Killzone Deux

Killzone 2A first class shooter exclusive to the PS3 but well worth playing.

Play as the members of Alpha team as the ISA invades the Helghast home world. What was to be a straight forward military invasion quicks turns to be anything but simple. The might and determination of the Helghast are far more than what was anticipated. ISA takes heavy losses and countless set backs. Alpha team fights on, taking down key installations and discovering several secrets of Helghan.

From a technical perspective this game is good, a few shortcomings stop me from calling it really good. The graphics are by far outstanding. Cut scenes are near movie quality and in-game graphics show fantastic detail. Impressive considering the game was released in 2009 before a lot of developers really knew how to push the PS3 to its limits. What did not work so well for me was some of the controls. It may have just been an issue of personal preference but I did not like the controller configuration and could not find an alternative that suited me any better than the standard. Pushing R3 to zoom or aim down the sights(as some games refer to it) kind of cramped my playing style as I have a tendency to click this inadvertently, which meant I went in and out of zoom mode many times when I did not want to. Again though, that was more my problem than anything else. One thing that bothered me more was the cover system. Having to hold L2 to stay in cover was bad enough. I don’t mind hitting the button to go into cover but I don’t like popping out of cover just because I let a button go. Add to the fact that peeking out of cover to shoot seemed unreliable. At several times I did get frustrated by trying to lean out of cover but not being able to for some reason and then if I wanted to use zoom mode on a weapon it became even more unreliable.

If you are into first-person shooters then this game should do well for you. I had never played the original Killzone, nor do I really plan to at this point, and I was able to follow and enjoy the game just fine. If you want to make comparisons, this game is to PlayStation what Gears of War is to Xbox. There apparently is an on-line multiplayer mode but given that it is four years old and I don’t feel the need to play the multiplayer portion, I never signed into it. Therefore, no commentary on the multiplayer. As far as the single player goes, it was very well balanced with some varied battle types. Although, the game was mostly based on urban combat by foot soldiers, you did get some chances to drive vehicles and operate mounted guns.

I like games you can get on the cheap and this game is no exception. GameStop had it used, on the shelf for $6.29. If you must have that new game smell, Amazon has it new for about $13. If you really want to go that new game route, Amazon has the trilogy for about $30 and that would be your better deal(besides, you’re going to buy Killzone 3 anyway, right?).

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Jack Reachered Too Far

Jack ReacherYet another film about centered on the ultimate bad ass role. Not that there weren’t already enough of these movies, this is just one more on the heap.

Tom Cruise stars in the lead role of Jack Reacher himself. Reacher arrives in Pittsburgh after a former military sniper has been arrested for killing five civilians. The arrested man has a history with Jack Reacher and Reacher would just as soon see this man tried and convicted of this crime. However, an eager and idealistic defense attorney convinces Reacher to investigate the case. It quickly becomes apparent that this crime is not as cut and dry as it seems. Through the investigation, Reacher must trace all the clues, stay ahead of all the forces working against him and find the truth behind these murders.

Unfortunately this movie falls short of being the suspense-filled action drama it was intended to be. Too much of the film just felt contrived and forced.  Jack Reacher’s innate abilities come off as somewhat over done and silly at times. From he over-powering ability of intuition to the near perfect memory and recall, it felt like he had comic book physic powers. It’s also hard to believe that a man with no past can wander the modern world with no true identity. This illusion of Jack Reacher being a ‘ghost’, as the movie puts it, is broken almost immediately by the movie itself when the police and prosecutors are reviewing Reachers history they have obtained somehow. So Jack Reacher doesn’t exist, except for a fairly detailed recorded history that tells you almost everything about him?

I’ll give the movie an ok rating. Falling short on a lot of potential did not help. Plus the movie played like Mission Impossible but with out all the fancy gadgets and exotic locations. I watched this movie for free thanks to a free rental from Red Box. Mama said that price was right but unless you are in love with Tom Cruise don’t spend much more money on it.

Force Pinball 2

Zen Pinball 2Zen Pinball 2 Star WarsYou like the pinball? You like the Star Wars? Then you like the Star Wars tables for Zen Pinball 2. I did.

This is a straight out pinball game so no plot to evaluate here.

On to the game play. Like I said, it’s pinball. Get yourself in the game, hit the buttons for the flippers, and use the sticks to bump the table. The game is just fun to play. Play a quick game or keep playing for hours. Multiplayer matches and leader boards will keep you keyed in.

Get the game free with your PlayStation Plus membership. What? You aren’t a Plus member? Then you have to pay $9.99 but you get both the Vita and PS3 version. The better idea is to just invest that money in your Plus membership. You know you want and need it.

The E-Splendid-ables 2

The Expendables 2Obviously a man’s movie, it is so bad yet oh so good at the same time. Building on the throwback action of the original, The Expendables 2 will again satisfy that taste for ridiculous action movies.

Have your popcorn ready and be in your seats when this one starts and finds our over-the-hill heroes in the thick of action as soon as the movie opens. Barnie is leading his troops into battle on top of armored trucks with the guys packing everything from heavy machine guns to rocket launchers. Into a small military installation they ride to acquire their target only to find one of Barnie’s competitors, Trench, as one of the captives as well. Crazy gun battles and huge explosions ensue as the group fights their way to safety. Only once they return to the States they are recruited by a government agent, Church, to take on a task to repay their debt to him.

I could have just as soon summed up the plot as “old guys shooting people and blowing stuff up” and felt that would have been sufficient. This movie is the grand continuation of Stallone’s vision to do an 80’s-90’s style action movie with some of the top talent of the time. One may argue that this is actually a better movie than the first. Granted the first movie was a sheer visceral delight and celebration to the movies these stars cut their teeth on to build their careers. This movie is better constructed from a story stand point but still provides all the action a fan would want. True to the man movie mold, there is no real love interest so the ladies probably won’t find much to love about the lack of love. But maybe the tinges of vulnerability and heart through out the movie will give them something to hold on to.

The cast is a crazy ensemble of action stars trading one-liners that make fun of themselves and each other.  The scenes with Willis and Schwarzenagger were absolutely hilarious. What other movie can get Chuck Norris to tell a Chuck Norris joke? If you have Neflix and a love for action put this movie on right now. If you need to have it forever then Amazon will help you out for under $15. If you haven’t seen the original it is time you do so, then watch the sequel, and then maybe watch them both again. That will help you kill some time as you wait breathlessly for The Expendables 3 to be released.

What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Unveiling New iPhones

iPhones

Apple announced the new iPhones, 5C and 5S, available September 20, 2013.

Now the few other details I felt worth noting:

iOS 7 coming to iPad 2 and up, iPad Mini, iPod Touch 5th generation and up, and iPhone 4 and up on September 18, 2018.

iWork suite will now be free on new devices.

iPhone 5 will not get a discount.

The iPhone 5C will come in green, white, blue, red/pink, and yellow. The fronts are black on all models. It has a 4 inch screen, 8MP camera, A6 processor, and FaceTime HD front camera. The shell is a steel reinforced plastic construction. The unit will cost $99 for 16GB model and $199 for the $199. Pre-orders begin September 13 for release on September 20.

The iPhone 5S will come in silver, gold, and space gray. Silver and gold looking like white iPhones with silver or gold trim, respectively. The black is now called space gray. The unit uses the A7 SoC(system-on-a-chip). There is a motion co-processor, M7, to take over the duties of motion sensing, accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. The camera is re-worked with a new dual LED flash, better aperture and exposure. The camera will have a burst mode that will capture ten frames per second. It will record normal video in 1080p HD at 30fps and slo-mo in 720p HD at 120fps. No exact quote on mega-pixels, they pretty much danced around that. The home button now has an embedded  fingerprint scanner called the TouchID. The TouchID will be used for authenticating to the phone and iTunes store. It will be available in 16, 32, and 64GB models costing $199, $299, and $399 respectively. No pre-order date announced, only the general purchase availability date of September 20.

No other announcements. Those of you looking for Mac or AppleTV news will have to wait.