Monday, December 27, 2010

DVD Review (The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season)

Finally, I've gotten the 13th season of The Simpsons. While this is supposed to be far of a stellar season, I picked it up anyways. Here's my review for each individual episode, and the season as a whole. Enjoy!


[*] Indicates an "Epicsode"

Treehouse of Horror XII: 4.25/5 I thoroughly enjoyed House of Whacks, and Hex and the City and Wiz Kids were both pretty good. Not the best ToH, but pretty memorable in my opinion.

The Parent Rap: 4/5: A judge sentence Homer and Bart to be tied together. After Marge cuts the rope, her and Homer get their heads stuck in wooden stocks. Decent episode at best.

Homer the Moe: 4.25/5 Homer takes over Moe's Tavern as Moe decides to go back to school in hopes of getting a better bar. After doing so, he regrets it entirely.

[*] A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love: 4.5/5 C.M. Burns meets a girl whom he falls in love with and plans to marry (Played by Julia-Louis Dreyfus) but she ultimately leaves him for Snake.

The Blunder Years: 4/5 Homer gets hypnotized and starts screaming uncontrollably. It's soon found out that he had a run-in with a corpse when he was 12-years-old. That of which was the corpse of Smithers' dad.

She of Little Faith: 3.75/5 Homer builds a rocket with a hamster that crashes into the Springfield church. To raise money, advertisements are plastered everywhere. Lisa decides to switch religions, and is coerced back with Christmas.

Brawl in the Family: 3/5 Maggie calls the police on her own family while they are strangling one another, and get sent to a camp dealie with some guy. Bad episode. Forgettable.

Sweets and Sour Marge: 4.25/5 Marge gets sugar banned in Springfield, but Homer fights to get it back.

Jaws Wired Shut: 4.25/5 Homer breaks his jaw and needs it wired shut. While it's shut, Homer completely changes his attitude on life.

[*] Half-Decent Proposal: 4.5/5 Artie Ziff offers Homer and Marge $1 million dollars to get Marge for a weekend - one of the best episodes of the season.

The Bart Wants What it Wants: 4.25/5 Bart begins to date Rainier Wolfcastle's daughter. Soon, he breaks up with her, and realizes it was a mistake and tries to get her back.

[*] The Lastest Gun in the West: 4.5/5 Bart becomes interested in the cowboy look because of Buck McCoy. Bart soon learns his idol has alcohol and drug problems, and tries getting him back on track.

The Old Man and the Key: 4/5 Grampa begins to date a woman and finds out that the only reason she's really with him is because he can drive. Homer essentially becomes his dad's dad, and bans him from driving.

Tales from the Public Domain: 3/5 This episode contains 3-mini segments involving Homer, Lisa, and Bart, and are from the Odyssey, Hundred Years' War, and Hamlet. A very forgettable trilogy episode.

Blame it on Lisa: 3.25/5 The Simpsons head to Brazil to find an orphan boy. While there, Homer gets kidnapped, and the family needs to find money for ransom.

Weekend at Burnsie's: 4.25/5 Homer gets medical marijuana for his vision, and everything ends up going well for him. Homer on drugs? It's hard to dislike this episode.

Gump Roast: 3/5 In a super forgettable episode, Homer has a run-in with Krang and Kodos. To me, this episode didn't make too much sense, and seemed like it was just an episode full of clips of Homer from previous seasons.

I Am Furious (Yellow): 4.25/5 Bart creates a cartoon titled Angry Dad after Homer and uploads it to the internet. Homer finds out, and is soon infuriated. Stan Lee guest stars.

The Sweetest Apu: 3/5 Apu has an affair with the Squishee lady, and tries his best to keep it hidden from his wife, Manjula -- simply put, one of John Swartzwelder's worst written episodes.

Little Girl in the Big Ten: 3.25/5 Lisa befriends college students to get into college, while Bart gets bitten by a mosquito from China and put into a giant bubble. This episode has its ups and downs.

The Frying Game: 3.5/5 Homer gets arrested for killing a screaming caterpillar, and ends up having to do community service. Ultimately, he and Marge get accused of killing an old lady, but it turns out it was all a hoax and they were part of a TV show.

Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge: 3.25/5 The city loses power and sees an increase crime rate for that reason. As the crime rate rises, the police force dissipates, and Homer and SpringShield control the city.


Well, as expected, this season is disappointing to say the least - there are only 3 "epicsodes" in my mind, and even those episodes aren't exactly MUST SEEs. There are the standard extras, including every-episode commentary, a 6 minute "Best Of Ralph" video, commercials, slide shows, and more. To me, this may just be the worst season yet on DVD. It's not a terrible season, but it's still quite a disappointment.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Game Review (Call of Duty Black Ops "The Multiplayer" - 360)

Call of Duty has, for recent years, been among the most played multiplayer games on Xbox LIVE, and Black Ops will no doubt continue to maintain similar popularity.

I've logged about 42 hours into the multiplayer so far, and while not too much has changed, the game remains as fun as ever. Unlike Modern Warfare 2, this game - in my opinion - has great maps top to bottom with maybe one or two exceptions, which is really great. [See my review of the maps in my past post.] Most of the changes/additions to Black Ops, like extra gun camos, recticle customization, emblem creation, and so on, don't change how the game is played, but do add a little extra fun to the multiplayer, I guess.

Black Ops LIVE has very few flaws. Fortunately, with Treyarch, you can trust that when a problem arises, they'll get off their asses and do something about it ASAP, unlike Infinity Ward. Some glitches worth naming have now been patched, leading to this waste of a sentence.

Trying to keep this review short, I'll go ahead and talk about Zombies - I hadn't played too much WaW, and didn't touch Zombies in it at all, but it never REALLY appealed to me. Black Ops has two Zombie maps on disc - one during World War II, and another to be unlocked after finishing the campaign. [Future Zombie maps are very likely to become available via DLC.] While I don't find Zombies awesomely fun, it is entertaining for about a half hour/hour at a time. But hey, to each their own. Future map releases for the Zombies gametype may change my opinion, but as of now, I only really enjoy the "Five" Zombies map. [The one unlocked after beating the campaign.]

Dead Ops is also available to play once you unlock it. [See YouTube if you don't know how to unlock it yet.] I guess the best way to describe Dead Ops is to compare it to Contra, but instead of being a side scroller, it's played bird's eye view. It's fun, and plays a lot like Smash TV, if you've ever played that game. The game looks good, there's a lot of Zombies to kill, and it's really a fun little addition to the game.

Overall, Black Ops - to me - is the best Call of Duty since the original Modern Warfare. The game feels more balanced, and despite a small handful of flaws, is much, much, MUCH better than the mess that was Modern Warfare 2. If you don't already have the game, pick it up as soon as possible.


[Few minor flaws keep it from being perfect, but they should be fixed in future updates ... Map packs will also give the game more variety.]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Game Review (Call of Duty Black Ops "The Maps" - 360)

This is part one of three reviews I will have for Call of Duty Black Ops. Maps being part one, online play being part two, and the campaign being last - maybe I'm doing this in the complete reverse order as many other people would do, but I don't plan on playing the campaign for awhile.


[*] indicates a bitchin' map.
(S) indicates a small map.
(MS) indicates a medium-small map.
(M) indicates a medium map.
(ML) indicates a medium-large map.
(L) indicated a medium map.


(L) Array: This is one of four maps on-disc for Black Ops that is snowy. Of the four, I'd say this one's my least favorite, mainly because it doesn't fit my playstyle. Being a big map, it tends to have long, drawn out games on Team Deathmatch, as people seem to camp a lot, and there are also a lot of snipers on this map as opposed to most others. It's not a terrible map, but it definitely caters more to the snipers. 4/5

(MS) Cracked: There are very few maps on this disc that I dislike, and Cracked is one of them... it just feels blah. Blown out buildings as a map has been done several times before in Call of Duty 2/3/WaW, and I'm pretty much over them - they were boring then, and they're more boring now. Not much to say about this map besides the obvious - don't get caught out in the open. 3.25/5

[*](L) Crisis: Some sites claim this is a medium map... to me, it sure as hell doesn't feel like it - BUT - it's a great one. It doesn't come up often in matchmaking for me, so when it does, it's a treat to play when it gets voted for. I think I like this map more than most people do because it's sort of nostalgic - it feels a bit like Death Trap and Enowapi from SOCOM II. Fun map, a ton of different areas, and it encourages all of what you'd expect to see in a Call of Duty game, with camping spots for snipers, as well as close-quarters areas for those that like to run-and-gun. 4.75/5

[*](S)Firing Range: Not quite small, not quite medium small, Firing Range is a SMALL-ISH map that I find a lot of fun... then again, I always tend to prefer the smaller maps. There's nothing particularly unique to be said about this map besides the fact that it's a hell of a lot of fun on virtually any game mode from my experience. 4.5/5

(M) Grid: The first Black Ops map I played, Grid is the second of four snowy maps on Black Ops, and what I would have to say is my favorite, although I'm not sure why. The way it's set up, it feels great on objective-based matches, but of course works fine and dandy on Team Deathmatch as well. Grid's almost a prime example of how I like the size of maps to be in games I play, and it's just fun all-around. 4.5/5

(ML) Hanoi: Hard to judge the size of this one as well - although I haven't played it much - but Hanoi, to me, is just a 100% average map. The fact that it's night-time and so blah on colors doesn't help. I've played about three matches on it, and I just think this one's utterly forgettable. Not terrible, but nothing awesome. 3.5/5

(ML) Havana: Feeling a bit bigger than Hanoi, Havana is said to take place in Cuba (Hence the map name.) This maps feels to me a bit like Crossfire from CoD4, but instead of such an open area in the middle, part was thrown behind a row of buildings. I'm probably the only one in the world that feels that way. Havana encourages a LOT of camping, as there are plenty of areas to do so, and I've yet to be in a game in Team Deathmatch where the game ended at 7500. If people stop camping this one so much, it could be a much more fun map. 4/5

(L) Jungle: When you hop online and see Jungle as an option to vote for, you may notice that it tends to not get picked. You may ask yourself, "Why?" and I'll tell you why - it sucks. I understand why they put a Jungle map on-disc, but it's just a frustrating map because it's essentially just one giant campfest. It looks cool upfront, but when you're actually playing it, it's very underwhelming and controller breaking. Eh. MAYBE it'll grow on me, but for now, it's in the pooper of Black Ops maps. 3.25/5

[*](M) Launch: This is the map I was most excited to play before release. I must say, I am a bit disappointed. The fact that when the rocket launches, those beneath it die is a pretty cool idea, but other than that this map's not that great. Like Havana, I found that part of this map reminded me of a CoD4 map - Ambush. The middle area of this map feels that way to me for some reason, except where the area is dipped down in Ambush, it's raised here. As said, fun map. Because of the atmosphere on this map - I can't believe I said that - it gets a star. 4.25/5

[*](S) Nuketown: Thank GOD! After the abominations that were the smallest maps in CoD4 and CoDMW2, ("Shipment" and "Rust" respectively.) Treyarch gives is something to smile about. Nuketown, by and away the smallest map in Black Ops, is fantastic fun. The games are quick and sweet with a lot of running and gunning and grenade chucking - a classic. 4.75/5

(M) Radiation: In a thawed out version of WMD, - eh. Almost. Sort of. Maybe. Feels inspired by - Radiation's good fun. The factory area where you can be incinerated is cool, but unfortunate for those that don't realize they're on a belt to the fiery pits of hell. Again, not a ton to say, but Radiation's just another good map - whether it be on Team Deathmatch, or especially on objective modes. 4.25/5

(MS) Summit: Don't plunge to your DEATH. This map's pretty narrow, but a lot of fun. Obviously, this is the third of four snowy maps in Black Ops - it's not the best one, but it's a close second I think. 4.25/5

(ML) Villa: This one seems to come up a lot, so get used to it. I didn't care for it much at first, but after playing several matches, I think I've accepted the fact this one's going to be thrown in my face a lot. It's a pretty big and open map with a few areas for snipers - but they can easily be flushed out. If you don't like sniping, an accurate assault rifle should do the trick. 4.25/5

(ML) WMD: Reminds me of Radiation, but a bit bigger with a few more buildings thrown in there. Hell, if you don't think they look similar, just look and compare the loading screen pictures! While they are quite similar, I prefer WMD to Radiation. And, oh!, this is the fourth and final snow map - alphabetically - in Black Ops... it also happens to be one of the best. 4.5/5


PHEW! That's it. Pretty half assed, but yeah. The maps in Black Ops, overall, are MUCH better than those in Modern Warfare 2. Next: Online play.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Game Review (Rock Band 3 - 360)

After over 2 years since Rock Band 2's release, Rock Band 3 is finally here with many new features. Quite understandably and obviously, Rock Band 3 is even better than the second.


Graphics: 4.5/5 I could go for paragraphs and paragraphs - the graphics have quite vastly improved here over Rock Band 2. Despite a lack of many new venues, the character models are sharper, and shinier than in past games. Not only that, but the menus look absolutely fantastic. The whole new drop-in/drop-out at any time thing is really cool, there are extremely short load times that seem to be almost non-existent... the game just looks and runs greatly.

Sound: 4.75/5 Obviously, you can't please all people all the time with a soundtrack you put in a game. I am pleased with nearly the whole set list - even songs I didn't know and assumed I wouldn't like before playing, turned out to be a blast. You really have to give Harmonix credit - imagine you being in charge of finding a good balance of songs for keys, guitar, drums, and bass - Harmonix did it here almost flawlessly. And of course, just about ALL of the Rock Band songs that worked on Rock Band's 1 and 2 will work here, which is obviously great news to those like me who have invested hundreds, or even over a thousand dollars on DLC.

Fun: 4.5/5 Before I praise, I want to say that there are only two things that gripe me about this game. The first is that Rock Band 3 does away with the Career Mode that was in Rock Bands 1 and 2. Instead, there are maybe a dozen Road Challenges you can do. They feature random setlists, pre-made setlists, as well as make your own setlists. My second issue, and I suppose it's a minor one, is that it's very easy to 'beat the game.' While Rock Band 3 never really ends, as there are always challenges for you to do, after the Road Challenges, the game's 'story' is over with. Biggest bummer about that, is that it only takes a day or two of solid play time to finish it. Band 3 is Rock Band 2, and more. Was that obvious? Despite the minor flaws, Harmonix has done really everything fans requested. If you're burned out on the rhythm genre, then you should probably pass on Rock Band 3. But if you think you were just in need of something new, maybe the keyboard, pro guitar, or pro drum modes will do that for you.


+: Overall fun-to-play setlist, easy to search for songs you want to play, great new menus, updated graphics, hardly any loading times.

-: Not all songs that worked in Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2 work in this game,(Anyway You Want It, Spoonman, Creep, Battery, Paranoid, etc.) including a few DLC songs as well. (The European songs that were on the Rock Band 1 disc don't transfer over.)

NOTE: Keyboard peripheral review coming later. Pro guitar peripheral coming much later - if ever.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Game Review (NHL 11 - 360)

Graphics: 4.25/5 Pretty good looking game - with just a few flaws. First off, when playing with classic/action/overhead/etc. camera angles, at the bottom of the ice/screen, the game will lag - online or off. Not terribly, but it's an annoyance. Another thing I noticed was that the character models are terrible. Even the big-name players hardly resemble their real-life counterparts. The ice looks nice, especially with the scratches from skates and the reflections. For ONCE in an NHL game, the fans look actually very good, and interact. For instance, if up against the boards, they stand up and bang on them. If you're the home team and leading, they stand and wave towels.

Sound: 4.25/5 The commentary in this game is about average - you will hear the same lines ad nauseum before too long. However, all the sounds on the ice, as well as the soundtrack in this game, are pretty excellent.

Control: 3.75/5 For the love of god, this nearly ruins the game. The controls are extremely precise - which is great for experienced players - but if you're just starting out, expect a frustrating experience if you try using the right stick for shooting/deking and what-not.

Fun: 4.25/5 While this game is superbly frustrating much of the time, it is still fun - scoring a goal in a hockey game has never felt more rewarding - it's just that much work to get one in the net. Anyways - back to the frustrations. When playing online right out of the gate, you have a skater with an overall rating of about 70. While online, you will encounter a lot of douche bags, on different levels. You will have the douche bags that love to go offsides even though there's a warning on-screen, the douche bags that don't know how to pass, the douche bags that play as goalie but could't catch a snail, and, of course, the douche bags that play this game 24 hours a day, 8 days a week, and are impossible to defend against with their 100 skater rating and insta-goal capabilities. This, coupled with the fact that good team mates are hard to come by, make NHL 11 one of the more frustrating games I have ever played. Online or off, expect a lot of unfairness. If I've learned one thing from this game, it's that, it doesn't matter how great of an offense or defense you have - it's about how good your goalie is. You can have a 99 offense and 99 defense, but if your goalie is below a 75, say hello to a giant deficit by the end of the first. As I play this game more and more, I will either enjoy it more, or just want to get rid of it. As of now, it's a love/hate thing for me. Ah, yes, and I'd also like to point out that the difficulty levels aren't very well done. Pro is far too easy for the most part, while Superstar - or whatever the next difficulty level up is - is just too hard most of the time. This is more of a rant than a review, and I could go on for paragraphs, but I'll sum it up for the ninety-third time; NHL 11 is well worth playing for its My Player mode, as well as its Card Team dealie, if you can get past the many frustrations along the way.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Game Review (Guitar Hero: Van Halen - 360 )

Sure, it's a super delayed review, - this game came out forever ago - but I just got it via GameFly. Here are my thoughts on GH:VH.

Graphics: 3.5/5 Meh. The main thing that bothers me about the graphics, although it's not so much the graphics as it was Activision/Never Soft's choice, is that the members of the band are OLD. Rather than take on the late 70's/early 80's appearance of the band, they did what they look like now. I'm sorry, but to me, that's just stupid. Graphically though, this game's about average. The model movements aren't anything spectacular, the game doesn't look really any better than Guitar Hero: Metallica... it's nothing that will blow your mind.

Soundtrack: 3.25/5 Meh as well. There are flaws on top of flaws involving the soundtrack. First, as everyone should know by now, there are a number of bands in this game that have zero relevancy to Van Halen. Let me list a few: blink-182, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Fountains of Wayne, Yellowcard, among others. Uh. Hello? What the hell are bands that weren't formed until two/three decades after Van Halen in the game for? Another massive flaw that may be worth noting to fans of Van Halen - there is no Sammy Hagar in this game at all. Not as a playable character, and none of Van Halen's tracks from his time in the band are included in this game. That doesn't bother me any, since I'm not a massive Van Halen fan anyway.

Fun: 3.25/5 Meh for a third time. Guitar Hero: Van Halen is average at best. Shredding some Van Halen classics and whatnot may be fun, but only for so long. For just about every Van Halen song, you've got a Lenny Kravitz, Alter Bridge, or Tenacious D song to play afterwards, making this game quite the disappointment. Guitar Hero: Van Halen may appeal greatly to hardcore fans of the band, but outside of that, it's just another game to rent, get the achievements for, and then dump off at your local Blockbuster or mailbox.


Monday, August 09, 2010

Food Review (KFC Doublicious - Original)

After the Double Down scrutiny, KFC has decided to make what is essentially the same thing as the Double Down, with the same core ingredients, but this time on a bun, and this time they've decided to dub it the Doublicious.

The Doublicious is, in a word, delicious. It is about the same thing as the Double Down, but a few things make it better. First of all, your hands don't get greasy because of the bun - no need for a stack of 48 napkins anymore! Second of all is basically the same as the first of all - the bun has a sweet taste to it, making the experience all the better.

Writing this review has made me hungry... hungry for another Doublicious. The only flavors you really get out of this sandwich are the bun, chicken, and sauce, but it's still damn good. The bacon and cheese basically just add sodium and not so much flavor, because the chicken is the bulk of the mass of this sandwich.


Note: 480 calories in the Doublicious Original, while 540 in the Double Down Original.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Game Review (Green Day Rock Band - 360)

Graphics: 4/5 Green Day Rock Band looks pretty great in my opinion. Tre Cool looks and acts like the real Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt and Billy Joe look quite a lot like the real thing. There are only three venues, which kind of makes me feel like Harmonix skimped a bit on this game as opposed to The Beatles Rock Band, but it looks good nonetheless.

Sound: 4/5 I have a question for you - do you like Green Day? That's the obvious question. Secondly, do you like old or new Green Day? Odds are, if you're above the age of 15 or so, you prefer the older Green Day. This game includes the full albums "Dookie" , "American Idiot" , and "21st Century Breakdown" if you didn't know that already. "Dookie" is one of the bands earliest albums, while "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown" are the bands most recent. I really was disappointed in the lack of older songs by Green Day. There are absolutely no songs from 38/Smooth or Kerplunk!. And also, there aren't many songs outside of the three full albums. A good number of the band's singles are in the game, but I'd very willingly sacrifice some songs from "21st Century Breakdown" to get some 38/Smooth, Kerplunk!, Insomniac, or Nimrod.

Fun: 4/5 Green Day Rock Band isn't like a Guitar Hero version of a band game; Harmonix KNOWS how to make a successful one-band game. Green Day Rock Band is a success, but it's not without its flaws. The lack of older songs - I've already said this about four hundred times - from the band is a little painful, and having only three venues is a bit of a bummer, but any mid-range to super fan of Green Day will probably buy this game. There are extras, of course, like The Beatles Rock Band, but that's really it. The career mode really has a quick play feel - beat five songs, unlock about five more. There are challenges you unlock, which you play to get achievements and get videos.

On a final note, Green Day Rock Band really isn't for the guitar heavy music game player. There are a few fun songs in this game on guitar, (most of the fun songs, in my opinion on all instruments overall, are those from "American Idiot" ... there's the most variety on that album.) but the game just shines on drums. Tre Cool is a pretty underrated drummer. He's fast, has some really crazy fills, and it makes for a sweat dripping fun time. Guitar on most songs is essentially a chordfest, with a few songs here and there having a solo or something, while bass really is quietly more fun than as a whole than guitar. Ahh "Longview" how I like your bass line.


+ Green Day!
- Leans a little heavy on the newer Green Day, although "21st Century Breakdown" isn't as bad as I initially thought.
- Not for those that have guitar as their instrument of choice.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Game Review (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Resurgence Pack - 360)

fourzerotwo promised another Modern Warfare 2 back, but I don't think anyone thought it would happen so quickly. Released June 3rd on Xbox LIVE, the Resurgence Pack is yet again another $15-for-5-map download. Is it worth the money?

Strike: 4.5/5 As you probably know, Strike; along with Vacant, is a rehash from the original Modern Warfare with a few subtle tweaks. The map takes on a new skin, there's more detail, and the game just looks better. If you liked it before, you'll like it here. If not, nothing will change... that goes for Vacant as well.

Vacant: 4.25/5 The only difference here; outside of the new look, is that in objective modes, that little gate blocking the doorway in the bad guys's spawn opens up, allowing for a new tactical advantage for the good guys. Nothing else has changed from what I can tell, but it's just as good as it was in Modern Warfare.

Trailer Park: 4.25/5 This map is probably my least favorite of the pack. It's not bad at all, but there has to be a least favorite, right? Trailer Park is just as it says - a trailer park. You basically run in and around trailers on this small/medium sized map. It encourages easy camping, but it's easy to flush guys out with a quick M67 or Semtex.

Fuel: 4.5/5 I must say, Fuel looks really awesome. But on the flip side of things, I'm disappointed in the map for one reason. The one half of the map with all of the buildings is great, but I can't help but think the other part of the map - where nobody EVER goes - is simply for boosters. There is almost nothing there, and there's no reason to even go there. Still, Fuel looks great and plays very well on the other side of the map.

Carnival: 4.5/5 I thought this would blow the other maps out of the water. Not quite, but it's still a fantastic map. People say it's a huge map, but I seem to get around it pretty quickly. There's something amusing about hearing "Claymores on the carousel."... I don't know what it is. A very fun map.


The Resurgence Pack is really quite a bit better than the Stimulus Pack, but that's expected for sales. Naturally Infinity Ward (or any company) would put out the less appealing pack first, to try and get better sales off the second. That's how it works. Hey, I payed $30 for 10 maps - half the cost of the game - only 6 of which were new. A lot of people whine about it, and they have the right, but so long as they don't start charging $20 for 5 maps, I'll be fine.


+ Carnival and Fuel are maps that really any Call of Duty player needs to try.
+ Strike and Vacant got a bigger make-over than Crash and Overgrown in the Stimulus Pack.
- Still $15, a reason many will not buy.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Game Review (Wizard 101 - PC)

Wizard 101 is an MMORPG developed by KingsIsle, released September 2nd 2008, and targeted for a 10-15-year-old audience. Think of it, in simplest terms, as a game with a World of Warcraft atmosphere at times, with battles similar to that of something from Final Fantasy. Instead of really using magic, you're using cards, so MAYBE it's actually more like Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh. However you compare this game, it's very solid overall.

Graphics: 4/5 Wizard101 doesn't have anything that will blow you away, but the game just looks pretty. It should run smoothly on most newer computers on the higher difficulty settings. The game occasionally lags, but that's usually only when you're in The Commons. The particle effects are nice, and the bright colors throughout most of the worlds really make the game shine.

Sound: 4/5 Pretty surprisingly good! Although I normally skip any dialogue, I have heard a good bit of it, and it is pretty well done for the most part. From what I can tell, every and any person you talk to has dialogue - human or not. The battle sounds are decent, but the music in the game is pretty simple and enjoyable.

Control: 4/5 I find the game to be very simple to control for the most part, but for someone that's 10 years old? I could see how this would be frustrating. There is a good bit to learn, but if you've ever played an MMORPG in the past, I think you know what to expect here.

Fun: 4.25/5 Wizard101 is a very solid game, but it's obviously not without flaws. Excuse me while I rant. First, I think KingsIsle is really a big scam of a company. The subscription is only $10 a month compared to the $15 for the giant World of Warcraft, but to really buy the spiffy things in and outside of Wizard City, you will have to buy Crowns, which cost real American dollars. You can very easily get along using the game's simple gold currency, but those who get Crowns will get distinct advantages, including much stronger, faster, and smarter pets. One of the biggest things that upsets me about Wizard101 is that although there are several different worlds to explore, and they appear to look different on the surface, they really are all quite similar. It doesn't take long to realize that; for the most part, the worlds have almost an identical layout anywhere you go, and the quests are also pretty redundant. (Pick up these barrels or crates, go inside this building and defeat these guys, etc.) This is to be expected, seeing as how MMORPGs tend to sort of... HAVE to follow this formula, but Wizard101 just doesn't seem to mask it quite as well. However, if a 10 year old were to play this game, they'd probably hardly even notice. The worlds, as I said, look very cool, the different creatures you run to along the way are interesting, the pets and mounts are spiffy, and the game is just expanding as KingsIsle is hard at work trying to keep the game fresh. While Wizard101 isn't the best MMORPG out there right now, it's a bit cheaper than World of Warcraft (if you're just talking about the subscription.) and simpler as well.


Things you may want to know:
- Subscribing ranges from $9.95 a month to $79.95 a year, depending on how you have it billed. If you don't subscribe, you will be unable to leave the core of Wizard City.
- Chat system is terrible. It's intended for a younger audience, so even words like 'crap' are blocked. But that's not all, I've experienced random words like 'so' to be censored, making for difficult conversing.
- Crowns, although not necessary, you may want to get eventually. Sadly, KingsIsle is trying to get kids to make their parents buy them, and I guess it's working. Sort of disappointing... almost like a scam.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Game Review (Stick Skater - iPhone App)

Graphics: 3/5 Completely simple, but the game runs smooth.

Sound: 3.5/5 Pretty good for a low-budget looking game. The sounds get a little irritating after awhile, but as usual, you can listen to your music while playing.

Control: 3.5/5 Almost too simple. There are two options - one that allows you to press a button to do a random trick, or one that allows you to flick in a certain position to do a specific trick. This makes it simple for any one of any age to play.

Fun: 3/5 Stick Skater is decent, but it won't keep you entertained for long. It's a buck, and that's all it's worth - if that. The game is redundant, plain, and simple.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Food Review (Lean Cuisines)

So, you're looking to lose weight ... or maybe just find some new frozen meals. In this - hopefully brief - post, I'll rate the Lean Cuisines I have had.


Alfredo Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli: 3.75/5 As with any other Lean Cuisines I'll be reviewing, lacks a strong flavor. Cheese is of course quite fattening, and the alfredo sauce here doesn't have a LOT of flavor. The vegetables are nice and the noodles are good, but you only get about 2 or 3 decent sized chunks of chicken, and a somewhat bland tasting sauce.

Baja-Style Chicken Quesadilla: 4.5/5 It's a new one, and a good one. The only thing upsetting about this thing is the fact that it doesn't last long at all. It's one of the smaller Lean Cuisines, but I'm telling you the only downside is the size.

Cheese Ravioli: 3.5/5 First time I had it, I really liked it. Each time I've had it afterwards, I've grown to like it less and less... the cheese just... doesn't taste very good. The sauce is great, don't get me wrong, but that cheese... ehh. It should also be known that from what I can tell, this has the lowest amount of calories of all the Lean Cuisines at 220.

Chicken Carbonara: 4.5/5 One of the first Lean Cuisines I had, the Chicken Carbonara is delicious. Good chicken, even better sauce. Definitely one of my favorites.

Chicken Enchilada Suiza: 5/5 Has to be my favorite of them all. The official website has this given a 3/5 rating, which I think is pretty unbelievable. The chicken in the enchilada, the sauce, the rice... everything's perfect. As with the quesadilla, the only problem here is the size. I wish there was MORE!

Chicken Parmesean: 4.5/5 The box lies as far as the amount of cheese on the chicken - there is quite literally none to be seen after cooking - but the chicken tastes good, the noodles and sauce are basically perfect. Impossible to not recommend this one.

Chicken Philly Flatbread Melt: 4.5/5 What can be said? Good chicken and cheese, but the peppers really make this stand out. More calories than most Lean Cuisines, but it really is worth it.

Grilled Chicken Caesar: 2.75/5 It's edible, but one of my least favorite Lean Cuisine varieties... it's just about flavorless. The chicken has a decent flavor, but there are some disgusting looking pieces in there, and... this is just overall pretty bland.

Lemon Chicken: 3/5 The sauce is pretty decent, but the rice isn't very good, and the chicken that you get is two VERY small patties that taste processed up the ass. It's not my favorite thing in the world - it's far from it - but it's not the absolute worst Lean Cuisine out there.

Sante Fe Style Rice and Beans: 5/5 One of very few vegetarian Lean Cuisine options, but even ones with meat don't get much better than this. It tastes quite similar to the Chicken Enchilada Suiza one - minus the chicken enchilada. Completely nomnomnom.

Sesame Chicken: 4.5/5 Not a LOT of flavor, but enough. I would probably give this a 5 if it weren't for the fact that I've had this a couple times where the chicken has had... bones, or so it seems, in it. Okay, that sounds disgusting. REALLY disgusting. But yeah. yo uneed to try this if you haven't yet.

Steak Tips Portabello: 4.5/5 The steak tips are tender and delicious, and the broccoli ends up perfectly steamed after being cooked. I add just a bit of salt to the broccoli, but this is just another really, really good Lean Cuisine.

Sweet and Sour Chicken: 4/5 I hadn't had sweet and sour chicken before this dish, but I must say, I am a fan. I don't like pineapple, so that turned me off a bit, but the sweet. The sour. The taste. Very unique and I like it quite a bit.


That was just a review of one-tenth of all the Lean Cuisines currently available. In case you don't want to look, that makes for a total of 120 out there. About 80% or more of the ones I have had I'd try again, and most of these I highly recommend. Lean Cuisines aren't cheap, or largely portioned, so I'll just say if you do decide to eat them, do it slowly. That way it feels like you're eating more than you actually are.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Album Review (The Outsiders by NEEDTOBREATHE)

This kind of music isn't generally my thing, but NEEDTOBREATHE's Bear Rinehart has a ridiculous voice that almost reminds me a bit of the singer from Kings of Leon. Thing is, I find that Bear has better range. The Outsiders has some ridiculously catchy fun-to-sing songs while still having a good number of slower tracks as well. I basically like every song on this album a lot with a few exceptions. "Stones Under Rushing Water" and "Let Us Love" are decent, but are clearly the weak tracks in my opinion. I didn't care much for NEEDTOBREATHE much at all at first, but 214 listens later, they're my 9th most listened-to band on Last.FM.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Food Review (Double Down from KFC)

Apparently the Double Down came out last year in Rhode Island and Nebraska... why? I have no idea why such random ass states. Anyways, it came out recently nationwide and I had one like... 3 minutes ago. Basically, it's called the Double Down because it's two pieces of bacon, two pieces of cheese, Colonel's Sauce, [Cum?] and two pieces of original recipe or grilled chicken. (your choice) Like probably 80% or more of people, I got the original recipe. The thing costs five bucks so I was expecting something epic. You know what? I was disappointed... for a few reasons. First of all, the thing is pretty small. The cheese was hanging off the sides, and wasn't even melted... bummer. As for the taste, all you really taste is chicken. I found the cheese to be pretty much tasteless. The bacon was pretty decent, but the two little pieces you get go away in a bite each. The Colonel's Sauce [Cum?] is pretty good, I would probably ask for extra sauce if I were to get this again. Overall, the Double Down is... decent. $7 for the sandwich, a 16 oz. drink, and a side of potato wedges. Pretty expensive, but it's worth a try. The chicken is of course good, but that's almost all you really taste. I might get this again, but not in the near future.

+ Cool idea. The bacon and sauce are nice additions.
- Cheese is pointless, bacon sort of is too. Price is too high. Greasy as all hell.


[By the way, the original recipe variation of the Double Down has 540 calories - the same amount as a McDonald's Big Mac.]

Food Review (Filet 'o Fish from McDonalds)

Now, I don't normally review 'regular' items from fast food menus, but I figured this one is worthy since I had my very first Filet 'o Fish yesterday. Not being a very big seafood fan at all, I was very skeptical... but I wanted to try something different... and so I did.

First impression was, "Shit, this thing's tiny." I don't remember what the cost was, but I know that normally, they're pretty expensive. I took off the top bun and took a whiff. It smelled pretty fishy. There was half a slice of American cheese underneath the filet, and a nice glob of relishy tartar sauce.

I took a bite. The smell is a lot stronger than the taste is, I can say that. Personally, not being a fan of fish, I didn't care for it - that's not to say I hated it - but the relish-tartar sauce concoction really made the sandwich. The bun was also soft and had a hint of sweetness to it. The American cheese, other than seeing it was there, did nothing for me. I didn't taste it at all.

The Filet 'o Fish from McDonalds isn't a very big sandwich at all, yet still weighs in at - I believe - 380 calories. If you like fish, you probably won't care for this too much because it doesn't taste very fishy. If you don't like fish, you'll probably find it quite edible, mainly because of the sauce, but might not buy it again.


+ Sauce!
- Price, size. Just not a good value.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Game Review (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Stimulus Pack - 360)

Some hacker awhile back managed to dig up a good number of maps that are SUPPOSEDLY going to be coming soon to Modern Warfare 2. I must admit, when I saw "Stimulus Pack", I thought that maybe - just MAYBE - the pack would be available on discount. Perhaps 400 MSP or even FREE, if generous. Well, yeah, no. It's 1200 MSP. ANYWAYS, So far, we've gotten five of those listed. Three new maps, and two older ones.


I'm going to start with the ports first. "Crash" is, of course, the first of two from Call of Duty 4. It looks almost exactly as it did in Call of Duty 4 with a few very minor changes, including a few new paint jobs in buildings, and more detail in them as well. Basically, from what I can tell, nothing else has changed. Maybe a few more graphical improvements, but other than that, nada. 4.25/5

"Overgrown" is the second port in the pack. Like "Crash", there aren't very many changes to speak of - a few minor graphical improvements - and the map remains almost exactly as it was in Call of Duty 4. Some people were hoping for a snowy version of the map, which I think would have been cool, but of course, that was too much to ask from Infinity Ward. Speaking of snow, that brings me to something else... 4.5/5

"Salvage" is the first of the three new maps I'll be going over. First impression in seeing videos was that it looked like something straight out of Spec Ops - I forget the mission - mixed together with Scrapyard, and dusted with snow. While I thought this was going to be byfar the worst map in the back, it isn't so bad at all. While I haven't played it nearly as many times as the other two new maps in the pack, I have - so far - a generally positive opinion on this map. 4/5

"Storm" is a map that at first glance reminded me of a combination of "Downpour" and "Shipment", but I soon realized it was much better than "Downpour", and worlds better than "Shipment", which I think is probably the worst Call of Duty map in the history of the world. This is quite a large map, but at the same time, feels small, and very familiar, after just a few run throughs. I thought "Bailout" would be my favorite map from the pack byfar, but I think it's actually a pretty close call. 4.5/5

"Bailout" was definitely the map I was anticipating the most after seeing pictures and the trailer. It's much smaller than I thought it would be, but it's still a pretty perfect map. Plenty of rooms to hide in, different buildings, a street level... a bunch of change in elevations and... yeah, I just look forward to playing it every time it comes up. Due to the fact it's smaller than I imagined it would be, I will give it a 4.5/5


Basically, the Stimulus Pack is a disappointment for the obvious reason - the price. Why we have to pay for 2 maps that are virtually identical to ones we already paid for is beyond me. Why Infinity Ward/Activision tries to possibly 'more justify' the price tag with emblems/titles is also pretty ridiculous. Really what you're paying for here, in my opinion, is $15 for 3 maps. Sure, "Crash" and "Overgrown" are both great, - at least in my opinion - but we already had them, and they've hardly changed at all this time around. "Storm" and "Bailout" are both great worth-your-time maps, but are those two stand-out maps really worth $15? Probably not. Will you, like I did, if you haven't already, buy these maps? Probably so.


+ "Storm" and "Bailout" are two of the best CoD:MW maps to date, in my opinion.
+ "Crash" and "Overgrown", although relatively unchanged, are still fun to play.
- $15 is just too expensive for what you get.
- Many, if not most, will be turned off at the idea of paying for old maps.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Game Review (MLB 2K10 - 360)

Graphics: 4.25/5 A slight improvement over last year in some aspects, (such as the more subtle things, like parts of the field and whatnot) but overall, a bit of a downgrade from 2K9. I can give a lot of credit to 2K10 for getting rid of the ugly dust effect on the infield from last year... in the words of White Goodman... "What the hell?"

Sound: 4/5 Another great cast of commentary, this year also featuring ESPN's own John Kruk, but the soundtrack in my opinion is pretty weak. There are some good songs, but overall it's quite underwhelming.

Control: 4/5 The pitching mechanics this year are better than last year, but at times, it can get frustrating. Telling you you're overthrowing or doing an odd gesture, even when you swear by your life you did it perfectly well. The hitting is the same as it has been for the past few years, using the sticks to hit, but also allowing the option to hit with the A or B button.

Fun: 3.75/5 MLB 2K10 is about as good as last year in my opinion. While the game is more than playable, and enjoyable, it's just not good enough to warrant a purchase in my opinion - there are too many bugs, ranging from minor, to somewhat major. One of the two bigger bugs I've found is occasionally, when a ball is blooped into the outfield, the ball SHOULD hit the ground, but it will instead slide across into the outfielder's glove... that's just lame. Another one, which has cost me a game twice now, are the retarded as fuck catchers. On two occasions there should have been a VERY close play at the plate. Upon watching the replay, the catcher would catch the ball, unnecessarily HIGH, and refuse to crouch down to tag the runner. I lost two games because of this glitch. Anyways, as said, MLB 2K10 is enjoyable, the My Player mode is pretty decent, but could use some work, as it does have pointless features itself, (unable to be traded unless you do it yourself...? really?) but I'm not too sure I'd want to pay $60 for a game I'd play for maybe 2 months then get $8 trade-in credit for afterwards. Once again, I guess we can only hope next year a more 'The Show'-esque game will arrive on the Xbox 360. Until then, I'll just make the MLB series a yearly one week rental.


Game Review (PGR 4 - 360)

Graphics: 4.5/5 Very good graphics - but not the best on the console for racing games. GRID is newer, and just looks better. The rain effects in this game are also weird looking. Some people say they look fantastic, but I don't know what they're seeing - it looks like your car gets wrapped in saran wrap when it's covered in water.

Sound: 4/5 The soundtrack is fitting, interesting, and has a lot of variety. A good portion of the cars sound great, but then some others just sound unrealistic. I can't think of any in particular, but when you hear one, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Control: 4/5 As I'm sure you know by now, bikes are drivable this time around. Many fans thought this was a bad addition, and I find it hard to disagree. The bikes are pretty pointless, in my opinion. They drive a lot like the cars, and you also have to go about 50 MPH to fall off the bike. I know they did this for balance, but it is irritating when you hit a guy on a bike with your car and he doesn't fall off. So basically, the bikes and cars control pretty well, and the driving conditions (snow, rain) DO affect the way your car turns and whatnot, which is cool, the cars and bikes both just control too similarly.

Fun: 4/5 PGR 4 is the first PGR game I've played, and I find it pretty enjoyable. It's not the best racing game on the console, but it is still worth a try. There are a ton of cars, an online community that tracks stats, and a bunch of cool tracks. If you're looking for an entertaining, cheap racing game for the 360, buy PGR 4. Or, better yet, get the Messenger Gold Pack with, for $55 on, includes a 12-Month Gold card, a headset, a chat-pad, and of course, PGR 4.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Food Review (Bacon & Bleu from Wendy's)

Another new thing from Wendy's... this time, the Bacon & Bleu burger! I just got done eating one and I must say... not impressed. The bacon is half soggy, and the bleu cheese leaves a bitter aftertaste. Not my favorite. Had Wendy's decided to use a creamy bleu cheese instead of the chunks of bleu cheese, there would obviously be more calories, but it would taste much better. The sauce that's on the burger is pretty good, and the onions are alright too - although hard to notice for the most part - but the bleu cheese just... ruins the burger, ironically.

I'd have to give this burger a D overall... just based on the flavor of the bleu cheese. Not a fan of the aftertaste one bit.


Food Review (Taco Bell Fresco Menu)

So Taco Bell has had this diet thing for I guess maybe a little over a month now...? and I recently finally finished eating all 7.

All of the tacos on this menu seem to have more lettuce and tomatoes than the regular ones on the menu, and about the same amount of meat. The meat is of the same quality as what's on the ordinary menu, but I guess it's just portioned correctly. The least gut-busting on the menu is the 150 calorie hard shell taco, while the 340 bean burrito has the most on the menu. My two personal favorites from the menu probably are the chicken ranchero taco, and the bean burrito. That's not to say not everything else on the menu is ECKK, I just think those two stand out. Personally I don't see the point of this 'diet menu', seeing as how if you were to go to Taco Bell and just buy one, maybe two small items, it would have the same amount of calories as getting one item from this menu. I think it's just to increase sales.. surprise?

Anyways, these seven items are all pretty good, and would recommend anyone to try each one at least once to find one they like. If you're seriously trying to diet, I still wouldn't tell you to eat this as your ideal food. Despite being low in calories and whatnot, there is still a pretty high sodium level here, and god knows what is added to these meats, but we all know they aren't fresh and the best quality!

I'd have to give the menu, overall, about a 3.5 or 3.75 out of 5. Why? Well, although the items are generally tasty, I can't see the purpose of this menu, and to think that people will be going to Taco Bell and eating this every time thinking they're going to lose weight, I can tell them this - it won't happen. Especially if you're going to get a pop with it... I mean honestly, how many people are going to ask for a water?

C rating. That's what I'll give.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Candy Review (Whoppers)

This is as random of a review as it gets right here, I know. This is a review of the three different Whoppers available - anywhere? - right now.

Whoppers Original
Whoppers Strawberry Milkshake
Whoppers Reese's Peanut Butter

First of all, I must say that as much as I enjoy Whoppers, I can never eat too many of them. Same goes for those Combo pretzel things... I can only have a few before I call it quits. This is a pretty easy choice here.

Whoppers original wins easily. The chocolate + malt is just perfect. I doubt there's a way they could have a chance of making it any better. My second choice would probably be the strawberry milkshake flavor, but not by too much. It's good, but doesn't taste like strawberry a LOT - that is to say it's not overwhelming - and it is only so-so. The Reese's flavor is good, but I'll take a regular Reese's peanut butter cup over the Whoppers any day. If the Reese's Whoppers were maybe chocolate on top of peanut butter on top of the malt, then I'm sure it would be better.

Original: 4.5/5
Strawberry Milkshake: 3.5/5
Reese's Peanut Butter: 3.25/5

The strawberry milkshake and Reese's flavors were alright, but I wouldn't get them again.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Rock Band Songs: 2008 vs. 2009

Now that we have two full years of DLC in the books individually, (really over 2 if you include 2007 DLC) there can finally be a debate of which is better - 2008, or 2009.

We will start with 2008, naturally. Some big hits came out last year, including the most downloaded "charged" song, "All the Small Things", as well as a bunch of other hits including "Wonderwall", "Don't Stop Believing", "More than a Feeling", and much more. 2008 was also the year we got our first album - "Screaming for Vengeance" by Judas Priest, as well as plenty of others. The Cars, Pixies, The Who, Megadeth, Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motley Crue, and the Foo Fighters all had also had albums in '08. If you haven't heard of at least half of those bands, please - GTFO.

Now 2009... a year full of diversity and a bunch of new bands, as with 2008. Bands from '09 that had albums included Stevie Ray Vaughn, Pearl Jam, Guns 'N Roses, Janes Addiction, Spinal Tap, and - oop - Pearl Jam again! If you include Beatles Rock Band and LEGO Rock Band into the equation, '09 would win pretty easily in my book. But since I'm just referring to DLC for the core Rock Band game, this could be a tough choice.

Let's take a look at my numbers. In 2008, I downloaded 252 songs. In '09, 236. A pretty - if not very - close year in numbers. As you can tell, for me it's a tough call. I'm tempted to give '09 the edge, but I downloaded more in '08, so I think that year should be auto-given the better of the two.

Anyways, now there are over 1,000 songs for the Rock Band platform, and the library keeps growing each and every week. I'm looking forward to another year... and then another... and another year and then some of Rock Band DLC being released for the platform. What will 2010 bring? We'll have to wait and see. Until then, you have quite the selection to choose from and rock out to.

Happy new year!