. It is amazing! You can see every detail on your screen. It is best to play on the next-gen. The next-gen systems will produce a better product but it is not imperative. The game looks like a playable movie. The sheen of the rain falling on Snake’s back is just gorgeous. Textures in Ground Zeroes look real. Kiefer Sutherland does a fine job as Snake. There is no doubt that this Kojima took great care in making this game.

I had heard that some people were calling this a glorified demo. It might be true. It looks like some tech demo that is for the next game The Phantom Pain. The main mission only last for 2 hours but you have many other missions to completes and numerous collectibles to get.  For the price, you have of 30 dollars (next-gen) and 20 dollars (current-gen) ,you can’t beat it! I can see people vying for the fastest speed run of the main mission. The replayability of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is high. While short, I say bring on The Phantom Pain.

8.2/10