Saturday, December 31, 2011

Game Review (Pokemon SoulSilver - DS)

Graphics: 4.5/5 It's nice to finally see Pokemon with 3D landscapes. The environments look much better, and the colors and attacks are much more pleasing to look at as well. Not the best looking game on the DS, but for what it is - a Pokemon game - it's well done.

Sound: 4.5/5 People can complain all they want about the 8-bit Pokemon cries, I like it due to its nostalgia. Hearing some of the cries, in particular the first generation Pokemon, flew me back 10+ years.

Fun: 5/5 Pokemon Ruby was the last Pokemon game I played on a regular basis. About 8 years later, I finally got this and am glad I did ... better late than never. Everything you loved about the past Pokemon games is in SoulSilver, with several little things added to make the experience just a little bit different from when you first played Silver. To make things even better, the Pokemon in this game can be traded over to Platinum/Diamond/Pearl or even Black or White. If you haven't played this game yet, now's the time.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

7 Ways to Get Better at Mario Kart 7

So maybe you've just made the plunge in to Mario Kart 7 and it's your first title of the series, or you've been a fan of the series for a long time but just have never done that well. You've come to the right place if you want to get better at this game.


1.) Drift!: This may just be the most important thing to do out of all of these steps - use your drift-boosts. How do you do this? It's really rather simple. Upon turns, move the left stick in the direction you're going and press the 'R' button on your 3DS. When you do this, your kart will slide. If you do this for a long enough period, your kart will have blue and then red flames. The difference between these two flames is simply that red gives you a longer boost. Regardless of whether or not you can get red on every turn (to be honest, you can't get one on most turns in this game), every little boost helps.

2.) Know the tracks: This should probably be common sense, but it has to be said. If you don't know the tracks and the short cuts and how to cut corners flawlessly, then you just aren't going to finish in a good position. Period.

3.) Use your items intelligently/Watch the bottom screen: If you're a long-time fan of the Mario Kart series, then you know that its notorious for catering the better items for those further back in the race. For instance, a person in 8th will get the lightning bolt or a blue shell, while the person in first will almost always get a banana/green shell/Tanooki tail. If you're in first place and have one of those three items, don't use them unless it's necessary - don't just plop bananas down behind you. It is much wiser to instead hold the 'L' button while you're racing, so that if a red shell is fired at you, you won't flip your kart. Also, it's easy to ignore the bottom screen when playing this game, but you should definitely keep an eye on it, particularly if you're in first place and you want to see if the guy in 2nd is about to put out can of red shell whoop-ass on you. Use my tips from this step, and he'll be screaming in frustration in no time.

4.) Collect coins: When playing online, I see very few people actually doing this. Not only does collecting coins help you unlock kart customization things, but your kart goes a little bit faster with every coin you get - so get as many as you can.

5.) Empty your load: If you happen to be in first place and a dreaded blue shell is headed your way, and you have items on you, drop them. When you do this, you can potentially wipe out any racers that would normally pass you had you not done it.

6.) Starting boost: If you're new to the series or just have a bad memory, there's a way to instantly put yourself ahead of the other racers. How? When the race is counting down (3..2..1..), halfway through 2, hold down 'A' until it says "GO!" What this will do is give you a shooting start. Be careful though - if you hold 'A' as soon as you see 2 or sooner, you'll start in the BACK of the pack.

7.) Acceleration: Last but certainly not least, this is the best thing you can do for yourself to improve your chances at winning. While you may be tempted to use the likes of heavyweights such as Bowser, Donkey Kong, or Wario, you should pick a lightweight racer like Lakitu, Toad, or Koopa, and optimize your kart for acceleration. While you may not like the idea of having low speed, the fact is, you don't need high speed in this game to be successful; basically just acceleration, and that only. The reason? Quick recovery. If you wipe out, you'll recover so quickly it's almost as if it never happened. If you're racing as a heavyweight though, you take forever trying to get yourself back up to speed.


And there you have it. Trust me, if you follow these tips, you WILL finish at or near the top almost every single race. Of course, since this is Mario Kart, there will be times where a blue shell will strip victory from your hands literally feet from the finish line, but for the most part, these tips will help you immensely. Take it from me; I currently have a 252-24 record when racing online.

Happy racing!

Game Review (Super Mario 3D Land - Nintendo 3DS)

Graphics: 5/5 The graphics are bright, colorful, and smooth. The 3D effect not only looks great, but is actually MANDATORY for some sections during the game. Simply put, if you want the best looking game currently available on the 3DS, here you have it - it completely makes use of the 3DS's capabilities, and does it very well. It really blows my mind that such a tiny little cartridge can do what 3D Land does.

Sound: 4.5/5 Beside the fact that the music likes to loop a lot, like any other Mario game ever created, 3D Land has a really nice soundtrack. Surprised? Also, even the really minor sounds like Mario's "woo-hoo" and "hee-yah"s are nice... but you can't really expect anything less.

Fun: 5/5 Super Mario 3D Land is probably my favorite Mario platformer. While it won't take many long to go through all the worlds and "beat the game," you can always go back and get all three medallions on every section on every world to get a few nice unlocks that I won't bother to spoil for you. I don't generally recommend purchasing single-player only games (due to lack of replay value), but 3D Land is a game that just has to be experienced, and seen to believe. To be frank, anybody who is a naysayer of this game is either mentally retarded and/or has a brain tumor.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Game Review (Mario Kart 7 - Nintendo 3DS)

Graphics: 4.5/5 Just about the best looking game on the 3DS, and better looking than any Wii game, in my opinion. The tracks - both new and old - all look and play fantastically, and there aren't any I can think of at the top of my head I don't really enjoy... except maybe the Rainbow Road SNES track. Many people would probably call that one a classic, but I just don't care for it. Compared to the other tracks? To me, it's just really easy to overlook. The 3D in this game is also cool; while it doesn't necessarily help you with anything or give you an advantage, it's a new way to play Mario Kart, and I definitely recommend playing with the 3D on.

Sound: 4/5 Hit and miss, really. First off, I have to say, whoever they have doing Donkey Kong's voice ought to be fired... to say it's terrible would be an understatement. While mentioning the voices, it should be mentioned that they are extremely redundant. You'll hear Mario going "Wa-hoo!" "Yeah!" "Woo!" "Wa-hoo!" until you about snap your 3DS in half. On the plus side, the Retro Tracks' soundtracks bring back memories, so I naturally approve of that. While the new tracks have some decent soundtracks, there's nothing particularly memorable.

Fun: 4.5/5 Mario Kart 7 may not be drastically different from the recent Mario Karts, but it's still fun. The addition of the gliders and under-water moments are cool and interesting, but they don't change the game play much at all. Just about every single new track is worth playing over several times, and the Retro Tracks are incredibly fun, even if they were changed a bit to be Mario Kart 7-ish. The online features in this game are slightly improved from Mario Kart DS, but it's still not that deep. There are Communities, which are in a sense "clans," but it doesn't change much. The online play is still fun, even if there are blue shells a-plenty, and there are a few stats (Wins/losses, coins collected, VR rating). Mario Kart 7 may not be revolutionary, but it's still fun regardless. If you don't have a 3DS yet, you may's well buy one for this game alone.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rock Band DLC Review Part XIX (May 2009)

Franz Ferdinand 01
"Smooth Criminal" Alien Ant Farm
"Blue Sky" and "Midnight Rider" The Allman Brothers Band
"Drain the Blood" The Distillers
"Naked Eye" Luscious Jackson
"Idealistic Types" and "The Banishment" Prong
Social Distortion 01
"Stricken" and "Stupify" Disturbed
"Black Friday" and "My Old School" Steely Dan
"Radio Radio" Elvis Costello
Alice Cooper 01
Taking Back Sunday 01
"Kids Don't Follow" The Replacements
Ministry 01
"She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" The Zombies
"Linger" The Cranberries

Simply put, an incredible month almost all the way through. I didn't realize until typing this up that there are a hell of a lot of "The"s this month. The Allman Brothers, The Distillers, The Replacements, The Zombies, and The Cranberries. Phew. ANYWAY - as I said, a great month. I could go through and say good things about a lot of these songs: Franz Ferdinand has a couple well-known tracks in their pack, "Smooth Criminal" is a pretty nice challenge on drums, Social Distortion is some quality old-school punk, Alice Cooper is a no-brainer despite a few live tracks, "She's Not There" is a classic. Most of what's here this month is gold.

Ftw of the month: Almost everything except...
Gtfo of the month: "Naked Eye", Steely Dan; only because... NO "REELIN' IN THE YEARS"? GTFO!
Avg of the month: 4.5/5

Rock Band DLC Review Part XVIII (April 2009)

After about a five month hiatus, I've finally decided to try and continue my review of Rock Band's DLC.

"New Slang" The Shins
"Warriors of Time" Black Tide
"Waking the Demon" Bullet for My Valentine
Toby Keith 01
Chinese Democracy by Guns 'n Roses
REO Speedwagon / Styx Tour '09
Hautewerk 01
Nothing's Shocking by Jane's Addiction

To be honest, I didn't get many songs from this month. I didn't get New Slang, Chinese Democracy, Hautewerk, or Nothing's Shocking. I did, however, get Warriors of Time, Waking the Demon, and most of the REO/Styx songs. April 2009's really an average month.. Warriors of Time and Waking the Demon both have some pretty sick guitar solos, and the Toby Keither pack provides a few decent country tunes. For me, the best thing from this month is the REO/Styx pack. Even though the Styx songs are re-records, the pack as a whole is fantastic on all instruments.

Ftw of the month: "Warriors of Time", "Waking the Demon", REO/Styx Pack
Gtfo of the month: Virtually everything else with the exception of a few Keith songs. Damn you, new GnR!
Avg of the month: 3.75/5

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Game Review (Back to Karkand Map Pack for Battlefield 3)

For veterans of Battlefield 2, DICE and EA have finally released the Back to Karkand (B2K) map pack for the Xbox 360. Contained in this pack are four maps - Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Wake Island (2014), and Sharqi Peninsula, along with 10 weapons, and four new vehicles, for 1200 MSP ($15). If you're looking for an in-depth review, look elsewhere... I'm making this one brief.

Having never played Battlefield 2 before, these maps are all new to me, with the exception of Wake Island, which I played in Battlefield 1943 (Although that version looked quite different.) After a couple playthroughs on each map, I will say that all four maps are pretty good, and I'd assume most would agree. While the maps have very similar templates (I.E. Have similar colors), they are all laid out in quite different ways.

For the weapons, you don't have them available for use right away. Instead, you have to do Assignments for each gun. For instance, for the FAMAS, you need to get 10 revives, and 10 heals. As you look through the ten guns, you'll see that some will take much more time to unlock than others. While at first I thought it was pretty stupid to be forced to unlock guns in this fashion - I still think some of the things you have to do are a bit lame - it encourages you to play until you do unlock them all, and it will take the average player a decent bit of time to do so.

If that wasn't enough, there are a few new achievements added for you achievement whores, including one as simple as swimming in a pool on the Oman map, to getting a kill with a tank, a jet, and an assault rifle all in one life.

All-in-all, B2K is a pretty good map pack, and one that was much needed, as the 9 on-disc maps in Battlefield 3 were beginning to get a little stale. Although DICE/EA haven't put up DLC specific servers (which results in a lot of leaving matches when a disc map comes up following a DLC map), and while I'm mildly disappointed that the maps are colored similarly, they're fun to play, and the Assignments give reason to keep playing and unlocking the guns.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Food Review (W Burger from Wendy's)

I saw this on GrubGrade and was intrigued, so I went to Wendy's last night to try it out. The quickest way to describe this thing is that it's a double cheeseburger with Wendy's "secret sauce" on it.

In a word, unimpressed. The sauce didn't add much to the burger, despite there being a good amount of it on there, and the rest of the ingredients are on any other one at Wendy's. For $2.99 for the sandwich alone, I expected more. Something fairly unique, and something I'd try more than once... but there's nothing about this cheeseburger that's different from a single or a double, because like I said, the sauce is pointless. It's not terrible, but it's certainly "been there, done that."


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hardware Review (Turtle Beach MW3 Foxtrot Headset)

After going through several stock Microsoft headsets, I finally decided to get something a bit more durable - what I ended up getting is the Limited Edition Turtle Beach MW3 Foxtrot Headset.

Out of the box, I was pretty quickly satisfied with the design and the feel of it. It's well-made, yet lightweight. Hook-up is also quite simple, but if you need instructions, they're there for you. As this thing is wired, it doesn't take batteries; it simply plugs into one of the USB ports on your 360.(I recommend the one in the back, just because. Well. It's in the back.)

On the cord, there's a little box that allows you to adjust game sound, chat sound, toggle mute, adjust bass, and this thing that says "Expander" ... I'm ignorant as to what this thing is supposed to be, all I know is that when you turn it to on, you get a bit more static than when it's off, doing nothing from what I can tell other than lowering the audio quality. There's also a little 360 controller on the box, which is where you plug in the little included adapter cord, so you can talk to people over Xbox LIVE.

It's really quite incredible what a solid headset does for you - how much it changes the game. You really have to hear it to believe it. While this isn't the absolute best headset on the market, or the cheapest, it's not too bad at the price of about $100. While this headset doesn't have Dolby 7.1, it has "amplified stereo," as well as an awesome thing I mentioned above - the bass boost. This thing makes the headset all-the-more worth it. Turn this up, and any game you're playing instantly becomes better. In Call of Duty or Battlefield, every shot you fire from your gun rattles your eardrums ever-so nicely, as does a nice big explosion. Perhaps even better, is using this headset while playing Rock Band or the good ol' defunct DJ Hero - never has the music sounded so good. And of course, the bass just makes it better.

Another thing that's included with the Foxtrot Headset is "chat boost." The chat boost is a built-in thing that is supposed to adjust the volume in the people you're talking to's voice, to the sound in-game. While this is great in theory, I've had issues with it. While playing Modern Warfare 3, I had the game volume about 3/4 of the way up, and chat at half way. Seemingly randomly, the chat would suddenly get incredibly loud, so I'd turn it down. After doing so, it was so quiet, I couldn't hear anybody to talk. I had to do this over and over again, and it resulted in quite a bit of frustration. What I have noticed is that the lower your bass boost, the less likely this will happen. Regardless, it seems unavoidable if you're chatting with people, and it can be either a minor annoyance, or an ear-bleeding hell of an experience.

So... would I recommend this headset? Yes. Are there other and better, cheaper options? Yes. The main reason why I really prefer this headset to other Turtle Beaches, is that it just looks nice with its sleek design. I should also let you know that even though this says it's a Modern Warfare 3 headset, the only spot you can really sense that it's a Call of Duty headset is on the box on the cord, where it says Call of Duty MW3, and on the top of the headset itself, where it has Call of Duty pressed in. Overall, it's just aesthetically pleasing all-around, and the audio quality isn't too shabby either.

+: That brand new "out of the box" smell, solid sound quality, bass boost, looks pretty cool.

-: Cord is pretty freakishly long, the chat boost has its issues, may not be the best option for the price it is - shop around first.


3/1/12 UPDATE: Just a couple weeks ago, after having this headset for just about 2 months, it stopped working for no reason at all. I take care of my stuff, so it certainly wasn't because of throwing it around, dropping it, or anything like that. I just used it one day, and the sound coming out was really quiet and staticy. I went to return for a new pair, and found that they don't even sell Foxtrots anymore - at least not at Best Buy, apparently. I wound up settling with the Turtle Beach X12's (Which I'll be reviewing soon, most likely). As much as I originally liked the Foxtrot Headset because of its design, feel, and sound quality, I can't rate it very high now considering it only lasted me about 60 days. You may be thinking that I'm just incredibly unlucky, but this same thing also happened to one of my friends around the same time mine broke. Because of the lack of durability in the Foxtrot Headset, I'll now have to give them a...


Monday, December 05, 2011

Food Review (New Burger King Fries)

This isn't going to be a long review, because it doesn't NEED to be a long review. A couple weeks ago I decided to get Burger King, and saw that the fries seemed to be bigger than before. I didn't see any advertising for the fries, so I was pretty confused.

All there is to say is, if you liked the old BK fries, you'll like these ones. If you didn't like the old ones, you won't like these. Why? They taste exactly the same. The only difference here is the size.

Personally, I've always liked Burger King's fries, and have preferred them to any other fast food fries out there. I know, I'm a rare breed. If anything, I like these fries more than the previous version just because they are bigger. Unlike Wendy's change in fries, this change is a good one.


When they're fresh, they're glorious. When they're old, well. You know.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Food Review (Deluxe Cheeseburger, Mushroom and Swiss Burger, and Western BBQ Cheeseburger from Burger King)

These three $2 were put on the Burger King menu about a month or two ago. How are they? Well, let me start with the Deluxe Cheeseburger.

The Deluxe Cheeseburger to me just seems like BK's way of making their own Big Mac... and I actually like it. It's a typical burger with cheese, lettuce, onions, and pickles, with a Thousand Island-esque dressing. The difference between the sauce on this cheeseburger and the Big Mac though, is that this one seems to be a little sweeter, which wasn't too bad of an idea. I'd probably get it again.

Deluxe Cheeseburger: 4/5

The Mushroom and Swiss Burger is very, very average. What you've got here is a burger with Swiss cheese, topped with sauteed mushrooms, and BK's "grill sauce." I feel like this would taste a lot better if its sauce had less salt in it. The mushrooms are what you'd expect from a fast food place (not very flavorful and sort of rubbery), and that's all that you really get from this. As said, this hamburger would be better if it just had a little less salt in the grill sauce.

Mushroom and Swiss Burger: 3.5/5

Finally, the Western BBQ Cheeseburger. This one intrigued me most - not because it was at all a unique idea, but because I've always liked somewhat out-of-the-box burgers like this one. This one is just a hamburger with BBQ sauce, cheese, and onion rings... and it's good. It's nothing most people haven't had before, but it tastes alright, and that's really all that matters.

Western BBQ Cheeseburger: 4/5


All three of these are pretty decent, but the thing is, $2 almost seems too much for these things. The size of these are about that of a Whopper Jr., to give you an idea, and it's not like there are little gold flakes on here that make these worth a dollar more than the Whopper Jr. But if you want something somewhat different at Burger King, try either the Deluxe Cheeseburger or the Western BBQ Cheeseburger... they're not too shabby.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Drink Review (Mountain Dew Green Game Fuel)

This past month, Activision reached a deal with Frito-Lay/Pepsi to get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on their products. In doing so, they also brought Game Fuel back for a limited time. The first Game Fuel being the one that was initially released for Halo 3, and then again for World of Warcraft. The second was this green version, which is described as "Dew with a Charge of Tropical Flavor."

At first smell, I didn't really care for it. To me it was kind of like the smell of regular Mountain Dew after you burp - so not very appetizing. I thought it would taste like it smells, and it doesn't really. The closest thing I can compare this tasting to is something like a mix of Mountain Dew and Sprite, with pineapple juice. If you can remember how Revolution tasted when it came out a couple years back, it reminds me of that mixed with Baja Blast from Taco Bell. It's not the most unique, best tasting Mountain Dew, but it's a pretty good one... if you have the option of this or the orange Game Fuel though, there's almost no reason to choose this one, unless you haven't had it before.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Game Review (Mario Kart!)

Yeah... just doing this because I can and I want to. I'm going to list all of the current Mario Karts in order of how much I liked them - least favorite to most favorite - and give each one a score, this time with percentages, so there aren't three way ties with scores. With Mario Kart 7 coming out in a couple weeks, why not? (Keep in mind I won't be reviewing the two arcade versions of the game.)


6.) Mario Kart Wii: 79% That's correct. I'm giving the most recent version of Mario Kart a C+ rating. The reason for this is that it seems like in Mario Kart Wii, more-so than any version previous, really helps out n00bs. Essentially, this Mario Kart seems to take the least skill. It's still fun, and there is a pretty great collection of new and old tracks here, but this is the most frustrating Mario Kart of them all, as well as the oddest... the inclusion of mini-bikes sort of confused me, seeing as how the game is called Mario KART. Fortunately, they're out, and hopefully for good, in Mario Kart 7. Since it's been said that Mario Kart 7 is more like Wii than any other game in the series, I'm hesitant to get too excited for it. Time will tell.

5.) Super Mario Kart: 83% I really remember playing this game for the first time when I was about four or five years old at my cousin's house. He didn't seem to want me to play, so I mostly just remember watching, but the bit that I did play, and from what I watched, the game pretty much blew my mind back then. The really cool thing about this game is that, since it was the first Mario Kart, the game was mostly RACING. It seemed like there was less emphasis on the items, and that's what sort of sets this game apart from the others in the series. It's a bit aged now and feels a bit bland, but it remains a classic.

4.) Mario Kart Super Circuit: 84% I had no idea this game even existed until I randomly went in a Target when I was 12 and got it. Super Circuit got ridiculously high reviews on almost every website on the internet, and that surprised me. It's a pretty fun game, and a tiny step above Super Mario Kart to me, but Mario Kart just can't shine like it's supposed to with 2D landscapes, no matter how fun the game may be - it just feels dated, and at times it's nearly impossible to tell where you're going. Still, as with the original Mario Kart, there's no denying this game is fun, even if it's almost entirely in 2D.

3.) Mario Kart: Double Dash!!: 88% Although I owned a GameCube, and have always loved Mario Kart, for whatever reason, I never owned this game. I'm not sure why... I guess I was just a stupid child. Well. StupidER child. Anyway, I feel like Double Dash!! doesn't get the attention it deserves. At the time this game out- and actually even now, realizing it's a GameCube - I thought this was one of the best looking games released. The cartoony, smooth look, and how well the framerate held up was just one of many reasons I enjoyed this game. The whole two players per kart idea was and still is a pretty cool idea. In fact, I wish we had this option in Mario Karts even today - one of the best Karts ever.

2.) Mario Kart DS: 91% The first-time blend of new tracks with new I thought was a brilliant idea. Couple that with online play for the first time in Mario Kart's history, and Mario Kart DS was probably my favorite DS game, period. The game looked good, the frame rate held up, the online racing was surprisingly fun and minimally laggy, and as I brought up a bit ago, the 16-new, 16-old track idea was awesome. An insta-classic right here.

1.) Mario Kart 64: 93% And here I am, the only person in the world, that would ever say Mario Kart 64 was his/her favorite Mario Kart. Compared to Mario Kart DS in terms of gameplay, I should probably give that game the edge, but this game has a certain feel to it, and the nostalgia factor, that makes me give it top honors. It's pretty simple - 16 tracks, and 8 characters, all off the bat - nothing to unlock. No stats to track... but this game didn't need it. I couldn't tell you just how many hours I put into this game as a kid, but I'm sure as hell it was an embarrassingly high amount.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Game Review (Forza Motorsport 4 - 360)

The game's been out for over a month now, but at least I'm writing a review. Not that anyone cares that I'm doing one anyway. So, here goes.

Let me start by saying I never played Forza - the only bit of Forza I played was the Forza 3 (and 4) demo on the XBL Marketplace about 10 times. I really didn't have any interest in simulation racing games until I randomly started watching Top Gear UK on Netflix. Around that time, Forza 4 was getting a lot of hype in game previews, and I just wound up getting excited for it. The whole Top Gear deal with Forza helped, too.

With all of that hype, it sure would SUCK if the game sucked, but as you know by now (if you're reading this one random review in the depths of the internet), the game has done exceptionally well, with critical acclaim across the board. Now that I've said that, I suppose a review would be pointless... BUT I'll carry on anyway.

As I said, I never played Forza - I hadn't even really heard of it much because I was never big on simulation racers - I said that already too. But when I played the Forza 3 demo, I was almost blown away at the graphics for obvious reasons. The fact that each car was unique in cock-pit view, the lighting, the one track I got a chance to see ... I really didn't think Forza 4 could improve, but it did. Not a whole hell of a lot, but there is a difference. Mainly in that Forza 4 just looks more realistic. I.E., the colors are less saturated. As great as the cars look and the lighting is, the environments leave quite a bit to be desired. Some tracks look spectacular (Bernese Alps), while others look blah (Sebring International, Le Mans). Still, I'm sure if Turn 10 could have, they would have made the environments better, but the 360 can only do so much. I'm just really having to nit-pick here, because the game really just looks fantastic overall.
Graphics: 4.75/5

Everyone knows that it doesn't matter how great a game looks if it plays like trash ... well, that's not a problem here. You go through 10 seasons in career mode, which will take about 20 (?) hours of driving time to complete. The first season is only a few races, while each season gets progressively longer as you go on. Once you've completed the career, you can do it all over again, or you can skip the career entirely and hit the Event List, where there are hundreds of races for you to compete in. For instance, Charger v. Challenger races, Autocross, Track Days, Top Gear Bowling, and more. To be honest, it's really just addicting, in particular early on. Every time you rank your Driver Level up until level 50, you get a choice between normally 3-5 cars to be gifted to you. This is great because, obviously, if there's a car to choose from that you want, you're getting it for free, and you can spend the Credits you've earned on another car you want. I played this game religiously for the first couple of weeks because I was so keen on leveling up and getting all the cars I could. After level 50 though, you get a credit bonus that goes up every time you rank up. I believe at level 51 for example, you get 105k credits, 52 you get something like 110k, etc. Getting credits is great, but there was something about getting to choose between a group of cars that was just really great.

Me going on about credits and leveling up is reminding me - it's really quite easy to get credits in this game. While in Forza 3 it was (apparently) very difficult to get credits, and players had to grind to get cars they wanted, in this game you really can earn them quickly, which I suppose is better than having them be hard to earn. Still, if you are busy or just incredibly lazy, you can get Car Tokens and purchase the car(s) you want, ranging in prices from the lowly $1 cars to the high-end $3 cars, like your Ferarris and Lamborghinis. But not Porsche - if you haven't heard by now, there aren't any on-disc, unfortunately. Still, there are just so many damn cars in this game, they won't be too sorely missed.
Gameplay: 4.75/5

Forza 4 is an all-around great experience. Even if you're a one-manufacturer guy - or girl - you'll more than likely want to take many different cars of many different rankings around several tracks just to get a feel for them. Really, every car is unique - if you're finding that the cars drive too similarly or too easily, try driving with all assists off, and you'll notice a difference. In fact, driving with no assists is what makes this game so much fun. Personally, I couldn't imagine playing this game with assists on... flying around the tracks with them all off and getting at "Top 5%" or better on the leader board, to me, is just a really rewarding feeling. Sure, other games can give that sense of accomplishment, but not many senses of accomplishment come following an adrenaline rushing race. While I have gotten a BIT burned out on the game after beating the career mode and reaching level 50 (it goes up to 150 though, and I'm currently only only 64, I think), I still play about an hour a day or so, and it's not any less fun. As said, the only reason I don't play as much, is because I don't have the motivation to keep ranking up to get a car unlock every level. Regardless, it's still of a hell of a lot of fun in bursts, and I'm sure there are many other people out there that will have fun of it in several hour marathons. Forza 4 is simply the best racer on the 360, and there's just no contest there. In fact, it may just be the best racing option on the market. It's not perfect (it could use a few more tracks, and something else I can't quite put my finger on), but for now, this will do. Well, no, it will more than do.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Food Review (Triple Steak Stack from Taco Bell)

While I patiently await the inevitable re-arrival of the Beefy Crunch Burrito, Taco Bell has thrown out yet ANOTHER thing of the "triple steak" variety... just how good is this thing?

The Triple Steak Stack is a pile of steak thrown on an 8ish-inch flat bread with cheese for the cost of five bucks. Yes. Five. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Simply, I can't justify paying that much for one item at Taco Bell - I'll do it once per item, just to have it once, and that's that. This thing is no exception. While it is definitely a pretty hefty portion of steak, it doesn't seem like a good value for the price. It should be noted that the quality of the steak in this is actually surprisingly decent. It's not chewy, and it tastes REAL. The cheese that's in it is almost pointless, because the amount of steak overwhelms it, so this almost tastes like nothing but a salty mess.

I said almost. While it is pretty damn saltified, it still has a decent flavor, and if you want a steak fix without having to stop at a restaurant or the store to bring it home and make it, you have this option. Granted it's not the best thing in the world, but it's decent.

Anyway, yeah. I wouldn't get it again. $5 for steak on bread, and that's all it really is. If it were a dollar or two cheaper, I'd maybe get it a few more times in the future, but it costs just too much, even if the steak does taste better than the typical Taco Bell stuff.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Game Review (Battlefield 3 - 360)

Alright, I'm a few weeks late, leave me alone. Better late than never, right? One of the most anticipated games of the year is now available. Does it live up to the hype? Is it the Call of Duty killer?

DICE/EA and Activision had a lot of words exchanged between them in the months leading up to the release of their games, Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, respectively. Naturally, it intrigued me, and I had high hopes for both games with all the words that were flying back and forth.

Let me just dive right in here - the campaign and co-op in Battlefield 3. Enjoyable, but in no way comparable to Call of Duty. The story is worth playing through, but it's utterly average, at best. As far as difficulty goes, for sake of a comparison, the campaign on the hardest difficulty is harder than Modern Warfare 3's, and about the same length (Roughly 6 hours). For the co-op mode, you get six missions that you can play through with a friend. I must say, these are all surprisingly challenging, even on easy, so consider yourself warned. The missions can all be completed on normal difficulty within about 3 or 4 hours, so it's not lengthy, but it's a worthwhile experience. Still, even with the enjoyable co-op mode, the single-player campaign is just not that great.
Campaign and co-op score: 3.75/5

And the main focus of Battlefield 3, the multiplayer. Battlefield 3 launches with 9 maps on-disc, with more to come in the months following via DLC. DICE really made a huge deal about this game and its new engine, Frostbite 2, and to be honest, I don't see much of a difference at all in map destruction between this game and Bad Company 2. Hell, I don't hear much of a difference, or notice much better graphics period, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, because Bad Company 2 was already pretty snazzy. The maps in this game are pretty nice, despite there only being nine. The only map I don't particularly care for is Tehran Highway, mostly because of the lag issues there are on it, but I'll talk about that stuff in a bit. The gameplay in this game is just what you would expect from a Battlefield game. It's somewhat slow paced due to the map size, but at the same time action packed and exciting. If you read my Battlefield vs. Call of Duty entry, you'll know that I mentioned that Battlefield is for the more cerebral player, and that rings true in Battlefield 3. You really have to think about what class you want to be, and what you want to do to work your way to your objective. In Call of Duty, seeing as how there are no vehicles, you can really pick almost any combination of things and manage, but in Battlefield, you can't go it alone. You need an Assault guy to heal you up, the Engineer to lay a hurting on enemy vehicles while repairing your own, a Support guy to lay down covering fire and provide ammo, as well as a Recon guy to spot enemies, and throw down a radio beacon for your squad to spawn at. Team work truly is essential for a successful squad, and to get the most out of the game.

With all of that said, there are several problems I have with this game... really, so many that I'll likely forget a few in my list. What comes to mind first is the hit-detection. It is spotty to say the least. Some times you can kill a guy in 5-6 shots, other times it really seems to take 15, even if he's nowhere near a medic kit. This can be fixed with a future update, and it likely will be, but as of now, it's really one of the biggest frustrations I have with this game. Second, a close second, is the lag. Even with the game running at 30fps in a Squad Rush match, the game has its fair share of lag, and it's just a bummer to see. This could also be managed in coming months, but I think it'll be more difficult. My third biggest issue isn't with the game, but with some of the people that play it. I really already said it earlier - if you aren't playing with friends or a communicative squad, you will NOT get the most out of Battlefield 3. Hop into a match alone in a random squad, and you'll more than likely find yourself with some morons that are either camping back and doing nothing, or playing Rush or Conquest like it's Team Deathmatch, rather than contributing to the team. Overall, the online experience in Battlefield 3 as of now is just slightly above average. Solid, but in need of several fixes.
Multiplayer: 4/5

And that's really that. TL;DR, Battlefield 3 is a game with a lot of potential. It looks pretty good, and for the most part plays well, but the amount of bugs in this game can't help but make me think that EA rushed this game out to beat Modern Warfare 3. In a few months, and with a few pretty drastic updates to fix the games problems, I could give this game about a 4.5, but as it sits now, the game really just feels like a beta to me in several ways, and so I give it a


Game Review (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - 360)

The third and final installment - well, final installment as in MW3 will conclude the story started in the original Call of Duty - of Modern Warfare is here. Despite my high rating of the second Modern Warfare, I soon realized I basically reviewed that game out of early hype. Upon more playing, I realized the game was nowhere near as good as I had originally said. A 4.75? Much too generous for a game with so many issues... but that's said and done and a topic for another day. Right now, I'm talking about Modern Warfare 3.

First things first - the campaign. Well without spoiling anything, let me just say that if you're a fan of action, this is probably the best Call of Duty campaign yet. The story is pretty good, but not as incredible as a lot of people are making it out to be. I can tell you that there are some unexpected twists throughout. The number one issue I have with the campaign here is that, well, it's just too damn easy, even on Veteran. Having played Call of Duty 2's, Modern Warfare 1 and 2's, and Black Ops's campaigns, I can say quite easily that this is the easiest. Really, they've gotten easier to complete year after year for the most part. Although the campaign can be completed in roughly 6 hours on Veteran, the story is good enough to keep you interested.
Campaign score: 4/5

Next up we have the Special Operations (Spec Ops) modes, which unlike Modern Warfare 2, now includes a Survival Mode. The Spec Ops Missions mode is just like it was in MW2 - you and a friend work together to complete tasks. Hey, it was fun in '09, and it's still fun now. But that feature isn't new, so I'll try explaining Survival Mode... think of it as Infinity Ward's version of Zombies. While Zombies isn't a game mode here in Modern Warfare 3, I find Survival Mode to be a more than adequate replacement, since I prefer it. The gist of this game type is that you and a friend cooperatively go through several waves - I believe it goes up to 50 or 60...? I'm not sure, don't quote me on that. - of enemies. But unlike Zombies where you shoot at the slow moving undead, these guys fire back. You can expect to see swarms of infantry including juggernauts, as well as attack helicopters. I really enjoy this mode, and am looking forward to playing it more in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Spec Ops Mission and Survival Modes: 4.5/5

And, of course, the multiplayer, what many Call of Duty fans would argue is the most important feature. How is it compared to Modern Warfare 2, in a word? Improved. Many people are going on and on about how Call of Duty is selling the same game every year for $60 and whatever else, but the fact is, it sells as well as it does for a reason: The online play is just addicting. While not huge changes have been made to multiplayer, at its core it's still a very enjoyable thing to play. Sure, Kill Confirmed and Team Defender have been added as new game modes, and you can now level up your individual guns to get proficiencies and stuff like that, but that's not what makes this game's multiplayer better than that in Modern Warfare 2; it's simply the fact that the game is more balanced, and just feels better overall. The different killstreak packages (Assault, Support, Specialist) add a new level of strategy that hasn't been seen in Call of Duty before, and it encourages more team work than any previous game in the series. While this is all fine and good, and really does make for a great experience, there's one big thing that could make it better: the maps. Modern Warfare 3 has 16 maps on disc, roughly 12 of which are mediocre or worse. Personally, I only find Arkaden, Hardhat, Resistance, and Village to be particularly "good," and none of them are really instant-classics. Instead, they're really just buried beneath a lot of maps that are just average, or simply bad, like Downturn, Interchange, and Mission. Hopefully there will be DLC in the future that will be better than the lot of maps that are on disc. Honestly, that shouldn't be too difficult of a task. Despite the lack of enjoyable maps to play online, that's the only real thing that's stopping Modern Warfare 3 from being a great FPS.
Multiplayer: 4.5/5

Infinity Ward has really done a lot right with Modern Warfare 3. While I tried to not to get caught up in the hype, it didn't work. Luckily, unlike with Modern Warfare 2, I wasn't disappointed with the game. Although it's not perfect, this installment really is one of the best Call of Duty games out there. The campaign is action-packed and enjoyable, albeit easy to say the least, the Spec Ops modes are there for two friends that can't find a group of solid players to play online with, and the multiplayer is, in my opinion, vastly improved over Modern Warfare 2. It may not be the best Call of Duty, but it's certainly one worth buying.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Game Review (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Maps)

No, this is not a review of the game - this is simply a review of the maps that are on-disc for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Personally, I found Black Ops to have the best maps of them all, and apparently, I'm the only one. Why did I like those maps best? I really liked the variety - it seemed to have more than any other in the series. From the several snow maps on-disc and as DLC, to Jungle, to Nuketown, to Stadium, to Hotel, to Drive-In, to Hazard, to Zoo... I thought it was absolutely great. But here's MW3. Infinity Ward's last game was MW2, and I really disliked a pretty large number of the maps in that game. But what about this time around?


Arkaden: 4/5 Taking place in a German mall, Arkaden is one of the bigger maps in the game, and probably the map I was most looking forward to. After a decent number of matches, I'm just not a huge fan. It's definitely a good map, and decently layed out (you'll read about stuff like that in a bit, I assure you.), but it's not the best map in MW3.

Bakaara: 3.75/5 This map just reminds me of Crash from CoD4 and MW2. (If you don't recall, Crash was remade as DLC in MW2.) The colors, the way some of the buildings are laid out, and hell, there's a chopper crashed in the middle of the map even! Thing is though, this map has got nothing on Crash. It seems like they really tried to make Crash and improve upon it or something, but they just failed. Worst part is, this map isn't really particularly good in any one game mode. Average.

Bootleg: 3.5/5 And this one? A bit of Kowloon... but I think that's really only because it's clearly in a third-world country and it's dark/rainy. I haven't played this map too many times, but I don't think I have to to see that I'm just not a big fan. It's not that the design is that terrible, but it just feels boring and dull. I'm really having trouble trying to remember all the areas of this map... I guess that's just how forgettable it is?

Carbon: 4/5 Mm. Probably being generous on this one... I sort of have a love-hate relationship with Carbon; I really enjoy a few areas of the map, and just completely hate the others. I haven't played this map yet in S&D, but I have a feeling it would be pretty fun on that, so really that's what's making me fetch this a 4.

Dome: 3.5/5 Look everybody, it's the Rust of Modern Warfare 3! Except, I completely hated Rust, and this map I just deal with. It seems to come up fairly often in the playlist, which sucks, but at least it's not Rust, which I refused to play. Dome's the smallest map in the game if you hadn't guessed by now, and there are very few places you can camp. I think for most this is a map you either like or dislike. For me though, I put it right in the middle. I'd like it quite a bit more if it was bigger... That's what she said.

Downturn: 3.5/5 A pretty big map, yet not all that friendly for snipers. I thought the idea of this would be cool, but it just turned out poorly. It's large, so games drag on (especially TDM), and it just looks shabby. Yep... another average-at-best map.

Fallen: 3.75/5 Here we have an "Overgrown" look-alike map. Fallen plays nothing like it, but the colors and buildings and things like that remind me a lot of it. As I've really said with a lot of these MW3 maps, this map is just... average. Don't love it, don't hate it, but I'll play it. For a small map, Fallen really encourages quite a bit of camping, so keep that in mind.

Hardhat: 4.5/5 One of my favorite maps from MW3... it takes place at some construction site, and it's really just a whole hell of a lot of super fast-paced action in gametypes like TDM. For being as small as it is, it somehow manages to fit in a couple decent stretches where you can look down the sites of your assault rifle and pick enemies off. Great layout. Kudos to the map maker.

Interchange: 3.5/5 Think "Ambush" from CoD 4's layout - in a way - blended with the look of "Underpass" from MW2... slightly. Both of those maps to me were average or below average, so this map reminding me of the two isn't really a good thing. The map just seems random and there's no symmetry to it. The fact that the map is pretty much solid grey isn't helping anything either.

Lockdown: 3.5/5 Another one of the very few fairly large maps in the game, meaning one of the few that is sniper-friendly. The layout of this map is decent, but having so many two-story buildings in it just encourages a LOT of camping unfortunately. Not only do the campers drag this map down a bit, but the pretty bland appearance doesn't help it much either. Still, it's a good map for most objective game modes.

Mission: 3.25/5 Favela, Pt. 2 ... that's about the best way to describe this map. Seeing as how it was probably my least favorite map in MW2 after Karachi, you can maybe guess why I gave it such a low rating. You have one area that's higher with a lot of close-quarters combat, then a lower, wide open area that's there for pretty much nothing. Not a fan of the layout, or the way the map looks - worst map on-disc, to me.

Outpost: 4/5 The lone snow map in MW3! I guess after seeing so many on-disc and as DLC in Black Ops, Infinity Ward decided to put just one in here. And really, it's not too bad. Medium sized map with a good share of inside as well as outside firefights. Nothing extraordinary, but better than most of the maps in MW3. If I really have one complaint, it's that this map doesn't come up often enough in playlists.

Resistance: 4.5/5 A great map - another one of my favorites. The aesthetics, the design, and the enjoyment to be had in TDM and objective modes is just fantastic. There's really not much else to say, other than that this could very well be my favorite map in the game.

Seatown: 3.5/5 Yet another average map. Not much can be said here other than the fact that much of the map feels cluttered and close-quarters, and there are a decent number of small rooms with two floors for people to camp in. I'm sorry I sound so redundant, but the maps have just been designed that way for the most part...

Underground: 4.25/5 A medium-large sized map, Underground doesn't disappoint. Along with Arkaden, this is a map I was looking forward to playing... this one is just better. It's nice to have this map - as well as a few others - that don't force you into pretty much nothing but cramped spaces and almost MAKE you use an SMG or shotgun. Also, there's an area of this map that reminds me quite a bit of "District" from Call of Duty 4. Oh, how I miss that game...

Village: 4/5 Here's another one of not enough spacious-ish maps. Village reminds me of both "Bitter Jungle" from SOCOM II and "Jungle" from Black Ops, almost entirely in terms of appearance. From my experience, this is a good bit of fun in Domination, but I could see it being enjoyable in S&D as well.


How are the maps? As you can see by the scores, overall, not so great. I've found that far too many maps are close-quarters for the most part, with a little area on the other side of the map that's more open. It also seems like with some of these maps they just wanted to throw things up and call it a day, with a fair number of maps seeming "random"... having no rhyme or reason to their design. Sections or all of maps like Bakaara, Interchange, Mission, and Seatown make me feel that way. Unfortunately, I'm really not a big fan of these maps, and I'd say from CoD4 to now, this game may have my least favorite maps. The game is still quite fun, but a few great maps from map packs would certainly spice things up. Overall, I'd give the MW3 disc maps a...


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Game Tip (Battlefield 3: Co-Op Weapons)

This is the quickest way I've found to unlocking these weapons:

Go to the final mission, "The Eleventh Hour" and put it on Easy. Simply run through all the enemies (shoot a few on the way so you don't get knifed) until you get to the part where you're supposed to defuse the bomb. When you get there, press any random button so the bomb explodes and you fail the mission. You will get roughly 4500-5000 score every time you do this, and it takes just under a minute every time. Since the guns unlock once every 60k score or so, it'll take ABOUT 15 minutes to get each gun.

You're welcome. It may seem a bit tedious, but it doesn't take long, and you'll get a bunch of guns and a cool 30 GS for doing this.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Game Review (Battlefield 3 Beta - 360)

I'm aware this is a beta, so I'm going to REVIEW it as a beta.

Graphics: 3.75/5 There's really nothing at all special about this game graphically - the environments are average. The character models are average. The explosions and smoke are below average. I expect the disc on the 25th to look at least a little bit better than this.

Sound: 4.5/5 A lot of people are flipping out about the sound, and I do agree that it's actually really good - even without a headset or surround sound, this game is much, much better than any Call of Duty.

Fun: 3.25/5 Based on this beta, I'm not sure who'd buy this game. It's so full of glitches, after a single 8 minute match, I experienced two. (Randomly got an ACOG on one of my guns, and one time when I spawned there was a piece of scrap metal on my gun for some reason, blocking my view.) Although it's not the game's fault, I also adore having team mates that don't even attempt to do the objective, and when the defenders run all the way across the map to camp the attackers as they spawn. Sorry, not a big fan of that. DICE and EA promised a lot with Battlefield 3. Fans can only hope that this beta is virtually no representation of the final product - but if it's not, why bother releasing a beta that has so few similarities to the game being released October 25th?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Review (California Whopper from Burger King)

It's been out a few months, but I just decided to give it a try... while the title says Whopper, I went ahead and got the Whopper Jr. because I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Obviously, they both consist of the same stuff.

I wasn't particularly excited for this burger, hence why it took me so long to give it a try, but I finally tried it out. I don't love guacamole, but I thought it might be interested on a Whopper - it intrigued me.

I wish it hadn't.

I can honestly tell you, that when I opened the wrapping for this thing, I thought someone had put dog shit inside. It literally smells like a fresh turd dropped out of a mutt's asshole. After a bit of individual ingredient sniffing, I discovered it was a combination of the tomatoes with the guacamole, with the guacamole being the main culprit. Hey - maybe it doesn't taste like it smells.

I was wrong.

While it's a mild taste, it really almost does taste like poop. Literally. It didn't help that the first bite I had taken was 90% guacamole and 10% burger. Yeah. Have you ever had a mouthful of guacamole? Lucky you. This is one of the worst things I have ever eaten.

But hey, if you scrape the guacamole off, you essentially have a typical Whopper. I completely forgot there was Swiss cheese on it until I looked up what was on the thing. I really don't know who would want this thing more than once - I couldn't even finish it the first time.


+: It's a Whopper
-: It's a Whopper with shit on it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Music Review (Neighborhoods by blink-182)

After nearly 8 years since their last studio album, including a 4 year hiatus, blink-182 is back and they sound considerably different than they used to. I expect many people to like this change, while quite a few will be put off. The album is much 'darker' than any other blink-182 album, and shows the members have matured lyrically. This doesn't take away from the quality of the songs at all, because many of the songs still have the classic, simplistic, catchy 'blink riffs.' Anyway - I'm going to review each song individually.

1.) Ghost on the Dance Floor: 4.5/5 A nice way to start the album - starts with a really nice riff, and a bit of synth (which you'll find many of these songs have) In comes Tom's voice, and it has a veryvery heavy Angels & Airwaves feel, so if you aren't a fan of AvA, I'm not sure you'll be crazy about this song. Fairly simple, but it sounds great.

2.) Natives: 4.5/5 Even though the riff is recycled almost entirely from Angel's and Airwaves' "Young London," it doesn't bother me. Unsurprisingly, Travis's drumming is ace. What really makes this song though is the chorus, which is primarily Mark, while the verses are sung by Tom.

3.) Up All Night: 4.5/5 The long awaited first single. At first, I wasn't a big fan, but it quickly grew up on me as I learned the lyrics, and it got stuck in my head. The chorus is sung by Tom, while the verses alternate between him and Mark. Not a bad first single at all.

4.) After Midnight: 5/5 Fairly simple drumming much of the song with quick triple-hits on the hi-hat starting at the intro through the song just draw you right in immediately. In comes Tom, and you start the 3:26 long After Midnight. I can tell you now this is probably my favorite from Neighborhoods - love it. Oh, and in case you're wondering, both Tom and Mark sing in this one.

5.) Snaker Charmer: 4.25/5 Just a catchy song. Took a few listens to really appreciate... it's quite far from the best on Neighborhoods, but at the same time it's far from the worst.

6.) Hearts All Gone: 4/5 One of the first songs released from the band for Neighborhoods. This one's sung by Mark, and to me, it has a real Millencolin/Offspring feel to it. I don't care for it TOO much, but at the same time it gets stuck in my head more often than any other song on the album. This song also features Travis's quickest drumming.

7.) Wishing Well: 4.5/5 Another Tom song. The "la-da-da"s make this song insanely catchy, as if it wasn't already. You'll probably find the chorus stuck in your head after a few listens. Not mind-blowing musically, but it's a good one regardless.

8.) Kaleidoscope: 4.5/5 It sounds like I've heard this song before... I'm just not sure where. It takes awhile for the song to really get started, but once it does, it's a dandy - nice drumming as usual from Travis, and both Mark and Tom's parts are great. Despite the feel that it's been done before, it's freakishly good.

9.) This Is Home: 4/5 I dig the stutters - but that's about it.. nothing remarkable about this song. Still veryvery listenable, but with the other really good songs earlier on Neighborhoods, it's just sort of THERE.

10.) M.H. 4.18.2011: 4.5/5 Mark's best song on Neighborhoods. He didn't have too many, he never does, but this is very nice. A gem at the bottom of the Neighborhoods set list. This song also has what is probably the best line on the album - "Stop living in the shadow of a helicopter." I have a feeling this song will be quite under-appreciated.. for SHAME.

11.) Love is Dangerous: 3.5/5 Initially I really disliked this song, but after about 5 listens, I've really started to like it. Even though the song title and that line is all sorts of cheesy-lame, it's really a good song after a few listens.

12.) Fighting the Gravity: 3.75/5 Thismakesnosensethismakesnosensethismakesnosensethismakesno - kind of sucks you in a bit with that. Sounds dark, and pulls you in. Fighting the Gravity is the slowest song on this album I'd say, and for that reason, and just the way it sounds and ends, I feel like it should be the last song of Neighborhoods, yet it isn't, unfortunately. I think this song could grow on me.

13.) Even if She Falls: 4/5 Solid. Not a stand-out track by any means, and fits well near the back-end of this album, but it shouldn't be the last song. It should definitely be Fighting the Gravity! This was one of the most underwhelming songs to me initially, but it's quickly moved its way up.

First listen through of this CD, I would have given it about a C+ or B-. Upon more listens, I'd give it a B+, or potentially an A-. I'm pleasantly surprised at Neighborhoods. I was almost scared that after the band's hiatus, they'd come back a bit dull, rusty, or just out-of-sync. Something like that. I was wrong, for the most part. From just about beginning to end, this is a fresh, new, and welcome blink-182 sound, and I'm looking forward to what this brings from the band.


Friday, September 09, 2011

What is the best Call of Duty on the Xbox 360/PS3?

Six, and soon to be seven, Call of Duties are available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Which CoD is best? Which is the worst? From CoD2 to Black Ops, here we go. NOTE: These rankings are based solely on online play.

6.) Call of Duty 3: Forgettable at best. It's worth mentioning that CoD3, along with WaW, is one of two CoDs that feature vehicles in online multi-player. That alone isn't my sole reason for giving Duty 3 the 7 spot, it's also because the maps online were almost entirely BLAH. Just not much of Call of Duty 3's online-play is memorable.

5.) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: After Call of Duty 4, I expected big things out of Modern Warfare 2, and I was absolutely, completely, and utterly, disappointed. I'm not sure what it was - maybe the addition of some stupid things like the heartbeat sensor. The not-so-great online maps. Whatever it was, MW2 was nothing but a letdown for me. Just to give you an idea of how huge of a bust it was in my opinion, I got to rank 67 of 70, no prestige, and sold the game towards Black Ops.

4.) Call of Duty: World at War: I'll admit - I didn't exactly play WaW a lot online. And it's also the only CoD I've played where I didn't finish the story. Although I didn't play a lot of the online play, I did enjoy the maps. I didn't care much at all for the tanks online, but WaW was a solid game. It also helps that my K/D in World at War was one of my highest in any Call of Duty.

3.) Call of Duty 2: This game was absolute GOLD when I first got it. It was my first 360 title, and I loved it. So much in fact, that I didn't mind that there weren't online statistics, and for me to say that, shows how much I enjoyed it, because I'm a big stat whore. Small maps for the most part, more tactical gameplay, no perks - the last 'naked' Call of Duty. While the game feels dated by today's standards, at the time of its release, Call of Duty 2 was completely brilliant.

2.) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: As great Infinity Ward did with Call of Duty 2, they made the game WAY better with CoD4. How? I have no idea. The maps were fantastic, the game was balanced, - for the most part. Juggernaut, Stopping Power. Meh. - and it was just utterly addicting. The only downfall the game really ever had, was that it only got one map pack. Other than that, one of my all-time favorite FPS's.

1.) Call of Duty: Black Ops: I'm not sure how many people would agree with me on this one. Probably not many. But I feel Black Ops is perfect. The best CoD since the original Modern Warfare. Little things like an emblem editer, combat training, and theater mode. The number of solid DLC packs. Black Ops is really, without question, my favorite Call of Duty. I'm not giving many reasons here, but I just feel like Black Ops is CoD perfection. And to think I almost didn't even get this game. Ha! I really don't see Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 3 outdoing this game, but we'll just have to see. Nice job, Treyarch.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Food Review (Cravin' Chicken Sandwich from Arby's)

A little while ago, I reviewed the chipotle chicken sandwich - now the Cravin' gets its turn. sez:

"Crispy, all white-meat Prime-Cut™ chicken breast fillet topped with crisp lettuce, juicy tomato and a jolt of zingy, zazzy, zaucy, zesty Cravin’ sauce. It’s one sandwich that’s anything but boring!"

Right away I'll just say, I prefer the chipotle chicken sandwich. The Cravin' Chicken Sandwich is your typical chicken sandwich filet with a couple ordinary toppings - lettuce and tomato - with a special sauce that Arby's calls "Zesty cravin' sauce." The Cravin' Sauce is good, but it's not that great. To be honest, it almost tastes like a salad dressing. The 'zing' and tang that it has is what you'd expect from an Italian dressing. That's not to say it's bad, because it's not, it's just sort of odd.

If you go to Arby's and want a chicken sandwich, either get the cordon bleu one, or the chipotle - neither of those will let you down. This sandwich is decent, and that's all.


Food Review (Bacon Ranch and Original Chicken Flatbread from Taco Bell)

The chicken flatbread has made its return to Taco Bell, alongside a newer one: the bacon ranch chicken flatbread. First time around, I never reviewed the original one, so I'm going to do it now.

Taco Bell sez:

"A warm, soft flatbread layered with 100% marinated all-white-meat chicken, a blend of three melted cheeses — mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack — and topped with Bacon Ranch sauce." (For the bacon ranch)

The original is the same, but with a different sauce. It should also be noted if you didn't know by now, that these are 99 cents a piece - which is a DECENT value. Considering you can get other things at Taco Bell that'd fill you up better for the same price, there are other options.

The thing about these two sandwiches that's odd to me, is that they both taste very similar. I'd say the bacon ranch tastes a little bit better, but it's really very subtle. And it's not because of lack of sauce, I had plenty on both.

My two flatbreads were also much different in amount of chicken on them. My bacon ranch one was probably 85% bread, while my original flatbread had much more chicken. Was sort of bummed, but not surprised - it's not like they officially have a chicken-to-bread ratio. Though they should.

Overall, two good 99 cent options. I've noticed a lot of people comment on these, and it seems you either love them, or you hate them. For me, that also means you love both flatbreads, or you hate both flatbreads, because as I said a couple paragraphs ago, they taste pretty similar. Think of it as Sprite and Sierra Mist. If you weren't really paying attention or trying to guess which was which, chances are pretty decent that you wouldn't have a definitive answer.

3.75/5 for bacon ranch
3.5/5 for original

+: The value of the sandwiches is determined by who makes it for you, nice to have something on the menu that isn't a burrito or a taco.
-: The value of the sandwiches is determined by who makes it for you. Enough said.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Franchise Battle: Call of Duty vs. Battlefield

It wasn't much of a battle before this year, but with Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 being released less than a month apart from each other this Fall, it's really started to heat up. But which franchise is better?

If you ask me, it's a short argument. As with most disputes between two things, it's a matter of personal preference. For that reason, it's hard to really say which is better - especially since the two games really do differ quite a bit.

Similarities first, they're obviously both modern war-time FPSs - that's essentially where the similarities end. If you've played both of these games, they play completely differently. Battlefield makes teamwork a necessity, while in Call of Duty, you can hop in a match of Team Deathmatch by yourself, play without a headset, and do quite well. If you aren't in a good, communicative squad on Battlefield, you can bet your ass is going to be had more often than not.

It's not to say Call of Duty doesn't require tactical skill, because it does, but in comparison to Battlefield, it's not even close. Call of Duty's maps are minuscule when sided against Battlefield's, and in most game modes, allow for 12 players tops, while in Battlefield 3, you can have 12 per team. While Call of Duty has more gametypes that require objectives to be completed online, it's more of a challenge, and feels much more rewarding in Battlefield for the most part, for that reason.

It may be stupid of me to say, considering I prefer Call of Duty to Battlefield, but it's just the truth. Battlefield is a much more cerebral game overall than Call of Duty. As you've probably read elsewhere, Call of Duty caters more to the casual player, while hardcore players will tend to maybe prefer Battlefield. It's not to say there's only one way to go - there are plenty of people that play and enjoy both games.

In short, again, it's about personal preference. These two franchises are really quite different, and there just aren't that many similarities between the two. Tend to play alone? Go for Call of Duty. Like communicating and teamwork? Battlefield. Either way you go, you'll more than likely have a good time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Food Review (Smokin' Chipotle Chicken Sandwich from Arby's)

Getting this, I'd've actually been shocked if I didn't like it. I've never gotten chicken from Arby's and been displeased. I randomly went to Arby's yesterday and saw this, so I decided to give it a try.

Arby's sez: Kick up your mood a notch with Arby’s® Smokin’ Chipotle Chicken Sandwich. A new crispy all white-meat Prime-Cut™ chicken fillet topped with Chipotle BBQ sauce, pepper bacon, cheddar cheese and diced jalapenos on a toasted bun with lettuce and tomato. It’s spicy good!

Sound good? Good. Because it is good. If you've ever had Arby's chicken, you really don't need me or anyone else to tell you it's some damn fine fast food eating. I find myself almost routinely, when I got Arby's, getting the chicken cordon bleu sandwich. Anyway, this sandwich was really good and surprisingly spicy. Not because of the chipotle sauce, but because of the jalapenos, which came as a pleasant surprise to me, as I didn't know they were in the sandwich. My sandwich was almost picture perfect, with one exception - the cheese wasn't melted. Still, that didn't take anything away from its appeal.

If I were to have one criticism - I guess it'll end up being two, although the second one doesn't apply to me - it would be that the bacon is almost unnecessary. I know everyone believes, "bacon makes everything better," but the truth is it doesn't add much to this sandwich outside of sodium. You can taste it a little bit, but it's almost a waste. The sandwich has enough flavor without it. The second criticism, although I actually enjoyed it, is that the jalapenos may burn people's mouth to the point they can't finish the sandwich. But hey, you saw the picture on the menu, what'd you expect? I have a pretty high tolerance for heat, and my nose was started to run a bit, and my mouth had a nice burn. This is the spiciest thing I've ever had from Arby's, and may be the hottest thing I've had at any fast food restaurant period. Thumbs up!


+: Delicioso.
-: Bacon's not really needed; some may be over-whelemed by the heat, although I find it to be perfectly spicy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Game Review (Pinball FX 2 Review - 360)

After going to Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan, I pretty suddenly got a quick erection for pinball. Instead of trying to save up about $5,000 for one pinball machine, I found this game on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. Pinball FX 2 is a game that has no tables with it. To get them, you need to purchase them. In the description it says it comes with one free table, but I never got it for some reason. Anyways, there are a good bunch of different tables to download, including Marvel Comic tables.

Graphics: 4.25/5 Pinball FX 2 looks actually very good. The ball is nice and shiny, and the tables, for the most part - it varies, look great with a lot of flashy lights. Another big plus here is that there is absolutely no drop in frame rate during online play. Huzzah.

Sound: 3/5 Meh. The main reason why I give this a 3 is because of the pretty horrendous voice acting coming from the tables. There's nothing wrong with the sound of the ball hitting the bumpers or anything, but the voice acting is pretty atrocious. Luckily, that alone is the one bad thing about this game.

Fun: 4/5 It is what it is. If you want to play a pinball game, XBLA has you covered. It's an entertaining game, with good graphics, and a pretty decent variety of tables. As fun as this game is, it only is in bursts. It's pretty hard to want to play this game for very long, as it just isn't addicting. Then again, that's likely a matter of opinion. Still, Pinball FX 2 is a game worth playing if you have any remote interest in pinball.

+: Pinball, nice graphics and table variety, a helluva lot cheaper than buying a real pinball machine.
-: You can't buy individual tables from packs, gets a bit old after a little while, terrible voice acting.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Food Review (BBQ Pulled Pork Sub from Subway)

The commercial showing the black dude eating one of these subs at a fire station. Before long, it's gone. In my head I was just saying, "Yeah. He probably threw it out. Subway? BBQ? Hahaha."

I highly doubt he did - this sub should be a mainstay on the Subway menu. The pork is surprisingly good and flavorful. While the BBQ sauce isn't anything eyepopping, it tastes alright - it should be known it's quite sweet. One thing that surprised me a bit is that it's cold. I guess that's my fault for not getting it toasted. Instead, I popped it in the microwave. It just didn't seem right to eat this with the meat being cold. Anyway - that's about it. I may have found a new favorite from the Subway menu.


+: Pretty freaking tasty.
-: Just seems weird to eat cold, this and every other sub should always be $5 for a footlong, BBQ sauce is average.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rock Band DLC Review Part XVII (March 2009)

February had a few crappy tracks, but had plenty of stuff worthy of a download. On to March:

"New" No Doubt
"Texas Flood" album by Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Double Trouble
"All I Want" and "The Kids Aren't Alright" Offspring
"Losing My Religion" REM
"The Way that it Shows" Richard Thompson
Get The Funk Out 01 [3 pack, including "Sex Machine" and "Pick Up the Pieces")
"Thrash Unreal" Against Me!
"All the Things that Go to Make Heaven and Earth" and "Use It" The New Pornographers
"Last Resort" and "Lifeline" Papa Roach
"Ten" album by Pearl Jam
"Don't Stop Believing" Journey
"Heartbreaker" Pat Benetar
"Geraldine" Glasvegas
"C'mon, C'mon" The Von Bondies
SpongeBob Squarepants 01 [3 pack, including "The Best Day Ever"]

This was a huge month in quality and quantity, including two albums from entirely different genres - "Texas Flood" and "Ten." There are a bunch of must downloads from this month, and very few tracks I wouldn't recommend - The New Pornographers, "Geraldine," and the SpongeBob pack I'd say pass on. Also? "Last Resort." As I'm sure you all probably or should know, it's not the 'real' version we're all familiar with. Instead, it's a demo version, and sounds pretty shitty. As I said - an incredible month.

Ftw of the month: The Offspring, "Thrash Unreal", "Lifeline", Ten, "Don't Stop Believing"
Gtfo of the month: "Geraldine", SpongeBob SquarePants 01
Avg of the month: 4.5/5

Rock Band DLC Review Part XVI (February 2009)

Last month proved to be extremely average... but February is a new month.

Thin Lizzy 01 [3 pack, including "The Boys Are Back in Town (Live)"]
"Precious" The Pretenders
"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" Pat Benetar
"Break My Heart" and "Don't Tell Me" Nikko
The Fratellis 01 [3 pack, including "Flathead"]
"More Human than Human" and "Black Sunshine" White Zombie
"Wasted Again" Turbo Negro
Alt-Country 01 [5 pack, including "3 Dimes Down" and "Can't Let Go"]
Jimmy Eat World 01 [3 pack, including "Sweetness"]

Thin Lizzy? Yes please. "HMWYBS?" I'll take it. Fratelli's and Jimmy Eat World? Consider it downloaded. A lot of blah stuff can't get in the way of that. "Precious"? Bleh. The Alt-Country pack? No thank you. For the amount of good stuff this month though, it's a winner.

Ftw of the month: Thin Lizzy, Fratellis, Jimmy Eat World.
Gtfo of the month: Alt-Country 01
Avg of the month: 4/5

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rock Band DLC Review Part XV (January 2009)

It's a new year! I know, it took me forever to get from December '08 to January '09, but here it is. Let's see if Harmonix celebrated 2009 in a big way.

Roy Orbison 01 ["Pretty Woman", "You Got It", 4 others.]
Lenny Kravitz 01 [4 pack, including "Are You Gonna Go My Way"]
"Megasus" Megasus
"Entangled" Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives
Steve Miller Band 01 [3 pack, including "The Joker"]
"I Stand Alone" Godsmack
"Feed the Tree" Belly
"Wind Me Up" Ghost Hounds
"Typical" Mute Math
"War Zone" Rob Zombie
Grateful Dead 02 [6 pack, including "Fire on the Mountain" and "Uncle John's Band"]

A big fat ass 'MEH' from me. Two of Orbison's most popular songs being released was nice - and "Are you Gonna Go My Way" was as well. "Megasus" was a pretty pleasant surprised, especially being that it was only a dollar. The Steve Miller Band pack could have been better, but I still enjoyed it. "Typical" is a song many may overlook seeing as how they likely haven't heard it, but I'd highly recommend it. For the final week, Grateful Dead 02. I'm not a huge fan of the band, but the first pack was actually pretty fun. This pack? Not so much - I didn't particularly like how the songs sounded, and just wasn't thrilled.

Ftw of the month: "Megasus", "Are You Gonna Go My Way", "Typical"
Gtfo of the month: The rest of Lenny Kravitz 01, "Feed the Tree", Grateful Dead 02
Avg of the month: 3.5/5

Monday, July 18, 2011

Arcade Review (Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum)

Arcade review - how often will I review an arcade? That's right, this time. And this time only.

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum (Also known as Marvin's, Marvin's 3M, or simply 3M) is an arcade/museum that's located in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Chances are, you already knew that and were just probably looking for a review of some sort. Were you? Yeah you were - you've come to the right place.

Maybe... I suck at writing reviews. But I'll give it my best shot!

I went to Marvin's about a month ago, and I can tell you before saying anything else, I plan on going back quite soon. Unfortunately for me, I live over an hour's drive away, so it's not exactly practical for me to stop by very often, but this place is fantastic. Basically as soon as you walk in, it's like stepping into a carnival, that at the same time is an arcade with probably hundreds of different games to play. While there are a lot of games and such in the museum, there is still - surprisingly - plenty of room to get around. Near the front door, there's a wall of pinball machines from different decades, including several different themes from movies (Iron Man) to TV shows (The Simpsons), as well as a couple DDR machines - yes, two.

As you walk a bit more into the arcade - er, museum - you'll find more and more games to play, from old-school to current, from Galaga to shooters and racers. And not just games, there are also several pretty interesting things besides just them, my favorite being a large made-just-for-Marvin's jukebox, which contains several instruments, and a library of hundreds of songs to choose from. It's super unique, and anybody will easily find a handful of songs they'd recognize. Where this machine is located, there are also a few tables and an area where you can get food, candy, or drinks. Since this place has a carnival theme, that's just the kind of food you'll find here. There's popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs, ice cream, and things like that.

On the far side of the museum you'll find what I'd say is the kiddy area, where the ticket arcade games are found. And being as there are tickets, there is also a ticket counter where you can, you know... redeem tickets for stuff. To me, the coolest thing that's back there is this little hockey foos-ball table. I had played with one YEARS ago somewhere else, and was pleased to be able to play it again.

All-in-all, 3M is just a must-visit if you're into entertainment whatsoever. And I'm going to guess, since you're HUMAN, you'd NOT regret going here. To top if all off, this place doesn't get very busy - perhaps because it's somewhat tucked away in the shopping center where it's located. Whatever the reason is, it's great. You don't have to wait in line to play anything, and there's always something to do. Marvin's has a great atmosphere, and for just about $10, you can entertain yourself AND your kids - if you have them - for a couple hours, which is pretty much obscenely cheap this day and age. So think to yourself, would you rather sit and see a movie, or visit a year round fun house? The choice is yours, but I know what I pick.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Game Review (Need for Speed Hot Pursuit - 360)

Graphics: 5/5 Without a doubt the best graphics I've seen in a racing game, and one of the best games I've seen period. Not only are the cars ridiculously realistic, but the attention to detail from crashes, the weather effects, and the landscapes, are all really nice - not to mention the frame rate's pretty perfect as well. The one slight downfall, although it's understandable, is that the load times take a tiny bit of time... but that's a minor annoyance, and with the way this game looks, it's worth the wait.

Sound: 4.5/5 The cars, the police radio chatter, and all of the sounds you hear when racing are all well above average, but I don't find the soundtrack to be too great. There are a few pretty decent songs, and there is also a lot of variety - from rap to rock - but I haven't found anything mind blowing.

Control: 4.5/5 If you've played Burnout, this is essentially that. All you really need to know is how to steer, gas, brake/drift, and use boost. That is it... extremely simple first glance, but the drifting will take awhile to master. Speaking of the drifting, I've found that seemingly every car controls identically or similarly... it's like every car is just slapped with a new face with a different top speed. Other than that, quite alike.

Fun: 4.75/5 If you're a fan of the Burnout series, as well the previous Hot Pursuit games, there's no reason to not at least try this game out. While this game is almost perfect - there are a couple minor flaws. Firstly, there is no in-car view in this game. While this isn't particularly surprising, it's disappointing nonetheless. Secondly, you're required to pay $10 to play this game if you don't have a 'pass' that comes with a new copy of the game. And lastly, there is NO SPLITSCREEN multiplayer. While this may not be a huge problem for most, it is to me, seeing as how the only time I do play splitscreen in a game, is with a racing game. Anyways, you can play as the racers or the chasers in Hot Pursuit, and there are different ways to get in the lead, including spike strips, and the use of helicopters. If you can only have one racing game on the 360, make it Need for Speed Hot Pursuit - not only does Hot Pursuit look great on the surface, it also has the goods under the hood.

[Changed to a 4.25/5 upon easy-to-get-to 100% completion.]

EDIT 11/1/12: After playing Most Wanted (2012) and looking back to this game for comparison, I've really found that the two aren't completely different. While I'd say both games are fun to play in some of their own ways, both are very shallow as far as replay value goes. I beat Hot Pursuit to 100% completion in just 8 days, and if I wanted to, I could have easily beaten Most Wanted (2012)'s single player in about 2 days. I say Hot Pursuit is the better game, but not worthy of what equates to a 9.5 by any means. If you can get it cheap, that's a fair rating. But for the lack of longevity, remembering how little this game did for me after I beat it, I'd give it more of a 4.25/5.

+: Fantastic graphics; good variety in tracks, as well as solid variety in events; entertaining online play.
-: If you don't buy the game new, you have to pay $10 to play online; many of the cars seem to control similarly; No in-car view; No splitscreen; As fun as the online play is, when it lags, it lags terribly.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Food Review (Bacon Cheddar Ranch Tendercrisp from Burger King)

Well, any time I see something new at a fast food restaurant, I tend to try it at least once. How's the BCRT from BK?

First things first, it should be know that this big boy has 900 calories, 2100mg of sodium, and a gram of trans fat. Seeing as how it's fast food that shouldn't be too shocking, but fast food should at least taste GOOD for that kind of intestinal beating, and this sandwich simply doesn't cut it.

The BCRT is almost, dare I say, disgusting. The ranch smells and tastes like it's old and been sitting out for a long while... it's actually, very, foul. I actually wonder if they taste-tested this thing before putting it on the menu.

I got some of the ranch on my finger, and I can still smell it. I'm not the biggest ranch fan, but I don't know WHO would find this tasty. Hell, maybe I DID get some old-and-been-sitting-out ranch - I hope, because I find it hard to believe Burger King would sell this.


+: It's edible!
-: But barely. Not good, and way too salty.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Game Review (Call of Duty Black Ops Annihilation Map Pack)

After quite a break between "First Strike" and "Escalation," the one between "Escalation" and "Annihilation" was much shorter. In what felt like no-time, a third Black Ops map pack was released. How does it compare to the first two?

Drive-In: 4/5 This map has a feel, to me, quite similar to that of "Trailer Park" from Modern Warfare 2, and somewhat like "Firing Range" from Black Ops as well. Treyarch says they added this map due to the popularity of "Nuketown," but I don't really see any resemblance. "Nuketown" is a super-tiny map, and "Drive-In" seems to be at least twice that map's size. Anyway, "Drive-In" is the smallest map from the pack, and it's really a good bit of fun. As the name states, it takes place at a drive-in movie theater, with a whole bunch of different areas to go into including food stands, and an arcade. Above average map, but nothing that'll make you jizz yourself.

Hangar 18: 4.5/5 I can just tell you right now, this is the best map of the pack. It's not so much that Hangar 18 is super unique, but it's laid out very nicely, and there are just some nice areas in and around the map. Another nice thing about "Hangar 18" is that it'll cater to pretty much anyone's play-style - there are a few areas to snipe, there are some medium range areas for those who use assault rifles like myself, and there's also the hangar itself, which is close-quarters for those who use SMGs and shotguns. "Hangar 18" is, to me, is a good example that mapmakers don't need to try too hard to create a winner.

Hazard: 4/5 Treyarch states that this map was inspired by "Cliffside" from World at War, although the maps are really unlike each other, aside from the fact that they have a cliff. "Hazard" takes place on a golf course in Cuba. This is most definitely a map for snipers - it's a large, mostly open map, with several areas that are just screaming for snipers to sit near them. "Hazard" is a pretty solid map, but its absolute biggest downfall is the fact that the majority of the center of the map is pointless if you want to actually survive. To get around the map effectively, you'll have to run almost in a giant circle, unless you want to risk getting killed running through the golf course.

Shangri La: 4/5 I'm not a huge Zombies buff, as I've stated before, and I tend to only really play Zombies on each map a couple times until I get the achievements, but Shangri La is actually a pretty cool map. The spike traps, quick sand, and things like that are quite the nuisance, but Shangri La's a fairly good Zombies map - I don't think fans of the gametype will be all-too disappointed with this.

Silo: 3.5/5 In the video preview, "Silo" looked and was said to be the biggest map in the game. Uh, no. While it's a pretty large map, "Silo" is probably about the size of the on-disc maps "Array" or "Crisis." Immediately in the screenshot showing the map before the game started, I thought this looked like Black Ops's version of Modern Warfare 2's "Quarry" ... a fairly large map with different levels to walk up, as well as its share of buildings. "Silo" isn't a MISERABLE map, but it's definitely the weakest of the four. It's also not helped by it's pretty bland, grey appearance, and the fact that you'll find yourself almost exclusively in and around area D3 on the mini-map. Essentially, that's where you'll find both teams - in Team Deathmatch - trying to camp.


Annihilation is a pretty decent map pack. "Shangri La" is much different than any other Zombies map in terms of looks, and is also quite challenging as there isn't really one great spot to camp - "Hangar 18" is far and away the best map here, but both "Drive-In" and "Hazard" are also worth playing. While "Silo" is a blah map at best, it's hard to expect every map in a pack to be very good or better. For $15, you're getting 4 maps that offer great variety: golf course, a drive-in movie theater, an aircraft hangar, and a Russian silo place dealie - varying in sizes as well. The multiplayer maps in Annihilation aren't the greatest of the current three choices available for Black Ops, but I'd still recommend downloading them.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Food Review (XXL Steak Burrito from Taco Bell)

Let me just say first of all, you can get beef, steak, or chicken in this burrito - I'm not positive, but I believe steak's the most expensive, at $4.99.

The Taco Bell website says this, "The New XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito is our biggest burrito yet, STUFT full of grilled, marinated steak, a blend of three cheeses - cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella - flavorful seasoned rice, hearty beans, reduced-fat sour cream, chunky guacamole, avocado ranch and fiesta salsa, wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla."

As I said, you don't have to get steak - I have also gotten beef, and to be honest, I think I preferred the beef. Anyways...

How's it taste? Good. There's nothing in this burrito they didn't already have at Taco Bell, but it's "Everything but the kitchen sink." To be quite honest, I really dislike the avocado ranch sauce - at least I think that's what i was tasting. Maybe it was the guacamole. Either way, there's something in there I don't particularly care for - it's one of those two things.

How big is it? (That's what she said. Er. Asked.) I think according to the website and doing a little conversion, it weighs about a pound, although it varies. I've had two of these, and the beef burrito I got felt like it weighed considerably less than the steak one I got. Then again, that can also depend on the person making it.

Is it worth it? As with the Double/Quad steak burritos, I can't recommend something from Taco Bell this expensive. It's just not worth it. Why would you spend about five bucks on one burrito, when you can get five different one dollar burritos? Sure, I'd say try this at least once, as it does taste quite good, but because of the price, I can't recommend this too much.


+ Tastes good, and is a good size.
- Expensive as a Thai hooker. Eh. Maybe a little more expensive.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rock Band DLC Review Part XIV (December 2008)

It's the last month of 2008 - will Harmonix end 2008 with a bang..?

"Are You Dead Yet?" Children of Bodom
"Tutto E' Possibile" Finley
"Hay Poco Rock 'n Roll" Platero y Tu
"Tempted" Squeeze
"Ready, Set, Go!" Tokio Hotel
"Real World" All-American Rejects
"Headphones On" Miranda Cosgrove
"Body I Occupy" Naked Brothers Band
"I Don't Want to Go to School" Naked Brothers Band
The Singles 1992-2003 Album by No Doubt
Going Country 01 (Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, etc.)
Rockin' the Holidays 2008 (Barenaked Ladies, Billy Squier, The Pretenders)
Foo Fighters 01
"Space Truckin'" Deep Purple
"Funk #49" James Gang
"Hymn 43" Jethro Tull
"Take Back the City" Snow Patrol

Eh... nope. Sum-41 and AC/DC made their Rock Band debuts this month though! Ohp, nope. Finley and Platero y Tu respectively sound like those bands in ways. You know, minus the English language. "Squeeze" is a simple, but great song most people have probably heard. "Real World" is a poor AAR song choice, and the Nickelodeon tracks can be done without, even if the Cosgrove one is free and the other two are a dollar. The No Doubt Greatest Hits album has a decent number of songs I would suggest others to download, and is a welcome addition to the Rock Band catalog. Country finally gets its own pack in Rock Band with Going Country 01, and I can tell you "Free and Easy" is well worth downloading, country fan or not. Rockin' the Holidays 2008 pack disturbs me. We got Barenaked Ladies and Billy Squier, but HOLIDAY songs - for shame. Barenaked ladies could and should have a pack, as should Billy Squier, yet these were their first songs in Rock Band, and we've gotten nothing since. The song choices for Foo Fighters 01 I didn't really care for, but there are a few singles from the final week of the month, "Hymn 43" and especially "Funk #49", that should be purchased. There are a few good songs this month, but there's a hell of a lot more of a disappointment than anything else.

Ftw of the month: "Tutto E' Possibile" is way too overlooked and actually a good song, to me at least, "Tempted", a good portion of No Doubt's Greatest Hits, "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)", "Funk #49"
Gtfo of the month: The Nickelodeon tracks, Rockin' the Holidays 2008
Avg of the month: 3.25/5

Rock Band DLC Review Part XIII (November 2008)

October was pretty average... there was good, there was bad. November's got a pretty huge list of songs, but are the songs any fun to play?

The Presidents of the United States of America 01
"Use Me" Hinder
"I Don't Care" Fall Out Boy
Rock Band 2 20-Pack (The Cab, Underoath, Endeverafter, X Japan, Shaimus, Between the Buried and Me, etc.)
The Colour and Shape Album by Foo Fighters
Dead Kennedys 01
Mission of Burma 01
Century Media Girls of Metal 01 (In This Moment, Lacuna Coil)
"Gone" Crooked X
The Killers 01
Yngwie Malmsteen 01
"Jesus Christ Pose" Soundgarden
"Pretty Noose" Soundgarden
"Laid to Rest" Lamb of God

Man. That's a huge month in terms of number of bands and tracks - but just how much fun are these songs? Well, skip right down to the 20-Pack that was free for those that purchased Rock Band 2 - a lot of the songs, to me, were not good at all, but there were a few gems in there. "I Wanna be Your Man" and "Like a Fool" are probably the best two of the entire pack. They both sound great, and are a lot of fun to play as well. For The Colour and Shape, I'll just say I'm "meh" on Foo Fighters. They have some good tracks, but I'm not a guy that enjoys their entire discography. For me, "Monkey Wrench" and "My Hero" were enough for me, and I passed on the rest. Mission of Burma 01 has terrible reviews, and rightfully so. That week and the next, with the exception of The Killers 01, we got heavy/hard stuff. Yngwie Malmsteen isn't especially heavy or hard, unless you're talking about difficulty - "Caprici Di Diablo" is a hammer-on fest that'll give your fret fingers a work out. November is a pretty typical Rock Band month - some good, some bad. This month's a good example of quality > quantity.

Ftw of the month: "I Wanna be Your Man", "Like a Fool", "Monkey Wrench" and "My Hero" from The Colour and Shape, mostly because of the drums, The Killers 01, "Caprici Di Diablo" is you want to see just how fast your fingers can move.
Gtfo of the month: "Use Me", "I Don't Care", A LOT of the 20-Pack songs, Mission of Burma 01
Avg of the month: 3.5/5

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rock Band DLC Review Part XII (October 2008)

September made up for August in a big way with three albums from three WAY different genres, and a pretty great selection of singles. October, make it two good months straight!

"All Right Now" Free
"Stop!" Against Me!
"Bad to the Bone" George Thorogood & the Destroyers
"Cream and Bastards Rise" Harvey Danger
"Nearly Lost You" Screaming Trees
"Push It" Static-X
The Offspring 01
Dr. Feelgood Album by Motley Crue
Nirvana 01
Siouxie and the Banshees 01
"Dammit" blink-182
"Well Thought Out Twinkles" Silversun Pickups
"Melatonin" Silversun Pickups
"Pretty in Pink" The Psychadelic Furs

For the most part, this month is disappointing to me. There are some pretty big names, but poor song choices. For instance, Harvey Danger's best known for "Flagpole Sitta", yet we got a song by them that pretty much no one has ever heard of. I consider myself a fareweather Static-X fan, and we got "Push It." Nirvana 01 is a BLAND pack almost all the way through with the exception of a few tracks, the SSPU tracks are just 'meh,' and Siouxie and the Banshees 01 is a turd - as is "Pretty in Pink" for that matter. The Offspring pack was pretty decent, Dr. Feelgood has some stellar songs on guitar, and "Dammit" is a quick song on drums that requires some serious stamina. There are some songs that should be bought this month, but it's average overall.

Ftw of the month: "Stop!", The Offspring 01, some tracks from Dr. Feelgood, a few keepers in Nirvana 01, "Dammit"
Gtfo of the month: "Cream and Bastards Rise", Siouxie and the Banshees 01, "Pretty in Pink"
Avg of the month: 3.5/5

Rock Band DLC Review Part XI (September 2008)

After two great months, August came, and Harmonix shat on our faces. Well, September's a new month, and Rock Band 2's release is on the horizon.

The PAX 2008 Collection (Coulton, MC Frontalot, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets)
All That Remains 01
"Charlene" Stephen and the Colberts
Rock Band Live 2008 Tour 01 (The Cab, Dashboard Confessional, Panic at the Disco, Plain White T's)
Peace Sells But Who's Buying? Album by Megadeth
Moving Pictures by Rush
"Sorrow" Bad Religion
"She Sells Sanctuary" The Cult
"Bandages" Hot Hot Heat
"Shoot the Runner" Kasabian
"You're No Rock-and-Roll Fun" Sleater-Kinney
"Love Spreads" The Stone Roses
Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Well. That's a big month, to say the least - I suppose in celebration of Rock Band 2's release. THREE albums in one month, including one in back-to-back weeks. I'll start at the top - PAX 2008? Pass. Easy pass. All That Remains, I'm just not a fan of. "Charlene" seemed like a joke. Some of the songs in the Rock Band Live 2008 pack are worth checking out... Peace Sells is, in my opinion, extremely overrated. I'm not a HUGE Megadeth fan - I like some of their stuff - but I don't care for that album. Rush, same-ish story, but Moving Pictures was well worth the purchase. Then, we have all the singles that were released with Moving Pictures. "Sorrow" is WELL worth downloading in my opinion, as is "She Sells Sanctuary" for nostalgia purposes, and "Love Spreads" by The Stone Roses due to its radicalness - yes, radicalness - on just about all instruments. As if that wasn't enough, BSSM by RHCP was released for the final week of the month. In my eyes, easily the best of the three albums for the month. September is WAY better than August - not even on the same level. There are some duds this month, but that's pretty much unavoidable. Despite those few songs, the amount of worthwhile songs drastically overrides the turd tracks. A solid month, to say the least!

Ftw of the month: Most of Moving Pictures, "Sorrow", "Love Spreads", a selection of songs from Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Gtfo of the month: PAX 2008 Collection, "Charlene", Peace Sells, But Who's Buying?, "You're No Rock-and-Roll Fun"
Avg of the month: 4.25/5