Thursday, December 19, 2013

Food Review (Grilled Stuft Nacho from Taco Bell)

It's seemingly been eons since Taco Bell has released a new item, and I was pretty excited when I saw that something fresh was coming out -- until I read the details of the Grilled Stuft Nacho (GSN). Sigh...

"The Grilled Stuft Nacho is nacho flavors all wrapped up and grilled to perfection in the shape of a giant nacho chip, with seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, our new zesty nacho sauce, crunchy red strips, and cool reduced-fat sour cream."

Alright, Taco Bell. So it's the Beefy Nacho Griller? Oh, no it isn't, there's a "new zesty nacho sauce." The GSN looks like a Crunchwrap Supreme wrapped up in a gimmick -- I mean triangle. Alright, fine, a triangle... that's cool, I guess? If you've had Taco Bell in the past few years since they've needlessly thrown their artificially colored bright red strips, you've probably already had this "new" item. As said, the only thing that's "new" is the zesty nacho sauce, but I'm under the impression that it's nothing but their nacho cheese sauce mixed with the volcano sauce... both of which they've had on their menu for years. The difference being that this "new" sauce isn't spicy at all, while the volcano sauce has a bit of a kick to it.

How does it taste? Well... fine. As expected, the crunchy red strips become soggy red strips unless you eat the thing either in the restaurant, or while driving. I suppose the shape is something that'd appeal to kids, but it seems incredibly stupid to come out with and advertise as "new." Byfar the most appealing thing about the GSN is definitely the price. At $1.29, you really can't go wrong. The size of this thing is decent, but it only weighs in (according to the Taco Bell site) at about 140g, which is about the weight of a Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Coming in at 570 calories, I'm confused as to how the Smothered Burrito (which is about 2.5x the weight) is only about a hundred more calories.

I'm rambling. Anyway, the GSN is a perfectly fine promotional item from Taco Bell, but you won't fall in love with this thing like, say... the BEEFY CRUNCH BURRITO.


+ The price.
- While it isn't at all bad, the "new" sauce doesn't seem new at all; Gimmicky; Nothing exciting.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Joel McHale on VGX -- Painful.

"...I know the difference between 'Miss Pacman' and 'Mizz Pacman'..."

Moments into the show, it was evident that the whole thing was going to be a mess. Joel McHale's try-hard, unfunny sex jokes were cringe worthy. I'm pretty sure that if you make sex jokes and people have a straight face, you're the worst "comedian" ever, and need to find a new occupation. How is this guy famous? Why did Spike think it'd be okay for him to be on? I could rant for paragraphs and paragraphs, but it'd be a waste of time.

For the love of Christ, give me back G4TV/G4TechTV/whatever sort of actual *GAMING NETWORK*... Spike TV is awful as hell, and this whole VGX garbage shows that they have a faux interest in games.

Suck testicles, Spike.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Game Review (Battlefield 4 Disc Maps)

I've been playing Battlefield 4's maps for almost three weeks now, and have a pretty good feel for them so far. I usually review maps closer to initial launch, but I waited for the PS4 version of Battlefield 4 to come out, and didn't think to review the maps until now. Off we go.


Dawnbreaker: Sucks that I'm doing these maps alphabetically, because otherwise, I'd probably save Dawnbreaker for last... truth is, I think it may be my favorite map on-disc, which is probably unusual, because I feel like a lot of people loathe it. I can understand why if you love to fly jets (why the hell are they on this map anyway?), but weaving through the skyscrapers in a helicopter and roaming the streets in an LAV is some fun stuff. Not to mention I love the variety on the map as far as map elevations. I wasn't expecting to care for this map based on what I initially heard of it, but it's grown to become one of my unquestioned favorites. I give this map a 9, simply because it seems fantastic compared to the vast majority of the maps on-disc. 4.5/5

Flood Zone: One of the maps I was really intrigued by, because I thought the whole Levolution idea of the map being flooded and having to travel around on boats would be awesome -- and in theory, it should be awesome. The problem I have with this map is pretty simple... there just aren't enough boats around. If you're stuck in the water, you're done for. There are some ledges to crawl up onto, but then you have to jump in the water again to get on another ledge, and so on. When you're actually at the parking garage or on one of the many roofs (or in a boat!), Flood Zone is actually a pretty fun map. I don't love the layout, but it's a pretty decent map. Hey, there are certainly far worse ones on the disc... I'll get to those soon. 3.5/5

Golmud Railway: *Shudder*. That's about it. This map is literally a battlefield. A battle... on a field. It's about as fun as it sounds. Most of this map is flat (with a few small hills), and it's the very definition of an uninspired map. There are few landmarks to make the map stand out, and it's just a bore to play, generally. The few little "towns" on Golmud Railway keep the map from being a complete dud, but it's still pretty bad anyway. Just a very generic, bland, un-fun map. Not much else to say about this one. 2.75/5

Hainan Resort: Fun stuff -- especially on Conquest Large (Surprise, surprise!). Hainan Resort has an incredible layout that balances a good amount of infantry fighting, naval warfare, and a little death from above. The flag points in Conquest Large are in memorable locations, and it's just a well-made map as a whole. Additionally, unlike Flood Zone, you don't get stuck in the water (in most areas) and feel like you're inevitably going to die. Another pretty fun map on a disc of general mediocrity. 4/5

Lancang Dam: Just a prime example of a Battlefield 4 map... EH. It's playable and alright and fine and okay, but it's not a map that comes up and makes you say, "Ooo, I like this one." The idea of an island out in the water away from the dam makes the map more interesting, and there can be some pretty intense naval battles, but it's generally a pretty bland experience, albeit not bad. There are some fun fights to be had on the ground as well. 3.75/5

Operation Locker: The one map that has no vehicles on any game mode by default, I didn't think I'd like Operation Locker... well spank my diddly, this is one hell of a fun map. Try playing this on Conquest (or Obliteration), and just watch the utter shit storm that ensues at choke points. Really, in all of my hours of Battlefield gameplay, I've never seen such intense gunfights among so many people in one area. It can definitely get insanely hectic, but that's what I like about this map -- there's little to no breathing room. Not a map to play constantly (not for me, I'd probably get a headache...), but awesome to have as an option to go to time-to-time. 4/5

Paracel Storm: I saw hours of gameplay of Paracel Storm, and I thought it looked phenomenal... almost like a new version of Wake Island. The big thing with Paracel Storm is probably its Levolution, which, naturally, creates a huge storm, and causes a battleship to crash into one of the islands. The waves will frustrate snipers and those on the water as the storm rolls in, because it can make controlling a ship or a boat very difficult, and hard to snipe from island to island. This is just a very fun map for people who love rolling around on a boat/ship or in the air. There are some nice little areas to have some intense gunfights, but the vehicles and Levolution (that's actually worthwhile, unlike some maps) really make this map. 4/5

Rogue Transmission: Kind of the same story as Golmud Railway for me, but a little bit better, as it's more memorable, and it seems like somebody older than eight years old designed it. The big thing about Rogue Transmission that makes it stand out is the satellite (?) on the map... that's really what makes it better than Golmud. Other than that, it's a very "meh" map with a few areas with buildings and nothing super spectacular. I will say that this is a good map for tanks/LAVs to roll around on. Not so much for air vehicles though, as it's really hard to get away. 3/5

Siege of Shanghai: Anybody who's anybody has seen Siege of Shanghai in some fashion. Like Paracel Storm, it's one of the few maps with a Levolution that actually changes the map fairly significantly. I've played a lot of this map between the beta and full version of the game, and I still enjoy it -- I think that's the sign of a well made map. I love the map more when the skyscraper is still in tact, but it's entertaining both ways. Siege of Shanghai may also be the best map for tank v. helicopter battles, and it's fun just to watch them. 4.25/5

Zavod 311: This reminds me of the one DLC map in Battlefield 3... I can't think of the name. Anyway, this is an underrated map, I think. However, Zavod 311 is a prime example of why Levolution is mostly just a gimmick. Sure, a little pathway gets blocked off, but it doesn't change the map all that drastically. Zavod is also one of the few maps where it may be possible to be in the air with a helicopter for more than fifteen seconds, as it's fairly easy to get away from spots... BUT, be wary of trees, since, you know, they're everywhere. A fun medium-ish sized map that actually sort of plays small/intimately. I like it. 3.75/5


Altogether, Battlefield 4's maps are just alright. There are a few stand outs, I suppose, but not really any maps (other than Dawnbreaker) that I'd consider a future classic. It's sad to say, but I hope that the maps DICE heldback from being on-disc for DLC are more fun than the lot of these, because otherwise I'll be a sad, sad, boy. All-in-all, Battlefield 3's disc maps were a decent bit better than those offered here in Battlefield 4.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Game Review (Mario Party: Island Tour - 3DS)

As an early Christmas present, my sister got Mario Party: Island Tour. I had told her about the low scores, but she didn't listen -- and I can't blame her. Mario Party games never get very high scores, but still tend to be entertaining, even if based largely on luck. Mario Party: Island Tour is much of the same -- maybe a bit less.

The biggest difference with Island Tour as opposed to other Mario Party games is that most of the boards do away with stars and coins and just involve one player getting to the "finish line." This is weird and somewhat disappointing, but worse yet, you only play a mini-game every three turns, rather than after everybody has one turn. Thankfully, there is a mini-game mode for people who want to do that. While some of the mini-games are cute and good for a laugh, the big issue with it all is that at least half of them seem to be chance games, where there's no skill involved. The same can be said for a lot of the game boards, which favor luck over skill. Mario Party games and even Mario Kart games tend to do this at times to let people in last place catch up, but it's a bit much in this game. If you don't mind finishing last simply because you picked the wrong place to stand in a mini-game or happened to land on a "?" on a board, then you'll be fine. Basically, don't take Mario Party: Island Tour too seriously. As annoying as the lack of stars and coins on most boards is (as well as the emphasis on chance over skill/real thought), the $40 price tag is perhaps the biggest turn off here. This game features 7 boards to play, as well as (I believe) about 80 mini games. That seems like a decent amount, but the games don't last long while you play them. $30 would be much more reasonable, so I'd recommend buying this game on sale.

As I said, if you can tolerate getting screwed no matter how well you're playing, and like playing brief games of Mario Party, this game's not too bad. The biggest thing this game has going for it is its Mario-themed charm. A decent amount of the mini-games are entertaining, but this is probably the weakest Mario Party yet that I have played. It's a game that's not great. Really, I'd consider it "barely decent." I wouldn't run out to buy Mario Party: Island Tour, but I believe it's better than most critics seem to think it is... it makes me wonder if they even played a Mario Party before.


+: It's a Mario game; Some mini-games are pretty fun; Good in short bursts.
-: Not enough content for the price; Too many "been there, done that" and chance-fated mini-games; Doesn't feel too Mario Party-esque with the omission of coins/stars on most boards.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Game Review (Flower - PS4)

Flower originally came out in 2009 on the PS3 (I think?). It is also available to play on Vita, and now on PS4. For $6.99, you can play the game on all of those consoles. Additionally, if you already had the game, you get it for free on PS4. I don't expect this to be the only PS3 game that'll be upgradable on PS4 for free (if you previously paid for it).

Graphics: Flower is an incredibly simplistic looking game -- the whole game will take up maybe 2GB on your hard drive. The best looking thing -- er, things -- in Flower are the blades of grass. The way they ripple in the wind is great. Secondly, the vibrance of all the colors along with the soothing feel of the pedals through the wind is incredibly relaxing. Anything else in the game doesn't look particularly good, but that's not a big loss. Flower isn't so much about the graphical detail as much as it is about the flow and color, which are both great. 4/5

Sound: I'd find it hard to believe that there's a more calming game out there. The music in this game is simplistic, but mesmerizing. If you used to take yoga or have thought about it, Flower should work just fine. The sound of the wind with the subtle music and notes that play every time you bloom a flower could lull you to sleep -- in a good way! 5/5

Control: Six-Axis is what you use to control the game. The only time you use a button is when you bloom your initial flower, start a level, or use the wind. The control from the start was pretty much perfectly fluid -- very responsive, and don't require massive movements. Using Six-Axis makes the game feel even more "floaty" and relaxing. 5/5

Fun: While the game is only about an hour long (yes, you read that right), it's a prime example of quality over quantity. I can tell you that the majority of the time while playing this game, I found myself so relaxed that my mouth was left open. If you're looking for a unique, fun experience to take up a portion of your day, Flower will more than likely entertain you more than an evening at the cinema would... and for a little less money.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Get Better at Battlefield 4

One of the most anticipated games of the year has to have been Battlefield 4 on PC and next-gen consoles. Whether you played a Battlefield game before or not, the chances are that you at least had your eye on this game. If you're new to the series or even new to the genre, this guide should up your game at least a little bit. You won't be great or even good at Battlefield overnight, but a few relatively simple changes will help you step up your game. Here's a list (in no particular order) of things you can do:

1.) Spot enemies: I said this list is in a random order, but I think this is the most basic and important thing you can do to help you and your team out. This includes spotting enemies on the ground, and especially those in vehicles (air vehicles, most specifically). When a team mate is in a jet and there's a bad guy up there with him, and he can't see him, there's nothing that feels more hopeless as a pilot. It's also crucial that you spot those who are in tanks, because you don't want to have, for instance, a group of four guys in a Jeep haul into the objective on Rush just to get taken out by a single tank shell. Spotting is probably easiest to do with a sniper, as the scope can see more of the map. A quick note, the back/select button was used to spot enemies in Battlefield 3, but DICE has changed that to the RB/R1 button. It took some getting used to, but it makes a lot more sense, and keeps your left thumb on the stick.

2.) Learn the maps: This is probably another common sense sort of thing. To get around a map effectively, you need to learn every area of the map, including its choke points. Most maps have very obvious/popular locations where people love to camp (usually with a sniper). If you get a good idea of where all of these places are, you can help your team out just by going there and spotting enemies -- even if you ultimately die.

3.) Leave the vehicles to the pros: This sounds really dickish, but now that DICE has implemented a training mode (I forget exactly what it's called) for people to learn how to arch shots from a tank and shoot fake enemies from a helicopter or a jet, the vehicles really should be used only by skilled teammates, assuming you want to win the game. A lot of people dislike when others use a jet as a transport vehicle to get to an objective, but I don't have a problem with that at all, since you're still helping out your team... AND the jets respawn rather quickly anyway. But, don't hop into a helicopter with a group of teammates and just crash fifteen seconds after you're off the ground.

4.) Have variety in your squad: Basically, have one of each class, and a duplicate of one (if you have a five man squad). I recommend this mostly on maps where there are vehicles. This is also important to do so that you can have a repair man (Engineer), a medic (Assault), ammo supplier (Support), and spawn beacon guy-er (Recon). The only time you don't really need squad variety is when you're playing on Operation Locker (or any future map without vehicles). In that case, if you're playing as the attacking team, it'd probably be in your team's best interest to have everybody play as Assault so you can constantly revive your teammates and give them health. Having a single squad mate play as Recon so you can have a spawn beacon isn't a bad idea either.

5.) Use team work: This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with number four. If you're playing alone, this may be a lot harder to accomplish -- especially if you're playing without a headset. Any Battlefield player knows how ridiculous it is, for instance, to be empty on ammo, and having a teammate who won't acknowledge the fact that you desperately need it. Team work is also important in having that squad variety I was just talking about. Without a headset, the only way to have variety is just by changing your own class. If you have a squad full of snipers who won't change what their doing, it's up to you. On the plus side, you could always switch squads, and hopefully find one that knows what they're doing. Using team work includes pretty much everything I've mentioned: Spotting enemies, not being wasteful with vehicles, etc.

6.) Change your button layout: I don't know about you, but I was instantly stressed by Battlefield 4's new control scheme, but destressed just as quickly when I learned it could be changed. The main annoyance I had was with the vehicles (I changed it to Veteran mode), but that recommendation is really about personal preference. One that I do think should be changed, and it'll help you in the long run, are the Soldier Sticks. Change them so your right stick is for crouching/proning, and B/O is for knifing. While this won't let you panic knife any more, the benefit of being able to more quickly prone is higher. It will take a few hours of playing the game to get used to, and you'll make a lot of dumb mistakes during that time, but it'll become second nature and you'll more than likely be happy with the control scheme.

7.) Play different game modes: This is mostly recommended for people who play a game mode like Team Deathmatch... when you're playing TDM, you're really missing out on the Battlefield experience. While it can be fun in short bursts, your Battlefield IQ won't go up very high if it's all you play. Getting an idea of what route to take on the water to plant a bomb in Obliteration on Paracel storm, or learning a good "camping spot" to post up and defend an objective on Rush can't be experienced in a single game mode. To learn maps better (different areas of them) and find out how to effectively attack and defend on certain maps, you need to switch it up!

Like the following comment or not, Battlefield is a more cerebral game than your typical shooter (Ahem, Call of Duty). Unlike that game, you need to have significant amounts of team work, and you can't do everything yourself to stay alive. Since Battlefield requires more thought, it is more difficult and can be quite frustrating at times. Once you learn some of the basics of improving your skills, you'll find the game to be even more fun than you could possibly imagine.

Game Review (Contrast - PS4)

One of the two PS4 launch "free-for-PS+-members" games is Contrast. The best way I can describe this game is that you play as a little girl's imaginary friend (a shadow), and it's your job to help her through a variety of levels by shifting in and out of shadows and solving puzzles. That's the best way I can describe it without spoiling the story for you.

Graphics: Being a downloadable game, and one that's available on PC and 360 already, Contrast isn't exactly a mind blowingly attractive title. The art style is interesting and easy to appreciate, and the level design is pretty nifty. The sometimes awkward camera angles, occasional glitches, and framerate hiccups keep this game from getting a high rating from me. Still, Contrast has a definite charm to it. 3.5/5

Sound: There's not much, but what's there is decent. I enjoy the music in the game (though there isn't much of it), and the voice acting is fair (even GOOD at times), but it's pretty average as a whole. The music definitely helps give you an idea of the era though. 3.75/5

Control: You use about four buttons throughout the whole game. You move, jump, hit, and move in/out of shadows... that's essentially it. As simple as the controls are, the camera makes the game a bit frustrating at times. Not throw your controller at the wall sort of frustrating, but annoying nonetheless. 3.25/5

Fun: Contrast is a game that any PS+ member should download, considering it's free for a limited time. While the game isn't particularly long, and the story is all over the place, it's fun for the time you'll spend on it. Contrast isn't a very difficult game, but you'll have to think for some of the puzzles. It's nice that Contrast isn't a very long game, because had it gone on much longer, I'd've felt like it was getting repetitive. I'm not too sure I could recommend Contrast at its normal price ($15, I believe), but it's entertaining and lengthy enough (three hours or so) that even if you do get it at that price, you'll have a good time. And hey, the trophies are very easy to get, if you're into collecting them. 3.5/5

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Game Review (NBA 2K14 - PS4)

Let me just say right away that I'm admittedly not "huge" on basketball. I've had my fun with NBA Street and follow the NBA a little bit, but I probably wouldn't normally call myself a "fan" of the sport. With the announcement of NBA 2K14 being built from the ground up for the next generation of consoles and seeing the flat-out insane graphics, I knew right away that I wanted to get my hands on the game -- regardless of the fact that I had no idea just how a proper NBA game was played. I haven't done my reviews in the fashion I'm going to for this game for quite awhile, but I think you'll deal with it just fine; it keeps things nice and tidy.

Graphics: Well, what should I say. I feel confident in saying that this is the best looking launch title on the PS4. Yes, that includes Killzone Shadow Fall, which is, in itself, a gorgeous game. NBA 2K14 just looks, in a word, phenomenal. The vast majority of character models, the jerseys, the courts, the lighting, the sweat -- completely unmatched. The presentation of NBA 2K14 is also fantastic. While I'm not that impressed with the menus (they're quite bland), the in-game presentation leading up to the game, the replays, the half-time reports, and everything in between make for a beautiful package that'swhatshesaid. As great as the game looks, there are some very minor problems I have with it. The most noticeable thing for me is definitely the clipping that can be seen a little bit too often. Jerseys will cut into arms, hands will go through desks in MyGM... stuff like that. Another little thing is the random "bounces" that the jerseys do at times. The cloth physics are great, don't get me wrong, but they're completely bizarre at times. Finally, where is the armpit hair!? Ah, well... maybe next year. I know I said more negatives than positives for this game, but when a game looks this nice and clean, the glitches are what stand out. 4.5/5

Sound: The soundtrack is fairly varied, but definitely more geared towards rap fans, which is what I was expecting. Some of the songs included are ones that most people have probably heard at one time or another, including: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk, "Not Afraid" by Eminem, Imagine Dragon's "Radioactive", the ever-popular "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, and plenty more. It's a safe bet that you'll find at least a hand full of songs in the game that you will enjoy. As for the commentary in the game, it's great, but not without its share of issues. 2K boasts that the game has about 250,000 lines of commentary, but I heard quite a bit of repeating just after playing a few games. The thing that really annoys me is something I've experienced in MyGM. I'm playing as the Pistons (yes, I'm serious) and Josh Smith went down with a torn ACL in the second game of the season. The past three games, the game acknowledges his injury, yet they say "Hopefully he gets back in there soon." Uh... what? The dude tore his ACL, he didn't stub his toe. Additionally, Burke's sideline reports constantly say things along the lines of, "Josh Smith will play a huge role for the Pistons this season." Orly, Mrs. Burke? Despite that (sorry for the rant), the commentary is spot-on with plays, and is overall done very well. 4.25/5

Control: Playing my first simulation basketball game in probably a decade, I was completely lost in NBA 2K14 for my first hour or two of playing. As much as I loved the game's graphics, sound, presentation, and all of that, I couldn't help but get frustrated when trying to learn the controls, as simple as they seem to be. NBA 2K14 makes a lot of use out of the right stick, as you'll be using it to make your moves with the ball, and cover players while you're defending. As you'd expect, there's a training mode. If you're new to the series, you'd be wise to do everything in the mode to get an idea of how to play the game. If you don't, you'll just end up raging like I did. The control in this game is extremely fluid almost all the time, but there's one instance where I feel like it's cumbersome -- on rebounds. The triangle button (or 'Y' on the One) is used to hop at a ball when there's a rebound, but a lot of the time my player either doesn't jump, or he doesn't jump nearly high enough. It's an annoyance, but I assume it has something to do with timing, as everything else in the game controls swimmingly. I will also add that if you're brand spankin' new to the series, stay away from MyTEAM/MyPLAYER -- the players you use at first are absolutely terrible. It's hard to handle the ball and defend, and you'll find yourself with something like a twenty FG% at the end of the game. If you're feeling up to smashing your PS4 controller, be my guest! 4.5/5

Fun: NBA 2K14 is a game that just about anybody could enjoy on some level. Obviously, basketball junkies will fall in love with its realistic feel, but TV passerbyers (made that word up. Pretty good, eh?) will likely think there's a live NBA game on TV. The gameplay is also so incredibly solid that it will turn on many new fans to the series and the sport, like myself. NBA 2K14's three major modes (MyGM, MyPLAYER, and MyTEAM) are all engaging in one way or another, though they each have flaws. First, MyGM has a great feel to it and could be absolutely awesome in a year or two, but the redundant cut scenes and triple cheesy dialogue prevent it from being great. MyPLAYER and MyTEAM are fun modes (especially MyPLAYER), but it really feels like 2K is pushing you to purchase premium currency to give you a real chance of winning. It's not impossible to enjoy your time in these modes while not spending a penny, but you'll more than likely get frustrated when you have players who can't sink a simple lay up.

All-in-all, NBA 2K14 is almost perfect. None of the issues I've had with NBA 2K14 affect the gameplay in anyway. There are some things that could use a bit of touching up, but I expect 2K to take care of that when next year's edition rolls around. Whether you're a hardcore NBA fan, a casual fan, or somebody who really doesn't take much interest in the sport of basketball at all, you'll enjoy the next-gen experience that is NBA 2K14.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Game Review (Battlefield 4 - PS4)

-This review will cover only the multiplayer portion of Battlefield 4.-

I've had a strange relationship with the Battlefield series. I played some hours of it here and there on a handful of games (The first Bad Company, a bit of 2142 on PC, and Bad Company 2), but I tended to prefer Call of Duty to those games until I had Battlefield 3 for awhile. While the game never completely blew me away while playing it on 360 (Pretty mediocre graphics even at release, issues with lag, etc.), I logged about five days into that game and had fun nearly the whole time. After the announcement of Battlefield 4 and it being a launch title on next generation consoles, I knew I was going to skip the 360 version and just get Battlefield 4 with my PS4 at launch.

I can say that BF4 is a bit of a frustration. The core multiplayer itself feels better than ever with a silky 60fps and fantastic graphics, but there are countless little things (and bigger things) that irk me to no end. Here's a list.

1.) No more squadding up: The ability to create a squad before joining a match on Battlefield 3 was not only convenient, it was, in my opinion, necessary. Battlefield 4 does without this extremely useful tool (for whatever reason), requiring you and your friend(s) to all join a game together, switch teams if necessary, and then join the same squad. This could have been just a minor annoyance, but in Battlefield 4, it's actually a huge problem. Of the 7 hours or so that I've played Battlefield 4's multiplayer, I've only played maybe an hour with my friends. It's really frustrating to get into a game with your friends, play a couple matches, have a map that comes up that you don't want to play/just played, and feel obligated to play it again if you want to play together. This is something that could be patched in at a later date, but I see no reason at all why DICE had to remove such a helpful feature. It seems minor, but truthfully, this is one of my biggest knocks on the multiplayer as of today.

2.) You can't customize at the menu: What is THIS about? If you want to edit your classes, you need to join a game and do it. This is a nuisance for several reasons. First of all, and most cumbersome, it'd make the whole "no squadding up" thing a bit more easy to deal with, because it'd give players something to do in the mean time. Second, why would you want somebody in your game for 5 minutes or so taking up a spot but not playing because they're busy screwing with their classes? This is another asinine exclusion from DICE. Again, this could be patched in, but why was it ever excluded?

3.) Server crashing: This should have been number one of this was a top ten list, but it's not. The server crashing ruins the entire experience, especially if you want to play Conquest. For whatever reason, if you join a Conquest server, it tends to not work. If it DOES work, you almost instantly get disconnected. There's not much to say about the server issues, other than that DICE is working on fixing them right now. I'll never understand why these sorts of things can't be fixed before they even become a problem, especially given the notoriety of the Battlefield series and knowing how many players would be online at launch, but whatever. I just hope this is fixed as soon as possible. Like, you know... now.

Those are the three major issues I currently have with Battlefield 4 as of now. A more minor thing is that the maps on disc just don't impress me all that much. I feel like DICE wanted to put mediocre maps on disc, and then save the best ones for DLC. It's not to say that the whole list of maps in Battlefield 4 is a trainwreck, but Battlefield 3's were quite a bit better.

Now I'll actually talk about what's GOOD with Battlefield 4... so far I've talked it up to be an absolute bomb. Like I touched on, the game looks and feels great once you're actually in a game. Lag isn't an issue, and there is rarely -- if ever -- a dip in frame rate. Some adjustments have been made to classes (C4 off the bat for Recon gives more people a reason to use it), and Battlepacks keep things interesting. While I can see a lot of people hating the randomness of these packs/unlocks, I like the little twist it actually gives the game.

As much as I should hate this game given its horrendous launch, the game plays as well as (or maybe better than) I imagined. While the problems I explained NEED to be addressed, the core is very good, and I expect the game to play as it was meant to be played within a few weeks. For that reason, I'm rating this game based on what I believe it WILL be soon, rather than what I would rate it now (3.25/5).


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Game Review (Killzone Shadow Fall - PS4)

-This review is only focusing on the game's multiplayer. I don't plan on reviewing this game solely on its single player like so many other reviewers seemed to do. How people get paid to review the half of the game that so few people really care about is beyond me. Rant over! Moving on.-

Killzone is a series that has probably been Sony's most popular FPS, at least since Killzone 2 was released on the PS3. While it's suggested that Sony had planned on it being a "Halo-killer", there really aren't all that many elements in the games at all that give it a Halo feel. It seemed many people weren't fans of the "clunky" controls of past Killzones, although some people really enjoyed it. In Shadowfall, Guerilla has tinkered with them to make the game more accessible to PS4 gamers. How does it play though?

Really quite well. First off, the basics of what you should know about Shadow Fall's multiplayer (if you didn't already):

12v12 online gameplay at 60fps and 1080p resolution
Guerilla and user-created "Warzones" make up online play.
10 maps are available at launch, with all future map DLC being FREE to download.
Three classes (Assault, support, recon)
All guns are unlocked at the get-go, with only attachments needing to be unlocked.
Challenges replace experience points as a leveling system.

That's about the gist of it all. As soon as I dove into my first Shadow Fall multiplayer match, I was impressed. The graphics are fantastic and all, but the most impressive thing is probably the fact that the game seems to run a consistent 60fps, no matter what's going on on screen. Having never really played a Killzone before (just a demo of the first one back on PS2), I wasn't sure what to expect. To me, it feels like some sort of Call of Duty and Halo love-child, and that's not meant to be a bad thing. It's like Call of Duty in that the maps tend to be small and without vehicles with few bullets to kill an enemy, but like Halo in some of its stylings and equipment. Really, it takes things I tend to like from both of those franchises, and puts them in one.

The classes in Shadow Fall only make the game more interesting. Assault is what you'd probably expect, with most of the guns and equipment being ideal for close/medium range attack. The assault rifles are definitely your best option in close quarters combat -- normally much more useful than the fairly inconsistent shotguns I've used in the game. Recon is a class for people who want to go rogue and/or snipe. They have the ability to be invisible, and have a certain sniper that appears to always be a one shot kill. Guerilla balanced it perfectly though, as it has plenty of flaws: you can't no scope, ADS is pretty slow, and the reload time is very slow as well. THAT is how a sniper should be in a video game, in my opinion. Incredibly deadly, but requires a smart user to use it effectively. Support is probably my favorite class, as it seems to have the most options and has unique abilities. First, Support is the only class that can revive teammates, and can do so using a drone from a distance. Second, they can also use spawn beacons, which are critical in virtually any game mode in Shadow Fall, as there are designated spawn areas for both teams throughout the match. The LMGs in the class are super effective at medium/long range, but you'll have a tough time beating somebody up close who's using an assault rifle. Again, nicely balanced.

The maps in Killzone are quite varied. From what I've seen and heard, Killzone was notorious for having very gloomy looking maps that lacked color. In Shadow Fall, you'll find plenty of maps with sunlight and vibrant colors. Some of the maps are a bit too large for the 12v12 limit, but the moments of silence are few and far between for the most part.

The main issue I have with the game isn't the game at all -- it's the players. Granted the game has only been out for a few days, but it amazes me just how inept players are. Not just in the fact that they act as though they've never played a first-person shooter in their life, but they very rarely appear to use their equipment to their advantage. Spawn beacons, as I said, are hugely important, and others, like the Support drone, can wreak havoc on opponents. Perhaps the best part about the abilities is that none of them feel overpowered. While the Support drone can certainly be frustrating, the cooldown time is quite long, and it doesn't hover the map for long.

Overall, I am impressed with Killzone Shadow Fall. It borrows some aspects of other popular first-person shooters and makes a fun game that's (mostly) accessible for new players, while still appeasing the hardcore Killzone fanbase. If I had to actually have a knock on the game (not just the players), I'd say that some of the maps just don't do it for me. Whether it's because their layout is mediocre or too large for intense combat, some of them aren't that interesting. On the plus side (and it's a huge plus), like I said, all future maps for Shadow Fall will be free to download. I don't know how many there will be, but quality is always greater than quantity. Whether you're a rookie to the series or have played Killzone cumulatively for a thousand hours, there's a lot of fun to be had in multiplayer -- just be wary of the abundance of clueless players.


+: 60fps, beautiful graphics, near perfect weapon balancing, needing to work as a team, free maps.
-: People who refuse to use abilities, some below average maps, can't button swap (B/knife, RS/crouch).

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

PlayStation 4 review inbound!

I will be getting a PlayStation 4 at launch with Killzone: Shadow Fall, Battlefield 4, and NBA 2K14. Along with those, I plan on playing the free-to-play games DC Universe Online and Blacklight: Retribution. I'll have reviews for the console itself and the games throughout the month.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Game Review (Grand Theft Auto V - 360)

*Note: This review will contain zero spoilers, so as to be readable for the masses.*

The game people have been waiting for since basically the release of GTA IV is finally just about upon us. If you've used the internet at all for the past several months, then you know that the hype level for GTA V is astronomically high... much higher than I remember it ever being for any past Grand Theft Auto game, or even any game the past few years, period. The natural question to ask is: Is this game worth that hype?

The chances are that you've seen or read about how big the game is in terms of map size and things to do. The truth is, you don't really get a sense of its size until you sit down and play it first hand. Rockstar said months ago that Grand Theft Auto V would be bigger than Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, and San Andreas... combined. While you read that and think "Damn. That's pretty big...", it's far more impressive when you play it for yourself. What's most mind-blowing about the whole thing is that Grand Theft Auto V is running on hardware that is seven/eight years old. Just leave it to Rockstar to make you drool in awe, I suppose.

You'd think that with such a huge game, Rockstar would have to sacrifice graphically... nope. While GTA V doesn't look quite as gorgeous as it does in some of the high-res pictures that are all over the 'net, it still is one of the best looking games of this generation. When putting the sheer size of the game into the equation, then it most definitely is the best looking game this generation of consoles has ever seen. My only qualms with GTA V's visuals are minor... very minor. First off, there are slight frame rate drops when you get to certain points in the middle of a heated firefight. They are pretty uncommon though, and also understandable, given how huge the open world is. Secondly, there seems to be some minor textural issues from a bit of a distance. Again, it's something I can pretty easily forgive. Everything else is just outstanding. The weather, the water, the animations, the cars... it's all, quite frankly, amazing.

Once you get past how pretty this game is, you'll realize how fluid and real everything feels. As other publications have said, you really get the impression that this is a living, breathing world. While Grand Theft Auto IV could sometimes feel ghost town-esque (lack of AI interaction at times, few cars on the road, etc.), I have yet to get that impression in V. Rockstar put so much detail into this game that it can't be put into this review... and honestly, why would you want me to spoil that for you? Trust me though, you'll always have something new to do, and you will find plenty of little Easter eggs.

As you would have already expected (and has been leaked), GTA V has a soundtrack that is over 20 hours long, and there's some more talk-radio hilarity, as well as a little bit of music for everyone's taste. The voice acting in GTA V is also... care to venture a guess? Phenomenal. As is usually the case in Rockstar's games, you'll believe you're watching a Hollywood blockbuster at times. Add it all up, and you've got an insane package.

All of this typing and I've hardly said a peep about how the game plays. Without offering up any significant spoilers, I will tell you that it feels quite a lot different when compared to GTA IV... which I like. It mostly feels different in terms of on-foot gameplay. The cars seem to control quite similarly to GTA IV, but I don't mind that, because I thought the vehicles in that game controlled nicely. On-foot though, the characters seem to be more reactive. Perhaps more importantly, the gun-play and cover system feels unbelievably better than GTA IV did... it's really hugely improved. Rockstar seems to have learned a lot from its recent games, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. There's a wide variety of types of missions in GTA V, so you won't find yourself constantly doing menial tasks, like driving people around. But hey, if that's your bag, you can do that -- you can do what you want, when you want in Grand Theft Auto V... play it at your own pace.

In the media world, hype ultimately means nothing, even if the franchise is Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar has seemingly pushed out quality game after quality game for over a decade, and they've been long due to hit a speed bump... but they certainly haven't hit one with Grand Theft Auto V. Take your highest expectations for the game... this will most definitely will exceed it in every way. Additionally, it's worthy of every bit of the hype it is receiving, and is clearly the game of this generation, in my opinion. This is the perfect essential send-off before the next generation of consoles are unleashed. There is no reason you should spend your free time for the next few months doing anything else once you get your hands on this game. The next time your girlfriend wants the "D", tell her you want the "V", and play this game.


+: Insanely huge map, with seemingly limitless options; Fun, immersive story that feels very Rockstar; Quite possibly the best game that you have ever played; You'll lose weight from missed meals; You're getting the V!
-: Minor hiccups in frame rate (big whoop!); Some textural issues; No GTA Online at launch; You won't get the other V.
?: Is it really even possible that GTA: Online could improve this game?
!: Coincidentally, this is post number 555 on 47Reviews.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V Review Coming Monday!

This isn't a review ("God DAMMIT!" I know), but I'll be uploading my review at exactly 10:00 AM (EST) on Monday, September 16th. Visit 47Reviews at that time to see my review of what is the most anticipated game of this generation.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Food Review (Smothered Burrito from Taco Bell)

I've, sadly enough, probably already had about ten of these since they've been released... that should say enough, but I'll elaborate. I promise. First off, Taco Bell describes their smothered burrito like this:

"Our new Smothered Burrito is filled with shredded chicken, premium Latin rice, hearty beans, and creamy chipotle sauce. Then it’s smothered with red sauce, loads of melted cheeses and topped with reduced-fat sour cream. Available with seasoned beef or marinated premium thick-cut steak."

The price is $2.99 for beef, $3.99 for shredded chicken, and I believe something like $4.29 for steak. I haven't had the beef version, but I can speak for the other two. As many times as I've had this burrito, I've gotten the shredded chicken every time but once. The steak I once got accidentally (the first time I ordered), and didn't hate it... I thought it was alright. Once I got the shredded chicken though, I saw no reason to get the steak. For four bucks (for the chicken burrito), you actually get a hefty burrito that's one of the weightier things on the menu. They don't skimp on anything, and the burritos come pretty loaded. I liken it sort of to a Grilled Stuft Burrito that's put in a bowl with red sauce and cheese on top. What's to dislike about that? The thing that makes the smothered burrito most appealing is the chipotle sauce -- if you remember the chicken flatbreads Taco Bell had a couple years back, you've had it before. I'm not sure why Taco Bell ever got rid of it, because it should be a mainstay on the menu. Really, I'd be happy with this burrito being permanent as well. I normally liked to get a volcano burrito, but they since raised the price to $3.39 from $2.99 here, and they aren't nearly as big as they used to be, or as the smothered burrito is. Do yourself a favor and try one of these before they're gone.


+: Everything but the kitchen sink; Tastes really good; Chipotle sauce.
-: Kind of pricey, but it's not too bad; stroke inducing amounts of sodium -- seriously, insane.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Food Review (Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's)

Pretzel buns are one of the biggest crazes going on right now... Ruby Tuesday, Wendy's, Sonic, and a handful of local places by me have pretzel bun options for their burgers. I've never had one, but I've wanted to try one for awhile. Unfortunately, the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's is the first one I tried. Not to say it's bad, but it just doesn't have much taste, despite all the ingredients.

The 680 calorie pretzel burger is described by Wendy's as "A delicious new twist on our classic hot 'n juicy burger with a sweet & smoky honey mustard sauce, melted cheddar cheese, and applewood smoked bacon all on a warm, soft pretzel bun." On top of those toppings, there's also the typical culprits: lettuce, tomato, and onion. When I opened my box (yes, this comes in a box, rather than a wrapper), I was surprised at how nice it looked... a lot like the commercials, to be honest. That doesn't matter though, the taste does. Like I already said, I wasn't impressed. Random YouTubers seem to love this burger and give it high ratings, and I've heard nothing but good things, but I don't even think that's great even in the category of fast-food burgers. The honey mustard sauce seriously tasted like nothing to me. The cheddar cheese on my burger wasn't even melted, and didn't really have any flavor when I tried it by itself. The bacon is what it is -- decent, given that it's from a fast food restaurant. I've never been a huge fan of Wendy's burgers, but they're alright. If all of this isn't enough, my bun was kind of greasy for some reason. The pretzel bun itself just wasn't what I thought it would be. It has a soft pretzel-y texture, but it doesn't even taste like a pretzel as far as I'm concerned. It has a subtle sweetness to it, but it's really nothing special, making me feel like this whole "pretzel bun" thing is just a gimmick more than anything else. Then again, this is a fast food pretzel bun, so I won't pass judgment on others.

Given the amount of calories and the price of this burger (I think it was FIVE BUCKS for a single patty), I couldn't recommend it to anybody. The burger isn't anything out of the ordinary, and the pretzel bun wouldn't really excite somebody who loves pretzels. I had pretty high expectations after hearing such positive things about it, but the PBC from Wendy's is something I won't be having again.


+: It doesn't taste bad... it's just bland. MIRACULOUSLY.
-: The pretzel doesn't really add any special dimension. The honey mustard sauce does nothing for me here. The price.

Game Review (Call of Duty: Black Ops II Apocalypse)

And, here we are... the last of the Black Ops II DLC. As is usually the case with Treyarch's multiplayer maps, they've delivered some really nice ones for this game with a nice variety of locales with a huge array of different colors. As usual, I'm passing on reviewing the Zombie map (I know, it's a huge chunk of the DLC, yadayadayada), so this is for people who are interested in the multiplayer maps.

Going, as usual, in alphabetical order, Dig takes place at an archaeological site in Afghanistan... hence the map's name. Apparently this is essentially a remake of Courtyard from World at War, but I hardly played that game at all, so it's pretty new to me. As you'd probably expect, if you can imagine an archaeological dig in a country like Afghanistan, the map is shades of brown with a bunch of brick half-walls that give the player the ability to run for cover with relative ease. What's nice about dig is that it has a variety of close and far sight lines throughout the map, without any truly designated spots. What I mean by that is, on a lot of maps there tends to be a certain second story window that's oh-so popular for cool kids to camp in. Dig is a good, medium/small sized map that caters to players of all styles... and yes, that includes snipers. Like I said, the map is littered with areas of brick walls for cover, which makes it fun (and frustrating) for snipers to play, and lets people be effective with shotguns if they choose to use one. While I don't care much for the style of the map, it plays pretty well. 3.75/5

Second up is Frost... which reminds me quite a lot of the pretty unpopular map Berlin Wall from Black Ops 1's first DLC pack. I'm one of the few people that enjoyed that map, so the slight resemblance in Frost bodes well with me. It's not all that similar at all in layout, it just looks like Berlin Wall... probably because it's a European map with snow all over the place. The big difference between the two maps is that Frost is considerably smaller, and actually plays a lot like a Counter-Strike map would. My absolute favorite thing about Frost, besides the fact that the layout is great and there are a bunch of easy-to-call-out buildings, is that there are very few obvious head glitching spots for people to camp behind. Frost is just a map that pretty much forces people to have one-on-one firefights without too much cover. What cover there happens to be on Frost is mostly cars that can explode. This is one of the best maps Treyarch has ever made, in my opinion. 5/5

Pod's a map that I saw in the reveal trailer for Apocalypse and was basically "meh" on it. After playing it a few times, I know why. Pod is good in the sense that there are different elevations on the ground which make it easier for a player with good aim to be successful, but it's just pretty uninteresting. I don't like judging maps based on this, but I do it anyway -- Pod doesn't really do it for me because there are just a number of easy camping/head glitching spots to pick off enemy players who are just coming out of their spawn. It doesn't ruin the map, but it makes an already pretty mediocre map a little bit worse. I could see this being a really fun map on a game mode like Headquarters or something like that, but it's pretty forgettable overall. 3.25/5

The final map of Apocalypse is another remade map... this one is a remake of Stadium from Black Ops 1, and is called Takeoff. Stadium is another map from Black Ops 1 that I felt wasn't very popular with the community, but I'm guessing it was, considering it's been remade for Black Ops II. Stadium was (and so Takeoff is) a very fun map. While there are some pretty easy-to-camp at spots on the map, it's also really easy to flank them, or take them out from a distance if you know where the popular spots are at. I preferred the overall look and location of Stadium rather than Takeoff, but it's still the same map that I enjoyed playing in Black Ops... just with a different skin, and improved graphics. 4/5

And that's the end of the content for Black Ops II (at least as far as maps are concerned). The maps included in the pack aren't total mind-blowers (although Frost is an instant classic, for me), but they're fun and diverse enough to keep you entertained for the next few months until Ghosts is released. While I haven't played Origins (Zombies), it appears to be a great send off for the fans from Treyarch for this generation of games. I look forward to see what Treyarch can do with Black Ops III (or whatever game they make next in the series), and the content they bring afterwards.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Food Review (Fiery DLT (Doritos Locos Taco) from Taco Bell)

The third taco in a line of gimmickry from Taco Bell. I was interested at first, but after having the Nacho Cheese DLT, I saw that this was just a great way get suckers to drop cash on a fairly mediocre food item. $1.69 for a single supreme taco? Anyway, the Fiery version probably won't be the last DLT variety we'll see.

First off, no... this isn't a Volcano Taco. I've seen a lot of people say that this is the same thing, when they're not at all, besides the color of the shell. The Volcano Taco is a regular crunchy taco with a red shell, and Volcano sauce. The Fiery DLT is a spicy shell without any sauce. Now that THAT'S cleared up...

Again, I'm not impressed. As usual, the flavor of the shell is really minor and not worth the extra price over a regular shell. For this one, the flavor of the shell is actually reasonably spicy, and has a sort of tangy flavor as well from the lime flavoring that they put in it. It tastes pretty good, but the Taco Bell "beef", as always, overpowers it. I don't normally care for sour cream IN things, but I like it ON things (warm sour cream disgusts me). Having a DLT without it being supreme is something I wouldn't bother with, because otherwise it's just salty as hell, to me.

The Fiery DLT is fine, but it's not worth the price. I think I'd rank it behind the Nacho Cheese, which I wasn't expecting, because I tend to really like spicy things. The Nacho Cheese DLT just has more flavor, I think. It's decent, it's okay, it's alright... but I want the beefy crunch burrito back and permanent.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Game Review (Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance)

The third of four map packs to be released for Black Ops II, Vengeance features (like the previous two packs) four multi-player maps, as well as an all-new Zombie experience.

Cove: This map is one that I feel that a lot of casual gamers would enjoy a lot, but hardcore players would be turned off by. Cove takes place on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. The map is round in shape, with boulders and rocks randomly thrown around the map. The center of attention on Cove is probably the plane, which is crashed near the middle of the map. My problem with Cove is that it doesn't seem to have much of a rhyme or reason -- it's a circular map with a load of randomness. If you want to be successful in this map, stay away from the middle (which can be said for a lot of maps, but this one in particular). There isn't much cover in the center of the map, and players tend to spawn near the water. If you get seen in the middle, you can get shot at from nearly a dozen different angles. I'm not sure what game modes this map would be fun on... all I can really think of is Free-for-All. Due to the map's size, it's hard to picture a 6-on-6 objective game type. It's not an awful map, but it's certainly forgetful all the same. 3.25/5

Detour: When Black Ops II's single player campaign was shown at E3 last year, this is sort of what the street/bridge section looked like, if I remember correctly. When looking at the loading screen for the map, I was pretty interested. Would it be a long, narrow map with few flank points that would take place on a bridge? As it turns out, no, not really. The map "ends" before the bridge starts, so you just battle it out *near* it, which is sort of disappointing. The first thing I noticed with Detour, besides the fact that it looks like a map out of the campaign, is that it plays pretty small. Because of that fact, SMGs and shotguns would be excellent choices. There are spots where an AR may be preferred, but they're few and far between. There are quite a lot of ways to flank on Detour, which could lead to some very interesting matches. While I'm not too fond of the "blah" look of Detour (it just looks kind of uninteresting), the big problem I have with it are the spawns. While on Cove you at least tend to be hidden behind a rock, there've been times where I have spawned in the cross hairs of enemies and vice versa. Detour is better than Cove, but not by much. 3.5/5

Rush: The map that I feel the majority of people were probably most looking forward to is this one, Rush. Rush takes place at a paintball arena -- enough said. If that doesn't interest you, I don't know what would. Not only does the idea of the map sound cool, it plays great as well. Rush has a bunch of corners with some somewhat lengthy hallways on it, so an SMG would be ideal. There's an indoor paintball arena with surprising bullet resistant air tarps, a paintball shop, and a good number of make-shift buildings outside that mostly provide no cover at all from above. This is a medium-sized map by Black Ops II's standards, and it's just a blast to play. I've yet to play it on anything other than TDM, but it would no doubt be fun as hell on just about any game mode Black Ops II has to offer. Without question, Rush is the best map in the pack. 4.75/5

Uplink: While the game launched with Nuketown 2025, the second map pack got a remake of Firing Range from Black Ops I, and this third pack gets a remake of Summit. Whether or not the last map pack will have another remade map is anybody's guess, but the three most popular maps from the original Black Ops are now in its sequel. If you've played Black Ops I (if you haven't, there's something wrong with you), you've seen this map before. Rather than being covered in snow, though, Uplink takes place at a lab in Myanmar as a storm happens outside. While the layout of Uplink is the same as Summit's, I feel like it looks better. On the one side of the map near the lift, the sun peeks through the clouds, giving that side of the map a slight, luminous glow. I enjoy Uplink, but I'm still sort of miffed that Treyarch is charging us for rehashed maps. At the same time, though, I'd rather play Uplink than the shouldn't-have-even-been-made map Cove. 4/5

As usual, I haven't bothered playing the new Zombie map that was included in this pack, so I'm not factoring it in. My Zombie playing XBL buddies seem to play it quite a lot though, so that should count for something. If you're buying the Black Ops II DLC for the online maps, then you should know that this one is my least favorite so far, though that doesn't surprise me. Naturally, Treyarch wanted to impress with the first wave of DLC, which was a nice one. The second map pack was a solid follow up, but not quite as fun. This third bit of DLC is rather mediocre, and I expect the last one to be "good" at worst. While there are two maps in Vengeance that are worth playing, only one of them is new. Who knows, maybe you love Summit -- I mean, Uplink -- and don't care that you already played a couple hundred to a couple thousand matches on it already.

Rush is an excellent map, Uplink is good for what it is (a remake), and the other two are forgetful as all hell.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Game Review (Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Nintendo 3DS)

What's THIS? A review of something other than food for once? I guess it's about time. I've had my 3DS since Christmas of 2011, but I haven't gotten a game for it since January of 2012. I was kind of pissed that Animal Crossing took so long to come out for the 3DS, but I was willing to wait. I really only got my 3DS for a few games -- Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and the new Super Smash Bros. game. The inevitable question is, was New Leaf worth the wait?

I got the original Animal Crossing for the GameCube on a whim after seeing commercials for it over and over again. The idea of the game intrigued me, and I got it with birthday money one day after school in sixth grade... it quickly became one of my favorite games ever just because it was so unique to me: Play in real time while doing tasks for talking animals that move in and out of town, and experience events around the year, with changing seasons. It's a rare game in that it has no story, and it doesn't end. In Animal Crossing (all the ones up until this game), you're a human moving to a new town. The only real goal in the game is to pay off Tom Nook to get your house to its largest size, and collect as many items as you so desire. New Leaf has a slightly different twist, as you move to a town and become mayor, which actually changes the game quite a bit more than you might initially expect.

As the mayor in your town (beware, the name can only be 8 characters long...), it's on you to make the citizens of, in my case, Riverton happy. This is accomplished by creating a town flag and town tune, planting trees, posting on the town message board, donating to the museum, recycling garbage that you fish out of the water to Re-Tail, pulling weeds, doing tasks, visiting townspeoples' houses, and, maybe most importantly, do public work projects and pick an ordinance... among other things, believe it or not.

After you earn an approval rating of 100% in New Leaf (it shouldn't take you too long), you can finally really take the duties of mayor by, for instance, signing an ordinance. There are four ordinances to choose from, and only one can be used at any given time. You can change whenever you'd like, but it costs 20,000 Bells.

1.) Beautiful Town: This ordinance is great for people that take pride in a sexy looking town, and is the one that I picked. With this, flowers don't die, weeds are more rare, and villagers are more likely to plant and water flowers. Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent the dreaded Animal Crossing grass wear, but it saves you the hassle of running around town looking for and pulling weeds.

2.) Early Bird: This one simply opens all shops 3 hours earlier. This is probably an obvious choice for people that play the game early in the morning. Additionally, your neighbors will be more likely to wake up earlier in the day. On the flipside, everybody in town is more likely to hit the hay earlier, and the shops close sooner as well.

3.) Night Owl: The same thing as the Early Bird ordinance ... but the opposite.

4.) Wealthy Town: I don't understand this one personally, but it makes the town rich. Items sell for more, which is great, but they also cost more to buy -- this confuses me about this ordinance. If it changes the economy entirely, then wouldn't everything balance out? I think that it'd feel like no ordinance was in place at all.

Perhaps the biggest thing about being the mayor in New Leaf though is the ability to build public works projects. With these, you can build a bridge over a river in a heavily trafficked part of town, can put a bench down, can opt to put a fountain somewhere, and much, much more. This is all great because you can choose exactly where you want to put these things, but it's not without a fault. While Isabelle (your secretary at Town Hall) lets you know that neighbors can chip in to help build whatever you're building, they chip in a negligible amount of Bells, so you can expect to pay the brunt of the bill. So if having to pay Nook off for house upgrades wasn't enough, you have to deal with that! Incidentally, maybe that's why it seems so much easier to catch fish/insects that were more rare in previous games.

Another thing New Leaf boasted about was its multiplayer. After having spent quite a few hours mingling in peoples' towns online, I've decided that it's a decent, but flawed experience. It's fine and good, but there are some pretty big issues that I have:

1.) You can't do tasks for neighbors in a foreign town -- from what I can tell. You can talk all you want, and they gossip, give you tips, and ask about your own city, but they don't tell you to make deliveries, don't trade you items, etc. This may not be true, but in my few hours in others' towns, I haven't been asked once.

2.) The way of communicating is ancient. You can communicate through text, but you can't just use the D-pad to maneuver the keyboard and type. Instead, you need to press the individual little keys on your touch screen. If the D-pad could be used, it would be way, way improved.

3.) If you're in a friend's town, or if a friend is in your town, you are majorly limited on what you can do. You can't really talk to Isabelle at all, you can't move or pick up furniture if you have people in your house, and most annoyingly, you can't help a pal out my donating to his/her museum. What? Alright then, I guess all of the donations to my museum will just read "Alex" then.

4.) It's not related to online play, but the 3D in this game is pretty pointless to turn on in most situations. I've found that the best time to use it is when at the aquarium in the museum. When you're checking it out, zoom in with up on the D-pad, turn the 3D on, and look around the room. The 3D when just wandering around town is so very subtle that it's not worth draining your battery over -- and believe me, your battery will drain fast enough with it off when you're playing this game.

On the plus side, there is an island that you can visit either alone (lame...) or with (a) friend(s). At this island, there are mini games, and island-only bugs, fish, and items. It's not somewhere that you're likely to visit often, but it's an awesome option to have. The mini games aren't awful, but they're not as exciting as some publications would lead you to believe.

There are still dozens and dozens of things to mention about New Leaf, but this is its core. If you've played Animal Crossing at all or read up on it, you know most of what I haven't mentioned. As I'm sure you've read elsewhere, New Leaf is a game that anybody that's a fan of the series ought to buy. If you haven't played an Animal Crossing game before, but have an interest, definitely try it out. If you're burned out on the series, or are unsure whether or not you'd like it, you might want to pass on it. This game is essentially the same game as those before it, but with more content... the gameplay hasn't changed at all. Although I didn't play City Folk, New Leaf is definitely my favorite game in the series. As great as previous games were, this game expands on it in every way imaginable. If you own a 3DS, this is a must-buy, as far as I'm concerned.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Food Review (Chicken and Bacon Premium McWrap from McDonalds)

Yes. Another damn food review ... it seems like it's all I bother doing at this point. Wanting another chicken McWrap, I decided to get a grilled chicken and bacon one to see how it would be. Naturally, McDonald's fucked up and gave me the crispy chicken. This is my review.

As it turns out, this picture's pretty deceiving. There was a ridiculous amount of lettuce in this particular McWrap, and the bottom wasn't folded correctly, resulting in a huge pile of lettuce, three pieces of chicken, and a tomato down there. The first one I had wasn't made this poorly, so I have to figure a mentally handicapped kid made this one. The chicken tasted a lot like the chicken that's in McDonald's Southwestern chicken sandwich, which is a plus. As I already mentioned, there was a shit ton of lettuce, and there were a good number of bites that were lettuce and bread, with no ranch (I didn't say that there was basically no ranch in this? Oops.). The bacon was pretty bad, but manageable ... just a quick look at it lets you know it was microwaved. The tiny bits of cheese that were in there were pointless, and didn't add anything. The tomato and shitload of lettuce seemed to be fresh, for what it's worth.

Overall, not as good as the sweet chili McWrap -- not so much because this one was made pretty badly, but because it doesn't taste quite as good. The premium McWraps are good, lunch-sized options, and are a meal within themself. Not the best thing I've had from McDonald's, but worthy of a buy... so long as the person making yours knows how to fold the goddamn bread.

+: Chicken. Price. Size.
-: High-school-drop-out folding job. Way too much lettuce. Pretty poor bacon.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Food Review (Grilled Chipotle Chicken Sandwich and Loaded Tater Tots from Burger King)

I don't usually do two food reviews in one, but what the hell... no one reads these damn things anyway! I CAN DO WHAT I WANT!!! Alright, so today for dinner, I kind of had a hankerin' for Burger King (unusual, I know) and remembered that they had some new things on the menu. Oh, Burger King... constantly adding shit to the menu while not caring about the quality of the product... ON WE GO!

First of all, this is the way Burger King describes their chipotle chicken sandwich:

Made with perfectly seasoned, premium white meat chicken, this twist on the popular TENDERCRISP® Chicken Sandwich will thrill your taste buds thanks to the spicy chipotle mayo, sweet Caramelized style onions, thick-cut bacon, pepper jack cheese, ripe tomatoes and fresh-cut lettuce sandwiched between a warm, artisan-style bun. Also available as a wrap. 

The chipotle chicken sandwich wasn't at all what I thought it would be. Not just because the picture (as usual) was WAY off, but because it didn't taste chipotle-esque at all. In fact, I didn't notice any even on my sandwich. I opted for the grilled chicken just for the hell of it... the nutrition facts on it blew my mind. Most notably, over 3,000mg of sodium. Uh... what in the HELL!? Okay, okay... the taste. Burger King's chicken has always been some of my favorite at fast food restaurants (especially their Tendercrisp variety), so I knew what to expect. The bread was soft and had a slight sweetness to it. The chicken was hot and juicy (albeit salty... imagine that), the bacon was crispy and better than I thought it would be, and the melty cheese actually had flavor. The caramelized onions were bland though, the lettuce and tomato weren't exactly fresh (as usual), and, like I said, I didn't get any chipotle flavor. It tasted alright besides that, but it's still not something I'd get again. The sandwich was WAY smaller than I had anticipated, and the slippery chicken breast bastard kept sliding away every time I took a bite... definitely messy.

+: Chicken has good flavor; tasty bacon; cheese.
-: Seemingly zero chipotle mayo; 3,000mg of sodium, size, price.


And for the loaded tater tots:

A bite-sized snack that is sure to kick your meal up a notch! Enjoy warm fluffy potatoes filled with flavorful bacon and sweet onions on the inside, with a savory and crispy crumb coating on the outside. Available in eight, 10 or 12 piece servings. These LOADED TATER TOTS™ potatoes are great for sharing and are a savory complement to any meal.

And that's that. The important thing is the taste, as always. I opened up my little box of tots and they were fresh out of the fryer -- imagine that. Glistening with grease, and hot through the cardboard. I took a bite, and I liked it, unsurprisingly. It's nothing but a loaded baked potato in form of a tater tot, so it's hard to go wrong with that. They're not mind blowing, but still worth a purchase and another and another. There's not much else to say about them, other than that they should probably have a permanent spot on Burger King's menu.

+: Hot; fair value; don't even really need ketchup.
-: Limited time item.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

Food Review (Arby's King's Hawaiian Roast Beef and Swiss)

For the love of God, Arby's, make this a permanent menu item. That's pretty much it. The Hawaiian roll is sweet, soft, and just a lot better than the run-of-the-mill sesame seed bun. Also, it's a bit bigger, so the sandwich is more filling. This sandwich wins due to its wide amount of flavors and textures. The sweet, soft bread, salty roast beef, crunchy and sour pickles, and slightly spicy dijon mustard. Add a packet of Arby's sauce, and it's perfect. The one thing that I pretty much forgot about is the Swiss cheese. The only reason I knew it was there was because I saw it. A single slice of cheese against all of the other flavors was pointless, and only added calories. A second slice of cheese may have helped it.

This is one of the best things that I've ever had from Arby's. The sandwich itself is about $4, which I guess is a fairly reasonable price, given its size and the average cost of fast food now. If you like Arby's regular roast beef sandwich, then this is something you absolutely need to try... but only if you like pickles. And mustard. If you don't like either of those, then, in the words of Gordon Ramsay, "Piss off, yeah?"


+: Tasty as all hell.
-: $4 for a sandwich wouldn't be all bad, but the bread, as good as it is, is there more than the roast beef is -- 1/3 more roast beef my ass!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Food Review (Sweet Chili Chicken Premium McWrap from McDonalds)

     Yesterday I decided to get McDonalds, and I decided to try a McWrap -- a Sweet Chili McWrap, to be exact. To be more exact, I opted for the grilled chicken, because... what the hell. This is my first time posting a picture on this blog, but that right there is what you get.

     Coming in at just 360 calories, this McWrap manages to be relatively healthy ... unsurprisingly though, there's a shit ton of sodium (1030mg/43%). The taste of this McWrap is decent, but it's not because of the chicken. The grilled chicken is all moist and whatever, but it really doesn't have much flavor, which makes the four decently-sized strips of chicken per wrap relatively pointless. It took a few bites for me to get any of the sweet chili sauce, as gravity had to force that shit to the bottom. Additionally, despite the good amount of chicken, the last quarter or so of my McWrap was basically a salad, since the chicken wasn't evenly distributed. I'd recommend jiggling the McWrap around a little bit to get some of it to settle. Who cares how retarded you look, it'll make the whole thing consistent.

     Given the reasonable price of these McWraps, it's impossible to not recommend. While I'm sure the crispy chicken would taste better (what a SHOCK that would be), this wasn't bad at all, considering the value. I haven't had the chicken and ranch or chicken and bacon McWraps, but I'd have no doubts that those would be "okay" at worst. Hard not to recommend this particular McWrap, at least.


+: Great value. Kind of sort of healthy. Sweet chili sauce is as good as ever. Whatever ranch that's in there actually works well with the sweet chili sauce.

-: Chicken's damn bland. Had to wait at the window for awhile for some stupid ass reason.

?: If this is considered a "premium" McWrap, what do they consider the OTHER McWraps?

Game Review (Call of Duty: Black Ops II Uprising)

It's been out for a little while now, but I never got around to reviewing it. I wasn't as excited for Uprising as I was for Revolution simply because I've recently lost some interest in Black Ops II and just haven't played it all that much the past two months or so. Just like in the last review, I won't bother reviewing the Zombie map -- in this case, Mob of the Dead. I realize that's, for a lot of people, the biggest part of these map packs, but I tend to never get around to play Zombies. I've heard some great things about Mob of the Dead, and all signs seem to say that it's the best Zombie map in the game. Anyway, on to my interest, the multiplayer maps.


Encore: This map takes place in England, and is set primarily around a stage. Encore, for the most part, offers many medium-range firefights, but there are a couple close-quarters areas on the map. I don't think Encore is the most interesting looking map, but it's laid out decently. Without a doubt, the center of the map is the main attraction here for gun battles -- imagine that! If you're a sniper, this wouldn't be a mad map choice to whip one out and see what you can do. The map size itself is about medium, but a sniper would not be an awful choice. On the other hand, I wouldn't really recommend a shotgun or an SMG, but to each their own. A respectable map -- I'd like to play it more to form a better opinion, but for now it gets a 3.75/5

Magma: Another map with an environmental hazard ... if you're too stupid to guess what it is, it's magma. This is a pretty interesting map, but I can't decide if I really like it or not. I'm not sure if it's the spawns or the map design or what, but I find myself running around the map quite often without seeing (m)any guys. Magma, I don't think, is a very big map, but it plays like one because there's a lot of "downtime". It looks good, but I'm not completely sold on it yet. Overall, a pretty average map. I should also add that I didn't find the magma to factor into the gameplay at all in the matches I played. 3.5/5

Studio: I didn't realize it until just before researching the map before playing it that Studio is a remodeled version of Firing Range from the original Black Ops, which proved to be one of the most popular maps in that game. While I liked Firing Range a good bit, I figured it would be just as overplayed in Black Ops II as it was in the first game... and I was right. Nothing against the map, but it ALWAYS gets chosen over the other three maps in this pack, it seems. Essentially, the map is transferred from a Firing Range to, you probably guessed it, a studio set in California. While it's not very war-like, I think it looks awesome. A castle? An alien set? A Western set? It makes calling out enemies much easier, and makes the map more interesting. 4.25/5

Vertigo: The map I knew the least about, Vertigo immediately think, "Damn. That's a bland looking map." Vertigo takes place on a rooftop, and it's really a map with nothing but whites and greys. While I was thinking it'd be a "meh" map that would involve randomly scurrying around on one level of a rooftop, I soon noticed that there was an inside section to the map that I thought automatically made the map a notch above what I thought it would be. Vertigo has medium-short sightlines, so an SMG would be optimal on this map, though I've seen plenty of people do pretty well with a shotgun on this map (especially in the middle of the map), and I also enjoy using assault rifles. Doesn't look too great, but it plays pretty well. 4/5


If I was a bigger fan of Zombies and had people to play with, I'm sure I'd absolutely love this map pack. As I got the Season Pass for the multiplayer maps, I'm satisfied. While there are really only three *NEW* maps, I don't have anything to complain about here. As it turns out, the Firing Range remake, Studio, is probably my favorite map of the four -- despite the fact that it will be voted for until I vomit. I think the maps in Revolution were probably more interesting and fun to play as a whole, but this is a solid offering. The one thing I'm disappointed in is the lack of a gun in this pack, for one reason... if Treyarch had the plan of only releasing one gun as DLC, they should have "gone out with a bang" by releasing it as a part of the final map pack. I'm not knocking down my rating of Uprising for that reason, but it's a bummer. If you like Black Ops II and its multiplayer, you shouldn't need me to tell you to get Uprising. Better yet, if you don't have it yet, get the fucking Season Pass and download Revolution right along with it.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Food Review (Mighty Minis from Arby's)

After seeing a few advertisements for these things, I was immediately intrigued ... while Arby's could have easily done the gimmick of releasing just plain roast beef on slider buns, they actually added new things to two of them! (Actually four... there are six Mighty Minis total: Roast beef/turkey, spicy roast beef/turkey, and crispy onion roast beef/turkey)

Alright, so basically these minis are two slider buns that are still connected with roast beef (or turkey) and whatever other toppings, depending on which you got. The problem with this is that they lay the roast beef across both buns, so it's hard to rip them apart cleanly. More impractical is trying to eat both while they're still together, as if it's a mini sub. Either way you do it, it'll be sort of messy... I'd have rather Arby's just released a full-sized sandwich instead of trying to make the minis.

Crispy Onion: This one's pretty uninteresting, but it's not awful. Simply, it's roast beef with crispy onions on top. Not fresh ones, but rather ones that are out of a bag or can. They don't taste bad, but it's basically like those French's onions that come outta the can... just a little bit better. The sauce they put on is apparently "Au jus spread", but I really didn't find that it added much different flavor that wasn't already there from the combination of the roast beef and the onions. Not bad at all, but rather average. 3.5/5

Spicy: Saving the better one for last, this one was pretty tasty and more interesting. This one has roast beef (or turkey, whichever you choose) with pepper jack cheese and roasted red jalapeno ranch sauce. Sound better? It should, because it is. Personally, I'd've only liked this more if they put the crispy onions from the other one on here. The ranch sauce that they use is actually surprisingly good, and has a decent amount of heat -- it won't make your nose run or your eyes water, but it's noticeable. Would get again. 4.25/5

As I said, there's also a plain roast beef or turkey Mighty Minis selection, but that's no fun. The only difference between those and their big brother sizes is that the bread used for the Mighty Minis is different. It doesn't taste different, but it definitely has a chewier texture. The Mighty Minis from Arby's are pretty yummy (the spicy one in particular), but they're difficult to eat without being messy. Either you somehow rip them in half (not an easy task without having the meat slip out), or try eating it like an elongated roast beef sandwich. If you have a knife, use it ... it'll make your life easier, and cleaner. I hope Arby's considers keeping them around.


Monday, April 08, 2013

Food Review (Wendy's Asiago Ranch Flatbread)

Wendy's "new"est release is of the flatbread ... which seems to be a fairly popular thing now by a lot of fast food places. The Wendy's Asiago Ranch is ... ... good.

The problem with it is that it's not really new, outside of the bread that they use, and it's nothing new or spectacular. I guess Wendy's is trying to give an image that they're getting healthy, but a quick glance at the nutrition facts for these flatbreads will show just how "healthy" they truly are. Lots of fat, tons of sodium. This Asiago Ranch Flatbread is simply the Asiago Ranch chicken sandwich reassembled into a whole-grain flatbread. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it is what it is.

The chicken is pictures as being a few slices of chicken, but I just got half of a grilled chicken filet thrown inside. I don't normally have grilled chicken at fast food places, but this was actually pretty tasty. The Asiago Ranch sauce (which I've had before) is as good as ever, even if it's a bit salty. The highlight is the bacon -- Wendy's has always had some of the best bacon in fast food, in my opinion.

Should you try it? Absolutely -- especially if you've never had the Asiago Ranch chicken sandwich. The contents slip and slide around when trying to eat it, so it's not something to eat while driving or something like that, but I still recommend it.


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Food Review (Cool Ranch DLT (Doritos Locos Taco) from Taco Bell)

It's not officially out until tomorrow, but they were still selling them today, so I got one. To be more specific, I got a Cool Ranch DLT Supreme. Like the original Doritos Locos Taco, this one comes on its own or as a Supreme, which has sour cream and tomatoes. Both DLTs (Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch) cost $1.29 for the regular taco, and $1.69 for the Supreme... though I'm sure it varies by location.

I wasn't a huge fan of the original Doritos Locos Taco, but I didn't dislike it, either. Since I prefer Cool Ranch Doritos to the Nacho Cheese ones, I figured I'd like this one a lot more. The truth is, it's not much better. Like the Nacho Cheese DLT, you really can't taste the Doritos seasoning all that much with the meat, lettuce, cheese, and (if you add it) sauce. It's like a regular taco, with a saltier shell and a very slight ranch flavoring. I actually found that the Nacho Cheese DLT had more flavor (and tasted saltier). Despite that, I think I actually like this Cool Ranch one a little bit more. The seasoning's subtle as hell, and just one of these tacos wouldn't fill the stomach of a baby sloth, but it's still pretty tasty. The biggest problem I have with both Doritos Locos Tacos is the price... why the hell does it cost $1.69 for a Supreme? It should be 99 cents for a regular and then $1.29 or something for the Supreme.

Despite the, in my opinion, relatively unfair price of the DLTs, both of them are pretty decent... though not nearly as great as a lot of other bloggers will have you believe.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Game Review (MLB 2K13 - 360)

Since I know there aren't (m)any reviews out there, I've decided to type this review up. Generally I wait a few days after a game releases to post a review, but I've already played for about 7 hours today, embarrassingly enough.

Graphics: 3.5/5 You'll be seeing me saying phrases like this a lot in this review, but... same as last year, from what I can tell. If you've played MLB 2K at all for the past three or so years, then you've seen 2K13. Wonky animations, some horrendous player faces, and an overall "blah" look to the game. They aren't God awful, but they're barely average. Additionally, the menus are exactly the same as MLB 2K12's, just with the 2K13 logo instead.

Sound: 4.5/5 As many people would likely say, the sound in 2K13 is fantastic, and much better than The Show's. If it weren't for the commentary in the 2K series, the games would be FAR less enjoyable, in my opinion. The conversations between Philips, Thorn, and Kruk seems to come naturally and realistically, and lines aren't repeated ad nauseum, with the exception of: "Let's take a look at how the Tigers stacked up against the league last year", yada yada yada. That kind of crap happens four or five times a game, and it got old a couple years ago. Not only is the commentary (mostly) outstanding, but the MLB 2K13 soundtrack isn't too bad either:

"Faster Babe" by 2AM Club
"Take Me Away" by Blue Oyster Cult
"City in Silhouettes" by Funeral Party
"Natural" by Infusion
"Club Foot" by Kasabian
"Peeled Apples" by Manic Street Preachers
"Little Secrets" by Passion Pit
"Take a Walk" by Passion Pit
"Don't Let Them (Cool Off)" by Peter Bjorn and John
"Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John
"Fire Burning" by Sean Kingston
"No Hope" by The Vaccines

In my opinion, 2K13 has a solid setlist, and I believe it's better than last years. "Club Foot" is a popular song that many people have probably heard before, and "Take a Walk" by Passion Pit is a song that was most recently played in Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco commercial.

Fun: 3.75/5 Despite the fact that this game is, from what I can tell, a perfect port from 2K12 (minus the online leagues, I noticed. Yes, you read that correctly -- no only leagues in 2K13), it remains a decent enough game. If you can get passed the fact that the guys at 2K got paid to do nothing but add the Astro's new uniforms and switch them to the American League this season, then you'll enjoy it. The jersey colors haven't been corrected (Powder blue Yankee caps and brightly contrasted purple on the Rockies road unnies), a lot of players don't have updated pictures, and the scoreboard that was changed prior to the 2012 season at Comerica Park in Detroit hasn't been renovated in this game. Some of these issues are inexcusable, but the fact is, this is the only baseball game on the Xbox 360. MLB 2K13 isn't at all a bad game, but it doesn't mean 2K shouldn't be ashamed of themselves for making such minute changes to this game. Let's be honest, I'm giving this quite the generous review score.


+ The commentary is the highlight as always; The soundtrack is enjoyable; Games play quite well when using custom sliders (I recommend checking and downloading MKHash's); At least the Astros are in the AL West with their unattractive new uniforms.

- The game still has horrendously unrealistic animations; Most of the player models creep me out; The commentary mentions statistics far too often; No online leagues; The colorblind guys that are responsible for jersey colors are apparently still hired; General laziness by the entire 2K baseball team.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Game Review (Call of Duty: Black Ops II Revolution)

The Revolution pack has been out for Black Ops II for a couple weeks now, but I just decided to cave and get the Season Pass. I had gotten ELiTE Premium for Modern Warfare 3, a game that I don't think is as good as this one, so I figured I may as well try it out. Besides, the four new maps piqued my interest, and I had picked a dead dude's Peacekeeper off the ground several times and enjoyed using it. (Note: I will be excluding Zombies from my review due to the fact that I haven't played Die Rise or the new Zombie game mode, I'm not sure WHEN I'll play it, and I don't know if I ever even WILL play it.)

Downhill: Oh thank God, Treyarch has given us a snow map. In the original Black Ops, I believe a quarter of the 16 disc maps were snowy. My assumption is that a lot of people got bored of the mostly white maps, but I missed the fact that Treyarch negated the option of putting at least one on the Black Ops 2 disc. Fortunately, they brought one in as DLC, and it's a lot of fun. Downhill takes place at a ski resort. Knowing that bit of information, you could assume that there would be a good number of hills and buildings -- and there are both of those things. The map is approximately medium in size, and is ideal for an SMG or maybe even assault rifle, though there are a couple prime spots for snipers to house up in. There's something that Treyarch added to this map that will likely frustrate a lot of players -- the killer lifts (I forget the real name for them) that will splatter you at a lightning velocity of approximately 1.5mph! While these are somewhat annoying, they move so slowly that it would really be pathetic if you were to die from one of them, in my opinion. I think it would be cooler if they traveled a bit faster and people could ride them in a circle around the map (while of course having some blind spots). I enjoy this map a lot. 4.25/5

Grind: Here's an interesting map... Grind takes place at a skate park in California. In Treyarch's preview video for Revolution, they claimed that Grind removes corners... and that's just a lie. Sure, there are a good number of ramps and pipes that eliminate corners, but there's also the building in the middle that has plenty of  close quarters combat with corners galore. Regardless, I like it. The main problem I have with Grind though is that no matter where I go, I feel extremely vulnerable. The building in the middle has a lot of rooms and corners and it's hard to determine which is safe to go in -- it's really a guessing game. Grind looks great and plays pretty well, but I'll have to play it some more to really decide if I enjoy it or not. For now though, it gets a 4/5

Hydro: This one takes place at a foreign dam. This is a smaller, mostly symmetrical map with medium sight lines at best, and two levels of action. Of course, the most notable thing about Hydro is the bottom level that spews water out and kills anything in its path. Fortunately though, there's a bit of a warning to let you know that you'll get destroyed if you don't get out in a timely fashion. Some may complain that this is some sort of a stupid gimmick, but I like it more than the bullet train on Express. I could see this being a very popular map among competitive and casual gamers alike. Relatively simply designed, but quite a blast to play in spite of that. 4.25/5

Mirage: Here we have a map that takes place in a desert in China. This seems to be a map that people seem to love or hate. Even before playing these maps and having only seen the Treyarch preview video, I had forgotten about this map. After playing it, I know why. First of all, it feels and looks like it should be in World at War, not Black Ops 2. Second, the way that it's designed is just, overall, frustrating. It has potential, but this map seems to encourage camping much more than the others in the pack. It's a decent, medium sized map, but it just doesn't do a lot for me in terms of how it looks or feels. It remains better than some other Call of Duty maps I've played in the past. 3.5/5

Finally, the SMG that's included in the pack, the Peacekeeper. I was told by a number of people that the Peacekeeper was a very good gun... and it is. The best way to describe the Peacekeeper is that it's an SMG/AR hybrid. That is to say, the Peacekeeper has a fire rate similar to an SMG, but almost with the range of an assault rifle. Another added benefit of the Peacekeeper is that it feels like the stock attachment is on it even when it's not when you look down your sights due to the fact that it's an SMG. I haven't used it too much (I've maybe gotten 150 kills with it), but I've enjoyed it quite a lot so far. I find that it's an extremely useful gun for most of the maps in this game (ones that are medium in size) for several reasons: It's mobile, so it is easier to move around, the fire rate helps at close range, and enemies can be taken out at a distance with a reasonable number of rounds fired into their bellies and/or heads.

Knowing that there will be four map packs, I feel like it's safe to assume that there will likely be a single downloadable gun in each pack (and perhaps two in one of the packs). This time around we got an SMG, so next up will likely be an assault rifle, shotgun, LMG, or sniper. I'd like to get more guns than just five, but who am I to complain? I've been wanting DLC guns for a couple years now, and now I've finally gotten my wish.

The Call of Duty: Black Ops II Revolution DLC is an expansion that's hard to not recommend. From what I've heard, Die Rise is an excellent Zombies map (though it's a bit drab in my opinion... why can't there be a less depressing Zombies map?), and I haven't even touched it. If you buy Revolution just for the Zombies map, I'd guess that you'd be disappointed, as it's just one level for a price of $15. If you buy it for just the multiplayer maps, you four maps at a price of $3.50 a piece (I say that because I figure the Peacekeeper would be worth $1 to the average player). And, naturally, if you buy Revolution to play all of it, you get 1.86GB of good, Call of Duty fun. No matter what you decide to primarily play if/when you get Revolution, I don't think there's any doubt that this pack is of the best value of any Call of Duty pack, and I don't think that there's any arguing that you'll actually get quite a lot for your money if you decide to get the Season Pass for Call of Duty: Black Ops II. For those two reasons, it gets the rating that I'm giving it.


+ All four maps are above average -- especially Downhill and Hydro.
+ At last... a downloadable gun!
+ For once, $15 for a Call of Duty pack, and I can say it's a good deal.