Words of Wisdom…008

If you want to take credit you have to accept blame.

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Battlefeeled 3

Battlefield #A game that makes a FPS military shooter worth playing, welcome to Battlefield 3. Sure, there is a campaign but that is not the real meat in this meal but rather the online multiplayer is the best part.

The campaign is short but sweet. It doesn’t tell much of a story but it does a good job to work as a tutorial for the game giving you some exposure to the weapons and environments. A quick summary of the campaign is that you are a soldier trying to track and stop a terrorist unit from going through with its plans to attack civilian targets. You’ll get a good mix of military tactics as well as locales if you go through the campaign. I did it on the easy difficulty setting just to play it and ended up completing the entire campaign. Having played the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaigns as well, I still prefer this one to any of the Modern Warfare campaigns. Not that either are the masterpieces of storytelling but this Battlefield campaign did not try to be over-the-top anywhere near as much as the Modern Warfare campaigns try to be. This left me with a sense that this game felt more authentic and less contrived.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t really care for competitive online multiplayer play. However, the scale some of the battles available are somewhat astounding. Having never played any of the previous Battlefield games, my only point of reference to online military shooters are the previously mentioned Modern Warfare games. Both of these multiplayer environments have their merits and problems but Battlefield breaks away from Modern Warfare solely on the size of battles it offers. Jumping into a battle involving twenty-four people was a little overwhelming at first but after a few rounds it becomes much more comfortable. With this larger scale and environments, strategy becomes a bigger part of the game then in other multiplayer matches. Just running and gunning into a situation is usually not a good idea.

Whether you wade through the campaign or dive into the multiplayer, you will get a well-rounded experience. Controls are sharp and accurate with balanced weapons not giving too much of an advantage to either side. Graphics are much better than I was accustomed to with the Call of Duty games. I enjoyed my time in the campaign and found the online play rewarding enough to make me keep coming back. My only regret is that I realize that I’m not so good at the online games but I still feel like this is one of the more compelling multiplayer environments. Don’t go thinking I’m panning or hating on the Call of Duty franchise. I played those games too and enjoyed them for a time. They just became too repetitive for me and I lost interest. Battlefield is still a new experience to me at this time so it is fresh for me but I may move away from it just I did Call of Duty.

If you’d like to take a shot at experiencing this game, Amazon has it new for under twenty bucks and outlets like GameStop and Gamefly will sell you a used copy. As I pen this post though, Amazon is cheaper for a new copy then the other two outlets are for used ones. I got it for the low low price of free with my PlayStation Plus membership.

Not A Good Day for Die Hard

A Good Day to Die HardMaybe this movie series should be over and done with but this movie indicates that not only is the franchise not over, it may only be changing.

John McClane is still police man in New York but he will be going to Russia when he gets news that his son, Jack, has been jailed there. Barely off the plane, John finds Jack busting out of prison and on the run with another prisoner. Despite Jack not wanting John around, they reluctantly team up. John discovers that his son has secretly been working as a spy and is trying to rescue the other prisoner. Unfortunately, they find that things are not as they are supposed to be and now they must stop the Russians from following through on their plans.

I wish I could have given a better setup to describe the plot but this movie was all over the place. The Die Hard franchise did take an over the top turn with Live Free or Die Hard, but you’ll find that A Good Day to Die Hard really notches up this approach. The situations the McClanes find themselves in are more outlandish and unrealistic. The action sequences are even more over done than ever before. The plot suffers greatly from fragmentation and convolution. At various times it is not clear who is working with who. John McClane is being turned into more of a James Bond character than he was ever supposed to be. What happened to him being pretty much an average guy that rose to the occasion?

Perhaps the most disconcerting part of the whole matter is that this does not appear to be the end of the line for the Die Hard franchise. The basis of the movie sets up Jai Courtney to become the new star of future Die Hard movies. It’s going to be real easy for Hollywood to pump out a script for an American James Bond type. Who knows, maybe there could be a cross-over. Think of something like Skyfall Harder or Die Harder Another Day or Tomorrow Never Dies Harder or Live and Let Die Harder. The possibilities are endless.

I am a Die Hard fan. The latest movie certainly is not a shining star but its the worst movie I’ve seen of late. Big explosions and car chases will keep you entertained. Don’t try to wrap your head around the plot too much as it may never really fit together right. If they would have had more screen time for Yulyia Snigir, the movie would have been all the more better.

Maybe this one is only worth a rental and not a purchase. If you want to keep your Die Hard collection complete though you’ll need to cough about $20 over at Amazon.

Yippie Ki-Yay!!!

What’s In The Box? It’s A MacBook Pro!

So when the old laptop started giving me fits, I decided to replace it and ordered myself a MacBook Pro. I shopped around for a good bit trying to find the best deal I could get. What I found was MacMall’s sale. I also found that by following the links to MacMall from Apple Insider, you can enter a code to get an additional 3% off of the price. After a mail-in rebate, the final price was just under $1,400 for a 13.3″ MacBook Pro with Retina display, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB flash storage, and 2.5GHz Intel i5 dual core processor. This price drop is likely an attempt to clear some inventory before Apple announces the release dates for new Mac hardware. Said announcement is expected in early September.

On to the unboxing.

MacBook Pro in box

I’ve unboxed iPhones and iPad before and this box is built-in the same style. Only real difference is the larger size to accommodate the laptop. Something that I was not familiar with were the stickers hold the box shut.

MacBook Pro sticker

Don’t worry, this is just how the techies at MacMall seal the box after they have opened it to install Parallels on the MacBook Pro. I opted to spend the $150 to have Parallel and Windows 8 installed for two reasons. First, I’m not a Mac user currently. I wanted to make sure that the money I was spending on this hardware would not be completely useless to me. Not that I would say Windows 8 is more usable than Mac OS just that I am more familiar with it. Secondly, just in case there was some stray program that did not support Mac OS. I haven’t found one yet but it’s still early.

Under the MacBook

First thing I see when I open the box is the OEM copy of Windows 8 along with the user and password information for the laptop. Removing that documentation and the laptop itself reveals what is left in the box. A small documentation packet from Apple and the MagSafe charger.

MacBook Pro Packet

There isn’t much in the packet Apple gives. A bare minimum manual(which I have not read) and a screen wipe. But what you really want is the laptop itself.

MacBook Pro Closed

MacBook Pro Open

That’s what’s in the box. Apple is into the stylish and minimalistic approach and this is no exception. I’ll let you know what my thoughts are on the MacBook book as I spend some time with it.

Bonus Material!!!

So I recorded my thoughts while unboxing this, just for fun. Obviously I did not record it with the MacBook but I did edit it on it. I know the quality is lacking but I’m hoping to iron that out in the future.

Vita – The Undead Rises and Crawls

PS Vita

Do you own a PlayStation Vita? Come on, be honest. I own one. It is a fine piece of hardware but has obviously been suffering. Let’s get the gripes and problems out-of-the-way first. Then we’ll get on to the hopeful, cheery part of the post.

There are plenty of things that are wrong with this system. Let’s start with the hardware. As beautiful as the screen is, all of the proprietary hardware is mind-bogglingly stupid. The power connection is proprietary. More baffling is that there is a proprietary connection on the Vita end but the other end(what connects to the power supply, computer, or PS3) is standard USB. Why not make the other end micro USB like so many phones or other devices use? Then there is the proprietary memory card. Not only did Sony have to pay for the research and development on this but then they had to invest in the manufacturing of the readers and cards. Are not the usage rights to the pre-existing and dominate SD memory cards and readers cheaper overall? Then the memory cards are crazy expensive. Speaking of expensive, the whole system is expensive. I bought the Black Ops bundle for $250 which I felt was $50 over priced but I really wanted the system because I believed it had promise. I still believe in the promise and potential but I find that $250 was a bit much. The 4GB card is almost worthless since I basically can only have one game installed at a time since it takes the entirety of the card to store it. I hate to say it but the Black Ops: Declassified game was by far the worst game I played on the Vita. With my PlayStation Plus membership I got “free” access to games that were better than Black Ops. Then there is the mystery port on the top of the unit. I’ve wondered and searched the Internet for answers but have not found any answer as to what it is for. If anyone out there knows better than I, please let me know. If you want to look back at the games, you’ll be sad again. Games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss were amazing and stunning. Games like Black Ops Declassified were so bad I pulled out the game card, uninstalled it in the second mission and have never played it again. Despite the Black Ops game having great graphics, I could not get past the overall gameplay problems. I didn’t feel so bad hating the game since almost all of the reviews I later read were about on the same page. Do you want to talk about the lack of software and games? We get to that chicken and egg syndrome of are there not any good games because the hardware is not selling or is the hardware not selling because there are not any good games? AHHHHHHHHHH…..Ok, enough negativity.

There are good points that the system has and shows great possibilities. As I mentioned, the screen is amazing. When used properly, the five-inch screen will blow away any other screen. Games like the aforementioned Uncharted game are nothing short of gorgeous. Even Black Ops was graphically great. Download the YouTube app and watch some videos. Once you get past the different user interface, you will find that even the lowest quality videos look fantastic. Even the touch interface is very responsive. Granted, some of the implemented uses are less than ideal, it does mechanically work extremely well. I think the use of the touch interface can be resolved with developers learning how to use it properly. WiFi is rock solid on the unit as well. Netflix will take advantage of both the screen resolution and WiFi connection to give you a great experience. I watched several entire episodes of Arrested Development on the Vita just to see how it performed. My only regret was that I had to hold the unit through the entire episode because I did not have something to prop it up against. The controls work very well when used correctly. I say it that way because I have played games where the analog sticks were “wonky” and other games where the same sticks were spot on. This tells me that developers just aren’t on the same page on how to use the resources on this device. The system feels good in your hand when playing. I have what I consider large hands and I feel comfortable with the system.

Why should you have hope for this system? First off, price drop. Sony announced a $50 price drop on the system effective the day after the announcement. Beware though, it seems that this has not been enacted accurately. The Black Ops bundle I bought from Amazon, shows as selling for more than I paid for it months ago versus at this time. Hopefully this is just an error in their system at this time or the fact that it has become a rarity over time. Even the proprietary memory cards got a “substantial” price reduction. But there are also new games coming soon. I played a beta for a game coming soon to the Vita. I have nothing to say other than it convinced me to order it. I didn’t think I would even be interested in this game but I completely converted and now I must have it. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is also coming. This is poised to be a terrific compliment to the Batman: Arkham Origins. I’ve pre-ordered both of these games. Want to talk remote play? With the impending release of the PlayStation 4 in November of this year, we wait with bated breath as to which games will support remote play on the PS Vita. I’ve played Wii U games on the handheld controller of the Wii U and if Sony can replicate that experience, there will we a good reason to run out an buy a Vita. Granted, there will be limitations and differences when playing on a Vita versus a full fledged PS4. There has to be since the button configuration is not the same. A sacrifice that the PS Vita designers made and now have to live with.

The Vita isn’t ready to run, maybe it isn’t even walking yet. Poor marketing and poor development have hampered it. But the coming months could be the beginning of its glory days. I whole-heartedly await the day that I can be watching a college football game on my tv and playing a full fledged PS4 game on my Vita. That will make the commercial breaks much more tolerable.